Here we are.  It is the year 2020. And, I just turned 40.

There is something to be said for aging, growing, and living in our world.  I drove today.  Slow.  I drove and drove.  I went past Baker and into mountains I’d never seen and got lost on a muddy snow covered road in the middle of nowhere Oregon.  I saw a beautiful display in the clouds with God shouting “Behold!  I AM!”  I prayed and listened for Him and even turned off the radio just to be sure I didn’t miss Him.

I don’t think I found what I was looking for in those slow rolling hills today,  but I love the freedom of driving.  One thing I can control and stop and go and be slow or be fast and it is my time.  I realized today, I have always been a driver.  Since I was seven I’ve been driving.  I learned how to drive in an old Ford truck, stick shift.  My sister patiently taught me on some of the ventures we had getting to feed our 4-H pigs when we were younger.  I drove and loved it. I almost rolled that little Ford in the feedlot a time, or two, and once I launched my Subaru straight over a railroad tie.  I remember stopping and realizing my door wouldn’t open because I was landed perfect in the center of the that square log.  Nothing revving the engine and a little smirk on my face to leap the back-end of the car the rest of the way over the block.  There was a dent.  I didn’t tell my parents for several years, at least.

When I was in high school driving became my escape and my ticket out of the house.  I joined in a gym in Ontario just to drive, I think.  I drove many times back and forth to Pullman, Washington and Lewiston, Idaho when I was attending college at the University of Idaho in Moscow.  I used my fair share of tax dollars on I-84 from Boise to Mountain Home when I lived that way.  In Idaho, in my town now, I go all over.  A few favorite places by the Snake River.

TodayI drove and drove and I wondered what it was about driving that I have always found release in.  I think it’s partly the control and partly the escape and partly keeping my hands and mind busy in places that the things that need to be thunk about can be thinked.  Or thought.  Or something.

Rarely, am I still anymore.  At peace. Rarely.  My mind torments me and my hands busy themselves with anxiety.  It is hard to walk away from the places my mind contemplates, focuses, analyzes, reprocesses, and then reconfigures…  eight thousand times a day.  It’s constant torture.  How could I have done different, better?  How will I do better?  What’s next?  What am I missing? What does this mean?  What is going on with my husband? Why am I not a good wife?  I am a terrible mother.  I can’t believe I still have breath..  from there, it’s just ugly.

It’s hard to share that I am this big ball of anxiousness most of the time.  I am just like my dad.  I can remember him methodically going over and over his plans – stacks of random notes and piles of paperwork- and literally walking in circles around his huge shop – walking around tractors, in and out of several large offices, in the parts show room and freight room.  Spitting in the floor dry and checking in  with each mechanic as he made his rounds.  Unable to make any decisions and without any real focus, but taking it all into consideration, for some important reason.  Tucking it away knowing exactly what to do with it later and talking and murmuring all the while walking  in more circles.  Back to the tractor.  Then, remembering what it is that needs to be focused on and headed back to paperwork.  I am just like my father.  Always something that needs to be focused on, how I need to do it, and trying to find anything to just ease the busyness of my mind.  That’s how I live.

Lately, I have been in a bit more pain.  I am definitely moving slower and have much less time in the day to get work done.  I got a virus earlier this month and the Ocrevus I take for the MS has a side effect of making one more susceptible to respiratory infections.  I had to take extra time off and still don’t feel I’ve recovered.  I lost a valuable employee and had to make sacrifices in my personal life to accommodate for the unexpected loss.  It’s hard to breathe some days.

It’s hard to get out of the car.  Mentally.  Physically.  More mentally. Just hard to face the days.  The people.

I don’t have many choices.  Knowing that on the human level, I have no real value or offering to society is hard.  If my husband didn’t allow me to live in his home, I would be homeless, I think?  It’s so bizarre to know I have no worth.  I never thought that would be me.  That I would amount to no dollars of value.  But, I mean, I have words.  Some say I’m a writer, but lack of focus and commitment and courage stand between me and writing anything more than an online blog that few will read.

I’ve wondered lately if the words I’ve written will have value after I’ve gone. I’ve wondered lately about taking the last breath of life.  Is it like a roller coaster?  That’s what I suspect.   The last inhale is that final gasp as you peek over the edge and WHOOSH!  You plunge over and lose that final exhalation in the dive!  Your stomach drops and you are empty for one very small moment.  The very next breath the afterlife seeps into your soul and you flow into your spiritual self.  That’s what I think happens, maybe.  Probably, it will be much like the skydiving exit.  I am sure I flipped over or sumpthing really clumsy, floppy, and a what looked like a minor seizure when I lept out of that plane, but who knows.  The videos were ridiculously expensive.  For just a little bit, though, when you first dive, you and the instructor attached to you…  you lose yourselves in the whirl of the escape and it takes a few moments to recalibrate where you are in relation to the earth.  Imagine recalibratin’ from the last breath of life to heaven?

I don’t have very many guesses on what heaven looks like.  I think it feels like moving on a hover board or something?  I think there is delicious food there.   And, in my faith, Jesus and his followers will be there.  The next part I think about when I think on heaven is hard for me to talk about.

I have struggled with the evaluation portion of heaven.  I would much prefer to skip over my human life negatives and just get to eternity.  However, it is scriptural that there is some sort of discussion with you and God about the things in your history.  Let me tell you, a few months ago, I would not have been able to even share that much about this scripture because it freaks me the freak out!  The reason I am willing share is because I noticed growth in myself from where I was and where I am and it is wrapped up in this concept.

There is nothing inside of me that could convince me that meeting God, after my last breath, to discuss my sins, would be a positive experience when I was first chewing on the idea.  I was fighting it and insisting our sins were forgotten and there would be no pain and tears in heaven.  I literally cried.  How could heaven possibly be a place with eternal negative marks flowing above your head?  How could God greet us after we make this long journey there and then totally get into how we messed up?  I was so angry and upset one of my friends cautioned me on my tone with God.  It felt like a bait and switch.  It didn’t seem right, like God’s heart, and it scared the snot out of me.  Why would the Father bring us there just to tell us how bad we did?  What will that benefit?  Why?

I don’t do well with confrontation.  Especially with men.  Especially when it’s about how bad I was at life.  Will God yell?  How angry is he exactly?    Will there be dishes flying?  Will there be punching walls or kicking objects?  Will the phones be pulled out of the walls?  What other appliances will be available to be thrown?  Will names be called?  Will food be thrown?  Will he be violent?  Will he be angry?  How is this heaven?

I have wrestled with this idea a lot.  Hoping, honestly, to talk myself out of this situation.  I cannot explain it, but I am choosing to trust the heart of God.  The heart of God would not put me in a bad position.  I am choosing to trust that even though I have experienced the wrath of man on this earth for not being good enough, God is somehow going to make this talk not feel awful for eternity.  I do not know how it is possible, but I am praying for this miracle.  That, to me, is progress – just being willing to see a different way than what I know.

I cannot explain it, but I have the desire to share how I am damaged so others can be helped.  So, they can figure out how to help us.  “Us” being all of the messed up losers who don’t fit in, who get cut out, who will never have abs or make any money, who will never be invited to the popular/pretty/rich girl club.  For those who get the mic taken away from you and the opportunity to be someone more than you are just seems to always evade you.  For those who are at the mercy of medications and Jesus just to be.  For those who aren’t enough as they are.  I want all of us to get help.

I want help to know how to make me feel safe in a world designed to make me feel awful about myself because I choose not to dress half naked, I don’t dress in the right clothes, don’t have big enough boobs or the bling on the finger,  I have too big of an ass and gut, am not perfectly toned, much less regular toned, and don’t have all the social media glamour and friends and likes and the Instagram following.  There is no degree behind my name.  No post-graduate studies, or initials, for that matter.

I do have a childhood history thick in domestic violence.  There were countless small traumatic events, a few very severe episodes, and just a constant psychological battle – silent treatment to forcing debates to pure manipulation and being put down for not being quite enough.  Never free.  Until I was kicked out.  To be rejected and thrown out at the end of all of it, is a mind bend.  I was later rejected as an adult woman, as well,  and I’ve not recovered.  In fact, it’s slowly torn me down.

I recently went to look at a wonderful old farmhouse that was for sale.  The carpets creaked and I was surprised to feel comforted and even commented to the realtor.  I later realized I like the creaks in floor because they tell you where the abuser could be.  It lets you know where in the house they are and how much time you have to be busy, find cover, escape.  You know where the battle will go down, when it will go down, by every creak – each uniquely identifiable down the long trailer house.

Alcoholism and unknown issues with mental health led to super intensive scenes in that double wide.  They damaged me, my sister, my mother, and father.  We are all almost completely broken people at this point in time.  The lot of us.  My childhood broke all of us. And, I am very sad and also empty right now.

And, here I am just get thicker skin, Dana, just get over you and your pain, just let everyone else live their life, get your stuff together…  welcome to 2020.

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