Grace, even when perspectives don’t make sense…

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I am beginning to believe that I am just going to have to offer myself endless amounts of grace as I  navigate my way through these months ahead. It is so strange to me how I can be one hundred percent present, in a moment and what is happening, and still mentally aware (almost painfully aware) of what life looked like this time last year. This sort of thing began naturally around Thanksgiving, the time we separated, and though my eyes are firmly planted straight ahead, this time last year comes and steals my breath.

Of course, as the W2’s come rolling in, I am reminded that I was working three jobs and still only making min. credit card payments, homeless and had nothing to show for myself. Though the times are happening less and less often, there are moments when I get into my car and I am reminded of what it felt like to try to sleep there, and to only have items that fit in the back, to wear. As struggle through the financial repercussions of an unwise home purchase with broke us bare, coupled with the separation which broke us to the point of utter devastation, there are times when my lungs feel so tight and I wonder if we will ever be out from under this time last year. It is in everything…

It is in tomorrow, as I plan my Valentines Day tradition for Gen, and once again carry out what I’ve done in years past for Chw. This time last year is the giant that hovers above me as I am unable to escape its shadow. I am reminded of how I can no longer look at my daughter and say “I do this for you every year”, because I robbed her of that this time last year. Though my husband does love me and should not be required to prove it, it screams in the quiets of my memory how I poured out my love to him in a letter, last Valentines Day, and my heart for our marriage while his response was only that he did not love me, had never loved me, and I was merely an obligation and mistake. I do not hold these things against him, he was really in a bad place and honestly, the only people he would talk to were her and friends who were manipulative. He’d shut out the majority of his friends because he knew they wouldn’t support his choices, and his choices were happening because he was hurt, resentful, confused and full of fear. It happens, I hold none of it against him, but that doesn’t bear much weight when it comes to the voices deep within me which echo this time last year.

As March nears, I find myself in complete dread for mixed reasons… My beautiful, sweet little girl is turning 18. Not so little anymore… I will be celebrating my 41st birthday, which isn’t so terrible in and of itself. This time last year, however, when I should have been celebrating a milestone birthday, I was instead living the darkest and ugliest parts of my worst nightmare. As a girl who does not have a track record of great birthdays, last year was easily the very worst. Days later is our anniversary… I feel like these months are eternal. While I am so present and grateful and invested in today, and now, I am also devastatingly haunted by those things which I never thought would happen and those things which I never imagined would be said.

These scars in my soul run deep…

There are things we will never agree on too, and those things scare me. Because this time last year could easily be this time next year. Not a day goes by that I do not realize that. I can do every thing in my power to fight for my life and my marriage, but unfortunately I am reminded that my doing that tirelessly for those hellish 6 months did not make a difference. I am only responsible for me, and he is responsible for him. He loves me today, and for this I am so grateful. But, what about tomorrow?

The human body is amazing. I have been in a really low fibroymalgia phase lately. While some of this has been exasperated by the medication fiasco, I also think back to last year. I was balancing three jobs and personal education. I was eating, on average, one time or less, per day. I spent many sleepless nights in the front seat of my car. I was under tremendous emotional stress, and yet the fibro flare ups were nothing like they are today. This makes me feel like a failure. And while there is financial stress now, from our 20015/20016 journey, I have balanced and healthy meals, my own bed to sleep in, and a marriage which feels more and more restored. Why is it now that these flare ups hit, and when they hit they hit HARD?

This time last year I balanced jobs, was generous with what I did not have, was devastatingly alone and broken, I was exhausted but surviving…  Today I am nourished, healing and so haunted by then, and fighting to get out of bed for the discomfort that is now. I don’t get it… But I am giving myself grace until I do.

 

Things which are broken…

7k7e_wgfe90-sabri-tuzcuOne of my favorite coffee mugs fell, from the cabinet, this evening and shattered into a dozen of pieces. This happened because mugs, which I have BEGGED not to be put in the cabinet, were put in the cabinet. Again. And I am mad. Not because a coffee mug broke, but because there are things in my life which I say over and over and over again, and they are never heard. It often feels like no one wants to listen, until I am upset, and then everyone simply believes I am the bad guy for blaming them. It is an ugly cycle, ending once again, with something broken.

It really isn’t about a shattered mug at all, it is about wondering when my words will matter. Sometimes I feel like my voice only exists for my ears, until someone needs something. If I am honest I will admit that this was one of the many things that led me on that isolated and lonely journey fourteen months ago. Some days I just get really tired. I, like every other woman, want my thoughts, words, feelings, etc. to matter. To my spouse, my kids, my family and friends. I am tired.

I am taking a class on being a good listener. My daughter, who put my mug in the cabinet (again x’s infinity), is also taking the class. (Ironic, no?) I have learned so much within the walls of this classroom, as of late. (also, I really wish my husband would take this class. In fact, I think every person on the planet should.) Today, in class, we had a group activity where we practiced healthy and respectful listening to a classmate, and then followed that with unhealthy “listening”. I was pretty blown away by this exercise. Much more than I had imagined. I learned, more than anything, that we’ve each got the same problems with different details. We are all tired. We are all, at times, begging to be validated, pleading to be heard for what we are actually saying (not what the “listener” wants to think we are saying), and tired of our own voices saying the same things over and over, because our message just doesn’t matter enough to those within listening distance.

So, here it is: I am tired. I want to be priceless, desirable, irreplaceable and of more worth to my husband than any other woman. I want my heart to be so valuable, to him, that he will do anything to protect it. I want my kids to want me to be their mom. I want to matter to them, and for my words to be something they find value in. I want beautiful relationships with them, relationships where they hold tight because I won’t always be there. I want friendships that are as simple as coffee dates, book store adventures and movie nights- but as deep as unison tears over fears shared and heart stitchings. Most of the time I feel like everyone in the world has all of these things figured out, and I’m the one left begging for someone (anyone) to explain how to get there too… And then today happens, and I realize I am not. We are each tired, aching, and just not enough- or so it feels…

So, just so you know- if you ever need an ear, I am here. And I am learning how to listen better because, at the end of the day, we all want to matter enough to be heard.

I have a pile of shattered glass in my kitchen to prove it.

What it means to be a woman…

Right now, being a woman is a very trendy thing. There are all of these social media driven explosions about how we should be proud to be a girl, etc. It has happened here or there, over the years but Hillary’s campaign really began the process of bringing it to a head. Because he was running against a girl (and I’m not sure any man would have made it through the election without being painted as a horrible person because of the “Feminist” climate of our nation, honestly) there is no way Trump could have escaped without being labelled a sexist monster who hates women… Then again, it is really Trump himself who made our president-elect such an easy target. I am not going to venture into political waters because everyone else is doing it, and that’s just not my thing. I am here to talk about how this is a really great time to be a woman. You know, #proudtobeagirl and all of that stuff. And don’t get me wrong, I am.

But why now? Why is it so incredibly, mind blowingly awesome to be a girl now? Why isn’t this sort of enthusiasm consistently offered to young girls when they get their first period? Why isn’t it intensified to such a huge degree when a woman pushes a child from her body? Why isn’t being a woman, and all of the awesomeness it entails, being celebrated when the nurturing love of a mother breaks, and breaks, and breaks the heart it beats in because motherhood is painfully hard sometimes?

Feminism is about women having a voice, having rights, being worthy. The heart of feminism is something every single one of us should stand for. TRUE Feminism is not what we are seeing these days. Is it Feminist to have a say about what goes on with our bodies? Ok. I agree, no one should be able to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body. My biggest fear, as far as abortion laws are concerned, is that the government would have complete say in regards to whether a woman could keep her pregnancy. If we have strict abortion regulations, this will give them that power and that terrifies me. BUT why has abortion become this symbol of feminism? Why does abortion represent a subculture that is supposed to be about fairness and beauty? There is nothing fair or beautiful about it. Regardless of your perspective or stance, abortion is an ugly act. Metaphorically, let’s look at Breast Cancer. In a society where great tits are invaluable, imagine the woman who learns she has to have a mastectomy and will be left with a caved in chest in place of her greatest physical asset. After her scars have healed, she may feel a sense of beauty in her scar, but the very process to get from one point to the latter will be a hellish journey, paved with varied indescribable emotions. If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, should she have the right to make the decision on how to treat it? yes. It is her body. It is her body, period, and up to her to live with the consequences of her decisions…But women should not march the streets deciding that mastectomy scars, or the right to have a mastectomy if we choose, defines us as true women. Just like an abortion. I believe that a baby is a baby from the time it is conceived. I also have a family created by the system in place to remove children from heinously abusive situations. How is abortion any worse than the situations of the 428,000 foster children in the United States. If women who were not going to want or love their babies were forced to have them, what would that number be? And it isn’t just a number, these are children. Broken, beaten, molested, bandaged, damaged, tortured and fractured (sometimes beyond repair) human beings…

Abortion is not something to be celebrated. It also isn’t some deep dark secret that women should keep buried in shame. We each have a story. Those stories are defined by choices we’ve made and choices others made for us. Let’s celebrate our individual journeys as women, and build each other up regardless of differences. Abortion should not be the focus here…

Womanhood should be, In all of its glory.

Hail the women who raise up other women to not only believe in themselves, but to empower other women. Hail to the women who do NOT belittle men as less than worthy. Two wrongs do not make a right. It was never ok for men to treat women this way and it is never going to be ok for us to do this to men. True feminism means we are equal to stand beside them. NOT the same. NOT better, but deserving of equal pay, equal rights and equal opportunity.

I love being a woman. I’d much rather have a vagina over a penis. I love scented lotions, good books, my feminine handwriting, hair products, the very special sanctity that is female friendship and great lip gloss. I love that I have nurturing relationships with my daughter, that I cry in movies and that my shoe selection is much cuter than my husband’s. I don’t want to be a man. I want to be a woman and celebrate true womanhood. True womanhood has absolutely nothing to do with abortion. True feminism, the very essence of feminism, has nothing to do (NOTHING TO DO) with abortion.

Until we can focus on the real priorities and stop getting caught up in the details that distract us along the way, we can expect for things in this country to continue to fall apart. It doesn’t matter who our president is, if we can’t get it together and stand as a diverse community who truly loves and accepts EVERYONE, we are lost. (and by everyone, I do not mean simply the homosexual and transgendered communities, but the Christian Pro-lifers too.)

To move to…

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Early on, in 2016, I created a spotify playlist entitled To Move To… As anyone who knows me knows, I am one of the worst “namers” in the history of naming things. To me, at the time, it seemed a clever way to label my workout list. As the year progressed however, this playlist morphed into my motivation for many areas, not just fitness. It is pretty amazing that this long-ago list worked it’s way into birthing the only word which made any sense at all, for this year.

MOVE.

It is a powerful word. It means a vast degree of many things. It reaches into every area of my life, from health and fitness, to writing, to education, to parenting and marriage. MOVE. Stagnancy kills. MOVE. Even if it’s a step in the wrong direction, it is better than nothing at all. MOVE. Move. move…

My word for this glorious fresh and unwritten year is move.

This isn’t my image. It belongs to Vimeo actually. When I saw it though, I knew it fit my vision for this year, my heart for this year, in a thousand different little ways. Move. To move in such a way that the place where my feet were is left better after my time there…

I do not do resolutions. I commit to goals. Typically, but not always, these goals stem from my word. With a word as huge as this year’s, I don’t think there is a goal that would not apply, somehow.

Goals:

  • To read two books (minimum) per month.
  • To learn one new thing, every month.
  • To complete my passion project More.
  • To complete and self/indie publish my novel.
  • To lose those 50 last pounds I need to lose.
  • To literally move to a more conducive home for the next phase of my life.
  • To expand my freelancing/writing income.
  • To enjoy my family intentionally, in simple and life affirming ways.
  • To visit somewhere I have never been before.
  • Find my writer’s tribe and flourish within it.

Move.

Where are you seeing yourself, this year?

Connected…

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As I was plugging right along with everyone else, moving toward the beginning of 2016, it was hard to catch my breath. While everyone else seemed to be swimming and gliding along, just fine, I was drowning. I knew that every area of my life was in complete disarray, it was completely unmanageable and I knew the only answer was to let go.

Somehow, amidst the depression, thoughts of suicide, long days of sobbing and aching in my bed and the overall absence of self, I began emerge and realize how disconnected I was. It was on January the fourth, 2016, that I finally realized what my word was supposed to be. Connect…

At that point I identified as a Christian, yet had no actual connection to God. I was technically a wife, yet my husband wanted nothing to do with me. I had a hard time finding anything that defined me outside of motherhood, and my kids were all three spread out over the country, and terribly far from me. I had not seen my son in two years, I was as disconnected as humanly possible from the very small girl I had raised into the 16-year-old she was. I was of no value or worth to the most important people to me, and it was on this tide that I had floated until my life became something more akin to nightmare than what I had hoped for/dreamed of/worked towards. I remember telling whoever would listen, in those early January days, that I felt like every morning waking was like waking to a nightmare rather than from one. I wanted to sleep all of the time because sleep held dreams with my husband, with my kids, with moments which had once been true but no longer were… Awake rhymed with ache, which was all I did and let me tell you- it was excruciating. In my 40 years of life I have never known anguish like I did in those days.

How would I connect? I did not know. What would it mean to me? I could not say. Was I terrified? Absolutely.

Today, on December the 30th, I can’t help but look back.

Important things to note:

  • I no longer feel like that upon waking.
  • I no longer need to sleep to be.
  • I no longer struggle to know who I am, outside of being a wife or a mother.
  • I am both a wife and a mother, by choice. It may aid to define me, but I am something more.

When I was least expecting it, still drowning a little, I found my way to God. It was raw and ugly because I was ugly and raw. It involved Sunday mornings in church alone, (something I had never, ever done before) and these Sunday mornings always involved tears. Words were sung and spoken which reached deep inside of me and began to stitch and sew me into something new, deeper and better. I began meeting and praying with someone who, alongside of me, dissected me, my depression, my need to take care of others and cast aside myself. I bared all to her and she met me there, without judgement and together we trudged through. (This is something I had never, ever done before.)

Slowly I allowed my need to control the perception of others and just let go of that too. It didn’t matter what they thought. I evaluated, with honesty, whose opinions of me truly mattered and the list was very small. As time passed I began to let go of the toxic ones I thought I’d needed. My relationships with my sister and a few friends grew deeper because I found I was more able to engage in those ways, when I wasn’t tugged in unhealthier ones.

Still I ached for my marriage and my motherhood. As the other things seemed to clear and grow me, these two things seemed to kill me more. It was a journey. A necessary journey which I probably could have gone through while still in my family, but life played out differently and I went through it alone. I learned a lot alone. I learned about me, my motivations, patters, limits… These were things I had never really known before. Being the product of a society that touts sentiments such as Where there’s a will, there’s a way, I had naively believed if I could write it on a to-do list or if _____________ over there could do it, I could too and if I didn’t I was lazy and worthless. I grew to not only admit, but fully accept that I am not _______________. What works for them may not work for me… I am a woman whose body has had a hard life. I have a chronic condition which gives me limits and in order for my body to last many more years, (and my heart, and my soul, and my mind) I need to have grace for those limits. They too, do not define me.

I was able to see my son and spend time with him; take an emotional road trip which led to confrontations, endless laughter and healing; I was able make a handful of precious friends; I worked in two entirely different job fields which each taught me a lot about myself and my goals/heart; I reconnected with my mother with whom I’ve been estranged for what feels like a lifetime; I came home and am working on my marriage (something that felt impossible 9-12 months ago); I was there for the birth of my grandson and cut his cord (something I was certain I’d miss so far away) and have been able to spend endless amounts of time loving on him; I was able to fulfill a life long dream of exploring New England in the fall; I reconnected with an old friend who had severely wounded me some 11 years ago; I got back in touch with the writer inside of me who had been buried under so much gunk… And it goes on and on and on… The people I’ve had the chance to meet, the unexpected experiences I have been privy to. Along the way, every second of this journey I would say to myself over and over again: Connect. Connect. Connect. Connect… And I did.

The lamp is worthless unless we plug it in. I had been for years, like that socketless lamp. I am no more.

My word for 2017 is MOVE. The depth of how far this word can reach is intimidating. I knew weeks ago that it was meant to be my 2017.

How will it look? I don’t know, but I am ready…