Life's Inevitable Change

Nothing truly stays the same, even if you're standing in the same place. I've learned a lot over the course of ten years, and still continually learning that change is inevitable. You can't stop change, you can't avoid it, however you can welcome it---even if it seems to be your worst nightmare. I didn't welcome the thought of my parents dying of cancer within 5 years of each other. I didn't welcome the change of losing my ancestral home and I certainly didn't welcome the intense amount of grief that came along with it. It's normal. It's the process. The only thing that saved me when both parents died was drawing nearer to God. My faith increased somehow, through miraculous signs, prayer and studying the Bible. My outlook on death sort of changed too. My acceptance increased---yes, I want mom and dad to be free of pain and living with our Lord. My own selfishness of trying to keep them here forever didn't work. It was letting go that truly opened the door to a positive change. God wants us to let go and trust Him. God wants you to hand over past rubbles of your grief and walk through this new and transformed life with Him. But you have to let go. You have to. This doesn't mean to "move on"---it simply means to move forward. Keep going. God has something better in store for you. Remember, He will give you beauty for ashes. You just have to trust Him.

Months after Mom passed away, I would wake up every morning with this sense of dread. It consumed so much of me, that I would run to the bathroom and throw up at least a half a dozen times. This happened for about 3-4 months. My esophagus burned and I needed to be on this liquid medicine called Carafate. It's basically cement made out of aluminum to protect your esophagus and stomach lining, as well as to heal ulcers. It also prevented my 4 mg of Ativan from working due to the lack of absorption. But it protected me when I wanted to down a few glasses of wine. I self-medicated and walked around like a zombie for quite some time. I went to anything that would soothe me, like food, alcohol and a ton of isolation. I didn't want anyone to pity me, or put them in an awkward situation of trying to console me. It wasn't their job, although their intentions were sincere. I pushed a lot of people away. Soon after, I became really sick and had to be hospitalized for pleurisy and pneumonia. This didn't go well since I already have asthma. I was sick for 3 full months and the cough lingered on for weeks afterwards. They had me on prednisone, albuterol nebulizers, inhalers, Advair and Singulair. Needless to say, with all my emotional eating, those medications make you blow up like a tick and it ain't easy shedding it off when it's a steroid-induced weight gain.

This is not written so you can pity me. I'm sharing with you how I self-destructed--how I crashed and burned before God started rebuilding me.

The second year was probably just as hard, as I was left living in a very large home by myself. Since I worked from home---my home then became my prison. Granted, my wife would come home around 6ish and some nights after 8pm, but needless to say, I was up in a desolate area by myself trying to not go crazy. I stopped using our main living area, because it reminded me of mom too much. I kept remembering all of our good times, as well as all of her excruciating pain, sitting in front of the TV waiting for her pain meds to kick in. So the bad memories sort of outweighed the good. God tested me though. He needed me to be alone for a very good reason. For me, being alone was bad---but to Him, this was an opportunity of growth and learning. I began studying the Bible--not just reading some paragraphs and scriptures, but truly absorbing each story as it unraveled in my head. I began getting to know God and incorporating His Word into my life. I stopped drinking for almost a year, because it was getting out of control where I was relying on it, instead of enjoying it. Jesus loved His wine too, but He didn't chug the entire bottle down every night. My life, my outlook on everything had changed without me trying. Just trusting in God had taken my life from a tragic scenario into this new and hopeful experience. And then another test: foreclosure. I wasn't quite ready for that one, but seeing the real estate agent plop a sign onto my property (or the bank's property) had me in tears. Again, I was grieving. This was the home that kept us safe, that kept us warm in the winters and cool in the summers. It gave us shelter from hurricanes and snowstorms. The memories inside this vessel with my parents and siblings were irreplaceable. But I've learned that they're not in any place or building, but in my heart.

God took away our ancestral home, but He replaced it with a suitable and beautiful townhome, that I personally didn't believe we could afford due to the high cost of this general area. God made a way where there was none. And I'm living proof of that. A month before my mom passed away, she kept telling me, "Debbie, get a townhouse. Don't get a house with all this property to maintain---get a place where you can come and go as you please." I said, "Well, let's get one then!" She looked at me, and I knew right there, she already got her "death sentence" from her oncologist. That shattered my heart than anything I've ever experienced. She wasn't planning on moving. She wanted me to move forward after this heartbreaking "goodbye."

I was in denial for quite some time, because I wanted my mom to live forever! Who doesn't, right? But having the means to afford this place and even having a low mortgage was like winning the lotto! I could not believe that He placed me in an area where I have all the local stores next to me, while living in a beautiful complex in a quiet neighborhood. Even as I look back in my grief journals, I wrote about how I was scared that I was about to become homeless, or living in an undesirable and perhaps dangerous neighborhood. The other option was moving south, away from my family and friends. I was so scared. But God knew my concerns, He heard my petitions and I thank Him every single day of my life. I had to let go. He had something better in store.

I'm also grateful that I went through that period of isolation. It gave me a new outlook on enjoying my own company. Granted, I'm not gonna become a shut-in anymore, but I'm not afraid to be alone anymore. I had a fear of being alone for a long period of time. That doesn't bother me anymore, because I know for a fact that I'm never alone. We are never alone. But with trust comes comfort. Don't get me wrong, my life isn't perfect and I still suffer from panic attacks here 'n there, but it's not what it used to be. As I go through this huge life change, it's like walking with new legs. I'm a little wobbly, but I'm doing my best to make better choices. I'm not perfect and I still make mistakes---and that's OK. I still have this miraculous way of pushing people away, and it's something I'm working on. I know that I need to be more communicative. That's been a huge challenge for me. At times, I feel like I either did something wrong or that I was judged harshly, so I back away. That's on me. From here on out, instead of picking the flight over the fight, I'm trying to manage a healthy response instead of shutting it down completely. People shouldn't be shut down just because you think they made a this case "me." So as I'm learning to forgive others, I'm also trying to forgive myself. The one thing I never want to do is blame my behavior on past traumas. I don't want to make excuses for bad choices. I want to be held accountable, and if I ever hurt anyone, I want to apologize without a "but" at the end of each "I'm sorry."

I want to change for the better. I welcome this new change that's currently happening to me. With each change comes a whole new learning curve. Sometimes it throws you for a loop, and sometimes, it can just be a forever changing grace from God.

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