The stone

February 22, 2010

I was thinking about everything, the fact that I found myself in the vice grip of alcoholism, and the fact that quitting is good and hard at the same time. I was thinking about remorse and regret and redemption. 

It is all so big.

And then I just set it down.

All the thinking, like a stone I’d been lugging around.  

kerplunk.



There is no figuring it all out in one day
, I said to me. 

So I played myself a song and I sat with it. Just sat with it.

The next thing I knew my arms were above my head and I was dancing a bad 80′s dance right here all by myself, stomping and even spinning. I shook it and I sang louder and louder and I didn’t care about anything.

It wasn’t until the song was done that I thought even one insecure thought like,

This must look ridiculous, what if the neighbors see me through the window? I just didn’t. I was feeling too light for that. Like when you slip or trip on the sidewalk and all you can think about is catching yourself. And it isn’t until the moment passes and you’ve found your balance that you have the wits to look behind you, sheepishly checking to see if anyone was there. 

The dancing was like that, my body too busy to pay time or fear any kind of attention.

Here I am, this girl. One who believes with all of her soul but sometimes not her mind and heart that God is really actually totally and completely who He says He is. That He is all things love and that He’s here despite the mess and because of it.

Here I am this girl, but I’ve never in my life felt freedom void of insecurity like that. Sure, I’ve danced a thousand times, at school dances and bars and weddings and in the kitchen with my boys. But this just felt different, more joyful, and maybe even holy.

~~~~~~~

It’s as if there’s always been a stone in my belly, churning me up and pulling me down. A

thing that had me standing in church and everywhere else my entire life, looking out of the corner of my eyes with my arms crossed, afraid to trust the love that gently walked circles around my heart. That was me, always standing there, scared that I was somehow more irrevocably flawed than the next person. You know, so unique with all my faults and fears and mistakes that I would worry, at least at some very deep level, that I was the only person on the planet undeserving of unconditional love. And then the stone would grow in the pit of my stomach. 

I was scared of freedom, comfortable in my uncomfortable skin. Addicted to the familiar trappings of my ruminating mind.

I quit drinking and then I saw it was all still there, that fear of never being good enough, that stone. But I can dance

with it now because I finally know this stone is not stuck in my belly for good, and even if parts of it will always be here, I’m finally realizing that even that is okay. 

Just own it and let it teach me something, you know?

~~~~~~~

That first night without wine, I did something that finally triggered a true commitment to

really working at something, for the first time in my life, honestly. 

When I kissed my sleeping boys, I whispered

I promise you while tears dropped to their pillows. I’ve done that same thing again, every night since the first, smelling their hair while whispering those same words. I promise you. I am saying it even though that stone in my belly throws itself around when I do, and I start to doubt that I can really do it. 

I’m saying it anyway.

For me, faith in God or myself or anything else takes a kind of getting lost, while I still don’t understand it. Like those unsure and sacred whispered promises in the dark, sometimes my head and heart aren’t certain and yet I say it,

I believe. It starts something miraculous when I do that, like the joy in terrible and holy dancing. 

A month ago, I was tripping around and fumbling for balance, my arms out, my knees bent. Then I slowly and sheepishly turned around and there He was, standing on the sidewalk like the old friend that He is. And that belly stone, it sat still and quiet, afraid of that kind of love.

In that moment, my head and my heart ran to do some catching up with my soul, tripping and sliding and fumbling and caught.

 

“So Heaven meets Earth like a sloppy wet kiss
and my heart turns violently inside of my chest.
I don’t have time
to maintain these regrets
when I think about
how He loves us…” 

“If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.”

 

-John Mark McMillian

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

This Heavenly Life February 22, 2010 at 10:34 am

I'm going to go read this a few hundred more times, it was so perfect. Just like you. Perfect and unconditionally loved. Just like me. Unconditionally loved. Free to dance.

Have I said I think I love you before? Cause I do :)

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Ellie February 22, 2010 at 11:21 am

Wow. Just, wow.

You are such a gorgeous writer. I relate to absolutely ALL of it, however this really struck me:

"I was scared of freedom, comfortable in my uncomfortable skin. Addicted to the familiar trappings of my ruminating mind."

How beautiful to actually lose yourself for a moment. To just dance. To just be. I love the description of slipping on the sidewalk – that's EXACTLY what it's like.

And faith is a kind of losing yourself, you're right. I can't seem to find the things I search for so desperately, but when I let go .. suddenly there they are.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your words really touched me. They always do.

-Ellie

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michelle February 22, 2010 at 11:26 am

beautiful.
and from a girl who has been there. I'm not sure the stone completely goes away….but dancing and promising and hoping make it oh so much lighter. So light in fact that I occasionally even get to forget it is there.

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Susie Q February 22, 2010 at 11:33 am

I love the way that you write, it takes something as ugly as alcoholism and turns it into the beginning of something beautiful.

You've captured something very strong in this one; the thought that sometimes you have to let go of all power to regain control. Sometimes you have to be led to be able to lead.

You can only promise to do your best. And with the help of everyone around you, you can do it. You cannot do it alone, nobody can. But you've got a great support network there for you.

Good luck on your new journey!

xx

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Heather February 22, 2010 at 11:35 am

xo-thank you for writing just what I needed today.

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Heather of the EO February 22, 2010 at 11:37 am

Thank you all. Really.

michelle-
I don't think it will ever go away either. But for the first time in my life I'm OK with that. I kind of want to hug it and thank it for reminding me that I don't have to be perfect.

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Lindsey February 22, 2010 at 11:40 am

Oh, Heather … this is stunning, gorgeous, true – as usual. YOu are such an inspiration. Will you help me drop my stone?
Maybe at BlogHer we can have a lesson.
:)
xo

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Robin February 22, 2010 at 11:41 am

Thank you for this post!!! I find myself saying the "I promise" in my head to my kids all the time. Like I have some time to make up for.

I loved this quote: For me, faith in God or myself or anything else takes a kind of getting lost. Sometimes it all seems overwhelming to grasp, but that's what makes it so powerful and awesome…it's bigger than me.

Congrats on your sobriety. I am enjoying following your journey, as I travel mine. Besides, you talk about it so much more poetically. :)

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Lisa Page Rosenberg February 22, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Beautiful words.
The promise to try is the best relief there is.
My experience is that the stone gets so much smaller, less powerful, is no longer calling the shots. When I feel it now and then I can think, "You are just a ridiculous stone. You have nothing to do with the truth."

Dance it up, Lady! It's a great day.

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Natika February 22, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Last night the kids had a birthday party for me (few days early).When it came to make a wish and blow out the candles, I made a big wish! After they were all making jokes about what mom could or would of wished for.
I said that I wished to stay sober!
9 weeks today!

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Ashleigh (Heart and Home) February 22, 2010 at 12:11 pm

No words, because they're all trapped by the lump in my throat.

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MidnightCafe February 22, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Thank you, Heather. Thank you. This fits so perfectly with what I've been working through lately. So nice to have some other words for it, some other thoughts. Love you lots!

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Kelly @ Love Well February 22, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Freedom isn't the same as perfection. I think we forget that sometimes, yes?

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Tricia Moran February 22, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Your writing totally touches my heart and expresses so much of my own experience. You are blessed to be able to write it out so beautifully. And isn't it great to drop those stones that weigh us down so unnecessarily, one by one. I wish you continued hope, joy and laughter on your journey. You inspire me to be better.

Tricia :)

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Kristina Joy February 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm

God is who He says He is….

Sound like Beth Moore's Believing God study. Have you done it? She had five points we all memorized during the study.

1. God is who He says He is.
2. God can do what He says He can do.
3. I am who God says I am
4. I can do all things through Christ
5. God's Word is alive and active in me.

Powerful study!

Thanks for sharing your journey!
I am so thankful and encouraged to see His faithfulness to you…

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Gale @ Ten Dollar Thoughts February 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm

"That was me, always standing there, scared that I was somehow irrevocably flawed."

Heather, we are ALL irrevocably flawed. That's the best part. We are flawed, and God loves us anyway. We are flawed and our friends and families love us anyway. We are flawed and, when we can muster the strength, we love ourselves anyway. The flaws are not the problem. It's letting them get the better of us that ruins things. You just keep dancing!

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Jen February 22, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I think that there is nothing like a good dance to make a person feel better. I don't think its possible to be sad and dance.

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Heather of the EO February 22, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Gale,
What I meant to say was,

That was me, always standing there, scared that I was somehow more irrevocably flawed than the next person.

So I edited it. :)

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Jo@Mylestones February 22, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Heather, when you open up your heart and spill it here on the page, my first reaction is to cry. (Which I admittedly did–especially the little bit about "I promise" to the boys each night. Oh man.) And then my second reaction is to smile. Because there is no better fate for us all than to drown in grace. And we are living that now. Which is so very amazing.

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Laanykidsmom February 22, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I wasn't even going to comment because what can be said after that? But I do want you to know how beautiful, how meaningful that was, how much it resonated with me. So thanks, and keep going.

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Dedee February 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I thought of you (and linked you in) as I typed up my post for today.

Be well friend.

(And don't worry, this post will be with me for a few days as well.)

:)

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Dedee February 22, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Oh, I suppose you should actually go to the page that is available to the public, of course. . .

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Gale @ Ten Dollar Thoughts February 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Heather, you're not! Seriously. Keep dancing!

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Heather of the EO February 22, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I'm learning that I'm not, and it's good.

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Sarah@EmergingMummy February 22, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Beautiful and true. Thank you for journeying in the light of day.

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The mad woman behind the blog February 22, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Thank you. Absolutely beautiful and honest.
I felt the tears welling up as I read and they fell when I read "I promise."
Now dance!

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Sheryl February 22, 2010 at 2:58 pm

fabulous!!

i still carry that stone around with me. sometimes, though, it takes the place it is meant to…as a stone of rememberance. THAT is the stone i should carry.

used to say that i felt like i had two heartbeats. one of them was deep in my belly. that one was ugly, made me afraid and told me not to trust. that heartbeat has been back a lot lately. need to remember that God really does love me…madly!

love ya, girl.

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amanda February 22, 2010 at 3:21 pm

i come here and get all caught up in your words and then i have nothing to say. you my friend are just wow. thank you – xoxo!

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Aunt LoLo February 22, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Awesome, mama. Just awesome. His Love, Your commitment….Every night, I tiptoe into my two babies' rooms and kiss them on the head. I smell their sweet hair, and I whisper, "I love you. Good night. I love you." It's my ritual…and it seems to make up for all the fumbles and trip ups during the day. That one perfect moment with my babies.

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Angie February 22, 2010 at 4:31 pm

OH! That's about all I could utter the umpteen times I read this post. Friend, your heart is beautiful… HIS heart in you is beautiful. I'm so thankful for the drowning… for the ocean of grace. You bless me so much.

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Octamom February 22, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Beautiful, Sweet Girl. Just beautiful. So proud of you–excited to watch your Freedom Dance.

Blessings~

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My Bottle's Up! February 22, 2010 at 7:13 pm

i am just envisioning your children reading this one day… reading how you "promised" each and every night… there is nothing more beautiful.

continuing to sending light and love through your journey.

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Corinne February 22, 2010 at 8:14 pm

I love this, Heather. You did it again :)
Especially the notion of the stone becoming almost a reminder, instead of the focus.
And getting lost…. I feel that. So much.

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Queen February 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Beautiful!

You are free to dance, and free to live, because you are wholly owned and wholly loved.

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minnesotamom February 22, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Beautiful, Heather.

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Brianna February 22, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Beautiful, friend. Just beautiful.

Bri

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Kristen@nosmallthing February 22, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I promise you…

That was just beautiful. I could just see that picture in my head, of you, crying, kissing them, and promising.

Love it.

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Motherboard February 22, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I love this post! So many of us feel the way you felt and wallow in those feelings with various addictions. Yours was alcohol– mine is food.

The trick is learning to see ourselves as God sees us– Daughters of a King. Then, the trick is to remember it always.

You are an amazing example to us all!

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Amber February 22, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Yes. You are deserving of his unconditional love. You are beautiful. I can feel see it in my Soul.

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Kelly February 22, 2010 at 9:58 pm

I know that feeling — the freedom one without the second guessing and self doubt and constant worry — but I don't know it enough.

Thank you for reminding me why it's so important to just set it all down and dance.

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Boy Crazy February 22, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Wow, Heather. This just blew me away.

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Sarah February 22, 2010 at 10:53 pm

I envy you your faith in God. But I understand you new-found faith in self, even if you haven't quite come to accept it yet. It's there. In tears and kisses to a little boy's forehead. It's there, Heather.

And so have you.

And what I see in this is that you are arriving. To yourself.

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seekingclarav February 22, 2010 at 11:09 pm

So beautiful. Thank you, once again, for your words.

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Rach@In His Hands February 22, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Dear Heather, has anyone ever told you that you have a way with words?! Obviously YES. This, this was oh so beautifully written. You are blessing so many, my friend.

Praise to the One who is Love. I hope He kicks the *crap* out of that stone. ;-) I know He can…and will.

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The Lady of the House February 23, 2010 at 12:16 am

I promise you that I will be here every step of the way.

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Adventures In Babywearing February 23, 2010 at 7:59 am

Oh, it's an always getting lost for me, too, and all my life I feel like I've been judged for it, I'm weaker than others because of it, because look at them on the straight and narrow, never wandering.

But sometimes (I think to myself) I feel like I know Him better, I get more attention from Him, and I have had more TIME with Him because He is always bringing me home.

Steph

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LutherLiz February 23, 2010 at 9:07 am

I thought of the phrase "with faith like a mustard seed you can move mountains" and figure that it can work for that darn stone too. You express yourself so beautifully and it is an honor to follow along on your success here!

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Elaine A. February 23, 2010 at 2:56 pm

I need to read this again, it's so beautiful. Heather, your words always do something to me. Amazing.

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Kimberly February 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I hesitate to say what I want to say. I want to heap praise on you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for how you've inspired me. I've been binge eating for years. It's been a stone of sorts and you've been helping me put it down. I used to binge every day. Now? It's been a week and a half since my last, and before that it had been two weeks. Your example inspired me to strip away the pretending and hiding…and oh how that crazy compulsion dwindles and withers in the light of day.

I feel lighter. I feel joy at a completely new level of intensity, as I never could before when that stone was weighing me down.

I don't want to imply that our stones are the same. That the weight I'm carrying is the same as yours. It's not. Plain and simple, it is not. But it's similar nonetheless and I am so, so grateful to you.

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deb February 23, 2010 at 6:29 pm

This was an honour to read, Heather.

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L.T. Elliot February 23, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Those dancing moments feel so few. I want more of them. I want to turn and see Him there and know that He loves me just the same. I want to know it's okay to rejoice, okay to live, okay to dance and be and set down my stones. I want to be more like you, Heather.

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wendy February 23, 2010 at 9:07 pm

That was lovely. and what a lovely promise to whisper to your children each night.
We just try, dang it, as moms, OH we try so hard

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happygal February 24, 2010 at 10:01 am

Oh my. This so moved me. Thank you.

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Debbie February 24, 2010 at 11:44 am

I love the image of you promising your babies. I think that is all any of us can do. Just promise one day at a time.

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mama-face February 24, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I cannot possibly have anything to add to what has been said already. My heart is so full. Sometimes I hold my breath because I feel you are reading my thoughts. I hold my breath because I don't want you to stop. I don't want you to go through any more pain or struggle; I wish life were perfect for everyone…but I latch onto the hope you show. To feel Him near. I cannot seem to get there. Maybe I just don't know what I'm looking for. Maybe this…Maybe that. Sometimes I think that I swallowed a belly stone and it's gonna eat me alive.

Keep on keeping on.

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Jami February 24, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Love this post. Made me think of:

Psalms 30: 11
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness.

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kanishk February 26, 2010 at 7:03 am

i have nothing to say. you my friend are just wow. thank you

Work from home India

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CaJoh March 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I love the line where your head and your heart ran to catch up with your soul.

That sinking stone that weighs you down is a great way of envisioning one's struggles. So glad that it can be overcome or else we all would be stuck and would never take flight.

Thank you for sharing,

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