Monday, December 30, 2013

call them lies

Most of what I feel is intensely circumstantial. 

Sometimes my sister and I suffer from what we call the "guilty feeling", which is a feeling of weight and unexplainable sadness, causing a day to feel heavy, cumbersome, or even weepy.  The guilty feeling is unpredictable and usually cannot be traced back to any event or mishap, and certainly has no reason.  But it is short lived.  It's not chronic, perpetual, or ultimately controlling.  Actually.  It's so wildly circumstantial, Liv and I shouldn't ever deal with it at all.  Because we know what fixes it. 

Music fixes it.  Blueberries fix it.  Hugs fix it.  Dancing usually fixes it. 

It's just a little rise in the roller coaster of some of our days and we know better than to let it change anything substantial.  I dare say she and I have even learned not to make any decisions or any critical "moves" during these few hours... but we talk to each other.  Because nothing is more comforting than someone who doesn't need an explanation. 

I don't live with constant anxiety.  I think I used to, to some degree.  Social anxiety is for the birds.  Learned behavior has been my saving grace and the things, which used to stop me up, slow me down, or cause freaking heart palpitations, may only cause a minor sweat these days.  And that's only when something is at stake.  A job interview.  An exam.  A speech.  A crowd of people no longer sends me over the edge -- and perhaps that's because I've learned a thing or two about people.

But one person is very capable of inducing anxiety in me.  Not a particular person.  Just when they come at me, one at a time

My dating life is either non-existent or in shambles.  And, like my friend Bonnie and I used to discuss, I am a horrible "starter".  She, on the other hand, was a great "starter" but had a serious issue with longevity.  I can't convince someone I'm worth the risk.  She got bored. 

She's married now.  What gives. 

But every once in a while someone will come into my picture.  Into the peripheral.

And for the last five or six years, they've stayed there.  Right there on the edge. 

I'm not really an edge kind of person. 

Stay off of my freaking edges.

Either you are here, or you're not.  In or out.  Whichever you choose is fine, but pick one.

Still there on the edge, the peripheral of my vision and our daily lives, linger just too many assholes. 

Recently I started blocking phone numbers.  The proverbial pushing.  I don't even want to have to decide if I should respond to you or not.  I don't even want the option.  This has helped.  They get the picture I think.

In the past year there's been one or two who have NOT started out as assholes.  And we all get kind of excited and we all wonder "what about this one" and he works his way off the edge and then he does something stupid, and I am too busy, and I'm really annoying, and then he's gone for whatever reason and we're back to square one. 

Inevitably, when in the space between hello and whatever comes next, I worry.  Swollen chest, rampant illogical thoughts of unworthiness and questions and despair.  It all seems kind of hopeless and unless you've been right where I am, I don't know that you'd understand.  I wouldn't want you to.  But there are a few of you know who know all about the lonely nights I'm talking about.  When you just stare at the damn phone.  Or in my case, turn on the ringer and put it across the room so I will stop looking at it and play with my child and hope it makes some noise.  Soon.  And when it finally does, it's my mom. 

And you look at yourself differently in the mirror, trying to figure out "is this the problem?".   

Then, in what you think is pure logic, remind yourself no one wants to date a woman with a baby.  And that's asking too much and even though the pseudo-encouraging masses disagree, you know it's going to be unlikely to find someone who chooses this chaos.  This particular chaos.

And you say things your otherwise wise, mature self wouldn't say. 

And you forget you're wonderful. 

You've seen corners of the world no one around you has ever laid eyes on.  You have stories so great no one even really believes them.  You have made something out of nothing and up until this point, nothing has kept you down.  You have recovered.  Numerous times from numerous things.  And daily you face fears no one else may understand, but at the end of the day it's the fear who backed away.  You are a fighter and a builder with the greatest capacity for love.

We dwell on what is broken.  What is broken gets all of the attention in seasons like this, seasons of repair.  Of rebuilding.  We feel pretty responsible for the acknowledgment of our flaws, just so someone else doesn't get around to pointing them out first.  We know what we do not bring to the table and we think we know everything which didn't work out before can be directly traced to our deficiency.   

And so yesterday... the lies got so loud I couldn't hear anything else.  Tears just poured.  Because if it didn't work out again it must be because I'm broken, because my situation is too hard, because there's not enough good in me to overcome the bad.  Because I will always spend Christmas alone and I won't ever have more children.....

Loud lies.  Bad lies.  Real freaking awful bad lies

And I reached out to a friend.  A friend who has felt some of the same things.  A friend I met nine years ago, when we were teenagers, when love came in a wrecked our lives the first time around.  And she asked me something, then told me to ask God to speak to me in a familiar way.  I explained I had.  I've been waiting to see Him for some time now... anxiously, just waiting.  But honestly I needed Him to man up and come looking for me too...

And there it was.

The familiar.

The visual.

So I sat on my couch and cried and realized what the lies were.  Who the lies were coming from.  And called them lies and they died down, like water receding or a flame going out.  Slowly until they were all the gone.  A pot of water taken off the heat.

And all I was left with was the image of a shepherd.  The gentle Jesus who I needed very much at the time.  Not the warrior Jesus or the crucified Jesus.  Just the gentle Jesus, with the rod and the staff.  Comforting and warding off the big, scary things with teeth who were trying to eat me alive. 

And He left the 99 to come and find me, and we called them lies together

I still looked at the phone this morning with a twinge in my chest, a feeling of "if only I'd been more".  And stared a little tyke basketball goal in my living room with the same feeling.  And took a deep breath and gave those thoughts away. 

Because the truth is, I can be more.  And I can do better. 

I will try harder and fix as many of these pesky personality traits and address as many of these fatal flaws as I possibly can.

And the one who chooses not to leave will be the one who's earned the privilege of the best me.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Here's the deal.

It's Friday and my shampoo worked really well last night and Old Navy had great sweaters on clearance, and I bought a coral one.  Not a neutral one.  A coral one. 

And I got a good morning text.

It's December 27th and the water is spinning over the drain and it's all almost over and we all quietly wonder what we're going to do now?

With all that fear we confessed.  With all that blank page.

Early spring, maybe summer of 2013, we talked about small goals.  Maybe we talked about operationalizing objectives.  About creating measurable goals.  Did we?  If not, we should have.  Because that's what I did.  Instead of a large-scale, life-long, grandiose bucket list, a few of us created our own yearly bucket list.

My list had three goals.

1) buy a house

2)  enroll in grad school

3) and a general fitness goal with a weight objective

It's December 27th. 

I am currently enrolled in an online Masters in Public Administration degree with Murray State University.  And I'm horrible at it.  I hate it.  I'm getting ready to just have to eat the damn frog, however, because I can't afford to pay back student loans yet.  I don't want to keep going, but I will.  But I am.  I am a graduate student.

Judah and I bought our first house this fall.  A small, simple townhome in a rough, little neighborhood.  Not much.  And some days I resent it wildly.  But it's home.  With a washer and dryer and Herbie and a welcome mat.

I have been diligently working towards a vague, conceptual fitness goal since May 2013.  Haha... roughly since January 2009. 

In 2009 I dropped dozens of inches.  All over my body.  Counting calories, lots of cardio.  That was the year I got sick.  The year I dropped out of school.  Exercise was one of the only things, which made me feel better, but the confidence was not there to do the work I needed to do.  So I lost dozens of inches, gained only a little muscle, got sick, gained all those inches right back.  I'd hit the gym pretty consistently through the rest of my undergrad, having easy access to the campus gym.  Light weights, elliptical machine, spinning classes.  I was more confident than ever before, but so much of it was because I wasn't thinking about it.  Because I had chosen to focus less on it -- it, the things I didn't like.  I didn't look in the mirror anymore and think about a fat roll or blemished skin or crooked teeth or twisted back.  I embraced my body shape... only because acceptance was so much easier than the alternative. 

Then I got pregnant.  And had a gigantic baby boy who gave me stretch marks and increased the size of my ass and who separated my abdomen so far, I could lay three fingers between the muscles.


It's December 2013, so seven months after setting a goal, I still haven't reached it.  The scale is a bitch.  However.  However...

My abdomen is healed.  And I tightened my belt another notch.  I increased my personal record for my deadlift and my back squat last week.  And the coral sweater is a size smaller than what I would have bought last year. 

This what it's about.  How I can walk into a place and have a goal, an agenda, and accomplish it without feeling inferior.  I've changed my lifestyle in such a way I am bettering myself, without even realizing it.  My skin is clearing up, after a very intentional regimen change.  My hair is longer and my cooking skills have increased.  I budget better and think outside of the box.  And I am enjoying it. 

Now.  I really do embrace my body shape.  And it's really the same as before.  Just stronger.

So last year's third goal, the fitness goal, will carry through to 2014.  It's marathon, not a sprint, I suppose.  I hope to work increasingly on my food choices, the amount of sleep I get, and also how much food we waste. 

A second goal for 2014 is to find a new job.  I love my job.  I am thankful for my job.  I work for a therapeutic foster care agency, recruiting and training foster homes.  It is flexible.  I get to self lead and make my own schedule and some of the people around here are great.  But Judah and I need insurance.  We need an income, which allows us not to have to rely on anyone else.  I dread the sacrifices, which will come with leaving this place.  I may have to sacrifice the gym time.  Or hours with Judah.  I may have to buy a new wardrobe, lose the nose ring, cover the tattoos.  With a bachelors in Social Work, options are limited.  My eyes are peeled.  But I'm praying when the time comes to take that step, I'll have peace. 

A third goal for 2014 is a hard one.  I will leave it simply as this:


That's up for interpretation.  But can't ambiguity be sweet?

I just pulled up last January's post.  Hot tears just flooded my eyes and the knot in my throat is too big to swallow.  I will continue to try and do better...  I don't really know what else to do.

And fear, suddenly, turns into thankfulness.  Thankfulness for a fresh start.  For a brand new year, fully unknown. 

A few old words cut, sting, as I reread:

I hope I learn to be more gracious, more patient, more understanding.  I hope I am a better friend. 

I hope to stand up for myself and my son and be brave enough to walk away from the things that hurt us.

I hope I remember how to risk and how to listen.

I hope I get answers.  I hope I get closure.  I hope we find freedom in being and love the way we were created to. 

I hope I keep learning.

And that at the end of this year, I hope I have a new story to tell.

And I cry. 

January 1st will also be an anniversary of a decision I regret so deeply it haunts me daily.  I don't know if it can be called grace, if you regret it.  But one decision led me down a rabbit hole of graciousness, from which we may never return.  Learning to forgive and protect and fight in ways I never dreamed possible.  I am not gracious.  But I now know how to show grace.  I hope, although I still regret it, this decision is what teaches Judah to be a gracious man.

And we didn't walk away.  Not soon enough.  Not fast enough.  There are so many times when I should have picked up that baby and ran in the opposite direction.  But crouched in fear, sometimes because I had only a little hope left.  But there are times when I did.  When the unfathomable love I have for that boy helped me cut whatever tied and dare any danger to follow.  Both shield and sword.  I am better at protecting Judah than I am myself.

But I got my answers. 

Painful, terrifying as they were.  I got my answers. 

And even if it's the dwindling last days of the year, I'm trying to do better. 

It was just this week... a familiar prayer settled in my spirit. 

Open my eyes to the risks you want me to take.  Give me insight, discernment, and enough perception to know and to hear.  And the wisdom to make the right choices for us.

It's a new story alright.  If not a good one, a strong one.  I wish I could say I did better.  I did not.  Not with what matters.  But now I know how. 

so I repeat, as we welcome the new year:

I hope I learn to be more gracious, more patient, more understanding.  I hope I am a better friend. 
I hope to stand up for myself and my son and be brave enough to walk away from the things that hurt us.  I hope I remember how to risk and how to listen.  I hope I get answers.  I hope I get closure.  I hope we find freedom in being and love the way we were created to.  I hope I keep learning.  And that at the end of this year, I hope I have a new story to tell.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Years that Answer

On Tuesday the boys were running around Noni's house, fully unaware it was Christmas Eve and loving the day.  Loving each other and hugs and kisses and new oversized toy cell phones and tearing wrapping paper.

Noni made one quiet, thoughtful comment, "can you imagine how big they're going to be this time next year?".

That's when the fear hit.

I'm always contemplative at the end of the year.  There's always a post, recapping what's happened and how far we've come.  This year I actually get to cross off every item on my one year bucket list.  Which blows my mind.  To think backward, in order to gauge progress, is a beautiful thing.  Tie up loose ends, wrap it up.  I compartmentalize by years.  Good years, bad years.  "Years that ask questions, and years that answer."  Anymore, nothing is solely good or only bad.  There are hard things and joyous things, together.  Years of community and then years of solitude.  They are years of what we need, I suppose.  Rarely what we think we want, always what we need.

If only to move us.

Judah was running around Noni's house and his words are still jibberish and his gait is jumpy and sometimes unsteady.  He still gives open mouth kisses.  And there were people this week whom we never heard from, and yesterday morning, on Christmas morning Judah and I woke up in our house.  Just him and me. 

2013 got us right here and dropped us on the next year's doorstep and for the first time in my life, I'm afraid to move forward.

Another January.  Another hot summer.  A second birthday.  A twenty-sixth one. 

I have no way of knowing what 2014 holds and instead of filling me with anticipation and hope, I recoil... expecting a hit.

I suppose this is what happens when you are far too familiar with Murphy's law.  Or when the majority of the past year's experiences have been troubleshooting, problem solving, and crisis management.  Craving a calm, simple life and finding yourself in the boxing ring.

We come to expect the worst and to fear what lies around the next corner, because the next monster is always bigger

There's a card on my refrigerator now, which reminds me how problems used to always overwhelm me.  And points out an ability, come only with age, to problem solve.  To find solutions

Perhaps this last year was full of monsters; monsters, who made an unplanned pregnancy and delivery and graduating with an infant look like child's play. 

So much changes in a year.  And while I am no where near content with where Judah and I are, I am comfortable.  We have our routine.  Little things like bedtime make sense.  The dryer ticks when it's done, I need to replace the batteries in the smoke detectors; and I try and pick up toys every day before bed so we start our day with clean floors. 

Money is tight and Sundays are hard days and the oil needs to be changed in my car.

I know these things. 

I like knowing things.

There's no graduations coming up.  No major events planned.  Which leaves this plotline wide open.  What happens next is a mystery and I find myself in the middle of a page-turner.  Trying to trust my ability to build, to find those solutions; trusting in our resiliency. 

In less than a week, this year will be gone.  For all intents and purposes, it already is. 

If I were to ask, to make a request for what comes next, I'd ask for laughter. 

And to not wake up alone.

There's a power in saying.  But we will see.