We Must See Past What it Seems…..

After a dear friend telling me about a hurtful experience she’d had this week…..I began thinking again about a story I have told a few times….a story that my children will tell to their children, and maybe even beyond that… because it was such a learning experience in our family….maybe even a turning point…it’s a story that I think about often because we were the main characters in it 3 or 4 years ago, and even though it was something that lasted less than 15 minutes….it changed all of us….and now I see others differently, especially when it seems that they might be main characters in the same story…or one a lot like it. I used to be too embarrassed to tell this story….but I am not anymore. This is a human story that everyone needs to hear, I truly believe this…I hope you will stay with it, it’s kinda long.

As we move along…I want you to think about some of the big signs with big messages that I bet you wish you could wear around your neck sometimes so that people would be more gentle….or even that you could put around the neck of someone you love….so that you didn’t have to go into a big long story to defend yourself or someone else….so that people would just stop judging and and just be kind.

First, if you don’t know my history because you are brand new to Brave Girls Club…welcome welcome welcome! I need to start this story by giving you a little bit of background….. you see, my husband had an accident in 2004 that injured the frontal lobe of his brain……it has taken 6 years to get him back……but in the middle there, between 2004 and now…lots and lots of stuff happened. He was essentially out of it…but not just that….he changed to someone else, we lost him. His personality changed completely, he could not work, he was angry and depressed and could not cope with human beings.  He did not feel love or affection, really he only felt anger…rage…and he was suicidal most of the time. He did not remember a lot of things. He could not take care of our family or even himself, really……..(and I want to mention again that through lots of miracles, he is 100% recovered now…we are so thankful….he is even BETTER than he was before his accident)

But……during that time…..he would have these confusing and amazing glitches of time when he would be totally normal. It was bittersweet. They would last for an hour sometimes, and sometimes for days…or even weeks…then he would sink back down into that horrible place. When he was sick, I protected him fiercely. I didn’t want anyone to see him like that…I had faith that someday he would recover….but man oh man it was lonely…I wished every single day that I could just walk around with a sign like this….

….because on the outside…I looked like I had EVERYTHING GOING FOR ME…I looked like I might just have a perfect life….but I was hiding a very painful secret….

Well…a lot of other things happened too………you can imagine what might happen over the years while we have a 7 acre farm, a pretty big international business that we own with lots of employees…..a life that  HE managed before his accident, while he just let me do the fun and creative stuff….now we had lots of medical bills…lots of sorrow and lots of distractions……we also had LOTS of kids…..and no one competent managing the business…

Well…after a few years, I couldn’t hold it all together…our business was suffering for all of the reasons listed above and a few more reasons on top of that……..and we discovered that we were really SINKING. Well……one day when he was partly lucid….he was THERE…he was coherent….I told him the condition of our life.

He kind of panicked and he went straight to work figuring out what he could do. It was insanely heartbreaking when he would “wake up” after weeks or months and I had to tell him how much things were deteriorating financially, etc. It was very hard. But when he could, he did what he could….before his mental illness sucked him back into the prison it kept him in most of the time.

He called a sign place and had a huge sign brought out to our house…the kind that you can put letters on, and it was electric and lit up…….He put it by the road in one of our horse fields……then he drove our Suburban….both of our trucks….my classic Thunderbird that he got me for my birthday a few years earlier…..our tractor…all of our tractor implements…the boat that I worked 10 years to get for him (and that caused his brain injury, incidentally)……….and he lined everything up along the fence and he put a price tag on every single thing. Then, he put the letters on that big huge sign and plugged it in.

You have to understand that we had worked for MANY years for those things. We started a business in our twenties and we sacrificed everything we had for all of those years to make it work. We owned almost all of it outright…….but, when I told him that the business was struggling….this is what he did….

Sooooo…..there it was….all in a row……all of our stuff…..out in our field.

All of the neighbors driving by…our friends…the community…..people who knew us most of our lives and people who knew nothing about us…..we were just the young family who lived in that beautiful little farm house on Beacon Light road with the perfect lawn….or what USED to be.

You see, in addition…for months….our once beautifully manicured yard started to be filled with weeds that were now several feet high. I just couldn’t keep it up. The lawn was a nightmare. Everything was just falling apart all around me and my heart was broken over my husband, too. It was humiliating and exhausting and horrible, really.

Well, the sign was not up in the field for more than a few hours…….when my husband’s phone rang….it was someone who saw all the stuff and my husband’s phone number on the big huge sign. We were sitting out in the yard while he was still coherent and he was feeling devastated about the condition of our lawn…..I was apologizing that I just couldn’t do all of it………..he was so heartbroken at his limitations and that he had left me to try to handle our life alone……we were trying to make a plan…..

He answered his phone…I saw that he was just listening…I could hear that the person’s voice was getting louder and louder and louder………..my husband just listened. He turned his back to me a little so I wouldn’t hear. But I could hear it….It seemed to go on and on and on……..

These were the things I could hear on the other end of the phonecall….

“You are bringing down the value of my property with that ugly sign!”

“What are you doing?”

“That is the most obnoxious sign, do you have a permit to have that out there?”

“Are you starting a used car lot?”

“You have got to get all of that moved and out of here or I am calling the authorities”

I sat there, mortified, embarrassed, humiliated, mad, sad, devastated. I was certain that this would snap my husband back into his dark hellish place.

But, when the man was done ranting, my husband waited a second and then very calmly said something that I will never, ever forget…….

“Sir,” he said, “There was a time in this country, in this community…when if you drove past your neighbor’s house and saw every single thing they own was for sale in front of their house…and that their lawn had not been mowed for weeks….that you would stop and say….WHAT IS GOING ON, SOMETHING MUST BE TERRIBLY WRONG, WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP YOU?”

The man was silent…..and then my husband went on to tell him a few details about what was going on with our family….

The man waited a moment and then his tone changed…..he apologized….I mean, really apologized and then said…

“I am going to call all of my friends and see if any of them need any of this stuff….”

***************************************

I wish with everything in me that we could have put a sign up on that big stupid lit up billboard in our field that said OUR LIFE IS FALLING APART….  but all that we really could put up is a sign with the price of everything that we owned that was worth any money…….

WHAT IF we could all wear a sign that said what WE REALLY MEANT? What if we could go straight past the small talk……..or the masks…….and we could actually go straight to the heart of the matter…….what if our friends and family wore signs like this?

…we would treat each other differently.

I think we should just try to imagine it………that when a friend is quiet…or not showing up to stuff she usually shows up to….or acting a little “off”….or a family member is wearing pajamas to the grocery store for weeks on end……or not answering the phone…..or the lawn is not mowed…..

whatever it is……….

IT IS A SIGN. It is not a sign that can be read in words and letters, but it is a sign that someone needs to be treated gently…that they need help….most of all, that they need love, understanding…and that they DEFINITELY DO NOT need to be judged.

Every time I think of this story….I want to be better…I want to do better, I don’t want any silent signs to go unread before my eyes or my heart…..I don’t want to make up my own answers to what must be going on…I don’t want to assume………..

Let’s be gentle with each other.

Let’s read each other’s signs.

HAPPY NOVEMBER….so much to be thankful for!

xoxo

melody

Comments

  1. Sc says

    I’ve shared this post many times over. I’m currently living this out, my husband is not well. I wish those around us would see our signs. I pray that I would see the signs of those around me. Many people are hurting. This is a wonderful post! Reach out to your neighbors, your friends, coworkers, whatever…. They need your love and understanding more now than ever!

  2. SaharaViolet says

    Just seeing this in 2015 and its still such a well-written and important reminder. Thank you for writing your story and sharing this message. I am so glad to read your husband is doing well now too!

  3. says

    I read this post and just wanted to say how wonderful it is that you chose to share your story. I know from the personal experience of a loved one that a brain injury can be devastating and difficult to handle without all the financial burden you had to go through as well. Thank you for sharing a story that could help many others out there feeling alone and lost!

  4. Jamie says

    I don’t even know what to say. I’m glad you and husband and your family have found a better place in life and I’m so sorry you suffered such a huge struggle. I discovered BGC in Mary Jane’s magazine so I’m seeing you for the first time and it’s like being thrown a life jacket when you are drowning. I feel like I’ve been directed here for a reason. Thank you so much. I wish more people in the world had your compassion and inspiring spirit. I feel a warm glow inside, believe me that warm glow was much needed!

  5. Pauline M Moll says

    I just found this blog and thought I had something worth adding to it. Your story and life are heartbreaking and warming. Your message is on point as they say.

    I was misdiagnosed with a mental illness too many years ago. I had to give up a very nice job with a nice salary to match. I had to live with my children because I couldn’t take care of myself. Yet…..no one knew from my appearances that anything was wrong; even my children. A strong will, a strong denial helped me keep up the pretense that I was ‘normal’. It was very exhausting, very hard, very depressing.

    Since we discovered the true source of my problem, 95% of me is back to normal. So I still struggle because of the 5%.

    But my real story has to do with a day when all was well and I went to a Government office to straighten up a problem. The place was packed, the workers were not happy at all. Courtesy was not in the forefront of their demeanors. I watched as one customer after another ranted, raved and verbally beat upon the clerks that were assisting them. As I took my place at the counter, I received the same discourteous attention as everyone else. The clerk had to go to another file to get my paperwork and when he returned I commented that the place was a rat race and I could see how over burdened everyone was. It took but moments to complete my task, and the clerk was grinning as I left his counter. His composure and attitude had changed. That’s all it takes. Just pay attention, go beyond yourself and your needs.

    Do we need signs to tell how we’re doing….there are days like that but I think, more importantly, just like your neighbor that ranted, we need to observe what is going on around us to find those that need a little TLC. And the truly amazing part, is we feel better about ourselves and our problems.

  6. says

    When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several
    e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that
    service? Many thanks!

    • Kathy Wilkins says

      Hi, Selena – We are trying to figure out how to remove you from getting the notifications…we’re not sure how to do it, but we will sure try! XOXO kathy

  7. says

    Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was
    extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and
    say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but
    I’m still new to everything. Do you have any tips for beginner blog writers?

    I’d definitely appreciate it.

  8. Donna Gettys says

    At this time of year when most people are out Christmas shopping, visiting friends and loved ones, it hurts, but we just can’t this year. We are having so many problems in our lives that being happy is the furthest thing from our minds. I am glad to see a web site dedicated to the ones of us who can’t be happy, no matter how many happy carolers singing songs we hear, happy shopping commercials we see about Christmas and love and how many lights and trees brighten the streets and windows. God Bless everyone who wants, needs and cries to do more, but just can’t this time.

  9. Anne says

    Great usage of your experience. Seems like in todays society, the thinking is all about ones self. That others do not want to hear about any problems you may have, it’s not their business mentality. I truly believe that is where neighbors have lost one another. Thank you for the reminder.

  10. Pat says

    Thank you for your story.What an inspiration you are to your family and others. My husband passed on a few years ago and he too was in a place at times that were dark. He was in the hospital for 7 months, a nursing home for 2 and then due to come home in a few days, but went back to the hospital and then to the Lord instead. For such a wonderful man it was heartbreaking to watch and know how much it scared him when he would change. I am disabled, but somehow God gave me strength to visit him everyday and cheer him, accept the changes and then cope with the loss of him.Yes, I still cry, but thank God for the time I had with him and the wonderful memories,
    Yes, Everyone in this busy world should take a step back…ask what they can do without judging and ask themselves how they would want to be treated. It is easy to forget what others are going through and how they are feeling when we are not walking in their shoes. Many of the “do gooders” avoid the signs or justify not helping because they think that the “people could have done better or brought it on themselves, etc.” No one wants pain, some people can’t help themselves, and yes, we are our brother’s keeper, not just religion/food for the soul, but nourishment for the heart in kindness. Brotherly love feeds us too.

    Some people wear silent signs, some wear noticeable signs, some written signs, some boast their signs, Who am I to judge?
    I now am more aware of reading signs and know I don’t always have the whole story.

  11. Margarita says

    Thank you so much for sharing. Beautiful message. I have two daughters with special needs that “don’t look it” to the outsiders I am constantly being judged because of their behaviors and my inability to keep things together all the time.

    • Jillie Harkness says

      I know what you are going through as I too have a daughter with special needs. You are doing your best and well done. It is a thankless job you have and us mums should support each other. So I know you are doing your very best for your children and sometimes you get it wrong but not intentionally. Be kind to yourself and I want you to know that you are very loved.

      • Miss T says

        I take care of children with special needs so that their parents can have a breather. Jillie- it is a thankless job but I want you to know how much hard work, and dedication is put into your child’s life.
        hugs

  12. Jay says

    Thank you for this story. I can relate to it quite well, as my wife suffered an aneurysm rupture in the frontal lobe over three years ago. She is doing great now, with only some memory trouble. There were times I wish I’d had a sign that could tell people how I felt, but as you know, I just dealt with it the best I could.

  13. Claire says

    I read your Story via Daily Good. I simply LOVE it. Thank you so much for sharing your story with your authentic voice. My family is in a lonely place right now and looking from the outside the problems are not obvious, and even if known, may well not be understood, but rather judged.
    I too wish more people today would ask gently and speak from the heart. Blessings to you!

  14. Scottie Viall says

    I love this so much and this is so true. My sign would read, I was the little girl that was shifted from house to house and I just want to make life long friends that will build me up and stand beside me and not judge me and I can do the same.

  15. suzieque says

    Wished I saw this 3 years ago. it’s funny, even the ones close to us (neighbors, friends, family…) don’t see the signs or just choose not to. Thank you for sharing and not holding it in. We all go through life lessons and I think this is one everyone needs to read and hold onto.

  16. dana-from chaos to grace says

    Oh how I loved this. How I wish I could wear a sign that says exactly what we are going through. We have taken in 3 foster children , 2 with special needs, and I am struggling. Some days the oldest hates me and doesnt want a parent at all…..the treatments for the middle one can be so exhausting for me daily….and I dont know if the damage done by the baby’s birth mom to his brain will leave him mentally retarded and what if I cant handle it? That some days I am too exhausted to even cook dinner. Or that something will happen and we will lose these children I love so desperately. And that I am bitter at all my friends who have abandoned us when I needed them most. I am alone and I am angry no one has noticed or offered to help. :( It has changed me.

  17. Christie says

    Oh my goodness, I’m late to the party but just followed a link. Thank you thank you. This is beautiful. So so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  18. says

    Thank you.
    I am bawling my eyes out and reposting this on my blog.
    You just made my struggle seem easier.
    Thank you for having the courage to tell your story.

  19. Jessica Nelson says

    Thank you so much for sharing! It’s hard for us as women to admit at times that life isn’t perfect. It would be so much easier to wear a sign so people don’t judge us so harshly. I hope things are a little smoother for your family now.

  20. says

    Melody…Laurie sent the link to this post and I’m reading it for the first time today. I’m so torn…sorry for what your family went through – heartbroken for you, really. And thankful to God that he led you though it to a place where you are sharing your light to those of us who so need it. Much love to all of you.

    • says

      Hi Kathy and Melody. I am a Brave Girl from the first on line class and love love LOVED it and soooo appreciate the eexinston. However, I didn’t get to finish the last couple of weeks as life got CRAZY! I could jump to Session 2 but i’d rather totally complete Session 1 and then jump into Session 2. I remember seeing an email a while back that said there would be a discount for those of us that didn’t quite complete our session but at the time I really thought that I could do it! So here I am wanting to finish Session 1 and get every last drop of the goodness .are you still making that discount available? If I could only finish it then I would feel more comfortable signing up for Session 2. Please let me know at your earliest convenience. God bless all the wonderful things that you ladies are doing. You ARE making a difference one Brave Girl at a time! Susan

  21. kes says

    I keep coming back to this post and sharing it with friends. It really helped me when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer to be honest with my friends and family about how I was truly feeling. Thank you for writing and sharing your story.

  22. says

    Thank you so much for this post! My daughter, 17 at the time, was in a car, stopped at a light when she was rear-ended by someone going greater than 50 mph. The resulting brain injury has taken her love for music, her love for people and replaced it with suspicion and distrust. It left her with bipolar illness which was unmasked and brought into an active state, PTSD in which she lives with horribly vivid images of her loved ones being tortured and murdered before her eyes. It took her active social life, and left her with the inability to form relationships. Although she has improved cognitively, she struggles to hold a job because of her lack of social skills. In the time since the accident, her 2 younger brothers were also diagnosed with mental illess, one of whom is severely handicapped from it. Our finances are in a shambles, our home is falling apart, and I can;t tell anyone because they do not understand the toll that mental disease brings.. Now my daughter is away at school, has gone off her meds, and accuses everyone else of being against her and not understanding or caring for her. All I see is her facebook posts of how she hurts and has “nowhere to turn”. My heart continues to break, and I wonder if the pain will ever go away.

  23. Tia says

    Thank you so much for sharing!! I wish we all could wear signs like this. People would understand us better and we wouldn’t have to guess what’s wrong with others and would never judge. Thank you for sharing your story because I know that took a lot of humility to share and it’s a great reminder to all of us! I’m SO glad to hear your husband got better. What a miracle. I’m hoping to investigate the blog to learn more about what happened and how he healed. Thanks again!

  24. Debbie says

    My husband was diagnosed with brain cancer in September. My yard is a mess and the kids are devastated because dad cannot remember their names. Our finances are a disaster area and soon I will be a widow. I can relate to this blog entry more than anyone should ever have to. Maybe I should just wear a sign.

  25. Norma says

    Melody, thanks for sharing this. I love it. I know in my family there are so many things we deal with that sometimes it’s overwhelming but I thank God for His guidance. I hope that I treat people with kindness and that others forgive me when I have not done so. We need to be better about reading each other’s signs. It will make such a BIG difference in our lives. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Loretta says

    Melody
    I found this posted on a friend’s wall on FB. Tears poured down my face as I read your story and continued as I read other similar stories your readers posted. Your husband’s words to the caller were so true. Whatever happened to neighbor’s, friend’s or family members helping each other?

    The message from my Church this past weekend was about a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes which included things we say about others that are judgmental, not reaching out, especially not reading the signs. I want to share two verses that I hope will inspire others to ask God this question, “Who do you want to love through me today?

    Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
    Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)

    For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.
    Mark 10:45 (NLT)

    Thank you for being an inspiration and blessing to many. You are truly courageous!

    God bless you and your family.

  27. Jenn says

    thank you so much for this post. for opening up your heart for us all to see. i know so many of us (each of us, i’m sure!) have felt the desire to post a huge sign, but we put on that “i’m ok” mask. thank you, and God bless you.

  28. heart broken says

    Last spring at 39 I had a heart attack. My husband “dealt” with this by having an affair(s) with other men. In addition to this my career fell apart and resulted in the lose of my job this fall. I am hopeful that soon a light will shine and brighten my path toward change. Right now it seems dark.

  29. Jenni Whitney says

    Hi, Melody, I know what it feels like to go around in a haze. Last year, I had knee surgery, and while I was still in rehab, my little sister-who was almost like a twin to me and the light of my life-died in her sleep. I came home 3 days later and discovered my brother had talked my mother-who I live with and take care of-into moving. Now, I still take care of my mother, but had to give up the dog I’d had for 6 years and between missing my dog and even more, my sister, I live in a state of depression nobody seems to understand.

  30. Juli says

    This post really hit home for me. My Aunt and Uncle live on a beautiful farm in Northern Michigan. A couple of years ago my uncle was using one of those old fashioned plows that is pulled by horses in the field. A wheel hit something and it flung him from the plow. He landed on a rock on his head. He was in a coma for over four months. When he came to he had to go through intensive physical and brain therapy to re-learn many things. He couldn’t walk or talk. My aunt took him to the best clinics in the state, but money began to dwindle. Over the last year and a half he has been able to improve his speech and retreive many of his old memmories, but he still struggles with walking, and really any muscle movement. It takes a lot of patience and concentration to understand what he says even now. My aunt and uncle also like you, have many kids (8!). They are all grown and out of the house. The ones that still live in the state help when they can, but my Aunt is left to everything most of the time. She hardly ever gets out of the house. She has many frusterating days still. He goes in and out of his oldself, still. He calls her by his ex-wife’s name now and again, too. It has been very hard on our family. I agree with you – people need to be loved and helped, not judged. Many people don’t have a clue the amount of pain and suffereing that goes on, and how much energy it takes to even just get through one day sometimes. I constantly find myself just wishing for my old uncle back, but I’ve realized that he is still there and that loving him now is even more important than ever. I hope my aunt finds peace in her life and that people step up and give her the breaks she needs. She is not good about asking for help. I live 6 hours away, so I wish I could help more….
    Thanks for your words.
    ~ Me ~

  31. Beth says

    LOVE this. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes…”Be kind – Remember every one you meet is fighting a battle – everybody’s lonesome”.
    Marion Parker

  32. Debbie Vds says

    Wow! I am going through the same thing. My husband of 33 years had a severa stroke in January and he cannot do a thing. I now have 5 acres to manage and finances to manage and his mother as well. The help of friends is slowing down. I am trying to manage this on my own because I don’t want to drag anyone else into my nightmare. My prayers are being heard, I have that faith, but nothing is changing yet. I should wear a sign that says, “Be patient with me please. My husband is ill and needs all of my attention.”

  33. Terri says

    I found my way to your post via a friend’s link on FaceBook. When life directs me to somewhere, I pay attention. And, tonight the angels directed me to your post. I so felt your emotional pain as I read your story. And, as many others have stated “I too had a journey” that caused the need for signs.
    My oldest brother died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 62. Saddened, I forged on in my life. A year and a half later, one of my sisters died within two weeks of being diagnosed with cancer throughout her body. She was only 57. Deeply saddened and full of grief, I pushed myself to function and find normality with my life. It seemed that was easier than finding people who could be with me and my grief.
    Then just two and a half years later, my other brother died suddenly of a heart attack. He also was 62 at the time of his death. Devastated and grief stricken, I could not push on. I sequestered myself in my home alone. Too raw and vulnerable to function in the world. Sure I’d grocery shop and walk the dogs, but then hide the rest of the time. No words can describe how hard it is to function when your world seems to be crumbling around you. I know from your honest sharing of your post that you truly understand this.
    It’s now one year later and I can be grateful for the friends who saw my signs. There were just a few, but that’s all it took to keep me feeling safe and loved. I simply could not have gone on without them.
    Blessings to all the loving people in the world who care enough to step out of self and notice what a friend is going through. Once you notice, just share your love and they will be grateful you read their signs.

  34. says

    Thank you. Everyone suffers from something and usually nobody knows. Thank you for being an example of how to overcome. My husband suffers from a pornography addiction and nobody knows. I hope to be an example of hope and show that happiness and healing are possible again just as you are too all your readers.

  35. says

    Thank you, thank you. I am so very humbled to have read this story. and wanted to say that I know it will continue to touch thousands…even millions. That is the power for GOOD in the internet. Our congregational leader here in Connecticut/NY shared it when we met together a few Sundays back, and at least a thousand hearts were touched by your beautiful writing. I am so grateful to a friend who shared this with me, and I will now be a faithful reader of your powerful writing.
    May God hold you in His Grace and may you feel strength in the tough times. You are quite simply, amazing.
    An east Coast reader,
    Keri

  36. Chelsea says

    i was inspired by your story. :) it made me cry. Thanks for sharing your story it gives me courage to go on and face the challenges in life. i hope i can be that strong like you and i promised i will try for the sake of my mom and my siblings. please continue to inspire other people, i think God has a better plan for us in the future and I believe that God will never give us challenges that we can never survive, Let us keep our faith in God and all shall be well. Amen. God Bless You always and your Family. :)

  37. Terry says

    I’m crying like a baby reading this because ironically, the one person in my life that I though would see my signs posted this on her fb page and therefor I’ve now seen it, you see, she always over looked my signs since we were in grade school, I was always the listener never allowed to be the talker. Not long ago I finally told her what I’d held in all those years, it was always about her, she’s completely narcisstic and she’s caused pain in every relationship she’s had.
    It was all my fault of course and I was being evil and mean… just for finally telling her what I’d held in for 25+ years…
    Perhaps she’s changing, perhaps she’s growing as a human being, I certainly hope so, I hope she can FINALLY see and appreciate that other people have their own little signs…
    Thank you for putting this out there & God Bless!
    Terry

  38. says

    A Dear friend sent me this link and remind me to send her a thank you gift becasue it was so beautiful to read! Best post of the year that I have ever read! Thank you so much for this beautiful insight! Life changing!

  39. Common Sense Mom says

    Beautiful story. In this narcisstic, “me me” culture we live in it has become the norm to focus inward. Thank you for the reminder to look outward with a spirit of grace and generosity. We would all be healthier and happier if we would stop the automatic reaction of putting ourselves first.

  40. Liss says

    Saw this a while ago. Really hit home for me. Posted it to Facebook today for others to read. You are SO strong and amazing and express your feelings so well in writing. Thank you. I have felt this way a lot in the past few years, dealing with infertility + miscarriages and postpartum depression among other things. Sometimes we all need a sign so people will treat us more gently.

  41. says

    Hi Melody,

    I was just sent this post by you. It made me cry. Understanding that I went through a brain & spinal cord injury also. It has been an amazing journey to come back from, one that has taken many years and so much tenacity. I knew that if I just kept going that one day things would change, I would be able to do the things that were lost wandering someplace in my brain. I recently made an e book about the amazing miracles that happened along the way. There were many ups and downs along this journey, still have blips every so often yet I choose to write about the miracles. It felt as if it might have the ability to help others and inspire people to as you said, “be gentle” with one another. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    Divine Blessings,
    Debbie

  42. Cheryl Scarborough says

    Excellent! YES! YES! YES! We there was just some way to get this out to the world!!!!!
    THANKS FOR SHARING and I will Certainly SHARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  43. Donna says

    I read your blog yesterday for the first time and really appreciated it. I shared it on my FB because I think people need to remember that everyone has something going on in their lives. I believe in treating others as you would want ot be treated regardless of what you think of them and this post reminds us of that. Then tonight I saw a video that made me think back to this blog … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyX-I-um5Kk Its “Beautiful Heartbreak” and talks about how heartbreak and trials we face and cope with make us stronger and who we are. Very inspiring when you are down and need a lift. The artist is Hilary Weeks and this is on her new CD that just released today. People need us to see past our exterior and see our hearts … I wish we could all do that. People being willing to open up and share their stories as well as artists like Hilary help lift all of us who are facing trials.

  44. Mia says

    What a beautiful story with beautiful characters. I sit here with big tears rolling down my cheek because your story hits home in many differnt levels. Thank you for the reminder that everyone has something going on in their lives that we may not know about and to be more gentle and aware with one another.

    Just recently, our neighbor noticed that our lawn was becoming overgrown and taken over with weeds, he took it upon himself to mow it for us. This came at a time where my husband has been working a lot of overtime in efforts of making up for my lost wage; I had just recently been laid off. My awakening, which your story has pointed out is that, I need to say thank you, I mean, I thought it in my head at the time, I thought, “Wow that was really nice of him”, but I didn’t thank him personally. Which I should. I need to be more grateful to these kinds of gestures as they are becoming a rarity in this day and time. Thank you, you have inspired me in more ways then one, even when it comes to me being on the flipside of the moral of the story.

  45. Aubrey says

    Wow! I honestly don’t even know what to say. My friend shared this blog with me, and can I tell you that this came at a very needed time! I’ve been struggling with some personal things for a long time. Nothing real major, but have been feeling a lot like what you said. If I could just wear a sign around my neck, and let people know what we are really going through. Maybe they’d understand. Maybe we could all be a little nicer, a little more understanding to those around us.
    I just really want to thank you for sharing this story. I can’t imagine what all you and your family have had to go through these past years. From reading this one post, I can tell that you’ve grown so much through it all. Thank you for being “Brave”, and sharing with all of us these amazing stories! I know many lives are being strengthened from your words, and your own personal life stories. God Bless you and your family!

  46. Margriet Smit says

    Wow. I think that you are a Godsend to all of us reading your post; you have been courageous enough to share your life.
    Thank you for waking me up to try to recognize the needs of others. We live in such a busy world that we miss out on “loving on our neighbour”.
    Amen to your story.

  47. April Smith says

    Thank you so much for your inspiring story. I do believe this wholeheartedly. If only we knew what the circumstances were…However, why must we judge and have so much of an opinion about other people’s lives. It is truly disheartening to me to hear so much unacceptance of others. We are all different…I truly admire stories like this which can be far reaching. Thank you so much for sharing.

  48. bethany says

    Thank you. My husband has been away for awhile and I’ve felt the strain and burden it puts on us and on me. I love what you have said and it has helped me to be better too.

  49. Anne Rodes Colee says

    What an amazing story!
    In 1974, when I was 20 years old, I had a stroke. I was totally paralyzed on my right side.
    I had to relearn to walk & talk, a process that would take months and years. My stroke definitely took a hit on my personality and intelligence too, for a few years. Back then, I was sometimes taken aback by the number of people who made assumptions about me. Some of these were: that I must be a drug addict to have a stroke at such a young age, that I was really lucky to have a husband who would stick by me after a stroke, and that if I just loved Jesus enough he would reach down from heaven and cure me from my ailment just as he had for some reason become displeased enough with my behavior to reach down and smite me with said ailment in the first place;) The TRUTH is that I’m not a drug addict, I did have a heart disease, for a few months which was the direct cause of my
    stroke, my husband didn’t even meet me until a few years after the stroke and I don’t believe in a God that makes bad things happen to people because he is upset with them.
    I’ve had a number of hardships in my life but I’ve recognized that my blessings more than balance out my hardships. I have a wonderful husband, children, grandchildren, siblings
    and parents. I have a number of other blessings. But people never know what other individuals are going through, at any given time.

  50. Bonnie Winward says

    This blog was amazing!!!
    People really have a hard time with what they can’t see! I am so sorry that that happened to you!
    I want to say I kind of understand what that is like I am just the opposite side of the story.
    I am a 23 year old girl and on November 17, 2005 I was in a car accident. I was in a coma for 2 1/2 weeks. I damaged the right side of my brain. When I woke up from the coma I lost control of my whole left side. I worked really hard and got my left side back, but I must say it still is a little weak, and now I have epilesy.
    I do wish people would take a step back and get to know someone before they judge them. I loved how your husband didn’t get angry at the man that was just getting angry at him. I loved how he just opened that man’s eyes, and made it so the man would do anything to help you both! I am so happy you wrote this… I hope alot of people read it!
    Something that really made me get up and get out…Something that I love to do is work with a dance group that has down syndrome. I have been doing this for awhile. Seeing and working with people with down syndrome really opens your eyes! They are so amazing!! They really know how to touch your heart! They know that they have a disability, but it’s like they are just happy to be alive. It makes you realize that you just need to take a step back, be kind, and just be happy you are alive! Being a person with a disability and working with people with a disability makes you just want to take a step back and be happy to be around such happy amazing people.
    I am sorry that you have had to go through having your husband having suicidal thoughts!! :”( I have got to say I have had that experience myself and I don’t know what it is like for the opposite person. I just know that I called my mom and slept at her place the night I was having those. I am just really sorry you had to go through that!! I am also really sorry my mom had to go through that!
    I also found it interesting how you said that your husbands head injury changed him. My head injury change me also! :) I like to say that it changed me for the better!
    You are such a strong amazing woman!! I really look up to the people who can manage people with Tramatic Brain Injuries!!! We look completely normal, yet we have such a hard time doing specific things! It is to bad that we can’t wear things around our neck explaining to people what we are going through! Pretty much all head injuries are different too! It would make life at least a tiny bit more easy!
    I loved your blog!!
    Good luck with everything!
    Love,
    Bonnie

  51. says

    I hope that you don’t mind, but I based one of my blog posts about this story. It really hit home with me. I used to spend a great deal of time feeling really angry at the people who don’t want to include my son…even family does it. We spent a week with family this summer and they were showing off photos that they took from the reunion….not a single picture of my son in the batch…after an entire week spent with him. There were plenty of my other two children, just none of him. It broke my heart to see him so carelessly omitted.

    I am working hard to let go of my hard feelings and trying to remember that sometimes the sign some people need to wear is “I’m ignorant. I can’t help it. I was born this way.”

    http://365happythings.blogspot.com/2011/09/273-whats-your-sign.html

  52. says

    That was one of the most amazing and poignant stories I’ve ever heard. It truly touched me because my son is autistic and while the public is becoming more aware of autism and Aspergers, people still treat him differently…even my inlaws…and family is supposed to be the one place where we’re all accepted. Sometimes I wish that he could wear a sign that said “I’m autistic. I’m also brilliant and funny and I want friends so badly, but don’t know how to approach people. I spent most social situations sitting alone wishing someone would invite me to join in the fun.”

  53. Kelli says

    A friend sent me this link in response a post I put on face book saying much the same thing with out all the personal details. Your story has touched me because as I read on I could think of all the times people have made assumptions about me and if they really knew the details they would respond differently. I hope and pray that God gives me the wisdom and insight to see the secret signs o others wear so that I may be more gentle in my response and offer an shoulder to cry on or a word of encouragement. .Thank you for your humility to share your story! I am so glad that it ended well!

  54. Stacy Wilson says

    Thanks so much for this. I wish I could wear a sign. My husband has a mental illness and he too goes through swings of non-functioning leaving me to run the business he owns plus I have a small business of my own. Not to mention the house, yard, kids and everything in between that I am sure you are well aware of. On top of all the actual things that need to get done in a day it’s the emotional weight. The part where you have lost your friend, the fact that you are holding up and holding together so many things but feel like there is no one around to hold you up or pick up the pieces if you happen to let one slip. We used to live in the star area and have recently moved….the one person who actually knew what was going on and I didn’t have to put a mask on for is now hundreds of miles away and I truly miss being able to let my guard down and let my true colors show and the tears flow. I truly wish I could wear a sign – not for pitty or so anyone will say “wow, look at all she does” but just so that I don’t have to feel so guilty when I can’t do EVERYTHING, that I don’t have to feel bad that I can’t also do the school fundraisers and a lot of “extra” stuff. Others look in and say – she is a stay at home mom with 3 kids…why can’t she do it. They don’t see that I am already doing EVERYTHING and I just wish somedays I could wear a sign.

  55. says

    This was SO powerful…and it gave me more resolve. I have been trying to do this more lately. It gets hard sometimes when you really CAN’T help someone more than to just listen. Your heart breaks for them over and over and OVER again. Thank you so much for being vulnerable…opening yourself up and allowing people to feel for you. Compassion is a wonderful compass, and when all else fails it can point you in the right direction. =)

  56. says

    You have a lot of comments so I don’t know if you will read this but thank you for sharing this. It is interesting when we come across things in life at just the time we need it.

    Have you heard of The Four Agreements. When you talked about not assuming anymore I thought of The Four Agreements. It is a book and philosophy. I listened to it and it is a serious life changer. It seems like it is in line with what you are doing now.

    Anyways, thanks again.

  57. Nicole Recht says

    Thanks for the inspiring story. It’s actually really motivational. I myself have been really sick. I live on my own right now and haven’t had the strength to take care of my apt. so needless to say it is pretty disgusting. People who know me would know that something is wrong when I haven’t vacuumed or done the dishes in days but the people who don’t see this messy apt and think, Wow that is nasty! It hurts because it is not who I am and unfortunately everyone judges a person by appearances of themselves and of there possessions. I have friends who won’t even come over ever again because of it.
    I have started recovering and finally cleaning my apt. So it actually looks pretty decent right now. It still hurts that my friends think so negatively of my apt. even though I have explained the situation to them they still are hesitant about coming over.
    Luckily I do have those friends who actually have come over at times just to help me. those are true friends.
    Thanks again for the great inspirational story and I am so happy to hear that your husband has recovered, Congratulations on that and on being so strong in the whole situation.

  58. Kristen says

    Wow, just wow. How much EVERYONE in this world needs this right now. I shared it on my FB and I hope that EVERYONE I know does the same and that EVERYONE reads it. Wow. Thank you.

  59. Holly Bowen says

    Great story and thought! I learned this lesson as well and of course it feels like the hard way. My little son died 7 years ago. I remember looking at people and wondering if they could tell by looking at me that my heart was broken. And then I thought if people can’t tell that I am bleeding on the inside by looking at my outside, what pains are they suffering from that I can’t see? It has made me a better person and much more gentle with my fellow man.

  60. Shawnie says

    Oh. My. WOW. Thank you for sharing and being so transparent!

    After our son died I remember telling my husband, I just want to put up a big sign that said, “My life has stopped right now and right now I feel like the whole world should stop right along with me. But everyone keeps going about their business like life is great! It’s not and it sucks!” There were times that someone would say something or do something and I just wanted to scream, “I’m going through a lot right now, I just buried my son!” Someone would honk their horn when I was vegging out at a stop light and I wanted to throw my car in reverse and run them over or get out and give them an ear full.
    I know I’m not alone! I know that each and every one of us has a story of when life just sucked.
    This is just a reminder that while that period in my life may be over, someone else is going through it right now.
    Thanks for the reminder, this story touched me more than you will ever know. I appreciate ever word you wrote and the pouring out of your heart.
    I run a MOPS group at my church and I forwarded this to them, I think this is an important part of our ministry – We Must See Past What It Seems!!!
    Thank you fromt he bottom of my heart!

  61. Michelle says

    This story is beautiful and moving. I love your message and I’m so grateful that you’re telling it. Thank you for the reminder.

    I also wanted to compliment you on your writing and the artisitc way that you illustrated this story. Its gorgeous! Did you come up with the concept for the photos? Did you take the photos yourself? I’m so impressed with all of it.

    I’m going to be thinking about this story all day- hopefully I’ll be thinking about it always.

  62. Fran McDonald says

    We had a similar event in our family. After my husband & I were married about three years, my father, brother and brother’s friend were in a horrible automobile accident. An eighty-something year old man swerved into their lane on a 2-lane road and hit them head on. Brother’s friend died, brother had scratches, cuts, bruises & Dad had a horrific head injury.
    He was in intensive care for a month with bleeding ulcers & a trach. He didn’t know us in the beginning. He couldn’t speak because of the injuries, had lost much of his memory and when he tried to speak it was gibberish. Finally after a month they moved him into a 4 bed room. The doctor said he wanted the 3 other men in there in case they needed to call someone for my dad. He was in that room for over another month.
    My parents had a small hardware store that the two of them ran by themselves. My husband took some time off from work & my adopted brother (not the one in the hospital) took vacation time and the two of them ran the store for a week so my Mom could be at the hospital during the days.
    The man who ran into them had died at the wheel. We found out that he had had so many accidents that his wife & family had taken everything out of his name except a small insurance policy (the smallest amt. for bodily injury allowed by law in our state). They knew this would eventually happen. They thought he had a heart attack while driving. Three wives were left in a terrible situation because this family chose to let that reckless old man continue to drive. I wife was a widow. My brother’s wife just had to take care of him until he could heal up from his injuries. My mother & I had to take care of my dad for the rest of his life. The accident was in 1969. My dad lived until 1991. He never spoke more than a few words, never could work again, or drive. He had to take medication for seizures that started with the severe head injury. My mother had terribly high hospital & doctor bills and the three parties split the very small insurance payment 3 ways. Mom had to work and pay off the rest of those bills. She hired a retired man to help her at the store part-time & when dad was able she took him to the store so he could sit there with her while she worked.
    The rest of us had jobs as well and had to work.
    It was hard to have to explain to strangers why he couldn’t speak. It was harder to hear people make fun of him because of the sounds he made when he did speak. There was much heartache for our family. I worked during the day at my job & helped Mom at night by paying the bills for the store & balancing the checkbook for her.
    She and I took turns taking him to doctors, etc. but the load was on her shoulders. She took him to church every Sunday. She made sure he was in his Sunday School class. The men in the class were so kind & good to him. I praise God for them.
    When he died she thanked God for letting him live as long as he did so she wouldn’t be alone. We finally moved her in with us after she had a stroke.
    This life can be so hard and some people make it harder. I’m so thankful that the Lord carried us through those hard times & pray that people will be kinder to one another but even people who profess to be Christians say harsh things they shouldn’t. Please, remember Jesus’s golden rule!
    Fran McDonald

  63. TheCheecher says

    I just read a story about a young man who killed himself because he was bullied for being bisexual. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering this poor child endured, so much so that he felt he had to end his life. My heart aches for people like this, people who have so much turmoil in their lives and who are trying so hard to make things look “normal” on the outside when their insides are anything but…

  64. ilona says

    If I wore a sign around my neck it would read:

    “I NEED FRIENDS”

    Two years ago I lost my dream job and since I could not find a new job for over a year, I decided to have my third baby and stay home caring for him.

    I had a handful of close friends two years ago.

    Two friends have moved far away. One friend got engaged and dropped of the face of the planet. My last good friend got sucked into working 60 hour weeks and has no time to be a friend anymore.

    So I have no friends.

    I have family. I have my DH. I have my children.

    But not one single friend. It feels shameful sometimes. I always had friends. I was a sorority girl in college, after college I always was surrounded by people.

    Now I find myself without friends. It’d painful. It’s sad sometimes. It is something that I must change in my life as friendship is so valuable and without it life is not as colorful as it should be.

    So if you have friends who color your life, be thankful for them. I never thought I would be in this situation. But I have learned to appreciate and when things change I will change too.

  65. Amy says

    Thank you!!! I have teardrop in my eyes from what you went through. I have a lump in my throat because I can identify with this in so many ways, I have a chronic illness that is not notable on the outside and so many people can be less than kind. God bless you and your family!

  66. says

    Thank you so much. I have a neurological condition that has made me lose normal functions. The big one for me has been bladder control. I had “accidents” in high school and was made fun of… But it was something I could never learn to control. I got a catheter after that and it was embarrassing to wear because people would ask about it. I since then have had surgery and use disposable catheters. I still have issues from time to time but now I think I know how to handle it. Be who us am and share it :)

  67. Carolyn says

    When my husband passed away of cancer, my daughters were 11 and 14. I remember going about my days wondering what people would think if they knew what this pleasant, seemingly put together person had just gone through. Then it made me think of all the people I see who seem to be pleasant and put together and the bottom has dropped out of their world and no one would ever know by just looking at them. Thanks for sharing your story!

  68. Monique O. from Canada says

    I’m so glad you re-posted this. It was an awesome reminder of what we all need to remember (be gentle, everyone is going through something). Thank you for sharing your personal story with us. xoxoxo

  69. Lynn says

    What a incredibly inspirational post! Thank you so much!! There was also something very familiar about your story when I realized you were the the woman my friend Bev spoke to me about several years ago after meeting with you. You have touched more people than you could know. God Bless you .

  70. Lindsy says

    I found this post through The Bloggess. It brought me to tears. I am going through hell right now, and my life has fallen apart and I am picking up the pieces. I wish I could wear a sign like that. Thank you for sharing.

  71. says

    Wow. I am humbled. This made me weep.

    When I was a teenager, many, many moons ago, I came up with this expression for myself: “Everyone has a story.” It was a way to remind me when I was frustrated with someone or angry, to take a breath and remember there is a person there with their own full life that may be affecting their actions in ways I can’t imagine. I know I haven’t always used it as oft I should but your story has reminded me to pull it out more now than ever.

    I’m sorry for your hardship and wish you peace.

  72. says

    Dear Heart,
    By the time I finished reading this beautiful post, I was sobbing like a baby. It is so true, you never know what is going on with others – we are more alike than we are different – everyone has problems – things they are dealing with – thank you for your wonderful inspirational story that reminds us all to walk a little softer and to be a little kinder. You all are certainly in my prayer jar…… may things continue to improve, I have a wonderful feeling they will, your love has surly been the conqueror…… blessings and love to you and your family, xo Karen

  73. Monica Nation says

    I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your blog. I seen it on a friends Facebook page and decided to take a peek at it. I couldn’t stop reading it and before I knew it I was looking for the tissue box. I myself have dealt with A LOT of pain and suffering due to a vehicle accident my husband was involved in (when he was 18 years of age) He is now 37 and it is still effecting us ALL. We have 5 children and it’s been very difficult. I’m going to show him your blog. I am sure he feel’s he’s the only man in the world going through this… He will see there are other people far away dealing with greater problem’s and they have overcome them. I’m going to share your Blog with my friends as well as on my blog (I hope you don’t mind)

    Thanks again,
    Monica

  74. Cynthia Jackson says

    I am sorry for what you and your family have gone/and are going through but thank you for this wonderful lesson that we all need to learn…I know I need to learn it,so I thank you!God bless you and your family!{{{HUGS}}}

  75. Hannah says

    Melody,
    A friend of mine just posted this on my FB today (September 2011), and at first she thought I might have even written it – until she got deeper into your story! My husband was in a severe car accident nearly four years ago, and also has a brain injury. Part of his frontal lobe is dead, and he is now blind in one eye, and has no taste or smell. I thank God he is even still with me! We still struggle too though. Fortunately he still has most of his personality, but he is still a changed man. He too has trouble with understanding “why,” and anger, temper control. I am waiting for the day when the Lord will heal him, whether it’s on this earth or when we get to heaven! Selfishly I hope it will happen here, and now! I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to the place you’re at, but with the Lord’s help we get by day by day! Thank you for your understanding and your encouraging words. You’re still affecting people, even months after you’ve written this!

  76. Gisele Vincent-Page says

    30 years ago when AIDS was considered the scurge of our society and certain groups of sinful people, my husband died. People certainly had their “suspicions” and when I heard ïf you need something, let me know”.. I smiled politely, because all I felt from them was politeness. They didn’t actually want to get involved.

    Helping isn’t about me making you a cup of coffee and satisfying your curiosity. With 3 children, I needed real help with housekeeping, laundry, grocery shopping, meal preparation and then when I see that you are as strong as I have to be, maybe I’ll trust you with the pains of my heart.

  77. Susie says

    This is my first ever blog post. I’ve discovered that life is rarely what it seems. That people are judged unfairly. That emotional trauma is a daily part of life. When I sit in a crowd of people who all seem so normal and together – I realize that many of them are carrying burdens heavier than mine. As hard as I try to put on a brave face, to keep it together, to keep up with what needs to be done, to appear strong for those around me; it is just a mask – an illusion. I am crumbling inside and it would take no more than the breeze from a butterly wing to make it all come crashing down inside and around me. Is it the emotional pain and turmoil that causes the physical pain and exhaustion? Or the other way around?? Is there really a light at the end of this tunnel, or will I just move from this into another long, dark, hopeless journey? My sign would say: Please pray for me as I don’t have the faith or the strength to pray for myself.

  78. Holly Linden says

    I am blown away by this. Have never been to your blog before. My husband posted this on his FB wall. So I ended up here… in tears. I’ve been making signs in my head… for myself… and for loved ones. One of mine reads ” My beautiful three year old daughter is the only kid in a wheelchair at her preschool.” You are an amazing human being. Thank you for this incredible post.

  79. Alexis says

    Wow. I am left completely speechless and full of tears. Thank you. Just thank you so much for reminding us all that life is so precious.

    xoxox

  80. Marsha says

    I have very little that I can actually call my own, but, if there is anything that I have that would help you, you can have it all. Very articulate and well told. We all have a story (or a sign)!

  81. Susan Dobie says

    Got linked to this through the Bloggess site. I sure hope that things are a lot better for you now. I suffered a head injury in 2002–not nearly as bad as your husband’s though. (We call it my “tragic mammogram accident.”—email me back if you’re curious) Sometimes I just have to be reminded how truly lucky I am that I have so few “lingering” effects from it. This blog did that for me just now. All I have is a bit of Aphasia, occular migraines, slightly diminished IQ, occasional vertigo, and oddly enough, when printing I now dot my i and j before writing the lower part. Yes, I can force myself not to do that, but it is what comes natural now. Thanks for reminding me that I can still dance, write, enjoy my first grandchild and generally function. I was having a day where I needed that.

  82. Lynellekw says

    I came to you through the Bloggess, and I wanted (like a lot of others, it seems) to say thank you… I had a brain abcess about a year & a half ago that I recovered pretty well from, but between that & a history of Crohns Disease I’ve had to get comfortable with dealing with and/or explaining my limitations. I ignore anyone who gives me dirty looks when I walk out of a disabled toilet, I ignore anyone (including my mother) who seems put out when I decline to eat something, if I don’t have the energy to do something then I rest and when my boss told me this week that some of the other managers had commented that my attention to detail was less than great I told him I wasn’t surprised. I try not to play the “I’ve been UNWELL, you know” card too often, and if there’s something I can’t do I tell people with confidence. I don’t want to be afraid of my problems, and I don’t want to waste my energy hiding them. And I try to be a little gentle with people even when it looks like their problems are smaller than mine… because I know that we can’t really ever see how big other’s problems are.

  83. Diana Washburne says

    We are so practiced at making it look like we are coping, smiling past the pain, keeping things normal for our children, stomping firmly on the rising panic because we just know we cannot, cannot handle so many crises all at once and yet we must, and do, somehow, except the yard goes wild and the laundry piles up and the dust bunnies take over the house…
    My husband lost his job, went deep inside himself and changed into a man I did not recognize – seven kids heading to college…and you smile and plod on and at the other end of the tunnel you look back in wonder that you did it after all.
    Without my girlfriends I am not sure I would have made it!
    I would wear the sign – be gentle

  84. says

    This post could not have come to me at a better time in my life. It was there when I needed it. I found in this post, someone who understands and who has “been there.” You see, my husband left me a week ago tomorrow. We have been married for just two years (together for four) and we have two children together. Emmi is three and Bessa is just two and a half months old. He has been there nearly every day of his daughters lives and then just leaves. We built a life together and it meant nothing to him. He started cheating on me 10 months ago and I never knew it. I knew he had a one night affair when we split before but he told me it was over and that he’d never see her again. Everything he ever told me was a lie. Everything. I found out that I was living with a complete stranger for years. My heart is in pieces and even though I tell the same stories, I can tell that people feel bad but they just don’t get it.

    You, however, know. You had to be the everything to everyone on your own even though your husband was right there. It’s a different situation but very much the same. He was my everything and he ripped himself away from me when I least expected it (especially since the night before he left, he told me how in love with me he was). I was blindsided. It’s been a week and even though I’m still sad about it, I realize that he made his choice and there’s nothing I can do about it. He even went so far as to change his cell phone number so that I can no longer contact him. It kills me to know that he will never be there for the daughters that he loved so much. We’ve been abandoned. Worst. Feeling. Ever… This post gave me hope. I needed that. Thank you.

  85. Stephanie says

    My husband passed away last year after 9 years battling a frontal lobe tumor. I can’t tell you the number of times I wish we’d all had signs we could wear. Thank you for this beautiful post.

  86. Helen says

    After finding out that a friend of mine passed yesterday morning, mid-30’s, I was having one of those ah-ha moments that little things like the silly things our husbands (or other people) do, don’t really matter. Also that we don’t know what each day holds for us, so we have to live each one for the best. Then another friend that knows nothing of my friend from school had this posted on her FB page. It really hit home for me. No matter what we are going through, there are others that are going through more. We all need to look outside of our “bubbles” and look for how we can help others.

  87. rebecca says

    One of my friends posted this on her FB page today.
    I’m glad I read it.
    I can relate all to well to this blog. My husband was born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy– he is legally blind and uses a wheelchair. And since June 2007, he’s suffered from back problems.
    Nothing in our lives has been easy. And most people don’t get it…. some have been very hurtfully judgemental.
    Even just yesterday, i was stressed to the point of posting a request for help, prayers, encouragement on my FB page. Not one of my local friends could be bothered to take a minute to offer a comment of support.
    I was extremely hurt that, in my time of need, none of my neighbors- not one- read (and repiled to) the sign I had visibly put out .
    Thankfully, two gals did see the sign, and comment— they are both fellow spousal caregivers, so of course, they get it!

    by the way, for any one who is a spousal caregiver, there is a wonderful organization called the Well Spouse Organization– http://www.wellspouse. org. the people in this group ‘get it’ i find more, better support there than I ever have or will anywhere else! There is the online forum, and there also support groups that meet locally in some areas.

    {{{{{hugs}}}}}

  88. Theresa Leahy says

    This is just the reminder I needed today. Thank you for you honest story, told in such a gentle way. Living your words for sure. My very best wishes to you and your family.

    Theresa

  89. Dawn says

    My stepmom died today after a long battle with breast cancer. I was feeling sad and roaming around on facebook when I saw the link to this story. I have never been to this site before, but for some reason, I clicked on it. Thank you for the story and also for helping me let out the tears I have been holding back.

  90. Nora says

    Melody, thanks so much for this beautiful reminder to be kinder than you feel is necessary because everyone – everyone – is battling something. Please continue this….the world needs you.

  91. Ash says

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have definitely felt this way often about the difficulties I am dealing with taking care of my mother who has been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. It has taken away her ability to walk, talk, reason and remember things in the short term. And I am left taking care of all her finances, medical appointments, etc… So when we do actually get out to have a good time it is far and few between. But it would be nice if we had a sign like that so more people would know what was going on and to be nice and not just stare.

  92. says

    What an amazing story, beautifully written. My husband and I recently moved out of our nice house on the grounds of a country club, to his parents basement. I HATE what that looks like, but at the same time, I am REALLY PROUD OF US, for doing what needs to be done right now. I don’t want to be the kind of person that is defined by where I live or what I own…even though that’s been my persona for quite some time. I want to be the girl that’s not afraid of change…and I feel like I am getting there. Ah, it is so, SO freeing to have your cards laid completely out on the table!!! Thanks for sharing, it was an incredible gift to be able to read this today!

  93. Kate Kersh says

    I have faced exactly the same thing the past 6 years. Had to bankrupt our business and still watch my poor husband suffer every day. It’s good to know that someone understands the struggles I go through every day. I’m so happy you got your husband back. I’m not sure mine will ever rejoin the human race.

  94. Shally Sorensen says

    My son has a condition called Reactive Attachment Disorder. When you described your husband– that is how my Jax can be. He has little activity in the front of his brain, and he lived in a place of fear and anger. He is healing, and we are no longer in the depths– but it was really bad for a while. I remember feeling so alone and trying to keep it all together. I am in tears right now remembering how painful it was– and still can be.

    Thank you, thank you for putting into words how I have felt countless times!!

  95. Jandalen Penwell says

    This lesson in life is one that is very close to my heart as well and life changing. I had to bury a son, go through a divorce and lost our home and business. It changed me for the better, the way I see people and the compassion I now have in my life. Thank you for sharing your story.

  96. Michelle says

    My husband left after 25 years, 2 kids in highschool, grandma died one month later, then our dog died, kids spiral into depression, therapy and 2 new puppies to try and make it better -1 with congenital liver disease died after two months, more depression, chemical addiction, struggling to keep one alive and the other “ok”, lost the house, new schools, more depression and anxiety for all of us, dad marries 8 days after divorce is final. I wanted a sign for them mostly “please be patient and kind, don’t hurt us because someone already did that”

  97. Marin D says

    This is so true with everything in life. I think of it like a carton of milk. It looks fine on the outside. The date hasn’t passed or anything. But once you open it, it is bad. I feel that way. I wish I could hang a sign around my neck. :)

  98. says

    AMEN! I recently went through a miscarriage with what would have been my first child. I didn’t want to share with people what was private to me, but I wished they would just not judge me if I was tired or struggling. As I’m sure most have, I’ve gone through many tough times in my life. Through it all, I’ve been reminded more than ever to just love and support people. Judging someone or getting angry at someone EVER (but especially when we don’t know what is going on in his life) is asking for disaster. We could all do better at being understanding and looking for the best in others and ways we can help instead of ways we can tear each other down.

  99. Keely says

    This post echoes so strongly with me right now. Not to overly personalize with my own experience, but I was just thinking a month ago when my Dad died very suddenly (and much too young) that I wanted a wear a shirt that said, “I’m grieving” Just to save myself the questions, the looks, the smiles.

    Thank you for this post – for putting into words what I am sure many of us have thought. My thoughts go out to you and yours. And I hope you and your family find much happiness.

  100. Amy says

    Thank you so much for posting this! I think people focus so much on how they are affected by others (what about me…..) that they don’t always think about those others. We ALL can use this reminder! May you & your family’s strength last thru to the happiness you surely deserve.

  101. Emily says

    Wow! I have no idea what to say. My two years with my husband’s illness is nothing compared to losing him completely. It was in his brain and it effected him but I never completely lost him. Thank you for this story, it helps so much. I have been depressed most of the day because I can’t find a job and just got turned down for one I thought I had for sure. I am living with my family with my parents, but it could always be worse.

  102. says

    I love that post! Amazing!! So True and so profound. I can think of several signs I could wear right now, and several that I’ve been watching appear in my family.

  103. says

    Melody,
    I can see you wrote this early this year but I saw it today. Why? Because I needed it today.
    I was just thinking about what my prissy neighbors must be saying about our yard. They like the lawns to be green, see, but we are losing our home and have lost our business and are working like dogs to feed our family. Those weeds represent my desert. I don’t have the drive, the energy or the money to do much about any of it right now.
    Thank you for this beautiful post. We need to not worry about *them* and stick to the task at hand.

  104. says

    This is absolutely beautiful, and I’m glad that your husband has recovered. I don’t know if life would be easier with everyone – but it would sure make a difference.

  105. says

    Wow, what a wonderful story and great reminder that sometimes things aren’t always what they seem. I’ve had my share of times when I wish people would just know what was going on with me without me having to tell a painful story. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  106. says

    Melody,
    Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story! You have absolutely no idea how badly I needed to hear this today. God certainly does send us messages we need at exactly the precise moments we need them! I will be keeping you and your family in my prayers. And I will be a regular reader of you blog as well.

    God Bless,
    Teresa

  107. says

    Such a stunning story. It’s exactly what I needed to read this morning. I cannot wait to come home from work this afternoon and read through this entire site. I know I will be the wiser for it. Thank you!
    Peace~

  108. says

    This article is incredible. I could relate, from both sides of the sign. How powerful! I’m praying that God gives me enough insight and discernment to see past the exterior where others are concerned, and I’ll be transparent enough to allow others to see past my tough shell to see my “heartcore” passions. What moves me. What worries me. What tries to hold me back. And what propels me forward. Just real. Just me.

  109. says

    Thanks for a great post–needed to read that right now as I’m facing my own situation–I am linking to this post from my blog as I feel strongly that others can learn from you.

  110. Sad says

    AMAZING……I had a post planned out, but it was too hard to write. I wish so called “friends” would sit back and take a look at why I stopped contact with them. I couldn’t keep up a happy facade with the overwhelming situations going on in my life right now. Sometimes you just need a friend to be there, to care about you during the good and bad times. Too many people today are caught up in their own busy lives, and fail to know or care that someone may need them. I wish a few people could see my signs…maybe I wouldn’t feel so alone.

  111. says

    So beautiful. Thank you for making me stop and think. I could use a sign or two, as well, but mostly need to look for other people’s rather than just thinking about mine.
    Bless you and your family.

  112. says

    I was lucky to grow up in a community that still asks, “what’s wrong?” when something seems off with people be it their yard, their manner of dress or anything different really. It’s so ingrained in me TO ask that sometimes I forget people aren’t used to it. I’m going to keep asking though.

  113. Nora Miller-Bangerter says

    Thank you for posting this, and for me it hits on so many levels. I was born with a cleft palate/cleft lip.

  114. Joy Parker says

    Dear Melody,
    What a lovely piece… really!
    I too suffered a “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury” 3 years, 5 months & 27 days ago. The cause was not some spectacular and horrific accident. The scar on my forehead is there still, but not a glaring declaration. So, there are no “outward” signs of my injury and subsequent, various related disabilities. People constantly ask how I’m doing. And while I believe for the most part they are genuinely concerned, it is difficult to always say, “Nothing has changed.”
    Thank you for such a well written, heart-full narrative. It was encouraging to me! It gave me hope that I, too one day, will be restored – symptom free and that our lives will be all the better for it… this journey through “Things are rough for us right now”.
    Wonderful! Simply wonderful!!

  115. Eve says

    I don’t know how to thank you.
    My sign: “I’m grieving the sudden loss of the father I intentionally cut out of my life 3 years ago so I could find a way to heal from an abusive childhood and suffering tremendous guilt for not finding the grace to forgive him before he died.”

    I haven’t been able to really cry and tonight I did.

  116. says

    This is so important to share. Thank you for sharing your journey, your struggles, and your triumphs. You are so blessed to have your husband recovered, and offering your experiences to others pays tribute to that blessing. Beautifully well done!

  117. corie says

    Wow, I came here through @TheBloggess twitter feed and I am speechless. Thank you for this — although it has left me tearing up I wish I could hang a sign around my neck that lays it all. Why me the one that normally stands strong feels as if it is all falling apart.

    This has touched me more deeply then anything I’ve read in a long time has and I thank you for that.

  118. Petra says

    Beautifully written. I am sorry for your huge financial burden but glad for your husband’s recovery.
    My family went through a similar experience when my husband was fighting Lyme and several long term illnesses that changed everything about him and left myself and the children lost and confused. He has mostly recovered now, but his abilities to focus and communicate with me will never be like they were, and his body hurts him all the time. It will always be hard to ignore the what-ifs. All those dreams for the kind of life we would have had together and given to our children put on hold or abandoned.
    So often I have wished that I could just show friends and family a movie clip of the hard days. They never understood how stressful and draining it was to love someone who is different every few hours and they certainly don’t get what we’re having to go through as we try and put our lives back together now.

  119. Diana says

    Hi Melody,

    You don’t know me and I don’t know you but Jenny [The Bloggess] linked this post and it made me cry.

    The raw emotion here is overwhelming. I wish I could hug your whole family.

    My sign would read ‘I am 21. I have depression and can’t seem to get help. Please don’t tell me to ‘just get over it.”

    Diana x

  120. Francey Pants says

    This is us. I thought he was dying. I didn’t know what was going on. He’s better, but still “gone” much of the time. I’m worried that I won’t love him anymore, that I’m just too pissed and too not willing to trust him after this. What if I just decide I’ve had enough and I walk out? But then… what if I stay because I just can’t leave him? Either way I’m sacrificing the biggest part of my adult life to a constant state of just-okay, not happy, not thriving, just-alive. I’m resentful that I have to go through this, but I try not to tell anybody that, because it’s not fair to him. I fluctuate between resentful and glad that he’s still here. And I don’t think that’s fair to either of us. We should just be happy.

    Thank you for this perspective. I’ve had a massive ache inside me for a couple of years now, and it’s been a revelation for me, tonight, following a link on twitter, to see that others have gone through it as well, and come out whole. I know, too, that he’s “in there.” I just want him to come back out. Thank you for giving me so much hope.

  121. David says

    This just tore me up. Devastated me.

    Thanks? Yes, THANK YOU!!!!

    – Guys Hurt Too

    (sent here via a tweet by The Blogess)

  122. Kathleen says

    What if one does not or can not get the help they seek? What happens then? What happens if a situation isn’t over yet, however others see it finished? Yes, life can be very lonely. It seems that no one cares more than the person who is in the situation at the time. Fair…..NO!!! But life is not meant to be fair……life is there to teach us a lesson. Hopefully, we will learn from the classroom of life. Sometimes in life, there are some situations that will not resolve themselves here. We must patiently wait for the Savior and for this life to pass before they are resolved. I think many of us can wear multiple signs but also, we could put a sign underneath those signs saying, “….and this is what I learned from this……’

    Sherri Dew wrote an excellent book called, “If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn’t Be Hard”. A short, easy read that helps all of us put things into perspective. I highly recommend it.

  123. Katrina says

    Thank you for sharing your story. The past few years have been difficult for my family. My Dad was a functional alcoholic since I was a teenage, 2 years ago he ended his life 33 days before I gave birth to my first child. After we found out he had pancriotic cancer that he never got treatment for. My mother was in fog after my Dad died, her and my younger brother found him, she wasn’t sure how to handle all the bills since he took care of all finances. My husband and I were living with them at the time and we weren’t sure how to help her take care of everything. We tried to get a modification on the mortgage but were jerked around by the mortgage company and our paperwork kept getting miss placed by them. September of 2010 I gave birth to my second baby, things were stressful and we still didn’t know how we were going to save the house. Then one day we woke up to a notice saying the bank was taking our home. We thought the people we got to help us truly wanted to help and we were wrong. One we hit the point that our hands were tied dozens of people popped up saying that months earlier they could’ve helped stop all the foreclosure processes but thought we knew what to do. This was after our home had been auctioned. My Mother lost everything she had worked her entire adult life for. We had to move 30 mins from all our friends and family, which doesn’t wound that bad but when you can barely afford rent and groceries there is nothing left to put in the gas tank. I also suffer from a rare nerve disease that requires me to see my Dr every 2 weeks which is by where we lived. It’s hard to have to drive by the first home my children ever knew and see it empty. People hear we lost our home and assume we must have done something wrong. They also hear of my nerve condition and say I’m faking cuz they’ve never heard of it and don’t understand how the touch of my 2 year old and 1 year old can give me excruciating bruises and pain. I wish I could where a sign that explains to people what I’ve been through and what I deal with every day. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover or people. Thank you for opening peoples eyes to see beyond the “cover” they see of others.

  124. says

    A friend posted a link to this on facebook and I just wanted to say I loved it. :) It made me get emotional and wonder how people’s lives could change if we could just read the signs. How much more love and service and understanding there would be. Thank you. :) Good luck to you and your family.

  125. says

    Wow. Just wow. This is a post written straight from the heart that touches so many others. Thank you for sharing your story and may your sign read “Blessed” from here on.

  126. says

    Beautiful. I rarely cry and this brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for speaking to my heart and soul. Here’s to hoping you’ve spoken to many, many more. Because we need that reminder. Thank you.

  127. says

    I seriously just bawled and will be forwarding this to everyone i know. Thank you! Thank you for making me be greatful for what i have. Thank you for making me feel not so alone in the hard times I am having. Thank you for making me be more aware of others.

  128. says

    I just wanted to say thank you for posting this story and your challenge for everyone to be kind and gentle. What a powerful image to us and a motivating story. Thank you, thank you!

  129. Sarah B says

    Wow. Thank you for this. I was just emailed a link to this very touching post. I don’t know how many times I’ve just put on a happy face because that’s all the world wants to see when all I wanted was for someone to reach out. It’s good & character-strengthening sometimes to move on but MAN it sure feels good to have someone stop & understand. Those times are tender mercies for me. I’m so sorry for all you suffered while your husband was sick. That is awful. I can’t begin to understand. And strangley makes me want to prepare for a trial like that. It’s never crossed my mind. Thank you for sharing & reminding us all to be compassionate.

  130. Angela says

    Thanks for posting. It’s difficult when you actually do treat people as if you know they have “a sign” only to encounter countless people whom you wish could read yours. I am trying to use those times to teach my children that their Heavenly Father is the only sure thing in life and that they should do everything in their power to love and protect those living in their household because there are no guarantees with anyone else outside those walls.

  131. Sandy says

    Oh Melody ~ Thank you for this post.

    I used so much to long for a hundred such signs from the time I was a child.
    Mine would have read: “I’m being abused by a paedophile – please PLEASE won’t somebody rescue me?’ ‘My parents beat us so much that they leave bruises under our clothing where no one else can see them. Please help us.”

    But to come back to what you’ve blogged about, I can relate to this post but from another angle. Several years ago, my younger sister was murdered by her husband, leaving small children to be cared for. It was a sad and difficult time. I was grief stricken and worried about what would happen to the children and stopped sleeping. I wasn’t depressed, just so sad.

    I asked my doctor’s advice, and was prescribed anti-depressants – several different ones over a number of years. And I lost me. And my husband lost his wife. And my children lost a parent (my youngest was two at the time).

    To cut a long story short, despite very slowly withdrawing myself from the medications, I am now brain-injured from the effects of them. It is a challenge to sequence my thoughts to write this comment, when in the past I would have had this down in a couple of minutes flat. My long and short term memories are damaged – I have gained an enormous amount of weight which I’m told is probably permanent – my speech is sometimes delayed – my co-ordination is poor and many more things. Whilst on the medications I was severely and life-threateningly depressed and developed extreme hypertension that continues to be a problem.

    But my husband has been here all the way through, all along, when those I thought loved and cared about me were not. The cruelty was sometimes so overwhelming that I really truly felt that my husband would be so much better off if I was dead.

    I longed for someone to read my sign that said: “I am medicated for a non-existent illness. The medications are hurting my brain and my physical functioning – please be soft and gentle – I need kindness and understanding.”

    Thankfully, I have been medication free now for two years, and the fog is beginning to lift a little – just a little – but it gives me hope. I have momentary blips of happiness that give me hope that I may one day return to normal – whatever that is :)

    Any my husband is still here … like you are for your husband and like so many others are for their loved ones.

    And I look for signs – and endeavour to read them carefully and look beyond the eyes and the words and the body language, and demonstrate softness, gentleness, compassion and kindness for those who are so hurting and needing of it, but are unable to ask.

  132. Deanna says

    My eyes are welling up with tears. i came over here from a friend’s post, and … just… wow. Thank you. Sometimes I feel like I could wear a sign…because I don’t feel like I want to shout out to the world what is going on… yet I fear that I would act differently if we all wore signs…

    Thank you for this bitter-sweet message you posted about today. :) I have a renewed yearning to be more gentle.

  133. says

    Such sweet sweet words – so full of wisdom. And a reminder that EACH of us is going through SOMETHING. Thank you for sharing your pain and healing with the world. It makes us all better.

  134. Pamela says

    I KNOW first hand what it is like to live with a husband who has suffered from a severe brain injury. It is so painful that I can’t even write about it. Please know, that you are not alone, and there are many of us who truly do know. We have walked in your shoes. Bless you.

  135. Evamarie says

    I really need to stop crying since I need to leave for work in 30minutes a thing I never saw myself doing. About a year ago my husband had a grand mal seizure and that incident has changed our lives. It took 3 months before it was discovered that he had a compression fracture in his thoraxic spine and he still hasn’t recovered. He started having slurred speech more after months of testing still unsure of what was causing it they put him on anti-seizure medicine. About a month after that his memory started going come to find out he had been having that problem for over a year. With this problem since he worked security he could no longer work with his back injury he couldn’t work a job that would take him. He stopped taking the anti-seizure medicine and his memory has greatly improved but isn’t near to what it was when we met. We are in the process of short selling our home. I’m working only part time and praying that I can find a full time job or another part time job so we can find a place to live. He is young mid thirties and we have been told by a neuro psychologist to prepare for an early death and that has been difficutl to accept. We are trying to get into a neurologist that is willing and determined to find out what is going on with him with his memory and other symptoms. My husband too is coming slowly back to me I look at a picture we had the day of the seizure and see the difference in him. It has been hard and reading this gives me hope.
    Thank you,
    Evamarie

  136. says

    And wouldn’tcha know it, some people will hate on your openness too – how dare we burden them when they have their own problems. I’ve met those people…it’s beyond frustrating but I’ve learned that we can’t please everyone and if I’ve done my part, I can live with myself, and that’s kind of important to me.

  137. says

    This was beautiful, thank you for “plugging your sign in” to the world. We all needed to hear and all need to share it. God Bless you.

  138. says

    Seriously. Loved. It.
    I really needed that, I am very glad a friend shared it on FB. I just had some bad news & this page was shared at the right moment. And I need to keep this in mind when dealing with others. You write BEAUTIFULLY & i will now be a constant on your blog. 😉 Thanks <3

  139. says

    I LOVE this! One of my favorite reminders is from an old hymn: “In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that they eye can’t see.” And that combined with this line from The Little Prince “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” These keep me from assuming, judging and reacting to people and keep me more in making compassionate assumptions about people. This is such a fantastic blog post. Thanks for sharing it.

  140. Rebecca says

    Thank you for this. When I was a little child I received brain trauma like your husband and I experienced a lot of what he has. I am still finding things that I get to deal with. I wish I could have a sign that said “Please, just give me a chance.”
    There are some days when I just want to give up, to say that it isn’t worth it anymore, I don’t care. But the truth is, it does matter and I do care. Not long ago I wrote a poem that I try to live by:
    LIVE WELL TODAY
    Don’t live for tomorrow
    Yesterday is past
    Today is the only day
    I can walk the path.

    I cannot change yesterday
    Tomorrow is not yet here
    Now is my time to shine
    That my yesterdays may be clear.

    Live well today
    Let your light so shine
    Though skies may be gray
    Today shall be mine.

    I hope when life drags you down that you can live one day at a time.

  141. says

    A friend just shared this on FaceBook. Just absolutely raw, beautiful truth. I feel this way A LOT. I’m finding that I’m using my own blog now instead of its original purpose of to have readers, it’s now more for my own sanity, so I don’t feel so alone. I too often just want to blurt out to anyone who will hear what’s going on, but I have internalized it for so long, that you can see the horrible effects on what’s left of me. Thank you for this perfect reminder.

  142. says

    … besides the fact that you write brilliantly….

    This whole post is a YES. And a yes and a yes and a yes. My husband having had a brain injury at seventeen that seemed to do nothing….. and who, at 36, has been out of a debilitating and horrifying depression/fog/something indescribably awful and yet undiagnosable, for two years now, I relate more than I wish I did. At the time his sorrowing shapeless and hurting self was sulking in the spare bedroom, my two oldest children and I had been diagnosed with Chronic Lyme disease, and I could not walk, because during my pregnancy with my youngest son, lymphedema and lyme combined with whatever else to create horrifying amounts of pain. And we looked so… normal, in public. We seemed so average. The children were stressed out to the gills, and I put a suicide hotline poster on the side of the fridge, but we seemed normal. The outside of the house looked fine… the inside crumbled around me as I could no longer vacuum or care for it sufficiently, and could not withstand the accusatory barrage of complaints from my husband. I could have left him… we didn’t know what was going on, of course, and although he was withdrawn and emotionally unavailable displeased with everything around him for years and years, he wasn’t physically abusive, but emotionally he was. Then, two years ago, after attempts at little interventions by about every family member, after nearly losing his job, after being emotionally and mentally “gone” for years, he woke up. Returned. Sort of.

    He’s now the same, only different. Much, much better than before… still way more critical than the man I married a decade and a half ago, but much better. No more gaming for hours on end, no more sleeping in the spare bedroom and being as far away from everyone else as possible. I now think of it as having three husbands. My first, newly wed marriage, which lasted eight years, then my second, horrible and emotionally abusive marriage, and now, a new marriage, not nearly as good as the first one, but a lot better than the second.

    But we still have Lyme disease. And the house still looks good on the outside and is a disaster on the inside, which is kind of how we look, too. My daughter, who is ten, calls the time her father was so broken “The Great Depression,” and doesn’t trust him at all… he was never harsh to her, but only to me, but in consequence, him being harsh to Mama, who is the rock here, added to her defenses. The repercussions of that period, which I’m certain he had no control over, resonate in everything we do. I’m trying to learn to trust him again, and it’s so difficult. My children are wary, though they love him- they felt so abandoned when he was sick; he went from playing and spending time with them to… nothing. Thankfully we were financially ok, but in every other way I parented alone….which makes relinquishing any control to this “new” husband, who is more strict than I am and more of a perfectionist, extremely difficult. And him asking our daughter to do anything? He insists upon her obedience…. and she refuses to obey because she doesn’t trust him at all. Try explaining to a little kid about chronic depression and head injuries. All she knows is, he wasn’t there for a long time, and now he’s going to boss her around? She’s having none of that. SO, things like family nights and even family prayer in the evenings are dramas worthy of Lifetime television…. preteen daughter plus returning chronically depressed dad? Yeah. That. And I had to give up a co-editorship of a small magazine, because I could not possibly do that… and all this. And I still miss that… it was a lifeline to a world I could not understand, but which I wanted to be a part of, a quiet world where women blogged between loads of laundry, and helped out in the world by flying overseas to do service work, and didn’t have these particular concerns… though they had plenty of their own, and are so amazing. My household IS my service work. And often we NEED to Be somebody’s service work.
    I can walk again, maybe for a little while. Our sweet children continue to mend, and I continue to explain little bits that, hopefully, they can understand. But…
    It’s continually So. Dang.Hard.

    So when I have friends who are easily having yet more children, when my last pregnancy was horrific, or who just are smoochie newlywed snuggly with their husbands….? Or who worry about a pair of shoes making their size eight calves look fat, when Lyme and Lymphedema have combined to kill my immune system and make my lymphatic system stall, adding lymphatic fluid weight to the tune of about a hundred pounds… which, due to the nature of the sickness, I can’t lose or “work on” because there’s no change? When they worry about their children not getting perfect grades, and I worry about mine not getting mono AGAIN for the fourth time this fall, due to other parents sending their kids sick so as not to miss a single day? Hard. Hard to see their own trials. Hard to see past the outer veneer, to the hardwood beneath. Hard to see why these, my sisters, do the things that to me look like frivolity, but which might be a coping mechanism.

    I appreciate the reminder to keep looking. Because everybody has a story. Everybody has something so painful that it is almost insurmountable. And if they don’t…. wait a few years. They might.

    I am so touched by your peaceful knowledge, though I know it was harder than you describe, that you _knew_ your husband was “in there,” and that HE was different than the outward appearances. I knew, too. I still do. I can see this man I’ve married, I can see his soul, and I can see how hard he’s trying to correct this path that we’ve dug into while he was “gone.” the “Plan B” path, the one you do to survive while under great stress, and then have to reorganize once the “Plan B’ day becomes the usual….and therefore, with no “normal,” you have the new normal, and you go onward.

    I appreciate so much knowing on sister in the world understands why I am staying with this complicated, hopelessly fractured, but endlessly striving towards righteousness man…. whom I love, even while I am learning to be able to trust his physical capabilities and mental faculties again…-T

  143. says

    Thank you! Thank you! For being so willing to share. Many’s a time we needed signs in our family too – cause as much as it is nice to be open so often it is easier to hide. I really appreciate your post – it is a great pcik up also in taking our eye’s off ourselves and looking out. <3

  144. Patty says

    I love the way you write Melody ~ it’s from the heart and it’s just so real and so brave. You are teaching us to be brave and more compassionate. The world is a better place because you are opening up your life and your stories for the rest of us to learn from.

  145. says

    Oh. My. Goodness. This is amazing. I’m over here from Momastery and just absolutely speechless over this piece. Thank you. I just finished posting a piece about loving those who seem unlovable. The difficult ones. If only they wore signs, it would be so much easier.

    I really, really love this and am so glad I found you. I’ll be back for more.

  146. says

    Oh. My. God. Yes. My wife had a traumatic brain injury (not as severe as your husband’s) 5 months before we got married. It was a full year before I felt like she was MOSTLY back and it was awful. Then our son was diagnosed with a life threatening heart condition and was in the ICU for four months. The first time my wife and I came home for a break and went on a walk in our neighborhood, I said I wished we had signs around our necks saying “our baby is in the ICU and might not make it. Please be gentle with me.” We were new parents and we were out without our baby so no one knew a) we had a baby and b) that he was sick. I felt like I was invisible and an impostor- if you looked at me from the outside, no one could tell what hell we were in. I am a firm supporter of wearing black when mourning. I’m so sad we’ve lost that tradition. Imagine what it would be like to stumble upon a stranger that you could tell was in mourning and do some random act of kindness because you know they could use a little lift. It would be magic.

    Your signs are beautiful. Thank you for this post. (Found you from Momastery)

  147. Wendy says

    My sign would say “I just had to go on anti anxiety medication for the first time in my life. Raising twin toddlers is harder than anyone who hasn’t done it, can ever begin to imagine.”

  148. says

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post. I hope you don’t mind if I share it with my readers at my blog The Reality of Anxiety. (www.anxiousnomore.blogspot.com) I will give you full credit with a link back here. This really is beautiful and I love the photography as well.

    Thanks!

  149. says

    Hi Melody – What a wonderful outpouring of love and honesty. I have felt this so often. We just never, ever truly know what is really going on with each other – all the more reason to work hard to be compassionate and live always with love in your heart and show kindness to others.

    I wrote a song about this very kind of thing. Hope to record it over the winter with my band and I’d love to be able to send you a cd when it’s finished.

    Love to you and yours.
    Sharon

  150. Jessica says

    I am so grateful to the powers that be that you and your family are in a better place. It is a blessing that you made it through that dark place. It is a blessing that you were there and survived to share it with us. This is a message that so many people need to hear. Thanks for sharing. :)

  151. says

    Melody,

    I am thankful that your husband has recovered. This is a beautifully written post. Unfortunately, I think we have all experienced people not reading our signs, in different degrees. Thank you for this heartfelt reminder.

    Deborah

  152. Betty says

    This is sych an ausome story, there are so many out there hurting and too proud to ask for help. Maybe we should wear signs, and let the world know our troubles and not keep them bottled up inside. Thanks for sharing.

  153. Miranda M says

    I talked really bad about a couple of people at work today.It’s not like anything changed in their lives or mine that caused me to pick today to talk about them, I decided it was something “cool” to share. I felt horrible. Physically sick for being so unkind. Thank you for writing this – I knew what I did was wrong but this worded it better than my head could…My goal is to ALWAYS be gentle

  154. Sunny says

    I just saw this link on facebook by a friend and I love this story and the inspiration it is. I hope you don’t mind if i link to it as well?
    Thanks, Sunny

  155. ERNA BLACKBURN says

    WOW!! What a powerful, beautiful message. I just went through a year of depression and wished I could have worn a sign, although, even when people did try to help, I pushed them away. So, my friends and family did for me what I needed most, they prayed for me and I am sure that is a large part of why it seems that just one day, I woke up wanting to be better and having the courage to do something about it.

  156. says

    I agree, and since I’ve been reading Brave Girls, I’ve been trying to “see people’s signs” everywhere I go. Thank you for the heartful message, even though I had read it before, it still stopped me in my tracks… again.

    Nothing but Good things to you!

    Sheila

  157. Mary McDougall says

    I have to admit, I started reading your blog that begins in 2005, there abouts.

    Do I know what to say? Do I not? Thank you, to begin. WOW. Amazingly. WOW.

    Was my divorce painful? On one hand, I want to say “no,” because I handled it so well. The truth is, it left me LONELY, feeling UNLOVED, INSECURE, financially frustrated – – all those years, I could have been doing something else and making a career for myelf.* What, where could I be, if only I hadn’t married him? IF I had chosen a different route.

    And at the same time, I feel that I am stronger because of my marriage – and the years I was married. I experienced things that I would not have (probably) had I chosen the other route (whatever it might have been). I know people that I still love to this day. I know things that I really would not have paid any attention to, otherwise, because of my marriage and our livelihood.

    However, I have to say, I have felt SO MANY times like wearing THE SIGN. Whatever it might be.

    I’m SO FLIPPING LONELY…. I even offered to friends (who were married as really most of my friends have a significant other)…if you just want to get away and go read, come to my house. I just wanted someone around. Which sound selffish, I know….

    OR BROKE. Tired of flipping being broke. Broke when I was married…..

    JUST TIRED OF IT ALL.

    WHY?

    Wow, this is the first time EVER, not even in my journals, have I admitted that my divorce and its aftermath have been DIFFICULT.

    I am better… I don’t know what percentage, mainly because I am different. I am a different person than I was when my marriage ended, I am a different person than I was 6 months ago. Those gut-wrenching lonely days are farther apart….my outlook, my desires, are different. Though, yes, I remember them.

    So all I know to say, Melody, is THANK YOU. Thank you for sharing, for being a Brave Girl for this.

  158. April says

    Melody, thank you for your post. I too have had to carry the world on my shoulders as my husband desperately needed a liver transplant. I also walked around with a smile on my face as if I hadn’t a care in the world. I was truly blessed by many people & friends who understood “our signs” and treated us gently with lots of love and support. My husband did receive his transplant and is doing amazingly well, but there are still times when we need to be treated “gently” as he will be 100%, when the weeds get to high, and the grass grows faster than we can take care of – that is when some of the amazing youth we know, come and care for us. May everyone be blessed with angels to watch over them. May you too continue to be blessed and bless others with your story.

  159. Katie Koutz says

    This is beautiful, thank so much for taking the time to write this. I want to be able to read this all of the time, and also share this with people. Would you mind if I post this to my blog.
    http://www.katiekoutz.blogspot.com
    katiekout@gmail.com
    http://www.facebook.com/update_security_info.php?wizard=1#!/profile.php?id=1780999685

    Hope to hear from you soon.
    And I am so happy that you have your family back. How wonderful that you stood by each other.

  160. says

    I love this post and the message that you share is fundamental for everyone. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

    There’s nothing better than making a difference and you do that!!!

  161. says

    A friend’s blog sent me here. Thank you for sharing your story. I heard a while back that we should never judge someone by what might be their worst moment, a you just illustrated that in full color.

  162. says

    Thank you for your blog. The past 3 years have been the hardest of our lives. I too have changed my thoughts. Instead of the clerk at the grocery store irritating me with her rude attitude, I now wonder, what must be going on in her life. I think it takes our own hurting for us to begin to look outside ourselves and look for the hurt and lost. You have beautifully penned the heart of the matter. Bless you and your family.

  163. Marianne says

    i’m not even sure how i found this blog – it’s got to be a God-thing. Thanks for sharing your heart. I loved it, and will follow it.

  164. jane says

    as i was reading this i grew hot and angry and sick inside. i have just come out of a very similar situation myself. i have a few friends (one imparticular) that have been very hard on me and very judgemental of my “misbehaviors” during the time when i was struggling. i had a medication induced stroke after having my last baby. the damage was to my brain, my adrenal system and my entire central nervous system. our family, like yours, had to quickly re-organize to survive. 2 of the “friends” i had invested in for 10 years simply decided to act intolerantly. the list of insults is too long to write. too painful to write. one of the pinnacles of the humiliation i endured from them was an email one of them sent to me that was a mock “mother of the year” award where she inserted my name into a spoofy news broadcast announcing that i was the mother of the year. this, after knowing that i had lost my ability to even make a sandwich for my kids or drive them to school.
    i agree with you about the signs. i wish we could wear signs around our necks explaining our circumstances. pleading for patience and tenderness. i have learned much the same lesson through my experience. love more than you feel like loving. take a deep breath and swallow those angry words. if you are thinking of someone, call them. if you’re thinking something good about someone, tell them. if you have a question, ask it kindly. if you think something’s off, it’s time for you to step up and put your “i will be here for you” sign on – because, most likely, it won’t be long til you’ll be scanning the crowd looking for that sign around someone elses’ neck who might be there for you. we are all one heartbeat away from tragedy. no one is exempt. live like you care about someone other than yourself.

  165. says

    This post absolutely stopped me in my tracks. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your courage, you wisdom, and your prayer for us to see through to who we all are.

  166. says

    I’m quite certain I could never find the right words to tell you how incredibly wonderful I think this story is or how much it warms my heart that this was such a turning point for you in your life. That you are teaching your kids lessons like this. I tell my kids quite often people are just doing the best that they can, but I don’t think I had ever thought about it quite this way. Sure I am compassionate and sure I would like to wear a few signs of my own but this story, oh this story will now live inside of me and in turn my children. Thanks for sharing your struggle. It’s my first post from your site, but I just can’t wait to go read more!!

  167. says

    Thank you for your honesty and your bravery and your amazing story that you told. This is heart breaking and heart warming at the same time. This was a wonderful Wake up call. Thank you.

  168. Kaycee says

    Wow. What a thoughtful and amazing post. Thanks so much for sharing your heart and giving such a wonderful perspective on how to treat others with care and gentleness. So glad your husband got better.

  169. Celeste says

    Patricia, I am a hairdresser and Love the anectdote about “”This brings “What’s your sign?” to a WHOLE new level.”” I think that this will have to be printed on a nice paper and I am going to put it on my station. I already have one that says : Blessed are the cracked for they let in the light: (from a website on Non hodgkins lymphoma- my dad died from it on Nov 1 08, 8 mos after diagnosis).

  170. Celeste says

    Melody, I followed a link from another site to this one. Specifically to this post. I had no clue that it would involve brain injury. I am 43, my husband 56, he was always healthy as a horse and blood work beyond perfect. Suddenly on Thanksgiving of 2009 he felt funny , by that night we were in the hospital. The next morning he had a massive stroke that damaged a large portion of his brain. Tears fell as I read your post. I related to the loss of the person you knew. The person they have become and the tiny snippets of the past that surface while learning to adjust to your husbands altered personality.9renewing the feeling of loss and twisting emotions) Sometimes the man I first knew when we were first married, the one before worries and work consumed him surfaces and is jovial and comical and endearing. (we just had our 25th wedding anniversary Jan 7th) Then the other times he is mean and deragatory and I do understand its part of the psyche that is damaged but it wears on one. We too, float just a breadth away from sinking but the good Lord provides. I am hoping that things are easier for you and have the same hope that I too might have even half the man my husband was come back permanently. I miss him.

  171. Erika Bates says

    Melody,

    I am new to Brave Girls Club but already I am amazed, touched, encouraged and uplifted by what I see here. This post is a perfect example. What a blessing to have a story like that to share. It was hard to go through, but it is done and now you can share and teach and love through that hard experience. If I never learn anything more of you, if I never meet you, I will always know you are amazing and that today you touched my life with something beautiful.
    Thank you,
    Erika

  172. Anonymous T says

    a friend told me about Brave Girls and I’m interested. so i got to your blog and this is the first one i clicked on, i guess the tile drew me to it.
    i’m sooooo happy that your husband is better. but your story touched me, i couldn’t read it all.
    because my sign would say “he died”.
    i’ll come back…but, thank you for understanding without even knowing me.
    God bless you.

  173. Patricia says

    Melody,

    Thank you for the wake up call! They say there’s a first time for everything, like ME apologizing for delivering a cliche. This brings “What’s your sign?” to a WHOLE new level. If you are a child of the 70’s, you will understand that the most overused and misunderstood “pick-up line” could have had a higher calling with its hidden meaning. Who knew? I was driven to this story by a trusted colleague (thank you, HB) and so grateful that I now have a visual so powerful that I can’t shake it. Because I have more signs than anyone I know at the moment. And no one’s story is ever more real or accessible than our own.

    I’ll be looking for and reading signs with kinder eyes…

    With love and peace,
    Patricia

  174. says

    Hi Melody

    So glad I found this site and had a chance to finally read about your story. I was so very disappointed when I had booked your classes in Sydney in 2004 and you where unable to attend the reason being was your husbands accident. I could only imagine how devastated you where when this happened. No one really knew anything else other than he had suffered a brain injury, later In one of your books I always remember another story about the time you got a flat Tyre after dropping your husband back home, you had the kids in the car and where back on your way to the reception. And yet you still took that moment for a photo opportunity a moment in your life I bet when you would have to wonder when it was all going to get better. Well I finally found out that things did finally get better for you, I often wonder when I pick up one of your books if you family ever did get back on track and I’m so glad it did and to hear that your husband has finally returned to you. So many people would have given up on their life rather than struggle through to end to see what they may find. You truly are a courage’s and inspirational women.

  175. rspenla says

    Dear Melody,
    Thank you for sharing your story. You are just delightful and your candid way of sharing is refreshing. As I read it, tears welled up in my eyes, as I had been on a similar track in the same time frame and length of time. My husband, too suffered greatly, his from a failed back surgery in his mid-forties, and life took an unplanned detour. However, he is now healed, through many streams of graces, all to the glory of God. He is now loving life once again and we are very blessed. What you are doing is phenomenal and I am grateful to be a part it, by going through Soul Restoration, using creativity, honesty, and truth to heal. I am convinced we are all in need of healing. The Source of all creativity is behind all this. Way to be led by such inspiration! I wish you the best! God bless you and your family!
    -Eileen

  176. Likely says

    Oh Melody, what a beautiful beautiful story. Your husband’s answer was profound. You are right, this is a life changing story. A friend of mine linked me to this and I am so glad that she did. This really hit home for me. Especially because I have been going through something for years that I wish I could wear a sign for because I know people are judging. (My body can’t breastfeed — I didn’t develop enough milk glands. I have to supplement my baby and people ask me all the time why I am not nursing such a small baby — I cry a lot. Well, I used to. I am on my third baby and although it is still hard, I am stronger). Anyway, thank you. Have you read the book Stargirl?? You would absolutely love it. It is written for the middle/high school set, but I read it to my sixth graders every year when I taught school years ago. You would LOVE stargirl. Read it! It’s short, and it’s by Jerry Spinelli. She is most definitely a “Sign reader”

  177. Deborah says

    Through a totally different circumstance, this post resonates in me. Though I grudgingly joined the site because two of my friends have been excited over the things seen here. I’m hesitant to join in most of the time. I watch cautiously from the side lines a lot. That has become the story of my life in the last few years.

    This year, it’s my turn to get off of the sidelines and in the game. Thank you for enduring and finding your way through so that you could change your world and the lives of others who need just a little boost (or maybe a big one).

    I’m praying God blesses your family for the years that the locusts devoured. Come to think of it. I’m praying the same thing over my own family.

  178. Rhonda says

    Incredible story. Thank you for sharing your heart. I am amazed at your courage and strength.
    I am so very grateful God has led me to this place in time to hear stories like yours.

  179. says

    Wow. I sooo appreciate this post. My heart is deeply touched, and I can relate to wishing we could wear “signs.” If only people knew what each person suffers, they would treat them with gentler words, hands, and hearts. May the Lord bless you and yours!

  180. Joy says

    Melody,
    It is a sad thing to have to endure such a life altering and changing situation. I cannot even begin to understand your pain but I know how difficult it is to deal with a taumatic injury that changes every aspect of your existence. God Bless you and your dear family for all you have been through. I pray that all is better, if not well in your life by now. We are to learn from all of our experieinces, there is a reason for everything that occurs in our lives. You are a brave soul and I thank you for taking care of your beloved husband, even though it had to have been very hard. You will be blessed! People can be very uncaring, and hurtful these days. Our country has changed so much over the last few decades. We no longer have neighbors. People just do not want to be friends any more. We must remember through it all there is One that loves us and He is always with us. Have faith my friend and peace to you and yours.

  181. says

    I love the message of this story. After I first read it back in November I shared it with a group of women that were on a small retreat. They listened so intently as I read your words. I actually wrote out the signs and held them up as I read each section. It was a part of the retreat that was totally unplanned, but was a turning point and it added so much to our time together. The same weekend my daughter used your message as her devotion at a youth retreat team meeting. You message touched many there as well. Thank you for being brave enough to share your stories. You are a blessing in my life.

  182. Lisa says

    Melody,

    I don’t know you, but thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been going through a lot of crap at work (my boss is Delores Umbridge), but nothing compared to what you went through. I don’t know how you survived. But you have shared your hard-won strength. I am forever grateful.

    Lisa

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