CHOSEN

Sitting in my group psychotherapy class, in a group….it’s my turn to share.  We had each made a collage with images or words that symbolized our spiritual life, gender role, sexual orientation, masks we wear, an identity not mentioned that was important to us and a few other things.

We had been a little bit focused on the topic of death, namely, how our lives would change if we knew we only had 10 years left to live.  There were discussions of dropping out of grad school, deciding no children could be birthed if there were only 10 years with them, and support for having kids even though because the experience was so valuable.  It wasn’t my turn to speak yet, my mind was spinning with thoughts.  10 years!  10 years?  TEN YEARS!  What a gift!  I thought back to the stroke in 2009 and how terrified I was to die.  If someone promised me 10 more years from now, it would almost be a relief.  Then I could stop wondering how much more time I had with my people and in this life. Ten years seems awfully precious when I consider that no one actually knows if they even have the next moment.

The question was posed directly to me, “What was the hardest thing on your collage for you?”   I began sharing;  “You see, in 2009, I had a massive stroke, I had to learn to walk again.”  Having my own mortality in my face like that and realizing how precious it was to be able to walk contributes well to thinking that 10 more years is a gift.  Our professor remarked, “Gosh, you are almost 10 years out from that stroke.”  I am!  I hadn’t even thought of that, and somehow it seems like something that I should celebrate even more than I do every other year.

(SIDENOTE:  I know I drive others crazy with my selfie taking and insistence on picture taking during nearly anything.  My classmates were fussing about precisely this at lunch today, thus, I explained to them the why’s of my insistence.  

My Daddy lost his memories with his Alzheimer’s.  I recognized from that how very important pictures were in helping tell him stories, whether he recalled or not, we remembered precious moments.  Also, after the stroke, I lost a few big  chunks of memories that I treasure.  In looking at pictures or videos, it will often trigger a memory recollection that I had lost.  Lastly, I NEVER took a selfie until after my divorce.  I’m truly not vain.  However, I do cherish memories and know it is possible to lose them.  This is why I like to have so many pictures.  The selfies….they help me remember where I’ve been and how far (usually) I’ve come.)

I continued, “So, the hardest thing on this collage is the blank spot on the bottom left corner.  It is blank because I couldn’t find the word.”  “I was looking for the word chosen“.

This ties in with my ideas of spirituality.  I can trust the process.  I can trust that I am right where I am meant to be.  I can trust that I have a bright future ahead.  I can trust God.  “The reason that chosen ties in with this seems insignificant but I know it’s not.”  In my heart, I know that I have been chosen for many things that I am not deserving of.  I am healthy, whole and breathing, for a start.

I explained in detail, “When I look back and see how God has put the puzzle pieces together, I know He is trustworthy.  In hindsight, He is good.  However, for the future, I struggle with this whole trust thing hugely.  There are two driving factors to my thinking.

First, I am not really sure that the desires of my heart are worth His time, or the plan, or whatever.  Second, I still grapple with the lifetime thoughts that I am not worth it.  Period.  That said, I took a deep breath and shared what my deepest desire was.

I absolutely want to share my life with a mate.  This is terrifying to me.  I explained, “My ex-husband is my best friend, we were together for 23 years and I don’t want to lose that friendship.”  Hard questions followed and the tears that had started flowing the minute I spoke hadn’t stopped.  I decided that my vulnerability in this moment was a good thing, even if it totally sucked.  I know (believe) that when I give my heart to someone, the relationship between my ex and I will need to change.

We will always be important to one another, and we will always have a friendship and co-parent our precious children.  However, we still at times share the intimate nature of friendship that I feel belongs in a relationship.  No more romance but all of the deep connection.  It’s weird.  I just know deep down that will change; and although it could be very positive, it’s super scary.  For 23 years, we have been there for one another.  Who will ever know me so well?  I don’t know how to navigate any of this so even thinking about the possibilities makes me want to throw up in my mouth.

Despite these fears, I long for that intimate, soul sharing connection with the man who I hope exists not just in my heart and mind.  I pray my desires aren’t denied.  I don’t like saying any of this.  It’s quite uncomfortable.  I do not ‘need’ a man.  If it is true that I want my own fairy tale, I am resentful of even wanting that.  I recognize that my fears are holding me back and I am trying my damnedest to work my way out of them.

Back to the word, “chosen“…let me paint what this looks like to me.  I want to be the woman that is not second choice to another woman and is in competition with no one.  I want to choose and be chosen; to cherish and be cherished; to treasure and be treasured; to accept and be accepted; to trust and be trusted; and to passionately love and be passionately loved.  All with the wildness and naturalness we are capable of.

Whether my hair is long or short, my booty is flat or bubblicious, whether my emotions are a jumbled mess or I am steady as a surgeon’s hand…just see me (an my people) and love me (us) right there, just like that.  Just as I am (we are).

Is that a crazy notion? I want to give these things right back, in the manner they are needed.  I guess this is my version of a fairy tale.  I went to the restroom and cleaned of my mascara stained face, then returned to my desk.  I picked up my pen and began an unfiltered 3 page list of what had happened or changed in my life in the past 10 years.  Just look at this…

2009 – 2019

  • Celebratory 1 year ‘birthday’ party on the strokeaversary.  Celebrations on year 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 as well.  I will always celebrate November 9 as a second birthday because it was a second chance that forever changed me for the better.
  • Surgical repair of a paten foramen ovale (hole in my heart suspected to have caused stroke)
  • My babies are 9 years older.  They are 17 and 14.  Just wow.
  • Infidelity in my marriage
  • 3 years of intense marriage therapy and growth
  • Divorce 
  • Started grad school (which I will complete 1 month after my 10th year celebration!)
  • A special journey of self discovery…still in process.
  • Had my only two relationships other than my marriage after divorce. One great, one yuck.  Learning to date.
  • Grappled with God.  Alot.
  • Grappled with self.  Alot.
  • My Daddy battled with Alzheimer’s.  He passed away.  I miss him.
  • Went through and graduated Pathways.
  • Learned more effective ways of dealing with my anxieties and fears.
  • Lost weight. Gained weight. Lost weight.
  • Learning to love myself.
  • Almost lost home due to foreclosure.
  • New and old animals.
  • Worked at Jenks public schools, Sooner Start, Life, Autumn Leaves and I’m sure I’m missing something.
  • Learning the value of letting go, letting go and letting go.
  • Became stronger, wiser, taller, braver, more cognizant of reality and less apt to live in a fantasy land.
  • Continue learning every day.
  • Lost and made and regained and didn’t regain friendships.
  • Endless hugs and kisses, even more heart to heart moments.
  • Drove (all by myself) to Dallas, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri.
  • Finding my voice in a positive way.
  • Practicing gratitude more than ever.
  • Stepped out of my comfort zone a billion times.
  • Crossed items off bucket list, including getting fired from Whole Foods!
  • Learning who I am as a grown woman.
  • Treat myself with love and respect more than ever.
  • Gardened until my fingers and feet were mud stained.
  • Cooked a trillion meals.
  • Watched my Momma move out of our family home and into a new home.
  • Stopped sugar and processed foods.
  • Watched more precious nieces and nephews graduate, get married, have babies, enjoy first careers and more.  Added the role of friend in with aunt.
  • Learned that I am strong.  I am a survivor.  
  • Finding my path to joy and freedom (it’s a journey.)
  • Learned to love the word fuck.  As in fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck….because sometimes it’s the only appropriate word even for a princess.  (really a Sailor Sarah)
  • Experienced two fabulous years of marriage that placed hope in my heart for beautiful things.
  • Put dreams into action, see some coming to fruition.
  • Experienced countless storms, rainy days, splashed in puddles, danced, sang, laughed, cried, embraced, shared, found the deepest pain and the most radiant joy, focused on passions, wrote, cooked, held hands with dying people, held new born babies, manicures, pedicures, massages, listened to music, had my eyes opened to the beauty of diversity, loved hard….an endless list.  
  • I’m still breathing.

I’m breathing.  What a miracle I am.  What a miracle we all are.  This gift of life is one I can barely grasp.  What did I do to deserve the goodness of being here and of being me?  Chosen.  Yes.  Want to be chosen in other ways? Yes.

So ya…10 years.  An amazing gift.

 

Mosaic Masterpiece

This post doesn’t want to happen.  This post is resisting moving from head to heart in every way.  This post knows it contains some deep potential for growth.  Hands on the keyboard, my fingers tap out whatever is inside of me, initially unedited.  I am assured that this is a post that must be written.  It is difficult to know where to begin when one is spinning in a multitude of directions.  Gut, heart and brain are in the midst of great conflict and soul keeps saying, “keep going, keep going, keep going”.  The internal struggle isn’t new. What’s new, is is being able to grasp that not being exactly where I want to be is okay, I just am where I am.  Honestly, sometimes that pisses me off, but that’s all part of being where I’m supposed to be too.

A memory that I had written one year ago today popped up on my Facebook timeline.  No accidents, God’s timing deserves a mic drop, again.

“There is an adventurous 19 year old girl inside of me that really just wants to come out and play.  There is also a 45 year old wounded but wise grown up in me who speaks a tiny bit louder that that frivolous 19 year old girl.  There is always that “good girl” mentality deep in my heart, even when I am trying to drown her out.  Honestly, she’s a little ‘over-concerned’ with image.  The thing is, they’ve all been struggling and arguing and have finally decided that they can meet in the middle and explore life.  I wonder what this is going to look like?”

A year later…what does it look like? Here’s what I’ve come to learn in the past year about Sarah, the woman.  She delights in being playful, yet she craves deep connection and reverent solitude too.  She still has wounds, old and new.  The martini glass looking patch over the hole in her heart is something that makes her acutely familiar with the healing process.  She knows that sealing some old wounds with healthy protection is the best way to heal.  She sometimes forgets that this is a very rare situation, because generally, the best path to healing is to stay open, yielding and aware rather than placing a seal over a wound.  Besides, although she can’t see that martini glass patch without special examination, she still knows it is there.   She is strong, and she is fragile.

She has pieces of every experience of every age inside of her…from birth to right now, a 46 year old woman.  She is a mosaic.  She spends a good amount of time trying to figure out how all of those pieces fit together to create the masterpiece God made her to be. (This would suggest she still has trouble believing that she already is God’s masterpiece).  She still goes to that good girl mentality in an instant, especially when she is afraid she has hurt another.  She finds herself slowly transitioning more to who she was made to be and in the midst of that, she fights to separate from living as some other human created her to be.  This is one of the most difficult things she has ever done, for in separating, she could be a wound inflictor.  In her heart, she struggles to believe that she can’t hurt the dead.  She only enjoys joyful magic these days, not black magic thinking…which is exactly what that is.  When she deals with this, an image of a five year old blond girl, feeling ashamed of what she did to offend (but not sure what that was) pops into her heart.  It’s such a helpless feeling that overcomes her.  So, she is likely to try and please even those who are not worthy of her heart.  Danger zone.

She is emotionally aware of others, sometimes too much so.  She still idealizes, sometimes seeing what she wants to see rather than what is reality.  Then, when she is disappointed, it’s because she trusts she will never be good enough to have the deepest desires of her heart.  She is learning that life really does begin out of her comfort zone and that she firmly resists anyone who tries to put her in a box.  That’s a funny thing to figure out when she still wants to please.  Anais Nin once said, “I take pleasure in my transformations.  I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me.”  Heart affirmation.

She is building her prayer life and learning to trust God fully with her heart.  This is a process in every way.  She often asks herself how she will trust the right man with her heart if she won’t trust God with her heart.  She doesn’t know the answer; she does recognize the significance of this question.  Her prayers are very different, her tears flow freely and her laughter is genuine and without apology.  Seeking God’s heart and strengthening her faith are constant forgings; and part of this is searching deeply for her own grown-up understanding of God and the Bible.  She has come a long way from believing that God was a big guy in the sky waiting to strike her down for any minor offense, with a long way to go still.  She is learning to seek Him as Father and friend.  She has many people who have come into her lives with polar opposite thoughts on God.  She listens, she prays, and she seeks intimacy with Him above anyone’s opinion.  The conversations grow her, and hopefully grows them but in the end, she knows she wants to honor what is between she and God above all else.

She is raising her kiddos and absorbing hard truths.  As caller number two pointed out, those kiddos are pretty much raised and she can’t go back and change what she may have broken.  She can only do better with what she knows.  She loves them fiercely and wants to be enough, and she often feels insufficient to do this job without their father in the house.  This is tough.  She enjoys (usually) dating and is wary of how any man would impact the lives of her children.  She also knows that coming from a beautifully blended family that the good possibilities are beyond her imagination, she reminds herself that her fairytale dream is not going to happen, ever.  She wonders how she can reframe her fairytale.  Speaking of dating, she investigates her gravitations in this area with fierce curiosity.  She notices that if there were a scale with a man on each end and one in the middle, she drifts toward the middle.

Man on the left talks about men who are Godly leaders are but doesn’t live that way, the only place he is giving is in bed, is manipulative, super smart in a ‘take note of everything so I can use it against her’ way, selfish, temperamental, impulsive, bad boy imaged, gas lights, lashes out, lies, is not faithful, treats her less than and is still yummy smelling and gives great kisses and hugs.  She knows he is not good for her in any way, but this tells herself this must be how love really is.  After all, it is volatile just like her grandparents were.  There’s no inbetween, its either on or off but she holds all the power to heal him, to heal them.  This makes her feel validated and important.  She has someone or something to save.  She is someone else with this man.  She is wild and passionate in the beginning and then she is broken.

The  man in the middle….he smells fabulous, usually hot, gives great kisses and hugs, sweet, gentle, kind of smart but not really a deep conversationalist, wants to be pursued, drops bread crumbs but just not ready or not wanting to be with her…does want her as a back up just in case.  Whew!  She wants him badly, he is likely not going to happen but she spends way too much time fawning over him and feeling a false sense of relief every time he calls or texts.  She knows he is unavailable, either emotionally, spiritually or in some manner and she chooses to believe that he is ‘good enough’ because she never will be fully worthy of man on the right.  This man gets her very best, she pulls out all the stops to keep him engaged.  She works harder for his attention than he ever will for hers.

Man on the right is strikingly handsome to her, good, kind, tender, wise, compassionate, loving, funny, Godly. smells delicious, gives great hugs and kisses and wants her best; even above his own.  He is intelligent, witty, and has big hands that are gentle.  He is trustworthy, holds her heart in his hands with care and has eyes only for her.   Their souls know each other, he is beyond what she has dreamed.  He might even be special enough to meet her family, friends and fur babies.  She considers him fondly and worries that he is too good to be real. All at once, she is afraid and she is intrigued.  She is cautious and inquisitive about the extraordinary pull she feels toward him.  She does not know how to recieve or whether to trust his kindness, so with every fiber of her being she focuses on the present moment and not on the what if’s.  A new kind of hard.

In each of these scenarios, she is torn.  She doesn’t know who to trust and ultimately, it’s herself that she doesn’t trust.  She knows.  She is working hard to trust.  She is trying hard to own her story while believing that she is worthy of the best God could bring.  She likes to refer to the hard things in life being much like a bear hunt, “can’t go over it, can’t go under it…guess you gotta go through it.”    She has a beautiful imagination and in her relationships can use this to create unreal scenarios or to destroy something before it happens.  She has a protective reason for this.  Control prevents chaos and for someone who grew up with emotional chaos, creating safety in this manner is the logical, albeit not always healthy, thing to do.

She is definitely  work in progress, in every area.  This is okay.  She shares openly many of her thoughts, but there are still many secrets inside of her.  They aren’t intentional secrets, but precious things that she doesn’t want to give away to the world for their dissection and judgement.  Some things are meant to be precious gifts from God in her own heart. She doesn’t want to risk those things being torn apart because they are part of what pieces her together.

There she is…one year later.  Lots of life to live, tons of growing to do and more contentment than she remembers feeling in forever.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” – Psalm 34:4-6