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I am beginning to learn that being whole is not found in being alone.  Wholeness is found in being open, not closed.  In being one tile in a mosaic, not a single art piece unto myself.  I need other people, friends, my family.  But I’ve kept myself separate and alone for so long out of self-defense that it’s very hard to let anybody in…  Did it really have to take until I am almost 40 to realize how important it is to connect with other people? <sigh>

Just as I am discovering that there are many facets to Who I Am, it is becoming apparent that each of these facets are tile pieces that fit in many different mosaics.  I have a tile that completes my Family mosaic, tiles that compliment my Best Friends’ tiles, a tile that fits in pretty well at work and a tile that, dare I say it, is improved by connecting with my husband’s tile and improves his tile in return.  Being Whole is giving away parts of yourself to other people who need them and being willing to receive parts of others who need to share.

Knowing this and living it are two different things and one comes far easier than the other.  Learning to trust my husband again is the first and biggest step… and it is not entirely up to me.  He has to prove himself trustworthy to be trusted.  He brought up a very good point that because I don’t trust him (and haven’t for years) that lack of trust has bled over into not trusting other authorities in my life – the church leadership and my bosses at work, as examples.  The more I think about it I believe he’s right but that will have to be another blog.

Tomorrow will be 20 days since I confronted him with his addiction, so far he has been Prince Charming and I’m really enjoying our new relationship… but I’m not ending the 2 months early either.  In fact, I kind of wish I had asked for 6 months instead of just 2.  I’ve lived through 19 years of life being all about him and I want to KNOW for sure that this change is real, that his putting our children and family first above his wants and desires is a permanent change and not something he’s doing just long enough to get me to agree to stay in this marriage and then go back to who he has always been.

Aside from my relationship with my husband being a Whole Person is sharing my friend’s burdens, rejoicing with them when they rejoice and weeping with them when they weep.  It’s supporting my children and encouraging their dreams, helping them to become adults.  Being a Whole Person is being part of a team at work and sharing the load when things get hectic. Being Whole is not actually completing yourself with only yourself.  It is fragmenting yourself to complete others and allowing others fragments to complete you.  How completely backwards from today’s world that teaches us, especially women, that we don’t need anybody else, that we are fully capable of being independent and that we are strongest when we are on our own, that we don’t need anything or anyone to complete us.

And there’s one more part to becoming a Whole Person – God.  I can have a tile in my mosaic from everybody I know but without God’s tile being in the center of the masterpiece that is me I will always feel empty and incomplete.  I am learning that too.  The faith I had as a child died years ago but a seed remained and I can feel it sprouting once again.  I can feel a change coming and soon, I believe I will be a Whole Person – for the very first time!

 

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Am I the only one who loves the smell of fresh-ground coffee beans but can’t stand the taste of coffee?  OK, so don’t laugh but that is exactly my relationship with Organization.  I can enter an office supply store and the tension will start to drip away from me as soon as I cross the welcome mat.  I find my way to the aisle with all the different writing instruments and my shoulders unwind.  I could browse for hours in the calendars and personal organizer section because peace washes over me like I’m laying on a beach in Hawaii (although I still haven’t been there yet, I’m just imagining what it would be like).  Yes, I’ve always been a little strange…deal with it!

Like fresh-ground coffee beans I love, love, love, love the “aroma” of organization and if you show me a new gizmo or gadget that could possibly help organizes my life, well, I Want It.  And if it’s tiny, cute, navy blue and/or has butterflies on it then I Must Have It!  Basically I drool over just about anything with packaging that promises to put a framework around my crazy life and gives me and my possessions structure.  I want more shelves, bins, totes, notebooks, calendars, gidgets and gazmos… it can turn into an obsession, just like those people who bid waaaaay more than something is worth on Ebay just because they have to win.  Hmmm.  I guess there are worse fixations to have than being organized…

To be fair my office space at work is very organized to the point of impressing my managers… but of course it is, I have no children or husband at work to come behind me and mess things up just after I’ve cleaned them, eh?

However, just as I can’t stand the actual taste of coffee, having a plethora of Organizational things doesn’t mean the house – or my life outside of work – actually gets organized.  What it really means is that I now have a spare bedroom full of the cutest, tiny navy blue plastic crates imaginable; green totes I bought on clearance after Christmas; bookshelves that are full of spiral notebooks, 3 ring binders, assorted software; the closet is full of boxes, gift bags & wrapping paper, and oh yes, and I can’t forget the tote full of gifts to give for last-minute occasions…  <sigh>

Although I gave up on making “Being Organized” a New Year’s resolution quite some time ago I have several books on being organized that I read a couple times a year.  Emily Barnes and Elizabeth George are two of my favorite authors that write about organization of your time and possessions – and how to fit devotional time with God into your busy life as well.  I think it is Emily Barnes that inspired me with the quote “Something is better than nothing.  But always aim for more.”  Last year my dear little sister even bought and mailed me a book – the title is something like “Clutter’s Last Stand”. I think it’s on one of my bookshelves and I’m pretty sure I even read it.  I might have to go back and re-read that one again, hmmm.

Another excellent organizational program is The Fly Lady, an online program for people who need to learn how to clean their homes – and keep them clean.  The Fly Lady quote that has stuck with me is this:  “You can do anything for 15 minutes.”  (You have no idea how many situations I’ve applied that quote to that have nothing whatsoever to do with housework…)

But regardless of the condition of my house my heart is 100% in love with organization and someday I may get my act together enough to use all of the fabulous tools and skills I’ve gathered over my lifetime and actually have a neat and tidy home… but don’t hold your breath!

In their most recent effort to be more friendly and interactive Facebook is constantly asking me “How do you feel?”  Seriously?  A computer program wants to know how I feel?  Hey Devs, this isn’t the Matrix…  Does that mean I’m “unplugged” and living in the real world while all the people who are sucked into thinking that Facebook actually cares about how their feeling are still trapped in the system?  Lol.

But on a more serious note, to have emotions, to have stirrings… maybe even all the way up to “feelings” (to summarize Johnny Depp in the last Pirates movie) is something that I built a wall against a long time ago.  I used to have dreams and passions.  I wanted to:

Be the Worship Leader at church
Have a non-profit business and host regular retreats for women who need to relax and recharge
Become a music teacher
Start a home for crisis pregnancies and provide education in both life and job skills
Own my own business
Become a Certified Counselor and help people with their problems
Build myself a house on the Oregon Coast
Go to Hawaii
Be a professional event coordinator/party planner
Have my own band
Have a free soup kitchen for anybody – not just the homeless
Become an architect
Build a community of like-minded people and live off the grid in the middle of nowhere

And I’m sure there were more but those are the ones I can think of right now.

None of these things have happened and over the years my dreams have slowly died, withered, shriveled, crumbled, faded and blown away.  It was kind of hard to even remember most of these to write them down, wow.

The Bible says that “without a vision the people will perish”.  What do you do when you lose your passion for reaching the stars?  When you realize that you can’t help anybody because you’re simply existing and don’t have anything extra to give anymore.  You pack up your emotions, your feelings, dreams and desires into little, tiny boxes and hide them someplace no one will ever think to look.  And then you build a wall around your boxes and plant a thorny bush at the base of the walls.  Your boxes are safe there, nobody can touch them or hurt them.  After a while you forget where you put them and they become safe from you too.

How do I find my missing boxes of emotion?  How do I feel again?  How do I start dreaming once more?  God help me but some days I feel like I’m a Terminator – living flesh on the outside but nothing human on the inside, just a bunch of gadgets and gizmos that keep everything running.

This is depressing – I meant to write something happy today!  All right, here’s the happy part – I’m going to pick something on the list and do it!  Unfortunately Hawaii is not an option right now  😦   However, I think I can pull off a retreat for a dozen ladies and then if everything goes well maybe form a non-profit to continue it.  There’s several rental houses (with hot tubs!) in the mountains not far from here that would hold 12 – 14 ladies and I think the cost would be about $150 per lady for 2 nights and 3 days (that’s lodging, food, supplies, everything).  Is that unreasonable?  Oooohhh… I’m getting excited now, planning things makes me happy!  Now to find a dozen women who want to get away for a weekend with no husbands, no kids, just God and Girlfriends…  Wish me luck!

…with six more weeks to go for my husband to prove that our family is worth him becoming a better man.  His previous attempt, a couple of years ago, at a Big Change only lasted three weeks total and then he quit so I think this next week will be very telling.

Progress/Improvements I have seen so far:
1. He opens car doors for me.
2. He tells me he loves me at the end of every phone call, every time we say good bye in person and occasional, random times throughout the day.  It’s actually kind of driving me nuts… He never spoke those words to me before without being prompted and/or pressured into saying them so it feels like it’s almost too much now… It’s hard to believe he means it because I’ve gone years without hearing him say it to me even once.  It’s also hard to  get a straight answer from him when I ask exactly what does it mean to him when he says “I love you” to me… but overall it’s still progress.
3. He has made an appointment for a counselor who specializes in addictions this week.
4.  He doesn’t get as angry as quickly as he was, especially at the girls.
5. He gives me hugs regularly that are just hugs, I don’t feel like there’s a sexual motive behind them for once.
6. He apologizes frequently for not realizing what a angry, selfish, controlling husband and father he’s been for the 18+ years we’ve been married.
7. In these last two weeks he’s cooked two meals, done several loads of laundry and cleaned our bathroom sink and counter and the downstairs kitchen sink and counter as well.  All things he never or rarely did in our marriage before.
8.  He got me a nice Valentine’s Day card (even though I said we were postponing Vday until after the two months was up) and hand-wrote a really nice 3 page letter about all the things he likes about me – 1 page was physical stuff and the other 2 pages were character stuff.  The pages were tiny (maybe 4″ x 6″?) but still, what he said on them was very nice.
9. We had a disagreement Sunday and even though he wasn’t happy with me he still treated me with kindness and dignity and  this morning he apologized for being mad at me for the last two days.

For my part during these last two weeks I have been a naughty, naughty girl.  I’ve really been pushing his buttons by doing things I know he doesn’t like – such as borrowing the Twilight series from my friend and making the whole family watch them.  (Except the last one which isn’t out on disc yet).   They’re hilarious by the way, I haven’t laughed so hard at awkward teenage romance in a long time.   I started talking about getting a tattoo, which he has been firmly against for quite some time.  I went to the movie theater yesterday to see “Hansel & Gretel, Witch Hunters” with my friend and oldest daughter (Love, love, love Jeremy Renner!  Could have done without the swearing though…) and on Sunday night I insisted on going to the evening service of a church (different than the one we attend on Sunday mornings) with my same friend and I intend to keep going to that church’s Sunday evening service for as long as I can.  I’m sure there have been other ways I’ve really tried to get his goat but I can’t think of them right now.  (It is past my bedtime, yawn!)  However, in spite of all these things I’ve been doing (and probably a few more) on purpose to test him and see how serious he is about keeping his family together, I’m actually impressed with his responses.  He is rising to the challenge and “manning up”.  Way to go dude!

Something that he and I talked about on Sunday evening was that there really isn’t a foundation to our relationship that we can go back to and start over on top of.  I’m not sure why he married me but I married him because he said he loved me and he pushed me into having sex with him while we were dating.  I had been a virgin up until that point  and I thought if I didn’t marry him I would be an old maid forever.  (I was 20…how stupid can one be?  Ugh!)  There is no passion, no place of being “In Love” to return to because  it was never there in the first place.  In order for us to develop passion, romance and the feelings of being “In Love” we are going to have to develop them from scratch and damned if I know how to do that after almost 20 years of building walls around my heart so he can’t hurt me anymore.  I honestly think he doesn’t know how to start from scratch like that either but he’s surely giving it the good ‘ole college try, which is more than I’ve been interested in doing for our marriage for probably at least 10 years now so I guess that makes him the better man in this situation.

He’s always had a “Never Give Up” attitude and never considered divorce as an option.  Me?  I’ve prayed to God at least once a year during every year of our marriage begging for a divorce from this man.  God always said NO.

Of course I’m coming from a “broken home” (making me automatically a lower-class citizen as compared to the rest of my husband’s college graduated, married forever, working in the church ministry family) and no one in his family has ever divorced so in their eyes we would just move a step down from being the poor, uneducated, blue-collar, lower-class family members to the actual black sheep category.  I’m honestly not sure that my brothers would care if we divorced all that much, they don’t ever talk to me anyway, just my husband.  I’ll keep my sister, he can have my brothers, ha, ha!

Anyway, that sort of is talk for another time, maybe farther down the road, maybe never.  At the moment things are going well and our relationship is remarkably like a fairy tale, minus the unlimited funds that seemed to come with “Bibbity, Bobbity, Boo” and the waving of the magic wand,  so I’m choosing to enjoy every minute of it and be the princess I always wanted to be and who knows, maybe the Toad will turn into Prince Charming soon and the Ice Princess will melt into his arms… because with God – anything IS possible, eh?

I feel like I’m in Limbo, waiting for my life to fall off the fence and I have no idea which side everything will land on.

He’s being really good.  I mean Really Good.  He even made dinner last night.  Granted it was fried sausages (the ones shaped like horseshoes) with a tray of cheese, Ritz crackers and summer sausage… but it was dinner and he did it all by himself.

It’s almost like suddenly I’m Barbie and he’s Ken and we’re living in a dream world where everything is how I imagined it should be… but it’s only day 6 since I confronted him about his addiction and said I wasn’t going to put up with it any longer.  He’s had over a decade of second chances.  And he has changed before, not quite as drastically as this but a couple of years ago he did put real effort into becoming A Nice Guy.  It only lasted 3 weeks so I don’t have any high hopes that this is a permanent change but I am going to enjoy it while it lasts.

So far I’m very impressed with his dedication and “obedience”, shall we say, to my restrictions on how/where he can touch me.  I’m trying to praise him in small doses for his progress but I feel like if I show how impressed I really am he’ll think that these last 6 days were enough and life can go back to “normal”… so I’m being very careful about what I say to him.  Is that mean?

I went to my counselor two days ago, surprise, surprise, one of the first things she mentions is about setting boundaries regarding how other people should be treating me.  I just blogged about that recently in “Your Boundaries Define You”.

He has set an appointment with a counselor and, amazingly enough, when he was signing up he did say he needed counseling for a sex addiction.  I thought for sure he would take the easy way out and just say he needed marriage counseling so that’s impressive.

 

Okie dokie…  Today is Sunday night.  Last Wednesday night my husband and I had our “little talk”.  I expressed in the firmest terms that I know he is addicted and I am very upset that he has not managed to gain control of it in these last 18+ years of our marriage.  I was soooooo angry – it gave me strength I didn’t know I had to stand up to him like I should have a long time ago.  I offered him a choice – in addition to mandatory counseling I said that EITHER I move out of our bedroom for two months while he works on his problem OR we continue to share the bedroom – but no benefits for him for two months – and I attend a different church.  I thought the terms were more than fair as I originally wanted to cut him off and live in the spare room for six months.  I felt I was being more than reasonable by insisting on only two months.

The first night we talked about it (Wednesday) he was all “I know I deserve this, I’m so sorry…” I felt like we both understood that I was the one wronged, therefore I made the rules and set the consequences and he didn’t fight me on that.  He didn’t like either choice but was thinking on which one to choose and I gave him until Friday night to make a decision.

Thursday night we talked again and I realized while he had truly heard my issues and was finally taking me seriously that somehow I had lost control of the consequences.  All of a sudden I’m NOT moving into the guest bedroom, I am NOT attending a different church AND benefits will be shared once a week during the two months – seriously, what just happened here?  It’s enough to make a girl want to swear… <bad words, bad words, bad words>

The good news is that for all of Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (today) he has been treating me like a princess.  Without my asking he has been opening car and building doors for me, hugging me often while carefully avoiding touching my boobs, rubbing my back without asking for anything further, giving me compliments and being very deferential to my preferences…

It’s what I’ve always wanted, heck, I think it’s what every girl wants but I’m kind of holding my breath to see how long it lasts – bets anyone?  At least I’m pretty sure that he understands how much he will lose if he screws this up.  Also, the consequences of my moving into the guest room, attending another church and withdrawing benefits completely are still available.  I think I just have to get angry enough to enforce them.

I have found a church not too far away that has services at 5 pm on Sundays so I’m going to try it out next week and it sounds like one of my friends will go with me.  Even if I can’t go to a different church Sunday mornings I think that going to a different church for a Saturday or Sunday evening service would probably do me good.  Meet some new people, experience different worship music and see what another church’s atmosphere and leadership are like.

If he can really pull this off, if he can quit his addiction and become a nice guy… permenantly… then we have a chance.

WARNING – I’M GOING TO BE AS TACTFUL AS I CAN BUT EXTREMELY HONEST ABOUT BEING MARRIED.  STOP NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ IT.

I was trying to fix my husband’s phone last night and inadvertently saw what he had been viewing online with his phone.  We’ve been married almost 19 years and he is still addicted to this crap… I am so not happy with him right now!

When I am truly upset my face, neck and upper chest (basically all the skin you can see above a the neckline on a normal shirt) turns really bright red in a very unattractive blotchy pattern.  It even scares me when I see myself in the mirror like that and until last night I hadn’t been that angry in a long time.

And yet the anger gave me the strength I needed to be calm and still forceful.  I insisted that he goes to counseling.  I also gave him a choice.

1)  I move into the guest bedroom for 2 months to give him time to decide what’s most important to him and live accordingly.
2)  I will continue to sleep in bed with him but there will be no benefits for 2 months AND I will attend a different church, of my choosing during that time.

I also said that Valentine’s Day was postponed until after the 2 months were up.  There is no way I can stomach any kind of sappy card from him and I don’t want to go on any dates with him for a while either.  He was dumbfounded and unable to choose right away so I gave him until tomorrow (Friday) night to decide.  If my going to church with him is more important than sharing a bedroom that will tell me a lot.

This is the beginning of the end.  Only God can rescue our marriage now… I have no doubt that He can, I’m just not sure I want Him to.

It really isn’t.

And now that all the people who consider themselves True Christians have armed themselves with pitchforks and gone off looking for me I can finish my thought.

If you became a Christian (or joined any religion for that matter) because somebody “helped” you decide to do so whether it be to please them, they out-debated you, gave you guilt trips and a fear of hell or you became a Christian out of a sense of obligation and duty because you grew up in the church and your entire family is Christian… then in my experience, your Christianity will only last as long as it continues to make sense.  The minute something else makes more sense you will change your mind and go a different direction.  Why?  Because your heart wasn’t changed by what you said you believed and the mind can be easily swayed to and fro without a firm, heart-held conviction of what you belive.

True Belief Changes Your Lifestyle.  People become vegetarians all the time after being made aware of the life animals destined for the meat market lead.  Did these people all of a sudden stop loving the taste of a juicy steak or Kentucky Fried Chicken?  Probably not.  But the thoughts and images of what they learned overwhelm the pleasure of eating the meat and they willingly made a change in their lifestyle because they believe in their heart that their refusal to eat meat spares animals from slaughter.  These people don’t have a problem telling others that they don’t eat meat and why.  Some vegetarians are very passionate about it and will try to sway you to become one of them while the rest just say “No thank you, I’m a vegetarian” when you offer them a slice of Meat Lover’s pizza and that’s the end of it.  They hold to their convictions without apology, without regret and without much care in regards to what you may think of them for being a vegetarian.

Most of my life I would have told you I was a pretty good example of a Christian but when I compare the strength of my beliefs to those of even a basic vegetarian I find myself coming up short…and how sad is that?  The conviction of my Christian beliefs don’t hold a candle to those of somebody who has chosen not to eat something for the good of an animal.  And honestly, how many new Christians change their lives so drastically, so visibly as new vegetarian?  How many church members will stand up to the girls at the office and say “Sorry, I don’t participate in gossip, I’m a Christian”.  How many professing Christians will give back the extra change the cashier at Wal-Mart gave them on accident?  Are those who call themselves Christians today truly any different from the average American?  Unfortunately the people typically identified as being a good representative of religion aren’t usually Christians in this day and age…

I grew up in church, at one time my parents were the youth pastors and my father was often involved with the worship team in one way or another.  I remember praying the salvation prayer at age 3 and did my best to be a good little Christian girl thereafter.  And that may be my biggest problem, I think maybe I tried harder to be a Good Girl than I did to be a Good Christian, not knowing they were different.  Please note I’m not trying to say that Good Christian Girls are not Good Girls because they most definitely are.  I’m trying to say that Good Girls are not necessarily Good Christian Girls.  In the spiritual realm A = B does not always mean that B = A.  That would be too easy…

True Belief Shares Itself.  Someone once said “Witness at all times.  When necessary use words.”  When your heart is different your life will be different.  When your life is different people will notice and you will not be shy about explaining yourself, in fact it will be easy and you will be eager to do it.  When the beliefs of your heart change your lifestyle then, and only then do you have a chance to create a convert because hearts respond to hearts.  Seeing the actions of another can inspire a heart to change but are rarely responsible for any permanent, lasting effects.

Having said all that I will once again repeat that your relationship with God is none of my business.  My relationship with God is my entirely my own business and none of  yours.  The Bible says that your relationship with God should be my concern, a topic of my prayers and even reason for my tears but each person has to make the choice to live for God – or not – on their own.  Nothing I say or do can force you to change your mind one way or the other with any lasting, heart changes.  I have no power or control over your heart save my witness, my example and my lifestyle.

I’m not perfect but I am forgiven.  I try, try and try again and trust that God knows my heart.  I choose to Believe the Bible, Love God and People, Know Others by Their Fruit but Only Judge Myself and Obey the Bible.  It is all that I can do.

I spent last night looking for new jobs online and then this morning I called in sick.  I emailed two of my bosses with more of an explination regarding the stresses at work and why I was staying home, one of them emailed back:

Take care of yourself.  Things are going to get better at work…I can feel it!  We will see you Monday.

That doesn’t sound like someone who’s waiting to fire me  the minute I get back, maybe things will be all right.  Just in case I’m going to keep looking for a new job through…