It took a long time to get around to writing this blog post. I’ve been grappling with some heavy philosophical issues, related to this blog… like “Who am I?” and “What do I write here?” and “How much do I want to tell them?” Things like that.
I was weary of living in Happy Camp… my life was sad because the person I lived with, the person I had given my heart to, didn’t seem to like me. The house was dominated by him and his unhappiness, yet he wouldn’t agree to leave or make any kind of plans, and I became gradually more despondent and desperate to move on.
We shared the kitchen and bathroom.
I had my bedroom to myself, that’s all. On one side of my bed was my office space and on the other side was my artist’s easel and equipment. It was cramped and wasn’t working well for me, but I retreated into that room, trying to escape what was in the rest of the house that distressed me.
I supported him, paying all rent and utilities for nearly seven years until he finally qualified for Social Security early in 2013. One day in May, he came into my bedroom to announce that he would be moving to Southern Oregon. He added, “You may stay here as long as you like.”
I was floored, but didn’t say a word about how upset I was – I just listened, knowing that I couldn’t afford to remain in the house and that I didn’t want to be in that house anyway.
I thought it over a few hours, then decided that if he wanted to leave without me, leaving me with the financial burden of this house, I would move to Northern Idaho to live closer to my daughter who was living in Spokane, Washington at the time… right on the other side of the border from where I wanted to be – which was Post Falls or Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
When I told him my plan, he said he wanted to go with me!
So I started giving away or selling most of my possessions, including some that were very dear to me, like my grandmother’s bedroom furniture, my books, and my sewing machine with cabinet… which had been my mother’s when I was a child. This took a couple of months, but I worked hard and let go emotionally of many of the most precious things I owned so I could make this long-distance move.
I noticed my boyfriend wasn’t doing much to get ready to go, and while I worked and packed, he made new friends at the RV park down the hill and spent a lot of time with them. He liked them so much he took cups off my wall to give to them, and sold a woman there my kayak! The one I wanted to take with me to use on Lake Coeur d’Alene!
But typical of me, I didn’t say a word to object… just, “Whatever you think is best.” I’m not into arguing and I just wanted out of there.
The day we packed the UHaul truck… he was tired and angry, and said something that he shouldn’t have said, that upset me to the core of my being and frightened me. I know he didn’t mean to say something that I’d have that bad a reaction to, but just to think that could come out of his mouth, consciously or unconsciously, shocked me terribly. What he said, exactly, was, “If you ever mention your son around me again, I’ll burn down this house with you in it.”
Then I told him I wanted never to see him again. I don’t know where the words came from – they just popped out of my mouth when I was upset… sort of like the words he had said to me.
After many hurtful and angry words, a friend arrived and helped him remove his belongings from the house and the UHaul truck. I have not seen or heard from him since then. As I post this, it has been nearly five months.
[Update – July 11, 2015: It has now been over two years since I’ve seen or heard from him, and I no longer miss him at all.]
That night I fell asleep in that house long after midnight, and the next morning my son, Aaron, and his friend, Eric, arrived at 5am… to help put everything else in the truck. I got very little sleep…
My helpers left and I had to do most of the cleaning on my own. Oh, Aaron vacuumed for me, so that was a great help. But I had to do the sweeping, mopping, general clean-up, refrigerator, take nails out of walls, wash walls, the porch and yard… oh, there was so much to do, and it was an extremely hot day… June 30, 2013.
My friends wanted me to go to lunch with them, so I took a break in the early afternoon, went to the Frontier Café for lunch.
When I returned to the cabin, I couldn’t take the truck back up the hill because of the trailer on it (and no place to turn around up there) so I parked it down near the Bear Cove Cabins, and walked up the hill to the house to find out that someone had gone through the house and taken lots of my things that were still there because he thought I was gone for good, and I’d left the kitchen window open for the kitchen floor to dry. I knew who took my things, and walked over there and recovered some of my stuff. Not all of it. He was quite nice about giving things back when I saw them and asked for them, but didn’t tell me about everything he’d taken, and by this time I was not doing well physically and was not thinking clearly because of the heat and all the work I was doing.
I went through the place and continued to clean, but I was getting a serious case of heat exhaustion. I worked, and worked, and worked, and finally couldn’t take anymore. I left bags of trash in front of the house as a friend had promised he’d be by the next day to pick them up.
Finally I gave up, though there was still work to do. (My landlady later told me it looked fine to her considering I’d lived there thirteen years and five months.) I couldn’t take anymore, and decided to walk down the hill to the UHaul truck, carrying a few too many items.
By this time my heat exhaustion was so severe I couldn’t walk very far. It was well over 100 degrees that day – and I would walk to the next shady spot on the road down the hill with great pain and effort, and put stuff down, go back up for more stuff… then return to the shady spot to sit and rest, trying to get energy back so I could walk downhill a little more. I had to rest several times while doing this just to get down that hill the last time. I had lived there for 13 years and had never had any trouble getting down that hill before. It isn’t even a long road!
Finally I got everything to the truck, after about 45 minutes to an hour of trying to go down the hill and being too tired to do so. I seriously wondered if I would die just trying to get downhill. I got into the truck, found some water to drink, turned on the air-conditioner, turned the truck around in front of the Bear Cove Cabins, and drove out of town without looking back. I just didn’t care anymore. I wanted to leave.
The air-conditioning and my bottled spring water revived me so I drove on to Yreka where I got gasoline. Then I drove east to Highway 97 where I turned north… and I did not stop for anything until I became too exhausted to go on. I pulled away from the highway in a small town south of Bend, Oregon, and napped in the front seat of the truck. I tried to curl up there, but it was terribly uncomfortable.
After three or four hours of fitful sleeping I continued my journey on up into Washington and finally across the border into Post Falls, Idaho. The trip took 22 hours with sleep time included.When I arrived at Baylee’s River Rock Storage on Idahline Road, I was exhausted, and … it was hot again. I phoned my daughter for help. She and her boyfriend showed up to help me unload the truck into a too-small storage space. As it turned out, I couldn’t work. Every time I got into the truck to try to move things, I started to pass out. My daughter’s boyfriend had to do all the work, and only half of my things fit into that storage space.
That night I checked into the Motel 6 in Coeur d’Alene to recover. The nicest Motel 6 I’ve ever stayed in. The next day I got a second small storage space and finished unloading the truck on my own.
I had to give the truck back… and had no car. My ex-boyfriend in Happy Camp wanted to keep my car, an old Ford Tempo, and I let him have it, in exchange for a $200 Breville juicer, and some work he was supposed to do, cleaning that Happy Camp property… and that didn’t get done because of the way we broke up the day before I left town. I had to walk everywhere in Idaho because I didn’t know the city or the bus system, couldn’t find the right bus stops, and just to get to the bus stops was long distance on sore feet. (The white van I used to drive was given to my son in Happy Camp because I couldn’t fix the mechanical problems it had.)
The next several days were difficult. My apartment paperwork wasn’t ready. I had appointments in Post Falls, and in northern Coeur d’Alene. I walked many miles, my feet were in extreme pain… I found out there was no bus out near the apartment I had applied for because the bus company had cancelled that route due to funding cuts. A walk from the bus stop to the apartment building is two and a half miles.
Finally, five days later, I got the apartment. This came in the nick of time as I had spent every financial resource I had (including my credit cards) on the truck, the gasoline, apartment costs, and motel rooms. If I hadn’t been allowed to move into the apartment on July 5, the next day I would have had to contact a homeless shelter for help… but you see, God was kind to me… and I was blessed with a beautiful apartment instead.The apartment is two bedrooms, and less than two years old. It is very clean and peaceful. The kitchen has every energy efficient appliance needed… so much different than my house in Happy Camp which was an old cabin-like structure and a dust magnet.
I tried to settle into the apartment though I had no furniture and had to sleep on the floor for weeks. I had an air mattress but no air pump and no money to buy one. For a long time, I didn’t have any way to get my things out of storage either.
I sent a bill of sale for that car to my ex-boyfriend in Happy Camp, since he wanted the bill of sale and my car so much, though I honestly thought after all that went down, he didn’t deserve anything more from me. I just wanted to cut ties and be done with it… including getting him off my auto insurance policy and getting that closed since I no longer owned any cars. My heart was broken by him dozens of times over the years, because of the way he frequently verbalized his discontent with me, and other things. I wanted to cut my losses and get him out of my life. I was done with him and had no more feelings left.
On July 9 I decided to walk to Post Falls because the extreme pain in my feet had subsided enough, and I wanted to see the library. The library is two and a half miles from my apartment. It was an extremely hot day again, and I ran out of drinking water on the way home. I was parched, thirsty and suffering from the heat when I saw a sign painted on a building… it said Coffee right next to Chapel.
“Oh, a church with a coffee house!” I thought to myself. I thought of the coffee house in Mt. Shasta that was run by Christians, and wondered if this could be something similar, and whether they would have an iced coffee available to me so I could rest and cool down.
I went inside and sure enough, they had iced coffee, and it was half the price of what I used to pay for similar drinks in Happy Camp. My lucky day. And so I rested, and then asked the young woman at the counter what the services there were like – formal or informal.
“Oh, we’re very informal,” she informed me. “Just come as you are. Wear jeans, or whatever!”
I thanked her and considered that.
You see, I had envisioned this move to Idaho as a spiritual retreat. I had thought I’d go to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Coeur d’Alene, and the Self-Realization Fellowship in Spokane, but now I had no car, and this was the only church I’d seen.
I very much wanted to be in a place where God was being worshiped… and after everything, wanted to be in a holy place, a sanctuary, to thank God for bringing me out of Egypt… in other words, away from the angry man and the misery of my former home in Happy Camp… to a place of safety and peace.
So the next Sunday morning I over-dressed in a dress (not in jeans) and walked the mile back to where that church was. I had to justify this to myself, because I was never a Christian, and was doing something out of the ordinary for me… but I was compelled to go, and while walking along that road I kept thinking to myself that this would be the right day to give my heart to Jesus and be saved. It was the day after my 61st birthday, on July 14, 2013.
At the church a man walked up to me before the service and introduced himself as Bob. I was surprised because I’d had trouble finding friendly people in Idaho. Every time I passed people on the streets and said “hi” people looked away and hurried silently past me as if they were afraid of being mugged by a little old gray-haired lady. (Yes, Linda, you’re not in Happy Camp anymore.)
This Bob wanted to know where I was from, and whether I had been going to church in Happy Camp. Well, no… I lived in Happy Camp thirteen years, and stepped into a church only a few times, and none of those occasions had anything to do with attending a church service.
There was uplifting and spiritual music (a praise band, I learned later, is what they called it) and then Bob, who turned out to be the pastor there, asked us all to open our Bibles to Revelation 5.
I was prepared for this… I was nearly flat broke and couldn’t afford to buy a nice Bible, but I had downloaded a cheap 99 cent copy of the King James Version for my Kindle, and took that to church with me.First impressions: I loved the music. I loved the verse-by-verse Bible study. I loved the friendly people. I was waiting for an altar call or something like that so I could give my life to Jesus, since I felt that was all that was left to me in life after losing so much, especially my boyfriend… but the altar call didn’t happen. Pastor Bob said a prayer at the end of his Bible study and suggested that whoever wanted to be saved could be, right then and there. I was ready, and I didn’t have to go to the front of the room, for which I was grateful.
[Note: this church is a Calvary Chapel outreach fellowship.]
I decided I would return to church as often as I could from then on. There were three church services each week… I attended everything.
Why did I suddenly, after 61 years, make this big change in my life, to become a Christian, after being more of an interfaith mystic for many, many years? Well, I can only say, because I was ready… and because Jesus called out to my heart and gathered me into the fold. He is a good Shepherd.
I learned that Jesus is the greatest Healer mankind has ever known.
I needed a Healer.
This made me remember how my ex-boyfriend had been so sick and in pain, and how he turned to energy healing, and other things, to try to deal with his health problems. But he didn’t turn to the Greatest Healer Ever. I wanted to tell him… Jesus is the Healer. But I didn’t want to contact him again…
I wondered whether I could ever again post anything here. I mean, this blog was my writing blog! And suddenly I didn’t care about writing. I just cared about God and about being healed from the emotional pain I was in. So what was I to say? Was I going to mention Christianity on my blog? Definitely a change of direction in this life, and I needed time to assimilate and understand what was going on.
A Christian friend who lives in the building next to the one I live in… told me she was attending a women’s Bible study at a different church, and that they were studying a book about forgiveness.
I wanted forgiveness… not for myself, but to extend to others. I knew I needed to forgive that man, for so many things.
That week on Thursday evening I started attending these “Bible studies” which I think should be called “Christian book study groups” because Bibles are rarely opened there. But anyhow, they gave me a book, As We Forgive Those.
I was grateful they didn’t ask me to pay for that book, because all this time I was nearly flat broke. My financial problems were frightening. My income had plummeted due to changes in the search engine algorithms, and my rent had doubled. I didn’t have money for anything but paying bills. I was having to get rides to the food bank every week just to get something to eat as there was no food money in my budget. A car? Out of the question! I still don’t have one.
Anyhow, I got a copy of the book, which contains a prayer for forgiveness, and I developed my own forgiveness project to deal with the pain… the bitterness, the unforgiveness, the judgements… all that went into my total lack of positive feelings for that man who had upset me so severely over the course of seven years, over and over again, in so many ways. I had a lot of forgiveness work to do!
I found out that forgiveness had nothing to do with him. It was mainly going to help me. I had no intention of contacting him ever again. I just wanted the bitterness and judgement out of my life. I wanted to forgive…
…and I did…
…and I did…
…and I did…
I learned that I needed to forgive each thing individually. There were a lot of things on my list. Too much pain, hurt and disappointment. I was a mess, but gradually started to come out of it.
Then one day at church Pastor Bob was teaching … and suddenly he kept repeating a certain Bible verse over and over, with his hands held high like it was some kind of momentious and important thing. He kept saying something about a curse that was mentioned in the Bible.
What caught my breath was that word, ‘curse’ . . . because my ex-boyfriend had often told me he thought he was cursed, and didn’t know where the curse was coming from.
“Oh,” I said to myself. “Could that be it? Someone should tell him.”
Suddenly, I thought I might have to tell him this, as if it were my responsibility, as I’d been given this knowledge. Until this moment, I didn’t even believe in curses. Not really. But if it is in the Bible, I would believe it. I also didn’t believe in demons when I lived in Happy Camp and I wasn’t sure about Satan! But I believe in them now.
Until that moment I never considered actually contacting my ex-boyfriend again… and this was several months after leaving Happy Camp. I still didn’t think I could do it, so I decided to put it out of my mind.
So God must have upped the stakes… I suddenly started noticing that certain things I used to own were not in my life anymore. My journals, my jewelery box that man had given me with my favorite crystals in it, and some other items – photographs – all missing. I wondered if he had any of my things. I also had some of his things, and wondered if he might want them.
I asked one of my friends back in Happy Camp to give him my phone number.
Then I waited, and waited, and waited. But this person didn’t give him my phone number. I waited some more, and I prayed about it.
I learned what it meant to wait for the Lord … Bible verses about waiting kept coming to me.
Suddenly, I really wanted to talk to that man again. I had never even said goodbye to him the day we split up.
My fear and anger were falling away because of the forgiveness work I’d done, and I was ready to see if I could talk to him, if he wanted to talk to me. I even made a list of things I wanted to talk to him about.
But that phone number was never given to him… and by the time my friend got over to the place where he’d been staying, to give it to him, he had moved away. I don’t know where he is now.
I believe this is the Will of God, which I had been praying for. I trust Him and believe He’s causing whatever’s best for each of us to happen.
[Note: Later I remembered he’s had my new phone number since he got that Bill of Sale for the car, because it was typed on there.]
So… why am I writing all this on my blog? Well, it isn’t because I like to have my life exposed. I really don’t like it. But a few nights ago I was meditating and listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit to guide me, and was inspired to write this blog post.
So here it is.
I guess I have nothing else to write here. Life goes on. I love my new home. I have new friends. I learned to fix my bicycle, changed tubes and fixed the brakes, and got some use out of that since it is easier to go five or six miles on a bike than on foot. I still go to church whenever possible though the lady that gives me a ride has been sick the last week and a half. I don’t mind walking the mile when there’s daylight but I can’t go to the evening services until she’s well again.
Finances are getting better. I still won’t be able to buy a car anytime soon, but I can buy my food now rather than relying on the food bank.
Well, back to my regular studies… there’s never enough time to do all I want to do.
This is my most recent painting.
The heart, you might think, represents the love I have for Jesus.
But no, that’s not what it meant… it represents the man I left behind in Happy Camp. That’s what I had to give up to make my way back to God.