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Archive for the ‘Separation’ Category

I don’t know where to begin. How many times does a writer start with that sentence in her head? For me, it isn’t often, but today I am overflowing with so many thoughts, emotions, sensations, and a heart-stopping contentedness, that I actually can’t find a beginning.

Clearly, if you read this blog, you know my life has been very eventful, and frequently that has not been a good thing. So I think I can safely say “I know” in many, many situations. I’ve had the “I know” feeling repeatedly over the past several days, weeks, and months. The first was in response to two friends’ relationship that quickly smudged barriers, both personal and professional. Having been in a similar situation before, I knew immediately when these dear friends of mine crossed over into the all-or-nothing chaos of a clandestine relationship. In fact, I knew instantly the day “it” actually happened, and was just as instantly thrust back into my own dark, labyrinthin time, where the supposed hedges that encased us as we walked through this maze had actually turned to deceptively soft leaf piles covering sharp, painful thorns. As time went on for me, the leaves dwindled to almost nothing, and I saw all of the thorns, and I ripped through the walls anyway. The results, as you can imagine, were devastating — both physically and emotionally.

How refreshing, then, to find an instant connection with someone who isn’t afraid to speak his mind or hear me speak mine… and who is interested in a real relationship with me and me alone. From the time he first started calling me, I chose John Mayer’s “Say” ringtone for my eNV so I am reminded every time he calls that I can be myself without fear of reprisal. The labyrinthin path so shrouded with thorn and cover is now clearly lit and easily navigated.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

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I feel a compelling need to say some things on here, and I am sure that what I say will come as a shock to some. But I have changed and grown in many ways since my recent hospitalization, and I feel I must say them. Bear with me.

First, let me explain something about myself. After much introspection over these last several weeks, I’ve realized the extent to which I did not form my own opinions about many things–even very important matters in my own life. This became painfully obvious in the past week when I listened to the strong–and varied–opinions of a few people who mean a lot to me. This was a difficult week for me, as was evident from my last post. But it turns out that I needed to hear these strong opinions in order to realize how I had failed to decide how I feel about things. (The social worker in the hospital referred to people like me as “lost children.” I’m sure you can check on Wikipedia for an apt description of this personality type.)

Here’s a little of what happened this past week: I got a very upsetting email from one of my best friends, and my family–in their efforts to protect me–began to express in earnest their poor opinion of this friend. I, too, became livid and wrote vociferously of all of the horrid things I wanted to do to this person to get my revenge. My anger was definitely justified, and I never intended to actually do any of the things about which I’d fantacized. Now, hold that thought for a minute.

Only a few of us celebrated Thanksgiving together, because, as I mentioned in my last post, my family has been in a feud since I was first admitted to the hospital because I asked that my sister not be told of my admission. The result has been that my family reached an impasse, and I wasn’t sure if we’d ever reconcile. At Thanksgiving, we all spoke bitterly about my friend and about my sister. I want to emphasize the WE: I was an active participant in these discussions.  And then I realized how entirely empty I felt… about my friend, about my sister, about all the broken relationships I’ve experienced or witnessed in my immediate family… and I just felt sad.

On Saturday, my daughter and I went to my church with a friend of mine. The minister preached a sermon entitled “Radical Change.” In it, he talked about how we as Christians need to stop fighting in order to get people to believe what we believe and instead begin loving each other unconditionally because of our faith. Sermons don’t always “speak” to me, but this one spoke directly to my heart. I realized I had to speak out.

Rewind to the lost child I mentioned a few paragraphs ago. Here I am, this person who couldn’t form an opinion for the life of her, and now opinions were flowing out of me. One: I–and no one else in my family–know my friend, and I know he is a person of good character who has made mistakes just as the rest of us have. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t my friend, and it doesn’t mean that I have to blow him off completely. So I wrote to him and told him how the email affected me, and I told him that I disagree with the opinions of my family members and will continue to value our friendship.

Two: my sister lives out her faith very differently from how I do. She, too, has done things to hurt me very deeply. However, as a Christian, I am called to respond to her differently than I did. So I called her up, told her I was through fighting, and said I would do whatever it takes to keep our families together.

Three: Since my arrival in the hospital, I have felt this constant nagging to call my ex-husband and apologize to him for giving up. So tonight I did it. I told him that I know we had many seemingly insurmountable problems but that when he began to change, I told him he was too late and I continued to hold onto my anger. I had no agenda in telling him this, except to seek his forgiveness. I have witnessed the transformation of a horrible marriage of a friend of mine, so I know that God could have done miraculous things for my marriage too, if I had listened to God and lived out my faith appropriately. (Caution: I do not take full responsibility for my failed marriage… only full responsibility for my portion of the failure.)

Four: I had a heart-to-heart discussion with my daughter telling her that I’ve done her a disservice in the way I’ve fought with my sister and in my decision to give up on my relationship with her daddy, and I asked her to forgive me too. I told her I feel great remorse for having given up like I did. I told her that when she grows up and decides to get married, it is for life, regardless of how hard it is. I told her what I did was a mistake, and that as a Christian it is important to keep your promises.

I am sure what I’ve said is shocking, especially to my family. But I cannot stand the thought of losing one more person in my life because of stubbornness and unwillingness to sacrifice myself for the good of my family/relationships–I feel this way BECAUSE I am a Christian. No, forgiveness and sacrifice are not concepts that are exclusive to christianity, but in MY life, I learned these things through my Christian faith… a faith I saw demonstrated by some of my best friends.

Thank you, my family and best friends, for all of the support you’ve shown me since September 21. I am eternally grateful.

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Whenever I feel overwhelmingly melancholy, one of the first things that comes to mind is the chorus of James Taylor’s song “Sleep Come Free Me.” And generally, I am fortunate enough that sleep truly does free me from my anguish. Today, however, sleep evades me and I am left alone with my thoughts.

Have you ever read the book, He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo? Earlier this year, I read this humorous account about avoiding relationships that are going nowhere. Like I said, it was supposed to be humorous. But humorous it was not to me. I saw myself written all over its pages. Each chapter advises love-struck women of the kinds of men they should avoid if they hope to find a lasting relationship. Some of the topics–not all of which apply to me–include the following:

He’s just not that into you if… he isn’t calling you.

He’s just not that into you if… he’s disappointed with you.

He’s just not that into you if… he’s having sex with someone else.

He just not that into you if… he’s breaking up with you.

And finally… He’s just not that into you if… he’s married.

How can we as women be so unwilling to see the light when it comes to matters of the heart? How do we get ourselves into relationships that are doomed to failure? But if the truth is told, it is obvious: We want our relationships to work out when we love the person involved, regardless of the red flags that are raised. We are blind sometimes. I look back on the relationships I’ve been in, and there were red flags surrounding most of them, not excluding my relationship with my boyfriend who later became my husband.

Had I known then some of the things I know today, I probably would never have married him. But that’s beside the point now. The key is what I’ll do next. Am I comfortable enough with myself that I will accept it when someone I love tells me it just won’t work? Do I have enough confidence to believe I can survive emotionally even though a relationship has ended? Do I respect myself enough not to get involved with people who are clearly not available–emotionally or in any other way? Do I value myself enough to listen to my inner voice that whispers–no, that bellows–“He’s not ‘The One'”?

Sleep come free me (please, please, please).

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Since I’ve been separated from my husband, I’ve noticed something very unattractive about men: They think that since I’m divorced (almost), I must also be available. Unfortunately, I have three situations that exemplify this problem.

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Class, Ring

Since separating from my husband, there seems to be this immense rift between myself and God. I want to bridge that rift. So I took a class and bought a ring.

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Secrets Kept

“Mama, you’re not going to keep secrets, are you?” she asked defiantly.

“Secrets? What do you mean, sweetie?” I replied.

“You know, the Divorce Secret. You made me guess what was going on.”

“Oh, honey, we weren’t trying to hide anything from you. We just wanted to wait to tell you until I found a place to live. I didn’t mean for you to overhear that conversation. Does that make you angry? sad?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t want to talk about it,” she said stoically.

“Honey, if it made you angry or sad or whatever, I want you to tell me. It’s okay.”

“Mama, how is this not talking about it?” (more…)

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A Separate Peace

“You said you would take her to church. That’s why I didn’t come earlier. You didn’t keep your word. I’m disappointed,” she said, her daughter’s forlorn face beseeching her to stop.

“You knew I had to work this morning, and now I can’t because you were two hours late picking her up,” he said, anger welling up inside of him.

“I tried to call,” she lied. “And why didn’t you ask to speak to me when she called to ask when I was coming? You could have explained to me that you needed to be at work early. I didn’t know.”

“I will not play phone tag with you. You should have picked her up when you said you would.”

“Okay. Fine.”

“Fine.”

Walking out to the car, hand-in-hand with her daughter, she thought, “Isn’t the Dad supposed to be the one who doesn’t arrive on time to pick up and drop off his children for visitation? When does the Mom do that?

She never thought it would be her. Nor did she think she would ever argue about this issue in front of her newly “separated” daughter. In front of the child who lives in two houses, who lives apart from one parent all the time, who doesn’t quite know what to expect yet.

“On a scale of one to 10, how sad are you today?” she asks as they settle into the car, encouraging her daughter to express the myriad of emotions filling up inside her.”

“I don’t know,” she shrugs.

“May I guess how you’re feeling? I think you’re very sad because Daddy and I were arguing in front of you. Is that true?”

She nods in agreement.

“Look at me, Sweetheart,” she implores. “I am so, so sorry for doing that. It was wrong and I sincerely apologize. Look at me now. I promise I will not do that again.” She begs her God to help her keep that evasive promise.

Sadness hangs heavily in the air as they drive to home #2. She reminds herself that leaving has been the best thing she’s done for herself and her daughter in a very long time. Most days are very good. Her brain is on, she is capable when tending to her daughter’s needs, she is happy.

And then days like this sneak in. When conversing with her husband whom she left, she feels herself tumbling bemusedly into depression, into fear all over again.

“Lord, Jesus,” she cries to herself, “hold my hand. Give me peace.” She reaches for a peace apart from the chaos of separation. A separate peace. She will not be disappointed.

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