Dear Sis,

Dear Sis (that’s me…dear me)…
 
You are being inundated with unpleasant insights to yourself these last couple of weeks. It’s okay. You are growing so find the value and trust the process.
 
In the meantime, beware of the man who subtly devalues you in the kindest of ways. It might look like this…
 
– “I need someone like you in my life. Nurturing, kind, beautiful eyes and soul. Instead, I always choose the girls who are really hot, into the gym and crazy.” (He sees your beauty and that it’s the kind that matters but you are not going to meet his qualifications…trust this).
 
-“I want more than a hook up. I want a relationship. I want the old fashioned kind of dating where two people become friends and fall in love.” And then…he’s pushing for sex by the end of the night. (and sis, you go right along with it because you think he’s way cool and you want soooooo badly for that empty to be filled. Not gonna get filled for more than a minute….literally. Stop and think).
 
– He is thoughtful, smart, caring and concerned with your wellbeing. He asks how you are and then listens. (for a few weeks). Then, there is no asking how you are. It is sufficient to tell you how awesome he is. Communication quiets and then levels up when it’s getting closer to time for netflix and chill. (This is probably a mirror to how a relationship will work).
 
-“I’m just not good at this part” or “I guess my last relationship hurt me so bad that I’m afraid of…” are usually translatable. Meaning, “I don’t want to put the effort into this friendship/relationship/agreement. I only want my needs met please don’t complicate this with your words. (C’mon, you deserve communication no matter what the agreement is).
 
Sis, listen to words but believe behavior. Please, for the love of God, believe behavior. I know you want connection so badly, but trust God, trust the process and wait for the real good stuff.
 
Know when to walk away….even if he smells scrumptious, delights your mind, intrigues your soul and adored you for a minute.
 
YOU ARE WORTH MORE. TRUST ME.
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Sprinkle some more hope in, please

I am learning gobs about myself throughout the process of obtaining a Master’s degree, and especially through this CCI. (It’s a Critical Competency Interview and it’s a BIG deal).
 
1) I tend to freeze or give up right before I reach the point of success. This applies to self-care, eating healthy, mindfulness, my children, dating and so much more….but not to school and not to work. I wonder why that is and what I’ve cost myself with this behavior.
 
I guess I’ll delve into that later but first I will finish this CCI and Family Teen Camp.
 
2) If I am scared I won’t do it right, I would just rather not do it.
So many ways to do this but my favorite is to just pretend it doesn’t exist. (I.E. Make a treatment plan, budget, APA questions that I ‘should’ not struggle with etc) In the end, this doesn’t work out in my favor.
 
3) If doing it requires asking for help, it’s very likely not going to happen. This is especially funny since I always encourage others to remember we are made for relationship and connection, and that we all need to help one another. Lifelong struggle…I’d rather be the helper not the helpee.
 
Additionally, if I have been helped in the ways that have touched my heart deepest,, my deep gratitude carries shame. Shame that I couldn’t do it on my own. Shame that you could see I needed help and gave it without my even asking. Shame that I am in this spot at 46 (almost 47) years old. Feeling needy is so vulnerable to me and I hate it. Yet, you all are part of my heart beat and I don’t think I’d ever have enough words to adequately express my love and gratitude for you.
 
4) I am very impatient in the things that matter. I think (in the moment) that I prefer my own timing over God’s timing. I look back and see clearly that His timing is ALWAYS better so I’m not sure why I am so incredibly hesitant to trust Him now.
 
I settle for what’s given rather than wait for what I pray for, and for what I am worth. Nice in the moment…empty soon after. This applies to food, relationships, self-care, etc) Knowing I view myself so much less than sometimes hurts my heart.
 
5) I really am right where I am supposed to be and I truly do have everything I need in this moment. Still, I can be impulsive, impatient, controlling and self-sabotaging. I’m on this journey…learning, growing, loving and evolving.
 
Hope is a beautiful and a fragile thing.  I need a little more of it sprinkled in my life right now.
 
Happy Thursday, I love you all!

A reckoning

In the moment
his affection will make you feel wanted,
his words will make you feel heard,
his eyes will make you feel seen,
his hand will make you feel held,
but until you are able to see yourself
as made whole by your Savior
and no one else, 
you will constantly go
from moment to moment
and person to person
in search of a Love
that is only ever felt
in the arms of the One
who knows you better than you know yourself,
and loves you more than anyone else.
                                               -Morgan Harper Nichols
Truth…I am a tiny bit jaded and freaked out.
I’ve had some people really hurt me in my dating (loosely used for sure) experiences.  It’s not all their fault, I have made some poor choices and there is  a consequence for everything we create…currently, it’s an emotional state of empty sadness.
I’m reflecting (read: ruminating) on the people I’ve been trying to impress by giving things that don’t belong to them…specifically man people.  Giving beyond depletion. Giving what I didn’t have to give and yearning for more than they were able to give in return. I have erased that fifty billion times and re-written it because I fear being judged or shamed.  So.  Treat with care.  It would be difficult for one  to judge me more harshly than I judge myself anyway.
I desperately want to feel cherished, not rejected.  I want to be understood, seen, accepted and appreciated for who I am.  I want to be held in the arms that embrace me with protection, respect and deep love.  I want to trust wholeheartedly and without fear of the future.
In the case that I never have those things, I accept the arms that are not equipped to keep me safe and the heart that isn’t healed to love me well.
I want to believe the truth…the stroke didn’t break me, the divorce didn’t break me, my childhood didn’t make me broken, my struggling finances and home in need of repair do not define me.  My mistakes are my fertilizer, my life is a miracle that I don’t need to ‘earn’….the list goes on…I want to believe that I am not broken, I am whole.
Because..you see…if I believe the truth that defines me as whole rather than the lie that I am deficient or broken;  perhaps I will stop accepting casual when casual is not what I want.  Perhaps I will seek out those who appreciate my quirkiness and my intelligence.  Perhaps I will seek out someone who thinks the things I consider broken in myself are the same things that make me beautiful.  Perhaps I will cease justifying when someone essentially dumps me on my ass without warning.  Perhaps I will cease my hateful self talk when I tell myself that this one dumped me because I wasn’t as pretty/thin/wealthy/fun/etc as his new focus and when he treats me less than, I will peacefully walk away.  Because…I will believe that I am worth.so.much.more.
Recently, I was awestruck by the picture I have here of Jesus holding the little girl…I looked at this in a moment of tearful frustration. I treasure this picture.  I have felt held like that before…but it seems like a lifetime ago since I felt that connected to God.  Even longer since I did a trust fall with God.
The deepest part of my heart was pinged.  “Sarah, if you want to be loved fully, you have to let me love you fully first.”  So reminiscent of something a dear friend said to me a few months ago but it wasn’t my friends voice I heard.
Why don’t I let God love me like only He can, preferring to keep him always at a slight distance?  I know the why’s…I’ve analyzed this forever but they aren’t nearly as important as what I’m going to choose now.
Going from moment to moment; person to person, in search of this Love I am intensely afraid of never experiencing…there is loneliness.  Not one moment nor one person is filling me up with this love I am longing for.  I get sad at the end of these ‘moments’, especially when I have earnestly cared for someone and honestly believed they were different.  Again, I can’t expect someone to give me something they don’t have.  I guess I can thank them for helping me see that my focus belongs elsewhere.
The embrace I long for is the same embrace I continue to push away.  I want to be fully known.  I want to know that I am fully loved, even though or maybe because I am fully and truly known. It’s maybe my deepest desire within myself.
So here we are, my God and I.  Together we face some unpleasant situations of my own making.  Together, we deal with those things.

Reckoning. Reconciling.  Learning to trust again.

 

 

TRY

I wasn’t going to write tonight.  Each time I had started to do so, I came up with nothing but feisty, unkind, passive aggressive wording, yet, here I am.  Thanks to the love, prayers, positive energy and encouragement that surround me, I have decided to try to be brave and share my heart.  Let’s hope I don’t regret it in the morning.

This is not a pretty post.  Not at all.  It’s kind of ugly and I just pray that I keep it about my experience and not someone else’s story.  Whatever.

I am in the middle of learning some tough lessons.  About myself, relationships, the difference between love and lust…so much.  So fucking much.  Lessons that I expect I ‘should’ have down by down at the ripe age of 46.  I guess after being with one man for 23 years, I’m not joking when I say I am like a teenager at times and these growing pains are simply yuck.

My heart aches.  Deeply.  Every time I face rejection from a man, in any aspect, it’s like I bring into it a lifetime of rejection.  It rapidly becomes all about everything I am not rather than about what the situation really is.  Tonight, someone I am particularly fond and who has been precious (in my eyes) ‘defriended’ me on social media.  Really.  So familiar to what I hear my teenagers struggle with at times.  I don’t even know why.  It doesn’t matter.  It stung and started a flood of tears that I can’t seem to stop.

An onslaught of failures, lies and struggles suck me in.  Failed marriage. Poor choices. Less than. Never enough. Won’t happen. Negligent. Disorganized. Scattered. Settled for. Two faced. Fat. Broken. Messed up. Crazy. Damaged. Wounded. Stubborn. Less than, again. Optional. Disposable. Debris. Stupid. Boring. Too much. Not enough, again. Temporary. Unworthy. Plain. Short hair. Gross. Hurting. The list goes on.

Through it all, my mind keeps hearing the words of a dear friends prayer for me, along with a sermon that I have listened to numerous times lately.  It’s all about the story we tell ourselves.  We might tell ourselves something that is not necessarily a lie, but instead a twisted up version of the truth.  It really pinged my heart because I know that I tend to live in the truth of my story instead of the truth of who God really made me to be….especially in regard to my relationships with men.

I am happily confident in my job, work hard in school, and adore my internship.  I am a magnificent friend, the best Momma for my kids and try hard to fill my other roles with all the love, giving, compassion and care that I can give.  Bottom line, I feel ‘good enough’ in these roles for the most part and when I don’t, I make changes accordingly.  That’s one Sarah.  She knows who she is and what she wants.  She believes it is just as important to play hard as it is to work hard; she is not hesitant to go for what she wants.

Then…there is the Sarah who sees herself as disposable.  She is seeking a real and deep love, a true connection with a gentleman that holds truth and freedom in it.  She is looking for the hands that will hold her heart with love, gentleness and protection.  She knows she has much to give BUT….this woman sees herself as a young girl who is overweight, awkward, painfully shy and unwanted.  No matter how she ‘looks’ to others, and despite the way she works on positive changes…she mostly sees herself as someone broken, deeply lacking or undesirable.  This feeling sucks. I know it’s not truth, but it ‘feels’ truthful in the moment and operating from that truth leads to a plethora of poor choices.  Choices that disregard who I am at my core and what I hope for in this life.  Choices that are made out of a fear of being without companionship.  Choices that give a temporary band-aid to lonely feelings but absolutely do not result in long term fulfillment.  Choices that are made because there is gratitude that someone desires me vs. knowing it is a privilege to have time with me.

I’m not speaking to intentional choices I make as a grown woman to participate in relationships that are fun, fulfilling in their own way and not long term.  I am referring specifically to participating in relationships knowing full well that it won’t be what I want it to be, but choosing to believe I can change it to what I desire.  I can BS myself like no other, but don’t worry, I speak the truth to others.  So often that it gets me in trouble…not everyone wants that.

The story that I tell myself is that I will never find the love of my life, so I may as well enjoy whatever the moment offers. I will not ever be ‘the one’ to someone special, so I shall act accordingly.   I’ve already had that, kind of, so God wants me to live the rest of my life alone and serving others.  (I put those words to God, nothing I feel from him). I may as well go for the men who are not going to be long lasting, because in the end, they will leave.  So why choose the ones I will really give my heart to? They too, will leave.  Both will hurt but the latter will hurt far less.  Choose the lesser of two evils, right?  In the process, I am getting hurt and I am hurting others…unintentional as it may be.  All of my protective forces are accomplishing nothing worth mentioning.

Who knows what of this is true and what is not?  I know I am supposed to honor who I believe I am…a brave, worthy, happy, truly loved by God, whimsical, whole and surrendered woman.  That is who I believe I was made to be, yet when I am engaging with men I am willing to trade that in for whatever they need me to be.  That’s got to be better than what I really have to offer, right?  Better even, let me serve as therapist and best friend ever, maybe even as a nurturing mom role.  Ewwww.  But it comes so natural.

A precious friend recently told me that “God made me and his work is always beautiful”.  I love that friend and his heart.  I want to believe his words.  My heart agrees, it is beautiful…my brain taunts me by letting me know I’ll never measure up.  But to who?  How long am I going to let others opinion of me determine how I view myself.  It’s ridiculous.  Real stuff, but ridiculous.

I have a safety plan.  Another dear friend and I have a ‘twenty year plan’.  If neither of us are married at age 60, or in 20 years…we can marry each other.  This is our little funny!  In truth, I freak myself out.  What if I die before then without experiencing the gift of a deep and abiding love with the ‘right’ man.  I know…God’s timing…it’s just so hard for me to trust.

I am tired.  I cannot believe I am ‘here’.  There are new crinkles around my eyes and I see faint wrinkles on the delicate skin of my neck. I can’t seem to keep up with the fastness of passing time.

My precious children…lots of love and hugs from them tonight.  That should be more than sufficient.  Why do I long for anything more?  I just do.  Even in my deep gratitude, there is a constant yearning.

This is my story.  I’m trying to figure out how to live in the truth of who I am…in ALL of the circumstances and with ALL of the people.  I am trying to let go of the story I once helped me survive and embrace the story that is truth.

This is my honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

Scattered Mercy

Oh mercy.  Mercy, mercy, mercy, freaking mercy….I give.  

Tonight has been unpretty.  My beautiful daughter and I had an ugly word explosion in the car and in this moment, we are in our separate rooms working through our own muck.  I hate it.  i hate the separateness from my precious child.  Speaking of ugly word explosions, they have become common between my beloved son and I.  We seem to be constantly jolted by one another, and not in a positive way.  Distance reigns.  I want desperately to regain our closeness.  

I don’t share any of this to “out” my children.  They are teenagers and going through their own stuff.  The abundance of pressures on them from their social networks, hormones, temptations and more are weighty on my 46 year old shoulders.  God bless it….teenagering is just as tough as parenting sometimes. It’s a difficult season for all of us. They have been through alot and truly are amazing young people.  I wonder how often I get caught up in their errors and forget what’s truly important.  Considering the ease I have in getting absorbed in my own guilt, shame and errors…I’m guessing I do it with them all too often.

I get stuck thinking that the kids Dad and I have failed them.  We divorced…not in the plan.  We kinda quit raising them in church…not in the plan.  I struggle financially….not in the plan.  They are faced with all of the things I can’t protect them from….kind of not in the plan and if it was I was going to have prepared them better.  I am sometimes so scattered and that can’t feel super safe to a kiddo who is searching for solidarity….not in the plan.  It’s easy to feel like one big oops.  

Are we suffering?  Not in comparison to many.  Are we operating out of hurt?…too often, yes.

And so it is….here we are with our growing pains.  I heard a sermon in which the preacher spoke about tomatoes and the yummy, delightful, ripe juiciness they provide us after growing all summer on a vine.  His point was that this little tomato made huge progress while it was only a tiny little seed in the dark.  It was in fertile soil and when that tiny little seed had so much pressure from growing it burst…but the bursting led to the root and vine growth and eventually to that delectable tomato.

Right now, I can’t see everything on the outside and the inside feels horribly painful, sometimes I want to throw my hands in the air and say F it all.  But…there is this tiny little part of me that knows better.  Trying to hang on and maintain control, keeping us afloat…I guess that’s a decent option.  Throwing my hands in the air and releasing this gob of goo that I’m holding onto so tightly would be best for us all. 

“Give it to God”, they say.  “Lean into it”, they say.  “You are enough”, they say. 

I’m trying to find my trust, It’s just super hard.  Endless unknowns.  Can I trust the outcome even though I’m walking in the dark?  I pray His mercies are as abundant as my scattered spirit.

My kiddos and I ….just tiny little seeds going through some growing pains.  We are gonna be alright.

Life

There are occasions that I wish I could go back with my magic wand to erase certain points in time; there are other times that I’d like to go back and sprinkle more pixie dust where I previously restrained myself from doing so.  As this post-divorce journey complete with the roller coaster of grief, healing and transformation progress, I am still at times surprised by my own strong emotional reactions.

My beloved Anais Nin so eloquently said, “Sometimes we reveal ourselves when we are least like ourselves.”  There is intense applicable truth for me in this quote.  Recently, I was retelling my precious Mother something I had done that left me full of regret and shame.  She replied with, “Sarah Ann!  That doesn’t even sound like you!”  (She’s right, I know).  In other instances, I have found myself jumping quicker into aspects of a relationship that I ‘normally’ would think to hold much more stringent boundaries around.  This time, I scold myself…”Sarah!  Gaaaa…this isn’t even you!”  Hmmmm…is it not me or is it the me I have always restrained?

A dear friend mentioned “this version of me” in a conversation about this very topic.  Initially, this was a struggle to understand.  How can I be authentic and still a very different version of myself…what is real?  We are always changing, ever evolving, consistently transforming, right?  It seems the harder we resist change, the stronger change overtakes us.  I guess it’s all about riding the wave but why is that so much easier to preach than to practice?

In the ongoing self study I am doing, there are absolutely new aspects of me that are emerging.  I’ve decided that there is far more value in embracing and accepting myself than there is in trying to discern whether the aspects are truly new or just now being allowed to be present.  In the multitude of errors I’ve been making, there are lessons (albeit painful), there is growth, and mostly…there is grace.  I have to talk myself into the last one though.

HUGE valuable lessons I’ve received lately, they’ve been hard but in light of trusting the process and enjoying the journey, I’m doing the best I can to take accountability, apologize and move forward.  There’s always that inner voice telling me to make things right for everyone else and it’s exhausting.  One thing at a time, right?

  • Sexual intimacy…no matter what I tell myself…changes the emotional attachment dynamic.  When sexual intimacy occurs too early,  it can decrease brain power and increase ideation….thus elevating the chances that inappropriate emotional reactivity will occur.  Ugh.
  • People will judge behaviors.  Only God and I get to decide the best actions, thoughts and behaviors for me.  Feedback is always appreciated and weighed carefully, but in the end, the one who will confront my inner conflict is me.  So…thank you for caring enough to share, I promise to weigh it carefully.  🙂
  • Dating is an adventure.  There are friends to be made, things to learn about others and myself and tons of value in this season…but I still miss my family as it was and that is okay.  Grief for a loss and celebration of new can absolutely walk hand in hand.
  • Due to a chaotic childhood, I tend toward the ‘what if’s’ and control.  Not control to control; rather to keep my world feeling safe.  Not everyone (actually no one) is super appreciative of that…including me.  Rather than constantly worrying about creating safety through control, I’m changing my definition of safety and remembering my God, who has me in His hands…that’s really the only safety assurance I need.  (coming to terms…a process!)
  • Just because I have a great imagination and may have determined exactly how something will play out does not make my determination accurate.  As a matter of fact, following my imaginary scenario results in the aforementioned emotional reactivity which I strongly desire to move away from.
  • I may have missed a few spectacular opportunities because of my own reactivity.  I have embraced the icky lessons, asked forgiveness (from myself too), defined what I can do different next time and moved on with grace.  I still hate myself a little bit for it though.
  • Unrelated….the stroke has less power over me than it once did but still too much power.  Working on that.  Trying to replace my fear with constant faith and gratitude.  Keeping my eyes and heart open…I am incredibly blessed and I know it.

“Sometimes we reveal ourselves when we are least like ourselves.” – Anais Nin  It is remarkable what I have learned through the errors that are ‘so unlike me’.

 

Grateful in all things.