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Blog Introduction

This blog is the story of how my husband and I faced the illness and death of two of our children. Each blog post is essentially a chapter in the story, so in order to truly understand it, you are going to benefit by starting at the beginning.
I hope you find our story touching, and in some way find comfort and hope through it as you face your own storms in life.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Confined and Locked Up

Mike had shown signs of struggling during our summer stay in Slovenia, but I was the one continuing to have long-term inner turmoil. The unsettled feelings continued to rise and fall.  I would feel uneasy and "stirred up" inside, as if some unknown thing wasn't right.  Then the feelings would submerge and I would be fine again. I didn't understand why this was happening to me, or what the root of it all was.  Journaling I had done two years earlier revealed some of the issues hidden in my heart.  I wrote:

"I can see that I have built walls around myself.  Walls to protect me from more pain.  It's not safe to love someone.  However, this has led to increasing withdrawal from other people, including Rob and Michael.  Where I used to be outgoing and open, confident, and free to share, I am now seeing myself as increasingly reserved; less willing to share what's in my heart or on my mind.  My response to recklessness and foolishness is anger. "Don't you know I could lose you, too? .... There are times when my love for people overflows the walls, but mostly I feel very 'locked up' and confined inside."

 I did not realize how true the image was of my life being "confined" and "locked up".  I did not know how much it would take, or how hard it would be, to knock down the walls I had for years erected in my heart. Walls which kept others out and walls which kept me locked in. God would begin to show me just how much of a prisoner I was in my own mind and spirit through a time of prayer with another couple.  I cannot tell you the specifics of what they prayed; only that it was powerful.  As they prayed, I envisioned myself curled up, crouched down almost to the floor, in a near-fetal position.  I was very far back in a black, black cave, cowering with my back to the entrance, as if I were fearful of something outside the cave, or afraid that someone would find me in this dark place. Strangely, there was an element of safety for me in this stone sepulcher.  It was a place for me to hide from the pain of my losses. I knew I would face that pain if I chose to leave the cave.  As much as it was an obvious, horrible imprisonment, it was less terrifying for me to be there, than to face my pain and be free. My spirit was "locked up" in a prison I had helped create.  Fear and grief had led me to build walls around my emotions, believing that if I sequestered them, I would not be hurt again.  Fear had confined me to a cold, lonely, dark cave of death, and I saw no way out. I was truly "locked up".

 I believe in the spirit realm; in angels and in demons. We are told the names of various spirits in the Bible; a spirit of Death, a spirit of fear, and so on, as well as a spirit of wisdom, and a spirit of truth.  We are told in one verse to put on a "garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair", [heavy, burdened, depression, failing spirit]. Isaiah 61:3. I believe that when we are hurt, we get a chink in our armor, so to speak. It provides an opening for us to be spiritually harassed.  Just like the cut we get in our skin provides an opening for germs to come in and cause infection, so a cut in our heart opens us up for a spiritual "infection" to set in.  If the cut on our body is small, we usually treat it ourselves; apply medicine and a band aid, and call it good.  In a couple of days, the wound can barely be seen, leaving only a trace of a scar.  Other cuts can be larger and require a Doctor's assistance in fixing them.  Stitches may be needed or even surgery. If the cut has dirt in it, the Doctor may need to scrub out the wound to prevent infection from setting in. Cleaning out a dirty wound is not a comfortable procedure.  The wound itself is already causing pain, but when the Doctor goes into the deepest part of the cut to make sure none of the infection-causing dirt is left in, it hurts worse than the original cut!  But it is a necessary process; one that can prevent a dangerous, life-threatening condition from developing.
So it is with spiritual and emotional wounding.  A small wound to our emotions can easily be handled on our own.  We may feel bad for a few days, but are able to rally back around.  We are strong enough to recover from the pain. Severe and repeated emotional wounds are not as easy to recover from.  Just as with physical wounds, we at times need the assistance of others to help us heal.  We are hurt too deeply and too severely to be able to heal ourselves. Spiritually, demons know when we are wounded and take the opportunity to inflict further damage.  We are weak, so they feed us lies; God doesn't really love you; you can't trust God, and so on.  In our pain-filled condition, we begin to accept the lies as truth.
The truth regarding both large physical and spiritual wounds and damage is this; we cannot get them cleaned out and healed properly on our own.  We need help.
We probably all have heard stories of car accident victims walking around the scene with gaping wounds helping other victims, not even cognizant of their own life-threatening injuries.  They were in shock; a protective mechanism in our minds which keeps us from experiencing unbearable pain in the moment.  They didn't ask for help for themselves because they were unaware they needed it desperately.  So, too, with emotional pain.  I was walking around with huge emotional and spiritual wounds, unaware of how serious they were.  My subconscious had taken the repeated traumas of my kids' deaths, and neatly hidden them away so I could face life from day to day.  With the pain tucked inside, I did not know I needed help, and neither did anyone else.  It's hard to ask for help when you don't see any need for it. You continue living your life, knowing something isn't right, but are unable to access it and fix it. You become one of the walking wounded. The damage was still there, slowly festering and building its toxic effects without overt detection.  Just like a physical wound which festers and eventually can lead to death if not properly treated, so my emotional wound was festering.  I was in danger, and was unaware.


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