A journey from desperate clinical depression to wholeness and profound wisdom
Images of Betty
I long to be loved as I am.
Out from the mold of what others would have me be,
free of demand, of stress
to be known as I am yet loved.
What a creative thing this would be.
In the winter of 1947, Betty was to be presented at the Red Stone Ball at the Birmingham Country Club. Her mother, Annie Tartt, was beside herself with excitement. Betty was furious. She didn’t want to go but was also fighting the guilt she felt about her feelings toward her mother.
She physically and emotionally withdrew, just as she did following her father's suicide. This unconscious way of coping with fear and anger, which she adopted as a child, became the pattern for dealing with conflict that she carried into her adult years. Eventually, it would quietly and insidiously, yet mercifully, lead to her complete and physical and emotional breakdown.
"All right, Lord. I've been reading about what a good Christian should do and how I should live my life, but I want to say to You that it's not working for me.
"You promised me joy, You promised me peace, You promised me wholeness, and I'm not experiencing any of this.
"My life is a total disaster. There's got to be another way. I do not doubt Your promises, but I don't understand how to find them."
While still struggling with her father's suicide after WWII, and her brother's death during the Korean War, Betty started her own family. With each of her succeeding pregnancies, Betty suffered severe postpartum depression that lasted as long as six months. On the surface, though, her world remained safe, secure, and unpredictable.
Who am I anyway?
Others see absolutely nothing.
They crucify with their tongues.
They force me into a vacuum.
I am lonely.
I am empty.
I am nothing.
In January of 1968, a hysterectomy depleted Betty’s waning strength. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. At forty-two, she hit the bottom of the pit of despair, and that is where the healing began.
To let loose the trapeze,
To fly free,
To allow space,
To move, to breathe, to grow.
“I needed a very structured approach to my physical healing because failure to do my work would cause me to slip backward, and I knew how difficult that road was ... The simple discipline of getting out and walking that had seemed so torturous in the beginning became a joy and eventually took me on many magnificent mountain hikes and, unbeknownst to me, to a whole new depth of spiritual experience.”
O, Beloved of my soul,
yet again I come alone
to seek Your Face,
to hear Your Voice,
to know Your Heart
in quiet summer days, in endless mountain ways.
“Year after year, I sat there and pondered all that God was teaching me. I sat there in the heat, in the sunshine, in the cold, or in the rain. It didn’t matter; I watched it all...summer after summer after summer, I returned to that place. As I returned again and again, these truths came alive to me. It’s so important to establish physical places in our lives where we have experienced the Presence. These places become sacred, and we return there to ask God to intensify our desire for Him.”
A holy dimension,
An infinite shimmer.
Lifting the veil of the known,
Peace flowing through a pure heart.
“I was becoming an integrated, whole person totally dependent on and in love with the Giver of Love. When the Giver of Love becomes the Receiver of Love, the movement from bondage to freedom is complete. The moment I actualized this gift, I was free: free to go forth into the fullness of gratitude. I understood this and was standing at last on solid ground, in the now that never passes away.”
Love gone wild
Love gone free
Love come alive in me.
Self-emptying, self-giving, rejoicing
Ecstasy expanding me.
"More and more, as we empty ourselves of self, we experience God’s presence surrounding us. It is something beyond expression, a sweet moment of belonging to everything, a sense of the fullness of God’s love being returned to us by every created thing: the people in our life, the trees, the flowers, and all of the earth. This is the abundant life, the Divine Spirit of Love filling our emptiness. We can live in this place now—we don’t have to wait for heaven."
A circle full of ripples
from one pebble in a pond
like a quiet life
poured out in love.
"Now, in the twilight of my years, I feel very pressed to encourage people who are on their spiritual journey to persevere, to trust God, and to not stop short of the goal—the gift of the Giver Himself, divine union. The gates of heaven are everywhere. Our part is to simply embrace and open to the new seasons of our inner and outer journey as preparation to receive this gift of Love."