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.

 

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Funk town

I’ve been waiting on pins and needles for a dear friend to get his pet scan test results today. Cancer was suspected. He is brave and accepting and when he called, I held my breath and waited for the news. ALL CLEAR. I am so grateful.
 
Spoke with another angel in my life who has struggled with a heroin addiction for years. I was sharing with him how different it was to learn the clinical side of heroin addiction versus seeing him struggle and suffer with it. Right now, he is doing well. Right now is all we have. Again, so grateful.
I received a schedule of the remaining classes I am to finish before I graduate in December.  Six classes, my internship hours and a HUGE project, and grad school will be done.  I get overwhelmed (aka freaked out) with the seemingly impossible task of finishing all of this in a timely manner, yet I am ecstatic about the possibilities.
I have been in a serious funk this week. It has taken the feedback of two dear friends, a sibling and my Momma to get me to see this.  I’ve been entirely consumed by something that has hurt my feelings,  and I’ve failed to remember all about how wonderful this life can be. 
I’m sad that someone I care about might think poorly of me, and I’ve been stuck on spin cycle trying to figure out how to ‘fix’ it.  In other words…how to best control the outcome.
That’s funny, right?  Control…doesn’t look very much like letting go.  Completely opposite of surrender or trusting the process.  Certainly not believing that I am right where I need to be and absolutely not absorbing joy because anxiety is winning out.  So.not.cool.
I posted some quote the other day…I can’t remember the exact words but I know it points to letting go of shit.  (but much more eloquent).  It’s possible to let go of the past while still clinging to the negative cognitions or emotions of it.  Thus, it has to be possible to LET IT ALL GO too.  I’m just not quite sure how.
I’m a little all over the place, please just stick with me because I’m confident that this all fits together some way.  (maybe?)
I’m a fairly confident person in my work, at home, socially, with family and friends, etc.  But, in relationships with men, I turn into an insecure teenager.  (not dissing teens, I just missed out on dating in those years so I’m fully experiencing the turmoil of it now, lol!)  I despise these feelings of doubt, worry, angst, less than, broken and not good enough.  I figure maybe someone else struggles with similar things, and if not…just enjoy a good giggle.
I have this ever growing list of thoughts and conundrums that would really be beneficial for anyone I date to know.  I am considering typing them up and handing them out on an index card on our first date.  Too weird?
Additionally, and important…this list is NOT directed at any person.  It’s just a gathering of my own collective experiences and I am certain that any man could quickly come up with a double the size list for me.
I have gotten immense value out of all of these experiences and although I’m frustrated in this moment, my frustration has far more to do with my own doings than anything else.
1)  If I have taken time out of my life to spend time with you in any capacity, this is a good indicator that I take interest in you and getting to know you.  Unless it is urgent, it would mean the world to me if you would refrain from texting, phone calls, or other technological conversations while we are together.  For the love of all things good, please take special consideration of this tip when it involves others you might be dating.  Despite the status of our connection, it’s just respectful.  I like to feel treasured and present in the moment together.  Doesn’t everyone like that better?  This has happened to me too many times to count and I can’t decide if it’s just today’s dating norm or if I am an attention hog.
2)  If we have been at the point of conversations previously that you have called me ‘beautiful’, ‘cute’, ‘incredibly smart’, ‘sexy’, ‘pretty’ or the like, please continue this during our time together.  Otherwise, I believe that you said what you needed to say to get me where you wanted me and that feels really yucky.  Again, I have chosen to spend this time with you because I take interest in you.  I do not need affirmation every five seconds, but it does feel nice to be noticed.  
I have my insecurities.  Just like my daddy said, “there will always be someone prettier, richer, smarter, etc but you aren’t better than anyone and no one is better than you.”  That is so freaking tough for this heart of mine to absorb.
3)  I can’t speak for everyone, just for me.  Feel free to hold doors open for me, walk me to my car, kiss me hello/goodbye and make sure I get home okay.  It’s just a thing.  When you do these things, I feel valued, safe, and cared for and I will return this tenfold.
4)  I think sex is fabulous.  I believe kisses are the best thing ever invented.  Being held is incredibly delicious.  That said, I also cherish hand holding, deep conversations, sharing views respectfully (even in opposition), laughing, being goofballs and doing things.  You know?  Human vs. object….huge difference.  Treat me like a lady, please.  It lets me know I matter to you.  
5) I am pretty darn cool, but am not anywhere near perfect.  I am intensely, constantly aware of this.  Chances are, you aren’t perfect either.  How awesome if we could build one another up and draw out the good rather than point out one another’s flaws. 
I am consistently working on personal, spiritual, physical and emotional growth.  However, I haven’t ‘arrived’ and doubt I ever will.  It’s all a journey.  If you are at the place that you have achieved perfection, we likely will not be a good match.  Perfection is exhausting…I know…I’ve tried.  I just want to be loved for who I am, don’t you?
6)  Be honest and be gentle.  It’s quite possible for the two to co-exist.  You are deeply interested in someone else, but you want to spend time with me?  Please give me the dignity of being upfront ahead of time and allow me to make a fully informed decision.  I might value you alot more than you know, trust is already hard for me and really don’t want to walk in blind.  Likewise, I will be honest with you from the get go.  I have made the error of not doing so in the past and it’s completely icky.
7)  We are both grown ups by this time in life.  We both bring baggage.  We also still have a lot of fabulous goodness in us as individuals and maybe as a couple.  Recently noted…focus too much on the baggage and old relationships and you will certainly end up in a stuck zone.  No fun.
I’m learning…so many different types of connections.  Just please be real.  Be genuine.  Be truthful.  Be forgiving.  Be present.  I’ll do the same, we are all learning.
I guess I’m holding onto some things.  
Let go.
It’s just stuff.
I’m sure it still all fits together somehow, but hell if I know the how of the some.
Whatever.

Growing up

I have this gut feeling that some intensely real part of me has been hibernating for years and like a baby bear coming out of a dark cave,  it’s beginning to awaken.  2019 will be my last year of grad school.  Working full time, momming, daughtering, schooling, working, interning….blah, blah, blah.  It’s going to be a whirlwind of a year!  I am amazed when I look back and see how far I’ve come (and I am overwhelmed when I see how far I have to go!)  

We humans are ever-evolving, exploring creatures.  I am in awe of our capacity for resilience and growth.  That capacity gives me hope for us all.  It especially gives me hope for myself because I dream of the day I am all grown up in the ways that matter.

Here’s what I am trying to grasp about being a grown up:

  1. Truly, other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.  I spend a great deal of energy trying to ensure that other people are happy and content.  Sometimes, I catch myself putting more energy into their well-being than they do.  Guess who pays the highest price?  
  2. Self-compassion and self-care isn’t all about bubble baths, long walks, journaling and time for me.  It also looks like the icky stuff; hard conversations that need to be had, sticking to a budget, asking for help, making the choices that don’t feel good in the moment but have a tremendous pay-off later.  That stuff counts for loving myself well too.
  3. Structure and routine are not dirty words.  I have to learn this somehow.  I hate being put in anyone’s box, including my own and find myself easily resisting what is best for me because of that.
  4. I am a grown up woman, I was made a sexual being, and that is okay.  Actually, it’s far better than okay, it is magnificently wonderful.  Labels, shame, guilt and not allowing myself to be who I was made to be is nonsense.  
  5. There are people who have wiped my tears away in the most gentle and intimate manner.  There are others who squirm away from emotion because it is uncomfortable for them.  On the lines of people….some will see my scars as beautiful as they kiss them lovingly and see the miracle of life.  Some will see those same scars as a marring of my physical body and they might say less than stellar things.  Some will see my stretch marks and mom tummy as unattractive and displeasing; some will see these things as real and soft and safe.  Some people might not see them at all.  Guess what?  Their thoughts ALWAYS have more to do with them and often nothing to do with me.  That’s a hard one to swallow when one is a master at ugly self talk, but this is truth. 
  6. My God loves me deeper, wider, bigger than I could ever imagine. I have atheist friends who think my God is a made up guy in the sky to serve no purpose but being a crutch.  I have friends who have what I consider to be rigid beliefs, as well as everyone in between.  I love them all and I hope they love me too.  We are all searching and searching is key.  Whether your answer is in logic or faith or anywhere else, it’s your journey.  This is my journey.  
  7. ALL of the stuff ALL of the stuff ALL of the stuff is made to take us to a higher level.  Someday I will learn to surrender to that, trust myself, trust my God and trust the process.  Until then, I’ll keep doing my best.  Mostly.  Sometimes I will screw up in the biggest of ways.
  8. Love Wins.  Every freaking time.  Unless we choose hate.  Ick.
  9. It’s the small things that are really biggest in life.  Some of my favorite small things…When my Momma is proud of me (I know, I’m 46, but still, she’s my Mom!), when my kids surprise me with an unexpected hug, sunsets and sunrises, feeling the breeze on my bare skin, sweet kisses, coffee, yummy smells (of course)….
  10. Gratitude brightens even the darkest, dreariest days.  Drop the mask, feel what you feel…but keep the gratitude going.
  11. Be kind, gracious, loving, tender, merciful and forgiving.  At the same time, remember that boundaries are a beautiful thing and that boundaries and walls are not the same, ever.
  12. I will be unapologetically, unequivocally  me, even when it makes me squirm.  Especially when it makes me squirm.  Simply because I am uniquely, beautifully made and there is only one of me.  I love that quote, “Be you, everyone else is already taken.”  That’s so right!

The magic is in the mercy.  The gift is in the grace.  Over and over and over I fail.  Over and over and over I receive these compassions.  I am surrounded with grace giving, magic mercy making,  lovers of my heart and I am intensely blessed.