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.

 

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.