Poetry: Be Brave

By Monica C. Voskamp

You need to be brave.

You need to stop this running

And finally face the storm.

 

Be brave.

This is what you need to conquer.

This is what you need to find

Healing.

 

Face your storm, my dear

It’s time for you to rise up

And weather this storm

With dignity.

 

Be brave.

Exhale your fears

Ground yourself

In this place.

 

Be brave.

Anchor in Love,

Your victory flag.

 

Always hope. Always believe. Always love. 💕

*Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/@nikolasnoonan

The real issue isn’t the issue..

By Monica C. Voskamp

Why do we (continually) do things we regret? Why do we submit ourselves to a cycle of abuse when we abhor it so much?

In short, the moment of pleasure and immediate comfort is cherished more than the repercussions of pain and the work of resolution.

There are many reasons we do what we do,  why we *continue* to do it…but I think there comes a point to realize the glaring issue isn’t the real issue to deal with anymore.

The first time I was called fat, I was a little girl. It re-labeled me. It changed how I saw myself, how I acted and reacted in life.

These words hurt me. People failed me one too many times. I soon found something that gave me immediate pleasure: Food.  The problem was it never was enough.  Whenever I was conflicted, dejected, rejected, disappointed, I sought out this instant relief. However, this ‘relief’ brought me more misery…my body suffered physically and emotionally I never experienced healing from the hurt. Instead I self-soothed the way I first knew how.  I “protected” the hurt from any other “healing”. I think this is natural response. You’re scared. You were hurt. Its frightening to do something different with an area so vulnerable, so locked deep in yourself.

Still, food wasn’t the solution, but in my little mind it did the trick. However, it turned on me. Addictions do that; they turn on you. 

Yes there was a beginning point, a hurt, an injustice…something went wrong, but the things is it never got dealt with rightly.

We naturally look for fixes-whether in food, sex, alcohol, achievements, cheap thrills…you know your fix. You also know it’s not really a fix. It’s a “jimmy-fix”…what you do on old cars when you want them to last just a little longer.  That’s what we’re doing with addictions, just trying to make it through another day. To fix the problem feels too overwhelming.

If “jimmy-fixes” (quick reliefs) are ALL you are ever giving yourself, don’t expect success. Except survival, disappointment, more hurt. Don’t expect an improved relationship, the debt to be gone, the arguments to dissipate, the hurting inside to stop.  Don’t expect things to just get better.

We all know covering the surface scratch doesn’t repair the deep inner damage.

For years, I did ‘minor repairs’ for my emotional complex, my broken sense of identity.

I self-soothed through the quick fix of food. As I aged, I tried to approach my food addiction various times…. dieting, counseling, renewed resolutions blah blah blah. I saw some temporary results, but nothing lasting. I never had the guts to expose the real issue: the issue inside of me. I hated me. I didn’t realize this, till later. Truth is, I was way too scared to confront the hurt.

Who isn’t afraid of facing the overwhelming, of what caused the addiction and the addiction itself?

It’s more comfortable to ignore, to hide from the awful reality, than confront.

Long ago I pegged myself incompetent, unable, a misfit. These messages were reinforced with circumstances, with people in my childhood. The thing is I was also tuned into this channel defeat. I didn’t stand back and see the good input that was happening. Kids are pretty smart but they are also kids. They are ever absorbing, ever reinforcing and building their viewpoints of how life, how people should operate.

I think as adults, we have to revisit those pillars. What if we stood back and,

1. Acknowledge the initial hurt. (Sometimes going backwards allows us to go forward)

2. Create new life giving messages. (The way we think, greatly impacts our behavior)

3. Allow change in our life. (Addictive behaviors don’t promote healing, find something that does.)

This was me when I was 29 years old, 248 pounds. I was freaking out over my chaotic cycles of bingeing, looking for relief, but never getting any. I finally faced myself, the hurt, the real issue. I had come to hate myself…and that’s what needed healing. I had rejected myself based on other’s opinions and reviews of me. New messages in my thinking were needed, not more food.

The day I saw 248 pounds I told myself I needed to do something radically different.  I vowed I would do whatever it took.  I didn’t understand or have a complete grasp on the details right away, but I had a distinct turn in my mind.

This healing message dawned on me: Mon, you hold power in your hands. You CAN do something about this life-long battle.

I admitted the TRUTH of the situation: It was an enormous mountain.  It would take a lot of work.

I took responsibility: (The addiction) was MY mess. At the end of the day, only I could create lasting change.  I was now in pursuit of resolving. I was going forward, with fear no longer stopping me. See how much that revolves with me…”I” statements?  (Not to say, I didn’t ask for help along the way! And a phrase from the book of Psalms gave me a new motto….being a woman of “strong courage”)

The thing is I stopped making excuses for my addictive behavior and started with what what I could do.  I took my wobbly unsteady 248 pound insecure self and began short daily walks of 10 minutes, outside.

Previously, I had been used to exercising inside, hiding, I was too ashamed of my body, of my condition. I didn’t want people to see me.

Hiding never promotes healing. It breeds fear, shame, guilt and reinforces the same behaviors. You need to be found, unhidden in order to heal. 

 

The turning point of resolution, for healing is:

-admitting I WANT to deal with my situation.

-moving ahead, instead of spinning circles.

-seeing myself capable, instead of incapable.

-believing in success, instead of doomed to failure.

-aiming for progress not perfection

It may be debt. It may be the unspoken secrets destroying your marriage. It may be hidden addictions. Whatever issues are overwhelming you will best be healed when you look deeper within.

However, when it comes down to it,  many prefer to stay stuck. Many of us will suffer the abuse, the pain, the debt, the hurt of addictions INSTEAD of seeking resolution. Why?  Resolution requires a cost.

Resolution takes:  honesty. work. courage. new paths. letting go.

We can get comfortable in our struggles. We can become more SCARED of good changes than we are the pain, the problem. It’s rightly so.

You are going into a new territory. You are dealing with something sensitive. But a war was never won with a leader who was too scared of the risks, too scared to lose the comfort of what he had, too scared he would fail. He was already losing. He saw what he could gain, he admitted it would take more than his own power and resources. That leader saw a cause worth pursuing, and he pursued.

The thing to fear isn’t the issues or addictions, the thing to fear is your  own complacency.

As soon as you believe a cause is worth pursuing, you WILL do whatever it takes to win that battle. Even if you die still halfway in the process, you will have made successes. You will have covered new ground. You will have inspired others and gained new appreciation for yourself.

Courageous steps are never a loss, they are always celebratory.

My boss once told me this: you can always learn from your mistake and recover that ground.  But if you do nothing, it gives a bad impression, like you don’t care or aren’t willing to even try. Doing something is always better than doing nothing.  Wise words. That leader taught me this:

Don’t expect to execute immediate perfection in a new situation. Simply do something..do progression.

Facing the big mountains in our life isn’t easy. I’ve experienced it. It’s still hard…to be brave, to put in effort and forge my fears, but it’s also still rewarding, empowering,  life-changing, soul healing.

That is a good price to pay. When you believe in your investment, you WILL see revenue.

Stop overthinking the fears, spit out your pride and step into the progression, not perfection.

The real issue is more about you, and less about the overwhelming situation.  Are you willing? Do you want this bad enough? There are resources! There are other people on this planet to help you. But the thing is, it’s starts with you.

You are capable. You are intelligent. You are powerful. And your life matters.

Believe it. You will not regret it. 🙂

Always believe. Always hope. Always love. ❤

*Photo Credits: Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

 

 

When Strength meets Broken

By Monica C. Voskamp

Suicide. The epitome of broken, when depression is the winner.

strengthandcourage

Your illness does not define you. Your strength and courage does.

This quote…you can replace the word illness with: Struggle. Trial. Temptation. Financial crisis. Disappointment. Heartache. Loss. Unspoken pain. Unseen battles.

They don’t define you.  Whatever ‘demon’ is overwhelming you today, this past week, month, year…it doesn’t define you. Strength and courage, these are definers.

I’m writing to those who feel broken and lost,  scared or unable to voice what they really feel. You are warriors, brave hearts. Honestly, you have a strength and courage to simply rise up each morning. A pain sears deep into my heart as I reflect because I’m also writing about me.

The whole month of March, yes, March 2017, I dealt with thoughts of suicide. The more overwhelming and intense the pain and hopeless my life , I’d plan one more step. I’ve never contemplated suicide so deeply. The intense chronic head pain had escalated too far. I told God I couldn’t deal with it. I was going to drown in the winter’s lake.

In a phone conversation, I timidly told my father I was having suicidal thoughts. It was hard to admit to my dad; I didn’t want him to freak out. My words didn’t register with him fully..he didn’t respond. He couldn’t possibly know how much I was struggling. He was at the store checkout line and suddenly had to go. Oh the irony, all I wanted were was my heart to be registered by my dad…not the contents on that store belt to be registered by a machine. The red button on my cell phone showed the end of the call.  I clung to myself & bawled my eyes out, and felt the pain course through my veins.

I felt abandoned. So alone. Ever felt that way? Alone in your pain? Alone in your battle? You dare to whisper a breathe of your pain, but you’re not heard.  Life doesn’t stop for the depths of pain in a despairing heart. You can’t stop time on earth, but sadly, you can stop your time on your earth. (Suicide) And that was what I was planned to do.

Someone wrote me: (suicide) would be the absolute worst thing for you Monica, and not the absolute best. (Obvious eh?) Absolute best, those words grabbed my attention. It spoke of crazy high hope. I needed hope. (Don’t we all?) Looking back, these words were sparks of hope to my heart.

I’ve always been taught to be strong. Strong was modeled as holding yourself together no matter what. You plow through life with the proud undertone: ‘I got this and I can handle this by myself.’ I’ve tried that. But seriously, somethings in life I can’t handle myself. I don’t have it all together & masking doesn’t work well. Maybe there’s a different definition for inner strength. Maybe..

Strong is actually being vulnerable.
Strong is being brave enough to ask for help, and to keep asking for help, humbly.

March was a cold bitter month. I didn’t see hope. It nearly choked the life out of me. The warm blood flowing through my veins almost turned cold and still. I knew I had to speak up because I was too close to a frozen heart. Thankfully, I had a couple close friends who gently held my heart that month. Pushing aside my anger, hurt and pride, I more clearly asked my parents for specific help with a pain treatment. I told them I didn’t have any hope. I needed hope. This time they heard my desperation. I felt like they heard me. Our worlds had connected. I know they didn’t realize how close I was to giving up and being found dead in a lake.

When the darkness is all you are shrouded in, yet you keep reaching out for what you can’t see (light) that’s the real brave. Courage is made through the darkest times.

The irony is this, you may become your strongest in the most broken times of your time.

It takes a soul strength and courage for agonizing times in life that throw your insides in chaos. But it takes something else beyond this: COMMUNITY. A good friend told me, there is strength in community. This is not a one man battle! And, it sure as heck is not flawless journey. Just look at me and my parents, even though they love me deeply! This life is messy and broken. People and situations are misunderstood. It’s exactly WHY we need each other and willingly learn (how) to join hands, how to connect when our worlds are so disjointed by inner anguish.

Together a community builds something precious: hope. 🙂 Hope endures even when you are broken, when you feel lost in life, when dreams fall apart, when life just bleeds red, when prayers seem to hit the floor, and when you can’t see the light (yet)…Hope always remains, always endures, and always is.

And together as community we become one soul, anchoring each other into hope and become greater than we could ever be alone.~

Note: I’m thankful for the love and hope sparked & breathed into me by my friends and family, by all the precious people in my life,  my community. ❤  I’m living life with hope again. 🙂