Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wounds instead of scars

My mind plays games with me sometimes, and I almost become overwhelmed by my feelings of emptiness and pain. I'm having one of these moments right now, and so I am coming back to these two things:

1) At the end of Exodus and Joseph's story, it's questioned as to why Joseph was allowed to go through so many difficult things. The conclusion is that he could be content and joyful about his past because through it, many people survived. Because of my pain, too, many people will be able to survive.

2) When I lose everything, I accomplish things. This has always been true of my life. Just in this last week, for instance, I lost 4 pounds, am booking speaking engagements, and making active steps toward operating my own business including having more music students lined up at a music store.

But somehow, it's not helping today and I am sitting here sobbing. Somehow, this doesn't help the ache in my heart that screams out for someone to hold me. Seriously, God, I need something to change. I want to love and be loved. Why isn't the heart something that can just be ripped out once and then it can't be ripped out again? Instead, it's something that can continue to feel pain exactly as it did the first time it was ripped out of a chest, even if it's the hundreth time it's actually happened. Wounds are different than scars. Wounds can still hurt and bleed.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Empty.

Before you decide to get into a relationship, seriously contemplate the success of that relationship...because if it falls apart, you may feel some things that are uncomfortable and would be nicer left unfelt. Like emptiness.  We still have a relationship, but it's different. A lot different. And I am lonely. And empty. He is too.

It's all about counting the cost and deciding if it's worth it to you---knowing that you may feel pain during the process of your relationship with someone. Is it worth that pain? Is it worth feeling so empty that you can't even identify the names of what you feel? You long to stuff things in that blank space so that you feel complete again. All that you can find that fits the jagged edges of that void is the title "relationship." However, no matter how hard you try to put a human relationship in there, all that happens is that the more you push, the more you both get cut and scraped as you try to fill the gaps. It's a brutal cycle, but the sooner you recognize that you can't fill the void of a broken relationship, the sooner you can begin to heal those jagged edges.

There's another who counted the cost of me before, and he thought I was worth it. Knowing that it's possible I would never want him to begin with. Knowing that if I did, I would fall. That there would be moments when I would wander to something or someone else, and it would hurt him. Despite the agony and desperation felt though, he still chose me. And he is the only one that can fill my void now, taking his hand and smoothing down those jagged edges even if he bleeds in the process.

Keep choosing me, El Rachum, my Heavenly Father.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Details

The details. Most people don't work these out--they have a mediator intervene the war-like tactics involved in "determining the details" of a separation. I have a sneaking suspicion it comes to this because people didn't marry their best friend at the time of the wedding...

We "worked out the details" yesterday. It is, in fact, the most ridiculous arrangement I have ever heard from anyone. It works, though, and we are both completely relieved that we can just be friends, focus on our goals and dreams, and not have the stress involved in "trying" to have a relationship and feelings that just are not working right now. The first time we fell in love, we weren't trying. We've realized it's not a very good idea to try to force these things unless you don't mind dying young as a result of the stress. If we fall in love a second time, it will not be because we are trying.

So as it stands now, we will continue to live together. A room with a cot will probably be created downstairs for one of us to sleep if needed. A divorce will only happen if God brings someone else into one of our lives (which I'm guessing the chances of happening are very slim since this person would be entering an intact family, have to be approved by all of us, and would have to understand and accept the dynamics of John's and my relationship). If we move from here, we'll either build or try to get a duplex home with a door between the living spaces so things are not weird or stressful for the kids--we will always still be a family. All of us. Oh, and one more small detail: John thinks we shouldn't mention us being separated to people. I guess we'll see how well that one works out, because someone is bound to pick up on it at some point.

Just from what we've gone through already, I realize this whole arrangement could change tomorrow...but since we're not following rules of what Christian married people are "supposed" to do anymore, I am thinking this agreement is going to hold. We are very clearly in God's will now, and it's a big relief to not be fighting what he has laid on both of our hearts.

So now, I'm am relearning how to breathe. Again. This time though, not going back prematurely.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Swinging

I walked out to the wooden dock pier in the dark of the night. My white knit hat, washed blue jeans, my favorite canvas shoes, and my Dr. Suess zip up sweatshirt over tight layers of spaghetti strapped and thermal shirts. I was going to walk the rock pier out to the edge in Clute Park, but opted instead for a better lit area since I was alone. So it was me, the water, the darkness...I was excited to enter the building at the end of the path...There, I would be able to sit and watch the water without feeling like a nomad. As I got towards the building though, I noticed the two teenagers inside. Making out on the bench. Guess I didn't need to worry that the other lone car in the parking lot belonged to some creepy murderer guy who was just waiting for some single girl to walk by him.

I left. But not before walking the boardwalk, watching the small waves lap against the wood, and thinking about the kids in the outlook that were so crazy in love that they braved the 50 degree weather wearing only jeans and hoodies just so that their bodies could be closer to each other as they kissed in the moonlight. And I thought about them. Little did they realize that there is a girl years older than them, wishing for the moment they had.

I pondered where else to go, what to do. It's like that moment when you really want to talk to someone and maybe just be still with them, listening to your favorite songs on the radio and lying on your backs staring at the stars or a ceiling. But instead of that moment, it's the one that you actually find yourself alone in, so you have to make another plan. While the place I usually run to is the cemetery on the hill, that just didn't seem like the best decision at night and alone. I had decided to just walk Franklin Street, but then I saw the park...

It was peaceful. No one else was there. Even though it is surrounded on every side by streets with parked or driving cars, a traffic light adjacent to it, and there is no privacy anywhere in it, it was a sanctuary for me. Somehow, time stopped as I got out of my car and walked to the swing. Sounds dimmed, and the awareness of other living things around me faded.

I swung for a while. It probably looked ridiculous to people driving by, but I didn't much care. There's something about swinging that gives you the illusion of flying, being freed from the things that hold you down. And the beautiful part is that you are in control of it all. My favorite is to tip my head back so that on the back swing, it appears to you as though you're going to slam your head into the ground and snap your neck backward...but just before that happens, the arc takes you away from the ground and you head toward the tree tops instead.

My arms finally ached, and I decided that I was centered enough to go home. It felt good to work things out, so to speak, between God, myself, and the swing. Maybe next time, I will be in that little building on the edge of the pier. And if not, there is always Lafayette Park with its single swing.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Here Again...but different

Well, here I am again. Apart. Separated. And yet, it's beautiful this time. Not so scary.

Simply put: we both knew this isn't where we're supposed to be right now...and I realized I was starting to die again...so it was either give in and be subjugated and lifeless again, or take a step back. I didn't know that he also knew this is where we are supposed to be until I told him. Over the phone. During lunch break. Awesome timing for a "break up" conversation, right? But it was beautiful, because I am breathing again, and he understands, and this is where we're supposed to be.

That's it. We're here again, but it's different, because this time it's not done out of fear or hurt or pain. It's done because we both know this is where we are to be now, and we know it's time to focus ourselves in the stillness and not force something to be that shouldn't.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Part Two: dating advice

Hear me out, people in the dating world: put your hormones, butterflies in your stomach, and happy feelings aside for a moment. If I could impart one thing and one thing only onto you, I would say this: don't settle. You have a beautiful opportunity, right now, to choose the spouse and person you will live with until you die. Do not settle for ANYTHING less that what you absolutely want. Trust me, he or she is out there, and they are worth the wait.
  • Are you proud of how this person acts in public? Are you proud of how this person acts in private?
  • Will you become part of his family, and he yours?
  • Is she the mother you want for your children? Remember, you get to choose exactly what mother you want for your kids. That's a pretty amazing thing.
  • Will you still be able to talk to this person for hours even after you've been living with him for 12 years?
  • Is this the person that you are bonded to more than any other?
  • If you could design how you think a spouse should treat you, would this person fit that description?
  • Are you completely comfortable with this person physically?
  • Do you want to share everything with this person? Your bank account, money, passwords, conversations, vacations, time, adventures, failures, bathroom, bed, car, children?
There are also some things that I am telling you right now that you should not think you can "put up" with. These things will destroy your marriage and you will have just wasted your time, money, and heart on a relationship. A relationship with these things is not sustainable and you are foolish if you get into a relationship with someone knowing this. Do whatever you have to do to not become attached to this person until these problems are completely and utterly resolved.
  1. Into a "swinger" lifestyle. The only reason I put this down is because statistically, couples who take part in swapping partners ultimately have a 100% divorce rate. May sound fun, but trust me, don't do it.
  2. Tries in any way to control you. Physically, or in subtle ways like manipulating your actions or emotions. 
  3. Misuses you in any way.
  4. Does not respect you...warning signs? Doesn't accept "no," makes fun of you, mistreats your possessions, doesn't listen, doesn't find your opinions/thoughts/feelings to be valid, goes against your wishes, doesn't find value in your dreams/career/past.
  5. Is jealous. You may think it's attractive right now to have someone who won't allow you to talk to other people of the opposite sex, but trust me, it's going to become annoying as all hell two years down the road when you can't even text a friend. There is a good jealousy over things that are rightfully yours, like wanting to keep a monogamous relationship. There is also a bad jealousy, like regulating a person's actions that are not rightfully yours to regulate. Run for the hills if they have a bad jealousy, because this means they also have control issues. Do not make the mistake of thinking they won't control you.
  6. If you aren't thrilled to tell this person everything about everything in your life. This should be the person who you want to tell everything to because he will be interested, care, help, and be happy or sad for you. You should be able to know without a doubt that whatever you are going through or struggling with, he is there to uphold you and not judge you or be angry about it.
Do not settle, my friends, for anything except the best. You do deserve it, and so does the person you want to date.

Part One: the new list

Maybe this is a bad idea, but it's one that I've had for a few months, so I think I should just write it down and suffer any consequences later. Since going through all of this yucky stuff the last bunch of months, I have wondered if my list of desirable characteristics for a spouse has changed since actually being married. We always hear about making sure you "match" the person you marry--that you can communicate, that you agree on politics and religion, that finances are figured out, and that you at least discuss child rearing philosophies before the wedding day...but we don't often talk about the things that go beyond the "good marriage" rules. So please, those who are young and eager to marry, consider the following list. And Brad Sorenson, if you are reading this, please take notes and mold yourself now just in case I am ever in a state of un-marriage.
  1. Knows how to love me. If you don't know how to love, you can't love. You will be surprised at how many people don't actually have a clue how to love someone else. It's often confused with lust or selfishness. I always used 1 Corinthians 13 as a model of how I am supposed to love others, but I never used it as the standard of which to hold other people to when considering if they loved me. Why this never occurred to me, I do not know.
    1. is patient with me and my children
    2. is kind to me and my children
    3. does not envy me or others
    4. does not boast about things to just make himself look better to me or others
    5. is not proud (does not judge others based on statuses, and is willing to do what he needs to do regardless of whether or not it boosts his image among men)
    6. does not dishonor others
    7. does not make selfish decisions
    8. is not easily angered by me or my children
    9. keeps no record of wrongs
    10. does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
    11. always protects me and my children! Physically and emotionally.
    12. always trusts me
    13. always hopes for the best for me and us and our future
    14. always perseveres in his relationship and love for me
  2. Has a great, dry sense of humor, and can laugh at situations and himself to help get through tough times.
  3. Passionate for God. Knows his personal cost of following Christ and has made the decision to do so.
  4. Enjoys the same things I do.
  5. Understand the things that make me feel loved, and cares enough to do so.
  6. Likes to hold me...because, of course, I like to be held.
  7. Is helpful to me.
  8. And basically, if he can get through all of the very large concrete walls that surround my heart and soul...get me to trust him...well, my heart will always be his. Forever. No matter what.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Heart-Head Dichotomy

I wish I could feel. I wish I could make a decision, no matter how irrational, just based on what my heart says.

All that I can do, though, is make decisions based on logic...and when logic isn't flowing along the same path as my heart, it creates a lot of stress.

Add my subjugation into the mix, and disaster strikes. I'm destined for a stroke or heart attack by the time I will hit my thirtieth birthday for sure.

I hate myself. I want my heart to follow my head. I want to feel. I want to know if I'm happy. I want to have that connection and not suppress half of me just to be able to move towards what I know is the best option. It's not fair to him (yup, out comes my subjugation again). And by golly, I love him, so I want to be fair. I want to be so fair that he has a wife that's in love with him and chose him because she is in love with him and not because it's the logical option.

Who does this to someone else? I am such a freakin' jerk.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How I Got Here


Why I stayed. It's a question that's difficult to answer, though I think the question misses the point, because I didn't stay. I left. The more accurate question would be why did I come back? It's not a decision that would gather much respect from the world if they knew our story. In fact, I would even think a woman in my shoes would be a little crazy to go back. But here I am.

The difference is that I'm not back where I started. We are in an entirely different place now. I see things in him that never were; peace, joy, empathy. He now has the ability to love--something he never knew how to do before. I see things in me that never were: the ability to stand and protect myself while facing things head on instead of ignoring the offense as a way to cope.

I describe the place that I was in during our time separated as me being in a boat. The boat is sitting in the middle of a huge lake and you can see mountains in the distance. You're all alone, and you have a paddle, but it's lying still in the bottom of the boat. You aren't sure of which direction you want to go, so you just sit and feel the rocking back and forth as the wind moves the water, allowing the boat to take you and eventually place you on whichever shore it happens to. I didn't need to make a decision at that time about whether or not to file for a divorce. I just needed a safe place to heal at that point, and to know I had the control to pick up that paddle if I chose to do so.

The reason I came back has two elements and is very simple when broken down:

My decision was first and primarily based upon his change. Without fully knowing that change happened and without the wisdom from outside professionals that yes, this was a true change, there was no going back. Simple.
The secondary factor is one of these two things (and which one it currently is just depends on the day for me):

a. I have two beautiful children. For their sake, I need to exhaust every possibility to have a healthy, good marriage between their mother and father. Until I have done everything within my power to give that to them, I will have not done enough.

b. We are good for each other. Problems aside, when it comes right down to the framework, I married the right man. If we can have a good and healthy marriage, we will be able to accomplish more in life, for God, and be more self fulfilled by being together. When unified in a healthy manner, we are stronger together than we are separate.

I was never looking to or trying to go back after I left. I just was still, focusing on getting my own healing, and allowing God and life to move me to the next place. That's all. It's not complicated. This is just where I landed.

Fear List

I thought I was doing remarkably well emotionally. Then today happened and the bottom fell out again. I didn't realize until then that I have a whole list of fears that have been happily ignored under the surface. Maybe I'm not ready for this? And if not, what do I do with that thought? Ugh. I am so ready to leave Egypt. I just can't figure out how to lose the baggage that came with me through the Nile...and it wasn't the gold jewelry I looted from my oppressors!

So in an attempt to make myself admit these things (I'm learning that a lot of freedom comes from admitting and allowing yourself to feel), here is my Fear List:
  1. I am afraid that this isn't going to work. Either you will go back to who you were, or my heart will never fully come around.
  2. If things were to fall apart, I'm afraid I will have NO ONE to pick me up. No one to understand, no one to care enough about me that they would do whatever they needed to to make sure I am safe and going to survive.
  3. I'm afraid that I hurt you by all of the things I can't do right now.
  4. I'm afraid that I will never be able to do the things I can't do right now. If that's the case, then why am I tying you up in this relationship anyway? You say you caused this and so are reaping the harvest, but I believe that you deserve to be treated for who you are NOW and I can't seem to fully do that...
  5. I'm afraid that you will eventually become tired and give up. 
  6. Abandonment. Not being self actualized. That my emotions won't change...These are things I fear.
  7. I fear that I am already alone in this journey, and I really didn't want to be.
But on the bright side, there is so much that I don't fear any more:
  1. I don't fear being hurt.
  2. I don't fear being disrespected.
  3. I don't fear ever going back to where I was, because I KNOW I could never do that.
  4. I don't fear that my children will grow up to have wrong thinking about how they should be treated or how they should treat other people.
  5. I don't fear awkward conversations and a stressful home environment.
  6. I don't fear guilt or fear itself.
  7. I don't fear you. And this is my favorite one to be released from.
I've come a long way, and I need to remind myself that I can keep walking. I learned how to swim and I can choose to keep moving instead of just hanging on and hope that someone will throw me a life vest. I will never be left or forsaken, and I can trust those promises because they come from The Giver whom I can rest in. 

It's time now to guide my heart, and that's a beautiful place in this journey. It means I have covered a lot of ground and much sooner than I would have thought. So one step at a time, terrifying as it may be, I will keep moving and will not allow myself to fall.

Jonathan & David


This must be how it felt...

He knew she wasn't his, not really. She had been drifting away for a while and he knew there was no claim to her anymore. Knowing this, though, couldn't stop him from being crazy about her, and didn't stop his heart from bleeding when she left. Really, she had left before That Day and inside he knew it, but his soul was still seared at the moment she told him and reality began to sink in.

You'd think that after the initial kick in the gut feeling, one would adjust and react in a way that made it hurt less. No matter what he tried though, his chest still ached to where it hurt to breathe and he thought he would still throw up hours later.

On the other side of his emotions, he was happy. She had hope and a future now, something he wasn't able to give her. So even if he really wanted to be the one to have put that smile on her face, just the fact that it was there now was enough to make him want to let go of the small threads that had burrowed their way into his body and become part of him over time. These small parts of her that were also part of him, though, are a lot less easily shed than one would think.

Would she remember? The deep burning love he had for her? How much they complete one another? That moment in time when nothing else had mattered but each other? How quickly one forgets when the present becomes so different from the past...

Letting go is something he could do, and with joy because now she was free to have the things she deserved. But releasing your friend is something entirely different. To not have her want to tell him everything for whatever reason, not being sure if she would want to listen to him...it's a lonely place to be.

And what was his role now? Would she understood if he wanted to hold her just as a dear friend, or would she take that to mean something more? If he told her both sides of how he felt, would he be manipulating her into saying and acting in untrue ways just because she felt bad for him? Could he still have that "friend" part, or did leaving mean that was gone, too?

Moving on might have happened...if he was the sort of person who got angry or bitter about these things. And maybe there was a time when he would have, but not today. Today was for forgiving and truly being so very happy for her. Loving her because he would never stop. He was her friend first, and that Jonathan and David relationship would far outlast anything else that ever was or would be again. Today was for hoping. Hoping that the friendship would be there, growing stronger so they could uphold, advise, laugh with, and be there for each other.

And maybe, someday when the moment is right, picking up the hope again for something more.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Summer Nights

Summer nights were magical. The taste of fire in the air. The sound of crickets late into the night. We would lay in the field, grass, or on the trampoline and watch for shooting stars. Trying to pick out constellations, we would always fall back on the Big and Little Dippers, thinking about the Underground Railroad and how exciting it would have been to be runaway slaves.

I remember leaning out the second story windows of our white farmhouse--looking out and around while our knees anchored us onto our beds that we were sure would keep us safe from falling to our deaths (dramatic as that would have been). Sometimes, we would sneak out one of my windows and onto the porch roof with hearts pounding as we thought of what would happen if we got caught. We were, of course, presumed to be sleeping during these midnight adventures.

We whispered to each other while leaning out our windows, my older sister and I. It was glorious, somehow, to be young and have the most rebellious thing you do be to lean as far as you can out your window and turn on and off a flashlight in an attempt to attract fireflies. I would watch the moon for hours back then, always keeping my bed located near that window so I could think about who else was looking at the same sky and same moon and same stars that I was right at that exact moment.

Hide And Go Seek in the dark. Sardines as the pitch black night enrobed us like a big cozy blanket. Racing barefoot through seemingly miles of untouched grass. It was everything childhood should be.

And here I am today, still enchanted by fireflies, dancing flames against a pitch black sky, and listening to an orchestra of peepers...because everything in life looks better when viewed under the moonlight.

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