The Problem I’m Chewing On: Healing, Scars, and Restoration

I take a problem and chew on it until all the flavor’s gone… and then I stick it in my hair.

Divine Secrets of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

I was thumbing through my first published Bible Study Unbroken* the other day and I came across Day 13 titled “Accepting the Scars.” As I read my words from 2016 I had to chuckle. I had no clue what was coming, or how the message of Unbroken would play out in my life when I filed for divorce one year later. Truth be told when I wrote the book I was in one of the rare happy seasons of my first marriage. But, three months after we published, I would give my wedding ring back and ask for a separation.

This is one of the pitfalls of being a writer.

You get to read past works and words you wrote with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. And that can be a good thing… but sometimes its bad, ugly, and cringe worthy. I had no idea what embracing the cracks that are making me whole (Unbroken’s tag line) would mean to me five years later.

I still believe that message. Maybe even more now than I did in 2016. I’ve embraced my broken pieces, re-built from the ashes, and let the cracks of my life become sources of beauty and strength. What I thought was going to be a marriage restoration story took a sharp turn and became a ME restoration story. It wasn’t going to play out like Eat, Pray, Love. More like Midwest mediocre. But, I found myself in the rubble. I found my purpose and passion in that mess. Discovering strength I didn’t know I had; and, teaching my kids that our choices matter even when they are hard.

New wounds came. Old scars were revealed. And beauty grew in the most unlikely places.

scars blog green sprout

Here’s what I wrote back in 2016…

After a storm rages through our lives, we are left with broken pieces. When we choose to accept the process of restoration those wounds start to heal. Sometimes after a wound heals a scar remains. Scars are reminders. Sometimes scars are on the outside; but, more often than not, your scars will not be visible to the naked eye. Your deepest wounds are rarely on the surface.

I can’t tell you how many times I have people tell me, “I had no idea you were even struggling,” or “I didn’t realize your marriage was that broken,” when they hear my story. When I look back at pictures during the worst seasons of my life I can see the light is gone from my eyes. On the outside things looked OK. I didn’t look sick. The truth is, when you look at someone who has overcome the odds, you will not always see the scars on her body. They are on her mind and heart.

Scars are reminders.

They remind us of why we are the way we are. Scars tell us of who we’ve been. They remind us of the lessons we have learned on life’s journey. The wounds they cover remind us of the things and people we’ve lost. They remind us of our courage and God’s faithfulness. Scars are a reminder that even the deepest wounds will eventually heal.

We have to get really good at accepting every chapter of our story, even the dark ones, because this is how we comfort our sisters, mothers, daughters, and best friends. When we can share the truth about the scars in our lives we give another woman courage. When we bravely share our weaknesses, another woman find the strength to take one step forward into the light. We comfort others with the same comfort we have been given.

It’s time to appreciate and celebrate those hard earned wounds. Those battle scars are important. Your scars are proof that we can all do hard things. Don’t hide them. Don’t pretend they aren’t there. Embrace the scars. Embrace the broken places and the healed areas of your life. Your vulnerability inspires others.

with Grace & Grit,

~Raychel

*The Unbroken Bible study has been retired, However you can still find it in our Faith Coaching Bundle from RAYMA Team, LLC. Click here to find out more!

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The Problem I’m Chewing on…Thoughts on Catastrophizing, Intrusive Thoughts, Support Groups, and Pancake Mix

I take a problem and chew on it until all the flavor’s gone… and then I stick it in my hair.

Divine Secrets of The YaYa Sisterhood.

Sometimes you just need to chew on a problem until the flavors gone- then you can deal with it. Stick it in your hair. Or move on. And I’m a verbal processor with a lot on my mind so we are going to “talk” things out once in awhile!

Brene Brown is my inspiration. She is a researcher and storyteller. Brown is an expert on vulnerability and one of my favorite authors. She has a podcast where she includes a series called, “On my Mind”. These solo episodes are her way to talk through big topic she is hashing out in her own mind.

Brown doesn’t give solutions. She just talks. And, they are some of my favorite episodes! It’s comforting to hear another human being talking through the things they are wrestling with. It makes us feel less alone.

I will warn you it’s often going to be dark and messy. Hence the content warning below. But I see no better way to bring attention to the topics we shy away from then just putting it out there. So here we go.

Content warning: Domestic violence, Catastrophic thoughts, Intrusive thoughts, Postpartum OCD.

The Problem I’m Chewing On Right Now- Support Group

I think it’s time to go back to the domestic violence support group. I attended for almost 2 years straight only missing to attend the sexual assault survivor class and to go to EMDR.

Even though I have a few years of healing under my belt, the truth is there are old wounds that sometimes flare up in the Spring. Triggers can get unmanageable without early intervention. And that’s where I’m finding myself this year so it might be time to go back.

I don’t think of this as a failure or a big step backwards. Healing comes in waves. We can be doing great and all of a sudden it get’s hard again. That’s the reality of healing from trauma. You heal what you can and you manage what never really goes away.

The Problem I’m Chewing on- Catastrophic Thinking and Postpartum OCD

The other day on social media an influencer I follow was asking for advice on how to stop catastrophic thinking. She was struggling that day because of a situation that happened with one of her children. Even though her child was actually safe, and it was only a few seconds of worry and doubt, she couldn’t get the catastrophic thoughts to stop.

Her story brought me back to some of the darkest seasons of my life with Postpartum OCD. Along with intrusive thoughts, catastrophic thinking ruled my life for a long time after each one of my babies was born. To this day I still have to repeat to myself words that remind me that I am safe and so are my children. Triggers happen. Here’s what I say out loud multiple times when I notice catastrophic thinking is plaguing me:

  • I am safe
  • My child is safe 
  • This child is safe now. They are so brave. This child has a chance to heal. (my triggers often come from hearing or reading stories of child abuse- hence “This child”)

Postpartum OCD is a type of postpartum anxiety disorder. It is characterized by intrusive thoughts and behaviors that are in response to a perceived danger toward their baby. These thoughts and behaviors are constant and repetitive, and they can severely disrupt daily life. Postpartum OCD is a severe condition that requires treatment in order to manage and control symptoms. Women with postpartum OCD are aware of their intrusive thoughts but they cannot control them. Instead, the thoughts cause counteractive behaviors and other symptoms as well.

PostPartumDepression.Org

Sadly, my OB didn’t  ask me if I worried about someone hurting my baby every single minute of the day. She didn’t talk about intrusive thoughts or obsessive behaviors. She never mentioned that hearing voices telling you to swerve into oncoming traffic was abnormal could be treated. And I certainly didn’t ask!

I would bet your OB never asked your or your partner that either. Because of this Postpartum OCD it is severely underdiagnosed.

 The Problem I’m Chewing On- The Gift of Prophecy

I was raised in evangelical Christianity in many different denominations and many different churches. Some supported the gift of prophecy and some acted like it didn’t exist. While I’ve been dismantling and deconstructing many of the toxic beliefs I was taught the last few years, prophecy is not one of them. I’m all about the prophetic words. I find the gift of prophecy fascinating.

I was told by someone with a prophetic gift that someday my hands would bring healing to many. Those words have mulled around in my head ever since. I didn’t know what it meant, yet! Then a couple weeks ago my bestie sent me a prophetic word from someone else about a stirring she felt from the Lord that it was time for the writers to write again. And I’ve been wondering if the two are connected. 

My writing is halted by fear often. But what if that prophetic word of bringing healing to others was about the words my fingers would type? Or, even the music my fingers would play now that I have full function in my limbs again after cervical disc replacement surgery. What if?

The Problem I’m Chewing On- Pandemic Life One Year Later 

How is it one year already? How much longer before a sense of normalcy returns? What does normal even mean? Do my puzzles miss me? And, how long will it take us to eat through the bags and bags of pancake mix I stress bought when the grocery store shelves were empty?

No one knows. 

With grace and grit, 

~Raychel 

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