Tag: struggle

Broken

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In Japan, there’s a term called “Kintsukoroi”; it refers to broken objects which are repaired with gold. This way, the flaw is seen as a unique attribute to its history and adds to its beauty.

Shortly after my first surgery, when my small intestine was removed and I was told I would never eat or drink again, I was in ICU and my mom was there visiting. I was obviously processing this grim news and spent most of my waking hours in tears. I was broken in every sense of the word. My mom took me in her arms, as much as she could being that I was attached to multiple IVs and oxygen, and with her head next to mine she whispered to me that she would take me broken over not having me at all.

Although these words comfort me on a daily basis, it still hurts my heart. I’m broken. I have pieces missing. And no matter how far I may come with medications or surgeries, I will forever have the scars that remind me that I am and forever will be broken.

But really, who isn’t broken in one way or another?

I love the idea, however, that maybe this brokenness can make me more beautiful. That gold can be added to these cracks and scars. Who doesn’t like to add a little bling to their life?

Ok, physically I’m not a fan of the scars that have been left on my body. But I have noticed how my being broken has changed me in other ways. I don’t get offended easily – it’s not worth the energy that it uses up. I make sure to spend some quality time with friends and family and I get family photos any chance I can. I’m more patient now. I’ve learned sympathy is a great asset to have. I’m slowly outlining my scars with gold. Making my brokenness beautiful with things I may not have had in my life if my life didn’t take this turn.

I woke up from a dream last week full on sobbing and I whispered “Jesus, I’m too broken. I need you to carry me.” I don’t remember what the dream was, but I’ve been hanging on to those words all week. “I’m too broken. Carry me.”

I’ll never get through this on my own strength. I’ve had to rely on family, friends and my church. Now I really need to let Jesus carry me for the time being and let more gold fill in the broken parts of me.

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Dealing with Guilt and Fears as a Chronically Ill Mom

I love being a mom. Love it. I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I still remember watching Angels in the Outfield when I was young and saying afterwards that I wanted to be a foster or adoptive mom. Give me a whole slew of children and my life would be fulfilled.

Two weeks before I got sick, I randomly turned to my husband and asked him what his thoughts were on adoption. I told him that I’d love to have one or two more of our own, but there are so many kids in need of a home, and that I really wanted to adopt. Crazy thing is, we had no way of knowing that I was about to get sick and not be healthy enough to get pregnant again and that if we wanted to grow our family, our option would be to adopt. I really do believe that that was God’s way of preparing our hearts for what was to come.

Along with dreaming of how big our family would one day be, I also thought a lot about what type of mom I wanted to be, how we would raise our kids, and all that went with the soccer mom life. I looked forward to being the hockey mom, going to piano recitals, and being a Girl Guide leader so that I could go on weekend camping trips with my daughter(s). Call me old fashioned, but I loved the idea of having dinner on the table for my family, making lunches for them and carting my kiddos around with me in the minivan.

My life as a mom now looks significantly different. I won’t be able to do the super early hockey practices as I now barely function in the mornings. Everyone who knows me may giggle at this thinking it has to do with my severe coffee addiction (no really, can I hook it up to my Hickman??)

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I start my day slinging my TPN backpack over my shoulder, grabbing Maddie (some days with my forearms if my arthritis is flaring up), I hobble down the stairs, change her and get her to her highchair quickly before I get too woozy. I get extremely light headed and have a hard time breathing first thing in the morning, what I assume is a consequence to having my lungs filled with fluid and then drained while at the hospital. The long days of piano recitals is a dream of the past as leaving the house for more than a couple hours at a time leaves me incapacitated for at least the rest of the day. And going camping would mean not being able to find a sterile location to be able to get my TPN going.

Our daily routine at home really depends on how I feel. Hopefully we make it outside for half an hour – but never longer as it completely wipes me out. I can’t be that fun mom that plays with my daughter and chases her around. Even just helping her go down the slide a couple times takes everything out of me.

I don’t want to come off full of myself, but I know I’m a good mom. I’m not even close to perfect, but I love my daughter more than words could ever say and I do the best that I can. I’ve really had to learn how to deal with my fears and guilt surrounding being a chronically ill mom. Guilt that she won’t get all the experiences I want her to because I can’t keep up. Guilt that she’ll get more TV time that I’d like because I don’t feel well enough to entertain her myself. Guilt that she doesn’t have the mom that she would have had if I hadn’t gotten sick. Fear that I’ll fall sick again and won’t be here to see her grow up. Fear that she will one day resent me because of all of this.

You can say all the encouraging words you want after reading this, hoping to uplift my spirits. But all you chronically ill parents out there 100% understand what I’m saying and I know I’m not alone in this. There’s so much fear of being judged for our parenting choices, the amount of parent shaming out there is horrendous, but we’re all doing the best we can.

I feel like this post has been a little all over the place, very up and down emotionally. Welcome to my head space when it comes to parenting! I am my own worst critic. I am doing everything I am able to do, and sometimes more than I am capable (which I pay for for days to come). For those who are in the same boat – know you are not alone. I still struggle with my guilt and fears every day, I don’t know if they’ll ever go away, but I do know that at least I’m not the only one going through it. You do what you have to do in the moment, and as long as it’s your best, really, who cares what others think. People who aren’t in our situation will never completely understand how hard this truly is.

I pray for my daughter every day, I thank God for her, and hope she turns out okay in spite of the obstacles we will have to face together. She’s the reason I’m here.

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Call me Mara: Battling with Bitterness

So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?” “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” Ruth 1:19-22

I think we’ve all more than likely had something happen to us that has shaken things up in our life. Whether big or small, there always seems to be an obstacle that pops up, and it always seems to be at the most inopportune time. When everything happened to my health last year, I was mad. Like REALLY mad. After years of struggling with my weight, I had finally lost (literally!) a whole person worth of excess weight — I lost 151lbs! I had met an AMAZING man, we got married and bought a beautiful house just outside of the city, had two dogs and we were blessed with the most beautiful baby girl. I swear I’m not biased! She really is the most beautiful baby ever ;)…. And then literally overnight, my health went spiraling down the toilet. My dreams of traveling, giving birth again, going back to school one day, etc. etc. – they all went down the pooper with it.

It would have been so ridiculously easy to become bitter without even realizing it. Thinking you’ve been dealt the worst hand and making sure everyone knows it can become second nature. Bitterness can slowly and subtly creep in on every aspect of your life and turn the sweetest things sour. Lately I’ve been reading the book Ruth in the Bible, and I feel for Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi. She lost her husband and both her sons. She told people to stop calling her Naomi (which means pleasant) and to call her Mara instead (meaning bitter) because she had had a harsh turn of events. She couldn’t see past what had happened and thought God had brought this down upon her. I get it. No, no one died in my life, but a huge part of my life did.

Roughly three weeks after my initial surgery, a nurse was telling me about how she had to come back to work early from her maternity leave. She was complaining that she was sore, it was a long shift, and on and on and on. I looked right at her, and told her I was the wrong person to be complaining to! I hadn’t even walked in three weeks. I was bed ridden, on a ridiculous amount of medication, had lost a significant portion of my organs and was missing my family terribly. I told her she was healthy, had a good job, and she needed to stop whining. In reality I probably (almost certainly!) was too harsh on her. I told a friend about it the next day, and he quickly called me on it. He told me that I can’t let myself become that bitter person because no one will stick around no matter how crappy my situation has become. That truth hit me hard, but that piece of wisdom has stuck with me all year. Not that it’s a bad thing to vent, everyone needs that. But there’s a huge difference between having a bad day every once in a while and being in a permanent state of crabbiness. Through this I also realized that I want people to still be able to come to me without fear that I’ll throw it back in their face. We all have our struggles – big or small, and they are always significant to us. To have someone belittle those issues is never pleasant.

I’m not saying I’ve perfected never being bitter, trust me I’m far from it. I have my days like everyone. There are days where it’s hard to see things in a positive light, but it’s so important to push through and find the sweet in every day. For me, that’s my family and my friends. No matter what kind of mood I’m in, they make me smile. I’ve worked really hard at not being bitter and angry all the time. It is literally a moment by moment struggle for me. To be honest, I am definitely crankier than I was…for those of you who know me, you don’t have to comment on that point! If I’m not feeling well, I get snippy very quickly. But I’ve come a long way from where I was, and I’m really trying not to let my health sabotage my relationships and my perspective on other people’s situations.

Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth stuck by her side even though rightfully she could have returned to her tribe. Ruth got married and had a baby boy. Naomi walked through her dark time and there was a light at the end of the tunnel. She was a grandma! Picture Naomi, rocking her grandbaby, tears streaming down her face. She had a rough go, but finally, all she had dreamt of was in her arms. I bet that she could literally feel the bitterness melting away. She had become Naomi again.

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#SheReadsTruth #SheSharesTruth

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I Can’t, but We Can

I’m a very blessed woman. I have always had a community of some sort around me. Through every walk of life, I’ve at least had one person to turn to and as I grow older, my support systems have grown – both in depth and numbers. More importantly though, I have come to appreciate them so much more in the last year.

I have my family – my husband and daughter, my parents and siblings, and my in-laws. I also have my friends that may as well be family, those both far and near. These are the people who were the first ones there when I was sick. Waiting with Joe while I was fighting for my life in surgery. Hopping on the first flight to be by my bedside day in and day out. Friends who, over the last year, I have been able to call while in tears because I am so fed up with my situation. I realize not everyone has family and friends like this, but I have been immensely grateful to have these people by my side.

There are so many other forms of community out there though, and take it from me, no matter what you’re going through, you need community. Whether to help you celebrate or grieve different situations in your life, they are a necessary part of it.

Church – I found a great community in my church and I literally had hundreds of people praying for me, feeding my family, and helping care for us in many ways while I was hospitalized. These are the people who have held on to hope and faith and kept praying for me when I just wasn’t able do it for myself.

Online Community – I so love and appreciate the fact that everything is online nowadays. I have been able to connect with people from all over the world who also rely on TPN as a form of nutrition. Through Facebook, I’ve been able to meet a mom here in Ottawa whose daughter is on TPN (and am so looking forward to meeting her daughter). I’ve also become great friends with a woman down in Texas who went through a very similar situation as mine last April and hope that we can one day meet in person. I am forming friendships that I never would have found otherwise. They are under very unfortunate circumstances, but nevertheless, I am very thankful for my new friends.

Being diagnosed with a rare illness makes it hard to find answers (my doctors don’t have answers to many of my questions), and through online forums I’ve been able to ask many questions to others who have been on TPN for longer than I have. The best resources have been through these online communities.

Even just through Facebook and writing on my blog, I have regained contact with old friends who are also struggling with a variety of life’s hardships. It’s interesting how when life seems to dump on you, it can bring people together. Hurting people tend to know how to encourage other hurting people, no matter how different their situations may be.

Support Groups – The last form of community that I want to mention in this post, is support groups. This isn’t necessarily finding a group that is going through something similar to what you are, although it can be, but it’s also to find a group that will uplift and encourage you and that you can do the same for the others in the group.

I’ve been going to a Mom’s group which has brought into my life such wonderful women. Although we all come from different walks of life, it’s 2 hours a week where we can forget life’s troubles and just come for a laugh and a good time. It’s something that I really look forward to going to and again, it’s introduced me to people that I may not have necessarily gotten to know.

I’m also starting a book group with a few others to study Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller (check him out, I love his books)! This is obviously a very different type of support group than the one I previously mentioned, but I really didn’t want to go through this book alone. I know that it’s going to bring about some very difficult issues to deal with and why not go through it with other people who are also grieving different losses in their lives.

There are so many different forms of community out there. You don’t have to be a part of a big family or a church. You don’t have to be ill or going through a difficult time. But everyone needs a community of some kind. It’s so important and so necessary for the soul.

I really don’t think I could have gotten through this last year without my different communities. They’ve all played their parts and for that I will be forever grateful.

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