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A Free-write on Grief - Please forgive typos... Unedited thoughts this morning.

by Brittany Bexton on 08/18/18

Grief can’t be bottled into phases. It can’t be explained away. You can’t tell anyone how to grieve, or know how they will. You can’t even know yourself how grief will hit you, or what it will feel like. It’s a million feelings rolled into one, and complete numbness all at the same time. Sometimes, it’s sadness so deep that your insides literally ache,  and your throat hurts. Sometimes it feels like someone is stabbing you in the chest. Sometimes it's a lump in your throat that won't go away, no matter how many times you swallow, or how much tea you drink. Sometimes it’s rage, anger, a feeling like you want to explode with fire. Sometimes it’s joy and gratefulness at the memories. The moments, that you wouldn’t give up for anything. Gratefulness for the sweetness, the years of laughter, the smiles, the snuggles, the love.  Gratefulness that you got the gift of experiencing that person, and sharing life with them, even if it was too short. Gratefulness, and joy, and laughter, followed by a hollow, aching emptiness of the realization, that in this life, or in this time, you can’t have or hold what you so greatly love.  Some moments it’s peace, because you feel them so strongly, it’s like they are there with you, in breaths, in moments. You can almost feel them nuzzle against you, or hear there heartbeat, or catch their smile from the corner of your eye.  It’s denial, because there is a part of your soul that just can’t accept that they are no longer there with you. Maybe it’s the part of us that is eternal, that knows that love can’t ever fully leave us, that knows there soul is still connected to yours endlessly, woven into the very parts of who you are. Denial, because you can’t imagine going one day without being able to hear their voice, or share a laugh, or put your arms around them, or share a little piece of your day. You can’t imagine going one more day, let alone the rest of your days. And sometimes it’s numbness. Numbness, that shuts down all emotion, all thoughts. Numbness, because you feel too much, so much, that your body just can’t take it, so it goes into survival mode, and just shuts all feeling off. Numbness, because you have to go on, you have to survive without something or someone you didn’t think you could live without, but you have to. You have to keep living. So you keep moving, and you keep breathing, and you keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you keep doing the things you have to do to survive, but you feel nothing, because nothing feels better than feeling everything, until it doesn’t. And even though you don’t feel it, the grief is still there, in your skin, in your muscles, in your organs, in your bones, in your soul, just waiting to be allowed out again. To be released, to be expressed, to be felt up and out. But grief isn’t on a timeline. It doesn’t have an end date. Missing someone doesn’t just go away. Life goes on, despite feeling like it would stop, it keeps moving. There are still happy moments. There are still smiles, there is still laughter, there are still hugs, and blessings.  There are beautiful people that come into your life, or grow more deeply into your life, and fill some of the hollow space that the grief left behind. Because life does keep moving, and it keeps being beautiful, even in the pain, even through the pain. And as you move through the pain, you may even find, that happiness creeps its way into your life again. That the empty spaces and the ache isn’t so present, as it’s given way to the warmth of new memories, and new moments. But the truth of grief, the truth of missing someone who’s gone, is that you never stop missing them. It doesn’t ever go away. Love fills the hollow spaces, but it never takes away the love they left with you, the love that still fills a part of your soul, and with that, the longing never fully goes away. You start get used to living  without them. It becomes normal, instead of foreign, and the laughter takes place of the tears more and more frequently. But there will always be moments when the loss hits you all over again, like a fist in your gut. Maybe it’s a photo that you come across that floods you with love and memories, and longing. Or maybe it’s a moment, that is so familiar, it’s almost as if reliving a moment when they were there, but they’re not.  Or maybe it’s when life is hard, and you wish more than anything that you could just talk to them, or give them a hug, because they always made the hardest moments so much better.  But there is a piece of grieving that never fully leaves us. So grieve. Allow yourself to feel. Let it come up and out. Let it come streaming from your muscles and your bones, and your gut, and cry it out, yell it out, laugh it out, let yourself become a heap of salty tears, and sloppy runny nose on the floor. Because grief is love, and it’s ok, no matter how it looks or feels, and you have to get it out of your body. 





A Survivors Poem

by Brittany Bexton on 03/27/18

Project Life Quality is an amazing organization that raises awareness for domestic abuse and encourages survivors to share their stories and heal through art. They do weekly challenges. This weeks challenge was a poem, telling people what you would like them to know about abuse, and how to support you. I decided to partake. This is a free form, free write poem. 


A Survivors Poem

Why does it always come down to me?

Asking why didn’t I leave?

 Because part of me still believed the lies that he’d told me.

My brain was such a fog, that it was hard to see the truth,

Through the fear, obligation, and guilt.

A subconscious whisper tormenting me,

saying  if I, If I, If I,

If I just loved enough, gave enough, tried harder, did it differently,

then maybe, maybe, maybe, it wouldn’t be so painful. 

Maybe, it would change him. Change the outcome this time.

Abuse doesn’t make sense, it has no answers, it can’t be compared to normal rules or truth.

So before you lay your judgement, or look at me with shame. Before you blame a victim, take the time to recognize,

That we were lied to when we were young or still believed, that people were truly good at heart, and no one could be evil. 

Because no one looks for evil, from someone who professes love,

and showers you with affection, and tells you that you’re the one,

but it’s the little mind games, that go on daily for so much time, that slowly strip your confidence, and make you believe the lies,

that isolate you from loved ones so they can’t get through to you.

and make you hide in shame, embarrassed to share the truth.

It’s the jokes that aren’t funny to tear you down a notch, or the backhanded compliments that leave you feeling stumped.

It’s subtle and it’s dragged out, and many cannot see

the daily baseline abuse, as it strips your self esteem.

Walking on eggshells, always trying to keep the peace.

Doing everything you can to prevent a fight,

But in trying to keep things calm, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s right.

And just when you get to the end of your rope,

When your about to give up, cause you’re broken and you’ve lost hope,

They change the script and do, the most evil thing of all, and they pretend to be sorry, or put on a show, they act better, and for a moment, remind you of the love, that they showed you in the beginning, when they said you were the one.

And you question leaving and think maybe they’ve finally changed, it’s so much easier to stay.

So much time invested, so much heartache, tears, and even smiles,

its hard to give up, when you think they can reconcile.

But that’s just part of the cycle, and the good is just the cliff, and they smile on the edge, as they push you and you plummet, right back down to the challenges, the confusion and the pain. All the ups and downs really mess with your brain.

It doesn’t matter how strong you are, how smart or confident. You don’t see it coming when you meet someone like this. They’re conniving, and they’re sneaky and masterly manipulative. And by the time you see the truth you are in so deep, that the way out isn’t clear, and it’s dark and hard to see,

But there is light at the end of the tunnel, on the other side of their chains, there’s happiness, and hope, and real love awaits. But if I ever get sad, or triggered to remember how dark it was, sit with me with patience, and extend an arm of love.

I don’t need your judgements, your advice, or opinions pushed,

I just need to know I’m not alone, and it’s safe to share my truth.

Your acceptance and support and loving tools, are the things that give me strength. Don’t shatter me with hard truths, don’t push, please I’ve had enough, show me a better way, the way of truth, and real love.

That gives me hope for a future that my past tried to steal,

and reminds me I am worthy, no matter how much pain I feel.

The love of friends and family and the truth of what is right.

Those are the things, that help me most to heal. 

Ashes and Smoke

by Brittany Bexton on 10/12/17


        What are you supposed to feel when you are watching the place you grew up, literally burn to the ground? Historic sites, and memories up in smoke, nothing left but the charred remains of people’s lives. Fear, sadness, worry, shock, doubt, numbness, faith, hope, a slew of emotions start, and then give way to numbness, because how do you feel. You don’t want to feel scared, because fear somehow feels like giving way to the darkness. When the sadness creeps in, it’s pushed off by a voice that says, you can’t go there now, it’s too much. Worry, comes knocking, and I want to scream, “Go away! You’re not allowed here, everything will be fine!” Faith that somehow, God will step in and bring good out of this, that he will protect my family, my memories. Hope, that the fires will stop, that rain will come early and unexpectedly, like a cleansing bath from heaven, to squelch the flames. Shock, that must be the feeling, the feeling that encompasses every other sensation and thought that comes up, because these things don’t happen in real life, in my world right? Fires don’t overtake and level entire cities, they are stopped. Nightmares like this don’t last for more than one day. Surely, the devastation will stop. The images of charred earth are a picture of a faraway place, a make believe place in a movie that plays far off of my mind, but it’s not. It’s real, and it’s there; in a place I hold dear to my heart. A place that holds people I love deeply, and memories I cherish.

       Last night I made a call home, please pack the photos first. Pack the family photos and your clothes, pack necessities. Memories, and life, the two things that can’t be replaced. The things that we are all clinging to and trying to protect. In the ash that keeps falling, are charred pieces of people’s lives and memories; baby books, and photos, long forgotten children’s stories, the fabric and trail of life. And in the midst of the devastation, a piece of the bible floated down onto my friends lawn, charred around the edges, but the verse itself untouched. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23


Photo Credit: Katherine Wheeler




Bye, Bye Miss American Pie...

by Brittany Bexton on 10/02/17

This morning I woke up to the news of the terrible tragedy in Las Vegas. This particular tragedy wasn’t something that was far removed from me. While it was thousands of miles away in Las Vegas, it was still a tragedy that hit people close to me. A man opened fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel into a crowd of fans attending a big country music festival. Were my fans and friends among the crowds? Yes. Among the people performing at that event, were drummers, guitar players, and friends that I have toured with, and spent hours on the road with. My Aunt called me this morning to make sure I wasn’t there. The first thing I did when I found out was make sure that one of my good friends and biggest supporters, who lives in Vegas, was not at the event. By the grace of God, the folks that I know who attended the event, or were close by are ok. However, there are at least 50 other people who are not ok. Who will not be going home to their families, or saying goodnight to their loved ones tonight. And whether bullets hit the others or they got out physically unharmed, that event will remain a wound on their hearts. What they saw and heard, they can’t unsee or unhear, and what happened is done. So where does that leave us. This morning, this is the thought it left me with, we need to be a people that stops living on paper, and starts living out loud. How many of us have lives that look so good on paper, or social media? So much of society lives with plastered on smiles, pushing down pain, frustration, or anger, and trying to live a “good life” that looks right on paper. But is that how we’re really called to live? When Jesus walked among us, he constantly broke what the religious leaders considered “religious law.” He healed people on the sabbath, He befriended those who others would not speak to. He called out hypocrites. Jesus did not live a life that looked good on paper. He associated with prostitutes, adulterers, and tax collectors, and he called out the people who sat high and mighty preaching religious law, and yet He is the One who lived a holy, and righteous life. Because Jesus didn’t just live a life that looked good on the outside, He lived a life that felt good and right on the inside. He listened to his heart and soul when they spoke to Him. He recognized anger and sadness as directional markers when they came up, and He didn’t ignore them. He helped people who had a desire for change, and He rebuked those who believed they were above others, and had lost sight of the heart of God.

I can’t help but wonder what life would be like if we began to live a life that felt good on the inside, just as Jesus had. What would happen if we were true to our hearts and our emotions, and spoke up when we felt something that hurt us. The more we push down our feelings and replace them with a smile, the less we feel. The more we pretend, the less becomes real. And the more we shut out the truth, the less we see it even when it’s in front of our faces. If we could just allow ourselves to feel more, maybe we could also be more open to see others hurting. Perhaps we’d better be able to recognize those around us who are holding on by a mere thread and on their way to a breakdown. When we shut down our own emotions, we close ourselves off to our own hearts and souls. We shut off our ears to the voice of God, and we close our eyes to the truth around us. We stop feeling the good moments as much as we stop feeling the hard ones. That is not living at all. Life is far too long to live a life that looks good and doesn’t feel good, and it’s far too short, to go another day without making a change and taking a chance to live fully in truth, and strive for a life that feels good on the inside. So in the wake of a great tragedy, take time to grieve, and get sad and angry at the loss. Take time today to listen to your heart, and listen to it’s desires. What do you want so much that you’ve been putting off. What have you been pretending is ok, when it hurts. Is there a part of you that  a part of you that knows you aren’t fulfilled, but has kept quiet. Who have you not spoken to in ages that you can reach out to and just catch up with. Give yourself nurturing love today, and the permission to feel, and reach out to those around you in love. Look around, and notice those who seem to be hurting. Hold the door for a stranger, and smile genuinely at someone who needs it. Say the loving things that come to your mind. You never know what a difference the smallest of gestures can make. Don’t live on paper, live out loud.


It Felt Like... Part 2

by Brittany Bexton on 01/04/17

It Felt Like… Part 2


I had a conversation with a wonderful woman recently about domestic abuse, and she asked me a question that made me feel like I really needed to write a part 2 follow up for my blog from December. I left something out of my December blog post that is really important. It’s important, because it speaks to the nature of being in an abusive situation, and an understanding of why people stay in abusive situations as long as they do.


The million dollar questions she asked me was: “Did you feel safe with him?”


Here’s the crazy part… The answer is a murky yes, in a way I did. That’s right, there was a part of me that felt comfortable, and even safe with my abuser. I know, it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make any logical or emotional sense.


    In clinical terms there are two ways this phenomena is generally explained. 1) It’s an addiction. Abusive relationships aren’t all lows. There are highs mixed with the lows. They are a roller coaster ride. You never know what you are going to get. Will you be met with the charming, affectionate, fun person you fell for, or the mean, manipulative, aggressive person that they sometimes show you? Are they apologizing profusely and trying to show you they’ve “changed?” or are they slipping back into the same old pattern again? This crazy cycle produces all sorts of chemical reactions in our bodies that create a similar effect as drugs, and we essentially form an addiction, or a trauma bond.

2) There is a crazy thing called cognitive dissonance that happens with abuse. When you are in a situation where you know you are not being treated the way you deserve, or making healthy choices, but you don’t see an easy way out, your brain tells you a little lie that says, “It’s not so bad. There are good things here. It’s better than it was.” Another example of Cognitive dissonance would be a cigarette smoker. Asmoker knows that cigarettes are bad for them, but they don’t know how to quit, so they tell themselves it’s ok, because they only smoke three a day now, which is way better than the pack a day they used to smoke. These little cognitive dissonance fibs do not make it good, they do not make us happy, they do not make it right, and they do not make it ok, but they are a survival mechanism when we don’t see an easy answer, or an easy escape.


Clinical definitions aside, my emotional experience of it was very mixed. You see, there was a part of me that felt safe with him. I had been with him for a long time. He had seen me at my worst (partially because he brought out my worst parts), and he had seen me at my best. We spent a ton of time together. That is part of an abusive relationship, early on they shower you with affection, and they want to spend all their time with you. They monopolize your time. You can’t give time to something without creating a bond, whether that bond is healthy or not. Spending that time together doesn’t just create a bond, it creates a habit. I was in the habit of being with him, and in that way, it felt comfortable, and it felt safe. We had so much invested in our relationship in shared time. He had seen me at my worst and not left. Even when he would push me away or leave, he would always come back. He was a constant of sorts. I may have never known what exactly I was coming home to, but I knew what to expect overall.


Now, this being said, I want to make it clear that I never truly felt safe with him. I did not feel emotionally safe, in the sense that my feelings were never validated. I could not approach him with my cares, and worries, or God forbid a complaint about something he did, because I wouldn’t be met with a healthy discussion or problem solving attitude. I was instead, met with judgement, criticism, blame, threats, guilting or other emotional blackmail. It could be as simple as him brushing off my sadness about something and saying I was overreacting, or as big as him blaming me for hurts that he’d caused me, and even calling me crazy to react, and threatening a course of action if I didn’t let it go. Did I feel safe in the sense of being grounded, cozy, and stable? No. I was on eggshells with him. I never knew what would cause an issue, or what mood he would be in when we spoke or saw eachother. He could be fun and affectionate and appreciative, or he could be mean, distant, and play mind games. I was not emotionally safe with him. My ex was never physically abusive, so physical danger wasn’t something I worried about, but, if I were to be fully honest, there were moments once or twice in the 5 years we were together, that I had a strange sense of not feeling fully safe. He didn’t say or do anything to make me feel that way in the moment. The feeling was as subtle as the hair on the back of my neck raising for just a second, but it was there, under all of the idealizing that my mind wanted to do about the relationship, that uncomfortable feeling was still there, buried, but present.


Still, despite knowing that it wasn’t healthy. Despite knowing I wasn’t being treated the way I deserved. Despite never knowing what I would get from him. Despite feeling hollow, and numb, and frustrated, there was still a part of me that felt safe. Because I knew who he was and what he was. There wasn’t some big unknown. I couldn’t have the rug pulled out from under me, because it already was. I remember once after the last time we split up, I was seeing someone new, and shortly after we started dating, I panicked. He hadn’t called in a day or two, and I was so used to the hyper attentiveness that I’d had with my ex early on, that part of me thought the guy was bolting. And I remember thinking, “What am I doing? I shouldn’t be with this guy, I should just go back to my ex, he loves me, and he will never leave!” Luckily I had enough recovery at the time to have a second voice pop into my head that said “Brittany, he may always come back, and never leave fully, but he can’t even really be with you when he’s there. He might love you in the only way he knows how, but he doesn’t know how to actually love, and he doesn’t know how to receive real love, and it’s not healthy.” That was the moment I realized I had to go no contact for a while, and not speak to him at all. Because my habit was so adapted to going back, to caving in, that it was too risky to stay in contact. My brain and emotions were so trained by the habit and chemicals of being with him, that I couldn’t heal without getting completely away. I needed to create a new healthy habit and pattern. I had to give myself space and freedom to move on. I had to allow myself to be with someone else, and grow with someone else, and allow those feelings to develop, without him being able to intervene, and meddle. I needed to do that for myself. I needed to give myself that gift. And I did, thank God!


The easiest way to sum up the false sense of “safety” you get by staying with, or going back to an abuser is this, “It’s the devil that you know.” It can be so scary to contemplate the unknown. It’s scary to think of what could happen. Could you be met with a worse fate? Fears come up that tell you lies like, “You might not meet someone better. You might meet someone worse. What if they cause trouble even after you leave? What if no one else sees you or wants you? You are failing them.”  It can be scary and sad to feel like you are giving up on someone you once loved; someone you invested time, and energy, and money, and promises into. But, the devil that we know is still the devil, and often, God lives in the unknown. God lives in the possibilities. Because for every what if, there is a positive. What if you meet someone worse? Well, what if you meet someone better? What if it hurts? What if it sets you free, heals you, and leads to you being happy again? Change is scary. The unknown is scary. But happiness lies in the possibilities, that lie in the unknown future. To stay is to stay stuck, it’s to stay in misery, numbness, and to simply settle. Life was meant to be lived abundantly. Love y’all!

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