I’m terrified of going back to that dark place, where I was in 2012 and for many years prior, that merely writing the words of my story will destroy me all over again. My panic is in real time. My heart races as I struggle to catch my breath in tiny gulps, fearing that the weight on my chest is going to squeeze the very life out of me, this sweet blessed life that I’ve worked so hard to recoup. I speak out loud the objects that I see around me or the colors that they are, the exercises that I did so many times back then. I walk around the room, saying out loud, “Just put one foot in front of the other, JUST MOVE, breathe. Look where you are! I am safe here, it is peaceful and beautiful here, God is with me here, he can’t hurt me anymore.”
I’m making a choice to get unstuck, to take one step forward. So here it is. This is how I stopped the panic when I was hauling my horses around the country and the vision of driving off the edge of a cliff took over my mind. My thank you prayer. My daughter took me to church in that first painful year after I left my husband. It was there that I heard that gratitude could heal brokenness and pain. That it can give you hope. My first thank you prayer was behind the wheel of my rig. It was a desperate attempt, I had to come up with just one thing that I was grateful for. The only thing I could think of was my breath. But I prayed it, over and over. It remained a one sentence prayer for quite a few states but grew as the miles passed.
That was four years ago.
This is my thank you prayer now:
Dear God, sweet Jesus and the miracle of the Holy Spirit in me,
Thank you for this breath. (I take a deep breath and feel the life-giving gift of oxygen)
Thank you for my beating heart. Thank you for my body that still works so well after all that it’s been through. Thank you for my sanity that I thought I had lost for good. Thank you for mending my shattered heart and restoring my will to live. Thank you for rescuing me from my abuser and learning how to trust people again. Thank you for my beautiful children that still love me after all my failings. Thank you for my rig that carried me through the mountains and plains of this beautiful country that I was infinitely blessed to be born in. Thank you for my loving parents that were always there when I needed them, that did the very best that they were capable of. Thank you for releasing them from their pain, the cancer that ravaged their bodies and bringing them to your loving arms in heaven. (Thank my Dad for me, for providing for myself, Johnny and Liza so generously in his will.) Thank you for healing my cancer and giving me my three miracle babies. Thank you for curing my cocaine addiction. Thank you for the career success that I experienced and for making me save a good chunk of that money. Thank you for knowing that my children were more important than making money.
Thank you for Lydia who told me I wasn’t crazy, who encouraged me to escape before it was too late and who thought that SHLEP would be therapeutic. Thank you for sending me on what Dad called “the journey of a lifetime” and for placing those who know you in my path, those that prayed for me and later, with me. Thank you for dear sweet Tucker, who unconditionally loved me as only a dog can do, who patiently stilled my anxiety and who willed himself to stay alive as cancer took over his body, until he knew I would be safe without him. Thank you for your mountains who spoke to me of your majesty, for commanding your rivers to wash away my guilt and sins and the gazillion stars you placed in the sky to show me the hope of your infinite possibilities. Thank you for Pastor Steve Barry who lovingly baptized me in a fellow parishioner’s swimming pool, me, a hopeless wrench washed clean and made new.
Thank you for Ellen, my warrior in the courtroom when I had no strength to continue with the insanity and conflict. Thank you for Marcy and her love of adventure that brought me to Tehachapi. Thank you for the little bird that sang your confirmation for me when I asked if this is really where you wanted me to be. Thank you for commanding these mountains, meadow grasses and bedazzled night sky to speak to me of your almighty power and promise that you will stay by my side even when the panic comes knocking as I write this book. Thank you for Terry who took me, an old woman that had to take remedial English when she was in college, under her expert writer’s wing. Thank you for Tehachapi Mountain Vineyard, for Saundra and her bible study groups that make me dig deeper into your Word
Guide my fingers on my keyboard, for this is your story, of my salvation, intended for the broken hearts, minds and souls of those that have lost all hope. Anything is possible with you, I have no fear, for you are in control.
Thy will be done.