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Truth and Fringes

About two years ago I stumbled onto a blog and book by a woman named Elizabeth Esther. I randomly googled something along the lines of surviving spiritual abuse, or surviving a Christian cult and low and behold she popped up. It was around the same time her new book was coming out, Girl at the End of the World, and her story was and is beautiful and raw. Her journey, honest, gripping, and very different, yet very similar to my own. I did not grow up in an extremely fundamental evangelical cult/home, I did grow up in a home rife with addiction. They may sound different altogether but addiction is addiction nonetheless.

Now some year and a half later, I’m working my way through her second book, Spiritual Sobriety, and I adore her story, her perspective, the exercises and her courage to do the work of recovery and share that work with other hurting, recovering religious addicts like myself.

There’s so much I would like to cover in this post, so much catching up to do because I’ve been on a sabbatical from posting and sharing, basically due to the realization I couldn’t write anything honest. The story and details of the why are way to messy for today’s post so i’m going to keep it simple and say that it’s nice to be back to writing, sharing, and moving forward one letter, one word, one sentence at a time.

What I hope for this blog going forward, what I pray for, is honesty…Honesty is part of recovery, and I’m recovering, the word for my addiction would be codependency, and so in the spirit of recovery, Hello my name is Nicole, a recovering codependent, and yes that is one part of who I am…that’s not the end all be all of who I am but saying it out loud is to  let the pride out of my sails and admit that I am sick sometimes I function in that sickness at high speeds.

So i’m working my way bit by bit towards spiritual sobriety, connecting via FaceTime with a friend to process my way through hurts, and insights. Sitting with friends and family taking time to listen be heard, to be honest,  or to be quiet.

Today, we talked about Elizabeth’s story and our own. And I walked away encouraged. I love writing. The action is fabric to who I am, but that’s not all of me. I want to be honest here, be vulnerable. Also I want to not craft my writing around who ever is or is not reading the pages of me. So today, I bow to my Maker, bow to my friend Katie, and to my friend (really a fellow artist who’s work has helped me) Elizabeth Esther. Thank you all for giving me words, the desire to communicate is a gift from the Lord. A year ago I survived another painful church experience, I left feeling exposed and abandoned. Yet here I am a year later and having processed some of that hurt, some hurts that were mostly self inflicted due to expectations, and I have a few  genuinely close friends and resources to work my way to a way more realistic feet on the ground approach towards faith, life, and not living entirely on the fringe of my struggles with mental illness, codependency, and pride.

I’m recovering in areas like my writing, and being a mother & wife, i’m also pursuing my dreams of going to school and finishing my degree. My family and I do not currently attend an organized place of worship and we are at peace with that, we are waiting together and in the waiting we are enjoying our time together…sometimes by sleeping in, remodeling our kitchen, or grabbing an early breakfast before I take off to serve tables at Cracker Barrel. So, I work Sunday afternoons by choice right now and this season my family and I are in, has been more peaceful which was not the case a year or so ago when I was striving to be connected at a local church. That faith community is near and dear to me, in fact I still follow along with some of there sermons. That season painful as it was, exposed me, to myself.  Where I am at right now with the Lord is that I do not need to perform, contort, learn new lingo, dress to impress, strive to be, “new,” I am in a season where I want, need, must connect with a handful of very important, very dear people, my children, my husband, and a few others…less is more. And my presence on a pew, in a group, or at an event does not make or break what the Lord is doing there or what He is doing in my home and life. Although I don’t think God only wants me to stay comfortable. I can say, “I don’t know…” and that is a true and honest statement. There is so much that I do not know. As I learn to see my way in to Abba’s heart, I think He will collect all the pieces of who I am from the fringes and cliffs that my heart and life have been lived on and He will connect me with the community and friends he wants me to be knit with and to. I don’t have to force or make anything happen, I just have to be honest. Cheers to learning to write honest, and be honest with myself and others!

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