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.

 

Reminder to be grateful

I had no scheduled meetings and no court dates on my calendar today. This was my first clue that it was going to be a crazy day! Certainly crazy and I am certainly pooped.
There’s just too much hurting going on. Two things that I see too often as a culprit of elder abuse are drugs (not marijuana), and a sense of entitlement combine with a greedy heart. Elder abuse and domestic violence are everywhere. If you believe these things aren’t in your neighborhood or nearby…I’d encourage you to wise up. We must, if we want to bring change.
One person in particular is on my heart and in my prayers tonight. I got to spend the better part of my day with them in the emergency room. When you are elderly, transgender, schizophrenic and homeless…the world is a particularly rough place. Please keep your opinions on sexual orientation and alternative lifestyles kindly to yourself, because that is not this post.
This person matters to me and they ought matter to you. They are a soulful being just like the rest of us….traveling their journey in the best way they know how. Love, love, love your neighbor. They are our neighbor.
“Mental illness is a walk in the park”, said no one ever. I’m imagining that being homeless pretty much stinks. I know statistically speaking and from personal observations, the elderly and the transgender population are at higher risk of harm and particularly vulnerable on the streets and in shelters…so it’s tough to decide where the best ‘placement’ would be. Additionally, all the local shelters are at maximum capacity…so there’s that.
So…all of that said. Let’s pray for my new friend as they struggle through this cold night. Pray for their protection and safety, wellness, wisdom and for a glimmer of hope to enter their tired heart. Pray for them and for the countless others among us.
If you have a roof over your head, warmth in your environment, clothing and dinner tonight, remember yourself privileged and blessed. We are so blessed, don’t ever forget that.

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.