Feb 172012
 

 ”I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy it. This makes it difficult to plan the day.”

 - E.B. White – taken from Leaving Church, by Barbara Brown Taylor

 

 

Momastery is booming.  It’s funny, because we are teaching absolutely nothing new here. We are just offering people a soft place to land and to remember what they already know. That we were put down here to take care of each other. To listen to and learn from each other. To keep our hearts and minds open and allow others in. We have offered people a safe place to put down their guns and peel off their armor with the assurance that no one will shoot. People can breathe here, so they come back.

 

Because of our growth – beautiful and wonderful ideas are coming at us left and right. Groups of “Monkee Cells” are sprouting up all over the country. These small groups are meeting to tell each other the truth and to practice, in real life, loving each other and their communities. Joy.

 

Companies are all up in our Monkee business. People are begging to advertise. I’ve received several emails asking me if I’m insane. Folks have informed me that since Momastery ranks within the top six thousand websites in the country, we could be making tens of thousands of dollars a month through advertising. When I consider the good that money could do for my immediate family and my Monkee family, everything becomes a bit confusing.  So stop sending those emails, people.

 

And Monkees want THINGS to remind themselves of the Reloveution throughout their day.  Jewelry, more clothes, stickers, bags etc, etc. That will all happen. Not right now, but it will happen.  As Lou reminded me yesterday- Love Is Patient.

 

Since the Croyle Love Flash Mob, I receive fifty heartbreaking stories per day from lovely folks trying to get help for their hurting friends.  I sit at my computer and cry, knowing that we’ll never be able to help all of them, or even most of them. It’s okay – the crying. Staying broken hearted is very, very important to our work. People try so hard to keep their hearts intact, but that is a big mistake. Broken hearts are the most effective tools on Earth. Can’t change the world without a broken heart – just can’t.

 

But yesterday I had a bit of a breakdown, to tell you the truth.

 

You see, I started to feel like I was serving the world before myself and my family, and that is decidedly NEVER what I wanted. Because it doesn’t work that way, of course. If you put the world in front of yourself, you will end up serving no one at all.

 

Love your neighbor as yourself. This implies that you’re taking pretty darn good care of your own self, no? I mean  - unless God meant that we should ignore our neighbors needs and run them ragged.  Probably not.

 

I need a good amount of time to myself. When I say time to myself, I usually mean quiet time, which I consider time with God. I need time to listen. Time with no other input than that still, silent voice. “Go to your cell- your cell will teach you everything.”  The desert fathers used to say that when the novices came to them with questions. It was their way of saying that there is nothing new to learn that isn’t already inside of you. You have all the answers, you just need the discipline necessary to stay quiet long enough for them to emerge. The kingdom of God is within. And so not enough time in my cell leaves me empty and lost and a little confused about what to do next. Stressed, panicky = cell time, please.

 

Sometimes my God/self/cell time is in the sauna, sometimes it’s with my Bible, usually it’s with another book,  and often it’s heading out for a mani/pedi.  Beauty salons make me happy and God wants me to be happy. But I haven’t been doing ANY of this lately. I’ve been waking up and living and breathing Momastery and Monkee Business and that is putting the cart before the horse.

 

In order to be a decent writer and lover of folks, I have to spend time alone, and ALSO get out there and live occasionally. Not too often, because- scary. But sometimes. Sometimes I have to turn away from the computer, so that I can experience life and then come back and write about what I noticed. With my face to the screen all day, I’m missing a lot of the brutiful happening behind me.

 

In a few hours I’m heading to a conference in Richmond called Womankind. I think the conference is about God and women and…kindness? I don’t know. I didn’t even read the description. A couple precious Monkees invited me and I saw that it included a night away from home and I just signed the hell up. I’m excited. I can’t wait to just sit and listen to other women talk about their lives and their faith and their lack of faith and how we can all take better care of each other. Just take it all in. Fill up instead of emptying.  I hope that I’ll have a lot to share with you when I get back.

 

In the meantime, you should know that I am making NO decisions to change Momastery in any way. I have said no to the advertisers, we have not started merchandising, we have decided to SLOW DOWN, STEP BACK, and FOCUS UP. Or however our tagline goes. Something like that.

 

We are not against growth, but we are not going to be pressured into it in any form.  We will grow slow and steady. We will spend time in our cells, listening and thinking things through. Sloooooow and steady.

 

For now, I will just think and write and remember that all is well and has always been well and will continue to be well. Love is patient.

 

Take care of yourselves this weekend, please. Put the horse before the cart. Take care of your baby’s parent. Your friend’s friend. Your mama’s child. Yourself.

 

I love you Cheeky Monkees.

 

G

 

 

 

PS. If you are at the conference and you see me, please come say hi and try to ignore the fact that my face is a tomato. I used a face mask last night that my friend warned me NOT TO LEAVE ON FOR LONGER THAN FIVE MINUTES, but obviously, I left it on for twenty. Because if five minutes will make me look good, how much better will TWENTY??? Not better. Not better at all. Thank you God, for the myriad ways you keep me humble.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Feb 162012
 

This one’s for all the mamas and papas and sisters and brother and children of The Volcanoes. So much love and light and hope to you- G

If there is one thing I’ve learned from the writing of this blog, it is this: I don’t know anything. That might sound like a distressing discovery, but it’s okay. I think it might be the most important thing to know. It seems to be more than a lot of people know, anyway.
Knowing nothing does become tricky, however, when readers who have mentally ill loved ones ask me about it – about the whys and hows and whens of addiction and other mental conditions. I wish, so badly, that I had answers for you. When I read your messages I can actually feel your pain, and I want to heIp. I want to offer you hope, I want to give you the answers for which you are so desperate.
But the truth is that I don’t even know my own hows and whys and whens, so I can’t know yours.
But I’ve been thinking . . . I do know the who.
I can introduce you to one of the whos of addiction. I can take you into my heart and show you what is there and pray that it might build a bridge between your heart and the heart of the imploding one that you love.

These essays on this topic- I am going to continue to write and write and then publish. It seems important not to revise, not to edit. So here goes.

There are some who can sit through a movie that makes them uncomfortable. And there are some who can’t. Or won’t. Those people actually have to get up and leave the room.
We addicts, we mentally ill are the Leavers.
We just can’t stand the movie that is showing for some reason. And we are unable to fake it or tolerate it. We have to get up and walk out.
We don’t leave to hurt you. We leave because we believe that it is right to leave. And just as you wonder how we could possibly leave, we wonder how on Earth you can stay.
But please don’t blame yourself. Often, we were just watching the movie together. You didn’t make the movie. The movie is the whole world.

All of the comments after Fourteen sung to me like a lullaby. Except for one. One struck such a sour chord that is has been echoing in my mind since I read it. And I think it illustrates the chasm between the addict and the ones that love us. It shows how we misunderstand each other. How we misfire when we talk to each other. So I thought maybe we could unpack it. I would never, ever do this to a reader unless the comment was anonymous. I hope it will not cause the commenter pain. I know, absolutely, that it was meant with good intentions. I want to thank the commenter for it. It has helped me think. Here it is:

*It’s very hard to imagine where, with the idyllic childhood you had, that this emptiness originated. I hope that your relationship with Jesus healed the hole for good.*

When we are labeling other people and their life experiences, we must be very careful with our words. These words - idyllic,emptiness, healed the hole for good - are not careful words. They presume knowledge. And they do not describe me or my life at all. Not at all.

I read this comment to mean: You are, are at least were, empty. And anyone with an idyllic childhood should not be empty. I hope you turned out better in the end.

First, I can’t imagine that there is anyone on Earth who is more pleased with how she turned out than I am.
Second, there is no such thing as an idyllic (picturesque, carefree) childhood. Let us not be silly. I had a good childhood. I was lucky as hell in most ways. I was the center of my parents’ worlds. But people are not mathematical equations. Love + Education does not necessarily =Smooth Sailing.
Third, I do not relate to the word empty. We addicts, we mentally ill…we are a lot of things, but empty is not one of them.
Fourth, Who On Earth is Healed For Good?
Here are some things that we are:
Some of us are born with an otherness that we feel right away . . . awareness of our otherness is often our first memory. We have this feeling that maybe we were dropped off in the wrong place, because nothing seems familiar. The people in this strange and harsh and confusing world require us to play role after exhausting role. We are afraid of things that don’t seem to scare other people. Friendship, love, commitment . . . these things seem so big, so important, so murky and confusing and dangerous…how could we dare enter into them? We decide it would safer not to. We see that other people seem comfortable taking these risks, but we feel different. We feel more aware, and less capable. We rationalize that maybe others take all of these risks because they don’t foresee the pitfalls that we see. We decide, subconsciously or not, that we are different. And we are so full of this knowledge of our difference that we must find a way to relieve our fullness. We are like volcanoes with no exit for our hot lava.
But we are young, usually, and don’t know much about creative relief strategies. So we create our own little world to hide in. This world is our bulimia or alcoholism or drugging or cutting or whatehaveyou. And this little world is a relief, because it feels safer. We are directing our own personal movie now. We are in control. We are not deficient. We are not empty. We are actually quite perceptive and resourceful and creative. We are just trying to cope. We are like albinos who protect their skin by staying inside.
And the thing is that our strategy works. Our cutting or binging or drugging does relieve the lava pressure, for awhile. It just causes too much collateral damage it make it a sustainable plan, they tell us. At some point they tell us that the lava is actually burning the hell out of us on the outside, and spilling out onto you.
But please don’t call us empty. We’ve never been empty a day in our life. We are full to exploding. But we tried to implode instead of explode…because we are usually very kind. It wasn’t a perfect plan. We’d love to find a different strategy. But now we’re addicted to our original strategy. And it’s really hard to quit. Try quitting sugar and caffeine cold turkey and then multiply that feeling by one million.  It’s also really scary and risky to quit, because we don’t have another plan. So we need help. But we need respect, too.
Because here is the thing. We know we chose the wrong way to relieve our pressure. But that lava inside of us, it defines us. We love our lava. We must find a different way to relieve it, yes. We know. But that hot lava, that otherness, that awareness, that sensitivity- we were born with it and we will die with it.

The pressure of the lava is what led me to food and alcohol and semi-madness, yes, but it’s also the same lava that woke me up at 4:30 am this morning to write to you even though I’m sick and exhausted. The lava is what compels me to dig deep into myself and pour myself out here to women all over the world and to actually believe that it will make a difference. The lava inside me is what loves my children and parents and Sister and husband and YOU with a ferocity that borders on animal. My tenderheartedness, my sensitivity, my rebelliousness…my refusal to accept the world as it presents itself to me – my belief that I can change the world…it must be changed! got me in trouble for a while. It almost killed me. But it’s what keeps me ALIVE, too. It’s good now. It’s good now. It’s always been good. I just needed to learn how to use it. It’s like how nuclear energy can be used to destroy or to create. My lava is what I will use to save the world, or at least my little place in it. It’s why I walk through every day with my eyes wide with terror or awe. That lava is my fire. It’s my light. It’s the reason you return to this blog.

It’s my favorite part of myself. It is myself.

We addicts, we mentally-ill, we don’t want to lose our lava. We don’t want to lose ourselves. That’s why we fight you so hard.
I have found better ways to relieve the pressure of my lava. Yes, I have. I burn fewer people. I don’t burn myself as often. But I still feel the pressure, every single day. Thank God.

Love,

G

Feb 042012
 

 

I felt myself slipping this morning. Those of you who understand will understand – and to those of you who don’t understand, please  take a moment to say, “Thank You, God.”  Anyway- I thought re-posting this one might help keep me from slipping  into The Hole. Actually, I think it’s already working.  Love You, G

 

 

Since I find it impossible to understand what’s going on in my own head, I would never try to describe what goes on in yours. But lately I’ve been considering the differences between navigating the normal highs and lows of motherhood and real depression. Since, over time, I have suffered through the effects of both an extremely dramatic personality and true depression, I thought I should try to describe the difference between the two. For me.

I come from a long line of dramatic Irish personalities. We are an emotional bunch – my family. Our highs are high and our lows are low. We love easily, but we cry and yell easily, too. We are quick to hug and quick to anger. Now I know that you won’t believe me, because I am so sweet and calm on this here blog. But that is because no one in my house is awake yet. After people wake up, I tend to get dramatic. I often struggle through the day. Trudge through the day. I have to take a lot of deep breaths. I experience joy, too, everyday. But I am not the type to roll with things. I get very down – for reasons that I can never identify. I decide, thirty times a day, that no one in the history of the world has ever had a harder life than I do. When I say this to God and He brings homeless people to mind, I actually think, well – at least they don’t have to SWEEP.

I also worry. Worry, worry, worry. Obsess might actually be a better word. Not about the plight of the Sudanese…I TRY to worry about things like that, but I ACTUALLY worry about whether I chose the wrong throw pillow for my new couch. I snap at my kids for acting like kids. I resent them for getting hungry three times a day. And even though I don’t believe in mommy guilt, I feel guilty all the time. If I could choose a phrase to describe the polar opposite of my personality, it would be “easy-breezy.” As a matter of fact, I call Sister daily crying and whining and I CANT DO IT ANYMOR-ING and I always end the conversation with “Whatever. I’m easy-breezy, Sister.” And she says, “I know you are, Sister. I know you are. Me too.”

Sometimes I get so upset that I become debilitated…I’m talking crumble to the ground, tears, head in hands… the whole she-bang. My break downs appear to be brought on by one little thing… like a grocery bag breaking in the driveway - and so Craig will say, “It’s okay honey, it’s just a grocery bag,” and I’ll say: “IT”S NOT A GROCERY BAG! IT’S EVERYTHING! WHY CAN’T YOU SEE IT’S EVERYTHING???” And I don’t want anyone to try to fix it or fix me - I just want to be upset. I just need to be upset for awhile. Because life is upsetting, obviously.

I’m just A LOT to deal with on a daily basis. And I know this. I do not cruise through life. I sort of crash through life. But I also “WOW” through life, too. And so it’s okay. I’ll take the lows with the highs. Basically, I really like myself. And I think I’m an awesome mom. God chose ME for these kiddos and He knows me better than anyone, so I’m gonna be myself. My kids don’t need some fake idea of a perfect mom, they need me -Glennon, the real person. I get that.

But every once in awhile – something scary happens to me. A black, heavy, murky fog sets in over my heart and my head. When this happens, I do not alternate between super high and super low. During these awful times I alternate between super low and super numb. The fog is so thick that even when I get still and try to find my way home to myself – I can’t. During these times, none of my usual tricks….quiet time, sunshine, exercise, friends, prayer . . .none of them help me find my way through the fog. I can go through the motions of the day . . . I remember what to do – pack the lunches, smile at the kids, sweep the floor, hug my husband….repeat. I just can’t remember why any of these things matter. The love, the life that usually infuses each of these tasks with meaning is gone. I become like a robot. I have completely lost myself. All I want is to disappear into a dark room. Gone is the joy, the drama, even the suffering that makes me, me. This state of mind has nothing to do with my dramatic personality. It is more like a complete loss of my personality. I’ve suffered this loss three times in my life. Once when I was much younger and suffering from bulimia and alcoholism. Once after my second child was born, and again about a month ago. I have come to believe that this loss of myself is what is commonly accepted as depression.

 

This past month, when I realized that I had lost myself again, I called my doctor who told me it was time for some help. She prescribed a pill for me and I brought the bottle home and told Craig that I was going to start taking the pills immediately. His face lit up like a Christmas tree. I said, “Be patient though, husband. They take two weeks to kick in.” Craig’s face fell and he said frantically, “What? Well then maybe you could just take a whole bunch at once. Or snort it. Maybe that would work faster.” Clearly, the preceding months had been as hard on him as they were on me. He loves me. He loves his high and low wife. He wanted her back. He didn’t want to medicate me away. He wanted to medicate me back.

Last year I was having a hard time dealing with my usual anxiety about life and love. I emailed my friend Josie and said, “I can’t take the intensity in my head anymore. I need to relax. I’m gonna medicate myself. What do you think?” I hadn’t talked to Josie for years, so I don’t know why I emailed her. I guess if you listen hard enough, God will always point you towards the right person. Josie wrote back and said, “A friend once told me that if medicine allows you to be more yourself, take it. If it doesn’t, don’t.” I really liked that. And that advice helped me decide NOT to take medicine back then. Because the truth is that myself is dramatic and anxious and obsessive and ridiculously intense and you know, a little WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

But myself is not numb. When I get numb, I take my own hand and help myself find my way of the fog, back home. And medicine helped me this time around. I’m grateful.

I’m also hesitant about taking medicine. Not for the reasons that many others are. I’m not embarrassed. Ever, really. It’s a gift, my shamelessness. I know that I’m only gonna get one go ‘round on this beautiful Earth and I want it to be a good ride. I figured out a while back that there is no award for she who suffers most. No way, Jose. Not my bag. I think it’s a strong and brave and inspiring thing to find out who you are and then find a way to be it.

No, I’m hesitant to medicate away my depression because I worry that my depression fuels my writing. What medicine does for me is help me to relax into life a bit. Craig’s perspective is that when I’m on it, I am the same Glennon, I just “struggle a little less.” I agree. I struggle a little less. And I also lose the feeling that if I don’t write I will die. This is how I feel when I’m depressed. Since I lose my joy and meaning, I come to the blank page to create meaning and joy, to get it back. Because I become desperate to make sense of things. And that desperation, I’m afraid, is what makes my writing good. So it scares me, I guess, not to be depressed. A lot of really good writers are depressed. But, as Craig says – “Honey, don’t a lot of good writers also kill themselves?”

True, dat.

Anyway, even if my medicine dulls my creativity a little, I think that at this point in my life, I’m willing to risk it. I think I’d rather be a good friend to myself and Craig than a good writer. Yep, I would. How nice of me. I really do like myself.

 

Love You,

GDo