Every Storm Runs Out of Rain by Aaron Poole

We’ve all heard that old saying, “The sun will come out tomorrow” but we never feel like tomorrow comes soon enough. Depression is a thing that a majority of people will go through at some point in their lives and it can be mentally and physically draining. Waking up each day while in a depressed rut can be one of the toughest daily tasks one can deal with on a daily basis. Stress in my life is the main cause of depression which can be caused by even the simplest things such as our job, our significant other, debt, or even the type of food you ingest. It can be a lot to deal with especially on your own.

There are ways to deal with depression and I don’t mean going to a specialist and spending a ton of money on multiple visits a month because that solution doesn’t work for everyone. It’s always good to find someone who can bring out the best part of you and can motivate you to try. Trying is the key to starting on a happier life but you have to be willing to do it because your life won’t change unless you do. There are different ways to “try.” It can be as simple as getting out of bed with a smile. No matter what you “try” to change, you need to know that you have to believe in yourself more than anything and that will lead to others believing in you.

Like the name of this post, every storm runs out of rain but it does take time. It’s not going to be an over night change but you’ll notice one day when you’re walking down the sidewalk looking up at the sun that you’re smiling on your own for no reason. Maybe someday you could be the reason for someone else’s smile and even the reason they themselves aren’t suffering from depression. Keep your head up and remember that if nobody else does, I believe in you.

Falling Doesn’t Always Mean Failing

Its hard when we see a friend/loved one fall after we have tried to help them up. Its so much easier to walk away and be discouraged. What we must realize is that what we do to help anyone shouldn’t be for our reward or the promise that “they will do better.” That is a selfish reason to help. If we chose to help we should do that regardless of what the person does or does not do with the help. People want immediate satisfaction with EVERYTHING. We want our actions to take immediate effect and change the world in that instant. We stop giving money to a person who is homeless because we “don’t want him to do something wrong with the money.” We want them to make great choices with the $2 we could spare. Guess what…not our job to police others. We don’t know what a person is going through, has been through, or if they will even be alive the next day… We don’t want to be “fooled” by someone who is really just faking having an issue. But that is what makes us fools.

To allow others to stop us from being kind, stop us from helping WHEN and HOW we can simply because they didn’t change right away or “didn’t really need the help” is the true atrocity. First we must think we are a God if our one action or even 5 should change a person at that moment. Imagine crawling for 5 years, someone helps you up to walk, you walk but fall down again. Help them up 5 – 6 more times…but their legs and balance aren’t there yet. That doesn’t mean stand there and just hold them up because there again…their own legs will not become strong. But realize, when they are ready to walk…when they want to – they will remember when you did try and help and they will cling to whatever they can to stand on their own. Your action today may not be remembered or even make a true difference in their lives until years later. I know ths to be true because I have had people help me along the way and it wasn’t until later that I realized how amazing it was.

So basically – yes use common sense but don’t lose heart. Don’t expect immediate results from your assistance – people take time to change. Do what you do because that is who YOU are not because of who they are not. Remember that love means you will do whatever you can for a person even if that means walking away so they can stand on their own if they chose. Their success or failure is not a reflection on the help we gave or tried to give. Yes do realize that what you do today – even if it is just so simple – can make a difference 10 or 20 years from now. Help is not to give us immediate satisfaction – it is what makes us truly spiritual beings and not just bitter humans.

Flipping the Switch

He told me that if he hadn’t deployed that he would have put me in the hospital.  Even if I had tried to ignore the severity of what had happened before – there it was in my face – truth.  I had been running from it for months and months.  Alcohol, partying, loving someone different for the night just to walk away without an emotion.  It all started so simply.  I fell in love.

I was 17, he was 18.  He was sweet, quiet, a bit shy. I could always pick out the pain in a person and I saw his.  The problem is that he never realized that he could see mine too.  He just didn’t know how to look for it in others because his sadness consumed him.  We started dating, fell in love, and I was pregnant within just a couple of months.  The smile that he had on his face when I told him was beautiful.  And for that time we were a wonderful couple.

Things changed – we married, moved far away from everything that we once knew.  We were old enough to be in love but too young to know HOW to love.  I’d like to say the “switch” was a quick flip…that it just happened and I was so stunned that I just had to get my head together.  Nope…this was more like a dimmer switch.  Hints of things to come, not able to communicate what was happening – silly fights that should have ended but turned into much more.  Slowly degrading me, poking fun, a lack of empathy, a lack of understanding and all I wanted to do was turn the lights on.  You see we switched the lights off slowly and in the dark there would be a push, a punch in the stomach, then a slap to the face and then a quick “choke”.  With the lights off it is so much easier to hide things even from yourselves.  Then when you close your eyes you can dream about those times that you saw love and kindness and pretend that it never left.

Right before he deployed I was standing in the bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror and he came in.  I wanted to talk about the night before – the punches I had taken.  Never knocked me down – I was never bruised but I knew it would be coming.  So as I tried to “fix everything” before he was deployed he choked me just to shut me up. It wasn’t one of those that would have knocked me out…but it was just a teaser of what was to come…and luckily for me…never did.

He left – gone for a year – and for 2 weeks I cried and missed him.  Then realized how nice it was not to be made fun of, not to be laughed at as I cried, not to try and try to get him to see and feel what I felt.  By the time he came back I was a different person.  Hard, a bit cold, so cold that he at one point laid in the floor and cried and I just didn’t care.  I had escaped – one night at a time, one mistake at a time – I never thought I would be the same…and I wasn’t.

Over the years I worked on me and I worked on forgiving him.  That forgiveness was so that I wouldn’t be burdened with hatred for the rest of my life.  I still have a hope that he will change.  However even though I believe a person can change – it isn’t our responsibility to wait on that change and be their punching bag until they decide its time.  You see, switching the light on is a lot harder than switching it off for both the abused and the abuser.  Your eyes have to adjust, everything looks different than before – reality is in your face and even the covers won’t shield you from the light.  

My biggest regret is that I didn’t get out sooner and that my daughter ever had to feel like she needed to protect me.  It was and is my job to protect her.  It is our job as parents to put the well being of our child – not just physically but mentally and spiritually – first.  I also believe that we can choose our own destinies that we never have to repeat those horrible things from our past.  There is always hope and love somewhere.  This isn’t a story for you to feel sorry for anyone, to hate anyone, but one that I hope you can understand.   Abuse is never love and is never ok – ever.

I was the leading actress “Fatherless”.  I never got the abuse as bad as she did – but it could have been me.  I had to feel those old feelings again just to play the part.  I want everyone to watch this not because it is in a contest but because it is a damn good depiction of where this type of life can lead, or not, lead to. Watch as the little boy witnessed this insane abuse – and then watch him grow into a man that makes the choice of who he wants to be – a loving father.  When it comes down to it…we all have the choice to flip the switch.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk3F6yY9EZo&w=640&h=375]

To go and vote for this movie click this link “Fatherless”.

Missing Her…

95 Years.  That’s how long she endured this life.  1919 was the year she was born – a time that women’s rights were just becoming – anything.  A time that out of 16 babies – she was one of 4 to live after her mother gave birth.  A time in which a man could abuse his wife – and he got a slap on the hand.  A time that when at 13, she could become married to a man in his 30’s to help  her family.  A time that she stood in the face of death – a shotgun held by her father- to shield her mother.  She talked of running through the cornfields at night in the cold to get away from him.  She spoke of jumping out of the car to help her blind mother after her father had pushed her out of the car on a dark, country road.  She was just 6 or 7 years old and she took her mother by the hand and led her to safety – over and over again.  She talked of her mother’s beautiful, dark, Cherokee Indian hair and skin.  Making biscuits and caring for her siblings.  And now – she is gone.

My Grandmother, Eva Mae – was amazing, strong, loving.  She raised her children and most of her grandchildren.  She lived a life of poverty until her dying day but prayed and spoke of God as her Savior without hesitation.  I knew, always knew, that she loved me – for me.  I was always the quiet one – but she and my Paw Paw loved me for that.  She is gone and I feel that so much of my world left with her.  I think that ultimately I could have told her anything and no matter – even if she disapproved – would still love me and hug me.  A week before she died, I laid my head on her chest.  She put her frail little arms around me, and patted me.  Just as she would a baby – and talked of how my Paw Pay and she loved me when I was a baby.  How I would reach out for her.  That I never disrespected her.  She just held me and was my grandmother one last time.  As I wiped my tears I knew that would be the last.  I hadn’t gotten to be just a granddaughter for a while – but in that moment – she was the strong one.

Eva Mae – I miss you so much.

MawMaw

Stripper Heels to the Rescue

NoFearYep…that’s right. I’m going there.  When I started this blog that I have been neglecting due to well – life – I mentioned briefly becoming a stripper when I was in the middle of my breakdown.  Now I am here to elaborate.

First I will tell you I am not ashamed of being a stripper.  The other ladies there were just that – other ladies.  Women trying to make a living.  They had kids, lives, and it wasn’t a place where breaking the rules was tolerated even by the strippers themselves.  The majority didn’t drink, didn’t do drugs, went home to their families and maybe even worked a day job.  Feet were tired and in rough shape from hours of being on them in those famous “stripper heels” that everyone now wears to their day job cubicle.  So don’t judge..really.

Now I was working for an ambulance service doing billing and accounting.  At this time I was taking Prozac and didn’t “feel” anything but still had LOTS of crazy running through my head.  I was just numb to it which brought its very own type of fear.  The fear of just not giving a damn.  I was a temp and they decided to hire me on full time with a promotion.  That was just too much – so I never went back.  I had played with the idea of being a “dancer”.   I wanted to do something completely, utterly different.  No desks, no real responsibilities – dancing and “easy money”.  So my friend and I went to one of the nicest clubs in town – lied about our previous experience (which was the norm) and they put us on the day shift.

Now one would think with all the partying and drinking I was doing that I would HAVE to be drunk every time I danced.  Nope -I decided I wasn’t going to be taken advantage of nor was I going to fear what I was doing. It not only was against club rules but against mine.  I was done being afraid.  I was always straight and sober.  My first run on the catwalk was like I had been doing it for years.  I was fearless. And it felt good.

No I am not suggesting everyone become a stripper or the like. However what I realized is that every night I was working out – really hard.  I danced and loved it.  I was drinking lots of water, wasn’t drinking alcohol or doing any other types of drugs.  It was helping me to get physically healthier.  Now what I hated was “asking for a dance” and I just couldn’t pretend very well to be someone that I’m not.  But when I was on stage I felt good, sexy, defiant.  I never felt in danger – the club owners made sure of that and the girls were all really tight.  So basically I was working out, drinking and eating healthier, resting more, got some self esteem back without giving away everything to everyone and I made a lot of good friends.  I started feeling better.

I could go home and my anxiety levels were cut in half – less thoughts – less crazy – more in control.  So after about a year I felt more like myself and after watching a new girl accidentally OD I decided it was time for me to get out.

So again – you never know who you are judging when you do – so just don’t.  I was a scared, hurting woman – I was a stripper – and those stripper heels helped me to save my life.

Be Strong.  Be Beautiful.

Angela

The Snowball Effect

It starts really small…just a thought even.  Then without even realizing it gets bigger and bigger.  You keep just pushing along making it larger and larger but what you don’t realize is the huge, steep hill just below you.  Everything is so white, so big, these little pushes can’t amount to anything – but then it drops and the snowball is accumulating more speed, more snow and debris and becomes huge, almost unstoppable.  You are left at the top of the hill screaming for everyone to get out of the way and for the snowball to just stop before it crushes everything in its path…everything that you love…every piece of who you are.

That for me is the easiest and most precise description of a “break down”.  Yes there is that “trigger” that may set the whole thing in motion…but I promise..there were little steps to get there…little flakes of “crazy” that were at the time easy to ignore.  Once it all hits that final hill, and no one is there to slow it down…it rolls down faster and faster getting crazier and crazier.

You see life choices, DNA, environment all played into my breakdown.  Yes, my family has a STRONG history of mental illness – but the choices I was making – i.e. the bad ones…didn’t help.  I didn’t have a healthy way to communicate pain, disappointment, sadness.  I bottled it up…then drank the bottle.  No I wasn’t an alcoholic – that would be way to easy to explain away.  I was just miserable and lonely.  Then add some major hormonal changes and BAM! Off to the races of hating myself and being too afraid of what was happening to get help.  I was afraid to be around my daughter – the one person in my life that I loved unconditionally.  Then instead of making better choices…I did everything I could to run away from it.  Hoping that if I did something daring enough that I could “shock” it away.

I didn’t talk about what was really in my head.  It was terrifying.  Thoughts that I didn’t want – they weren’t mine.  So on the outside it just looked like I was shirking my responsibilities as a mother and “partying”.  I can’t blame them…that is what I was doing, but only because I was scared and wanted to protect my little girl from me…or whatever was happening to me.  You see I didn’t realize it was a severe form of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) or that Zoloft would make it stop.  Nope…just kept wishing the snowball would melt.  They take a REALLY long time to melt…so what you need is something to stop it in its tracks and bust it open.

So before you judge someone just realize that there may be things they are going through that you don’t know.  Does it make it right that I wasn’t there for her like I needed to be for that 2 years?  No.  But I have asked for her forgiveness and explained it to her.  I have fought to get better and have fought to help others do the same.  I can’t get back those years…but damn it…I will do everything possible to make sure that every year that I have matter.  And I am so blessed that my baby girl and I have the best relationship that a mother could ever wish for. Just keep in mind…I had to FIGHT for it.  I love you Lydia!

Be Strong.  Be Beautiful.

Angela

Chris and us

Lydia, Me, Chris, Nina and Anna

That One Day

I woke up and it was like it had never happened.  Everything was right with the world – it was after all, my birthday.  I made my way to the kitchen with my daughter Lydia, who was 2 years old at the time, and had great breakfast and “happy birthdays”.  I decided just to brush it off as a horrible nightmare that was finally over and that I could go back to the routine as usual. I wanted to take Lydia to the movies that day but was disappointed that the theater on base wasn’t open.  But I remember loving the fact that I could hold her hand, hug her, love her, tickle her and just enjoy our time together.  The three weeks prior were just hell and I had felt so far away from her and from reality.  I thought about the visit to the base psychiatrist who suggested medication.  It petrified me and my family to even think of medication – that was for “crazy” people.  I refused the help.  So on my birthday – September 1, 1997 – I was just glad it was gone – the black, dark, heavy cloud that had taken over.  It was a wonderful day and saved my life more times than I can remember. You see – later that night it all came back.  The fear, the depression, the insane thoughts and that feeling that I wasn’t really here at all.  If I knew then what I know now – I wouldn’t have gone back to “the normal routine”.  The normal routine consisted of denial, anger, self-loathing, partying, holding it all in and denying help.   What I would have done is went back to the psychiatrist and did anything in the world to help me so that I could be me.   That day of clarity would have been just that – but I didn’t know.  My mind slid back into the muck, grasping at the low hanging limbs and torn grass,  and remained there for years.  The thing that held me above and kept me reach was That One Day.  That One Day reminded me of exactly who I am and how I could once again be me.  A gift from God?  A break in insanity?  My brain healing if for just one moment?  I don’t know – I was just thankful for it even in the darkest of moments.

Be Strong.  Be Beautiful.

Angela

IMG_9464x

Thankful for the Crazy

I started this blog in 2013 not just to tell stories, but to help others and to help myself.  Then more crazy happened…just a crazy busy life with ups and downs and I had no time to write.  But the posts were all were in my head because even when I haven’t had time to write – I’ve had time to live.   So here I begin again – with more purpose and drive to really dig into the things that “shame” us and to shed light on those things so that we don’t hide behind it but rise above it and heal.

So I’m thankful for the crazy – because I can talk about it  and it gave me a purpose that even I don’t completely understand.  I just know its cool.

 

Be Strong.  Be Beautiful.

Angela

me bb

Angela

Hard Balance of Guilt

My Dragon Tattoo
My Dragon Tattoo

When I was about 23 years old I got my very first tattoo.  It was during my “breakdown”.  I went to get an armband tattoo but saw this beautiful dragon intertwined with a Yin Yang.  It covers my shoulder blade and I still love it to this day. I wore a Yin Yang necklace – looked for anything that had a Yin Yang.  The dragon in Asian culture is a symbol of wisdom, peace and strength.   Both of these were the things that my soul was scratching to get back to.   The guilt and shame I felt for being so sick, guilt of all the mistakes I made and was still making,  guilt of failing myself, my daughter, my family….it buried me.  There was not enough sleep or alcohol to make the monster stop.  It was eating away at me – so my tattoo – was one of the first strikes I made against it…the war had started.

Now – most would think that I believe that guilt is unnecessary.  On the contrary – without guilt we would have no conscious (or we would never had made mistakes to feel guilty about but we know that isn’t going to happen.)  You see – we as human beings – lack but strive for balance in our life.  Unfortunately when our balance is thrown off – we overcompensate and then slide into the ditch.   Instead of turning into the skid – we jerk the wheel and either crash lightly or keep rolling down the hill.   What we fail to recognize is first what we really should feel guilty for and then what to do with it.

I feel guilty about many things I have no control over.  At the same time I have felt guilty over things I completely have control over – and rightly so.  I recently recognized with the advice of a very good friend and mentor – that I “retreat” when things go wrong.  If I can’t keep in touch with all of my many friends (that I am so blessed to have) on a “timely basis”  I feel guilty – so I either don’t call or just text (wimpy!)  If I fail at a project or a goal I feel guilty that I let my team or leadership down – I back away – I retreat (hiding!)  If I get my kids to bed too late I feel guilty – like I’m not a good mother – so I brush it off and tell myself it will never happen again (unrealistic!)  When I am under pressure financially because of things in or out of my control – I feel like I have failed my entire family and those that have helped me along the way – so I stop balancing my checkbook  for a while until forced to (denial).  All this is driven by guilt and I handle it wrong.

Things I should feel guilty for – if I lie to someone about something important, hurt someone for no reason, don’t fulfill a promise simply because I didn’t “feel” like it, or just over promise knowing I can’t meet that promise !  We all have the things we should feel guilty for and those things we shouldn’t.  But let me tell you what we should actually use our guilt for –  an alarm system.  That’s it.  Put the batteries in and when smoke happens guilt should be our alarm then we have to decide if we need to take action to call the fire department or if it was a false alarm that we could have avoided.

You see guilt when held onto is nothing but destructive and actually is the easy way out.  We think that if we feel guilty that it means we are actually a good person.  If we hold onto the guilt then we are really sorry.  I call bull shit (and I call it on myself).  We hold onto it because we don’t want to deal with what it was that we did and change ourselves so that it doesn’t happen again.  We don’t go to rehab because we just feel guilty and don’t want to talk about it.  We don’t talk to our partner about an infidelity because we feel guilty so why would they need to know?  But guess what – unending guilt makes us worse.  It is harder to DEAL with our problems than to let go of our guilt.  It is harder to FORGIVE ourselves than to believe that guilt will somehow hang on a cross for us to rid us of our sin.

Now to the guilt over the things we can’t control.  Things we shouldn’t really feel guilty for but do.  That is a “false alarm” but it is one that still has to be dealt with.  If we let something boil over on the stove  – the alarm may go off in your home.  Do you just let it continue to go off?  Do you call the fire department even though you aren’t in danger?  NO!  So to continue to feel guilty over something that we logically shouldn’t is like calling in the Army to deal with a cockroach.  We need to figure out why we really feel guilty and use that as an alarm letting us know we need  to change the situation in a way that makes sense.  I, for example, feel guilty that I can’t talk to all of my friends all the time.  I am letting them down.  Well, you know what?  My friends know I have a big family, big responsibilities and that if they needed me to be – I would be there for them and give them a kidney.  No I don’t have time to call everyone or even see everyone but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love them just the same.  If they don’t know that – then I just need to tell them – oh..just did.

I am sooo not perfect and everyday I realize something else about myself and you know today was the day to DEAL with my guilt and to stop retreating without warning.  Its hard – but I’m a warrior and so are you.  Use guilt as a temporary feeling, deal with the emotions, change, forgive yourself and others and let it go.  Guilt doesn’t make you a better person – it just makes you a person.

And She Crashed

I don’t get tired of describing her….bright red hair, spunky, small hands, a bit eccentric – and so loving.  I can think back now and hear the sadness in her voice.  The sadness that would swallow her in the dark and tell her she was all alone.  The sadness that prompted her to tell me to “Never kill yourself – you’ll go to hell”.  The sadness that engulfed her some days so much that getting out of bed seemed impossible.  The sadness that eventually killed her – took her from me and left me with so many questions.  No, I didn’t see it then.  She would tell me things about some of the abuse she suffered from her husband and how she cried out for Jesus.  I witnessed the breakdown of her and her daughter over how the rest of my family treated them – like outsiders.  But I didn’t know then how very lost she was.  She did everything she could to lift me up.   She made me feel pretty and smart and loved.  Other than my parents she was the one that came to my Baptism and my first piano recital.   She would be the one to come pick me up in her bright blue Firebird and make me feel “cool” even if just for the amount of time I rode in her car.  She brought me the book “Makeup for Blondes” to help me learn how to apply makeup the right way (nix the makeup line.)  I still have that book.

The day it happened was surreal.  I was 12 years old – I hadn’t seen Sue in about 2 months.  I wasn’t sure at the time what was going on.  My family wasn’t very forthcoming with anything.  My Uncle Danny and cousin Suzanne came to the house to tell us that Sue shot herself.  My mom asked if she was ok.  They looked at us like we were crazy and said…”No..she’s dead!”.  I remember mom calling my dad – Sue’s brother.  She had written many suicide notes according to the police, lit the house on fire, put a towel under her bedroom door, played Christian music on her radio then took a gun and shot herself in the stomach.  I honestly don’t know if she died instantly.  I never saw the notes.  I never saw the letter that I knew she wrote to me.  All I know is that I lost a woman that I loved dearly.

The next thing I remember is the funeral.  I don’t remember the feelings before the funeral or any of the conversations until then – just the funeral.   We walked in and I can remember the smell of the lilies – to this day I can’t stand the smell.  She was laying in her casket…so still and so pretty.  Even in death she was stunning to me.  My dad went out on the funeral homes porch and cried.  I went out and tried to comfort him.  I told him that she was ok and was in Heaven.     It didn’t really comfort him – he just cried more.  I felt defeated.  My family sat in the back pews.  I didn’t really understand why then but found out later they didn’t want to sit next to my uncle or anywhere close to him.  Three months after Sue’s death he moved in with his new wife – to the same house where she took her life.  Very telling.

I don’t remember what was said at the funeral, or her being buried.  Just her in the casket.  For years she had threatened so many times to kill herself before – with aspirin or anything on hand.  My dad or someone else would go to the house, wait her out, and be there when she emerged from her bedroom promising that she didn’t really mean it.   But this time…the final time…she didn’t call anyone.  She just ended it.  My family blamed medications (she had just survived cancer).  I blame ignorance by others and society and depression.  I understand now that she didn’t really want to die…she just wanted it to end.  The hatred, the doubt, the sadness – all of it to end because she wasn’t living.

For a while I didn’t want to tell people that I named my first daughter after her.  Her full name was Lydia Sue Poole Smith.  I didn’t want people to think that it was wrong to name my daughter after a woman who killed herself.  It became Sue’s identity for a while – the woman who killed herself.  But now…my daughter Lydia is a radiant woman – just like Sue.  Sue’s identity was not how she ended her life but by the impact she made in her life.  I do not believe that those who take their own lives go to hell – honestly that is ridiculous (although growing up in the Bible Belt it was a question).  I know that she is finally okay.  I have stopped blaming myself for not calling her (yes even at 12 years old).  She was in so much pain – a pain that I too have felt but did not want to leave others with the same questions that she had left.

She was an amazing woman.  I only wish I could let her know now how much she impacted my life in such wonderful ways.  If she could have only seen that – but the sadness…that dark devil…wouldn’t let her see it.

Mental illness is real – we like to push it to the background and believe that if we are “strong enough” that we can beat it.  We can ignore it all we want – but all we are doing is allowing others to suffer.  Sue was a wonderful loving person – but she is dead now because she never could see it.  She had a veil of darkness that clouded her judgement.  A veil that could have been lifted with treatment and understanding.  I want to lift the veil – then we can ALL see the light.

I love you Sue….I always will…Sue2