My Momma, kids and I arrived home about an hour ago from a delightful little overnight getaway to Branson. (Side note…I LOVE Missouri~.) We were there for the specific purpose of celebrating one of my nephews who is doing incredibly hard work in his life. He was able to be away from his temporary home for a few days, it was a lovely reason for us to get together. Only about 1/2 of our big family was there, I look forward to the day we can all revisit at once. That seems to be a rarity with the busy-ness of every day life and I am thankful for every bit of time we have to join each other.
This morning was perfect for sitting on the porch, sipping coffee and soaking in the gratitude. The family we are is the real Brady Bunch..a living conglomerate of love. We know how to throw a good, old fashioned, fun party! There will be hugs and squeals, yummy food, laughter, tears, often music with dancing and always memory making. We know how to connect with each other and within generations.
It might be conversations over coffee in red rocking chairs and barstools on a glassed in porch with a beautiful view. There will be cooking together in the big, open kitchen and yelling at football players on tv for some. Several are likely gathered around a table eating a meal or playing Farkle, Dominoes or even Candy Land. The Air Hockey Table, pool table, Pac Man arcade game or Pinball machine make for excellent, friendly competition. Snuggling up anywhere and swapping secrets and hanging out in a hot tub until skin is itchy and cheeks are flushed….all excellent opportunities to bond. Wherever and however the connection happened this weekend, gratitude for this enveloping love overwhelmed me.
Chatter about sports, how healthy and fat the robins in Branson are, comfy pillows and beds, how awesome the hot tub is, where we will hike (and if we really want to hike), that the smell of our girls strawberry smelling hair is wonderful and even the teen boys sweat is somehow sweet to us, how much we’d love to come here again…all of this and more was discussed. We share beloved memories, our sorrows, our joys, our struggles and worries. We rejoice in our love for one another, cousin camaraderie, sweet remembrances, a glorious God who loves us, kindredness, peace, redemption and stages of life. We share wisdom and adventures in school, love, dating, and life experiences. We are simple, we are complex. We are real and back to the basics awesome. There is a sense of celebration, abundant love, vulnerability, and safety that coexists in our chaos. We are a unique gift never to be taken for granted.
A year or two ago, these occasions made me incredibly sad. I no longer had a husband who had a shared history with me and this family. Our Daddy was no longer physically present. I grieved, and grieved, and grieved some more. Something inside of me has healed though, and where there was only grief, there are now cherished memories. The shared story of my beautiful family (the one we are still writing) continues to heal my heart.
I thought about the words that describe our family (those who were there this weekend and those who weren’t)….ALL OF US….I was only going to write a few but my list kept growing. In our family, there is…
grace, joy, fun, redemption, respect, camaraderie, conversations, soulful connection, God, familiarity, safety, understanding, empathy, true connection, sacredness, board game playing, friendly competitiveness, creativity, sweetness, yummy food, celebration, music, dancing, laughter, tears, reflection, honesty, hope, truth, togetherness, reverence, delight, appreciation, gratitude, openness, trustworthiness, acceptance, tradition of love, late night delirium and early morning adventures, love, seeking, reaching, growing, stories, memories, teasing, playfulness, organized spontaneity, real emotion, gentleness, judgement free, wisdom, energy, learning, fondness and HOME.
THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME. So thankful.
This last week has been fabulously filled with new life adventures, and I have enjoyed every single moment. Here are 46 reasons why:
- Last Sunday, I went to church. I may have been feeling just a little bit lonely’ish. A dear friend was a few rows away with her beautiful children and a friend; instead of sitting by myself, I sat with my friend and her family. This just made the service/worship so much sweeter.
- Later that day, I met a new friend for coffee. We had a deeply rich, spiritual conversation that seemed to be the beginning of chipping away at a few of my soul’s survival tactics that really do not serve me well anymore. I had found a little bag of my Grandma’s Catholic books and it was so incredible to be able to share them with a friend who appreciated them….not planned but incredible.
- I feel like my spirit has been napping and I’m waking up to the vibrancy of my being. It’s just in the air or something…a new (or renewed?) energy
- It was a week of fun selfies and spectacular quotes. One of my favorite is worth sharing here…”If you’re pretty, you’re pretty; but the only way to be beautiful is to be loving. Otherwise, it’s just, ‘Congratulations about your face.'” This is the best!!!
- On that topic, I have noticed that we as a society can be very mocking and critical of selfie taking. I say just let people be. I can only speak for me, but taking selfies after the divorce was a huge stretch for me…it always felt like part of the picture was missing. Now, I take them not because I am vain…usually because I feel silly, or contemplative, or whatever I feel and this is a way to share it. So…this week I took a selfie nearly every day and shared it. Why? Because it was a lovely week and I chose to share my journey in this way…the end.
- Tuesday, I got to work on homework….I did this all week. It was supposed to be stormy on all the days ending in Y, but that didn’t quite happen. When it got down to the wire though, it rained…this meant more focus on my paper. (Don’t ask, I’m just quirky like that!)
- Also Tuesday, I made another lovely friend and had a wonderful evening. All I’m going to say is this…it’s socially awkward when one is on a date, and while on that date, runs into someone they’ve also been dating (not secretly) with their date. Think that over.
- On Wednesday evening, (my actual birthday), I said bon voyage to 45 bonjour to 46! My precious momma and kids took me out to dinner. Not one of them complained that I chose sushi and we had a fabulous time together. I am extraordinarily blessed to have gotten that time with the woman who gave me life and the children that I gave life to.
- Also on Wednesday, my Facebook wall, text messages and phone calls were inundated with loving birthday messages. Maybe I’m more like a child on birthdays, but I believe we ALL deserve special love on the day of our birth….find more reasons to celebrate…life is a celebration when you live in gratitude!
- I went to the chapel at St. Bernard’s…where my Grandma went to church. I spent an hour praying, being still, looking around, thinking, and praying some more. I was relieved that the toenails on Mary’s feet were not painted and were very real looking. I left with something…I felt like God was letting me know that my openness was a gift, and at the same time asking where I needed closure. Suffice it to say, there is an entire post to be written about this experience.
- The bestest part of my birthday was finding the video of my Momma and Daddy singing me the happy birthday song together. Daddy was starting to struggle with his memory then, and that memory popping up made my heart incredibly happy. I think I watched it 100 times throughout my day.
- I got flowers on my birthday. Because my friend loves me and she knows that flowers fill me with joy. I didn’t expect flowers, but she remembered. It’s a gift to have a friend who remembers you like this.
- Thursday was a busy day at work, and I was reminded through my clients how very fortunate I am to have a home, clothing, food, pets, mostly happy and healthy children, air conditioning, blankets, a toothbrush and not a consistent fear for my safety. Gratitude gratitude gratitude.
- Very good company Thursday night and another birthday dinner. And…I saw the movie CLUE. No, of course I didn’t doze off during the movie!
- Friday, I took 1/2 a day off work…thank God for a flexible job! I finished a paper I’d been putting off for way too long, it really wasn’t so bad once I sat still. Good thing since the paper was due in class that evening.
- Friday was the one year anniversary of our divorce. I didn’t feel broken, ashamed, weary, hopeless and defeated. I actually felt just the opposite. I’m coming together, content, peaceful, hopeful and anticipatory. I’m human so sometimes I struggle, yet this is authentic healing.
- Saturday was lovely. It began early as I awoke listening to my brother sing loudly and cheerfully from the other room. It was an awesome way to wake up and get ready for a day of class!
- My dear brother and friend joined our class Saturday afternoon. So did one of my classmate/friend’s gorgeous wife. It was absolutely fun to have their interaction for our discussion and I believe every weekend class should entail some sort of bring a guest show and tell!
- After class meant a drink or two with the above mentioned gentlemen and lively discussions! That was awesome and I think I have now tried every flavor of Moscow Mule at PJ’s except for the one with whiskey…because whiskey is ewww to me.
- I had the opportunity to have a heartfelt conversation with my baby daddy. (The wonderful man who I was with for 23 years). I wanted to apologize to him for things I had done in our marriage that I just needed to take ownership for. It would’ve been easy to continue to let him own it all, but this honesty is part of my continued healing and hopefully his as well. I wish everyone had this chance. Say what you need to say. Forgiveness. Compassion. It all lets us move forward in grace. If it’s not possible to share with the person, write it out and burn it…do what you need to do to heal…it’s worth it.
- Saturday night…topped with a warm bath, clean sheets, a great book and a glass of wine…had the best sleep I’ve had in a long time!
- Sunday began with a yummy breakfast cooked for me by my brother…and coffee…of course, coffee. I sat on the porch and enjoyed this, read my Bible and enjoyed the magnificent morning.
- So…I read all of Corinthians 1 again, beautiful. In my deep conversations with my new friend, I have felt a bit challenged. Not in a bad way…in an ‘iron sharpens iron’ kind of way. I know my faith is strong. I am sure of my salvation. I understand and have many biblical stories and scriptures stored in my heart. In my quest to grow closer to God, I think it worthwhile to examine my foundational beliefs so I can better explain to others where I come from. This is absolutely not the same as wanting to right fight and defend. I want to understand more deeply all of the Bible…in context, not just here and there, for myself more than for anything.
- I had an especially sweet afternoon with a handsome, poetic hearted friend. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
- Tonight was coffee and a long overdue conversation with someone I love very much. It was time to hear each other’s hearts so we could just move forward. I thank God for these moments.
- This birthday week has been overflowing with new adventures and healing of old wounds. In earlier blogs I’ve discussed my love of the words synchronicity and serendipity. I still love them. Even more, I love watching them in action.
- It’s been a deeply contemplative, prayerful week filled with thought-provoking discussions and earnest seeking. These things are important to me, so I am thankful for each of these experiences.
- My children have been extra peaceful. I don’t know why, I’m not going to try to explain. I am intensely thankful for these moments though.
- Watching my daughter ice-skate and seeing her joy after she’s learned a new maneuver…priceless. It was her daddy’s turn to take her this week but he sent me a video. She wows me.
- Seeing the twinkle in my son’s eyes this week, even for a fleeting moment, makes my Momma heart happy.
- I have lost 20.3 pounds. My next size down clothes are beginning to fall off of me. I might not love that I had to change bra sizes but I do love my mostly steady energy and the way my body is changing.
- I see that while I am opening myself to new experiences, I am beginning to find healthy vulnerability again in areas that I had chosen previously kept walled off. I’m relieved that this is happening.
- I have set boundaries where before I would’ve not done so. Sometimes, it really is less about fulfilling others expectations and more about taking care of myself. This especially applies to my journey in dating. Stating my boundaries clearly and expecting that they be honored is just as new as dating. This is all fresh territory.
- Staying in touch with new, new/old, old friends is a gift. Remember, “make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold?” Yes. Do that.
- I look in the mirror and sometimes I look tired. I see more wrinkles than I used to. I see a belly that housed two healthy, glorious babies. Guess what else I see? I see a woman who is lovely and becoming more at peace with herself as time passes. I see the heart of a child and the strength of a woman. I see God’s princess. I see someone who is worthy of goodness.
- I have laughed, cried and enjoyed myself this last week more than I have in so long. I’m not sure why. Whatever….I’m grateful.
- I turned down a fabulous internship opportunity because I knew it would not be the best for my family. Doing the right thing isn’t always fun. There will be an even better opportunity, this I know.
- I ate cheesecake on my birthday…tempura battered cheesecake with cream and strawberries. I haven’t had anything like this since April. Oh my goodness, life is short and enjoying dessert is a luxurious treat!
- My puppies, my kitty and even that little lizard make me smile. God is so cool to even provide us with these little muffinheads….just makes me think how much He loves us to give us these kinds of enjoyments.
- I got myself a couple of new books for my birthday. I don’t buy myself things often and most of my reading time is spent on school books…but I’m so excited to read something purely for pleasure.
- My house is an absolute mess. Parts of it feel like they are literally crumbling under my feet. (Literally, it’s kind of happening like that). It’s gonna be okay. I don’t know how but I know it is. Trusting the process. Praying hard! Remembering, I have a home.
- My coffee was paid for twice this week by random strangers. How’s that for a birthday treat?
- Baby tomatoes are still growing on my vines. I was shaking one of the plants one morning…to shake the pollen down. Although I was gentle, a little baby fell off the vine and I felt so sad. So…I buried it. If I were that baby tomato I’d just use my seeds to make another vine and I’d grow taller and stronger than the original vine. However, I’m not the tomato, I guess we will see what happens next!
- I’ve found lots of new music to enjoy on Spotify this week, I once forgot the love of music that I have. Like…how do people ever live without music? TV, I understand but music has to be.
- Stella and I came up with a grand book idea…maybe we can make it happen. That’s pretty hopeful!
- I learned that sometimes, you just gotta spill the tea, sis!
It’s just been the best birthday week ever and my cup overflows. The kindnesses bestowed on me are astonishing and I hope I give back well all that I receive.
Grace. Peace. Joy. Mercy. Compassion.
It has been said, “when the student is ready, the master appears”. Could it be that when the soul is open and willing, God brings the lessons (sometimes painful) that take us to a higher level of surrender (closer to Him)? It all fits like a perfect puzzle in the end, right? The issue is that no earthling is privy to just what the end is. Possibly, even, what we see as the end is truly the beginning.
My precious friend shared a wonderful Taoist parable with me, I was lost in the beauty of the words and awestruck when he asked me to consider that this was only the middle of our story. If we are in the middle (or anywhere but the end), how is it possible to judge life circumstances as good or bad, for we don’t know the end result. The parable goes like this:
Good or Bad; Who Knows?
There once was a poor rice farmer, who had a very small field just large enough to feed his family.
Then one day a herd of wild horses came running through the village. They ran into the farmer’s rice field and got stuck in the mud, and since they couldn’t get away, they were his.
His neighbor came running over and said, “This is good news! Such good fortune! You are rich, this is amazing!” And the rice farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”
A few weeks later the farmer’s 12-year-old son jumped up on one of the wild horses for a ride, only to be thrown off and have his leg broken. The neighbor comes running over and says, “Oh no, this is such bad news!” And the farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”
A week later a Chinese general is marching through the farmer’s village on the way to war. On this march, the army is conscripting every healthy boy over 10 years of age. So they took every boy in the village except the farmer’s son because of his broken leg.
The neighbor comes running over and says, “Yes! This is wonderful news, how lucky are you?!” And the father replies, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”
Life is bursting with opportunities to form dichotomies…good news or bad news, who knows? There comes to mind a zillion personal thoughts initially perceived as bad news that turned out to be the best news. The big ole stroke could’ve been the end of this earthly life. Instead, it gave immediate notification of an unknown hole in my heart that was putting my life in imminent danger, that hole is now repaired. My sweet Daddy’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was horrific. At the same time, there was so much healing in our relationship that occurred as a result of our time together those last years. My divorce…I struggle with the good news in that, yet I fully trust that it’s there even when I only see glimpses. Another consideration; news for one might seem like bad news for another and vice versa. Again, who knows? Additionally, in each moment we choose our path. Is it possible, even when the ‘good’ is concealed in the dark, to live confidently, truly believing it’s there? It is more than possible, and I seek to live passionately and wholeheartedly while walking in love, hope and integrity.
Am I living congruently? Do the desires of my inner being mesh better with right this minute or also with hope for a bright future? The things I (think) I believe in my core…do I? Why or why not? Where did I learn them? Yes, I’ve been growing healthier spiritually, physically, professionally and emotionally but there is far more growth to come. I don’t have answers. I don’t want to argue…not even with myself. I don’t want to prove anyone right or wrong. I just want to seek the things that spark my soul.
There is this intense desire to live life fully, embracing completely the season I am in. Learning to love and be loved wholeheartedly, to express and receive genuine adoration…these are “worthy wishes” that are new additions to my repertoire. I’ve prayed often recently, wishing to strengthen my relationship with God more than anything and trusting that the rest will follow. I’ve asked God often for heartfelt relationships that are soulful, deeply engaging and bring me closer to Him. It should be no surprise that my eternally inquisitive spirit has recently been exposed to endless discussions that cause me to ponder and question my own belief system in every area. I cherish this journey, for every opportunity to investigate myself grants the opportunity to live a richer life. There could be a blog written on each question, but until the internal chaos settles a bit, I can only name my ponderings.
- Now that I’ve dared to dream the possibility of a future relationship, what would I dream that it looks like? Heart flutters (the good kind), belly butterflies and googly eyes are excellent; but what beyond these precious prizes?
- I believe that God loves me and that I am secure in my salvation. I am baffled that there is so much doubt surrounding that for so many that I love. I’m left wondering how to defend my assuredness and my faith or if defend is even the right word.
- Conversations about God and spiritual practice make me happy. They also make me think outside of my box. In the end, all I can do is seek wise counsel and trust that I am on the path God has for me. I really cannot fathom that my path is better than anyone else’s or that there’s is better than mine; I can keep an open heart and mind and seek the value. I guess the challenge in this is searching my own soul and trusting that small, still voice.
- I am intrigued by the practices of worship, adoration, meditation, contemplation, and in how we all perceive God and our relationship (or lack of) with Him. There are so many times that I have run from God, still he pursues me. I wonder how I live out this unconditional kind of love in my own life?
- Where in the heck should I intern and how will this (work, family, growth, school, internship, etc) all come together? This feels like another exercise in trust….am I on Candid Camera?
- It’s pure loveliness to be respected, doted over, and presented with fun surprises! It’s lovely, novel, different and feels so grown up. It makes me wonder why I have ever been okay with being treated as less than the beloved girl my Father created me to be.
- I don’t have a crystal ball or magic wand yet, I’m not sure why God hasn’t made those my spiritual gifts, lol! Hmmm hat I am reflecting on heavily is the joy in the journey and the impact of earnest gratitude. Gratitude is a life changer, Ranger!
- When I willingly lay down my burdens at the cross, everything, everything, everything changes. Why do I insist on holding on not only to my hurt at times, but to control? My theory…I had such a chaotic childhood that knowing the ‘what if’s’ and deciding how things should look creates a false sense of safety for me. Time to let that illusion go. Seriously.
- Some things build up slowly, other things are immediate. One is not better than the other. I do wonder though…what does it mean when there is an intense draw to one that I barely know and at the same time, a desire to move away from or stay status quo with one I know well?
- Every spark (lots of the sparks) does NOT come through comfortable or kind vessels. Don’t discount the spark, Sarah.
- We’ve all been hurt in the past. I think it’s just human nature to try and protect or defend ourselves from more hurt. Sometimes it’s covert and unconscious, other times it’s overt and intentional. Perhaps it’s worth it to investigate what fronts and defenses I put into play and to remember that before I know it, my walls become my devastating enemy.
- I forge out the what if’s and all the possibilities I foresee, and when others mess up my plans, I have a propensity toward an inner (sometimes outer) freak out. No! Stop. What an excellent opportunity to be reminded to trust God and his timing before my own. Those freak outs are humiliating and embarrassing and I don’t have to weigh it long to discern my own contribution to the ouch factor.
- Laughing…especially ay myself…even at my mistakes…it’s absolutely delightful medicine for my soul. Laughter sparks.
- There are places that spark my soul, and if they don’t spark my soul and I’m in those places daily…how do I change that trajectory? Additionally, I dream of places I want to go…namely Maine and Vermont in the fall and back to the Cascade waterfalls. Is that going to happen ever? Gosh, I hope so.
- God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. The more I believe this, the more my heart is filled with unwavering joy.
Albert Schweitzer said it beautifully, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by and encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Life can take our flame and drown it in floodwaters until it’s seems like it’s gone; yet if we look closely, there is going to be the tiniest little spark remaining. Much like the faith of a mustard seed that moves mountains is little spark that I feel rising within me.
I’m a ready and willing student and the teachers are coming in droves. The good and the bad seem to cohabitation.
Good news or bad news? Who knows. Maybe that’s not the question.
There are occasions that I wish I could go back with my magic wand to erase certain points in time; there are other times that I’d like to go back and sprinkle more pixie dust where I previously restrained myself from doing so. As this post-divorce journey complete with the roller coaster of grief, healing and transformation progress, I am still at times surprised by my own strong emotional reactions.
My beloved Anais Nin so eloquently said, “Sometimes we reveal ourselves when we are least like ourselves.” There is intense applicable truth for me in this quote. Recently, I was retelling my precious Mother something I had done that left me full of regret and shame. She replied with, “Sarah Ann! That doesn’t even sound like you!” (She’s right, I know). In other instances, I have found myself jumping quicker into aspects of a relationship that I ‘normally’ would think to hold much more stringent boundaries around. This time, I scold myself…”Sarah! Gaaaa…this isn’t even you!” Hmmmm…is it not me or is it the me I have always restrained?
A dear friend mentioned “this version of me” in a conversation about this very topic. Initially, this was a struggle to understand. How can I be authentic and still a very different version of myself…what is real? We are always changing, ever evolving, consistently transforming, right? It seems the harder we resist change, the stronger change overtakes us. I guess it’s all about riding the wave but why is that so much easier to preach than to practice?
In the ongoing self study I am doing, there are absolutely new aspects of me that are emerging. I’ve decided that there is far more value in embracing and accepting myself than there is in trying to discern whether the aspects are truly new or just now being allowed to be present. In the multitude of errors I’ve been making, there are lessons (albeit painful), there is growth, and mostly…there is grace. I have to talk myself into the last one though.
HUGE valuable lessons I’ve received lately, they’ve been hard but in light of trusting the process and enjoying the journey, I’m doing the best I can to take accountability, apologize and move forward. There’s always that inner voice telling me to make things right for everyone else and it’s exhausting. One thing at a time, right?
- Sexual intimacy…no matter what I tell myself…changes the emotional attachment dynamic. When sexual intimacy occurs too early, it can decrease brain power and increase ideation….thus elevating the chances that inappropriate emotional reactivity will occur. Ugh.
- People will judge behaviors. Only God and I get to decide the best actions, thoughts and behaviors for me. Feedback is always appreciated and weighed carefully, but in the end, the one who will confront my inner conflict is me. So…thank you for caring enough to share, I promise to weigh it carefully. 🙂
- Dating is an adventure. There are friends to be made, things to learn about others and myself and tons of value in this season…but I still miss my family as it was and that is okay. Grief for a loss and celebration of new can absolutely walk hand in hand.
- Due to a chaotic childhood, I tend toward the ‘what if’s’ and control. Not control to control; rather to keep my world feeling safe. Not everyone (actually no one) is super appreciative of that…including me. Rather than constantly worrying about creating safety through control, I’m changing my definition of safety and remembering my God, who has me in His hands…that’s really the only safety assurance I need. (coming to terms…a process!)
- Just because I have a great imagination and may have determined exactly how something will play out does not make my determination accurate. As a matter of fact, following my imaginary scenario results in the aforementioned emotional reactivity which I strongly desire to move away from.
- I may have missed a few spectacular opportunities because of my own reactivity. I have embraced the icky lessons, asked forgiveness (from myself too), defined what I can do different next time and moved on with grace. I still hate myself a little bit for it though.
- Unrelated….the stroke has less power over me than it once did but still too much power. Working on that. Trying to replace my fear with constant faith and gratitude. Keeping my eyes and heart open…I am incredibly blessed and I know it.
“Sometimes we reveal ourselves when we are least like ourselves.” – Anais Nin It is remarkable what I have learned through the errors that are ‘so unlike me’.
Grateful in all things.
A littlegirladolescentwoman are constantly intermingling within this 46 year old gracefully mature home.
Not just any little girl, but one who forgot how her heart is supposed to smile.
Not just any adolescent but one who is still yearning to love herself.
Certainly not just any woman, but one who is fully coming into her own.
A late bloomer.
…still she blooms.
A season of pure learning, that’s what this is. I am grateful for growth, although it sucks sometimes. I am thankful that I don’t usually put on a mask and when I do, I have people that call me on it quick. I am redeemed, the end. I am redeemed.
This morning, I was looking through old emails…trying to find answers to something within myself. I found this gem…written November 10, 2017…the night after I met someone who became very special to me. Unfortunately, the beginning was far better than the middle to the end. However, even this ugliness was a gift to me in that I learned countless lessons about myself and what I want/don’t want for my heart. Looking back, I can see my own growth as well as some of the choices I made that were out of a very unhealthy place. Out of this little quote taken from one of the emails…
Instant strong connections can be a gift. They can also be something that fills an empty in us that is not meant to be filled by another person. Know yourself. Search yourself deeply and with nothing less than brutal honesty. If I had done this then, I might have saved myself some heartache. I also would’ve lost out on a beautiful opportunity to raise my thinking to a higher level, no regrets. Still…lesson learned.
Reflecting on my own words; it would’ve been wise for me to give pause to my knowing. “I am so much more cautious than this and I am just wanting to make sure I am not searching for validation outside of God and myself.” I knew the question but I did not take time to consider my answer. As a matter of fact, I was asking the other party (who I had just met) for an answer to something incredibly deep within myself. My behavior in that moment was so opposite of my usual. Granted, there is freedom in getting outside of our comfort zones but I had lost all rationality and begun operation on an emotionally charged high within a day. In answer to the question…YES!, I was seeking validation outside of God and myself and seeking it instead in a man, in essence, a stranger, who I shared mutual desire with. Acting out of this place is an excellent way to shout, “I’M HERE! I’M VULNERABLE! TAKE ME, WANT ME, CRAVE ME, LOVE ME!” as well as a silent conveyance…”I’m hungry, I’m needy, I’m naive and I’m yours. Lesson learned (or at least, notes taken.) As a very wise man recently asked me; “isn’t it interesting what we seek when our hearts are bleeding?”
“My biggest part of this divorce journey is to surrender to God and have a relationship with him that is stronger than ever and to love myself and not “need” to get that love from someone else.” Gut level honesty….God and I are working together on this. (or perhaps I am working on not playing the ‘come closer, now go away game with God). I have endless questions and possibly some accusations for Him. It’s okay, I truly believe God would rather have my vulnerability and truth than my sugar coated lies…it’s not like I can hide my heart from him anyway.
The hardest part…loving myself and not ‘needing’ someone to fill that need in me. I actually think the not needing comes pretty natural. I tend to be more independent than not, I like my alone time and I have my children and school to focus on…I can strategically document all of the reasons I do not “need” that sort of love. As I relearn who I am, and recreate my story, it is evident that my self-love is increasing, and as it does…the things I seek in others are changing. It’s also becoming clear that I can’t avoid being the relational person that I am and that my soul longs for a kind of love that is full acceptance, mutual cherishing, soothing and hot….all in one. Someday. As I wait… I learn, I experiment, I play, I grow and I honor myself, ‘as is’. Such a time of self-discovery truly is a gift.
Life is full of dichotomies. My ex-husband (aka dear friend) and I spoke about the story of the Two Wolves. It’s always been a favorite.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
He was gracious enough to share with me his belief that he had chosen to feed the evil wolf for much of our marriage and he cautioned me that the relationship I had just left was the same in that manner. Different circumstances…same wolf being fed. We giggled at the funny, not funny similarities. Both times…I was the wolf food. Both times, I opted to ignore the things that hurt for an in the moment reward. Again, funny, not funny.
Surely joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith (all characteristics of pure love) are more powerful than anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. I am going to do my damndest to see power only where power belongs.
Each lesson decreases the likelihood of my being appetizing wolf food, right? That definitely makes sense.
After the divorce…
With eyes wide open and a heart unaware of it’s radiating hunger, I zoomed into into the first romantic relationship of my life other than the one with the man I’d been with for over 1/2 of my life. The intoxication of desire on both sides filled an empty space inside of me that I hadn’t even known existed. If there ever was a thought that sexuality was a youthful and fleeting event, those thoughts were eagerly recanted. It was simply a wonderland of awakening.
The original plan was to date around and stay out of a relationship status. I was a one marriage woman; the only other ‘relationship’ experiences I had fit better into the category of making out while not sober, smart or studious. That’s what is supposed to happen in later high school and college….then there was the one whom I thought was my forever. That was it. My appetite for flirting, fun, and amorous adventures was off the charts high.
Several dates later led to no major attraction or connection with anyone. It seemed that men were either incredibly serious or just in need of a booty call, neither of which I wanted with them. Nobody appeared to capture the attention of this woman (or vice versa) and discouragement was setting in. During this time, longings for what wasn’t happening, heightened; while discernment and wisdom seemed to decrease…a dynamic with disastrous potential.
Soon enough, there was a spark (actually, an explosion) of chemistry…found in the world of online dating. He was delightful and gave the impression of genuine interest in my interests. I loved poetry, he found out my favorite poets and left me messages in a sexy voice so I could listen at bedtime. He expressed great enthusiasm for my intelligence and asked me to read my papers to him. A couple of weeks went by before I agreed to meet him. He was intelligent, funny and handsome in a boyish sort of way. He had lost 100 pounds and he understood my struggles. I had such a sense of, “we get each other”.
Our first date was at a little hole in the wall restaurant in a town 1/2 way inbetween our homes. It was also on the day I consider my new life birthday, the day of my “strokeaversary”…it was an opening to something new, indeed.
This introduction was amazing. AMAZING! He schooched in next to me in the tiny booth and kissed me within the first 10 minutes of meeting. There was no fight from me, this felt delicious. He was tall, nicely dressed, and smelled scrumptious (he was very proud of the particular cologne he wore.) His voice was rich and seductive. He had big hands like my daddy and there was no hesitation between us to talk about anything and everything. He told me that he didn’t understand how I could be even more beautiful in person, I ate it up.
That same night, we were going to get ice cream after dinner and ended up going parking instead (my idea). I hadn’t made out with a boy in a pick up truck since my senior year in highschool and steaming up the windows was pure exhilaration. We got locked in a church parking lot and had to ask the pastor and his wife to open the chain link fence and let us out; we giggled like kids at the memories we had made.
That night, when he kissed me goodbye he let me know that, “Christian Grey had nothing on him. Then he paused, looked into my eyes and said, “you are so vulnerable”. I thought about that comment repeatedly and still do. I think he knew then and there, the power dynamic that would likely play out.
The next day, he sent me a recording of the five things he really, really liked about me. I was getting sucked in fast. He knew how to charm the pants off of me….literally. He asked for things no one had ever asked for and I happily obliged. This felt like freedom and I wanted desperately to be wanted. I look back and see that he tested how far and fast he could push my boundaries from the beginning. There was a part deep in me that wanted my boundaries pushed, I wanted to drop the whole good girl me and just misbehave for a while. He constantly told me that we were magnetic and magical…he’d never felt so intensely drawn to anyone else.
One week later, we started in heavy. We talked or texted all day long, every day. He lived two hours away but would come see me after work when I didn’t have the kids or for lunch. We would make out, make out and make out some more. It wasn’t that I hadn’t behaved like this in years, it was that I had never behaved like this and to this extent. His kisses were passionate, he drenched me in all of the right words. He even told me he kept a notebook of my likes and dislikes. I felt intensely safe and momentarily cherished with him. He brought me kisses, flowers and even lipstick, precious, right? He sent me Blake Shelton songs that he originally had for his ex…now for me. (Should I have felt honored?)
I knew his story (or thought I did). I knew how his ex-girlfriend, aka, ‘the devil’ had hurt him. I knew how he had loved her girls and hurt that they were taken out of his life. I knew his childhood wounds and he knew mine. We went to church together and prayed at meals. I knew about his kiddos, he knew about mine. We became sexually involved with each other quickly. I had never been with anyone with such an edge and I just craved more. This was going right along with my desire to not behave….I could analyze that for a lifetime and still not justify the way I overlooked the red flags to keep my new form of nourishment. I know I tend to substitute my ideals for reality, even in the face of toxicity.
I was starving for love or for whatever would stop the grief. I was still reeling from the sting of the divorce, mourning the loss of my Daddy and trying to hold my head above water. I was seeking something or someone to fill my gap. This was an amazing formula for dangerous, undiscerning vulnerability. We began to spend every weekend that we didn’t have kids with each other. We rarely left the house except to go eat or go to church or maybe to his cousins house, but it was never, ever boring. We were a world unto our own and my empty was now overflowing with the euphoria of the moments. I couldn’t have imagined how rapidly this would change.
We started dating in November. By early December, we had our first quarrel. There was an icy cold evening that I had backed into someone. We got out to get details and I loved that he went immediately into law enforcement mode. I felt so protected, until…I was shivering. He had two coats on, I didn’t bring a coat. I asked for one and he told me “no, I should’ve planned. Who doesn’t bring a coat in this weather?” I remember trying not to cry. This was my first honest glimpse of what was real. My Daddy or even my ex would’ve given me the clothes of their backs to keep me warm. Somehow, I felt remorseful.
Once the arguing began, the floodgates opened. I will say that I was an active participant in these arguments and if I could do it over, I would’ve disengaged earlier and moved on. I knew what I knew and now I know better. The fighting increased with intensity and on my part the mistrust grew. There was one argument where he grabbed my face and screamed so close to me that he spit in my face as he yelled. He was sorry, but “I just made him so mad, so much madder than anyone had ever made him.” After that, I left him where we were and was inundated with hate texts and mail for the next several days. He told me that I could burn in hell for all he cared. He told me the lipstick he bought me that I loved was his ex’es favorite lipstick. He sent me pictures of he and his ex in bed together. He sent me texts of recordings he had made of us without my knowledge or consent. My stomach is sick when I consider the pictures and information his phone holds, and I’m certain it’s not just me, he has had a collection of women. In hindsight, he was the victim of all situations. I honestly don’t believe he realizes the consequences and burden of his actions.
Do you know what happened after a few weeks? I went right back. Why? I knew he was wounded and hurting. I missed the sex. I missed him. I missed the sweet, loving, teddy bear him and I hadn’t yet accepted that this isn’t who he really was. It literally hurt to be apart from him, I was empty again. Mostly, he missed me and I misinterpreted this as remorse. I normalized and justified his actions and my own. It did not matter that the wonderland had turned into a tornado, the sense of safety had become an active avoidance of the next fight and I was living opposite of all that I wanted.
The cycle of arguing, manipulation and hurt became more frequent and more intense after each reunification. He posted pictures of himself with another woman, after I had disappointed him. He mocked the battles I had shared with my weight and made callous remarks about my children’s struggles. He would whisper things in my ear and then say he never said anything and make fun of my hearing. He constantly accused me of playing “reindeer games” and the minute I began to back away, he was sorry and reminding me how good we were together.
He balanced these things well with kind words right after the sting and with pleas of sympathy because he would never amount to anything but ‘beefcake and green eyes’. He would insist that I was going somewhere while he was just nothing…a nobody. He’d tell me I should run and never look back and I believed part of him was attempting to honor my heart in those times. I ached for his pain.
He knew the places my heart was tender and he used those places to his advantage. Sometimes I think it was pure intentional manipulation. Other times, I saw him as a wounded boy who wanted to heal and didn’t know how. Quickly, he would become a bully and I would accept this after a bit. Bullies have been hurt too….we would grow past this…..I thought.
The last straw, which I won’t discuss here, was too hurtful and harmful for me to go back. I made a promise to my kids that we were over because I know I will break this promise to myself and I will not break it to my children. Lust is a powerful tool. Self-respect is more powerful.
Recently, an old friend called to ask me if I knew of this man. I debated. I do not wish him a bad life. As a matter of fact, I still believe he can change, with help and if he wants to change. She told me that had been on dates and she saw my name on his Facebook page. I decided I owed it to my friend to honestly tell her of my own experience. Not because I think he is evil, rather because I think she is deserving of truth and goodness. Like everyone, she will find her own path but I hope she’s more confident in herself than I was.
I know this experience has been healing (in the craziest way) to me because I have learned a little more of my own value and what self-respect and dignity mean in my own personal life.
There are details I might share one day, but at this time I am still a little afraid of disapproval and judgement. In truth, I am my own worst judge and jury and continue to work through guilt, shame and confusion. I became a participant in an emotionally abusive relationship. I, who spends her days working with all sorts of abuse between adults got wrapped up in my own unhealthy saga. I am still trying to talk myself out of this being a reality and I am sharing because I want to raise awareness. Getting into this type of chaos does not require impoverishment, lack of education or lack of resources. We all have a hunger for something and getting that hunger filled is temporarily heavenly. I am well educated, especially in this arena. I struggle financially at times but am certainly not impoverished. There is an abundance of loving support from family and friends in my world; as well as in my exterior environment. All of this, and it happened to me. I will be grateful to God every day that this was only a 6 month lesson that didn’t progress.
It was a slow burn but my heart is covered with the balm of healing and peace. When someone shows you who they are, believe them. Don’t lose sight of you in the chaos of someone else.
A friend and I were recently discussing Kahlil Gibran’s book, “The Prophet“, which I remembered I had a copy of in the shed. The above poem was I cherished by me and still is; it was a reading at my wedding so many moons ago. I never would’ve chosen it for a wedding reading for us if I’d known then what I know now. The words spoke of a kept promise and a naive idealism; written by one who had not experienced marriage. I think it might be more appropriate for a second wedding, than a first (which most people probably aren’t hoping for).
In an instant, I am transported to the day I looked into my then husband’s eyes. My feelings of joy and elation took were mellowed by feelings of trepidation and fear. I never was quite sure that I was wholly loved. A portion of this was due to issues between he and I; a bigger part was caused by my own history and doubt.
This transportation is quickly followed by stomach churning waves of grief and anxiety, accompanied by a mind that wanders to the past arrive again, without invitation. Her weary soul sounds the alarm bells.
“That’s unfortunate, it’s been a really great day”, she thinks to herself. Rather than running from the feelings, she decides to utilize a tool that a dear friend and counselor taught her years ago. Good music; ear buds to drown out the distractions; a pen and paper, this is all that is needed. Oh…and set the alarm for 15 minutes. She begins to write whatever comes, without pause and certainly without thought. Unaware of her tears until they splashed hot water stains onto the paper and the familiar salty taste ran across her lips. She continued to ferociously surrender to this process. The alarm dings, it is time to stop. Now take a breath and read when ready…then destroy for these are the most private thoughts. They belong only to she and her soul.
In countless ways, she has always been an old soul. In contradiction, lately, thereare ways that she is more akin to an 18 year old young lady than to the 45 year old woman she truly is.
She attempts to collect herself and ask her heart exactly what it’s feeling right now. She comes up with a list.
Her 10 ponderings:
1) She is incredibly self-aware, perhaps too much so at times. Thus, she knows that she thrives on being needed. As much as she resists it, her validation comes too often from this need to be needed. Recently, there has been a switch in the status quo. The lesson has been that simply because someone ‘needs’ her does not mean that she needs them.
2) She has a long way to go as far as learning to surrender to what is. She has often stated that her favorite game with God is to release her problems to Him, making it tangible by opening her palms and visualizing handing her burden to Him. Just as quickly, she grabs that burden back and squeezes it tight in her fisted hand. She is expert at this. The illusion of control consistently comes back to wound her and she knows that she would benefit from relinquishing this terror. She’s tried handing her problem to the universe, to others, to her journal…she always finds a way to get it back under her jurisdiction.
3) No matter how hard one works, despite the entirety of heart, soul, prayer and effort put into a relationship, it does not always turn out as hoped for. Also, no matter how big one’s faith may be, this is a hard one to field and might test every belief previously held. Finally, it’s perfectly okay for these beliefs and faith to be tested, this is truth.
4) Joy and pain can and do walk hand in hand. This too, is okay. It just is.
5) Be the light, even when it’s dark. When there is no energy left to be the light, seek the light…it’s there, even in the tiniest crack that you have to squint to see. Squint and see darkness only? Reach your hand out, put one foot in front of the other and step. Just keep seeking and for goodness sake, don’t freeze.
6) I believe that nearly always, we do the best we can with what we’ve got. Concurrently, life’s all about choices. Sometimes we make a sucky choice and sometimes others make a sucky choice. Grace, love, forgiveness….and boundaries. 🙂
7) Being gentle with herself doesn’t come easy. She’s going to learn the art of doing so anyway. This is wisdom.
8) Rainy nights are healing for the soul, so are candles; bubble baths, snuggles (can be with people, a favorite blanket or comfort item or fur babies and I guess blow up dolls, but that’s not her preference).
9) Forgiveness is hugely, ginormously important. Forgiveness does not mean a person belongs in your life.
10) Real ghosts are the ones that leave echoing pain in a soul. In this case, exorcisms (figuratively speaking) are worth serious consideration If not willing to exorcise, contemplate excavating the heart. However, if those hauntings are here to heal, let them.
She will leave you with this song that eloquently speaks to the hauntings in her heart…
“Ghosts That We Knew”
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXiq5ZO-rNE
You saw my pain washed out in the rain
Broken glass, saw the blood run from my veins
But you saw no fault, no cracks in my heart
And you knelt beside my hope torn apart
But the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
We’ll live a long life
So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we’ll be alright
So lead me back, turn south from that place
And close my eyes to my recent disgrace
‘Cause you know my call
And we’ll share my all
And our children come and they will hear me roar
So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we’ll be alright
But hold me still, bury my heart on the coals
But hold me still, bury my heart on the coals [Live and US versions say “And hold me still, bury my heart next to yours”]
So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold on as long as you like [Live and US versions say “But I will hold on with all of my might”]
Just promise me we’ll be alright
[Live and US versions’ additional lines:
“But the ghosts that we knew made us black and all blue
But we’ll live a long life”]
And the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
And we’ll live a long life
Cheers. Namaste. Just be.
I was trying to do a good thing this morning; I woke up at 4:30 a.m., without an alarm. I decided to use this unexpected wake time to read my Bible and write a bit, it’s been too long since I’ve allowed myself these self care luxuries. Even mentioning self care right now makes me cringe; it feels like just another thing that I can berate myself for not doing or not doing well enough.
Gut level honesty….My physical reflection results in more self loathing. Yes, I know that I “should” celebrate my health and the mere fact that I can walk. That ability, I will never take for granted again. I want to puke as I admonish myself for being overweight, walking ungraceful lso that I sound like a herd of elephants or dropping and hitting everything with “lefty”. I recoil when I consider how far I’ve gotten away from my God and our closeness. My thinking is stinking….PEE-YOU! Yes, I have complete and utter awareness of what I “should” be doing and thinking. My head and heart are dual forces fighting against each other. Pretty ironic since I chose serendipity and synchronicity as my words for the year.
I’m aware that this is a problem. My brain knows that if I don’t care for myself first the rest will suffer. My body and spirit support this theory by expressing their various random aches and emptiness. I think back to two days ago when I took a first baby step by going for a 20 minute walk. Although my legs and mind were in motion; my spirit was quiet and my tears were flowing. I cry often. I cry out of oppressed rage; underlying guilt; heavy shame and unexpressed fear. As of late, tears of uninhibited joy; belly laughter; overflowing gratitude; scary vulnerability; and loaded sadness are amiss. I have hidden those deep inside me as I stay in survival mode.
I sobbed uncontrollably in front of someone I care for deeply just a short time ago. I cried for yesterday’s gone and for memories remembered. I cried for unspoken hurts and persistent grief. I knew this person was terribly uncomfortable with my tumultuous emotions; yet the harder I tried to make myself stop crying, the harder I cried. The event ended in an ugly, heated argument between the two of us. I did stop crying but my unshed tears converted to a slow simmering of emotions inside that eventually boiled over and now here I am. There is an abundance of fierce intensity churning inside of me; I am at a loss at how to ‘deal’ with it. Baby steps.
There was a walk…now there’s writing. These are good beginnings, trying to climb out of my poop filled rut.
Returning to “trying to do a good thing”….I woke up this morning and knew it was time to do the writing I have been putting off for so long. This heart sharing is a part of my healing; it’s an integral portion of my self-care. The house is quiet except for the load of laundry that is working hard to get clean. There are two sweet, snoring puppies on the bed to keep me warm with soothing piano music playing in the background. My bedside lamp is the only light on. In preparation mode, I snuggle in my soft sheets, propped up on pillows with my laptop in tow. I read Ruth from the Bible and today’s devotional from Jesus Calling. I indulge in a few sips of crème brulee coffee with the perfect amount of creamer, it is just right. I am ready.
My coffee spills. My coffee spills all over the floor (knocked over by my non-jerky hand), it runs under my bed and into my school bag. (Breathe again, say goodbye to my beautiful cup of coffee, clean said coffee up with newly bleached white towel.) Crawl back under covers, resituate myself…ready. I don’t really know where I want to go with this post; I’m trying (“there is not try grasshopper, only do or do not.”) to trust God in this process and let it flow.
I have been in a relationship for the last few months; my first since the divorce. I am learning some incredibly great things about myself through this; and a few harsh realities. Here’s what I’ve got…
1) I don’t know how to play the games and when I try to play the games, I lose. I lose because I don’t like the games, nor do I care for rules that get made up as I go along; nor do I care for uncertainty. (I’ve always known that last one, just feeling it big as of late).
2) I know how to be a wife. I am not familiar with knowing how to be a girlfriend or even how to date.
3) My initial goal after the divorce of learning to love myself is still very much in play. Honestly, I just don’t know how to get there. I thought maybe I was still grieving my sweet daddy’s death and the divorce from my precious mate. Im realizing I’m only just allowing myself to grieve.
4) I need great therapist. So do you. We ALL need a great therapist. No one (self included) has the right to put you on a feelings timeline.
5) I am a danger to myself as I am still exceptionally able and willing to contort myself into any shape for someone else’s happiness. I forget easily that I am at great risk of drowning in someone else’s emotions.
6) Dating is not therapy. I am not a therapist. I am not my dating partner’s therapist nor am I their savior. Amen. The End!
7) Being desired as a woman feels like a luscious longing is being fulfilled. Desiring a man is grand. Reciprocity is extraordinarily wonderful. None of this fills a spiritual or inside void.
8) It is not okay for someone to berate you, control you, gaslight or mess with your head and heart, no matter how hurt they’ve been. Never, ever, never. Take note, sometimes it feels okay, even good. If their stinking words and actions match my stinking thinking this almost feels comfortable and affirming…I was right.
9) After 45 years of living and 23 years of living that life loving one partner; sometimes you think you are upset at the person you are dating and really you are upset at a memory, a loss of a dream, a projected fear, etc. There is wisdom in reflecting on where our emotions are coming from. (which is a much better option than shoving the emotions down or numbing them with oreos…ask me how I know).
10)Listen to your gut, follow your heart, don’t forget your brain. Working on these. Like my friend Jenny always says, it’s just practice.
I think that’s it for now. Breathing in lavender from my bedside diffuser and wishing I could go back to sleep for a couple of hours. Thanks for letting me do this writing thing. It’s good for my heart and my prayer is that someone reading this needs it too.
I’ll leave you with this simple profundity. How do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Baby bites if we must.
Namaste, peace, beauty and love to you,