Reflections

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…

“I’m naturally inquisitive; about myself and others. I am trying to discern where all of this is coming from and why I’m feeling such a strong connection with you after this itty bitty amount of time. 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. Like….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. I hope I am making some sense””

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.

Two Wolves

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.

 

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A Slow Burn

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.

Hauntings that Heal

On Marriage
 Kahlil Gibran

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.

Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

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.

How to take baby steps when you must eat an elephant

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,

S.

Now

I got home from school around 10:20 tonight. (BTW, I am loving school!) Anyway…I came home wound up as all get out so I used that energy to do a quick clean. Laundry is in, kitchen sink scrubbed, all floors vacuumed, and the smell of bleach is permeating the air while the whites wash. All of this makes me happy…and suddenly, my abundance of energy has vanished.

My heart is slightly heavy tonight as I process letting go. I talked to a very wise soul today…(you know who you are). I was tearfully sharing my fears that there will not be another side to my journey, as well as the other terrors that haunt me. I shared that after Pathways, I had the BEST two years of my marriage that I never could’ve imagined and then, whoosh!, it was gone. I let her know I have a wee bit of mistrust and anger with God for not making this better and lots of mistrust and disappointment in myself for losing my magic wand.

She asked me something I truthfully have never considered and am pondering carefully tonight. “What if God gave me those two years to give me a glimpse of what a future love could look like? She asked me some other things, and the permeating thought I have left over as my summary is the one that begs an answer to the question…”how I am going to spend my now? Am I waiting to arrive at the other side before I settle in?”

I likely am waiting in ways, I tend to freeze a little when I am afraid. I have had to say too many goodbyes lately, as I discussed in my previous post…no way around it, they suck.  There have been goodbyes through a death, goodbyes through divorce, goodbyes and a goodbye to a dear, dear friend by choice.  None of them is better than the other.

My heart is telling me there are other goodbyes to say…another bit of  letting go that is weighing me down.  It’s time to say goodbye to things that aren’t working in my life as I learn to replace them with what is better, healthier, wiser.  It’s time to say goodbye to control (or my illusion of it), yet again…which means, hello surrender my friend.

 

It’s time.  It’s time.  It is time.

Shadow Dance

My internal world has been filled with an abundance of “AHEM” moments today.  AHEM moments don’t feel like the progress I like to feel after I’ve done the hard work of processing; they have yet to lead me to any “AHA” moments; and honestly, those are usually my goal.  AHEM moments are more like scathing, scary, scolding, self scuffling conversations that go on constantly between my head and my heart.  These moments are anxiety provoking…the kind of anxiety where although I continue to be productive and sufficiently distracted with work, there is the constant gnawing in my belly, the lump in my throat and the uptight breathing that accompanies the tense certainty that everything cannot be as okay as it seems.  I went through my day, doing the business of living and forgetting to find my place of surrender, my calm center, my joy…I just go and go and go as fast as I can.  No matter how much I do or how amazingly efficient I am, the chatter in the background will.not.stop!  That’s my day today.

Writing, praying, reflecting and sharing are healing for me, and I know there is something deep inside of me in need of healing as I write this or my heart wouldn’t be so overflowing with trepidation in this moment.  Selfishly, I’m ‘getting it out’ in hopes of being rewarded with peace.  Altruistically speaking, I hope the reader gleams some sort of self awareness from reading.

  • I made a decision a couple of weeks ago to do something totally out of character for me…I think.  As I ponder my actions more, I consider the possibility that this was absolutely something within my character but something I’ve never felt the freedom to do.
  • I had a hard and precious conversation with my ex husband today (I still feel as if I am speaking of someone else when I say those words…I’m working on owning them).  We are at a place of peace and we are able to ask questions of one another, this is beautiful but does not make the answers easier to bear.
  • I have had to distance myself from someone precious in my life in order to guard my own heart.  Boundary setting sucks.
  • It is less than a month away from the 9th anniversary of the stroke and just a few days away from what would be our 19th wedding anniversary.  My soul reverberates the echoes of what my mind wants nothing to do with.
  • I’ve been playing Words with Friends when I need a little break.  One of the men I have been playing with invited me to download an app on my phone today so we could ‘talk naughty’ to each other.  (I don’t know him, he is a ‘random’ stranger from the game).  I don’t really believe in random and after I found out his story, my belief that there are no accidents has been confirmed.  He is married and wanted to be honest with me, but felt that ‘talking dirty’ wasn’t a big deal.  He asked if I thought it was and I let him know that I guess that depended on where your personal boundaries were and that mine would not permit me to engage in these conversations with a married man.  We talked further, I shared with him my heart on the matter and my own story.  I encouraged him to find out what was missing within himself or his marriage and not go down this road, no matter how innocent the intentions were.  I don’t know what he will do, but I pray that our ‘meeting’ was of value to his heart.
  • We celebrated my beautiful sister Beth’s 60th birthday this weekend.  I have no words sufficient to describe the fullness in my heart that the love within my family provides to me.  No words.  No matter how many years go by, when I am naming my siblings, I always feel like I leave one out.  It’s my big brother Brent and he definitely left an empty space.  I celebrate his life in partiality by always ‘counting him in’.  My Daddy would’ve loved the party thrown for Beth, and he would’ve been immensely proud of all of us.  I miss him so.
  • I have haunting background thoughts that tell me I will never be the object of a worthy man’s love, that having extra pounds makes me less than valuable,  that I will get Alzheimers and not have enough money to have good care, that I won’t fulfill my purpose before I die….all of these crappy lies that won’t go away.  I don’t actually know if they are truth or lies, I do know that I am living my purpose right here and now, that I will have everything I need when I need it and that God’s plan is much better than my own.  I KNOW these things deep down but when the shouting between my head and heart gets louder than my knowing, I forget my truth.

So here I am….dancing with my shadows but the shadows mean that there is light, so I know I am okay.  That’s an AHA moment and the only one I really need right now.

 

Be blessed,

Sarah

 

 

 

Midnight Java….the Aftermath

My dear friend Traci let me know this morning that she is not concerned about my becoming an alcoholic.  She is, however, worried about my frequent late night coffee consumption.  I’m wondering if her unease about my exuberant consumption is something I ought to investigate further.

Though I have always found the aroma of a fresh brew intoxicating, I was never a consumer of this ‘nectar of the gods’ until I was a Preschool Director and momma of two babies.  My energy was low and the needs of those I cared for were high.  Simultaneously, they put a Starbuck’s in less than a mile from my home.  I took it as a sign, God was smiling down at me and it was a love at first sip!

Since then, I have kept my intake of this delicious cup of energy minimal to moderate.  One cup on a good day, two cups on a rushed day and 3 -4 cups when I was trying to keep the poo from hitting the fan.  I guess by now the poo has hit the fan and been splattered about, so it only makes sense that I have begun the sweet little ritual of late night coffee drinking.  I do this only occasionally, I can stop anytime I want…really.  I limit myself to this practice when the kids aren’t at home and I’m quite productive (sometimes) when I begin to drink coffee at midnight.

What’s the problem then?  I might be a wee bit sensitive to the caffeine but it’s a nice, harmless little buzz. It helps me stay awake so I can create, clean, or stare of into space contemplating my world.   There is nothing like coffee and candlelight!  Countless benefits, right?

It’s been a rough week in this life.  Last night was a cup at midnight…a cup at 1…and maybe a 1/2 cup at 1:30.  (Sorry Traci, I couldn’t bring myself to tell you the whole truth). I fell into a not quite sound sleep at 3:30’ish and was awake, ordering groceries at 5:30’ish.  I was on my way to work at 8’ish.  I’m feeling the consequences of two hours of sleep in a serious way.   No worries…nothing a little cinnamon dolce latte with extra espresso can’t fix!  It’s a cycle for sure…I just haven’t decided if it’s vicious or victorious!

Last night’s bender wound up in a great phone conversation with a beloved friend, a couple of loads of completed laundry, clean dishes, a bit of reading and A LOT of staring at my candle flicker while I chatted with God and weighed on all that is heavy on my heart.  I felt, and still feel, conflicted and afflicted.  As I mentioned, it’s been a rough week in this life.

I am incredibly proud of my ex husband and I.  We fought the good fight for our relationship and although the outcome wasn’t what either of us had hoped, we are still here.  Now we fight the good fight as parents who love their children dearly.  Still, the divorce is new and I find myself deep in thought as I adjust once again to a new normal.

I found myself in the middle of a devastating situation this week, I am thankful that I was present yet this is a situation that hurts every fiber of my being.  The ex and I have had to walk through some really difficult stuff with our kids this week and who knows if we are doing it right?  I am in a state of mind that leaves me aching to ‘fix’ and nothing is in my power to fix.

I think about the tragedies around us.  In my opinion, teens and social media combined have the ability to create a horrific impact and I am seeing this directly in action.  Our elders and our children are not cared for well in our society.  There are endless gaps in this world and too many people are oblivious to the societal impact until they are personally affected.  How do we radically meet those around us right where they are without pushing our own agenda onto them.  What are the long term repercussions for those who are harmed and for those who cause harm?

These thoughts are the aftermath of my midnight java.  Good thoughts….great thoughts…heavy heart and void of solutions for the most part.  Still, I march forward ready to embrace life as it comes and holding onto a mustard seed of faith that there is hope for my future…for our future as a whole.

Most of us are familiar with the quote,

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

I’m pretty sure the original quote was, “You must be the change you want to see in the world, and it all begins with a late night cup of coffee, a candle, and a little chat with God.”

The aftermath of late night java….it’s a beautiful thing.

 

 

 

 

 

I am Nearly 45 and Exactly Where I am Supposed to Be…

Almost 45, and a little over one year ago, I was handed a “gift” that I tried with everything in me to return.  My husband of 18 years asked for a divorce…again…and this time, I conceded.  We had taken turns putting divorce on the table yet one of us always stayed grounded and talked the other down.  This time was different, I knew that my only choice was to let go.  Heartbreak had become a too comfortable friend and we were both weary.  I knew that he was trusting me enough to ask for what he truly felt he needed, I finally recognized that I loved him enough to graciously (a process indeed) give him what he was asking for.

In June, my sweet husband moved out of our family home and into his own apartment.  July brought the death of my precious Daddy, who had fought a brave battle with Alzheimer’s for 12 years.  August was full of transitions for the kids, one beginning a new journey with homeschooling and the other entering high school.  September was the beginning of returning to full time work for me.  In October, my precious Momma sold the home we all grew up in with she and Daddy and moved to a new home of her own. Alas, November and December brought bittersweet holiday celebrations, as we all adjusted to the consequential firsts that come with change.

Whew!  I have to catch my breath just remembering. This is life though, right?  It’s full of change.  Joy in the suffering, lightness  in the dark, triumph in the tragedy, beauty out of ashes and growth out of doing hard.  We have to search for the gifts…seek out the God in all of it.  Man, that is tough.

Only now am I beginning to get my feet back on the ground (that’s giving myself a ton of grace) and barely able to reach out my arms, hands open, ready to receive.  Only now am I embracing trace amounts of gratitude for my journey.  Only now….and this is okay, for only now is all we ever have.

Countless gifts in the mix, and the one gift that keeps re-emerging as a theme in my life is the opportunity to believe that I AM ENOUGH.  Despite a delay in my cooperation, I am now absorbing the truth that until I believe this and until I truly love myself, I don’t have all of me to offer anyone else. I wonder if I ever have truly and fully loved me for me, just as I am?  Even if I never opt to offer myself to another in a romantic relationship, isn’t it just as significant to offer myself the fullness of this kind of love?  I think, yes.

I am exceptionally gifted at meeting others where they are and loving them well. On the other hand, I am extremely inadept at doing so for myself.  I have an ongoing list of things I want in a future partner/relationship.  Ironically, all of the things I am seeking in someone else are things I really am seeking for myself within my own heart.

It is my soul’s desire to reconnect with God in a way that my human self has forgotten to do.  I know that He loves me and sees me in a light that I cannot easily fathom; I yearn to have  a glimpse of that view.

Here I am…nearly 45…with amazing opportunities before me.  This year is stunningly different than last year and next year will be incomparable.  I don’t know what all of this means, I just know this life is a one time gift and I intend to live it well.

 

“When you start to feel like things should have been better this year, remember the mountains and valleys that got you here, they are not accidents and those moment’s weren’t in vain.

You are not the same you, you have grown and you are growing, you are breathing, you are living.

You are wrapped in

Endless

Boundless

Grace

and things will get better, there is more to you than yesterday.  

-Morgan Harper