Monday, October 20, 2014

2014 Retreat Recap

Last year’s Joy in the Journey Retreat proved to be life changing for me.  And I don’t say life changing flippantly.  It was wonderful to get away and spend time with some wonderful adoptive mommas, many of which I’ve grown close with over the past few years.  But what was most impressive to me was what surfaced in my heart during my time at the retreat.  There were some amazing breakout sessions where I learned a ton.  But the most memorable and heart changing part for me was hearing Sharon Lyon speak at the closing session.  This is where I fell apart….

Sharon shared her heart breaking background, her road to bringing home her two beautiful daughters, and her struggle thru post-placement depression.  As I listened to her struggle, particularly after bringing her first child home, I saw so much of who I was in her story.  I saw my same struggle.  And I realized I carried some big wounds into our adoption story, especially with our second child.  It was like a light bulb for me.   Let me back up a bit.

I have a lot of sin in my life, some big, some small.  I imagine most of us all have our vices.  Mine has been depression and anger.  Both have wrecked havoc in my friendships, my marriage, and yes, in my children.  It is only by God’s grace we have made it through!  While my upbringing was not near as challenging as Sharon’s, we did have one big thing in common.  Both of us suffered some abuse in childhood (pardon me for not sharing more specifically on that subject).  It wasn’t until she shared her story that I realized that my secret, literally shared with no one at this point, was the root of all this depression and particularly anger.  About a year after my husband and I were married I spent a year in counseling and started medications.  I improved significantly--I was even able to come off my medication a couple years later. However, I never shared this particular secret with even my counselor.  I always knew something still needed healing though because my anger was still often out of control.   And then, my depression chased me down again after the adoption of our son.

When my son came home, the transition was extremely difficult.  He screamed for hours, often didn’t sleep, never smiled, and pushed all my buttons.  I often thought and asked myself what we had done.  We were happy before he came home.  I was at my limit.  I found myself crumpled on my bathroom floor sobbing uncontrollably.  I had to call my husband home from work.  This happened on more than one occasion.  Then I realized I had to get help.  I knew that this was post-placement depression.  I was in the thick of it for sure.  I just didn’t understand why.  I had done so well for so long.  So I called and made an appointment, got back on medication, reached out to some close trusted friends, and started slowly improving.  Just a little over a month and half later was the retreat.

Sharon spoke volumes to my soul.  Through her story I had a kindred spirit, I wasn’t alone.  More importantly she spoke to the how/why of how she got where she was.  I had never made the connection.  It seems like it should have been so obvious to me, but it wasn’t.  I briefly spoke with Sharon at the end of her time, and thanked her for being so open and honest. 
Then I got in my car to go home, and completely broke down.  I cried all the way home.  I knew I had to get vulnerable and tell my secret.  And I was scared to death.  I didn’t want to do it.  But I prayed, I asked for strength.  I felt God nudging me.  He said  “you need to tell this story to someone right now”.  I knew if I didn’t listen, I wouldn’t do it.  So I called my best friend, someone who knew me before my husband, and someone removed from the situation.  My husband would be harder to tell because of how it would directly impact him. So this was a good practice run.  I could hardly get the words out through tears, but I made it.  It took me two hours on the drive home, but I got it out.   Instantly it felt like a big, heavy weight was gone—literally, physically a heavy weight.

Next was my husband.  When I got home, it was late.  But I knew if I didn’t share then, I wouldn’t.  He asked how the retreat went.  I told him it was truly life changing.  I prepped him a little, and then I repeated my secret.  I couldn’t even look at him.  It was easier this time.  I asked forgiveness for all the ways this had hurt our marriage and him.  He was so gracious, loving, and forgiving.  He understood now, things made sense to him finally.  I was so afraid he would be mad, that he wouldn’t be able to handle it, so afraid of how it would affect us and our family.  It was exactly the opposite.  He just wanted to love me and support me.  We cried together and prayed together.  Afterwards, he told me that yes, in fact, this retreat WAS life changing! 

That was just the beginning of the journey though.  I have a long road ahead of me with healing those wounds, learning new behaviors to replace my destructive ones, and getting healthy so that I can better love my kids!  Sharon reached out to me even after the retreat to check on me and make some book suggestions.  I’m so grateful for her willingness to be open, vulnerable, and real at the retreat!  God moved in big ways for me and I’m so thankful for the team with Joy in the Journey for being faithful and hearing God’s call.  You truly have changed my life and the lives of my kids!  May the Lord bless you and keep you!

[Just as a side note, our son is doing tremendous now!  He is happy and bonded well to us.  He is no longer screaming through the night.  I love him dearly and can confidently say that I’m so thankful God blessed us with Him!]

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