The Singer Who Rarely Listens to Music

You know how music makes you feel things? I rarely listen to music because I don’t like to feel things. Most songs from my childhood end up having me in a state of grief. I know this isn’t a bad thing. I need to grieve what I once thought I had but never did and likely, never will. There are times that I feel led to play music that I know will lead me to grieve a bit. When I feel that nudge, I do it. Otherwise, I avoid music altogether.

The other day, someone in the house played El DeBarge’s “Love Me In A Special Way”. I sat in the kitchen and just cried uncontrollably. I remembered myself as a very little girl, singing that, not knowing what I was singing but doing so with all my heart because singing is one of my gifts and I used to love to sing.

I just felt led by the Lord to look at the lyrics because I woke up this morning with that song playing in my head. I didn’t really know the words, but part of the lyrics struck me as I read them this morning…

“Love me in a special way
What more can I say 
Love me now
Love me in a special way
What more can I say 
Love me now (love me now)

‘Cause I’m special
Not the average kind 
Who’d accept any line
That sounds good
So reach into your chain of thoughts
Try to find something new
Because what worked for you so well before
For me it just won’t do.

Love me in a special way
What more can I say 
Love me now
Love me in a special way
What more can I say 
Love me now (love me now)”

I am beginning to feel differently now, more authentic, more un-apologetically me. Manipulation tactics that worked on me before, just don’t any longer. Not because I didn’t catch them before, I caught them, I just ignored them and pushed through because I thought I was here to make others happy and comfortable. I thought I was here to take care of people and leave my own needs for some other loving soul to hopefully, prayerfully see, take pity on me, and take care of them for me. Now that I know I am responsible for taking care of my needs, not others’, I refuse to continue to let myself down.

There’s still a little girl inside of me. She is incredibly wounded and afraid. I have carried her with me all my life, yet, I have ignored her needs and wishes, in order to favor others. She couldn’t depend on anyone to meet her emotional needs. Sure, she was dressed nicely. She was fed, but she was also starving for real and unconditional love.

She needed care that just wasn’t offered. She was psychologically and emotionally beat down behind closed doors. She was lonely, and lived in survival mode, because back then, she had to. Not anymore. Now I get to care for this gem of a girl. I get to love her unconditionally. I get to accept her tears, her fears, her grief, her anger, and not just her love, her generosity and care because it feels better and suits me.

I accept her wholly. Little by little, I am gaining her trust, and whatever she does in my chest that makes it feel so uncomfortably tight, whatever she is doing that makes me feel like I am struggling to breathe at times, is lessening as I remember how to care for her.

That little girl will no longer need to sing those lyrics from a state of grief and desperation. If she sings it at all, she will sing it for the love of singing, because she has a beautiful voice. You should just hear her.

Passions And Self Betrayal

One thing I have learned about myself is how little I’ve truly known myself. Because of the conditioning I received growing up, I did quite a bit of fitting into molds prepared for me, no matter how ill fitting they were.

I only felt valuable when I was doing something others thought to be good or useful. I needed to always be ready and available, no matter what. I needed to make others feel good about me, that was where my sense of self worth came from. It was an exhausting and terrifying way to live and I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

I have lived, as long as I can remember with what I can only describe as a tightening in my chest. It would just sit there, flaring up when I was asked or told to do something that I didn’t want to do, but felt I had to do. I would ignore it and push through, thinking I needed to keep people happy with me.

What I didn’t realize was that I was betraying myself over and over again. I was putting others needs and wishes ahead of my own. The wounded little girl inside of me, who still desperately needs and craves love, compassion and care, was yet again being pushed aside, in favor of what others wanted. I refuse to continue to mistreat myself in this way. I’ve had enough of that and won’t keep abusing myself because it’s familiar.

I am having a good time learning to take better care of myself and in the process, the wounded little girl is healing and the tightness in my chest is decreasing.

I am learning, or remembering what I am passionate about. I have discovered that although I do many things well, they aren’t necessarily passions I hold. Singing for instance, is something I do well but it does not always bring me much joy. Too often, it has felt like a chore. It was something I needed to do because I could and it made others happy. I do remember times, especially in high school when I would sing arias, where I felt like I was a bird. It felt amazing. I liken it to flying higher and higher and floating and soaring. It felt wonderful at times. Other times, it was just expected of me so I did it, even when I didn’t want to. I felt selfish for not wanting to do it when it obviously makes others so happy.

I have no idea what God will do with me concerning that particular talent but I trust Him to lead me in the right direction. He always has; I know He won’t stop now.

In the meantime, I will enjoy discovering what really brings me joy. One thing I think is a passion for me is cooking and baking. I am having a blast making things for people. My niche is traditional cooking and baking. I like making things people don’t necessarily think to make themselves. Syrups, jams, butters, extracts (like vanilla), fermented foods like salsa, sauerkraut, kimchi, water kefir, sourdough, fruit leather, goat cheese, yogurt and more! I even make my own spice blends.

I am eager to see where God leads me next, especially when it comes to my passions. I have new burdens on my heart that aren’t heavy or hurtful but are for sure from Holy Spirit. I look forward to exploring them and doing something with them as well.

God bless you Dear Reader, Patrice

Getting To Know Myself

I’ve not written here in a while, and it’s not because I have nothing to say, I have lots to say; I simply don’t know where to begin at times. The topic on my mind at this moment has to do with self awareness.

I love that my relationship with God lends itself to me not being able to get away with being ignorant about who I really am and the role I play in different relationships.

I have given God a pass to show me myself, and help me to be the best Patrice I can be in this world. He has not let me down and it has not been easy at all to come face to face with myself. What I have and am learning has been nothing short of fascinating and amazing.

I am learning to process my anger very productively. Anger was one emotion among many that I was taught to stuff or shrug off because my mother was not comfortable or able to handle it. Now, I am able to process it and let it pass. I can look at what I am doing to hurt or betray myself and my findings are nothing short of amazing. I’m using this as fuel to help me change things so that I show up for myself and don’t continue to betray myself as I have in the past.

I don’t want to be more concerned about others than myself anymore. I don’t want to live my life, trying to please, or assuage another person’s feelings. That’s not my responsibility. I understand that now. I am responsible for my own feelings, that’s it, and it’s such a freeing thought.

At this time last year, I was literally shaken, terrified, confused and angry. I was enraged. I cannot say I am “all better” now, but I can say I am a lot better and getting better every day as I learn, or remember how to love myself and treat myself with compassion, kindness, respect and care.

Today, I am far more self aware than I was last year. It’s been a hard rode to travel. I have upset people. Some have expressed as much to me. Some probably won’t ever say a word, but I wouldn’t trade this journey for anyone or anything. I’ll make an effort to come and speak about things more often. For now, I bless you and pray all is well for you.

The Jesus Bandaid

Giving credit where it’s due, the concept of the Jesus bandaid came to me from someone very dear, an amazingly strong woman named Athena Moberg of the CPTSD Foundation.

The Jesus Bandaid is basically what some Christians like to quickly apply to problems that arise in other Christian’s lives. Here’s what it looks like, you come with a problem, they reach into their handy dandy sack O’ quotes and Scriptures, slap it on the situation and bam! Problem solved! Feel better? Won’t He do it! All you needed, was for them to come with the Jesus bandaid, then it would all be better.

Now of course, I have nothing against bandaids and certainly not Jesus- we are tight- but let’s sort through this in a simple and practical way…

If a person has a physical wound of any sort, we don’t just reach for a bandaid and slap it on, considering it a job well done. That would be stupid and could be dangerous as well. We look at the wound first, don’t we? We inspect it, see what we are dealing with. We look at the state of the person with the wound in order to determine the first course of action. Do we need to go to the hospital? Can we take care of this right where we are, or do we need additional, expert assistance? In no instance, would we slap on a bandaid and leave feeling we’ve done something great, yet people do this to others with emotional wounds too much of the time.

One thing I have learned with this healing journey I’m on, is the clear line of where I and my responsibilities begin and end with regards to others. There’s so much freedom in just that. I don’t have to look at others as having problems I need to try (and fail) to fix.

I can see someone hurting and sit with them there. I can actually do what Romans 12:15 says and rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who grieve. I don’t have to pull an answer out of my hat. I don’t need to jump to that Jesus bandaid. I can just be with them, right where they are in that moment. I can accept them, love them and validate their feelings without trying to fix what’s wrong.

Let me tell you, validation goes so much farther than a bandaid. People want to feel cared for and loved. Most have the ability to say that they want help with fixing a problem if that’s what they need. If they don’t say so, it’s wise to ask first if you know you are one who loves to reach for that Jesus bandaid. Immediately jumping to that bandaid feels dismissive, rude, and in some cases, it can be traumatizing to a person who may already feel traumatized.

I like thinking things through, sometimes probably excessively. I wonder if this bandaid thing stems from a lack of empathy and/or pride. Pride might be at play and make a person feel that their quote or Scripture will fix the situation, right? Maybe… A lack of empathy might be what makes a person just want to get to the solution and leave behind all the rest. Perhaps they can’t empathize with others.

I’m not saying that if you see someone with a gaping, bleeding wound, you’d not take action. What I am saying is, you’d still quickly assess what you’re being faced with, even if the assessment took all of 5 seconds. It wouldn’t be skipped over, in favor of putting on the bandaid and leaving. There’s a process. Let’s not skip any part of it. Let’s truly love others the way we would want to be loved. Let’s validate what can be validated- not everything is valid, but that’s another blog post for another day. Let’s not skip over Roman’s 12:15. “Celebrate with those who celebrate, and weep with those who grieve (TPT).”

Flashbacks

Flashbacks have been a very prominent part of my life since around July of last year. It seems that upon starting this whole recovery journey, a door has been opened that I wasn’t fully aware even existed.

It doesn’t feel like a thing of torment. It feels more like a journey of discovery and healing. With each flashback, I am now dealing with the feelings surrounding each memory. I’m no longer shoving it all aside, pretending it doesn’t exist, so that others feel comfortable.

It feels strange at times to do this when I have been taught to dismiss and ignore my feelings. In so many places, there’s a purveying message that says to leave the past in the past. Forget about the past and let it go, etc.

God is showing me though, that when your past hasn’t been effectively dealt with, it can continue to cause problems in your present and future. I feel very grateful that God didn’t allow me to stay where I was, as I know I would still be there.

Now, in addition to having flashbacks from childhood, I am having some regarding my husband’s recent hospital stay. Because I was on the go, taking care of things for my family, I didn’t have much time to process all that was happening, so I suppose, now is the time to do that.

I’m having to remember and employ the tools I’ve gained over the last year. I must put them to work for this part of my journey. I’m grateful that none of this has caught God off guard. He knew I’d be here at this moment. He planned and put everything in place for me to get through it all successfully. All I have to do is go to Him for wisdom and guidance. I don’t have to do this alone. That is such a relief.

The Illusion of Control

I am seeing things differently now and learning how to more poignantly pray for specific types of people.

The more combative and controlling the person, the more insecure and downright afraid they seem to be underneath it all.

Trying to control others is exhausting, fruitless and simply not our job. I am praying for freedom for people who have yet to realize they’re not God and they can’t fix others by trying to oversee another’s journey. That’s no way to live.

The fact is, we don’t and can’t control much. The only person we ought to try to control is ourselves. Many don’t even do that well, so trying to control others becomes even more of an impossible feat.

Self control is a fruit of the spirit that we should all aspire to.

This is something being highlighted to me these days as I have instances where people try to tell me what to do throughout my journey. Which is almost a sure fire way to see me do exactly the opposite.

I want to live my life in such a way that I am honoring the integrity of another’s path or journey. I am wanting to do this even with my youngest children.

A part of my husband’s journey has included a recent near death experience. Because I walk alongside him in life (although on my own path), I experience some of his journey to a degree.  The same is true for our children.

My sons, my oldest (5 years old) in particular, is crazy about his dad.  At the time of my typing this, my husband has been hospitalized for 5 days and my son asks about him often.

Culturally, the norm would be to shield the child from this experience and push them aside, while the adults “take care of things.”  The idea is that children cannot handle such things. I disagree, and I am not doing this. Simply because this, by default, is a part of my son’s journey, I am going to walk through it with him.

When I have brought my girls to see my husband, my boys, being only 5 and 2 are not allowed in and this of course upsets my 5 year old.  He wants to see his dad too.

I explained to him that his father is sick and is healing, but the rules of the ICU are such that he can’t come in.  Instead, when his father was conscious and alert, I helped him to Face time his dad.  This of course made him happy.  I ask him about his feelings and answer whatever questions comes to mind.  I refuse to leave him in the dark.  I want to honor that this is a part of his journey as well and teach him to process the tough things he’s feeling and going through.  This way, when he is an adult, he will have had practice with such things and won’t be inept and behave in strange or inappropriate ways when life happens.

My dad Gary said these situations bring out the best and worst of people.  It’s so true.  I am solely focusing on what I need to do for my husband, children and myself.  If it upsets another, that isn’t my issue at all.  I am doing what I need to do and that’s enough. I am no longer trying to control others, by trying to make sure everyone’s happy with me and how I am handling things.  I am happy to be free of the illusion of control.

Responsibility

I think of random things. I remember a former friend projecting her words or feelings on me. We were in a disagreement and she said something about me saying I am grown. I hadn’t said that and certainly didn’t feel it.


Actually, I am just getting to a point where I feel like I am a grown woman. I was always responsible. Actually, I was taking responsibility for far more than was rightfully mine. I now understand that I am not responsible for so much of what I thought I should be responsible for, like another’s feelings, behavior, and needs. I thought I was here to take care of those things for others. I thought it was selfish to consider that perhaps I had needs and feelings that I should pay attention to. I thought I was here to make and keep others happy with me and somehow, magically, what I needed and wanted would be tended to.

What a load of crap, not to mention, impossible task, lol!

I can laugh today as I consider things several people, (most of whom are no longer in my life,) said to me, about me, all while very clearly exhibiting blaring examples of their feelings of jealousy and ill will towards me. Yet, I listened and took their “moral inventory” of me to heart.

Where I should have sang, or mentioned that I sing, I was quiet, for fear of being seen as a show off.

Where I should have danced freely and enjoyed myself, I sat, for fear of embarrassing myself because “I had no rhythm, just like my father.”

Where I should have enjoyed doing my 3 daughters hair, I didn’t and thought of it as a chore because, “I braided the wrong way.” I thought I’d make them look stupid.

Where I should have shared stories freely, taking my time, flowing where God led me, I didn’t, for fear of “not getting to the point fast enough.” I didn’t want to bore people.

Where I should have spoken up about my feelings, I shrank back, and criticized myself because my feelings were “wrong and I was being mean.” I was told I am too sensitive.

Where I should have shared my experiences, I kept quiet for fear of making some angry or uncomfortable. After all, I thought it was my responsibility to make and keep people happy with me. I thought I should tow the line, even if it was hurting me (and others).

I’m so happy God didn’t allow me to keep believing these things. I’m so glad He is showing me who’s who in my life, past and present. He’s showing me how to set boundaries and let that show me who’s who. Boundary setting seems to be a problem for toxic people. Today, that former friend would be right. I’m grown and I know it now. I understand more than ever before what and who I am responsible for and for that, I am grateful.