Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

June 22, 2018

The lilac


I have never been a gardener; I enjoy them but to me, they always just seem to be another room that needs maintenance.  I have lived in a few homes now that had beautiful gardens and I have always managed to keep them clean and maintained but to say I found any joy in it would be lying to you. The one thing that I have always loved though are flowering trees. When Josh was born we planted a cherry tree so that every spring we could enjoy the cherry blossoms; we moved before I ever saw one but that doesn't matter because each spring we drive by and I take pride in the fact that I left something beautiful behind. When Kaleb was born I planted a lilac and again we moved before I really saw any real blooms. The last mothers day before we left that house I was given a magnolia and I planted it in the front so that we could drive by and see it as it grew and bloomed. The house we are in now had a beautiful garden when we moved in, a huge butterfly bush full of beautiful dark purple blossoms added so much colour and beauty until it died during the ice storm a few years back. We had a lilac here too that survived and seemed to thrive. Every year I enjoy both the look and the smell of the lilacs on the breeze and I have to admit to a bit of sadness each year when I look outside and see the ground covered in a purple carpet of fallen petals. 

A few years ago I found an old blue dresser that someone was throwing out, I picked it up and it was stored at my cottage waiting for me to have space in the car for me to bring it home, this spring it finally made it's way to Toronto with Tim and Kaper and as I pulled out the drawers and started looking it over I quickly realized that it was not going to be suitable for an indoor dresser. However, I hated to throw it out so I decided to use it as a garden piece. It was blue so I didn't need to paint it. I bought soil and some plants and lined the drawers with plastic and added some holes for drainage and made it into a leveled planter. When I stood back and looked at my work I realized that the sides of the drawers hadn't been painted the blue colour and were actually not overly attractive so I pulled out some paint and added some dragonflies and flowers to it. On the top of the dresser, I put some pots with flowers and one used one of Kaper's old rain boots to make a cute little pot for the last of the flowers I had. The entire thing only took an afternoon but spending a beautiful day in the backyard making something look both cute and whimsical made me feel really good. I felt that I had accomplished something that wouldn't be destroyed or messed up the next time the guys came home from school. So began a discovery of the joy of creating a garden. I began to look at my backyard differently, I worked, I created, I painted, I beaded, I planted, I watered, I enjoyed myself and found peace while I was doing it. 

As I began to take more interest in the garden I also started learning how to care for the plants I have for so long basically ignored. One of those things was my lilac. One day I was up on the roof of my shed trying to trim back the apple tree and the lilac tree when I realized that the apple tree was actually killing the lilacs; it was just too crowded. I took out the apple tree since it never bore fruit and I focused on the lilacs. Now, most people who read this will know that a lilac is a bush; I knew it... but mine had become a lilac tree. I was so tall, you could barely see the blooms. It took a friend looking at it to point out that I needed to prune it harshly in order to get it back to being a bush, to push the green down and allow the blooms to really flourish. Yesterday I took the tree trimmer and I went after the lilacs. As I worked and cut I felt like I was killing it, All the branches were falling at my feet and my heart was so sad as it got more and more bare. Now, sitting below the lilac is a fairy home, in the lower branches hang fairy lights and beaded suncatchers, glass bottles with lights also hang from the lower branches in an attempt to add magic to the garden even after the sun goes down. It is a pretty spot. When I stood back after my extreme pruning I saw all the bare spots and sat on the deck contemplating it with both sadness and hope. Then I had an epiphany.

It is an age-old analogy, but pruning a tree to give it more health and beauty is necessary. Pruning humans will have the same results. My lilacs were really pretty, I enjoyed them, they bloomed each year, but they were not what they started out to be. They were meant to be a bush, they started as a bush but time and neglect had turned them into a tree and it was getting so tall that the beauty was becoming more and more difficult to see each year. It took someone reminding me that it was actually a bush for me to finally realize I needed to do something about it. 

Last November when I sat in my doctors' office and answered the questions she asked me it was like someone pointed out that I was not a tree, I was actually meant to be a bush and my beauty was becoming more and more difficult to see because I wasn't who I was supposed to be. The pruning process is hard, it hurts, it's left me bare, I may be hanging a few pretty lights and beads on it to look okay but the reality is that it's an ugly process. Some of the questions made me remember who I was, the person I was before all the years of struggling to keep my head above water, and I was shocked that I had forgotten that woman, that she had become so distant that I could barely remember being her at all. I have neglected her to focus on more pressing matters but it's springtime and now I need to prune her, or God does at least. 

As I sat on my deck looking at my poor bare lilac I began to have hope, because the promise is that all that pruning will bring even more green branches and blooms next year, and the beauty will be more visible, and even more the year following that. It was killing a tree to bring back a bush. 

As I sift through the last 11 years I realize that I have a lot of pruning to do, cutting out the internal voice that has been lying to me, the fears, and the anger that has gone so deep into my roots that it spreads into all areas of my life and just leaves a deep sadness that needs to be sorted through and cut out, and that will take work, sweat and tears, it will leave me bare for a time, it will feel ugly for a bit but with time my true self will begin to show herself again. I will once again bloom and be visible and known for what I was actually intended to be.

June 14, 2018

known

After taking a bid deep breath yesterday I closed my eyes and hit send and my post went live; having opened up I felt raw and exposed and very very nervous about the possible response I would receive. I didn't want to look at the responses that I was receiving, the texts, the emails, the messages on Facebook because the bandage being ripped off my silence left me feeling so exposed. I have to admit that when I finally did look; when I finally opened the messages I was so comforted by the responses I read. So many people who are in similar spots, so many people with the same struggles, so many people who offered comfort, prayers, love. I am realizing how little credit I have given the people in my life and the world in general. It all seems so silly really, given I know myself I wouldn't think less of someone if they told me what I told you yesterday.  Thank you all for the love and show of support and acceptance. I needed that more than you can know. Sometimes I feel very 'unknown' and there is a part of me today, though still feeling rather exposed, that feels a little more known.

This is a journey that so many are on and while I take comfort in knowing I am not alone I find it a sad thought, to know how many others are feeling the weight of what I am feeling. Many people said 'you are not alone; I understand' and so now I say that to you. You are not alone,  I understand.

More to come, but not today. My brain needs a break today; I just wanted to say thank you for your kindness, compassion and gentle response to my post yesterday. It has helped.

L

June 13, 2018

Time to fight back

I haven't written in a long time, I have been putting off to busyness and time management but when I really sit and think about it I have to admit that I stopped writing out of fear. The last few months I have been trying to face some of those fears, trying to come to grips with where life has brought me and how I got to this point, this chapter. As I sit here I struggle with where to start because it seems like my brain is so full and trying to make sense of it all is hard for me. However, I have always found that writing, feeling heard and known is a source of therapy so I am going to start and let it flow.

In early November I finally found a doctor who was much closer to our new home and I went to meet her, I liked her immediately and had all my records sent to her and she became my new doctor. She had me come in for a routine check-up a few weeks later and as we chatted through my family medical history I told her all about the boys and their health issues. I guess she was listening to all that I was saying, and not saying because at the end of the appointment she asked me to fill out a screening test. It didn't take too much time but as I answered the questions I began to see a pattern, things that I kind of knew about myself but that I hadn't wanted to face and address. When I handed the test back to her she scored it up, looked at me and said 'do you realize that you are living with a moderate depression, and high anxiety? I wanted to cry because as she spoke the words resonated and I was both angry and a little hopeful. Angry that I was the way I was, and hopeful because someone recognized me, someone, who might be able to help me. We talked at length and she prescribed some medicine to get me over the crunch and she suggested I talk to a therapist. The problem was, I don't talk to people about how I am doing mentally, or if I do it's 'Im good, I've got this, I trust God'; all of which is not untrue but it doesn't cover the whole truth. Therein lies my fear in sharing this post, in picking up the blog again. Sharing with you my deepest fears and admitting the absolute truth is not easy, but it also means that I have to also delve into some painful areas of my life that up until now I have safely avoided (or at least ignored until I couldn't anymore. )

Tim and I were talking last night and he was trying to get me to open up with him about it all since I am still resisting therapeutic help he reminded me that he's been a pastor for 15 years and has a little experience. He asked 'do you ever really talk about this stuff with anyone?' and I had to admit that I don't. Writing has always been my way of working through my thoughts, and so it was him to got me to a place where I am now sitting here writing this post.

Over the last winter, I have been struggling to understand my mental health and figure out how I got here, and where to begin in finding healing, coping strategies. I have also struggled with deep shame and sense of failure about it all.  Shame and failure. Just admitting that brings embarrassment.  Throughout the last 11 years, I have heard so many times about how well Tim and I have handled what we have gone through with Joshua. People continuously tell us how strong we are, how they admire the way we have coped... having to sit here and tell you that I am not strong, that I haven't been coping brings a deep sense of shame; and failure as I know this post will let people down. I also think back to those days of pregnancy after the diagnosis when God told me 'Be strong and courageous' I have failed there too. I want to be strong, I put on the smile,  I am pretending.

As the winter wore on it became clear to both Tim and I as well as my doctor that I am suffering from PTSD; I get it, my brain understands it but it makes me feel weak, it makes me feel like I am whining just saying it out loud and so I am stuck in silence and I haven't been able to move. There just seems like so much stuff to work through that I don't know where to start and so I take my pills and I try baby steps but then I slip and anxiety overwhelms me and I go back to hiding.

I don't want to hide anymore. I am tired. I want to let go of the shame, I want to be the honest person that I have always claimed to be on this blog. I don't want to let more people down, I want to do what God has called me to do, I want to be strong, I want to be courageous and so here I sit. Coffee beside me growing cold, a sore throat from fighting the tears that both threaten to flood me but also cleanse me.

This is not going to be worked out in one post; this will most likely be a series of posts as I allow you to join me on my journey back to myself, back to wholeness.

Thanks for reading, and listening.

L