As a young child, my father became ill. Terminally ill. He passed away when I was just five years old.
His death brought much change into my life. We moved across the state to be closer to family. I had to change kindergartens halfway through the school year.
My mother remarried quickly. Another move. That marriage fell apart quickly. Another move.
And it changed the way I thought of myself too. I was different from my friends; I was “the little girl without a daddy”.
But, I marched on. And I never let it stop me. Or sideline me.
Or did I?
With all of the loss in my life I felt anyone could lean on me in his or her time of sorrow.
When my husband lost his dad and then less than a year and a half later lost his mom it was a painful time. But I was strong. I thought I was the perfect person to help him in his deep grief. But was I?
When we lost our son (my Stepson) Ryan, the strong person I had always been began to unravel…
This loss was harder, the hurt much deeper. This time I couldn’t be strong.
Life and Art, Art and Life
I’m currently in the process of editing a fiction manuscript I’ve written called Envelopes of Hope. In this book, the main character, Haddison Chandler lost her husband and her child in a devastating car accident four years ago.
Immediately after her loss she tried reaching out; she kept going to church, she started therapy. But eventually, she shut down, turning inward.
The book opens with Haddie in a stuck car. A blizzard is coming and her car is literally stuck in the snow and ice. Like her car, Haddie is stuck, too, but she can’t see that.
The mind is both powerful and protective. We remember things we should forget, and forget things we should remember as we try to get over our heartbreak to the other side of sadness.
I’ve been open about my grief over losing Ryan. I have a journal I’ve kept I call Meanderings in the Mindfield. I’ve recorded most of the events surrounding his death and my feelings about them, I still add to it often.
While working on Envelopes of Hope, my feelings about the death of my dad began to seep into Haddie’s character journey. As she was forced to face her pain, I began to see the ways in which I stuff mine down into a locked vault deep in my soul.
For example, I seldom discuss my childhood, not the good times, and especially not the painful ones. The hospital that took care of my dad during his illness was hours away from home. My mom stayed with him there, while our aunts and uncles cared for my brother and me. This led to long days of hanging out with our cousins, which at the time seemed like a never-ending sleepover. But from my adult vantage point I find it difficult to look at the pictures captured during that time, knowing they were taken in the last months of my dad’s life.
I constantly talk to others about the importance of sharing their feelings about their loss, yet I’d chosen to grieve silently. The grief I felt about my dad’s early death was my untold story and being unable (unwilling) to acknowledge my pain was keeping me stuck.
What’s Your Untold Story?
We all face pain in our lives: broken hearts, divorce, loss of a job, the death of a loved one, a dream that didn’t come true…
And in this fast paced world we often stuff the pain down deep, where we don’t have to think about it and on we go.
Until we find ourselves searching, trying to find that next thing, when what we really need is healing.
How do we tell our story? Who will listen?
How do we tell our story when the pain is so raw? And who do we trust with our pain?
Some people pour out their hearts to a close friend. Some go to a grief group and discover kindred spirits who share a similar story.
I’ve done a little bit of both.
But for me, healing came when I allowed my naked emotions to flow from my pen onto the page.
I’ve written over 55,000 words in my Meanderings in the Mindfield journal. Words I’ll probably never read—they’re just too honest.
Grief is such a murky place, but God revealed Himself during my heartbreak.
He was reaching out to me, by speaking to me through scripture, showing me signs through nature, and sending people with similar experiences who bravely faced down their pain to comfort me on my grief journey.
Unearthing my buried feelings in ink opened the vault to the heart of that little girl who thought she’d faced all of those changes alone.
Guess what – she didn’t. I was raised with a foundation of faith, built by my mom, and enriched by time spent at my childhood church.
And that faith has seen me through.
That faith has allowed me to (finally) hand my untold story to the Wonderful Counselor. His healing grace has chased away the clouds of my past, so they no longer block the love I have to offer. In Him I am light.
The Tapestry of Your Past
Is there pain buried deep inside of you? Do you have scars you don’t dare look at?
If so, it’s time you told your hidden story.
As we enter into the second month of this brand new year, I want to encourage you to take the time to look at the tapestry of your past and to finally open any buried vaults.
Call a trusted friend, book an appointment with a counselor or pastor, find a support group, or just open a new notebook and start writing on that blank page.
It’s important work to do. And you never have to do it alone.
God is always there for you.
He is the courage you need to look at those dark places. Ask Him to guide you.
Yes, your history will always be a part of your story. But, if you let Him, God can walk you out of the pain and into the light where past hurts no longer have such a grip on your future.
Make 2016 the year you give your untold story to Him—He’s been waiting—there’s nothing too difficult for Him, and no part of you that He can’t heal.