Friday, October 31, 2014

What Are You for Halloween This Year?

Gusty winds arrived in the middle of the night. The morning is blustery and dark; the vivid leaves have been turned down a notch and failing survival. The view is filled with branches void of vibrancy and color. The village crew worked hard this week carefully picking up every last leaf to clear the street; their hard work for naught.

The days in our new home have been good. Everything tangible, without exception, is falling into place. I'm still waiting for work, but not with bated anticipation. I know it will come. Our home is peaceful, quiet. Life has been easy. There are no dark corners, no crannies or nooks to clean. Everything has been scaled back. What a dream it is to have only what we need and nothing more. I wish you could see before and after pictures of our lives. What has been accomplished in matter of weeks, with help but also with determination, stamina and hard work, is phenomenal. I experienced strong losses while working with a client on a tight deadline, while reaching out and asking for help, while moving a home that had several basement rooms, a garage, and many other areas filled with years of living.

My eyes are opening to the amazing feat I've accomplished. A reader commented a while back about my bold efforts; of course I (we) give credit to God. At the same time, the old story about the person on the island who didn't hop aboard the several rescue vehicles because "God" was going to save her comes to mind. I know I did the footwork. I know I did what had to be done. I had to be honest with Oliver's father about all of it, not easy to do when I wondered if he would use it against me in court one day down the road. (For those of you who remember, I went to court with Bill and he did use sensitive private vulnerable information against me in court. Luckily I was strong enough to spin it as a positive, not get defensive or let it hurt me in any way.) Did I die? Did I end my life? No! I faced those days, days that were only a few month back as I write this! This just happened! I'm not that far out of it! I am stunned at what a human being is capable of doing in times of great stress and adversity. It occurs to me that there are far greater stories of defeat and victory. But this was mine, and it's my story to tell, chock full of events that nearly took me down.

The work I've been doing in my private moments has been stunning, garnished with answers and awakenings. I'm shocked. And the word that came out of looking at my life thus far is this:


It's exciting and sad, a story that has surpassed prior awarenesses. I have never looked at my life in the way I have recently and realized what I know now. I tend to minimize events, accept them as not so bad. I wasn't a prisoner of war or victim of repeated bludgeons. I have what people may call a normal life, normal upbringing sprinkled with bits of dysfunction. Don't we all have that?

Hidden in corners, however, are events that shaped me and made me into the woman I am today. Good and bad. And this is my story to tell.

I haven't told it yet, and I'm not sure I will here on RP. I haven't the courage yet.

The story exists however, and it's out of the locked trunk I kept it in. There's light on it. I'm looking and beginning to understand.

*  *  *  *  *

Today I came back from dropping Oliver off at school. He was in his costume: a 501st Clone Trooper (not to be confused with a Storm Trooper I was told). We are going trick or treating this evening, scary as it will be with the cold winds blowing.

It was three years ago this week that I met Bill for the first time. We met in a coffee shop. I swore I did not want to see him again after that. He was hairy. Big hands. I couldn't imagine them on me... I couldn't imagine my hands holding onto him, caressing his neck. He didn't smile. He cracked a stupid joke at the coffee counter and I was embarrassed. He looked at me thru eyes of fear, a little boy hidden in a grown man's body.

He asked me out for a second date as he walked me to my car. I told him I wasn't sure, buying myself more time to find the courage to say no.

As I drove away he texted me. Wow. That was all he said. I knew I looked hot for our first meeting. Boots with heels. Long hair. A slight 130lbs.

No. Not my type. I can do better.

In a way I wish I would have listened to that small voice inside me.

I took my son trick or treating 3 years ago as I am doing tonight. I was high on love and low from disappointment.

Today I as I walked out of school there was a clamp around my heart. It's aching again. Holding in what feels like an immense amount of emotion, I busted open the doors of the school and headed to my truck. Home. I sat in my truck outside my home. I was hurting. It's peaceful upstairs, I told myself. Go. I headed up. The emotions had been building and they are difficult to recognize when I have tasks to perform: Oliver's homework, dinner, bath, story, brush teeth, bed. Andrea time. Oh man I'm so tired! Sleep. Wake. Coffee. Breakfast. Pack lunch. School. Need more coffee. Bye Oliver! Leave school. Crap, anxiety. Why is it here? Oh, Bill. He's with someone else. He's giving his love to someone else.

The clamp... the dam holding it all in was intensifying, getting worse. More coffee. I want more coffee. That's it. I can't anymore. I can't hold it in anymore.

And the sobs come out in my kitchen releasing a wave of hurt, betrayal, grief, pain. Crap. If people knew I was still crying, what would they think of me? Bill probably has no idea how I'm still hurting. He's not anymore. Oh, wait. I bet he misses me. Oh wait. After what he saw you did he hates you. I'd hate him if he did that to me. I'd think he was crazy. You were crazy!

*  *  *  *  *

There's the mind of a woman who is torn, still dealing with rejection and loss. The multiple facets of this phase of my life: shame for how I handled the break up. Amazed at how well I handled the move and the two court dates. The courage I had to do just that. The footwork that I was able to do. The reaching out and humility it took to ask for help. And the depth of pain I still feel for the loss of a man that I thought was my soft place to land. Turns out he was not what I thought he was. Or was he? And would I take him back in an instant still? It would be hard to say no to him.

My reading the other day was spot on. I feel resolve in so many areas of my life but not this one. Not the Bill area. Not the break up. Not the betrayal. I hear Bill's version. My version. Your version. None of them coincide. Yet.

The Hardest Lesson

Wait and you shall realize the Joy of the one who can be calm and wait, knowing that all is well. The last, and hardest lesson, is that of waiting. So wait.

I would almost say tonight "Forgive Me, children, that I allow this extra burden to rest upon you even for so short a time."

I would have you know this, that from the moment you placed all in My Hands, and sought no other aid, from that moment I have taken the quickest way possible to work out your requests, and to free you.

There is so much you have had to be taught — to avoid future disaster. But the Friend with whom you stand by the grave of failure, of dead ambitions, of relinquished desires, that Friend is a Friend for all time.

Use this waiting time to cement the Friendship with Me, and to increase your Knowledge of Me.

Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20
From 365 One-Minute Meditations: God Calling edited by A.J. Russell. ©2008

Please send me your good thoughts, prayers and support. Some days I hurt more than others. I can function; I can put a smile on my face, my own Halloween costume: Andrea is Doing Fine and Moving On. (It's a very pricey costume, and socially acceptable too.) But the pain – silent – is constant and a reminder that he is loving a woman. And it's not me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Find the Wonderful

There is something unsettling about grief for it can tie my arms and wrists, wrap shackles on my legs and fetter my fears inside my heart. Grief whispers lies, faintly heard but noticeably present — I know it's there because my stomach fills with butterflies and my arms tingle with intensity. I cannot swallow or breathe.

My good days coincided with my son's. He fell short of a good week by getting caught spitting on the playground, a minor offense in my opinion, but it warranted a parent/teacher/child discussion after school last week. 

My fears returned about the same time. I wondered if I would ever find another man who was as attractive as my last. I held my breath as I remembered those jeans he would wear. Ah but lest I forget how things turned for the worse in the end. 

Yes I do forget.

And when I do forget, the fears creep in. Will I ever find someone who will read poems to me? Who will tell me that I have no idea how beautiful I am (because I do not think I am). Who, who, who... the list goes on until I fret and worry and pray.

I hold it in and go about my day, trying to gather hours of relief, focusing on the present, working on whatever. I made white chili this weekend. I cleaned out my car (what a job!). I cleaned and organized the garage, hung our bikes, handed out treats for trick or treating, made small chat with neighbors and friends. I went to a birthday party. I saw a show. I re-organized my pantry. My house is looking good. Every nook and cranny is clean and organized. There are 50% fewer things and I love that. Church. Grocery store. Started a new book. Read the Sunday paper. Attended a couple meetings and a bible study. I put on make up, lipstick, mascara.

It's not as if I am sitting around.

But there are waves of grief, and I can't stop the process from happening. While I wish I could say, "Asshole. You were an asshole and not worth my time nor my son's time. Good riddance!" I cannot. I don't have it in me most days. I've been praying on my knees lately, a posture that reminds me God is greater and more powerful than me. I need to believe that right now. That is how I find hope in all of this.

And some days I can wish him good riddance. Some days I can say "You're missing out." I try. I seek. I study. I pray. I practice mindfulness. I eat healthy and take supplements. I'm busy and I take care of me and my son. It's a daily job. It's work. I'm doing all I can.

After a while the dam breaks. Once someone presses hard enough, whether it's the women in my prayer group, myself or whomever I'm being honest with, the tears come. I loved you!! I say to an imaginary man sitting in my room. But he can't hear me nor does he care. So then I turn to God, I'm afraid I wont find the wonderful again.

I let it out until the restraint around my heart is released and I can breathe again.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Might This Be Joy

I have not been busy, but I also have not had the time to write. You can always follow me on Instagram if you don't see me updating RP. If you have a smart phone, you can download the app from Apple. Instagram allows me a concise poetic expression of my thoughts which are accompanied by a gallery of images, a 20-second peek into our daily life.

There has been a shift in me. Sunday was the last time I cried tears of grief, and while I have no expectations that the journey is a straight path, I have had many awakenings in the past week. I am in a place of understanding and acceptance of myself and how I reacted. And... I have had 3 full and continuous days of relief from heartbreak. Not just moments of relief, but uninterrupted days of it.

The shift has been a prayer answered, not only one that I pray often, but one that I know many others pray as well. (I have my prayer warriors and have been reminded to keep asking for prayers. It feels like I am humbly asking for money, but I am learning that praying for others is a privilege, not a chore.) The change came about Sunday evening. The day held much pain, but as the sun set and the evening sky wrapped our home, I saw a brief glimpse of reality. I sat with it and did not over think it. The feeling that came over me brought relief, courage, confidence, faith and peace. This carried thru to the next morning. I did not celebrate for fear that it would slip from within reach; instead I was mindful of its gracious presence. Evening came, and I accepted a full 24 hours of peace without any expectations that it would stay.

Today I feel peaceful. Confident. Strong. I have no anticipation that the winds of change will linger for I cannot control the weather, and I know grief all too well. It does not take a straight path.

We had a great weekend in Door County, closing down our cottage for the winter. I left the weekend knowing that a piece of my past had been healed (my marriage ending). I had no resolved feeling of peace about my relationship with Bill however. In fact, Saturday in Door County at the Sister Bay Fall Fest I feared running into him. Door County is our (my and Oliver's) stomping grounds, but at this point nothing would surprise me anymore. Bill told me in one of our final conversations that I over-inflate things. What I've come to learn is that I may under-inflate things when it comes to him. I have learned from my marriage ending and from recent life events that people are capable of doing things that you assume they would never do. It's not a cynical view. It's a realistic view. Just as I have come to believe in miracles, I believe people are human and capable of incredibly wonderful, and paradoxically, incredibly selfish acts. And so I feared Bill might be up in Door County. With his new girlfriend. At the Fall Festival. I let anxiety arm wrestle my heart. It was unsettling and no fun at all. Luckily my fears were not met. This is why Sunday evening was a significant turnaround; it was in direct contrast to how fear and sadness had been ruling my heart.

This morning I enjoyed watching Oliver during the first lesson in his classroom. The teacher has been reading a chapter book, one without many illustrations. I observed my child engaged, interacting with the teacher and responding with joy to the storyline. She had an aside with me earlier to express how excited she was that he has strung a number of great days together, and how very proud she was of him. I called his father afterwards to share the good news.

I left his class and ran a couple errands. As I completed the last one, only just a hour or so ago, I noticed that my heart was filled with gladness. What a relief this week has been. While I have no idea how long this position will last (I'm certain I have not seen the last of my tears), I am overjoyed at our new life, how our home is comfortable and inviting. How much of the clutter is gone, physically and figuratively. How God is working for me again. How church is a comfort again. How people have been bringing meaning into my life. How things are making sense. Things are getting sorted out. The fog is starting to clear. Oh how grateful I am for that! As I slipped into my truck this morning I noticed what I was experiencing. The calm energy was slightly unrecognizable, but the feeling was comfortably familiar...

Might this be joy I'm feeling?

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