I am feeling very thankful today that with some good medicine, herbs, supplements and rest…after nearly 20 days….I am looking like this today… I have no I idea how long it will last…but I am choosing to just feel really good and enjoy it..
But…I am so dang scared to share this. I have almost deleted the whole thing several times before I finally pushed publish…but, here goes. Yes, this photo really is me…..
3 weeks ago I woke up and looked like this…..and it didn’t get much better from there. I ended up going to the hospital because the swelling was pretty severe and starting to move to my throat.
At the hospital, all that they could do is put me on an IV of antihistamines and steroids and tell me that if it didn’t go away in 3 or 4 days…that I just might have chronic hives…..after lots of questions…they told me that my hives were probably from stress and that they might last for a long long time…..and I learned that people with chronic hives often search and search and search for a cure but most of them just have to ride it out…..
things got a little better before they got worse:
well…they didn’t go away after a few days. In fact…they started spreading all over my body and having a great time moving all over my face….
This has been 3 weeks of really hard lessons. Really good lessons. Really necessary lessons. I have shown up looking this way at a week long event that I had been waiting months to attend, and also at week long camp at my own house. I have my son’s wedding in 4 days. I have literally FACED some of my biggest fears (with a swollen and disfigured face) and learned so much about how very very very good most people are.
This experience has been a crazy weird journey that healed up some stuff that I don’t know that anything else could have healed. The hives are painful and itchy and annoying and skin crawling. I feel ugly and disfigured and when I am tired and feeling sorry for myself, I even feel a little bit ruined. They are impossible to ignore…..so I am choosing not to ignore what they are teaching me. I am embracing them and even thanking them. I am listening to them.
(some days they are just on one chipmunk cheek…then lots of other places all over my body…)
The bottom line lesson always ends up being the same thing…..that unconditional love can fix just about anything. I am learning BIG TIME how to let people love me unconditionally.
One of the hardest parts of the diagnosis of that day at the hospital was remembering that just the day before the hives showed up, I had posted a confession on the private Facebook group of the long waited-for retreat that I was heading to called Matrilumina, and I was really nervous to meet all of these women that I had never met before at this amazing retreat right on the cliffs of the ocean in Big Sur, California…secretly deep down I was afraid that I wouldn’t fit in, or that they wouldn’t like me….or that they would think I was _______ or __________ or __________ . That my clothes would not be right or that I am not as educated or as well traveled as they are. You know….all of the stuff we think and fear as women. Well…..the next day I woke up looking like this and only had a few more days before I was supposed to fly out and meet these women that I had been waiting a really long time to meet…women I had long respected and worked with only online. Women I really really really wanted to be able to fit in with, women I really hoped would like me.
And before the hives showed up, the retreat felt like it was coming at the perfect time. I was exhausted beyond exhausted. I had made some bad judgement calls on how much I could juggle and I was paying the price. I had deadline on top of deadline, my oldest son’s wedding coming up that I really wanted to make special, and just a few days before the hives broke out, I snapped this shot of my youngest son and because I was talking to him about how I needed to take a few hours off of work and shower and fix my hair, etc. He lovingly called me “HOBO MOM” hahaha
Let’s flash back a few weeks before that…….I had been having this slight and very silly internal breakdown about what has been happening with my body and my face anyway since I turned the big 4-0….that, combined with some yucky heartbreaking experiences last year that I’ve been having great difficulty healing from, was really messing with me and especially with my confidence and my soul. I know that I know better than this……I do….but I let myself get so tired and when we are tired, all of our fears and weaknesses show up to beat us while we are down and we have all sorts of weird WHAT IF thoughts…….
The breaking open kinda started with this photo…..
a photo that one of our beautiful brave girl campers took of me on the Friday night of our first camp at our ranch. I was blissed out…..and she captured everything I was feeling at that moment….when she sent it to me…I thought….”wow, that is a great photo……” so I made it my Facebook profile shot…..
then, most days after I would wake up with the wrinkles from my pillow case engraved on my skin…….and I would notice my wrinkles and the way my face was starting to fall. I would think……”wow, I don’t know if I look like that picture at all……what would people think if they saw how I really look?” (which is the dumbest, most lame and ridiculously unimportant thought, but I am just being honest)
and then my son’s wedding announcements were printed and I thought…wow…….we used to be young like this……and now we are the parents…when did we get old enough to have our kids get married? When did we get old enough for wrinkles and everything else that comes along? Seems like yesterday that we looked like this:
So then it was time for the retreat. I did NOT look like I looked in that glamorous hair blowing back, tan glowing skin, rested photo that was some kind of perfect miracle in time and now my profile shot. I looked like HOBO MOM. I was so afraid…so so sooo afraid of showing up looking like HOBO MOM……..but then….then I got those horrific hives on top of it. I was HOBO MOM in every sense of the word too……those hives broke me…I was an emotional, crying mess whenever no one was looking.
And I wondered that morning when my flight was scheduled to leave in just 2 hours….if I really had the courage to go, knowing how my face was and how it could look each and every day….how my hands and legs and shoulders and neck looked.
I decided that I had to practice what I preach and be a brave girl….so I went ANYWAY. It was scary and crazy peaceful all at the same time. I cried a lot…a lot a lot a lot…..I have to say I laughed a lot too…I looked downright hilarious on some of the days. I got inquisitive looks, and looks of pity in the airport and on the plane. By the time I got to California……it was just a little bit swollen on one side of my face. And when I texted my friend Jen Gray, (who I can’t wait to introduce you to and tell you all about) and who I had grown to love deeply but had never met in person to tell her about my face…she just said…I will kiss you all over your face no matter how you look…..by the time we met up…it wasn’t so bad…
and beautiful Jess helped me put everything into perspective with her love, friendship and ages old wisdom..and we had a great drive to Big Sur…
But every day after, new hives showed up in new places…on my face and forehead and lots of other places.
All in front of brand new people that I was so afraid to meet…..and I decided not to take any more pictures the rest of the week………..
I won’t go into the all of the details but I will tell you that what happened over the next week was a miracle…a miracle that proved right so many things that I know and that I talk about and that I teach and that I truly believe…but that somehow, somewhere in some deep and broken part of me didn’t think was available for me…it was for everyone else…just not for me. (why do we ever ever ever think that is even possible?) The miracle of unconditional love. The miracle of…..
I will love you even when you are __________
even though you are __________
even when you can’t _____________
or when you forget to ________________
or when you mess up at _____________
in fact, there is nothing in the whole wide world that you could do or be, no way that you could look or not look or say or not say….that would ever make it so that I don’t love you. I love you no matter what. (that is the way I was loved by women who started out as strangers) I love these women with all of my heart and I know for sure that they love me too………..and that just really feels good, ya know?
I showed up in one of the worst conditions I think I have been in in a very long time. Tired, weak, emotional, scared and now disfigured. And….I was showered with so much love that it busted me open enough to be able to learn some things that I needed to learn in a way that I don’t know that I could have learned otherwise. Sometimes we need to be busted wide open for the love to be able to get all the way in.
It was weird and surreal being on the other side of this. And what’s even weirder is to think that it was weird for me……because I know this stuff…. I host Brave Girl Camps and when those beautiful women show up, there is NOT ONE THING IN THE WORLD that I could learn about them that would make it so I don’t love them…I am already in love with them before they arrive because I have read their stories…we have prepared for them, we have learned about them, we have even prayed for them. We are invested in them. There is NOTHING that we could find out about them once they get here that would ever change the way we feel about them. That is just how love is. I knew this.
You see I am surrounded daily by people who I know for sure love me. I have THE MOST INCREDIBLE family, close friends and incredible coworkers. But I try really hard to never ever break. I try REALLY HARD. I try really hard to work hard, and be dependable and be supportive and be happy and be creative. I try really hard to be lovable. I try hard to only break for little periods in my closet, alone…and then put it all back together. I think one of my BIGGEST fears of all is what would happen if I can’t be any of those things at all. I have had yucky experiences that tainted my view of what could happen if I broke….what happened when I did break big time….experiences that have no business being the measuring stick for how my life is now.
It is SO not fair to ever believe that these beautiful people in my life would ever change their love if I broke into pieces again. I have feared and feared and feared falling….being weak…..and honestly….I DO know for sure that my friends and family would always be here if I showed up somewhere not on my “A GAME” but what would happen if I got brave enough to show up this way in a group of strangers????
I found out.
I found out from my beautiful new friends that I spent the week with in California….where I decided to open up my hands and just BE THERE in whatever condition I was in. (I made that decision on the plane on the way there) I decided to just be HOBO MOM and TIRED MOM and SCARED MELODY and COVERED IN HIVES MELODY even to open up and admit that I had some AWESOME MELODY in me too.
One of the things that we did at Matrilumina was to bring a picture of ourselves when we were little….and when I opened my book and looked at mine….I just cried because I am really just still this girl……I’m just in a grown up body with hives all over it…..trying to figure things out and do my best….
I have so much more to say about how these women were such a catalyst to something I really needed to learn once and for all. I know I have learned how healing it is TO LOVE unconditionally…..but to allow others TO LOVE US is something that requires almost more bravery than even loving does. Others can’t love us all the way in if we don’t allow others to really know us all the way…ya know?
So……..then I came home. I was with my beloved and my family and my friends and of course they met me with love and compassion….and a few laughs too…..and the hives went away for one whole day….
and then it was time for Brave Girl Camp…………so, once again, even without the hives…I faced those big huge fears that I always face on the day before they come…..”will they like me?” “will I be a big huge disappointment to them?” ….. and mercifully when they arrived I was still hive-free……but by the time the night was over…I could feel my lip and neck swelling…..and by the next morning….I looked like this…..
and I totally didn’t want to show up that morning like this with my Brave Girls…..I was so humiliated and sick of it and soooooo didn’t want to show up looking like this. All of those old fears went through my head again in a different way…….I was supposed to be leading this meeting and I show up looking like this?????? Will they accept me? I contemplated asking our staff mentor, Patrice to teach the lesson for me…..but then I looked at my curriculum and that day’s lesson was “SHE DID IT ANYWAY”
So I knew I had to do it anyway.
(on group picture day my forehead was giant and swollen and my chin and bottom lip were swollen too…..awesome.)
Well….they loved me anyway. I let them love me and I loved them back and showed my trust in them by showing up in all of my weakness and before long…we were laughing about it. They were kind and compassionate and of good nature and wit. Their love healed me….and know what else? My love and compassion and patience and trust for myself healed me.
(it’s ok, you can giggle…it is kinda funny to look at these)
The day after camp was over….I decided to get some real rest. I had some of the most horrific hives I have had yet….deep ones on the palms of my hands and my knees and my ankles. The hives on my palms ached and burned and itched in deeper places than I could get to. I just decided to love myself through it….to keep reminding myself that no matter what…there really are people who love me no matter what. There is nothing I could do to change that…and nothing I have to do to earn it. No matter what….lots of them. In all of my weaknesses….I can allow that……and that I can love and love and love and love and love…….but that to truly feel whole, I need to let myself BE loved too…all the way in…even the broken parts…even the swollen, itchy, red patchy parts.
My Truthteller finally told me when I was thinking deep deep deep deep about all of this a few days ago….that He is trying to teach me that this is the way that He loves me too…..no matter what…in whatever condition I am in…..nothing I have to do to earn it, ever. I am opening my hands to that. I am choosing to believe in it and receive it.
Yesterday I had ONE hive. Today I have none. I decided to breathe like the tide of the ocean at Big Sur and not breathe any faster. My palms are still kinda sore and my first born is getting married in 4 days. I have no idea what I will look like at the wedding. I am not afraid. I will be extremely annoyed if they show up on my face again that day because I kinda want to look nice in the photos…but I will not be afraid.
I am a brave girl.