Growth

I’ve grown so much this year, but SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) doesn’t care. However, therapy has allowed me to give myself grace. To recognize my energy is low and to make accommodations for that. Also, perspective helps me remember that this too shall pass. I’m able to understand what is happening and turn it over to God.

I’m using this lower energy time to really think about my book, my story that is in me to tell. I’m trying to go from reciting facts to getting in touch with what I felt and wording that. I spent so many years mushing down my feelings that it is hard to allow myself to explore them and capture them on “paper.” Here is my first poem, and I use that word very loosely.

Images flash in my mind

A jumbled mess

Memories that are not even mine.

Sunshine dresses, clothes all around

Footie pajamas, screaming, “MOM!”

Are these real or just

Spoken over me?

Did I miss her terribly?

I did when I got older.

The safest place for me to land.

Not safe but safest

The difference between

Being in a canoe in shark infested waters or

Being in a snake pit

With a stick.

At two years old,

I didn’t know

I missed the best years of my mom

Being a mom.

Or so I’m told.

Advocate Persistently

Everyone tells you about the hot flashes. But no one, not even other women, tells you about all the other stuff that comes with perimenopause. The hot flashes are nothing compared to the increased anxiety, stomach issues, and mood swings. Those make me feel like a crazy person. They say the best way to determine when you’ll be done with this hellhole is by when your mother or sisters were done. Both my mom and my sister were done at 54. I don’t think I can do four more years of this!

Before you start quoting, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Yes, I’m aware, and believe me, I cry out to God frequently, but I wish people had told me about this. Is it because doctors just throw pills at you when you mention your symptoms but don’t explain why you might find yourself seriously anxious even though you did not struggle with it through most of your life? Not that pills are bad. I highly suggest pills if perimenopause is disrupting your everyday life, but no one says, “Based on your age, there is a strong possibility this is being caused by perimenopause.” My female doctor never even said the word, and even to this day has not mentioned it. I had to google it like a 5th grader curious about where babies come from.

I started reading about all these other women who were experiencing the same symptoms and the same noninformation from the medical professionals. I went for two years experiencing intense depression and anxiety before my periods to then just kind of experiencing it all the time on a lower level. I started having acid reflux. I started lashing out one minute and feeling like crying the next. I brought these issues separately to my doctor, and not one mention of perimenopause, which makes me wonder if this is not taught in medical school.

I actually do love my doctor so I won’t switch, but I will look for a gynecologist who recognizes perimenopause symptoms and encourages solutions. As women, we have to advocate for ourselves loudly and persistently in order to be heard. So it’s high time I do so.

The Little Girl in Me

I’ve been very sad today. I wasn’t sure why, but I think it has something to do with the little girl inside of me. She has taken care of me my entire life. Her tactics and methods were not always approved by others or even myself, but they have kept me alive.


Kimmie (me) realized by around age five, there was no one looking out for her. Her mom gone, her dad a shell, and her stereotypical stepmother were not there for her. Her brother was in the same boat, though much older and biding his time to get out of there. Her sisters, even older, shipped off to a relative, once removed. So she got up by herself (no alarm clock provided), watched TV alone, grabbed her sandwich off the counter, and got herself to Kindergarten. There was the one time when she missed the cue that it was time to go to Kindergarten–kids walking by her window–and she wandered the street scared, crying, unsure of what to do. Her dad showed up in his car, laughing at her tears and hugging her. That was nice. He showed up and did something about it, which was unusual.


This little girl became, or maybe already was, ultra observant. She had to figure out how to get her needs met, how to survive. She had to squelch the fear, loneliness, and feelings of being unloved. The only way she knew how was to escape into books and food. When she was cast into the spidery Michigan basement to sleep at night, she would stay up until all were in bed and stuff bread into her mouth and then sneak back downstairs. Escapism kept her from dwelling on the fact that no one made sure she showered, appropriately dressed, brushed her hair, and she became not only the verbal punching bag of her step-siblings but also of the school. She knew she was not valued or loved. She had to keep her head down and trust no one.


Just read and eat and watch TV. Those were her friends, and it worked. The little girl is now 50. But she is aware she is losing her control over the older Kimberly. That’s right; she even changed what name she goes by. The little girl knows she will have to go to her proper place, Kimberly’s memories, which is where she belongs. She is scared for them–Kimmie and Kimberly. She is scared that the new tactics Kimberly is learning to navigate life will fail, for they are mostly untested. She is sad that she is no longer needed.


Kimmie, this is Kimberly. I love you and am so proud of you for surviving. Thank you for getting me to this point in my life. I see you. I value you. I love you. You did all the hard work, and here I am, three children and two grandchildren later, finally, able to let you rest. I’m finally able to stand up and let my adult self take charge. You have been in charge for so many years out of necessity and then out of habit and fear. Now I say to you, “Your job is over, and you may rest in the love of the Father who created you. Thank you for stepping back to your proper place in my life. I love you.”

The Correct Name

I use to think about all the things that have happened to me. I would always say, “At least I didn’t get raped, nor was I molested. Not like a pride thing, but from a grateful heart. Except it wasn’t true. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to write about the rape. I’ve typed and deleted so many thoughts and words in the last twenty minutes. So frustrating.

I completely blocked out the molestation (it was not a family member). It was as if I blocked it, but at the same time, I remember remembering it. So I blocked it but not really. Sorry if that doesn’t make sense. I did not think of it as molestation, I think because the person was not an adult, but he was older. As I’m writing this, I keep using plural pronouns for the boy. But it was just one person. I was eight, and I think the boy was probably 12. I was spending the night at a friend’s house. We were in bed reading, and I was reading a book out loud to my friend. He climbed into bed with me, and she instantly “fell asleep.” Now that I think about it, I realize she was faking. He asked me to continue to read. As I read, I felt his hand on my vagina and fondled it. I froze. I kept reading but froze. I didn’t know what to think. No one had done that before, but I knew it was wrong. I finished the story, and he got out of the bed. He asked to be my boyfriend, and I told him no. I didn’t even really know what that was. I don’t remember much after that. I wonder now if he did the same thing to his sister. Why she instantly “fell asleep” when he came into the room. I didn’t go back there again. I didn’t tell anyone.

At that point in my childhood, no one was looking out for me. I had nowhere to turn. There was no safe place, so I think I chalked that up to another unsafe place for me to be. I had the traditional wicked stepmother and the father who wouldn’t stand up to her. I was in a house full of people but utterly alone. I carried that violation alone.

I did eventually tell someone when I was in my early 20s. They dismissed it as kids do that all the time–play doctor. So I carried it another 25 years until I was almost 50. I did an EMDR therapy session about a completely unrelated dramatic event, not even to do with molestation or rape. It was the next day, and I was on the treadmill. All of a sudden, it came back to me in a rush. I realized it for what it was. It was shocking for me to think it was anything else. I gave it its proper name–molestation.

Naming this event in my childhood for what it was, violation and molestation, unlocked a door. Out of the door came my eight-year-old self. I gave her a hug, and she walked away and turned to vapor–dissipating into the whole of me. A visible musty odor followed her out of the door. The musty odor clung to anger and grief. They had made friends with each other during their long imprisonment. They swirled around holding hands until they two followed the little girl disappearing.

I’m sure the little girl and the friends will come back to visit. I’ll hug her and tell her it wasn’t her fault; she didn’t ask for it, and she protected herself the best she knew how. But for now, I’ve processed all I can, and I am at peace. Correctly naming something and voicing it out loud, I think, takes away its power. It was a violation to me, and it was molestation.

My Cat Dying: Memories I See on Film in my Head

My therapist suggested I read a book called The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. In the third chapter, something said brought back all five or six memories that when I thought about them, they were like a film running in my head. They seemed to happen just yesterday even though it had been years. I wrote them all down and then shared them with her.

She suggested I write down what was in the film running through my mind when I thought of these memories, being sure to include all the senses. I agreed to do that, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to rethink through each memory so thoroughly. I couldn’t bring myself to do my “homework” for quite a few days. I decided I would just do one memory before seeing my therapist again. Surprisingly, the most vivid memory I had was the day my cat died. That happened 35 years ago, but my mind doesn’t think so.

I started to write about it and immediately it became from the cat’s point of view. I didn’t plan it; it just happened. I guess it was easier that way. I’m not sure how it happened, but here it is:

*******************************************************************************************************************

It is a warm, sunny middle of the summer day on a side street in the capital city of Michigan. We are so close to the zoo; one can sometimes hear the animals, especially the peacocks. The leaves are full and green, with no hint of the dulling that occurs before they start their colorful swan song of summer. 

The neighbors are out washing cars, kids playing in their front yards. Jules rolls in the dirt, giving her back a delicious scratch. She sniffs as she stretches into the luxuriously lazy day. She sniffs, and the sweet smell of the pear tree behind her dips into her nose. She hears the bees buzzing around it, looking for their next meal. She feels her tummy rumble; it’s almost time for her next meal. Her person should call her soon. She catches a flash of fur zip past her. How dare a squirrel run right past her in her own yard. Immediately, she went on alert, her butt wiggling, front paws planted on the ground, her nails in the dirt for traction. She knew it would come back her way. 

Here it comes! It zips past her again, but this time she’s ready. She takes off after it. The squirrel crosses the yard and runs across the danger zone faster than Jules thought possible. Jules heard her person calling her back, but her predator instincts overwhelmed her caution of the danger zone and her devotion to her person. She is so close to the squirrel. Her mouth is coming down on that obnoxious fluffy tail. She chomps down–nothing! The squirrel kicked it into another gear and jumped for a tree. It scurried up the tree as Jules skidded to a stop. She danced around the tree, trying to psych her way into climbing up.

All of a sudden, she felt this piercing pain sear through her nose to her head. The squirrel had come down to defend itself after depositing its nuts into its home. Jules reared back and, without thinking, headed to her person, her safe place. 

She ran across the danger zone. Once again, she was in too much pain to be cautious. She didn’t even see the four-wheeled monster barreling through the danger zone. She was on the ground; her world went black. She heard her person calling to her, she just had to get back to her, and all would be okay. She got up, running in the blackness toward the sound of her name being screamed into the world. She bounced off something and fell to the ground. She got back up and did it again.

She was closer. Her name was being screamed so loud the fabric of the earth was vibrating in Jules’s ears. She got back up, more frantic than ever to get to her little girl, her safe place. She followed, “Jules, Jules!” Finally, she was past the bouncing barrier, her person’s voice getting even louder. She hit the porch, knowing she made it. She was home; she was safe. Her safe person’s voice changed to a sobbing, choking sound. She heard her name more softly now. She started trembling as the pain from the bite, and the four-wheeled monster seeped into her body. She just wanted to sleep, to rest; she was safe.

“Jules, Jules”

Her person’s voice faded, and Jules started to relax. The pain, the voice, the warmth of the sun all faded as she melted into a deep final sleep.

My Struggle is Okay

I’ve been struggling this winter, which left me feeling guilty. There are so many people without jobs, wondering where their next meal will come from, wondering when they will be kicked out of their home, and wondering what to do next as they lose their jobs and businesses. My husband and I have our jobs, we can work from home, and can choose to have “contactless delivery.”

I understand financial insecurity; I’ve been homeless. I know how scary it can be and how physically and psychologically harmful it can be to lose your home, sleep outside, and find your next meal. That makes me feel even more guilty for struggling so much.

However, I realize how much sense it makes for me to struggle during this time.

I was known as the box queen when it came to feeding my family. I would make Hamburger Helper, Buy 49 cent burgers and fries from a place long since out of business. I would make anything out of a box and didn’t cook a lot of things from scratch. I didn’t have time. I was a single mom, working full-time. Then I was a married mom, homeschooling, going back to school, and working full-time. My youngest child graduated from high school, I graduated from college, and for the first time in my adult life, I just had to work full-time. I started to learn how to cook at the age of 49. Then the pandemic hit, which gave me even more time as I wasn’t driving everyone to work or college. I tackled more complicated recipes, making them my own.

This mirrored what was happening to me mentally. My entire teen and adult life, I’ve been so busy that I didn’t have time to assess the damage of my traumatic upbringing. With more time on my hands, I’ve had two minutes to think, and that hasn’t always felt good. I started to feel more anxious. Add into that the pandemic, and I had outright anxiety attacks. I started seeing a therapist, which helped somewhat. I’m even contemplating seeing a psychiatrist.

With my family’s struggles with mental health, I’ve become quite an advocate for seeking professional help. Medication, therapy, prayer, they can all tie in together. My mantra is mental health is physical health. Our brains are a physical part of our body. I will say that for everyone else, but I’ve held myself to a different standard. However, with my current struggles, I’ve realized I need to advocate for myself as much as I do for my family members.

All this to say that everyone is struggling in some form. It’s okay to struggle even if someone else “has it worse than you.” No one has a perfect life; we all need Jesus. If you are struggling with mental health, please seek assistance. Start with your doctor, but if you do not have a primary doctor, you can start to find help with these two places:

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

https://www.nami.org/help

But most of all, do not keep it inside. Find someone to tell of your struggles. You will find so many people struggling along with you. You are not alone.

A Message of Love

A message of love from the Triune God.

Jesus: I love you and was faithful to obey the Father to atone for your sin.

Father: I have loved you from the beginning. I watched over you since the crib. You are still my child. I still watch over you. I am close to the broken hearted.

Holy Spirit: I am the Living Well that is in you. Seek that water. It looks like Peace.

You are not alone.

Love and Peace to You

I don’t want others to feel alone, so I want to write how I’ve dealt with the things thrown at us this year, and the emotions I’ve had. The week before California went into lockdown, I had an assignment from a pastoral resident class that the staff (I work for a church) can sit in on for free. As staff, we are not graded, but it’s good to do the work to get the most out of the class. I was supposed to find a place for about four to eight hours to spend with God without interruption.

The more I thought about how to spend this day; I got the sense I was supposed to spend time with God while enjoying a day alone doing whatever I wanted. That seemed selfish, but it was a strong sense that I was to enjoy God by enjoying my favorite things. Now you should know that I can’t remember taking most of the day just for me since I was a young teen. So it’s been about 34 years. I took the day to go to the museum (A gift from my father and mother-in-law). I paid too much for a soda and snack and sat in the outdoor court, soaking in the sun. I felt the sugary, fizzy, orange soda slide down my throat. I watched the birds and squirrels jump, fly, and scurry around the patio. I wrote down how I felt and listened to what God would say to me.

I then meandered around the museum, viewing the obscure things that my family or friends wouldn’t have had the patience for. I went outside and enjoyed the view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay. I watched a painter for about 15 minutes. He moved his paintbrush here and there, lined it up with the bridge, looked at his colors but never got around to painting. I heard the lesson in that in my spirit.

I went to a Vietnamese restaurant and got some Pho. I went home and ate it while watching a show I like to watch. All of this alone as my husband and daughter were at work and school. I then took a walk, came back, and watched more TV. I wrote a little more. And that was it. It was such a good day.

A week later, COVID-19 grew out of control, and California shut down. I had no idea that would happen, but God did. The knowledge that God loved me so much to impress on me to take a day to myself and enjoy what I would not fully enjoy for the next six months and counting has sustained me.

With that being said, I have gone through bouts of depression and grief. I was unable to go to Michigan and see my children and grandchildren this summer. It was so hard. I have gone through feelings of guilt for having a job where I can work from home, not having to go out of my house except to grocery shop–knowing that there are those who are losing everything. There are those who have to go to work to provide food or heal the rest of us.

I have gained and lost weight. I have used this time to read good books and work out on my treadmill. I have dove deep into escapism eating chips while binge-watching Netflix (Tiger King, yep I watched it). Being an introvert, I have had times of building the wall around myself even higher, retreating further into my own psyche.

I have spent time reading the Bible, reading a verse or chapter that has caused me to blink, look around, and step a little more back into the world. I’ve read books that helped me see how I, using the gifts God has given me, can be used to build for the Kingdom of God. In some mysterious way, this build is eternal.

To sum it up, I have experienced grief, guilt, depression, isolation, freedom, joy, and wonder. But that day, the day God gave me, makes me smile and gives me peace when I let it. That day makes me wonder at his mercy and love. I hope there is a special moment that God has given you. A moment when you know you heard his voice clearly, a time you felt his presence or witnessed a miracle that you can draw hope and faith from. I pray the Spirit gives you a moment like this even now during the pandemic, fires (I live in California), and whatever else you may be going through where you live.

Love and Peace to you.

Unfailing Love

This morning, I typed and erased a couple of posts on Facebook. They were a little negative, and I just couldn’t post them. Then the thought came to my mind, why not post something uplifting. Negative in any way is not necessary. Plus, if I seek out something uplifting to share, it will uplift me. So I thought of the Psalms, which have been a great help to me. I just picked one Psalm 48, and verse 9 was highlighted to me.

Wiithin your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love. Psalm 48:9

I wondered why this caught my eye. I realized that we are now the temple of God (I Cor. 6:19). We can meditate on God’s unfailing love wherever we are. The Holy Spirit resides within us as believers. He reveals God’s unfailing love to us, and we can meditate on that instead of everything that is going on around us. From this overflow of love, we can be more patient with our families, reach out to others (safely, of course), and love our neighbor.

My pastor said during Easter, “The whole world is anxious right now.” The entire world is experiencing COVID-19 right now. The world is our neighbor. With technology, we can help anyone anywhere in the world. Right now, we need to see anyone from any walk of life as our community in this together.

The idea of the world as our neighbor can be overwhelming, but it starts with us meditating, as God’s temple, on his unfailing love.

In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the angel of His presence saved them;
In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them,
And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. Isaiah 63:9