November 14, 2015

Giant pile of feelings

I really need to make writing in my journal a lot more appealing so I can commit to writing in it daily. I get so bogged down with thoughts that really need to come out so often, that I should be writing daily, but somehow things get in the way, or the feelings aren't urgent enough to stop and take a moment to jot down my feelings when they happen. Most of the time. these strong feelings accumulate and pile on top of each other, until I can't function unless I write them out, and this blog  has become that outlet for the giant pile of feelings, matter of fact, most of my post titles, or even the name of this blog could be "giant pile of feelings" but no, I have to go all Tessa on it and try to be witty at all costs.

 I was at Time out for women this weekend (just got home actually) and a comment was made in jest that a blog is just a public journal for you to vent your problems to. It made me feel kind of guilty. I have a hard enough time with keeping a blog due to the fact that everyone else has one, (cause I love being original)  and now the way I use my blog was being mocked.

Thing is, I don't write for other people. Most of my posts are for myself, and that is because it feels absolutely stifling to keep what I have learned to myself, and it helps ease my sense of isolation and loneliness as well. Regardless of how gloomy it it sometimes, and how serious it is all of the time,  It is a tool I use to really process some hard things I may or may not have come out on the other side of.  It's a place I organize my life lessons.

I've gotten a lot of those lessons just within the last few weeks. In the period since my last post and today, I have learned a few things that I want to be transparent about, But I think I will break each down into different posts, otherwise this would be a painfully long post.

Now that I've validated myself and my purposes for this blog, I'll move on.


October 7, 2015

Harder better faster stronger: Maisie's birth story

I had contractions constantly for two weeks prior to my due date, and afterwards had a small window of time each evening of regular contractions, sometimes even waking me up at 3 am, waiting for other signs of labor to begin.. I knew my body was doing a lot of work beforehand. I was pretty unsettled by passing gobs of mucous plug for over 2 days and i was beginning to think something was wrong.

John's parents had come into town and I felt like I needed some time to myself to get anchored in a peaceful mindset in preparation for the birth. We had dinner together sunday night, and then sent the children with them on an overnight adventure, as my contractions had really started to pick up, and I was nearly certain I was going into labor. John blew up the air mattress and slept on the floor next to me out in the living room.

.I woke up Monday morning, realizing my contractions had stopped. Monday was relaxing. I had the house to myself and all was quiet. my mind was able to be focused on one thing at a time instead of six things. I watched what I wanted, ate what i wanted and didn't have to share, folded laundry and put it away without it being unfolded the moment i left the room, and read my book completely uninterrupted, all in the comfort of my underwear, lounging on the couch. John came home for lunch and we ate together in sweet silence. We went to bookman's that evening  after John returned from work, and walked around before heading to dinner for a dear friend's surprise birthday celebration. we had a good time talking and eating, all the while joking about going into labor at the restaurant. I decided I missed the kids enough to have them return home that night, and so we retrieved them from mom and dad. We all slept pretty well, John once again on the air mattress next to the couch.

Tuesday morning arrived, and I rolled off the couch onto my hands and knees so i could go to the bathroom, and realized my pants were wet. My water never broke with emberlee, and It broke when i started pushing with paxton, so I was somewhat uncertain. I went to the bathroom and saw that my pants were indeed wet, and I also had my bloody show. no contractions yet. I notified my midwife and she reassured me that everything I was describing was totally normal and nothing was raising any flags. I accepted that my water had broken and that my contractions would start soon, and i would meet my baby within a matter of hours. I handed off my adjustment appointment to John, who had called in to work to be with me. I felt really unwell and just needed to go back to bed, so I did. I felt better after an hour or so of rest.

 We had breakfast and made all the phone calls we needed to make, and arranged for the kids to spend the day with Grandma and grandpa again. John got his adjustment, and I waited for the contractions to pick up, but instead they stopped. I waited and got frustrated and worried. Why hadn't my contractions picked up? why hadn't my body started giving me other signs of labor? I cried in the car on the way home, and began to worry that something was wrong. I had the midwives come out and they were able to talk me out of my downward spiral. They checked my blood pressure, Maisie's heart tones, and swabbed to see if my water had in fact broken. Which, they confirmed. They reassured me that everything was as it should be, and to take advantage of a quite house and John at home, and to relax and spend time together. Shortly after they left, I had John give me a blessing of comfort, and I fell asleep on the couch with a book and slept for just over an hour. When My body started hurting and contractions started again, I told John I wanted to watch a movie. That was about 5 pm. We plugged in the movie, and about an hour into the movie, my  contractions start building really consistently, so I got up and walked around, and that made my contractions practically pile on top of each other. I notified my midwife and she asked if I needed her soon, and I said to give me another hour. That was at 6pm. My contractions continued and I told John we needed to go take the dog somewhere else because it was starting to rain, and we couldn't leave her outside if she got in the way.

We piled into the car (because I refused to be left alone) with the dog in tow, and brought her to our good friend's home. On our way back,  John (who is hands down the best doula I could ask for) asked me if i was hungry, and if i was, what did i want to eat? I recommended a rotisserie chicken because fast food did not sound good and i knew I needed the protein. So John took me to fry's and flew in and out of the store with chicken, a salad mix and a huge bottle of naked juice to keep my energy up for the long night ahead (keep reading, and you will find out why this sentiment is so comical) all the while I'm contracting 2 minutes apart in the car.

We get home, it's pouring rain and the wind is blowing and we get soaked walking from the driveway to inside the house. I shovel down food in between contractions and sit on the birth ball, determined to finish the movie we paused half an hour earlier. I get about 5 mintues in, and I decided "screw it, I'm getting in the shower cause my back is so sore!"

It's 6:45 and pouring rain, so I told my midwife to head on out. I get in the shower and direct that heat onto my back but it doesn't seem like it's working at all, and so I labor on my hands and knees, waiting for my body to tell me what to do next. I know that it is finally true labor, and so I begin to pour my heart out to my father in heaven while in that conducive hands and knees position. I confide all my worries and fears and the walls start coming down. I plead for forgiveness and beg for mercy. I express gratitude and confess my love, and weep, and I don't stop until I feel the peace that I know will come.

 John is bustling about the house,trying to finish his meal and do that last- minute puttering about the house before the birth can take place (taking out the garbage, putting on his swim trunks, double making the bed, emptying the Washer and dryer, emptying laundry baskets ....) and checking on me every few minutes as he does so.

The midwives finally arrive about 45 minutes to an hour later, and my hands and knees are killing me from being on the hard tile, but I felt cemented there. I couldn't seem to cope with the contractions any other way. I was worrying again because I hadn't felt movement in a while, and so when the midwife walked into the bathroom I asked for her to check heart tones right away, and she did. Baby sounded great and i was reassured again that things were as they should be. I told her "i am really regretting not having a birth pool right now!" and she sweetly tries to provide me with that option, but we both knew that by the time someone got out here with a pool, it would be too late.

 John gets in the shower with me and just holds me until more contractions come, and I hang off of him because that is the only way I can relax. I tell him " don't let me go" and relax completely into my contraction, and did another 2 like that before I started feeling pushy. I said " Time to get out, cause i can't have the baby here". So I dry off and head to the bedroom buck nekkid, and have a really intense contraction at the side of the bed, and I know I am approaching transition aka the part that really sucks. I climb on the bed and can't seem to find any other position than my hands and knees, but i was getting really tired, so i tried the birth ball on the bed, and that did help some, but it made my butt tense up during a contraction and I was strting to get really sore. It was at this moment I started transition because i hit a wall. That rock and a hard place, where I know if I keep having contractions it was going to really suck, and pushing was going to suck, and it all just sucked. but i knew the pain would be over and I would meet my baby sooner if i embraced the suckitude. So I made a compromise with myself. If I could get just a few minutes break, off of my hands and knees, I would do it. I would come back strong and finish. So I layed down on my left side on the bed and just relaxed. John brought in some music, which I had previously selected for the birth. the contractions stopped for a little bit and it was wonderful. I got to rest for about 20 minutes before my contractions came back, and then I had to get back on my hands and knees, because I knew it was go time.

I had two really pushy contractions when the rest of my water broke, and the midwives jumped up from where they were sitting on the floor at the foot of my bed, and gloved up, and came immediately down to the business end and swapped out the chux pad I had only partially soiled with my copious amounts of fluid, and placed several more down on the bed so I wouldn't be kneeling in it. I start pushing and it feels damn good. I was ready for her to be out. she made her way out, little by little, two steps forward, one step back, and the midwives say I am doing beautifully. I feel the right of fire and hold her there until the contraction ends, and then her head up to her eyes were out. I push again and the ring of fire stops. I was certain I tore up the front because It was burning like hell. (I didn't)  I push again, and with more effort than I expected, delivered her shoulders. the midwives suction her and prepare John to catch her with the last push, and on my last contraction, I  push out the rest of her body into John's hands at 8:53 pm, about an hour after the midwives arrived. It just so happens that my playlist was playing kanye west's harder better faster stronger as i am birthing , and the midwives got a kick out of that. me, the sweet little mormon girl with a weakness for dirty rap music.





my limbs are shaking with fatigue and I fall forward onto the bed to rest. Maisie was totally quiet for a few moments and then begins to cry. I realized that is MY baby and turn over and reach for her, and john puts her on my chest. I break down into tears. all I can say is "my baby! my baby!" over and over, and the sobs overwhelm me. It was the first time I have cried after having a baby. I was just so grateful she was out and in my arms with breath in our lungs.

I constantly prayed that things would be ok, and after that still, small voice told me this birth would be my triumph after the trials of this past year, I used that to lean on, during this labor, and even now two weeks later, knowing that God makes good on his promises.

September 2, 2015

#winning

I may have said this before, but it doesn't matter how many statistics I know, or how well I prepare my body- or even the fact I've done this smoothly twice before; but I still have fears around having babies. This is my third pregnancy, and my midwife calls me a "seasoned professional" at natural childbirth, but I feel like I am on total recall. This feels like my first time. I have so many questions and concerns, and every bump and click and pain I feel puts me in a state of concern.

This pregnancy has had a lot of trauma for me, with my marriage nearly ending and with unexplained health concerns coming up along the way.  Having the baby on the outside brings a whole knew list of challenges and struggles that I will possibly have to handle, and I just fear the transition will be unmanageable on my own. I fear that the state my body was in at the time of conception, and through this pregnancy will negatively affect my outcome. I fear that the state of my emotions during this pregnancy will negatively effect this baby in the long-term. I have felt pretty far from the light the last few weeks. I feel so much better, but I am still struggling against powers unseen on a minute by minute basis. Satan is real, and he hates my guts.

But, I have to give this over to God. There is nothing I can do but hope and pray, and beg that I get what I want; That I am blessed with the righteous desires of my heart. And yes, I do think having a smooth home birth is a righteous desire, and yes, I think it's okay for me to ask for what I want In this instance.

I was sitting and thinking about how to get "in the zone" and stop being so afraid this morning, and I had a really comforting and overpowering thought that my Father in heaven will make this birth a moment of triumph for me. Those words, exactly. "this birth will be your moment of triumph."
Triumph specifically means I get to win. This birth will be the opportunity to tell satan that he doesn't get to win, I do. I won the prize at the end. I get to reign victorious.

I cling to that vision of me, baby in arms, on fire with the spirit as my refining process during this pregnancy is seen to it's end.

That is what gets me unafraid.

August 17, 2015

My conversion story part 6: my return to Christ

I started attending church little by little
my questions and beliefs had not changed, but my heart was open to the possibility that I was wrong.
It was an odd sort of realization that I wanted the church to be false, but I avoided doing the work to really figure it out; which is the predicament I am currently in. I Sat in sunday school and would be furious about how they taught specific things- one of which was a bashing session on people who had left the church. Somehow they were all experts on the intentions of people's hearts, and assumed the motives for leaving were always selfish. Even as I type this, I want active members to know that they need to stop assuming people's motives for leaving, and realize it is much, much  harder that it appears to be. We don't just wake up one morning and stop coming to church. We don't always base our decision because someone offended us, or because we sinned and felt guilty but didn't want tot change. It's not a lack of faith. Oftentimes, we explore other options- praying to god it will lead us back to church and re-affirm our testimonies. The possibility that Joseph Smith may not have done the things he said he did hurt to even consider. So the point of my rant being- stop judging. heaven forbid you have a crisis of faith and everyone just assumes you have a lack of faith, and uses your story as an example in sunday school for the class to pity.

The Turning point.
I sat in sacrament meeting, listening to people get up and bear testimonies, and even though my mind was going 100 mph with skepticism and bitterness towards all these ignorant people; my physical body was calm for the first time in weeks. Tears uncontrollably ran down my face, and I had to get up and leave. I was really confused, and honestly a little pissed off that this was happening. I had worked so hard to get as far away from Christianity as possible, and now this?

But it made me curious, and so I kept going back.


I got really sick.
Sicker than I had been in a long time, and the ramifications lasted for nearly three months. I have been well my whole life, and this took up much of my thoughts. It was devastating.
I was dizzy all the time, and nothing seemed to help. I was dehydrated and wasn't eating enough due to the dietary limitations my doctors had put me on, in order to manage my anxiety. But really the only thing that helped was staying off of facebook.

It was at this time that I realized that I had lost my gift of discernment and the presence of the Holy ghost, because that intuition thing I called the holy ghost was failing me. Normally I am dang good at diagnosing what my body wants, but I was so lost in fear. I didn't know what was wrong. I didn't know if it was my blood sugar, or my iron levels, or a sensitivity to chemicals... and it didn't help that the doctors didn't know either! that concerned me the most. I also couldn't seem to communicate my symptoms adequately, which was probably the most frustrating.

The days were miserable. I was alone with the kids and left to push through this dizziness during the day. I was dizzy in my sleep. I was dizzy sitting, standing and walking. but driving seemed to be fine.
it was hell for a long time, and I started earnestly praying and seeking God for the first time in a while. I was willing to have the Lord prove me right when I asked for his help. I begged to be healed. I sought repentance for the things I had done. I started reading my scriptures. I did everything in my power to make things right with My father in heaven again. And up until that point, I felt no shame or guilt for my mistakes.

Somehow, when I decided to be humble enough to turn to God for help instead of figuring it out on my own, I felt the godly sorrow surface. I knew I couldn't do this by myself as I had originally thought.

I finally understood why I needed a savior.
I was willing to buy into the Christ myth if that meant I felt peace about the things I had no control over, and the wrongs I had done.I slowly started putting him to the test, and when I started getting answers to my prayers...
 I needed him more than I needed air.

and it wasn't just my prayers he answered. No, he would grant things that appeared in my thoughts or in comments I would make. I remember being at my dizziest, and hadn't slept in a few days. I was texting my mom, talking about the things I associate with comfort and said to her " I wish I could sleep. I would kill for a soothing rainstorm right about now."
I put one of those rain sound apps on my iPhone and played it that night to see if it would help, but it's not the same.
and the next day, it rained, and I had the best nap that afternoon- and I knew heavenly father was listening.

That was when I handed my heart back to him, piece by piece.

The peace and comfort I feel now is unprecedented. I have a sense of calm that I never thought I would get back again. I had to taste the bitter to know the sweet.

 I still have not re-developed a testimony for Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon, and I purposely hold off on doing that work until emotional stability sets in. Even though I don't yet believe that  Christianity is the only way we are guaranteed salvation, and many other things that most Christians DO believe, I take refuge in Christ and his atonement, now more than ever. My conversion isn't over yet.

August 10, 2015

my conversion story part 5: turning around from rock bottom

It was two weeks after coming home that I just couldn't do it anymore. I told john I wanted a divorce. I didn't think I could survive the wait for things to get better. My beliefs were on the back burner and I wasn't practicing anything that resembled worship to God.

I had been feeling really strange, and looking at my calendar, felt total despair as I realized I needed to take a pregnancy test- hoping it was negative. It happened that it was very positive, and Trying to keep myself from a total meltdown at the thought of raising three children as a single mom; I decided to reconcile and really try to work on things with John. I knew I couldn't do this alone, and I was so afraid that if I sought a divorce, I would be left hanging out to dry.

I was so far from the light.
I was trying hard to fight it, but I was immersed in darkness. thoughts about abortion, hoping for miscarriage, resentment, taking my own life- consumed my life for days upon days. We were meeting with our marriage counselor weekly and it just wasn't working.

I couldn't communicate anything. My hopes and dreams, nor my fears. I couldn't even ask for a drink of water. I didn't know what I needed because I constantly ignored it. When I finally had the courage to speak up, I got ignored.

I finally reached my breaking point when I had my first panic attack, and knowing John was the trigger, I couldn't let myself be around him during my pregnancy. So in my lack of connection to the lord, and not seeing that John was trying to help me, I asked him to leave.

Well, he never made it past packing his stuff, because I had a long conversation with god for the first time in a long time. He told me to let my heart take over because my head wasn't getting it right. If i was supposed to be a good "witch" then I was supposed to do all things out of love, and let it be my guide. The truth was, I was consumed with fear. And there was no room for love when I was constantly afraid.

I had another panic attack and struggled with depression even though John and I were making some headway in our relationship  and were surprisingly stable. I didn't know how to help myself. I didn't know what comforted me. I couldn't feel peace.

I was desperate. I would do whatever it took to feel comforted and off the cliff of anxiety, even if that meant going to church because it was familiar. So I got the go-ahead from my bishop to wear my garments again as an experiment to see if it helped with managing my anxiety. I changed midwives because the office location was familiar. if I couldn't be comforted, I could at least start with surrounding myself with things that were familiar.

August 5, 2015

pregnant ramblings.

Today I've gotten up, put on clothes, put on makeup, had a protein shake, eggs and bacon; and I am already wanting to take a nap. The exhaustion is overpowering and I wonder how I get anything done at all. With almost 5 weeks remaining in this pregnancy, I am not sure how I am going to make it to delivery day without either being in pain and injuring myself, or up to my eyeballs in unfinished projects and housework. As I type this, Emberlee has climbed onto the dining table and is tap-dancing in milk that she has dumped from her cup .

I had my home visit with the midwives last night. It was a wonderful reunion with my midwife Crystal, and my previous Midwife Jen, who will be attending my birth as an assistant. I still can't believe I am so close to delivery. This pregnancy has seemed to drag on through the first and second trimesters, but now that it's nearly go time, I can't seem to stay on top of all my tasks, and I am slightly freaking out about the process of getting this baby out.

It doesn't matter how many times I have done this, or how amazing the experience is each time; I seem to be filled with a lot of fear. I'm working on that. I keep reminding myself that I while I may be alone in my physical sensations, and those cannot be taken from me (by choice) I will have more beings in my presence to aid me, more than on daily basis. I've had angels minister to me during my births, and I know they will tend to me again and again.

I feel this pull towards groups of women who have done this before. over and over. Like I did with Emberlee. I crave female companionship, and not in a lesbian or sister-wife way,  but more like having Many hands to hold me and witness me in this time of my life. A thousand voices to reassure me. like my own little private counsel of "elders" if you will. I sought after this once before and it lead me down a path that was dark, because I sought the wrong people.

I'm trying again, and I feel like I have identified the right ones this time. 

I am just so tired of feeling alone.






August 3, 2015

My conversion story part 4: The pit of despair

Even though I had tons of "support" in my new beliefs, my reality was so frustrating, I was trying constantly to escape it.

I am still really tender and healing from this time in my life.

I was feeling absolutely out of my mind. I knew what was right in my heart, and somehow the disconnect between John and I became a canyon of distance, despite our efforts to build a bridge.
He was convinced I was experiencing a mental illness, and the trend in our marriage has been that I can't seem to articulate my feelings or defend myself successfully and so I just stonewall.

I came to really resent John more than I ever had, because I felt like he had no place to judge me. He wouldn't listen to me and what was on my heart without criticizing me or dismissing me. I'd like to say that it was all because I told him I wanted to be a witch, but this was a common exchange throughout our marriage. He was convinced that I had evil intentions in my heart and that I would hurt our children, and when you call yourself a witch and are married to a Christian, you cannot convince them otherwise no matter how much they should know you.

I was constantly trying to hide that part of my life and keep it to myself as requested but it seemed to only make things worse. I couldn't stand how I was being treated, and how I had been treated throughout our marriage. I was convinced I deserved better- and there were times when I did.

We were falling apart. There was no trust. I asked for a divorce and his only response was " a divorce isn't going to make you happy. it's not going to fix anything" which I took as being completely ignored. Nothing got better. And then it would get better briefly just as a means of survival.

I went to Florida for a month, over Christmas break.
3 weeks without John was paradise. I cannot begin to express how nice it was to be free from those feelings of constant judgement and belittling like I was an enemy set out to destroy our family- when all I needed was unconditional love and patience and to be left alone to figure things out for myself. I still get angry when I think about all the hurtful things and words and feelings during that time.

When I say I made mistakes, I mean I did things that even my inactive siblings raised an eyebrow about. Mainly being that I had initiated inappropriate conversations with two different men online; one of which I met up with in person while in Florida. I made decisions purposely  because it felt wrong. We met in a public place, and I never touched him aside from a brief hug, and I remained faithful to John. After saying goodbye to this guy, I just broke down crying. In the car, driving home at 11pm with tears streaming down my face. I felt so many different things. I was on fire with anger. I was confused. I was so,so sad. All in a matter of seconds. I spent so much time talking to this person and developing feelings for them that were based on a completely false reality, it made me sick to my stomach.  What had I just done? What was I hoping would happen?

I broke contact because basically, I was tired of lowering my standards to accommodate a fantasy about this guy. Other than his appearance, there was nothing desirable about him.

I made other mistakes that were more just a bad judgment call, that I have made restitution for and talked with my bishop about.

I tried alcohol and marijuana for the first time. Even though I had no issues at the time with the use of either, it just did not appeal to me other than fitting in with everyone else. I had every intention to get used to the taste and smell of both substances when I got home.

John came to Florida and after my initial excitement to see him, we fought or were licking our wounds nearly the whole time. Our anniversary was awful. I tried so hard to be a good sport and to be happy about spending time with him, but it seemed like all he was trying to do was pick a fight. So I faked a smile and pushed through the 24 hours alone with just he and I, and tried with my might to just be happy. And I had little glimmers of that, but it wasn't enough to make me fall in love with him all over again.

We fought all the way home to Arizona, and were desperate to get our feet underneath us so that we could start thriving together, but things got more intense. I started talking to guy #2 and eventually felt safe enough to share details about my relationship with John. It was a different experience from the first, because this guy had his life together in comparison. It wasn't long before I had started hoping that these conversations would be the seed to a deeper relationship if I went through with a divorce.

July 30, 2015

get happy

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The last few days have been exceptionally hard. My anxiety has relapsed enough to where I feel no control anymore.

It isn't facebook.
it isn't my diet.
it isn't my sleep.

I just want to be happy.

I had a reminder of what happiness is while browsing the photos and videos of my children on facebook. I knew I wasn't as anxious then, but I didn't feel happy. I rarely felt happy. My "normal" is content and that is unacceptable. my normal is just surviving, and it's sad that it has taken me so long to realize that "normal" isn't what god wants for me. I look back at those videos of my sweet two-year old paxton and wonder why I have  spent so much time being ungrateful. I just don't  understand how I have been given such a good life and it takes hitting rock bottom to get the memo.

I feel overwhelmed. between paxton pushing the limits of my patience literally every moment, emberlee needing to be held more than usual, my body in constant pain, the house a wreck, the finances begging for mercy, and John and I still struggling in our marriage is  just too much.  And yet, when people ask how they can help, I have no idea what to tell them.

They can't raise my children for me
they can't take my body pain away
they can't always pick up after me
they can't put money in my bank account
they can't mediate the way I communicate with John.

...

I screamed at paxton today.
 like I have never done, ever. the kind of scream people do in their pillow when they are exploding with anger. I just lost it, and I felt guilty immediately after. It didn't sound like me. It wasn't me. Who is this woman in the mirror? I'm lost and feel alone all the time. I feel helpless a lot too. I should probably tell my midwife that.

I feel distant from god right now too, but that is my own fault.

 just want to be that woman in the photos.  the one snuggling her children. the one patient with the heartaches life has given her, instead of feeling like god is just a bully. The woman humble enough to realize that this is not the end of the world, it's just a rough patch that gives me practice to overcome whatever may be next.

tomorrow needs to be better. It has to be better. 



July 28, 2015

My conversion story Part 3: Justification


  The universal "cosmological" aka metaphysical doctrines of the Church really piqued my interest, and lead me to a crusade to find more details about the spirit world, the nature of god, and my role as a woman in a physical body. I read a few books by LDS authors that lead me to looking into other belief systems, to see just how many of them reiterated the same ideas. There are a lot of systems and faiths that teach things synonymous to the Church.

The law of attraction, energy healing, and the more "woo-woo" concepts in the natural/ alternative community lead me down a rabbit hole that I was eager to enter. I figured if  I approached the material from a Christ-like perspective, and it felt good, then I was ok to continue learning about it.

I dove head-first into witchcraft
 The things I started learning were the same things that I learned at church. I justified this path before I even decided to leave the church, by thinking that I didn't have to practice anything I didn't feel was in line with church teachings. And I was upset that the church said it was bad, when they did the very things that witches do, especially regarding the ritualistic nature of temple ordinances, and the vast similarities between them.  I still get a little upset at the stigma surrounding it when nobody really knows  what they profess, even though I no longer identify myself as a witch.

I learned about the elements, the close communion with my Father in heaven, my mother in heaven, the spirit world, my intuition (or the spirit) and to me, it became evident very quickly that I was a daughter of godly parents, with divine authority and power to create life, and call upon him whenever and where ever I needed him. All things that I already knew from the church teachings, but mistakenly didn't take it so literally. It was empowering to refer to myself as a Goddess and believe it. It was refreshing to feel the unconditional love for myself that I knew my Father in Heaven had for me. It was real. And I miss feeling those things so powerfully, especially in my times of pure depression when I felt like I have nothing to look forward to, no redeeming qualities, and no control over my life or emotions, and no way to help myself out.
I struggled a lot with the temple Endowment because I felt it directly contradicted not just scriptural accuracy, but also what I thought in my heart to be the nature of My divine parentage. It felt really backwards.

So I met with my bishop and talked to him about it, but my concerns were politely and expertly dismissed and had a long, powerful discussion about other things going on in my life, including what was happening in my marriage.

John and I had been going through some really rough stuff, and even though he knew I was questioning my position with the church, he reassured me that he was willing to make our marriage work regardless of my faith. It brought me comfort to hear it, but I didn't really believe him.

 What made me different from others on my path, was that I didn't worship multiple gods- or a god different from Elohim. Instead, my purpose in learning witchcraft was to seek his face, and the face of my Mother in Heaven even closer than I had before. My "spellbook" was a large-print version of the scriptures. My altar was simply the altars in the temple.  My path was lonely, and I knew it always would be, regardless of staying in the church or not. Having a foot in both worlds was hard.
I had these feelings and pondering kept secretly in my heart, and eventually, this empowered feeling of goddess-hood and total control had me wondering why I needed a savior. I believed God's love was unconditional and as he is a perfect being who created me, I must be perfect as I am his creation. I believed that intentions and the goodness and love in a person's heart, but mainly actions were the determining factors to being in the presence of god in the afterlife, as opposed to the signs, tokens and keywords given to a very select few that may not even honor those gifts in this life.

It was about this time that I was introduced to the idea that The bible was a book of metaphors and Christ was a myth. And I simply chose to believe that, because navigating the contradictions in the scriptures and other gospel teachings, to the pure love I believed God to have for everyone just got too hard and exhausting. It was a cop-out. Witchcraft was about balance and unconditional love, and it felt like the farther away from Christ I fell, the more he seemed to be about ultimatums.

 So, I  rejected Christ as my savior
 I rejected the holy ghost as a  member of the godhead, and began my journey into practicing witchcraft, untethered from the "restrictions" I had placed on it. The Sundays John took the kids to Church for 3 hours, I stayed home and listened to podcasts on how to learn witchcraft.  I never did get a spell book. I have never cast a spell. I have never had a real altar with the tools used to cast. But my heart began to grow really dark. I didn't feel empowered anymore. I didn't feel love. From myself or anyone. I felt more confused, and stuck on finding more evidence to support my decision, because I couldn't possibly purposely go against God. I had to disprove the principle of sin, and no longer believe them before I could go and break the commandments. I adopted the belief that sin isn't real. That Satan is made up, and that as long as I didn't harm another life including my own, life was a free-for-all.

And so I started making decisions based on the "free for all" mindset. I had to fight my conscience  daily; reminding myself over and over again that the negative feelings I was having regarding these decisions was simply because they were not familiar to me, and the effects of brainwashing. So I purposely dove into the unfamiliarity. In order for me to differentiate what was wrong and what was unfamiliar, I had to experience all things. and even now it still rings true, I did have some brainwashing happen to me.

The circumstances in my life at that point were painful and frustrating. I was hurting. I was lonely, and I was constantly seeking support, and got it from all the wrong people. None of them appealed to love or logic. none of them appealed to what was right- and after a time I really wanted them to tell me to do what was wrong, because I just couldn't deal with the limitations anymore. Even when I didn't believe in Satan or Christ or the holy Ghost, I still knew there was a right and a wrong, but the lines were so blurred, I ended up loosing some precious gifts of the spirit; mainly my gift of discernment. But I never realized that the holy ghost was long gone by that point.

July 23, 2015

My conversion story part 2: Anger

John and I really only had one thing in common when we first started talking in a romantic setting, and that was how much we loved God. 

I met John when I was 16 and he was a new missionary in my hometown.
He was good-natured and always happy, and there was a humility about him that none of the other Elders I had encountered seemed to posses. He seemed to radiate with love and gratitude for life and for the opportunity to be on his mission and serve the lord. But I was not physically attracted to him and my mind was otherwise occupied with someone else.

So, when he returned home from his mission, I was in the midst of my newly-independent phase, and would ask him via facebook what his particular insights were about some of my struggles when I was really low.  I always felt comfort in the things he would say, and the spirit said, "you know, this is the kind of man you need to marry" and it went from there. I got the courage to tell him just that, even though I knew the outcome. We agreed to see each other before making any decisions about a long- distance relationship. The spirit was so strong when we reconnected in person, and I felt so comfortable around him, that when he left 48 hours later back to Arizona, I cried. Really, really hard. In front of my parents, which I had never done.

Being with him felt so different in comparison to the 2 other boys I had dated. So full of conflicting feelings and generally really uneasy, and then all of a sudden this unrelenting peace? I wasn't happy about enduring another  long distance relationship, and I was sick of feeling stuck in Florida, so I donated most of my worldy possesions, sold my car, quit my job, and had my feet on Arizona soil a week later- all of my belongings in a check-on suitcase and a carry-on bag. Once the decision was made, everything fell into place.

We had a complicated courtship, but I still felt peace around him, even though I was nervous about marriage. We got engaged in October and married in December.


We worked and schooled and lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment for about six months, until I lost my job. We moved in with John's parents for a few months, and that was my first time really understanding why I seemed to have so much emotional baggage and insecurity. I had never realized that how my dad treated me was defined as abuse, until I was sitting home alone and reading the book "healing your emotional self"  by Beverly Engel. It was a rough realization and so many memories were unlocked and flooded  me to the point I would cry myself to sleep every night for weeks. I didn't know how to process these memories, these re-opened wounds.

And that is when I started feeling the anger. 
How could so many people in the church have known what was going on and did nothing about it?
How did my Dad gain so much influence over my mom, that she was too scared to stand up to him?
How did my Dad feel right holding a temple recommend while hurting my siblings still at home?
How did my bishop feel right doing nothing?

I was now at odds with God.

we eventually moved out, bought our own house, and I got a job that helped soothe the sting, but I endured this anger for several months until John said I needed to get help. I finished counseling and felt better, but I soon thereafter Got pregnant and it triggered the anger all over again. Even though I had many testimony- building and faith-affirming experiences. The people in my ward triggered me and I was just over it. I was coming to church because John was going and I wanted Paxton to go too. This carried on into my next pregnancy, when I had basically decided to stop wearing my garments and was going on Sundays because we were in the nursery.

John's parents noticed I wasn't wearing my garments one day, and out of concern had asked me if everything was ok. I was really irritated and impatient and basically told them it was none of their damn business. Just to give a bit of insight to just how angry I was on a constant basis.

I would always get frustrated with lessons on the atonement, because it seemed like I was using it to heal from what had been done to me- not what I had done. It didn't feel empowering, it felt the opposite. I had no choice but to give my hurts to the lord because I had no control over what the past had done. I had to wait for the lord to heal me in his timing so that I could move on from this phase of anger. That didn't feel empowering. And it also didn't help that my bishop didn't show up for an appointment that took me copious amount of humility to set up in the first place, so that I could figure out what to do about my feelings. I felt invisible all over again.

 I had periods of stalwart behavior.
 As angry as I was, I tried even harder to fight it with the gospel, and my efforts would wax and wane until I got comfortable just floating for a while. I finally decided that this needed to be done. I was exhausted from the pent-up anger I felt towards the church and my Dad. I needed to make a choice. I started digging into the deep universal doctrines of the gospel because that felt like the only thing I could rely on. So I started there.

July 20, 2015

setbacks

I've been back on Facebook for less than a week, and I have felt the anxiety begin to re-emerge.
I'm a little bitter that I have to be on facebook in order for anyone to really be in touch with me. I enjoy connecting with people a lot, and it's depressing that I don't have more people to call.

But there is so much fear-mongering and information on my news feed, that it upsets me- and I don't even know it. I didn't notice anything until last night, when I had a random anxiety episode despite being surrounded by people I really love spending time with; and it continued into this morning after watching a video of a woman giving birth in the car, and it really disturbing me. I felt so good all week last week. so free.  I can't stand this anxiety.

It's a lot harder for me to remember how far I have come
It's a lot harder to take care of myself.
It's a lot harder to be happy with my children, and to be patient with them. I was yelling at them as soon as they got out of bed this morning for literally no reason.

Something just isn't right, and so I think a very serious inventory at my facebook account is in order. Ideally I wouldn't have one at all, but that leaves me more lonely and isolated than ever due to everyone being busy and not really having time to either text me or send me an e-mail. Instead I'm just going to severely clean up my account (again) and be a lot more strict with my usage. If that doesn't work, I will have no choice but to eliminate facebook for good.


July 15, 2015

My conversion story: part 1 - Origins

There are 2 ways to be introduced to the Mormon Church. 
 One is to be born and raised in it, and the other is investigating with lessons from the missionaries. Either way, baptism is required for membership. We call those who have investigated with the missionaries "converts", but there is a saying that everyone in the church is a convert; it just depends when the conversion happens. When you grow up in the church, you can be baptized at the age of 8, but being so young, your "conversion" may not happen until later.
My experience was unique. I was born and raised in the church. My direct line of ancestry was intimately  involved in the foundation of it, and so I am considered a Multi-generational mormon. The pioneers (the converts) in my family being Newel K and Elizabeth Whitney on my mother's side- My great-great-great-great grandparents.

The church was everything  in our lives growing up.
It dictated every thought, action, and word that we lived by. We weren't the family that had scripture time, or family prayer, or even family home evening, but we went to church every Sunday, because that was the expectation. So I grew up in the church, knowing that not everyone was a member of my faith, but knowing it was a lifestyle and a culture and not just a belief system.
When talking about conversion stories for peole who grew up in the church, many people say that they relied on the testimonies of their parents until they developed their own. I never saw my parents model the things that are associated with testimony building- such as prayer and scripture study and so on. But my parents were pretty strict enforcers of gospel related teachings and standards set by the church- for us kids.

 As a teenager in seminary, I learned to study and love the scriptures on my own.
I gained a testimony that was mine, on my own. I felt the spirit at a very young age, and knew it was the spirit. I had many experiences that cannot be explained or rationalized away. I loved the Lord.  My home life and my church participation gave me the ability to differentiate how the spirit works early on. Those teenage years were pretty rough, because not only was I grieving the loss of my sisters, I also began to see some of the hypocrisies in my life circumstances coming to the surface, and got frustrated why we weren't like the other families in our ward and Why we weren't like the family the church promotes. I remember getting really upset during a Young women's activity held in a leader's home. It felt so good  to be there, and it made me sad that I would have to leave and go back home at the end of the hour activity. It made me sad that my Dad had neglected to make our home a place where I could feel the spirit like that, due to the choices he made. I was really bitter about it. I knew there was nothing I could do to change my home environment, so I was determined that if I felt the spirit regularly and was close to the Lord, that nothing else really mattered. So I clung to the gospel like my life depended on it, because I felt like it did.


But understanding the gospel, and knowing Christ like I did, and living at home and being treated the way I was treated (most often in the name of Christ) , Life started to become unbearable. So I asked for help. I went to my bishop and said I just couldn't do it anymore. I needed out.

 I was turned away. 

His relationship with my parents was too valuable to risk offending them by stepping in. I learned years later that every single one of my sisters- including Emily just before she died- came and asked for help, and got the same answer.

But I continued on my way, begging my grandmother to help me as a last resort, leaving home a week after my 18th birthday with no job, no money, no car and feeling heavy. My testimony remained pretty firm, and I really leaned on the lord and my grandmother to get me thorough those months of total instability. There were many times I cried myself to sleep because I just didn't know what to do. I wasn't acclimated to real life. Anything outside the confines of my Dad's house arrest was overwhelming and filled me with anxiety- not to mention I had not graduated high school yet and I didn't think I was anywhere close to being prepared for the GED test.

The instability continued after I graduated from seminary.
I went from job to job, never making enough money to find a place to live on my own, and so I spent a good 4 weeks couch surfing and living out of my car to be closer to my job until I had some of the kindest people I had ever met, let me live with them. I prayed really hard, and often,that my pitiful situation would not drive me to move back home. I was determined to never go back, and time after time, the Lord would always come through, and delivered the righteous desires of my heart. My testimony was still really strong. I was at a point where I could hear my scriptures calling to me from my 2nd story bedroom, and the spirit was my constant companion.

And eventually, my spiritual aptitude lead me to John.

July 13, 2015

The tattooed Mormon

I can't remember what lead me to follow Al Carraway on instagram, but I found myself  drawn to her because of her pre-church lifestyle. (I've always been a sucker for tattoos- so many stories behind them) I am finding that the stories of "converts" really help my own testimony, and they feel reassuring to me that I'm not just returning to church because it's what I'm used to (even though that was my original motivation).

She posted that she was speaking in mesa, and I felt like I should go. 
And I got opposition  every step of the way.

 I knew if I wanted to go, I wanted to go alone.
I knew that involved asking John to watch the kids, and to take the vehicle with the good air conditioning (the one with both carseats installed).

So from 9am to 4pm, I went back and forth on whether or not to talk to John about it, because that was my first step in making my decision more concrete.

 It felt as if I was wrestling with myself.
And so, I kept making up reasons not to go, even after I got a very supportive green light from John.

We usually have dinner with friends every Sunday night, and we were really late. I wasn't going to have a lot of time to eat or really visit with anyone, so I figured I just wouldn't go.

But I found myself digging in my purse for my keys and heading out the door. I figured I was running late and there wouldn't be any place to park. If I couldn't find a decent parking spot, I wasn't going to bother.

Before I even had sight of the building, I could see a line of people walking to the church building from what looked like half a mile away- the parking lot and grassy areas were full. People had parked on every inch of legal curb for over two blocks and into the neighborhood behind the building.  I called John and told him I was going to come back. I am 31 weeks pregnant and in constant pain; I couldn't justify walking that far for something I wasn't sure I wanted to attend.

After parking 2 or 3 blocks away, and walking towards the building, a little overcome with emotion. I was really confused, and conflicted. Something  really didn't want me there. My process of elimination continued, so If i wasn't able to find a good spot to sit, I wasn't going to stay.

 Every room was packed and HOT. so much body heat from the thousands of people standing in the hallways and seated in the chapel and cultural hall. I thought that since this was advertised to the unmarried college students, that the mother's lounge would likely be empty- knowing that the meeting was "piped" into the room and had nice comfy chairs. I opened the door and voila! an empty armchair in an ice-cold, quiet room. Two other ladies were in there, one of them with a child. I sat and listened for about an hour when another lady came in with her kid, and started making a bunch of noise.

Determined to not miss a single word, I got up, and sought another location. Because clearly, after the battle I had with myself over and over again, and still attending- I was certain there was something I was supposed to hear.

There was a metal folding chair in the sauna/foyer with my name on it, so I sat and listened to the rest of the meeting. Then the closing song. Then the closing prayer. nothing. I walked back to my car alone in the dark. Once again overcome with emotion, I was more frustrated than anything. Maybe my apprehension, or opposition, or whatever it was, was too strong for me to hear what I needed to hear. maybe there were too many people and I felt too overwhelmed to feel peace?

I am normally quite perceptive, and can glean some sort of answer or solution, but I was feeling pretty empty, and a little lost.

It was a great story.  She delivered her message well, and I related to parts of it; but what part of it was intended for me, I still don't know. Did I even feel the spirit? Maybe a little. Was I disappointed that I went?  Not at all.

 I've had time to consider what it was about this ordeal that was supposed to me for me, and John said that maybe I was supposed to be there for someone else.

Maybe someone I knew saw me there and felt something they needed to feel.
Maybe everyone saw this preggo waddling around and it inspired them.
Maybe the speaker needed to know I was there.

The one thing I did feel, was inspiration to talk about my own story with the Church. maybe me testimony will bring others to Christ. Maybe talking about my heart- wrenching journey away from Christ and back again is something that someone, somewhere is needing. Maybe my story is an answer to someone's heartfelt prayers.

Maybe.


 

July 9, 2015

All is well

Normally I like to keep these updates about a week apart, but I have had a few things happen that I  really wanted to share.

First of all, my dizziness symptoms have seemed to disappear. The last few days have been really nice and yesterday I felt 100% normal. Every once in a while I will feel a bit off-balance, but I can usually correct it quickly. I have not felt this good in months.

I've re-incorporated gluten, dairy and sugar in moderation back into my diet with success. Grilled cheese sandwiches never tasted so darn good. I've gained 16 pounds in the last 4 weeks or so, which is a small triumph for me. It's a great indication that I am eating enough, which has been a huge struggle this pregnancy.

I met with my cardiologist and went over the results from my echo and 48 hour holter monitor, and basically everything came back on the range of normal. No holes, no enlarged heart, and a strong heart at that. He did say I have a tiny leak in one of my valves, but that is so incredibly common and non-threatening that it's normal. I also do not have an arrhythmia like I thought. I have PAC's which essentially is just an occasional extra beat. also normal and non-threatening. There was nothing indicating that my heart was causing any dizziness, and I can move forward from this knowing that My body is capable and healthy.

I just feel really good. I've been waiting for this day for a long time and I am grateful I am not taking this for granted. 

no more doctor's appointments! I can move forward with my last weeks of pregnancy feathering my nest and anticipating Maisie's arrival in peace.

We had a Dog fall into our lap. Simba is a female golden retriever/ white Pyrenees mix, and contributes a lot to the comfort I feel lately.
We are supposed to be dog-sitting, but due to the circumstances she was in prior to taking her in, we feel uncomfortable giving her back. It helps that she is the best behaved dog I have ever encountered. Awesome with the kids. super snugly and sweet, and is not food motivated at all. I left food out on the counter and left her alone in the house for 5 hours and came home to nothing out of place. We love her!

 We've spent the last week and a half painting the house and getting it freshened up, including hanging pictures and new window coverings. It's taking a long time because we are trying to be meticulous about it, and I have been left alone to get the work done a few times. I move a bit slower haha.

The remaining list of tasks seems daunting. We've got a ton still to do, and John returns to work in just a few days. Gotta crack the whip! 




July 6, 2015

Chill

Today I have a follow-up with my cardiologist. I had an echo done about a weekish ago and had to wear a heart monitor for 48 hours to see if my heart arrhythmia was contributing or causing the dizziness.

I dropped the monitor off a week ago and had not heard anything from them until Friday when they called to confirm an appointment that I didn't set up. It made me pretty upset, and I don't know what was more upsetting- the lack of communication and keeping me informed, or the fact I needed a follow-up. I guess I didn't know what to expect, and within a matter of seconds the world was on my shoulders.

I was overcome with fear and worry. So I did what I've done a lot lately, and got on my knees and prayed. And it was like magic. For the first time in months, I experience comfort that things are okay within a matter of minutes after. I just wasn't worried about it. What a sweet release.

I sit here typing today, anticipating the appointment in a few hours, and a little agitated from the experiences of the day so far; but not worrying about it.


The last week or so, I've had a release of worry. Those fears I have- I can still get through them if they happen, even though it's not ideal. I've handed my cares over to the Lord, knowing that he will carry them and me through whatever it is I trudge through.

if I have to switch prenatal care providers and surrender my home birth; it's not ideal, but I'm not afraid. I can do it.

If I have to (heaven forbid) have surgery, I'll be afraid but I can still overcome it. my life will go on.

Thing is, neither of these scenarios feels like it will happen, and so I am just not that worried about it.

Because I think I've nailed down the dizziness triggers, and so far I've consistently been able to track and relieve the dizziness either before, or as it starts.

I think the reason it's taken me this long to figure it out  is because I have been bogged with worry and fear and impatience, instead of slowing down and paying attention to my body. There is no place for peace when you are consumed by fear. I feel the peace and I am almost positive I've finally got this figured out.

I am 30 weeks pregnant this week, and I have never been more excited to meet one of my babies.


mini-rant : There are over a million words in the english language, and CHILL is one that I have come to find irritating. What is comforting or reassuring about being told to Chill? nothing.



June 29, 2015

My mother

I think about my mom a lot. Not just because she is so far away and I miss her, But I am starting to identify myself to her and I notice some of her quirks in myself.




I had an unconventional upbringing.Most children whose parents are married either have their mom at home while dad is away at work, or both parents working. Both of my parents worked when I was small- probably up until I was in first or second grade. Then my dad would go through multiple jobs in a short period of time until ultimately giving up, but mom still worked.

I remember my favorite Job she had was working nights as an ER intake clerk, because she was always home when I got off the bus from school in the afternoon. It was nice to have her there even though she was usually napping. Then there was a short time period when she was in between jobs and doing temp work at the local tomato plant until she found something more suitable.

We were really poor. so poor that for a time, my dresser was a cardboard box with A lid, and bath time consisted of tossing all 4 of us girls into the shower together to save water.

But we had blankets and pillows and beds with proper mattresses to sleep with, and we never went hungry. I get asked a lot about the kinds of meals my mom used to make regularly as a child and I can never really answer. She was busy making ends meet, and so we had lots of hamburger helper, macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, and variations of each. Chili mac, tuna mac, etc. and dad would make pot o' glop out of whatever leftovers he could find. We also ate a lot of breakfast for dinner- and biscuits and gravy but used toasted bread instead of biscuits. We would all pitch in to help get it together and my older sisters were oftentimes given the responsibility of making the meal while kara and I made the kool-aid and set the table.

My mom always made sure we got to bed early and had enough sleep to do well in school. She also mandated baths every night. She never missed a parent teacher conference or any concerts. My homework was always done. My grades were awesome.
 She made sure I brought a small gift to all the birthday parties I was invited to, and that was always a nice treat to go to the store- just me and her- and pick something out for her to wrap. I also loved it when she took me to the library down the street.

Even though she didn't always verbalize it, I always knew I was loved. Our life changed in it's entirety when dad took us out of school in 1999. I was the last one to be pulled out, but my older sisters were in high school and it wasnt an easy transition for any of us. at times I think it was just a way for Dad to justify being jobless if he kept us home.

And then our lives changed drastically again two years later when My sister died.
I really don't know how my mom did it.

As a newlywed and poor college student, she's saved the day many times with her generosity or calm demeanor when I am in the middle of a breakdown and so frustrated that I can't see straight. When I've been too wound up to see the solution, I've called her- knowing she would know the right thing to say. Sometimes it's been "We overdrew on our bank account AGAIN and it wasn't on food" and she would simply ask if we paid tithing, when next payday was and if we had gas in our tank. Somehow those simple questions would be the backbone on how we made it through our scarce newlywed stage. Or it would be " breastfeeding gets easier, I PROMISE".


She really felt like a mom when she came out to be with me as I prepared to have Paxton. She drove me around everywhere and paid for all our food, and cooked and cooked and cleaned so I wouldn't have to. We got a lot of quality time that I had never experienced before. And then she was there holding my hand and wiping the sweat off my face as I pushed for hours trying to get paxton out. I would hear her catch her breath every time I stopped pushing- as if she was pushing with me. And she supported my body in those final moments before he was born because I was too exhausted to squat on my own.
 Watching her as a grandma is incredibly endearing. She loves my kids more than life, and  know it pains her to be so far away from them.



She's been through a lot, and as I look at my life through the lens of mother and wife, I feel empowered by her example, knowing that she's got all reputable advice I could ever want or ask for.
Knowing that she's made it through her trials, gives me strength that I have the power to do the same.
If mom can do it, so can I.


June 24, 2015

Defeated and depleted/ It is well with my soul

Today was a much anticipated day for my appointment with an ENT.
I've jumped through hoops with my insurance company and met my patience threshold a number of times. I wasn't nervous, but felt comforted that this visit would give me answers and put me in the right direction.

It took less than thirty minutes for them to tell me that my symptoms were most likely a circulatory problem, and that they didn't want to put me through any tests at this stage of pregnancy if they didn't have to.

This is the second time I've been told that my symptoms would likely resolve after having this baby. SO my frustration and question is, do I waste any more mental energy with all these doctor's visits in my last weeks of pregnancy- just to be told I'll feel better after D day? Or do I take these last weeks enjoying the last weeks of my pregnancy with no worries and no fear of anything getting worse? I feel so defeated, and depleted.

I have a lot of fears, and none of them make any sense.

I fear that something will come back  on my echo that will mean I can no longer see my midwife or have a home birth.

I fear that something will come back on the echo that will mean I really CAN'T have any more babies.

I fear something will come back on the echo that will put me in surgery and in the care of doctors for the rest of my life.

I fear that NOTHING will come back on the heart monitor and that my symptoms will persist after delivery.

I fear that the ENT finds nothing and my last resort is to turn to Neurology.

and so on.

But here's why none of this makes sense:
I'm young and I've made AWESOME health-conscious choices for as long as I can remember, and have a pretty decent family history. Why would any of these things happen to me?

My anxiety is making this so much harder to deal with.

If I had everything go my way, I would wake up tomorrow with no symptoms, feeling totally healed, and KNOW I would never experience that dizziness again.

That is just the surface of my wants.

I've prayed a lot. I've prayed to be healed. I've prayed over every part and function and system in my body. I've begged and pleaded for comfort, healing and peace that I would receive those things. Saying, "Lord, I am doing my part by seeing these doctors and diligently following the protocols my doctors have given me, so Please heal me as I try to figure this out."
I've made restitution for my wrong doings. I've worn my garments daily. I've been taking the sacrament. I've been reading my scriptures. I've done what I can spiritually.

And my burden has been made significantly lighter as I waited for doctors to give their opinions. Now I feel heavy. And today has been an awesome  day in regards to my symptoms.

I feel like the reassurance I need can only come from God at this point. I'm trying hard to hear his voice. I just want SOMEONE to tell me- " You are going to be Just fine. this too shall pass, you are healthy and nothing is wrong with your body". And I've been trying to get that from God because I can't get it from anyone else.

I just want him to tell me "Tessa, I hear you. I know you are afraid. You are dizzy because you didn't take care of yourself for a very long time and it takes a while for you to be replenished as you grow another child. You are dizzy because you are pregnant and have a higher blood volume, and your sensitivity this time around just makes everything amplified. You don't have any heart problems. You don't have an inner-ear disorder. you don't have a brain tumor. you will still have your homebirth, and it will be your most magnificent one yet. and you will feel relief of these symptoms as soon as you hold your little pearl of great price in your arms."

I want to hear this from him more than I want to hear it from a doctor. in the meantime, I am trying to find peace and gratitude for what I enjoy right now, and I feel inspired to listen to a lot of hymns.

Right now I can't seem to stop listening to this song/video. I think the message comforts me more than the melody because it hits the perspective I am trying to adopt on the head.

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul. 
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.



I long for this peace, where this angst, this never ending chaos will no longer have me in it's grasp, but I know I am learning lessons intended for me at this time, and I will endure this dizziness for the rest of my pregnancy and go to the doctor's appointments and figure this out within my power if that is what he wants me to do. And I know that in the meantime, it is well with my soul.

June 15, 2015

Tune my heart to sing thy grace

As I look back at my last 2 journal entries, and the last two posts on this blog, I am humbled and grateful and overcome with emotion.





Things were really bad.

As I have sought help, I have wondered if I am getting better- and today I got another witness that not only am I getting better, but God hears my prayers and loves me. The despair I felt on a constant basis is gone. While I do get overwhelmed often and get frustrated and wound up-  I'm still alive. I haven't spiraled downward. I've come back to the surface for air after being underwater for a moment, forgetting how to swim. And at times it does feel like I'm drowning. pumping my arms and legs in desperation to help myself survive, but can only be rescued due to the overpowering circumstances around me. Christ is there, pulling me out of the waves and telling me to have more faith, knowing I'll start to drown again when I let go of his arm, but I know he'll be there to pull me out every time I try and fail.

But I'm coming up for air.

The dizziness has been overwhelming. I have spent a lot of time considering what may be wrong as I go to different doctors, and I've spend a lot of time being afraid. But I have prayed fervently to be healed and to figure out what is causing this dizziness. Saturday I had an even bigger breakthrough about it, and It think it may get me the relief I need, but I could very well have this dizziness for the rest of my pregnancy. While I havent been healed, this burden has been made a lot lighter, and I am grateful to God for even considering that.

  As I have sought repentance and a relationship with God, I have seen His hand in the details of my life on enough of a consistent basis to know he's there. He hears not just my prayers- but also my thoughts, and knows my heart. Sometimes I don't even have to ask for something that I want or need and I receive it in a small and simple way. I know this dizziness is something simple to be remedied. I was afraid it was serious, but I have been comforted that this is just one of those things about life that I will eventually overcome by following the right instructions. I see an OB for the first time on Wednesday, hoping that I can get further help there.

I'm grateful for the clarity of thought and the humility that has taken place in my heart enough to recognize these things. I'm grateful for the Grace and Mercy that is being given to me on a daily basis. I feel the prayers of others buoying me up.

I'm just full of gratitude. A feeling I haven't had in a long time.

May 29, 2015

God, are you there?

Little manatee river, Wimamua FL




As long as I'm striving to be honest, I may as well get this out. Since leaving facebook, I doubt anyone comes around here, but I write for me.

the last 2 weeks or so have been really hard. John got hit with an illness that took over a week to recover from, and passed it on to me and Emberlee, which took another week for me to recover from.
Fevers, coughs, sinus pressure, sneezing.... it was awful. I wasn't sleeping which made it so much worse. I went into urgent care because tylenol wasn't reducing my fever effectively, so I got an antibiotic and felt better pretty quickly after that. I don't normally reduce fevers, but since I'm pregnant I really had no choice.

I'm so completely depleted. I've been laid up with a mysterious case of dizziness that has yet to go away nearly a week later. I went to the doctor thinking it was vertigo, but it's not. We still don't know why I'm dizzy in my sleep and sensitive to light. I've had these symptoms for what seems like a month and a half, trying to see what makes it go away- whether it's hydration, calories or rest. Some things helped better than others, but it always returns. Yesterday I had a bit of a breakthrough and slept without a pillow for the first time in a month, and I slept well. My eyes stopped moving when they were closed and it felt like I had blood flow to my head again. Weird business, and I do feel a slight decrease in my symptoms, but there is something else missing. I refuse to believe it's hormones and I have to live with this for the rest of my pregnancy (just over 3 months left) because it's madness. For someone who has been well and healthy all my life, It's miserable. I went to my naturopath because I was just so frustrated that I couldn't do anything to help myself. I was seriously dehydrated and had a UTI. So I'm taking another antibiotic. And drinking about a gallon of fluids a day. and force feeding myself again. I've lost quite a bit of weight. I'm the lighter at nearly 6 months pregnant than I was when I started out. I have trouble getting enough calories.

I feel a lot of guilt. I remember earnestly praying that John would get better  (day 3 of fever) so that I could have his happy self back, and saying sorry for everything I had done that I had not yet said sorry for. His fever broke that night. But I always seem to hesitate when it comes to the belief that God will answer our prayers if we repent. But maybe i don't know God as well as i thought I did. I look back at the months i spent trying to re-invent myself and making decisions from the grey areas in my head instead of the light in my heart. i was constantly conflicted but made decisions purely because it was outside of anything I had ever known. Did I feel uneasy because it was wrong or because it was unfamiliar? Well I've kind of screwed myself over on that one. If it's making you question between the two, it's probably wrong.

I feel like I have made a really big effort to try to come back to the things I used to associate with comfort and peace. I do the best i can to put everything about the church that bothers me on a shelf for later, and to just focus on the basic things that once brought me happiness. Focusing on the spirit I have felt when I am at Church.  Everything about my "past life" triggers me. The tarot cards I once loved, I can't be in the same room as them. All the clothes I bought I can't wear. Even the scents I surrounded myself in make me uneasy. The friendships I developed now make me uneasy. There is nothing wrong with the people and they live good, honest lives, but exposing myself to that content again is unsettling. Everything that used to soothe me and bring me peace, I cannot have around me. Again.

I have had many priesthood blessings and have tried to reach out to God and my husband and my mom and I still feel so alone. I can't relate to hardly anyone anymore. The absence of anxiety attacks tells me that SOMETHING i am doing is right. But i feel so lonely. I feel bad asking for help. I'm working with my therapist on that. Help is for people who can't pull themselves out, in my head.

I've prayed a lot for help lately, and still i feel like I haven't used my full heart or the right combination of words. Do i really believe that God has the power to heal me? I know of stories of miracles, but Am I worthy of those miracles?



May 8, 2015

My name is Tessa, and I have a problem.

*** Trigger warning : depression, anxiety, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, death, pregnancy, miscarriage ***

 This is the Long  story of how social media triggered my mental illness. Specifically facebook and my experience with depression and anxiety.

*I have never been diagnosed with chronic depression or anxiety, but I have been treated for the symptoms of both. While I believe that we are allowed to feel sad without getting slapped with a label and a prescription, I do also know that there are cases when it is needed. Fortunately my pregnancy saved me from being medicated.



I noticed my habits for the first time in September of 2014...
John and I had just sold our home, and had moved into a temporary residence with our good friends.
I was making a lot of big decisions at that time, and the move made leaving the church a lot easier to do. Our records were still in our old ward, but we were attending a new ward as we looked for a new home. I took advantage of this and purposely slipped through the cracks, and started doing my own thing on Sundays.

I was also really unhappy with my marriage. Without going into too much detail, needs were not being met, which in turn caused me to put up a wall. We had many attempts at understanding but it usually failed.

I don't remember what sparked my decision to do a facebook cleanse. I am sure it  had something to do with John saying I was addicted and wanting to prove him wrong, but I digress.

I decided I would do 6 days.

At that time I was involved with two different groups on a daily basis, and had developed some close friendships. These people understood me and saw my heart better than I thought I did. So needless to say, it was hard to go, even though I knew it would be a short 6 days that I would reunite with my kindred spirits.

The first 3 days were cake, and as time went on, it got harder and harder to not click on the little app on my iPhone screen. I opened it a couple of times, not intending to, and would close it down when I realized what I did, before I saw my news feed. that was my first indicator that i had developed a habit. day 4 and 5 went by slowly.... there was a miscommunication in the house that left me confused but I had nobody to talk to about it. Even John was not present for me at that time, and so I felt totally alone. Not just alone, but invisible. Nobody seemed to want to talk to me, and I didn't have facebook to fill the void. So I got low. really low. The isolation and invisibility went on for a few more days before I had to talk to John about it. I couldn't hide how this was affecting me. The downward spiral was getting more intense everyday. the negative self-talk was brutal.

"the only friends you maintain are total strangers. if they knew you in person they wouldn't be your friend"

"none of your friends in the flesh want to spend time with you because you are a know-it-all and have to voice your opinion about everything... nobody wants to hear that."

"you don't have anyone to talk to about your marital issues because that betrays your husband and the church doesn't like it when we gossip"

"every time you ask for help, nobody responds"

"every time you organize a party and send out invites on facebook, nobody cares. nobody likes you."

"nobody even notices that you have been off facebook for a week."


and so on...

Until I hit rock bottom. 6 days of isolation and not feeling connection to anyone or anything, and I was ready to be permanently invisible. 6 days without facebook, and I was thinking about what my husband would do when he found me dead. I never planned how or when. I never hurt myself. the thought lasted about half a second, when my children came in and saw me in a pile on the floor, crying.

I think I'm a pretty intelligent person, but it didn't occur to me that I needed help. I slowly re-incorporated my exposure and I had talked it out with john, and I was better overnight

Months rolled by. We bought our house, had more struggles- and then I got away. I went to Florida for 3 weeks without John and it was bliss. I did what I wanted, when I wanted and I was taken care of. If I needed a babysitter, I had multiple options. If I needed to eat, I someone always volunteered to take care of the bill.  I had close, meaningful connection with each member of my family. I got to spend time with family members I haven't interacted with in nearly 13 years. I got to visit some dead people. I was able to feel alive in my surroundings. Florida is green year-round. the green was wonderful. the moisture was wonderful. The beach was wonderful.

I drank alcohol and "smoked" pot for the first and last time. 

I was happy.


Until I had to come back home. John came for the last week and a half of December and it just wasn't the same. I was convinced that our marital issues were just going to continue. and they did. the whole way home, we argued or stonewalled. The icy roads in west Texas gave us some time and a reminder to chill out.

what was supposed to take 30 hours took us 4.5 days. We made it home, and my attempt to keep certain things private about my visit to Florida didn't work. My world crumbled beneath me. I was constantly worried that I was over-reacting or misinterpreting or crazy- and all I received was validation, which hurt worse than thinking I was crazy. I anticipated all the things that happened, in the exact sequence that they happened. People I love got hurt. I had to sever ties that I spent a lot of energy repairing. And yet I still felt like nothing would get better.

I was spending all my time on facebook. I was talking to 2 other men, because I couldn't talk to John or anyone else in my family, really- about what I was feeling. It proved to get messy when family gets involved and those feelings are hard to recover from. facebook was the buffer that kept me from interacting with John and trying to fix things, but it was also my source of comfort when my attempts to make it work failed. I was starting to feel off and thought it was the emotional turmoil manifesting in my body, but got a positive pregnancy test on day 47 of my cycle. That pushed me over the edge.

 I knew the pregnancy was one of two things. 1. a blessing that would save my marriage. or 2. a burden that would make single motherhood HARDER. I favored the second up until I could feel the baby move. In my heart I prayed I would have a miscarriage.

I feared for this unborn child. I thought I was going to set her up for failure in life due to the amount of stress hormones she was being exposed to. She is the main motivation for me to get outside help.

As the nausea and other first-trimester symptoms rolled in, I spent all my time on facebook. by this time I was involved with more groups, but one in particular required a lot more attention and energy to maintain. I sunk deeper and deeper. It was not uncommon for me to think about death in some form, daily. Whether it was the loss of my unborn or my own life.

John and I sought marriage counseling after I asked for a divorce. I still have bitter feelings towards this and get triggered by it constantly. I work hard to remember all the apologies we have exchanged in the last months, but things are still freshly healing.

We attended over 8 weeks of counseling, up and downs, successes and failures, and I still felt like things were not improving. I cut communication from both men I had been talking to, in order to help facilitate healing and communication between John and I.

 I had my first panic attack. Then a mental breakdown the next day. Fearing John was the cause of the panic attack and anticipating more of them with his presence, I told John I needed him to leave, and so he packed his stuff. I could not live like this anymore.

The day he was supposed to leave, was the day that changed everything. I took the kids grocery shopping, like I always do, and a song came on the radio- I don't even remember which one it was. but I started crying. Tears streaming down my face, while driving. Paxton asked me why I was crying and instead of telling him I was sad- like all the other times he has caught me crying and asked why, I told him " I just love Daddy so much." and he said " I love daddy too." and that was it. I realized that even though I was hurting deeply, the only reason it hurt that bad was because I loved John. I loved him with my whole heart and it was broken.
 I didn't want him to go, I just wanted to feel better.
We re-connected for the course of two weeks, and got better quickly. But somehow I was attached to my phone, on facebook.

It had become compulsive.
 Even after I had checked my notifications for the day, I would somehow end up back on facebook 9 to 10 times more that day, and not remembering how I got there. I would mean to check my email or respond to to a text message, only to remember that I needed to respond to that text message after 10 minutes cruising facebook. It had gotten bad. It was like I had no control. I would drain my battery and let it sit on the charger long enough to resurrect it, and then check facebook again before letting it charge halfway and checking it again.

I noticed that even though John and I were doing a lot better I was starting to wallow. I wasn't motivated to do anything. I wasn't feeding myself. I rarely got out of bed. My poor kids came in to see me when they needed me for food or poopy diapers, but the automatic forward to the next episode on netflix came in handy and kept my kids entertained when they weren't in the backyard  right outside my window playing in the dirt. Not many of my behaviors changed at all. I was stuck and didn't know how to get myself out. That is when I knew I needed to really get some help. I didn't know how to help myself. I had my second panic attack after realizing that I needed help and I was in a crisis.

Instead of going cold turkey, my goal was to abstain from my phone completely until noon. I experienced longer bouts of anxiety in the evenings on the days I spent more time on facebook. One day I didn't get on at all, and it was like magic fairy dust was sprinkled over me. I had virtually no symptoms of depression or anxiety that day. so I tried again the next day. and the next day. Then I got on facebook for 10 minutes and felt the anxiety again. I was convinced.

My theory is that facebook has become a trigger.
I used it to distract, buffer, and escape the things I was feeling for months- even years, but I still felt them while I was on facebook. my brain had been re-programmed to associate facebook with turmoil and no control. So I am now facebook free for 3 weeks. My goal is 42 days, but there really is no guarantee that the trigger will not be permanent. I may eliminate instagram as well.

It's been harder the longer I go without. so many things happen that I want to "update" about, that it gets overwhelming. I couldn't stop thinking about my accumulating notifications, until I had John change my password and deactivate my account.

I still have a long way to go. I still have bad days. I still have weepy days, but I have hope that I will be better soon. Pregnancy is hard and I try to give myself some grace due to the work my body is doing right now. I am also learning a lot. Mostly about myself, and it's HARD. I thought I knew everything there was to know about me. I havent had sugar in almost a month.

With the help and support of John, my family, my doctor, therapist, midwife, and our bishop, I am finding the strategies to get better.

one day at a time.