Broken Things (My Journey into Chronic Pain and Back to Me)
M1. Brokenness How did I get here?
2. Healing Physically
3. Healing Mentally
4. Healing Emotionally
5. Healing Spiritually
I am broken! I had it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was waking up to the fact that I was broken and probably always had been. What was Broken, what would it be like to be unbroken? I had no idea. As I stood staring out the door of our new home in Michigan, snow blowing in drifts it felt like the cold wind was blowing through the huge cracks in my body, mind, heart, and soul.
I didn’t know what to do or where to turn for help, I just wanted to disappear. Not from life but from my brokenness, like an injured animal, I wanted to crawl in as small of a place as I could find and heal. The only problem, I didn’t know how. I was the mother of three young children, my military husband deployed just four months after we moved to this cold and lonely place, so I had to stay out in the open, I had to try to live in spit of the gut wrenching pain and brokenness.
In this book I will tell you how I became broken and how I found my way back to hope and healing. Do I still have cracks, yes. But now there is a bright beautiful light that shines through my cracks where there once was anger, rage, sadness, depression, and pain.
Are you broken? Do you know? Do you feel like you have cracks that go all the way to the core of your very being? Do you want to run away, to escape the pain, to find a small, still, place where you can heal. The problem most of us have families, jobs, friends, and all sorts of other people who need us, who depend on us, and running to a safe space to heal just isn’t doable. So what do you do? What did I do? I will Guide you down the path I took myself on my way to healing in this book.
I walked this path of brokenness for over 14 years, the journey was long and difficult, but being on the other side now I realize how incredibly hard yet worthwhile the trac was. I wrote this book because I’ve traveled this path and I know how long, lonely, and difficult it is. Also, because I have not only the experience but a degree in Naturopathic medicine so I can guide you on this journey in a way few others can.
In this book you will not only learn how we become broken, but how to heal and be whole again. In order to completely heal and be whole we must achieve balance. In order to achieve balance we must heal physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. If one area is out of balance the whole cannot heal. I realized this when I had resolved three areas, but there was still one piece I needed resolved to heal. Once I completed the very difficult task of facing down this last demon my health began to turn around. It didn’t happen overnight, but the point is it did happen for me and it can for you too.
I struggled with Illness most of my life. I remember always being sick, mostly with upper respiratory illnesses and lots of strep throat as a child. I was constantly taken to doctors, given antibiotics and steroids so that I would be back up as soon as possible. Now with my Naturopathic education I realize that was only wrecking my immune system and setting me up to get sicker as I got older. Bandaids never heal anything, they only mask the problem, cover it up only to be dealt with later. The more bandaids you put on a wound the further down the real issue gets pushed and more layers must be removed and healed until you finally get to the root of the issue.
When you finish this book you will be able to identify the traumas that lead to your brokenness and how each area effects the whole. I will guide you down the path to healing the brokenness. You will know how each part of this being is Intricately connected and begin the work of healing each area as we travel the path to healing and freedom.
The longer you wait to begin the journey the more layers get added on to those gapping wounds and the longer and harder it will be to healed. If you don’t begin to walk the path to hope and healing today, well then? Ask yourself what do you want? Do you want to live with the soul shattering pain another day or do you want to take the first step to healing. The time is now, there is no better day to begin your journey. The sooner you start the closer the finish line is. Let’s get going, the journey is long and hard, but the freedom at the end is so very worth it. What are you waiting for?
Chapter 1 Brokenness How did I get here?
Broken Things Song by Matthew West
If grace is a kingdom
I’ve stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all of the mistakes I’ve made
But I heard a whisper
As Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown?”
Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring You so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I am all Yours
The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use
It’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
The misfit heroes You chose
Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me
Grace is a kingdom
With gates open wide
There’s seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside
Publishing: © 2017 Atlas Music Publishing / House Of Story Music Publishing / Two Story House Music / Highly Combustible Music (ASCAP) / Housermania Music/ (ASCAP) (admin. by Amplified Administration)
Writer(s): Jason Houser, AJ Pruis and Matthew West
This song speaks volumes to me, because I am one of those “Broken Things”. I really don’t believe I was whole or unbroken from birth. The circumstances of my birth were stressful, to say the least, and my beginnings were humble and stressful on everyone involved. My birth mother was under a great deal of stress while she was pregnant with me and that only multiplied after I was born.
Many people don’t realize how much that stress, both pre-birth and after birth effects the child. Perhaps as much or more than the adults. Adults have the ability to choose, to make changes in their environment, and their thinking, a child however has no such choices. We are subject to the choices, feelings, and environment around us. Our brains and bodies adapt and overcome but that’s due to our will to survive. We have an inmate ability to survive, we want to live. We see this in premature infants that refuse to give up, against all odds they fight to survive.
That survival instinct is a God given ability to want to live and go on despite how hard it is. However, it does take it’s toll on our brain and body. Those premature babies often have life long issues with hearing, vision, learning disabilities, and much more, but those of us that are born otherwise “healthy” don’t escape without long term challenges. It is well documented that children born and raised in stressful environments suffer changes to their brain chemistry and body that tend to be adversely effected for life.
[Ongoing adversity in childhood leads to a chronic state of “fight, flight or freeze.” Researchers at Yale University discovered that when inflammatory stress hormones flood a child’s body and brain, they alter the genes that oversee our stress reactivity, re-setting the stress response to “high” for life. This increases the risk of inflammation, which manifests later in cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases and many other chronic illnesses.]
“Alters the genes that oversee our stress reactivity, re-setting the stress response to “HIGH” for Life!” Think about that for a minute, if your born and/or raised in this kind of environment your altered for the rest of your life! WOW! By no choice of your own, the environment makes changes that you will deal with forever. Fair? No it’s not fair, but how many things in life do you know that are? I know from my 52 years of experience on this earth, not much has been fair.
So what about hope? Is there hope, YES there is always hope. The verse in the song says, “The pages of history they tell me it’s true,
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use, It’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak,
The misfit heroes You chose, Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me”
History tells us it’s rarely the perfect, the ones without scars that make the biggest differences in the world. Maybe the challenges also make us strong in other ways, determined to make a change, even rebellious against the very things that changed us forever. Maybe, just maybe those changes, while giving us challenges that have to be overcome, also gives us a determined spirit to change the world.
That is at least true for me. Despite the circumstances of my birth, the dysfunctional and abusive childhood I endured has made me strong, stubborn, rebellious, and left me with irreversible scars. However, they are scars I’m proud of, I’ve earned every one of them and without my scars I have no idea who I would be. The scars have also done their irreversible damage. Despite the difficulties I refuse to set on the sidelines and not leave my mark on this world.
When I was born in 1965, in rural Louisiana, it was a very different time and place. You just didn’t have babies out of wedlock, if you did become pregnant while unmarried you were sent off it an unwed mother’s home to have the baby, give it up for adoption, then excepted to come back home and resume your life like nothing happened. These young woman were scared for life by this experience and their inability to have any say. This also takes a huge toll on the unborn child. A mother under that kind of duress, emotionally torn and scared leaves those scars on the soul of her unborn child. Not to mention the fear of childbirth, alone, often with no opportunity to hold or care for her newborn child. This stress transfers to the child and the brokenness goes on.
I was not born under all these circumstances, however most fit. My mother was 19 when she became pregnant with me. Somehow she managed to hide her pregnancy for the entire nine months. She claimed she did not know she was pregnant and maybe she didn’t, I don’t know. I can only draw from the experience of my own 4 pregnancies and I knew almost immediately something was different with my body. I’ve always had an innate, God given ability, to listen and understand what my body is telling me. Besides being unmarried and pregnant there had to have been other extenuating circumstances around her during and after her pregnancy. I don’t know? I was there but my memories of the time are a little foggy.
I just know that extreme feelings of guilt, the need for everyone to be pleased with me, and the fear of abandonment have always been my constant companions. I never remember a time when I didn’t feel that way. So why and how does a young child have feelings like that, when they’ve never experienced anything to cause them to feel that way? Transfer…Yes, transfer from the mother to the child in utero and in those early informative years of growth and development.
My mother had to have been under extreme stress and huge feelings of guilt, knowing how her parents would react to my birth. Or like she told me, not know what was going on until she starting having pain so severe she had to be rushed to the hospital, where SURPRISE here I am! I know she was shamed, looked down on, and felt terribly guilty when the truth came out. Also not knowing where my biology father was and once she found him, after my birth, discovering he was already married and had a child. It took its toll on her, I don’t know who she was before, but the woman I knew was broken and has never found healing and freedom.
She allowed her brokenness to destroy her life, to negativity effect every relationship since, and now has no contact with me or her grandchildren because of it. It is sad and I feel for her, however I will not and can not have sympathy for her. Life is about the cards you’ve been dealt and what you choose to do with what you’ve been given. She took her deck and chose to close herself off emotionally and not even try to get help and healing.
I on the other hand took the cards I was dealt and sought out help, because I desperately wanted to be free and healed of my lifelong brokenness. For years I went though life not even knowing why I was the way I was. I was always a people pleaser, had a huge fear of being left or abducted and not knowing how I would get back home, and I always had an over whelming feeling of being responsible for everything and everyone. I lived my life from these feelings and thought I was functioning well and hiding it all from those around me.
Then in my mid thirties those feelings got more and more difficult to keep down. Once at a women’s conference I heard a Speaker say, “sometimes we live our lives holding a beach ball under water, it may pop up slightly from time to time, but you can keep it under the water (hidden away) pretty well. Then one day that ball becomes more buoyant or you get tired of fighting to keep it buried and the fatigue gets to be to difficult to hold it under. That’s when it begins to pop up and you try with all your might to push it back down. Then it all starts to unravel and once it begins you are unable to stop it.
That’s what happened to me. I couldn’t keep that ball under the water anymore, my life began to come unraveled, and the cracks in my soul began to break through and underneath was a whole lot of anger. The anger was like the hot magma in a volcano that had sat dormant for years, it began to spew out in spurts of anger and rage. Unfortunately where does lava hit when it erupts? All over the things closest to it. For me that was my husband and family. They began to see little spirts of magma, then as time went on and the cracks opened wider there came multiple explosions of red hot lava. It flew at everyone in my path, spraying, burning, and hurting them in ways I never intended.
The defining moment came one especially bad day in September, I was screaming and yelling all morning. My husband happened to come home for lunch that day and when he was preparing to go back to work my two daughters 11 and 13 at this time and they through their arms around their dads waist and said, “can we please go to work with you, we don’t want to be here with her!”. That broke my heart!! I had alway prided myself on the mother I was, that we choose to homeschooling our children, and I enjoyed spending time it’s them more than anything. That was the moment I knew I needed HELP!
I made an appointment with my doctor for the next day, explained to her what was going on and that I needed help, I was out of control. She agreed there was probably a chemical imbalance in my brain, due to the trauma I had experience as a child. She gave me a one month prescription for antidepressants and insisted that she would not prescribe more unless I started counseling. I went to a councilor I found for a couple of months and even though I was getting help, it just wants a good fit for me. So I took the paper she gave me, with approved counselors and I went down the list. I called one by one and interviewed each person I talked with. By the time I got to the 5th name, I had found the right counselor for me.
I promise, if you are dealing with anything, find the right counselor for you and stick with it! It’s not easy, it’s very, very, difficult but so worth the time and money out in. The lava continued to spew, Only now I could control it and not spew it all over my childhood and husband. I would take long walks and spew at God. Noe you may be shocked by that, I figured God is a big God and quite capable of handling it. I told him I was so mad, in a rage to be exact, I ask questions like why, and I cried and cried! I still had some surprise eruptions and my family got sprayed, but must less often and I learned to say I’m sorry!
It was a long hard journey to get to this point, but little did I know at the time there was much, much worse to come.
Chapter 2 Healing Physically
The years of stress and feelings of being unworthy, unloved, and a burden on everyone had left me so physically ill. I could not get well no matter what I did. Having a holistic view, I believe we are a four part person, physical, emotional, mental, and spirit. I knew I needed balance in all four areas of my life, but I was so sick I had no idea where to start. In this chapter I’m going to give you some more examples of the effects on my physical body and how I began to heal them.
I had developed asthma several years before, and my asthma was completely out of control. I went to an allergist and the prick test on my back for allergy testing swelled and made huge Welp’s on my back, because My Body was so overwhelmed it was overreactive to everything. I spent days after the testing laying on the couch on my stomach with ice packs on the red, swollen, area. The allergist of courses said this meant I was allergic to everything they tested. How in the world could I be allergic to every plant, tree, animal, and everything else on the planet? I wasn’t!!
My body was so overwhelmed, toxic, stressed, and flooded with adrenaline that absolutely everything sent my immune system into overdrive. I reacted to foods, water, scents, cold air, you name it my body would overreact to it! A scent as simple as flower would cause a asthma attack. I could eat food I had enjoyed my entire life and my face would turn bright red and swell. I would break out in hives on my entire body, with no idea what was causing it.
I began keeping a food and symptom diary and I could find no rhyme nor reason for these reactions and more. I was studying at this time for my bachelors degree in Holistic Nutrition and I attended a weekend Conference my school hosted, there I met a chiropractor who was working with patients who had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. As I listened to his presentation it became abundantly clear to me this is what I was experiencing. I bought his book and began consuming every word on the flight home.
I fit the profile for Chronic Fatigue more than Fibromyalgia simply because I was so extremely exhausted all the time, no matter how much I slept. I also did not have the Chronic widespread pain of fibromyalgia. I would fall asleep sitting at the dining room table helping my son with his school work! I felt like I could sleep 20 hours a day and still not feel rested. I also had the extreme weakened immune system, although I had always had a compromised immune system. I had always been sick, as long as I could remember I was either sick, on medication, or coming down with something. It was so bad I had my tonsils taken out at age seventeen and they literally had to scrape the sides of my throat because my tonsils had been infected so many times they had grown into the walls of my throat.
Now that I knew what to call this thing that had caused my body to be so sick and exhausted I could start to plan a path towards healing. First of all the thirty plus years of stress had made my body toxic, so I desperately needed to detox my body and begin to replace the nutrients I was deficient in.
Stress – the bodies’ reaction to any changes that requires adjustment or response.
Anything that causes you to worry, anticipate, regret, overthink, or panic can send your stress levels through the roof. Your body and mind can’t tell the difference in a serious threat, such as being robbed or events that are not life threatening like dieting. Remember the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study discovered that when inflammatory stress hormones flood a child’s body and brain, they alter the genes that oversee our stress reactivity, re-setting the stress response to “high” for life. This increases the risk of inflammation, because our fight, flight or freeze response” is rewired.
Increased stress manifest in the body in multiple ways:
1. Increased levels of stress hormones, like cortisol
2. Blood sugar rises
3. Altered appetite
4. Altered digestion (by changing the gut environment)
5. Affecting how thyroid glands and hormones work
Some Symptoms of Chronic Stress
1. Tension headaches
3. Raised blood pressure
4. Heart disease
When short spikes in cortisol/adrenaline happen over and over again daily, they cause wear and tear on the body and speed up the aging process. So imagine what continued stress daily for years does to your body. These symptoms just multiply and the effect is much greater.
I began by focusing on detoxifying my body. I did this by:
Herbs that cleanse and nourish the body
Your body needs help releasing the toxins that have built up from years of brokenness and oxidative stress. I started on High dose vitamins,
Whole organic food
We didn’t have much money as a military family of five, but I knew it was vitally important that I get foods that didn’t add more toxins from pesticides and other chemicals to my body. The way I dealt with needed to buy more experience organic food and not much money, I found a local Amish market where I could buy organic chicken, eggs, butter, fruits and vegetables. I was pleasantly surprised shopping here wasn’t costing me any extra money, just a twenty minute drive to the market. I also joined a local farmers co-op that delivered a box of organic fresh fruits and vegetables to specific locations in town where we could pick up once a week.
The other foods we needed I either got at the regular grocery store or I made a trip to Whole Foods Store once a month. I cut out all junk food, prepackaged foods and started eating clean at least 80 percent of the time. I say 80 percent because nothing in life is all or nothing and if I didn’t give myself so wiggle room I would be more stressed.
Good Quality Sleep
I set up a sleep schedule as best as I could. Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. It was during this time that I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and put on CPAP Support. Before I was diagnosed I was getting really mad at our cat, because he never slept with us, but he started waiting until I fell asleep and then sleeping on my pillow. Several times a night he would reach over and put one claw in my forehead just hard enough to wake me. It made me so made at him, but after the Sleep Apnea diagnosing I realized I was stopping breathing and he was waking me up! If you have pets, pay attention to their behavior, they may know more about your Health than you do and are trying to tell you something.
I got into Chiropractic Care right away. I read about how important it is for your body to be in proper alignment. This simple step made a really big difference! I started out going 2 times a week, then once a week and finally once a week. I had never been to a Chiropractor and had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised he was easygoing and gentle. It really set me at ease. It’s so vitally important that you find a practitioners that will listen to you, try to understand what your doctors often say is said from a place of misunderstanding. And if need be you have the power to fire any doctor and hire a team player that supports you in your efforts. You want doctors and caregivers that understand your trying to heal your body and not ones that cause you more stress.
I was fortunate at this time we lived in Michigan and they have the Mt. Clemons Baths. Many years ago it use to be like Hot Springs, Arkansas with Mineral Springs and Bath House, which I personally think is a travesty that they’ve been closed now. Those mineral hot springs were created for our health and healing and since western medicine has become more dominant in our society we’ve forgotten the benefits of healing waters. My. Clemons Springs is now owned by an individual and they harvest the minerals out of the spring and take out the smelly sulfur and have a location where you can go and soak in the mineral water. Hot Springs, Arkansas also still has one hotel where you can go and enjoy soaking in the old bathhouse and be pampered for a few hours or an entire day. If your not close to any of these types of businesses you can purchase the minerals and do a hot mineral bath at home. You can also make your own mineral bath mixture or bath bombs and soak in those. Epsom Salt is an amazing mineral soak and very relaxing and Detoxing for the body. Epsom Salt contains magnesium which along with the hot water relaxes the muscles and is especially good before bed with a few drops of Lavender essential oil to help you relax and get a good nights sleep.
This was one of the best things I did to help my body heal. Message therapy is not only relaxing, but also helps to remove toxins from the body. Massage therapy has been a recognized healing method for thousands of years, the Romans and Greeks used it as a regular healing treatment. We need to get back to therapies that have been used and worked for people; with thousands of years of proof backing them up. Medicine is not an all or nothing prospect there are benefits of all medicine and we need to adopt a integrated approach to healing. Western medicine is excellent, but I believe we need a balance between the best of western medicine and alternative therapies. Make sure you find a message therapist that works for you, that listens to you, and knows multiple message techniques, so you get the best possible outcome. You may need to visit a few different massage therapist to find the right one. During my Healing I tried different types of massage therapy to find what my body needed and I went at least once a month for therapy. You need to think of this as a prescription for healing not an indulgence. You are helping your body detox and heal and massage therapy is a vital part of that.
Fresh Air and Exercise
You need Exercise and fresh air to aid in you detoxification and healing. Oxygen is one of the best things you can do for your body. Every cell in our body is in need of oxygenation and you need to help your body wash your cells in healing oxygen. The best way to do this is a gentle morning and/or evening walk, this way you are “killing two birds with one stone”. You are getting exercise which helps your body stretch, relax, and heal, while bathing your cells in fresh air. Now I know what your saying…but Elizabeth, I’m so tired and sore I don’t have the energy to exercise, if I Exercise I’m just more sore and exhausted. I know, I’ve been there, so start with just 5 mins or even 2-3 minutes, and build up from there. You will be more tired and sore at first but after a week or so you’ll start to notice that your walk actually makes you feel better. Don’t power walk or try to get your heart rate up, that will come after healing. Right now you are focusing on healing and you need to be gentle and loving with yourself, no harsh anything!
Practicing Yoga or Ti Chi
These practices combine meditation, slow movements, deep breathing and relaxation. They have both been found to be extremely helpful with the many symptoms of Chronic Illness. If you can go to classes to learn from a certified teacher it is helpful, as a beginner, then you can practice at home to help control your symptoms. You can purchase relaxation yoga DVD’s and do the gentle poses and stretches to help stretch and relax your muscles. Again you are oxygenating your body and helping your muscles relax and return to their non constricted state, which is healing and detoxify for your body.
Vitamins, Herbs and Supplements to cleanse and nourish the body
Your body needs help releasing the toxins that have built up from years of brokenness and oxidative stress. I started on High dose vitamins mineral supplement to restore and replace what I was deficient in. When your under long-term stress and your body is toxic you not only need to be sure your getting the nutrients you need everyday, but also replacing what is a severe deficiency. Get a high quality readily absorbable Vitamin mineral supplement.
Interceptive therapy: Choose 3 to 4 recommendations based on your specific needs.
Reduce Inflammatory Pain: MSM capsules, Quercetin with Bromelain, Turmeric extract (Curcumin with Bioperine Black Pepper for best absorption)
Balance Brain Chemistry and Nerve Transmission: Ginkgo-Biloba, Gotu kola caps or Black Cohosh extract for nerves, Rosemary tea, a memory booster
Improve musculoskeletal system: Acetyl-Carnitine, Glucosamine-Chondroitin, Burdock tea
Raise Serotonin Levels: SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine) boosts serotonin-dopamine levels, St. John’s wort, Natural Balance 5HTP for calming and better mood, Naturalwell MigaSpray for Headaches
Add Magnesium and B-Vitamins: Magnesium or Source Naturals Magnesium/Malate supports muscles and energy production and alleviates tender points, B-Complex Vitamin or Methylpro B complex plus L-Methylfolate 5-MTHF
Boost Immune Response: Glutathione, Grapeseed POC’s, Vitamin C with extra bioflavonoids, CoQ10 (Co-enzyme Q10)
Superfood Therapy: Pure Planet Chlorella, Aloe Life Gold, Lane Labs TOKI collagen replacement
These are some of the healing techniques and supplements I used to heal my broken body and restore my health. It did not happen overnight, but with patience and commitment healing will come and you will begin to see improvements. The absolute best thing you can do for your body while it’s in crisis mode is to be loving and gentle with yourself. Every ache, pain, and other symptom you have is your body crying out to you, to let you know something is wrong and your job is to listen and learn what it’s asking for. Loving your body is the first step to healing the brokenness and regaining your life.
Chapter 4 Healing Mentally
This is perhaps the most difficult part of healing. Healing the mind takes time, patience, and hard, hard work. For me and many others who have suffered in a dysfunctional and abusive home there is much work to be done. Years of destructive messages that play like a song on repeat in your head always telling you, “your not good enough”, “pretty enough”, “smart enough” or everything is your fault and life would be better without you or least this was true for me.
I don’t know if in every case the messages where meant to tear me down or if they were all said out loud, but those are just a few of the things I felt and heard. As an adult now who has been through many years of counseling I really don’t believe it was their intention to tear me down, because hurting people hurt people. They had issues carried over from their life and those issues were projected on me.
Whatever the case, that pain and those scares cut deep and take time to heal. Believe me there is no rushing through healing your mind. I know because I tried to just put my head down and power through it, but it takes time and effort on your part. It’s alway a good idea to have a guide to walk the path with you as well. For me that was Kathy, she was my counselor and confidante. Weather it’s a friend, family member, coach, or professional counselor you need someone to help you sort out the mental pain, heal the scars, and replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.
I was so broken mentally, I find it hard even now to put it into words. Our mind is the master control of everything else and when it’s so broken there is just no way the rest of us can function and be well. I so badly wanted that part of my journey to be over and behind me, after all who really wants to walk through all that crap? I would have much preferred to skip over it and move on to something else, but no brokenness can go unheard if you want overall healing.
I know the Bible says the tongue is hard to tame and that’s true, but your thoughts are hard to overcome and control. Especially when all you’ve heard your entire life is negative. Now is that all that was said to me, No. it’s all I heard, especially from my parents. My grandmother gave me positive messages and affirmation and my teachers did as well. I heard those, but for some reason all I heard from my parents was the negative. Thinking back now I have to work really hard to remember any positive messages from them. I’m sure there were some, I was just so programmed to hear the negative and It was what I believed so it was habit or easier to only hear that.
For me the road to healing my thinking was to walk through each of those negative thoughts and learn to replace them with the truth. Kathy taught me that when one of those negative thoughts came into my head to sat STOP! Then replace it with the truth, the truth being the Word of God. It was hard at first because I believed the lies for so long it took practice to even recognize the negative message. I was so indoctrinated with the lies that I actually believed they were true, even though I had evidence to prove otherwise.
A good example of this is the negative message, “your an idiot”. I knew there was no way that could be true, after all I was now in my mid-thirties, happily married with three great children. I had opened and ran with excellence multiple businesses and I was a straight A student, so I couldn’t possibly be an idiot. However when you’ve heard that repeated time and time again for as long as you can remember it’s hard not to believe it’s true even though all evidence says otherwise.
It’s a trick the enemy and our mind plays on us that the facts can’t possibly be right because this is what I was told and what I believe. The worse part is those negative messages run on a loop in your head, so not only is that what your were told and believed, but now it’s what you tell yourself every hour of every day. It’s so difficult to see one thing and be told the opposite or worse yet tell yourself the opposite.
My husband is a very loving, caring, compassionate, and positive person so every day he would tell me how wonderful I was, how special, how smart, pretty, and so on. I wanted desperately to believe him, but the tapes in my head just wouldn’t relent. He would give me a complement and the tape would say the opposite and I was so programmed to believe the tapes I would blow off every positive thing said to me. It’s very confusing and hard for someone who hasn’t been there to understand.
Like I said in chapter one, I was physically ill my entire life. I was alway catching everything that went around and when I would make my, just about monthly visit to the doctor for antibiotics and steroids, so my mother could take me back to daycare and return to work as soon a possible. I rememberer saying “your sick again”, “we cant afford this”, or when I was grown, “ well, you know we are a lot better off financially now that your married because your medical bills kept us broke!”. Hearing those things made me feel guilty and ashamed for being sick, even though it was out of my control. I felt like my family had to do without because of me and my very expensive medical bills. To this day if I get sick, I feel guilty. As if I can control being sick. Some of those things are so hard to overcome.
I can say I have overcome most of the negative messages. I’ve managed to erase those tapes and record truth over the lies. Not all of them are erased, but most are. How did I do this? I started a daily Bible reading and when a specific scripture spoke to me I would write it on an index card. I keep a recipe box to file them in, with category cards that say, faith, encouragement, child of God, Hope, faith, etc. Often I would write two or three cards with the same scripture on them. I would put one in my box, one in my purse, and tape one on the bathroom mirror or window sill in front of the kitchen sink to remember it and read it multiple times a day. Then when a negative message would start to play, I would say NO! This is the truth, read the scripture out loud and repeat it several times. This is how I began to erase the lies and record the truth.
I also changed the music I listened to, I listen only to positive, uplifting music, no sad songs! I only watch positive shows and movies, no more sad tear jerkers, unless I just need a good cry and we all need that from time to time. I absolutely try to surround myself with positive people, I can’t let others drag me back into the pit of self hatred. Now that doesn’t mean I won’t be friends with someone going through a tough time, but I try to help them get out of that place, but if they aren’t willing to try and do the work I have to walk away. I won’t go back to that place ever again and I won’t let anyone pull me down with them.
I believe the most important thing I did to heal my mind was…are you sitting down?? Walk away from my family of origin. I tried to talk to them, I tried to reason with them, letters went back and forth for months and nothing was changing. I had to make the decision to either stay in the pit and get hit repeatedly or get out of the pit, clean myself off and start the healing process. It was by far the hardest decision I ever made in my entire life! I love my family, we were very close when I was growing up. Until my grandmother passed away in 1989 we had holidays together, went to church on Sundays, had big family meals, and it was wonderful. But after I confronted my mother about the things that had happened to me in 2003 all my aunts, uncles, half brother and first cousins listened to my mother and decided I was lying. The attacks came from all sides for months, except my half sister. She is the only one that didn’t deny my experience and feelings and remained in my life. She is still the only one I stay in contact with to this day.
Healing mentally takes hard work, commitment, and dare I say courage. It’s hard, really hard, and it’s work, but it can be done. There will be days when it seems an impossible mountain to climb, but there will be good days too. You just have to keep pushing through until the good days outnumber the bad and as you keep pushing through eventually the good days will far out-way the bad ones. And I’m always here if you need help climbing the mountains or company walking through the valleys. It’s a much easier journey when you have a guide and company.
Chapter 5 Healing Emotionally
The dictionary defines emotions this way, “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.”
* Fear → feeling of being afraid
* Anger → feeling angry. A stronger word for anger is rage
* Sadness → feeling sad. Other words are sorrow, grief (a stronger feeling, for example when someone has died)
* Joy → feeling happy. Other words are happiness, gladness
* Disgust → feeling something is wrong or nasty
* Surprise → being unprepared for something
* Trust → a positive emotion; admiration is stronger; acceptance is weaker.
* Anticipation → in the sense of looking forward positively to something which is going to happen. Expectation is more neutral.
Emotions they can be a great help to us, but they can also do us in if we let them control us. I was so BROKEN emotionally I can even tell you how far out of since my emotions were. My heart was completely shattered and I was experiencing every emotion known to man. I was angry, sad, disappointed, in a rage, devastated, depressed, the only emotions listed that I wasn’t expecting during this time in my life were Joy and Trust.
The trust part was nothing new for me, I had never really trusted anyone, so not feeling trust was normal for me. I had at this point, been married to the most wonderful, kind, loving, faithful husband for 20 years and I still didn’t trust him! I feel terrible about that now, but life had taught me very well, No One Can Be Trusted! He had never given me any reason to distrust him, but when you’ve spent your whole life feeling like you can only trust yourself it’s near impossible to trust anyone else.
There was no joy in my life at this time, except maybe the joy I found in my children. I could find joy in their little faces, pure hearts, and abundant laughter, but that was always fleeting and I was pulled back down into the pit of depression and anger. I just couldn’t understand why, when confronted with everything I had been though. My “family of origin” could turn on me like a pack of blood thirty wolves.
It stared when I left Texas that summer, the letters, email, and unanswered phone calls. See My husband had been put IV active duty after September 11 and was deploying overseas in support of the war effort. I had been so physically ill for the last several years and had developed severe asthma along the way that I was unsure I could care for my children in his absence.
We made the decision to Pack and store our household goods, move out of our rent house, and the children and I would go down south while he was away so we would be closer to family. In the event I got really sick I would have help caring for our children.
When we made this decision we thought I would have several options of places to stay while home. There were my in-laws in Texas, my best friend in a Louisiana, my half sister in Mississippi, or as a last resort, my mother and stepfather in Texas. Well you guessed it, which one?? My mother and stepdad. My sister-in-law and her family had moved in with my in-laws so only room for short visits not to stay. My best friends sister had moved in with them, because her husband was retiring from the military and she wanted to start her children in school at the beginning of the year. So no room there for us, only a week when her sister was gone to visit family in another state. My half sister, her husband, also military was deployed on a sub and she and her daughter were living in a time apartment, only room for a long weekend visit.
So you guessed it, we had to stay with my mother and stepfather! I knew this was going to be difficult, but we would go and do things to be out of the house as much as possible. We would go for short visits to see everyone else and mainly stay away except to eat and sleep.
That worked well for about a month, then I started to unravel. I didn’t know it at the time but my children told me later. Every time my mother and stepdad fought, which was often, I would just zone out, my mind shut down if you will. My children say they would call me and try to get my attention, but until they actually touched or shook me I was like a zombie. Coping me mechanism I suppose.
When we were away visiting other friends and family I was “normal”, but as soon as we had to be there Zombie Mom was back. I can’t tell you how I felt, I don’t think I felt much. I just went through everyday in survival mode, much the same as my childhood. I felt fine and functioned as long as they were at work or my children and I were out of the house, but otherwise I was just out of it.
As it would happen, with the war winding down, after about six weeks my husband helped close the base he was at and was sent back to Massachusetts where we were stationed at the time. Only we had no house, all our household goods were in boxes, and being the middle of summer there was no space in any of the local campgrounds. So we decided The children and I would stay the rest of the summer in Texas and he would go back to Massachusetts and live in our camper while he finished out his orders and we transferred to our next duty station in a Michigan.
We had friends that flipped houses for a living and he could put the camper in the driveway of the house they were flipping. He was working night shift at the base and helped with the house during the day. But then….
The defining moment for me. At my mothers and stepdad’s one Friday night, still a month to go before we could go home and prepare for the move. My mother told me my step brother was coming by on his way from working the oils fields in South Texas back to Louisiana. I immediately went on high alert, every synapses in my brain fired, I had this sense of dread, and overwhelming fear of being out of control. See this was one of two stepbrothers who had abused me as a child. I was fearful for my childhood, the same age I was at the time of the abuse.
I called my husband and told him if this stepbrother was staying at the house that night the children and I would be going to a hotel. I would not let my children stay in the same house as him! My husband was of course fine, saying, “ you do what you need to to protect yourself and our children.”. I feed my children dinner early, and tucked them safely in a bedroom with their toys and a movie, then I sat at the dining room table and waited.
While we were waiting my stepdad explained that my stepbrother was coming by because he was having trouble with his ATM card and getting gas and money to get back to Louisiana. He also told me the reason why, his ex-wife had cleaned out his bank account when he got paid to catch him up on child support. So there was no money in there to get out.
When my stepbrother arrived he was obviously under the influence. He was telling my mother and stepdad how his card want working and he just didn’t know why. Instead of telling him why my stepdad said, “we don’t have an ATM card but Elizabeth does and she will go with you to the bank and help.”.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, what? I have three children in a bedroom in this house, they need a mother, and you want me to get in the car with a child molester, whose under the influence, and go to get money you know isn’t there? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I looked up at my mother, she made eye contact with me, then just looked away, uttering not a word!
There I was, all of a sudden the blinders were gone, I was no longer a zombie, I was mad and hurt! I realized in that moment they really didn’t care about me, my safety, the safety of my children, I was devastated and broken hearted. It was the anger that came out first, I looked my stepdad in the face and said, “Like HELL I will!”. I got up went to the room where my children were and ask a simple question, “do y’all want to go home?”.
Their answer surprised me, they immediately got up and started packing their stuff! No answer just a frantic pace to get there stuff and leave this place. A wash of sadness came over me, realizing they didn’t want to be there either. They were ready to leave right then!
I explained we would be living in the camper with no bathroom gook ups, in the driveway of a house being remodeled. We would have to go in the house to use the facilities and bath. They were fine with that, they just wanted out! I honestly had no idea they were so miserable there. Tears come to my eyes now thinking they felt that way at their grandparents house. I had the most wonderful grandmother on the planet and I would have rather been with her and at her house than anywhere else. My children did not feel this way in the least.
So we packed our things and left bright and early the next morning. We drove for days back to Massachusetts. I pushed though and kept myself together until safe again in my husband’s arms and the company of great friends. Then I fell apart emotionally. The depression was so dark and all consuming. It engulfed my like a dark storm cloud I could no longer run from.
The next few months are a blur of depression, anger, and activity. The phone calls, harmful voice messages, emails, and eventually letters came and went. After a week of sleeping nearly 24/7 and night terrors. I finally drug myself out of bed. I felt I needed to explain to my mother what had happened. I sat down and after several drafts I was at the finally at the letter I thought explained how I was feeling and ask for what I needed. I needed time to sort out my feeling and to heal.
That is what I ask for, just time and space. But it was not to be, not the space anyway. The calls started with my half sister calling me to ask what is going on? I had made a photo copy of the letter I sent my mother and I copied it again and sent it to my half sister. I knew enough, from living this way my entire life, that my words would be twisted and changed if I didn’t have proof of what the letter said.
This went on to emails and phone calls to my children, letters to me from my mother and stepdad, and even a letter from my uncle. None were very loving, understanding, or compassionately. During this time I was not only fighting this dark monster of depression, but we lived in the camper for two months, moved to Michigan, and lived in a hotel for two months while closing on a house.
Now I was feeling exhausted and sad, but I pushed that beach ball under the water again and powered through. We moved into our house the day before Thanksgiving and there were many updates and repairs to be made. Then the business of unpacking, getting settled, getting through the holidays, and getting my children back on track with school. We homeschooled so I needed to get back on a schedule and get that work done. Really I was still trying to run and hide from the awful experiences of the last six months.
That’s when the phone calls started again, my mother began calling my children every weekend. The conversation would go something like this, I don’t have anything to say you talk, the phone was passed between all three of my children for a total call of seven minutes. After a couple weeks my children were tired of this “game” and decided they didn’t want to answer the phone. I didn’t make them.
This is when the next round of assaults came on my emotions. My husband came home shortly after the first of the year and told us he was being deployed with the military again. Talk about great timing!! He would be leaving a February first and be overseas for a month. Ok it’s just a month, I had done much longer harder stints than that, I can do this. Boy, was I mistaken! There was no way I could have been prepared for what was to come.
He shipped out, my children still weren’t answering my mothers call, so she had my stepdad call and leave threatening messages on the voice mail about me not letting those children not talk to her. Finally my middle daughter had enough and sat down to write an email explaining why they didn’t want to talk. The days, weeks, and months after this were like a roller coaster ride I just wanted off of!!
An email came back, then I sent one, forwarded all them to my husband, who overseas, was fed up with our children and myself being talked to this way and he sent off an email to my mother and stepdad himself. It was an awful time and the beach ball was now floating on top of the water and there was no possibility of getting it back under the water again.
I stood looking out the glass doors of our new home, snow blowing in drifts all around the house in drifts. The scene I was looking at out my door was as cold and desolate as I was feeling inside. Talking to my husband on our one phone call I said through tears streaming down my face, “I just want to disappear”. My poor husband, hopeless across the world though I meant suicide! No, nothing was further from the truth, I just wanted to escape, tend the deep slashes in my soul, and try to find my way out of the pit.
I became very ill within days, severe bronchitis, constant asthma attacks, so bad I had to call the base for someone to take me to the doctor and take my daughter’s to the grocery store. I couldn’t function, I spent weeks on the couch as sick as I can ever remember being up until then. Finally at the end of the month my husband came home and I tried so had to go back to “normal”.
This is when the letters started coming. First the letters went back and forth between my mother and I. Then it was my uncle. The letters were neither caring nor compassionate, just mean and accusing. Every letter that came was another knife to my heart, until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was becoming completely unwound emotionally, not able to function. I was like a volcano that had sat dormant for years, all of a sudden I was spewing hot lava on everyone in my vicinity. Unfortunately this was my husband and children. I was out of control, it was like an out of body experience, watching myself act like an insane person and not knowing how to stop.
Then the last straw a certified letter from my mother. Especially saying she couldn’t believe I would act this way, I’d tell lies about the things that happened to me, I would turn her grandchildren on her, and she would leave us alone. Finally, that’s all I ask for, to be left alone for a while, so I could sort out my feelings. She my children were welcome to contact them when they were grown and that was it. The last communication.
The dark deep hole of depression completely engulfed me now, I spent my time in bed or a rocking chair in my room. I was a zombie staring at the wall, sleeping, or a volcano trying to function and spewing lava at any given moment and for no reason. After weeks of this carousel I decided I needed help! I wasn’t going to make it out of this without help!
So I started the long, hard, journey to healing my emotions. With the onslaught of negativity finally over the rage inside me began in earnest. I has never then or until now been that angry. My first step was to go to my doctor, I didn’t know what I needed but I knew I needed intervention. My doctor wrote me a prescription for an antidepressant and gave me a list of councilors I needed to make an appointment with before the prescription needed to be refilled. I was fortunate to have a doctor who understood a pill wasn’t going to fix this.
I started with one counselor, but after a few weeks I realized this wasn’t going to be a good fit for me. I left her care and kept going down the list. I interviewed each person, asking my questions about philosophy, views on medication, therapy techniques, and Christian beliefs. Five names down the list I found Kathy and she proved to be a God send. For weeks I sat in her office once a week and cried and spilled my guts. Finally I got to a point she could give me reading assignments, activities, and Bible reading that helped me gain a level of healing and understanding.
It took five years of counseling with a Kathy and two more years with a counselor at out next duty station to get me a level of emotional healing. There was a lot of talk therapy, reading self help books, studying and memorizing Scripture, and time, sweet time. There is no rushing emotional healing. It takes time and work, but now on the other side, I can tell you it’s so worth the pain and difficulties for the freedom.
So if you find yourself in a dark deep pit or as a volcano spewing hot lava on the ones you love, get a companion to walk beside you toward freedom. Either a councilor, Coach, or close friend, but this is not a Road you want to walk alone! My children ask me one time what does Miss. Kathy do for you, my reply, “she’s like new glasses, she helps me see things better.” Get some new glasses!
Chapter 6 Healing Spiritually
This is by far in my opinion the hardest part to heal. When your Spirit is Broken it feels like you will never be healed. A broken Spirit makes you feel like there is no hope, maybe a hair thin thread that you hang on to with all your might, but you hang there a deep moral wound in your very soul, thinking what if this line breaks? If the hair thin line breaks you know in the very core of your being that you will fall and not be broken anymore, you will be shattered. Like a piece of glass dropped on concert, laying there in a million little fragments with no idea how to put yourself back together.
When you are in the very precarious situation I was in you hang on, hope and pray for help. When your not begging God for help, just a little light so you can see anything good, your mad, I mean really mad. For me I was mad at God! I know for many of you, your sitting there mouth open, thinking you shouldn’t be mad at God! I know I felt the same way. You don’t get mad at a God and if you are you certainly don’t talk about it or tell anyone. But here I am, saying, “I was mad at God”!
I even told Him, loudly! I was in so much pain I was out of my head, I didn’t know wether I was coming or going, crying or screaming, laughing or yelling. I would be sitting at the dinner table with my husband and children, everything seemingly normal, then burst into tears and storm out the door. I would walk for hours, crying, screaming at God, pounding my fists in my pockets. Thinking back now, I’m sure my neighborhood thought I was a mental case and they were right. I was in so much pain spiritually I was out of my mind.
Coping with physical, emotional, and mental brokenness is nothing compared to having a broken spirit! From a young child I had been taught scripture, at my grandmothers knee. I went to Church with her if I was at her home, which was often, Vaccination Bible School, Socials, functions, everything that happened we were there. She read the Bible to me everyday, taught me hymns, and read Bible stories to me for as long as I could remember. I gave my life to Christ and was baptized at six years old. My faith ran deep and was strong. It was the very thread that healed me together and now all that was left was a small, thin, tattered, thread.
I had always known where to go when hurting, in need of comfort, I would run straight to God, His Word, His Church. That’s what I did when my grandmother passed away and my one and only, lifelong friend, confident, and source of unconditional love was taken to heaven fourteen years earlier. I thought that was the worst thing I’d ever go through, loosing her. Boy, was I wrong. I had no ideas what lay in store for me the next twenty-five years. The ride would get so rough, the brokenness would almost engulf me, and the pain would be almost more than one person could bear.
When your spirit is broken, it’s blinding, you can’t see anything but your own pain and hopelessness. Like I said, I was mad at God. I had arrows coming at me from every side; my family of origin, my own mind, my broken heart, my body was rebelling with physical pain and the arrows pierced so deeply my soul was broken. I told God, rather loudly, on all those walks that I was mad at him! Why did He let this happen? Why was everyone turning on me? Was He next? Why did he put me in that family? Why would he let them hurt me so deeply? Could I even count on Him? The one place I had always gone for comfort.
I know you may be thinking, you don’t talk to God like that. At least that’s what I had always thought, you respect God, reverence Him, worship Him, you DO NOT yell at Him. Let me share a little secret with you, that I learned, God is a BIG God! He can take it! He has been that mad and He knows how it feels. He even expressed it in scripture many times over. Being angry is not a sin. Jesus’s got angry in the temple at the money changers, he even acted on his anger, but he did not sin. Being angry is not a sin, what you do in anger is when you sin.
If I had gone to my mother and stepdad, I would have sinned. Had I shot someone in anger, I would have sinned, had I hit my children in my anger, I would have sinned, but I didn’t. I just expressed my anger, mostly to God, but unfortunately it spewed on my husband and children from time to time. For that I have apologized.
Once you begin to express that soul brokenness, and get that poisonous anger out, you begin to heal. Healing takes time and work, just like all the steps to healing. It doesn’t come easily or quickly, but it will come if you are willing to bear your soul and do the work.
It also takes a willingness to study God’s word, you must let it permeated every area of your being. God’s word becomes the foundation of healing your Spirit. It is truth and light and when you’ve spent your life believing lies and living in a deep dark hole you must let the light of God’s word permanent all of you. The best way to replace lies and darkness is light.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. I have sworn and I will confirm it, That I will keep Your righteous ordinances. I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word. O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, And teach me Your ordinances. My life is continually in my hand, Yet I do not forget Your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, Yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts. I have inherited Your testimonies forever, For they are the joy of my heart. I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, even to the end” (Psalm 119:105 – 119:112 NASB)
I began to read scripture everyday, i spent many hours in prayer, I listened to praise and worship music, I continued to get godly council. It was a total saturation of light in my life. It’s what it took to heal my spirit and learn to walk in the light and power of God. I was so saturated to my core with guilt, grief, sadness, fear, and brokenness it took years to let the light of God show through the cracks and everyday the light becomes brighter. Spiritual healing is, in my opinion, the basis for all healing. When your very soul is broken, the only hope is God.
Chapter 7 Conclusion
Brokenness is something everyone goes through, at least everyone I’ve ever met has some brokenness. If you don’t I sure would like to hear from you. I would love to know how you have navigated this world with no brokenness. Brokenness sometimes come in an instant, a look, a word, or even something unspoken that hurt your Spirit. Then like in my case brokenness come over time and repeated injury, until it builds to a point you can no longer go on the way it was.
Regardless of how broken you feel, how long it took to get to where you are, or how far it may seem to get back to wholeness there is hope. When you are at the bottom of the pit of brokenness and despair sometimes hope is all there is to hold on to. At least that was the case for me. From the pit of desire, Illness, depression, anger and all the rest all I had was hope. Hope that if I continued to press forward and into God I could somehow find healing and wholeness.
It took time, my brokenness was so severe and built up over my entire life I had no idea what wholeness looked like. I had never been Whole, well, healthy. I didn’t know what my destination looked like or felt like, I just knew it had to be better than where I was and where I had been.
I wanted out of the brokenness so bad I would have done just about anything to get out of the pit. I tried running, crawling, fighting, scraping, screaming, and yelling, but healing takes time. The brokenness doesn’t happen overnight and the healing doesn’t come overnight. It takes persistence, patience, and long-suffering. As bad as you want it to be over it won’t be over until it’s God’s will and in His perfect timing.
That was a very hard concept for me. I have always had a strong work ethic, one of many coping mechanisms I’m sure. I know very well how to put my head down, push hard and get trough whatever needs to be done. I come from a long line of very independent, stubborn, self-sufficient, hard working women, who do whatever has to be done to get the job done. I naturally thought this was the way through this process as well, wrong!
This took time, patience, work, and waiting. I had been praying through all of this, “God, what do I do?”. The answer I got, over and over, “Be still and know I am God”. He could have told me cut off your head and it would have been easier for me. But God in all His infinite wisdom knew how hard this was for me. He knew exactly what He was asking me was for me near the impossible and that through Him and only through Him would I be able to be still and get through this.
I read books, I did Bible studies, I went to counseling once a week, I went to group couching, I even went away for a week in the camper, by myself! This for me was so hard, I had never been alone for more than a day and certainly never left my husband and children just to be alone, but I needed it. It was a time for me to learn to be still, to commune with God, without interruption, and to learn to occupy myself without busyness to distract me.
So many times we let life distract us from what we need. I needed to learn to like my own company and to learn to lean only on God. It was hard the first couple of days, but by the end of the week I found I felt refreshed, renewed, and able to face my life again. To push through and continue on the path of healing. Healing did come, but not in a day, a week, or even years. I don’t know how long it took, I could probably get a calendar out and estimate how long it took me to walk this path, but that’s not the point.
How long it takes doesn’t matter, what matters is that you keep going, keep walking the path, keep healing, and drawing closer to God. He is doing a might workin you and through you, your job is to be willing to keep going until the work is complete.
Is my healing complete? No! I don’t know if you ever completely heal from such deep and utter brokenness. What I do know is God is working in you a might work, a calling, and if your willing you will see His plan come into focus. I also know that everything, and I mean everything you go through is preparing you for the next thing.
For me the next thing was something I could have never have imagined!