“I had always felt it was important that I maintain and rely on three team members. With Dixie's departure and Sarah's understandable need to pull back, I considered re-establishing my relationship with Louise, even though I knew it would be disastrous for me. I resisted the temptation and am glad I did not take this step backwards.
      “Fortunately, my team was not all made up of mortal beings. I was in constant communication with my Father in Heaven and consistently sought reassurance from him. In addition, I relied on God and His Spirit to convey the love I knew Dixie had for me. 
      “February 1, 1994:  Part of a prayer -

      “Me:  'I’m really sad and I miss Dixie Mother so bad! Does she really and truly love me still? I want to know?'
      “God:  'Yes dear little ones. Dixie Mother loves you so dearly and tenderly and her love has not gone away and will never go away no matter how many miles separate you. Remember what I have told you about how you can know of My love for you—even though you can’t see Me? It is the same for Dixie Mother. She can still feel close to you even though she is far away and you can still feel close to her. She sends messages of love to you. She does still love you and she will love you forever!'
      “Me:  'Thank You for telling me. Please tell her I need a letter bad!!!'
      “God:  'Dixie knows and you will be getting a letter soon.'  

      “It is interesting that Dixie's departure became a catalyst for some rather miraculous changes in my healing process. The next few months of 1994 became a pivotal point where I felt I had turned a corner in so many ways.
      “Two important events marked a distinct change in my healing process. One was completely unexpected; the other was a fulfillment of God's answers to my prayers.” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 173-174)  

      God loves each of us so dearly and wants to reassure and comfort us—if only we will listen to Him and allow Him into our hearts. There are many ways He tries to communicate with us. Sometimes it is through nature, or through dreams, or through the love of another, and sometimes through speaking to us directly in our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is worth every effort to develop a close relationship with Him so we can hear Him communicating with us.
 
 
     “Although my other team members (Audrey, Sarah, and Bishop Scott) knew I was struggling with Dixie's departure and were willing to take up the slack to the best of their abilities, the loss of association with someone as important as Dixie seemed to leave me inconsolable.
     “As if having a chronically ill husband, a lost home, and seven children to take care of wasn't enough hardship, my dear friend Sarah's rebellious son was missing. Being the oldest son, he left home and eventually ceased communication with his family, not letting them know where he was. Sarah and her husband knew he was somewhere in Hawaii, but did not know where and did not know if he was alive or dead. 
     “And it was about this time that Sarah's teenaged daughter contracted a fatal cancer, a disease that would claim her life at age eighteen. One evening, in the midst of all of this hardship, I was at Sarah's home and she started to cry. ‘Shawna,’ she said through her tears, ‘I love you and will always love you, but I need to ask you a favor.’ I was very aware of what was happening in Sarah's life and that she was facing a mountain of problems that most people would never have to face in their lifetimes. I was not surprised with what came next: ‘I can't handle hearing about the details [of your abuse] right now. There is so much going on in my life that I just can't handle any more.’
     “It broke my heart that Sarah was going through such deep trials. My heart ached for her and I completely understood and accepted her need to limit her exposure to my traumas. And despite these trials, Sarah wanted me to know that she would still be happy to see me and love me, but she simply couldn't deal with the burden of hearing about the abuse. What an amazing friend!” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 172-173)  

     Sarah’s remarkable behavior in the face of overwhelming life and death family problems was astounding. It was clearly evident through her tears that letting me know her limits was breaking her heart as she did not want to cause me any more pain. Yet she showed incredible amounts of courage, grace and love to give me the message while still being able to reassure me of her love. She was not trying to get me out of her life. She still wanted me to come and visit her because she truly loved me. Her huge heart made room for me. I hope some day I can become like her!
 
 
     “The pain of Dixie's departure created a desperate need to split off into new parts, something I was trying to avoid doing. Mental health professionals who have studied and worked with multiples know that once a small child has learned to split off, the person is capable of doing it even into adulthood. My own experience was a testament to that phenomenon and I had several personality parts who had split off because of adult traumas.
     “When Dixie left, I seemed to drift ‘away’ in a dissociative state where I experienced life from a distance. This wasn't quite to the level of splitting off, but it was along the same continuum. To me, it felt like I was losing myself:
I AM LOST
(1994)
 
I’m lost.
My body is still here
so I don’t LOOK lost,
but I AM!
 
It feels sad to be all lost,
but since people see my body,
they don’t even miss me.
Nobody can find me!
 
And I don’t know if anybody can tell
that I AM lost?!
I wish somebody could look at me
and notice that I’m not here.
 
I’m so far far away
and I’m all alone
and I’m way big sad
and LOST!
 
I wish I mattered enough
that somebody
would try to find me.
 
OH PLEASE!
Let there BE a somebody!
(My Tears Fall Inside, pages 171-172)

     How many people feel lost just like I did, even though they don’t “look” lost? How careful we need to be in our interaction with others, since we can never know all that is going on inside of them and the pain they may be feeling. 
 
 
TWO HANDFULS OF SAGE 
(For Dixie -1993)
 
It is early spring.
The young sweet grass turns the hills pale green.
Last year’s old grass remains stiff and white.
The sky is blue.
The sun is shining.
But the cool breeze blows through me and I feel cold.
 
I walk.
I notice the direction of the wind.
Surely there is a sheltered place
where I can sit and hide,
where the sun can warm me
and the cold wind can’t reach me.
 
I find a large squaw bush.
I sit on the slant of the hill.
I keep the bush between me and the wind.
It cannot reach around or through my bush.
I am protected
and the sun warms me.
 
As I walk,
I pick two great handfuls of sage,
symbolic of the increased intensity of the agony inside.
I cling to the sage tightly
wanting to crush the sadness out of existence
but I am unsure how to let it go or make it go away.
 
Yesterday I tried to throw my pain to the wind.
I stood on a hill.
I threw my handfuls of sage as high as I could,
but the wind blew it in front of me,
directly across the path I had to walk
to get back home.
 
I was dismayed!
I don’t want to walk through my pain.
Is there no way around it?
I want to be whole.
I want to be one.
I don’t want to be scattered to the wind.
 
It seems I cannot pick enough sage.
In the one hand I carry the pain.
In the other I carry my own fragments.
Somehow the enmeshment of the fragments
and the dissipation of the pain
are interrelated.
 
Could the fragments within me
somehow be clenched together tightly
and become a whole?
Somehow pain and oneness,
agony and strength,
go hand in hand.
 
I must walk through my pain
to find myself again.
I must walk through my agony
to connect the fragments inside.
I must endure the anguish
to discover my own power.

I cannot disperse the sage alone.
I need to talk.
I cannot gain the strength alone.
I cannot become whole again alone.
I love you sometimes means I need you,
and I love you and need you with all my heart!
 
You are my sheltered place
where the cold wind can’t reach me.
To the battered children within,
you feel exactly the same way angels feel.
You feel safe!
You are love!
 
(My Tears Fall Inside, pages 168-171)
 
 
      “I had gotten into the habit of gathering sage while on my treks into the hills. Sage was symbolic of my pain, and what I did with the sage was an indication of what was happening inside of me. One time, I tried to throw the sage into the wind, to dissipate it, but it landed in front of me - directly in my path. Some nights, I would carefully place it at the doorstep or mailbox of my support team members. When I did that, it was a statement that said, ‘I need you and I'm sharing my pain with you.’ With Dixie, however, I had reached new heights in my ability to share pain. It was almost as if she was able to reach over and take the sage (my pain) directly from my hand. After Dixie's departure, I wrote her an explanation of how lost I felt: 
 
      “I am really homesick for you, bad! I haven’t hardly cried at all since the day you left—but I’m still way sad inside! I think that’s why I’m having such trouble dissociating and feeling far away. If I even think about it at all, I know I’m really sad! But even when I’m so sad only a very few tears fall and it all stops right away. I don’t exactly know what to do?! We are so sad and lonely without you!! You are gone too long already and it’s still forever until you come back!! . . .
      “Now it’s Sunday. I carried this handful of sage all the way to the source [a symbolic flow of water in the hillside] and now I’m back down by the olive tree and I’m still holding it. I just can’t seem to know what to do with it. Lately, when I walk, I find out when I get all the way back to my car that the sage I picked on the way is still in my hand. I think it means now I’m keeping the sad inside about everything—but I also think it's because I don’t quite know what to do—since you aren’t sitting beside me and symbolically taking it out of my hand. You lifted so many of my burdens—by allowing me to cry with you and tell you all my worries.” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 167-168)

      Some might wonder if it was worth it to have those child parts bond with Dixie since it was so traumatic for them when she left. However, without that close bond, I would have made NO progress at all! 

 
 
      “Two weeks after Dixie's departure, I had a dream. In this dream I was in my bedroom talking to her and I was acutely aware that she was somehow home from her mission. It was a long, involved dream but I learned that she and Guy were forced to come home due to some medical problems. In this dream, she had returned very soon after having left, and she and Guy were eventually assigned to a mission closer to home. In this dream, I remembered how God had been telling me that it was not yet time for me to be separated from her, and that I was to wait and see how this would be accomplished. 
      “Once Dixie left, I immediately started an intense letter-writing campaign and these epistles were very lengthy and heartfelt. . .
      “My letters were dripping with the unfulfilled needs of the children within me, and I wondered how Dixie was reacting when she read them, as she and Guy served on the tiny Tongan island of Va Vau. The postal service to and from this island was not the most efficient, and it would take her letters 3-4 weeks to reach me. My letters to her contained pleas similar to this:

      “Tonight I miss you so much! Tonight especially [after group] it is hard! I miss your gentleness and love. I miss not coming to your house!  I miss your arms and your smile. I miss not getting to talk to you with all the different parts! I miss crying and laughing with you all at the same time! I miss putting my head on a pillow in your lap and having your hand on my hair. . . . And I’m very sad!  [then a child part comes out to say] . . .  'Some of me wants to run way far away and hide where nobody can ever find me!! . . .'” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 165-167)

      I was struggling with very real and extremely traumatized young children within. They were not only traumatized by their abuse issues, but now they were also devastated over what felt like abandonment from their Dixie Mom. It was a very heartbreaking world for them and it was enormously difficult for me to cope with because the child parts were so dominant during this time that it was almost impossible for me to view my world from an adult perspective.
 
 
     “The day after Dixie and Guy left on their mission, these parts of me wrote a powerful poem that symbolically expressed what was really going on inside. It was written as if addressed to Dixie's other children:"
THE BEGGAR CHILD
(1994)
 
She quietly enters the room--
black wide eyes gazing with hunger.
She tries SO hard
NOT to be noticed--
begging with her silent eyes
to be allowed to stay,
if only in a corner,
sitting on the floor with knees pulled up,
desperate to be allowed to watch and listen,
wanting to drink in the luxury
of what she has never known before.
 
She watches tables piled high
with smells she is unfamiliar with.
She watches people in luxury
and craves merely a crumb of what they gorge on,
but feels undeserving of anything.
She feels it a luxury for her
merely to be allowed a corner of the room
to hide in.
She feels undeserving of the very crumbs off the floor
but her hungry eyes beg for food
even in her terror of being sent away!!
 
Suddenly some kind soul hands the child a plate
piled high with delectable delights.
The hollow eyed child cannot believe it is real
and even with the first bite,
feels insatiable hunger never capable of being satisfied.
She tries to eat the wondrous life sustaining food
but quickly finds her swollen but shrunken stomach
with no place inside to put the food.
 
OH you lucky ones!--
you who have known physical and emotional safety!
Do you know what banquet you feast from?!?
Do you know of the millions like me--
black hollow eyes filled to overflowing with aching need,
hungering insatiably for what you have,
with an emotional starvation
that feels incapable of ever being filled?!?
 
You did not create the beggar child within me.
The beggar child me,
though no longer afflicted from without,
still lives within.
Though through your kindness you would share all,
yet the child within does not know how to trust
either the reality or the enduring possibility of your love.
Her wide needy eyes--
when sometimes no longer capable of disguise--
gaze out of my own.
 
I walk into the room.
I have tasted of the banquet of your mother’s love,
and I feel the hunger pangs increase.
Desperately I crave the security
that you have known your whole life,
but feel undeserving of even a single crumb.
 
I try so hard!
Please!
If only I could disappear and be invisible!
If only I can be good and quiet enough,
and if I just stay in the corner,
so no one notices me,
Please can I just stay and watch and listen?
Can I watch with awe
your relaxed interactions,
your absence of fear,
your ease with emotional and physical closeness?
 
Oh please don’t send me away!
I am SO hungry!!!
I desperately crave the feast of safe physical touch,
of being near your mother.
No one needs to talk to me or me to them.
Please, if only I could be near her,
and if she could touch me--
a hand on the arm or shoulder?
If only I could curl up next to her feet--
then I could feel safe!!
 
But beggar child that I am,
I fear I am intruding.
And terrified that I might be sent away hungry,
I watch from a distance--
afraid to beg for a crumb.
Please let me stay
and drink in the wondrous sight!
 
Will there ever be a time
when I won’t feel like that beggar child--
feeling desperately undeserving of every crumb that comes my way?
Perhaps my bulging empty belly of need
will never be filled!
Perhaps my insides are not capable of holding plenty.
But then again,
can time and gentle enduring love begin to fill
the vast empty wasteland within
and make a healthy place
where love like a full plate--
though never expected,
could find a place inside,
and even be digested?
 
OH PLEASE!!!
Is the room in the corner of your mansion
that you make for me,
enduring?!?
 
OH you lucky few,
consider the millions of beggar children like me!!!!

(My Tears Fall Inside, pages 162-165)

 
 
     “I started to wonder if I was really listening to the Lord's voice. (The following are quotes from my journal.)  

    “‘I guess I get worried about how much I’m hearing right—especially since it seems like Dixie will leave even though I was feeling like she wasn’t going to leave me yet—so I feel like I can’t trust myself. . . .’

     “The answer from above: 

     “‘Only time will be able to reassure you about how you hear correctly. I have told you many times that you need to “wait and see”. I have also told you, “I will not leave you comfortless.” . . . You are important to Dixie. . .No matter where she is, you two will always love each other. This love will not go away.’

     “Just the threat of my Dixie Mom leaving put some of my child parts into an anxious state. To these little ones, love meant pain and abandonment, so it was not surprising that around this time period, I was having difficulty again with the ‘L’ word (love). I was also having trouble with feeling safe with men, so even a male Heavenly Father seemed to be unsafe. 

“Journal entry from November 3, 1993:

     “‘Tonight at Dixie’s house, lots of very little ones who are 3 years old talked to Dixie. She is nice nice nice to them but they are very afraid of that “L” word.  [Love] Also got very afraid of the Heavenly Father. It always made me get very scared and grab the top of my head every time Dixie said it—like I thought He was mad at me, but Dixie said He isn’t at all mad at me. I hope she is all the way right! Oh I also got side aches tonight, but that happens all the time.’

     “On January 17, 1994, Guy and Dixie left to serve the Lord on a tiny Tongan island. Before leaving, however, their family came together to give them a big send-off. It was incredibly difficult for me to be there with Dixie's family at the going-away party because of the pain I was feeling.
     “My child parts held a lot of emotion that was struggling to come out in a way that would make sense of what I was feeling.” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 160-162)

     In my next post I will share a poem that was written the day after Dixie left on her mission. It was the poem that expressed better than any other to that point, the reality of how parts felt.
 
 
      “Retired couples in my church are needed as missionaries. For many, it is a difficult assignment because it involves leaving children and grandchildren to serve the Lord in far-reaching parts of the world on 18 or 24-month assignments. For those couples who accept the call, it is an opportunity to share a lifetime of experience with those in the world who desperately need it. Dixie and Guy were the kind of deeply spiritual, caring, compassionate people who were typical of the thousands of senior couples serving as missionaries throughout the world.
      “Toward the end of 1993, when Dixie told me that she and Guy were putting in their ‘papers’ indicating they were open to be assigned as missionaries, I was deeply affected and prayed:

      “‘I feel like if Dixie leaves me, that I will just curl up and die inside. . . I’m so scared that now because I finally believe she loves me—now she’ll go away.  Like love is a trick to hurt me more. . .’

      “The answer from above: 

      “‘A way will be provided so that she will stay. . . Wait and see, little ones. A way will be provided for her to stay near you.’

      “Suddenly, I was face-to-face with an intense vulnerability. I had risked everything to open up to Dixie. The child parts within me were finally comfortable with a mother figure who was a true nurturer. How could I possibly survive? As time went on, I received more assurances from the Lord:

      “‘Just wait and see. A way will be provided so Dixie won't be far away. It is not yet time for the separation from her that you fear.’

      “God was clearly telling me that He would take care of the ‘problem’ but I was now questioning the answers I was receiving. On one hand, Dixie was planning to leave with her husband to serve as a missionary. On the other hand, God was telling me He would make a way for the situation to be resolved, at least until I could be strong enough to function without her. Something had to give, and I certainly couldn't see a way out of this.” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 159-160)

      I kept hoping that something would happen so Dixie would decide not to leave me after all, but their preparations to go on a mission were in earnest. What would I do? How could the little children within me survive without her?
 
 
      “In October of that year, what I feared the most was about to happen. Dixie and Guy told me they were planning to go on an 18 month church mission. In November, they received a ‘mission call’ and would be leaving for Tonga the following January. Life as I knew it had come to a halt.
      “In despair, I thought, ‘Why, when I am finally allowing another person into my life and into my heart - why must we now be separated? Can I really survive this?’ My child parts had a lot to say about this situation in these excerpts from the 1993 writing, ‘October Spring:’
I NEED you!!
I’m all opened up inside.
I don’t have any armor on anymore
and there isn’t any way to keep me safe
if you go away.
I’m so sad!
I’m so tired of sad!
I’m so tired of hard!
 
If you aren’t talking to twenty little kids,
all sad and hurting and different ages,
who all try to talk at the same time,
but out of the same mouth--
and every sentence comes from somebody else
and you have to answer a thousand questions
a hundred times each--
because each one has to know.
 
If you aren’t here,
how can you remember all of us?
Can you remember the ones who hide
or the ones who are so little?
Or the ones who are still so scared
that they only say little things here and there,
and they sneak it in between something else,
cuz they are afraid to get noticed?
 
And I am saddest of all!
Cuz I tried so hard to keep everybody safe
and I can’t keep everybody inside anymore,
and I’m so scared
because these little kids might get hurt again.
Please help me!
Its too big of a job for me now.
I can’t do it alone anymore!
 
Most kids finally felt safe enough to talk.
Now all the sad is so big
and everyone wants to talk all the time,
and I can’t keep it straight anymore!
I can’t keep in one subject for long,
And we feel all mixed up
And we don’t trust how we feel,
And where are you?!?

(My Tears Fall Inside, pages 156-158)