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Sooo… it’s been just over a month since I told my husband we should think about Divorce as an option and just under a month since he told me I was acting just like my mother.

At the end of the I’m-acting-like-my-mother conversation we have agreed that, at least for a while, we will not talk about the church I left that he still attends and it has actually been a (mostly) pleasant month between us.   I have found another church, signed up to join one of their small groups and taken free veggies from their Bountiful Harvest Table.  He is trying extra hard to be loving and kind, thoughtful and sweet and I can see his efforts and I am proud of him for it.  I do actually like him as a person, believe it or not.  On my end I am trying extra hard to be receptive to his changes.

However, I don’t think that I am succeeding very well.  I’m so tired and worn.  I feel broken and damaged and in need of a larger personal bubble for healing.  On top of that I have reached a point where I don’t want to have sex ever again in my whole entire life.  Most likely this feeling will change over time and right now it’s honestly not his fault, he’s been trying so hard to be a good husband, especially over the last month.  He’s being affectionate outside the bedroom by reaching out and grabbing my hand – every single time I walk  by – and he’s wanting to snuggle  – every night – and he’s giving me lots of hugs – nearly every time either he or I walks into or out of a room – and I’m overwhelmed.  It’s too much.  He’s being so terribly sweet and these are all things I wanted very much 10 years ago but my desire for them now has pretty much shriveled up and died.

My prayers of the last 2o years, begging and pleading God to let me enjoy sex have never been answered positively and I’ve stopped praying for that particular request.  At the moment, I’m not praying for much at all except for God to Save Me.

I just turned 41 last month.  Staying with my husband who is trying so hard to be a good man seems like the right thing to do, the “Christian” thing to do, the Good Wife thing to do.  If I go through with my earlier thoughts of divorcing him I WILL be like my mother – in some regards.  I will be the one to blame for dissolving a 20+ year marriage and I won’t be able to give any reason other than I simply don’t want to be married any more and can’t stomach the thought of possibly having another 20 years like the first 20.

Something’s got to give.  I need God to do a miracle in my heart in order for me to stay.  I need God to do a miracle in my courage in order for me to go.

Our youngest daughter turns 18 in early January.  We had planned an extravagant (for us) 18th birthday party for our oldest daughter last year and are attempting to do something similar for our youngest daughter’s 18th this coming year.  In large part because of our youngest daughter I am going to put all my “What do I do” questions aside for now and once we get through the holidays and her birthday party I will reevaluate.  I’ll see where he’s at and where I’m at and go from there.  It’s about three months from now and a lot can happen in that amount of time.

I’m neither suicidal or homicidal but wishful thinking says that just maybe God will take one of us home during that time and I won’t have to confront this situation.  Nah, I can already tell that’s not going to happen.  God’s going to make me walk through this because it will make me stronger and He’s all about Growing Up, maturing, if you will.  Darn it anyway…

So moving forward I plan on:  Focusing on the moment, being present in the moment and planning no further ahead than the next three months; Responding appropriately to my husband and family while focusing on being with them in each moment; Planning a kick-ass birthday party; Surviving Thanksgiving and Christmas (with relatives who are all being super-nice to me right now because my husband has told them what’s going on – seriously, it took them 20 years AND the threat of divorce to be this nice to me?  That’s not really helping their cause much…) and last but not least, taking care of as much debt as possible because whether I go or stay next year having less debt will be a very good thing.  Less debt is always a good thing.

Just another day in paradise, and another, and another…  let’s see if I can get three months of days in paradise, eh?

Our 8-day Christmas Adventure began the Thursday before Christmas in a suburban – my husband and I in the captain’s chairs up front and our oldest daughter in the first bench seat back and our youngest daughter in the bench seat after that.  It was warm, spacious and my youngest spent the first half of our 8-hour drive fast asleep while I put a movie on my laptop for my oldest and I to watch while my husband listened to the audio.  It was a good trip, lots of pretty scenery as we wound our way through the river road, up and over the pass and through tiny little towns in the middle of nowhere.  Although we could see snow here and there the roads were bare and dry and we arrived safely at my father and step-mom’s house about 10 pm.

Unfortunately we could only stay for two nights and one full day but it was a nice day, we had a fabulous Christmas dinner of ham, assorted salads, scalloped potatoes, olives and finished dinner up with a lovely banana cream pie.  We exchanged gifts and watched a couple of movies together, played a few games of cards and while it didn’t work out to have a private conversation with my father I took a walk with my step-mother and we talked a bit.  It’s been a rough year with them, relationship-wise, and I think the visit helped to start the healing process – at least with her and hopefully I can work on re-establishing communication with my father this coming year.  He gave me one of his old cameras after I mentioned mine was broke – and I wasn’t even hinting or asking for another camera, I was just trying to explain why I wasn’t taking family pictures while he was!  It was kind of an awkward time but overall it was a good visit with family.

Saturday we drove to one of my brother’s house, about a 4 hour trip, but an hour or so away our transmission broke and we lost Overdrive, 2nd gear and Reverse.  Holding our breath we slowly drove the rest of the way to my brothers but we made it safely, yay!

At my brother’s house on the backside of a mountain we had a get-together with both of him and his family and my other brother and his family came over as well.  Unfortunately our sister was sick and unable to come to Christmas; I missed seeing her so much!  We had ham, mashed potatoes, green salad, a veggie tray, chips, sodas and baked goodies for dessert.  Instead of buying everyone a gift we did a White Elephant Gift Exchange instead and I took lots of fun pictures of the 10 cousins opening and “stealing” gifts.  When it was all over and I shared childhood memories of the times before our parents had divorced with the brother that was hosting us and his wife.  She seemed fascinated but he looked unhappy.  I wondered if it was because so many of my memories included the phrase “I knew I couldn’t tell Mom because she would get mad” or “Mom was so mad at me”, something my sister-in-law noticed and commented on.  The next day when my husband asked him about it my brother said he barely remembered my stories because he was too tired.  Hmmm…  That night it snowed almost a foot – if we thought it was beautiful before, wow!

Sunday morning we borrowed a teeny, tiny pickup truck from my brother, squeezed our two teenaged daughters into the side-facing rear seats and traveled through a Winter Wonderland – pine trees with snowy boughs and unplowed roads, snowflakes falling as we drove, we even saw a moose with huge antlers!  It was a much-needed infusion of Christmas…  We went to church with my husband’s parents, had lunch and then visited some friends before going back to my brother’s house to spend more time with them.

Monday, Christmas Eve, belonged to my husband’s parents.  We limped our suburban into town, unloaded our stuff at their place and then my husband and his father dropped the burb off at a transmission shop and then we spent a few hours waiting for my brother-in-law and family to show up.  Once they arrived we opened stockings and presents (Christmas is very Proper there) and then we had a family meal together.  Ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, soda, pumpkin and apple pies.  I am so hammed out…  Then we sat around and played  with our presents until my youngest fell asleep on the couch.  At that point we said we needed to go to the hotel and rest because we were exhausted and getting sick.  We were reluctantly allowed to borrow a vehicle escorted to the hotel with a promise that my in-laws would return to share the hotel’s continental breakfast with us in the morning so no sleeping in for us.  We were so tired we just sat in the beds and watched “The Mummy”.  As soon as it ended we turned the lights out and I think we were all asleep by 9 pm.

Christmas morning we woke about 9:30 to the knowledge that my husband’s parents were on their way and would be waiting for us in the lobby for breakfast.  They were as good as their word and we spent about an hour enjoying homemade waffles and what not from the hotel’s breakfast selection.  We then rushed back to the room to check out by 11 am and headed back to their place for another few hours.  The trip was beginning to feel about two days too long at that point – and we couldn’t even go home because our suburban was still in the shop!  But we had a good visit with his parents and then came the best part of the trip (for me!)

 

Christmas afternoon we went to my best friend from high school’s house, yay!  It was like coming home…  It was so nice to hang out and visit with her and her family again – we even got an extra day with them because the transmission was still in the shop and we couldn’t leave on Wednesday as planned.  We spent some time together, talked a little, watched some movies as families and had a blast playing around with my new camera and looking at some art books.

Thursday morning we said goodbye to my friend and her family, picked up the burb out of the shop (over $3,000 – oh crap!), returned my in-laws car and headed towards home, arriving just after dark about 6 pm.  We unloaded the car and I discovered one of my daughters left my pillow in the car so I headed off to Wally World to get another one.

Friday my husband and I both went to work for a one-day workweek, which that and being casual jeans day for me were the only redeeming features about it, and today, Saturday, I slept in until 1 pm – it was wonderful!  I am hoping to make it all day without having to get dressed…

And that was our Christmas adventure… so now you know why I don’t write a lot about the everyday details – they’re kind of boring.  I did not recapture the Christmas Spirit but I did catch a glimpse of it here and there and that will have to be enough for this year.  Next year I will continue my quest to experience the peace and wonder of Christmas time…next year maybe I will come closer!

I think that as I grew up I realized that, more often than not, I received great gifts at Christmas but was not able to give “good” gifts at Christmas time (and birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) primarily due to lack of funding.  This realization caused a little part of me to die.  Especially since I married into a family where gifts are really important to them and they seem to feel I don’t love them very much when they don’t receive as much from me as they give.  <disgusted noise>

For years I would spend October and November blissfully make things at home and have them all ready to give at Christmas with joy in my heart and I loved the giving!  I made terrible tasting brownies in a cute canning jar, poorly made necklaces (my first attempts at beading) with a beautiful stone centerpiece, “kisses” from my daughters  blown into an empty jar that I covered with a mosaic of decorative glass and black mortar, sponges from the dollar store hand-cut into animal shapes that required significant imagination to identify, I wrote and recorded songs and gave out the CD’s and I think I even wrote terrible poetry one year for Christmas.  (Good thing you’re not related to me, huh?)

I guess it was last year when I finally realized that nobody really wants these things I make and what I had been viewing as their look of wide-eyed wonderment as they accepted my gifts was actually a startled look and their emotional “Wow, that’s really something!” was not necessarily a compliment.  Hmmm…  However, the knowledge that my gifts from the heart are not appreciated like a professional, mall-bought gift would have been did not stop me as once again, this year for my parents and in-laws, I have forced my family to put their handprints on a canvas and then I turned them into a “family tree” painting – 11 x 17 or some larger size… my siblings are sooo very lucky that the paintings are very time-consuming and I couldn’t make them one too 😉

So it is in my heart to give.  Give, give, give.  I try to give all year long and I find that when I cannot purchase a gift I am driven by something inside me to make a gift so I have something to give…something, anything!  When I don’t have the time, money or energy to buy/make a gift it changes me inside and life becomes a little less enjoyable.  Is that weird?  I cannot live a full and happy life without giving.

It is something to reflect on – is feeling like I am not able to give causing my depression and changing my views on life?  And how do I stop caring if the receiver thinks my gift is “tacky homemade”?  Good gift-givers give something the receiver wants to have while it seems like all I can do to give is whip up something from stuff around the house or bargain finds that I hope they like.  Most of the time that is the best I can do but is it enough?  Is it OK?

I try to accept all gifts as if they are my very favorite thing in the world and just what I wanted…even if it’s 2 sizes too small and neon pink…  I think that is the right way to receive a gift and I have tried to teach my children to respond to gifts they are given that way as well. In my opinion the receiver needs to show the giver that you are happy with whatever they gave you and never to give the impression that their gift wasn’t “good enough” because they didn’t have to give you anything at all.  Gifts are “bonus”, a “perk”, if you will, of a relationship and should never be expected.  The expectation that gifts will be received at a specific time/place or that a gift will be a certain thing is a Joy killer for everybody – don’t be that person!  Accept the gift in the spirit it was given and love the giver for loving you enough to spend their own precious time and resources on you.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas, I hope that you are appreciated more than your gifts and that you appreciate the givers in your life more than what you receive.  This is one of the biggest parts to the meaning of Christmas – unconditional love.

In late October I visited a Winter Wonderland a few hours away from our home.  There was thick, fluffy snow falling down on the pine trees, Christmas carols, snowball fights, and busses getting stuck in the snow.  Listening to “Christmas songs being sung by the choir” while the snow fell outside all I could think of is “Christmas is here, Christmas is now”.  I closed my eyes and let it all wash over me, I let everything go and held on to the peace and wonder of Love come down.  Renewed and refreshed, I was filled with contentment and – for once – ready to go home.  The whole experience was just so beautiful and it filled my heart with wonder and awe of Christmas that I knew as a child…and some how lost.

When did Christmas lose it’s magic for me?  It wasn’t even about the presents because we didn’t get that many, it was about the atmosphere, the peace and sense of hope that came with the music and the tree and decorations every year.  Christmas was peace in a time of despair, a ray of hope in the darkness.  I’m thinking that Christmas is a heart-set more than a mind-set, but something changed – what was it?

Christmas didn’t change, I changed…  I stopped believing, I lost my hope.  Where is it?  I want it back!  The joy, the magic, the hope, the belief, everything, I want it back…  How does one wounded, worn-down and very weary grown-up get back to having the awe and wonder of a child?  It is not in my strength to accomplish, especially when it is barely in my heart to desire anymore.

Christmas carols, baking cookies and making candies, visiting with family that you hardly ever see, decorating the tree and having parties – these are the things that make up the basic traditions of Christmas, right?  So this year, I am trying once again to go through the motions in hopes that they will awaken something in my heart.  So far it’s the 9th of December and I don’t know that I’m feeling much yet but I will be helping one of my daughters have a choir Christmas party this weekend and all her friends love me and call me “Mom” so I’m hoping the joy of being around people who like being around me will help restore some of that Christmas spirit…or perhaps a glimmer of any spirit at all.

Awe and wonder, child-like faith, unconditional trust, genuine love, these are things I feel like I had as a child and have had them torn out of me as I grew up.  Or maybe I gave them up in order to build my defensive walls – not knowing the true cost of protecting myself was losing myself.  Bilbo Baggins said in The Lord of the Rings “I feel thin, like butter scraped over too much bread” and that is a very apt description of where I have been for a long time now.  I feel like I need to gather myself together, to bring everything that I think I am and what I think I love into one spot to examine them.  To ask “Is this truly me?”  When I go through my house to de-clutter I always have three piles:  “To Keep”, “To Give Away” and “To Throw Away” but when one goes through their heart the only options are “Keep” and “Toss”.  Unfortunately the “Toss” pile tends to primarily consist of things I don’t want to be any more, not actually things that I genuinely am not.  The pieces in the “Toss” bin that are a part of me whether I want them or not are the products of my life choices and therefore must be consciously un-chosen in order to remove their power over me, not merely discarded like a sweater donated to the GoodWill.  It is hard to un-choose a choice that has become a habit and so much a part of my personality that other people define me by them.

This Christmas will be an whirlwind of activities…in seven days we will drive over 1200 miles and visit my father and step-mother, my brothers and sister, friends, my husband’s family, and then back home.  After which I have to get up early and go to work the very next day – I’m going to need a vacation from my vacation, ugh!  Maybe we’ve made Christmas too hectic and don’t have time for the magic anymore…but how do we stop being busy?  Or perhaps the bigger question is how do we stop being so busy without offending all of our friends and relatives?  Christmas is supposed to be a time to share love and laughter, not hunker down and wait for the candy cane hurricane to pass and yet that’s all I want to do, this year and for the last several years.  I guess I’ll see what this holiday season brings…