Withdrawal

11 Mar

Withdrawal: the act of ending your involvement with something.

Does it count that I did not want to be involved? That it crept into my system promising something it did not deliver? No it does not count. Without my permission my immune system has begun a long term involvement with destroying me. I cannot withdraw. I have no power. It has taken over me like a deadly infection, ready to torture me, ready to kill me. Withdrawal, an act that takes the willpower of something beyond ourselves – which I’ve yet to discover – a side effect that can kill you. Withdrawal, the sleepless nights filled with euphoria and tears, with dark images that appear only in the dark. Withdrawal, the irritation that follows every response, every answer from a loved one. Is it ironic to feel as if you are currently living in a French film, in which your only passion is wine, and your day ends in tears? Tears that seem like streams of unwanted fear, that mix so well with the drops of water as you bathe – that you no longer know whether you are being cleansed by salt or pure water. At 5:29am you feel your world unravel into a sad mystery that captures only small glimpses of light, too dim to matter. Withdrawal adds on to the inflamed limbs and restless leg. It does not provide a solution, it makes you desperate for one.

This is the withdrawal that doctors don’t tell you about. The one that can consume your life in a matter of days. I wonder if it is a medical experiment that doctor give us promising drugs with only minor effects of “maybe” sleepless nights, and a few tears here and there. The truth is they will never tell you that the next time they see you, well, you might be dead. They do not consider the character of the person. They treat the symptoms not the patient. They are not mediums of healing, they are death dressed in sheep’s white clothing – with terrible handwriting.  Withdrawal, the act of ending your involvement with something. Pity, “it” won’t end its involvement with you until it has almost but destroyed you. Unless you destroy it first.

To my fellow spoonies: never trust the “solution” they give you. We are their experiments, their lab rats, with which they test the efficiency of the next drug. Beware. Stand firm. Fight back.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: AI & Jeremiah

10 Jan

So it’s been about a week and a half since I wrote my first post about AI. If you haven’t read it I recommend reading it first: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Autoimmune Disease. I really appreciate the love I’ve received from everyone and if you want to know how much check out my “Thank You” post.

I left off talking about the yet to be seen working of God in my life through this experience. Let’s pause for a bit and recap. Got sick, worked lots of jobs, was busy and in pain all the time – and God was doing some crazy thing in my life. When you are as stubborn and private as I am it’s very hard to share with friends the reality of your situation. You might be afraid that they will reject you, look at you differently, think you are only looking for attention. This was definitely going through my mind as I “battled” the first stages. It’s not that I didn’t trust my friends. I did! But I was afraid. I didn’t want to change. I didn’t want to be vulnerable. I wanted to be strong. I resembled Jeremiah in the Bible. Young man is called by God to speak to the people of Judah, but he is scared. He won’t speak up, he names the reasons why, and closes the book. “I can’t speak for You! I’m too young!” he says (ref. Jer. 1:6). Well yes I’m not Jeremiah; I surely didn’t hear a voice (if it was a voice) that said “Tracy go and saith to thou companions the distress of thy heart!” (ref. Tracy 1:1; KJV). What I did hear from the depths of my heart, from the depth of my mind was a yearning to share with the women around me how I felt. The women, and men, who were important to me and were supposed to represent the love of God. The problem? I didn’t know how.

I can speak with people about anything EXCEPT myself, my longings, my deepest desires and secrets. I want to pause here for a moment and answer the question that might be in your mind already. Why is she taking about this? Isn’t this a post about AI? Well yes it is! But people who have Autoimmune Illnesses, or any other type of illness for that matter, including crappy parents, not only suffers physically. There is something about being different from others, being atypical (physically or emotionally) that truly affects your entire life. See my battle with AI affected and still affects every area of my life. And I want my readers to know that others struggle with relationships and communication. It is pretty damn hard to share our struggle with someone who cannot experience it. This is true for everyone.

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True friendship lasts forever (friends at orphanage in Haiti)

Now that we’ve made that clear…let’s get back to business. I decided to go ahead and embrace the yearning for sharing in community, to let others in a little deeper into my soul. This is what happened:

So the officials took Jeremiah from his cell and lowered him by ropes into an empty cistern (well) in the prison yard…There was no water in the cistern, but there was a thick layer of mud in the bottom, and Jeremiah sank down into it. (Jeremiah 38:6 NLT)

Pretty ugly huh!? Well though I’m no Jeremiah, the people I trusted took my trust and shattered it. I was put in a well, felt isolated by others, and sunk into the mud. Sometimes people just don’t know what to do when you pour out your heart to them. Sometimes they are just out to get you. I was devastated to find out how sharing my struggles with AI served as a gateway to be discredited. But all is good! right? Not really. During that time (as I mentioned before: my Junior Spring semester) things had just gotten worse. I was having more flares, more pain and more distress. I thought I might as well shut down and speak to no one any more, I even thought about withdrawing from university. The one time I tried to be open with others  had gone terribly wrong, so why try again? I was very confused. If God had put this yearning in my heart why did it turn around and stab me in the back?

I realized something important in the weeks and months to come. The concept we have of God and who God is and what God does, sometimes seem to show that He is manipulative. The yearning in my heart was true. The decision of the people around me was wrong! But it was their decision, not God’s. They had a choice to be sincere and good, and maybe they thought they were being so. But the important thing is that I shared it! regardless of the actions of others, I’d finally opened up a bit more; and I felt free. It took me a while to realize it and I still struggle with it now. That is one of the reasons I’ve begun to write about it – it brings me freedom. Regardless of the physical pain and mental exhaustion you will have to determine who will put you in a well and who will give you a hand and help you get up from the mud. Though some people rejected me and betrayed me, others stayed by my side and comforted me, and that’s what truly matters!

One of the first steps in OVERCOMING is acknowledging the people that should and should not be in your life. You also need to begin caring for yourself, allowing others to care for you and love you. I can tell you it’s very difficult. Some friends and even family will walk away, but others…well others will stay and hold your hand no matter what. You will discover new friends, and built new friendships.They will come into your life to show you that there is still good people out there, willing to stick together and be their sister’s keeper. I thank God that because of the situations surrounding my health have allowed my heart to be broken and healed. It has led me to revisit the past and confront the present. I am learning to care for myself, to be more adventurous, to trust more, and to be more cautious. God and life allow for series of unfortunate events to heal our hearts, to give us hope, to make us dream once again, to make us stronger, more sympathetic. The story will have a good ending, whether you know it or not.

King Nebuchadnezzar had told Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, to find Jeremiah. “See that he isn’t hurt,” he said. “Look after him well and give him anything he wants”…they sent messengers to bring Jeremiah out of the prison. (Jeremiah 39: 11-14)

Here is a prayer that I found in the Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals on Major Life Transitions: “Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, teach me to listen to my heart; teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside me. I give you my discontent. I give you my restlessness. I give you my doubt. I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking empty space of an open door”

P.S. I’ll try to finish this really long post in one more part! Let me know your thoughts!

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Thank You!

28 Dec

Thank You!

I share this photo because it represents something beautiful in my life. It represents YOU guys! Thank you for everyone who has stood by me in these difficult months and to YOU my new readers! Your response to my previous post has truly overwhelmed my heart. Thank for your encouraging words and prayers. Thank you for your support and love. My strength comes first from God and YOU: my friends and family. I began to share part of my brief story because I felt it was time for me to open myself a little more. To be honest I was quite frightened, and I still am. I’m shocked at the positive response I’ve received; you’ve all been so understanding. I am far from strong, I am weak. Sometimes I get frustrated and throw tantrums. But you guys keep me going. It is for you the people I love and care about – even those long lost friends from High School, that I get up every morning. You give me strength; you embody the love of God in my life. For that I want to say THANK YOU! A million thanks!

“Let the weak say, ‘I am strong’” Joel 3:10

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Autoimmune Disease

27 Dec

About two years ago, my sophomore year of college, I woke up with terrible pain in my shoulders. I thought that perhaps I had fought the great war with dragons in my dreams the previous night. However, the pain continued for about two weeks. Eventually it became so bad I was not even able to get dressed without feeling like someone was breaking my bones. The pain would come and go. One week I would be completely fine and the next I felt that I had been hit by a giant truck. With college bills and no insurance is not the type of thing I would generally tell my parents about. For about 6 months I struggled with the pain – thought at that time it was mild. I can’t really remember many details from that time, maybe it was so bad I suppressed it…?

When I was finally able to see a doctor (we got insurance yayy!) the PA gave me some Naproxen (500mg x 2 daily) and said it’s probably just muscle pain and to go home. I was furious! I thought: How are you telling me that I have muscle pain when I’ve been in excruciating pain for months??! that’s NOT normal! After a couple of weeks I went for a follow up and saw an MD, she suggested some blood work to make sure. Finally someone was listening!!!. When we got the results back I was alone, 18 years old and with a doctor who let’s just say was very difficult to understand. She mentioned something called, RA, Lupus, RA factor, ANA and a bunch of other terms. She basically said: you might have Lupus I’ll send you to a Rheumatologist. She said it coldly, like it was normal every day thing. I had no idea what these terms meant! I was so confused…what was a Rheumatologist???!. The only notion I had of Lupus was of a classmate in High school who needed hip-replacements, had strokes and so many other terrifying things. I remember holding the tears and walking outside, calling my mother and sobbing: “They…they said it might be Lupus, Mom I’m so scared!”. I took the train back to college and cried on the way there and back. I didn’t tell anyone…people would either dismiss it, think I was exaggerating or have pity on me.

When I finally saw a Rheumatologist my ANA test was positive, something she never mentioned. She said the pain was normal for Rheumatoid Arthritis (which was what they thought I had) and I couldn’t do anything about it. She sent me home with 2 things: Naproxen 250mg x 2 daily ( a smaller dose than before – which didn’t help at all) and the possibility that I might develop Lupus (Yay me!). This was May of my sophomore year. I vowed never to go back!…and we lost our insurance.

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At Belvedere Castle in Spring 2013
Central Park, NYC

Fast forward 8 months…Spring semester Junior year (2013) when all HELL broke lose. The pain became so bad I was constantly swollen and in pain. I had a hard time brushing my teeth, getting up from bed, putting a t-shirt on, going up the stairs, sitting down, getting up, and the list goes on. I am a dancer…that made it even more difficult to even raise up my hand. It was the beginning of the greatest battle I’ve ever fought. I remember cold winter nights waking up crying because my knees where immobile and it felt like someone was cutting through with pieces of glass bottles. I made sure to not be loud, my roommate was sound asleep, and being who I am…I don’t like to bother people. Some nights I would stay in bed up until 6 am because the pain wouldn’t let me sleep. It was more like 3-4 nights out of the week. At that time I was off Naproxen and was NOT on any other pain killers, not even acetaminophen! I just sucked it up and I still wonder how I did it. I was holding 3 jobs, 18 credits and was involved in various clubs and organizations. Even now as I type this and my shoulders and fingers are swollen and so painful I can’t believe I actually maintained my sanity.

When you carry such level of pain you learn to disguise it. I would sometimes wear a brace and people would ask why I wore it. I would use the moment to make up some crazy story like I was sliding down the rails and fell, or simply: I hit it with the cabinet. Disguising the pain truly becomes an art. It would take me 30 minutes to walk about 0.1 miles from my dorm to class and I couldn’t stay sitting in class for more than 20 minutes because my legs began to paralyze. Each situation deserved a back-up story – something to disguise the pain.My friends and family, even my parents didn’t know the level of pain and stress I was under. In a way it made the situation more bearable. If other people didn’t know about it, it wouldn’t be so real, they wouldn’t ask, and I wouldn’t have to explain. It was just pain.

However, deep inside me there was a fear of what might happen next. As I began to read as much information as I could on autoimmune diseases I became so scared – yet I never shared my fears.  There were pictures  of people with distorted limbs and joints. The fear of never being able to be a mother, of having a short life span, and so forth. All these fears consumed me but I pushed them to the back of my mind. I never questioned God: why me? or why now? Not because I am the most holy person on the world, but because in the midst of all the pain God assured me of His working in my life. Something deeper was occurring, something I still needed to discover. Beyond the physical and mental pain, there was hidden pain in my heart that God would eventually begin to heal. All this through a series of unfortunate events. To be continued…

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18

Healing Hearts

22 Nov

“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery”

                                 Oceans by Hillsong United

What breaks your heart?

What makes you come alive?

According to the filmmakers of “Give a Damn”? Documentary we should join these two questions when searching for our vocation. How difficult is it do join these two opposites, and make them work together for a greater purpose. Do we give a damn?

Today the three legends of “Give a Damn” came to our university (Seton Hall University, NJ). After the documentary they answered our questions, including the future and possible love life of one of them – with another adventurer of the poor.  I was particularly inspired by their genuine hearts. At times, we enter service, mission and plain “crazy” adventures, with something to offer. “They”, the poor, need something we have – and we can give to them. Our sense of superiority makes us the saviors of the world, the solution to the problem. Yet we forget to recognize we are human and we struggle in service – we become tired, disheartened, depressed, disappointed, and the list goes on. Some of us simply ignore the problem – because if we ignore it long it enough it might go away, right? The three men on a journey to Africa show us that it is okay to stop midway and return home, or become frustrated and hide from the world. They are genuine in their struggle as humans, seeking for something, whether faith or community – they are us and we are them.

The voyage of repairing human dignity is not simply an economic problem or a political issue, it’s not even a religious one – it is a matter of the heart. Sure, we need money, sustainability, education, resources, and so forth. However, if our hearts are not part of the matter, we are giving lifeless water, food, and education. How many people we see who work in shelters, hospitals and soup kitchens, who have become so numb that they don’t care about their job. This week our student community went to Newark Penn Station, NJ to hand out gloves, socks, broken prayers and some hope. A homeless man explained that the shelters don’t function correctly because the people in charge don’t care. Well that might be just right. Now, I am not saying they are bad people – I applaud whoever embarks on such mission. But many of us have become so brokenhearted that we no longer care about the work we do, we no longer care for the people we serve, we have lost the meaning or our service and our lives. It happens to everyone, we are all human. I’ve become frustrated and numb after seeing the children with Malaria and AIDS, hopeless and tired in Haiti. This is why this is primarily a matter of the heart: because all of us at some point have given up. Maybe no one knows you have, maybe it was a moment of complete exhaustion where you thought you couldn’t handle it anymore, or when you decided to completely abandon a project. We must look at our hearts, heal ourselves and allow others to heal us – regain hope and meaning because if we don’t, our service will be empty and our buildings will crumble.

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Service, is in part the restoration of human dignity, physical well-being and the healing of broken hearts. Giving a child a uniform or an education is no longer a material thing – it transcends – and gives hope, courage and humility. So I challenge you and myself to look deep into our hearts and allow for disappointed and exhaustion. Then, become restored and refreshed through prayer, community, and rest, or whatever makes you whole. Embark on this journey willing to be healed and to receive love; because though we may have much to offer to the poor, we have much more to receive from them.

Thank you to the Division of Volunteer Efforts (DOVE) at Seton Hall University who continues to inspire people to serve and be healed through service. For more information on getting involved check out their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SHU.volunteerefforts

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Today’s Ministry & A Woman After the Father’s Heart

27 Jul

Currently I have observed that more Christians are rejecting the call of God for missions, revival and ministry. We, who are in the Spirit, have a duty – in accordance to our nature – to manifest the glory of the Lord in all the earth. The whole Earth is yearning to experience the love of God embodied in us. However, we have abandoned our calling for pleasure and comfort. Few people are saying “YES” to the Lord, and embarking on a life long trip through the narrow road (ref. Matthew 7:1-14). We have become stagnant and comfortable; it is time to remember who we are and what we were made for.  And though I see a dwindling spirit in the Church, there are those obedient servants who are becoming the Leaders the Church and the world need.

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I know a very special woman.  The first time we met I received love, love and more love from her. She is one of those people who you look up too, but who are so humble all you actually see is God. This woman, Delki Rosso, is a mother, a daughter, a wife, a friend, a worshiper, a servant, and the list goes on. She is one of the few people I know who has attended the call of God to serve and love His people and His creation. Delki is what I like to describe as: a woman who is searching to be molded according to the Father’s heart. She, along with family and team, have undertaken the task of provoking the glory of God in the city of New York and Internationally.

House of T’he Arts International School and Ministry is a living testimony of the obedience of Delki and her team and family. HOTAI, its acronym, is a shelter for broken hearts and thirsty spirits. Aside from being a Christian Arts School focused on the Prophetic aspect of worship, HOTAI is the home away from home. As a former HOTAI student, I found that at every class and meeting I was able to experience God freely and differently every time. I met new friends, learn many things, but mostly I found God. HOTAI focuses in restoring and recovering the Arts for God and bringing revival through the same. This movement for Revival has reached many countries, languages and people. Revival in itself is a movement in the Church to make Christ known to those whom he is unknown, serve His people, and experience His manifested glory. Revival is the basis of Christian life regardless of your Christian tradition.

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I thank the HOTAI family for sheltering me and loving me unconditionally. For more information on HOTAI and Delki Rosso please visit www.houseofthearts.com and also find HOTAI and Delki on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so forth (links below).

Next week we will have an interview of Delki Rosso, founder and director of House of T’he Arts, on the famous Global RevivalCamps that take place every year.

Instagram: DelkiRossoDance
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/houseofthearts

Otra vez falle

28 Jun

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