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So I stayed home from school sick today, slept in until 1 pm (which was wonderful) and then I went upstairs and had a Beauty and the Beast marathon (the first season is on Netflix) for four hours and never once got out of my jammies.  <sigh of contentment>  I think everybody needs a day like that every once in a while – where you’re just sick enough to legitimately stay home but still enjoy the time off…

So what’s with my subject line?  It’s the “Beauty and the Beast” show.  There’s something about “impossible love” that is soooo romantic to me (I blame Hollywood) but the very thing that makes it romantic puts it firmly in the “never gonna happen” category and THAT plants seeds of discontent in my heart about my real life.

I want to be romanced.  I want to know he is always nearby and ready to jump into any situation and defend me.  I want to love and be loved so much that I feel like I can’t breathe when we are apart… and that he feels the same way about me.  I want passion for him and I want him to have passion for me, good Lord how I want passion in my life…

I don’t think wanting these things are wrong but wanting them when I don’t – and probably won’t ever have them – will either kill me or drive me to adultery and ultimately, divorce.

Both are bad.

God save me.

I’ve stayed away from romance novels since I was in high school and I’ve also tried to limit my watching of sappy “chic flicks” because I know they raise my “love” expectations to an unrealistic level and I’ve worked really hard to guard my heart.  Now, I’m 40 years old.  I’m not a super model and in spite of losing over 30 pounds in the last 18 months I still have lots of “cushion”.  I have two kids and a 19 year-long marriage.  Life has thrown me some real curve balls in this last two years in every area and I feel like I’m finally growing up and discovering myself – and I’m realizing that want more than I have settled for.  Damn my heart…

I feel like in order to survive the rest of my life I need to give up my desires.  I need to stop wanting to be “desperately loved” and I need to stop longing for passion.  I need to put my heart in a box, bury it and walk away.

I don’t want to.  I really, really don’t want to.

But I doubt my  marriage can survive me getting my way.

Now I see the wisdom in being Peter Pan and never growing up.  I wasn’t happy before I started my journey of self-discovery but I didn’t know how miserable I was either.  It’s probably a really good thing I’m changing my career and becoming a Nail Technician.  It’s fun, fun, fun and distracts me from the rest of my life.  Hopefully it will be a good enough adventure that I can forget about what I don’t have… as long as I stop reading and/or watching anything with romance in it eh?

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I realize that this blog is all about me and my problems – but I didn’t used to be the center of the universe, honestly!

Up until about seven years ago I was thoughtful, considerate and tried to put the needs of everyone else in the world ahead of my own because that’s how I was raised.  I invited grade-schoolers to my pre-teen birthday parties, as a high-schooler I was a second mother to my 3-year-old sister because our mother was a single mom who worked full-time.  After I got married I gave up having things that I wanted, and sometimes even what I needed, to be sure the bills were paid, the girls had clothes and toys and my husband could pursue all the hobbies he wanted to…  I planned and hosted 95% of all our family gatherings (about 20 people), held a Gingerbread House Decorating Party for all the kids I knew every year at Christmas and provided all the supplies.  People came and dropped their kids off like it was free babysitting, sometimes leaving me alone with 20 grade-school aged children.  I sold Avon but I fell into debt instead of making money because I was giving away too much product and/or discounts trying to get and keep customers.  At church I played the piano and sang for both Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights every week.  I felt like saying “no” to someone who asked me for any kind of help was practically sin so it seemed like I was always giving, giving, giving in hopes that someone would give to me but instead I became invisible.  I was selfless to an extreme.

Seven years ago we moved 400 miles from all of our family and friends to a new city, a new house, new schools for the girls and new jobs for us.  After many years of not having to work and having lots of time to myself while the girls were at school and my husband was at work – all of a sudden Alone Time ceased to exist.  We needed the income so I got a job and I left to go to work before everybody else did and I got home after everybody else was home.  I felt like I was going to go crazy.  I stopped caring about putting other people first but I still didn’t push to put my needs first either.  I was hovering in a daze of exhaustion , stopped on a plateau of apathy for years.

I became laid off when the economy crashed and I thoroughly enjoyed three months of unemployment.  I slept most of the time because I was so very weary.  I wondered, “If I ever found a new job, how on earth could I keep it?” because I felt so unwell most of the time but when I did  manage to beat out over 200 people for a receptionist job 20 miles from home the adrenaline rush kept me going for several months and from there I somehow found the strength to keep on keepin’ on.

I was finally able to purchase a keyboard when our house in the previous city sold.  I’ve written over 100 songs and my goal was to record my music, get “discovered” and hear my songs on the radio, thereby becoming rich and famous.  Ummm…that did not happen, not even close.  One person told me he listened to my CD every night because it put him to sleep.  (That sounds terrible but he really sounded like he was sincerely trying to give me a complement – in a very man-minded way.  I’m sure he meant my music was soothing and relaxing, uh huh…)  In one of my more selfless acts I gave up my piano, the one that my mother bought for me before I was born, because my husband didn’t like it, complained that we didn’t have room in the house for both the piano and the keyboard and he was tired of moving the piano from house to house because it was too heavy.  I agreed to give away my piano on the condition that after we bought a house with enough space I would get a baby grand piano.

Three years and one month ago we bought a nice house.  2400 square feet, four bedrooms, plenty of room.  As of today, still no baby grand.

Two years ago next week I was blessed with a government job.  Great pay, even better benefits.  About six months after that I placed my feet firmly on the path of selfishness when I asked my husband to switch churches because I had some serious reservations (that he didn’t share) about the one we are in.  After six months of “discussing” the church issue and meeting with various church staff leaders, causing immeasurable stress to our marriage and my health – to the point that I threatened to commit suicide and started taking antidepressants – my husband decided to chose the church leadership over me…breaking his earlier, hard-won promise that we would leave and find another church, albeit against his better judgment.

That, ladies and gentlemen, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  I was angry and tired of giving up what I wanted and needed for him and everybody else in my life.  No more!  I decided that if I wanted something or it was just too beautiful not to have that I would buy it.  My pathetic work wardrobe (truly a need, not a want – remember government job….) quadrupled in about six months (that was maybe just a tad excessive), although all of my clothes came from thrift stores or Wal-Mart so it’s not like I paid Mall prices for anything like all the other girls at work seem to (honest!).  I went from owning two pairs of shoes to now possessing right about 25 pairs.  I became a spender, whether we could afford it or not, because I deserved to have pretty things, nice things and things I just plain ‘ole wanted.  I stopped spending my time on other people with just a few exceptions.  I started sleeping as long as I wanted to on Saturdays and feeling less and less bad about how frustrated it makes my husband.  I started planning to get a tattoo because I’ve always wanted one.  Life became all about me, me, me… because it never had been before and I just wanted to shine, just for once… just for once…

I now find myself at the other extreme, I am rarely selfless.  That girl has been lost in the woods for quite a while now and I’m not sure I really care where she is anymore.

So where is the line, that healthy balance of taking care of yourself and giving of yourself to others?

Next month I will be 40 years old.  Maybe I will finally start to figure things out and grow up… but all I really want to do is sleep in a cabin on the ocean shore, walk on the beach, hear the waves calling my name and stare into the fire forever.

Well… not really.  But Dawn is the name my mother wanted to name me and my dad said no.

I hadn’t thought about that in years – I was so young when my mom told me that I had almost forgotten it completely.  Or more like it slipped through the cracks and landed on the “Miscellaneous Trivia” pile in the back of my brain that I shuffle through from time to time, for example, the other day when I was telling my own children what their names would have been if they were a boy… and the girl’s name I wanted to use but their father told me no with both of them.

What I do remember is I was young enough that when Mom told me she wanted to name me Dawn I thought “Why would you want to give me a boy’s name?”   That was so unlike her, she was very “boys should be boys and do boy things and girls should be little ladies and do girl things” so thinking she wanted to name me “Don” really puzzled me.  It also made me wonder if she had wanted me to be a boy instead of a girl – or maybe I really was a boy but something went wrong…  I’m pretty sure this is proof that I over-think things and always have. <sigh>

It “dawns” on me that this may be one of the few things that Dad said no to that Mom actually obeyed him on… hmm…  Different blog topic there…

At any rate, I started to wonder why Mom picked the name Dawn.

No matter where you try to look it up “Dawn” means “daylight, daybreak and sunrise” pretty much everywhere.  It’s a very literal word, not a lot of hidden meanings or secret messages found there.  For symbolism it represents things like starting over, a new day, hope, end of darkness and 99.9% of the time “dawn” is associated with good things.  Just hearing the word “dawn” usually brings positive feelings, right?  Unless you’re a night owl like me and someone says “We’re leaving at dawn”.  Then I just wanna cry and it’s not because the sunrise is so beautiful…

As her first-born maybe Mom was looking at my birth as the beginning of a new chapter in her life, the start of a different way of living, change, fresh hope, something good finally coming her way…

It would seem that she most likely thought of me as her new beginning, which is both eye-opening and sobering.  I wonder if my not meeting her expectations and failing to be the perfect child led her to withdraw herself from me, making me feel unloved by her and never good enough for most of my life.  Because that’s exactly what I’ve done with my own children.  My poor girls, they probably would have been better off if I had given them up for adoption at birth, God forgive me for being such a selfish mother!

Each time I became pregnant I expected to give birth to someone who would love me unconditionally.  I thought the mother-child bond was automatic because kids love their mothers, right?  I wasn’t being loved unconditionally by my own family so I guess it was rather unreasonable to expect it from my own children.  When I finally acknowledged that my children didn’t love me the way I wanted them to and it seemed that they barely even liked me, well, I just shut down and stopped pursuing a relationship with them entirely until just about a year ago.  Now they’re both in high school and I’m trying to stop being their mother and just be their friend so that we have some sort of teeny-tiny foundational relationship to keep us in touch after they leave home.

Looking back I see that is precisely what my mother did with me.  I shouldn’t be so hard on her, she did try her best.  I never wanted to be like her but look at me now, wow…

I’m afraid it’s too late – I’m afraid that my daughters will graduate, go to college and come home for the obligatory Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners with no phone calls or emails in between.  That’s a horribly depressing thought…

I need a Dawn of my own, a new beginning, a fresh start, a clean slate, light breaking into dark places and making them bright and free.   I am Saved but what I need is a revival, a fresh awakening, a re-filling.  I need dawn to come and break the darkness in my heart.

I think maybe I failed my mother by not being her Dawn.  I wish she were still alive, I think I’m finally brave enough to talk to her about these sorts of things now.

My dawn, my sunrise is here – Jesus is my new beginning.  All I have to do is Trust and Obey, Just Keep Swimming, stop living in the past and accept the gift of still having a future.

I have so many ideas on what to blog but I feel scatterbrained and unable to complete an entire blog on anything…

I want to write a letter to all my husband’s relatives (and a few of mine too) and explain my life to them so they would hopefully understand why I behave in ways they deem “rude”.  I can totally see this as something that would turn into a bestselling book/booklet and millions of people could buy it and hand it to other people and say “Just read it, this explains everything”.  Lol.

I want to write about the Orchestra trip to Portland with my youngest daughter… okie dokie, what I wrote here is actually long enough – and crazy enough – to be its own post so look for it soon 🙂

I want to write about passing Day 30 and how my husband has stayed Prince Charming 98% of the time – a new record for him!  The biggest proof so far of his new-found love and devotion for me is the fact that I mentioned at some point that I only own two bras and one of them has a broken underwire that pokes and pinches me.  He actually went to Walmart, on his very own, and purchased two bras – and even got the size right – although though it nearly embarrassed him to death to be seen anywhere near women’s undergarments in public, much less than purchasing them with a male checker.  He said he was nervous and beet red and kept looking around for another checker… I found that to be hilarious and bordering on true romance at the same time.

I want to write about the beauty of the waterfalls that seem to be everywhere and the greenness of spring that has already come, at least to Portland.  Visual beauty restores peace in my soul and I start to feel again.  There is so much water here that everything is alive and green – even mundane landscaping seems beautiful to me, is that weird?  Maybe I should move to Portland or Seattle someday?

I want to write about work and how I’m feeling like I will never be fast enough to do a good job like the other girls but I’m confident that I am doing my very best and truly can’t do any better.  I am and always have been very thorough in whatever job I do… but always at the cost of speed.  I’m not a slow poke by any means but I’ve never been Speedy Gonzalez either.  At this point I’m kind of waiting for them to fire me in the not-so-distant future and hoping I can talk them into just laying me off instead because A) I believe I was poorly trained and have brought that to their attention many times and B) My medical issues truly do prevent me from doing the job properly.  If I were laid off I could at least get unemployment and I would LOVE not to have to work for a while because both life and home are so overwhelming for me right now… all I want to do is sleep all day, every day.  I’m scared to lose this job though because the benefits are so excellent and how on earth will we be able to pay for everything my daughter with Post Concussion Symptom needs?  Also I won’t be able to get my own pills for depression, anxiety and insomnia or go to the doctor without the insurance, but then again, maybe I won’t need all the remedies for stress if I don’t have this stressful job, eh?

I want to write about the book I read on Boundaries – for several months now I’ve been on this journey of “finding myself” and never would have thought to phrase it as “I’m looking for my boundaries” because that seems like a negative thing – like someone else is trying to “fence me in” and limit me but honestly, I am looking for my boundaries because everything within my boundaries is me and defines who I am.  My skin is my physical boundary, everything outside it cannot be called by my name, but where are my emotional and relational boundaries?  The book talked about how children will either spend all their energy on surviving their childhood or they will thrive in their childhood and use all their energy to develop the skills they will need as an adult.  I’m realizing that I survived my childhood and there are a lot of skills that I don’t have.  I think my husband probably survived his childhood as well, we are each missing some of the same skills and there are a few skills that one of us lacks that but other has… it makes for a very confusing life together and I can’t imagine what we’ve done to our children.  I’m sure they survived/are surviving and can’t wait to get away from us, sorry girls.

I want to write about Panic Attacks since my body keeps trying to make me think I’m having a heart attack and I refuse to believe it anymore because every single time I’ve gone to the ER for these symptoms the doctors say it’s “just a Panic Attack” and that my heart is quite healthy… and then they hand me a very large bill, some of them I’m still paying for, ugh!

I want to write about beautiful music and how it breaks the ice around my soul and gives me emotions I haven’t had in years.  Right now the music that touches me the most is “New Age”, stuff like Yanni and Enya.  Soothing, beautiful melodies and harmonies with very few words but because of it’s categorization (New Age) my mother was very against me listening to it in high school.  She thought it was spiritually liked to some sort of cult.  There’s way more to that story but I will have to make another blog about it some other time.

I want to write about Farmville and how that stupid game gives me a sense of accomplishment just by feeding electronic animals and harvesting electronic crops that I rarely feel in the real world.  I stopped playing it for years at my husband’s request but my children started playing it so now we “farm” together – yes, I know, what a great family activity in this age of technology – it’s a true bonding activity for the girls and me. <snicker>

Each one of these topics seems worthy of its own blog entry and yet feel like I’ve just emptied my head about all of them.  I’m so tired and very weary… and yes, they really are two different things.

Right now I’m growing, I’m changing and I’m in a season of chaos.  Yet I’m learning that this is not the end, it’s actually another beginning.  Hope stirs within me like a crocus pushing through the snow in spring… winter is not quite over but the worst seems to be past and I may yet still bloom!

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!

 

I was listening to the radio on my way home from work last night and they played a blurb about “Parenting Teenagers”, you know, one of those minute-long speeches that’s supposed to encourage you… Anyway, this guy started off with “Your Boundaries Define You” and I was immediately side-tracked away from parenting my teenagers. My Boundaries Define Me. More specifically he focused on – My Boundaries, that I set for other people not to cross, Define Me. Really. I had never thought of it that way before.

Up until that moment the word “boundaries” has always been more of a negative word meaning places I can’t go, things I can’t do or limitations placed on me by society/other people. I never imagined I could set boundaries on myself for other people to deal with…

So what are healthy boundaries for an almost 40-year-old woman?  What are appropriate boundaries for a husband and wife?  What are good boundaries for the mother of late-high schoolers?  I feel like I need to quick, come up with a boundary just so I have one…

<thoughtful silence>

Nope… nothing…  My mind is completely blank.  Why has it never occurred to me before this that it is OK to have rules about how other people can interact with me?  Maybe assertive people are better about having boundaries – I’ve been trained too long to hold my peace and not to fight for myself.

Hmmm…

This one is going to take some more time, I’m still trying to accept the feeling that it’s OK to have boundaries for myself.  And I’ll probably need to research what other people have as their personal boundaries because I still can’t think of anything, not anything at all except the awe and wonder of the thought that I am worth having a boundary or two of my own…

We watched The Hobbit last Friday and the line that really stayed with me was when one of the dwarves is talking about Bilbo and says “He’s been lost ever since he left home” and it got me to thinking – where is it that I’m lost the moment I stray from it?  I’m not sure…  It kind of comes back to the question of “Who Am I, Really?”, except with a twist, “Where is it that I am at home?”

Not in my house, that’s for sure.  I type these blogs in secret, worried that my husband will find them because I don’t feel like I can express myself openly without upsetting him and I’m tired of being “madded at”.  Not tired enough to put my foot down quite yet but that’s probably coming soon.  I feel like I need to figure out who I am first, before I can stand up for myself, otherwise what’s the point?

Not in my car because I don’t have “my own” car anymore.  It was my idea to have my husband trade my car in for his current dream car because mine was starting to have transmission issues and I’d had it for almost five years and was ready for something different.  It turns out that I won’t be getting something different for quite a while due to finances so in the meantime I am stuck with a car that gets great gas mileage and was really nice in its day but it’s not a SUV and I don’t really want it.  Yes, my daughter called me “Goldilocks” when I brought all this up…  Long story short is that I don’t have my own mobile castle anymore and I didn’t realize how much I would miss it.

Not at work, are you kidding me?  I was a receptionist for years and never realized how much privacy I had at the front desk until I “moved up” to my current job.  I now work in a space that is roughly 25 x 15 feet and I share with three other gals.  Also, about a dozen more people walk by our workspace constantly throughout the day so there is no such thing as a private phone call.  The other girls can see my computer screens at all times so I try not to do anything personal with emails or internet at work.  I can’t listen to music during normal business hours like I used to when I was a receptionist and my group doesn’t do a lot of chatting so it can get pretty quiet.  I never thought I would mind the silence until I couldn’t have music!

Not at church, at least not for over a year now anyway.  I have a few differences of opinion with The Way Things Are Done and my husband and I have had multiple discussions about leaving this particular church – I’m for it and he’s against it.  This has proven to be a very difficult subject to compromise on and has a lot to do with our more-than-normally rocky relationship over the last 14 months.

I have a couple of friends whose homes I feel “at home” in.  I can relax, let my guard down and breathe… but I can’t live there.  Well, actually, I’m pretty sure they would take me in if I showed up on their doorstep needing a place to stay but that’s not really a permanent fix for anything.  Also, I don’t feel lost when I leave their houses – it’s more like leaving a vacation to go back into the real world.

So that about covers all the physical places in my life without answering the question of “Where is it that am I lost the moment I stray from it?”  I think the closest answer I have is not a place but an activity – being Creative.  When I can’t journal, write music, draw or paint my world loses color and I am lost in the grey.  I’m not horribly good at any of these things but there’s something about Creating that restores me and makes me whole.  The good news is that I can be creative just about anywhere and am not limited to one place, which multiplies my opportunities to defeat depression and color my world with all the rainbow shades of acrylic paint and colored pencils that WalMart offers…

In the end I am still lost, but not as much as I was for a while there.  I am finding myself in the blues and greens of paint swirled on canvas and in the black and white of words on a page.  I am… Creative.

So Who Am I?  I am….. a girl.  That is always the first defining word that comes to mind.  Not female, not lady, not woman, not wife, not mother but girl.  Not a fancy-schmancy, frilly kind of girl either but a practical, no-nonsense type of girl.I was always too serious to be considered a child but nowhere near enough experience to be counted as an adult either, that’s how I was in my junior high and high school years and how I still feel today – I don’t have enough, I am not enough to be who I need to be and do what needs to be done.

Does the fact that I prefer the term “girl” over “lady” or “woman” mean that mean I haven’t grown up yet?  Hard to say.  As a child I used to tell people that I never wanted to grow up so that’s obviously been something I’ve resisted my entire life.  Why?  There was a Star Trek episode that I really related to – it was a planet of children (who aged very slowly so they stayed children for far longer than normal) but when they finally hit they change they became “Grups” – short for “Grownups”.  Like the Star Trek show I watched, the “Grups” in my life never seemed to have any fun and were always full of “Don’t” instead of “Do” and they always said “You can’t” more than “You can”.  I understand a little more of that now, being a parent myself.  While I try to be “Fun Mom” and “Cool Mom” it’s just not always possible because I can never say “yes” all the time.  There are times that I do have to say “No” and “Don’t” and “You Can’t” and while I hate having to be that person the things my kids ask for are more often than not impossible and/or impractical to make happen.  It is by this I know that I must have grown up, at least a tiny little bit, because I can say “No” when no needs to be said.

There was an interesting quiz I took when I was in high school and I still remember some of the questions and my answers vividly.  You can take it too, go get a pen and paper and write your answers down:

1.  You find yourself in the woods – describe the woods:

2.  As you walk through the woods you see a cabin, you go up and knock on the door – describe the person who opens the door:

3.  You leave the cabin and keep walking through the woods, eventually you find a child, describe the child:

There may have been more questions but those are the ones I remember.  What are your answers?  The essence of my answers were as follows, although I was a lot more wordy back in high school (I know that’s hard to believe…):

Describe the woods:  Dark, can’t see the sun through the trees and there’s a bear nearby so I need to be very careful it doesn’t.  Someplace to step carefully and tread lightly so nobody else, especially the bear, knows I’m there.

Describe the person who opens the door:  A man, tall with long hair and a kind face and a gentle smile.  Dressed comfortably but clean and neat with lots of muscles – a hardworking man.

Describe the child:  A girl, in tattered clothing with long, uncombed hair and a dirty, tear-stained face.  She is lost and it looks like nobody cares for her.

So big deal, right?  The final statement of the “quiz” was that how you described the woods was how you viewed your life.  How you described the person who answered the door of the cabin was who you wanted your spouse to be.  How you described the child is how you saw yourself.

For me it was dead on.  My life seemed dark and scary and honestly, my mother was the bear.  Those were the actual physical characteristics of the man I hoped to marry someday and to be fair I did get most of those – except he’s never had long hair in his life and his face reflects a great many things other than kindness with a gentle smile most of the time, although he is trying to do better and has greatly improved over the years.  But it was my description of the little girl that took my breath away.  It was exactly the way I felt, and to some degree I still feel this way.  Alone, uncared for and unloved without my very basic emotional needs ever being met – for so long not even realizing that I had basic emotional needs that were left wanting.  I didn’t realize until I was in my 30’s that this was not normal because it was all I knew, both in my upbringing and in my marriage.

Consequently I feel like I haven’t been a very good mother to my children, who will soon be graduating high school and are far past the point of a “do-over”.  But I’ve been told those feelings are normal in every parent, even the people that I think are Super Mom and Super Dad to their kids so maybe I haven’t been as horrible as I’m afraid I have.  I still don’t know if being grown-up is worth all the hype though, there’s an awful lot of bills involved…

What is it that I didn’t want to give up by becoming an adult?  I’m not entirely sure, except that I never truly believed I had what it takes to be on my own.  I didn’t go to college because I didn’t know what I wanted to be “when I grew up” and I didn’t want to go to school for 10 years switching from one degree to another while I tried to make up my mind and accumulate all that debt.  The thing is, my mother was a single mom with four kids, I probably would have qualified for grants up the wazoo but nobody ever encouraged me to pursue any kind of financial assistance whatsoever so I entered the work force (fast food) and had several jobs in the three years I was out of high school before I got married, and then we had kids and it has been just a juggling act between jobs (receptionist-type) and kids for the last 18+ years.  On a side note, I’ve also sold almost every home party product there is but that is a blog for another day…

Regardless of my wishes I did manage to become an adult, as is testified by the fact that this year I both turned 39 and became the proud owner of a CPAP machine that makes me sound like Darth Vader all night long.  Frequently, however, I don’t feel very grown up and most days I still don’t want to BE grownup.  Go figure.  But the first word I always use to define myself is “girl” so there it is.  I am a girl, grown up or not, here I come!

The other day I told my  teenaged daughter “Don’t give up being who you are to be with someone else – too much of that and you’ll never get yourself back again.”  As soon as it was out of my mouth I realized that is exactly what I had done…over 18 years ago.

I haven’t felt like I’ve had the privacy to write my heart in a long time.  Over the years I’ve changed – I’ve gone from devout to questioning, from anti to tolerant, from steadfast to wishing…  Who knew the choices we make when we are young could change one’s entire life so completely?  Not the young, the young never know and they don’t listen to anyone who isn’t young.  Stupid that.

Most of the time I feel like I don’t know who I am anymore, or even who I could be.  Oh, I know who I “should” be, I know who I was raised to be.  Wise and gentle, godly and kind, sweet and pure, loving…I should be so very loving.  But I fall short of everything I was told I should be by my mother and by the church.

Yes, I was raised in church from the day I was born.  My parents attended many different pentecostal, charismatic, christian churches throughout my childhood.  We spoke in tongues, raised our hands during the worship service, closed our eyes and some churches we attended even danced during worship.  As a child, church was my favorite place to be.  I loved the worship services and even paid attention to the sermons, many of them changed my life in different ways.  The highlight of my junior high years was Wednesday night youth group and getting to be with all the other “good” kids at church.  It helped me get through my struggles for seven more days until the next Wednesday.

A major theme of many sermons and lessons I’ve learned in church over the years is “Stop trying to do things in your own strength.  You can’t and the very fact that you’re trying to do it on your own probably means it isn’t God’s will for you to be doing it in the first place.”  And yet sitting on the couch, watching television and “waiting for God to do something with me” is equally frowned upon.  Where’s the line?  I am, even this very second, exactly who God created me to be.  He allowed me to go through the circumstances and situations of life that molded and shaped me the way I am.  How do I stop being those things and let God be through me?  I think my current church (of the last 6 years) has put too much emphasis on the doing and the being and not enough on the becoming.  Too much focus on how I act and the way I dress and not enough acceptance of who I am right now, at this very moment because right now, in spite of my warts and damaged heart, I am still God’s creation, God’s child, someone who He loves.

One of the most precious gifts God has given us is free will.  He won’t make anyone love or obey Him, we have to choose to do those things for ourselves.  I’ve made some bad choices and I’ve made some good choices in my life.  Once made, every choice is hard to unmake and life still goes on.  Trying to unmake a past choice usually means making big changes to your present and has the potential to destroy your future.  I am here, right now because God can use me here, right now.  My giftings may come and go according to His choosing, it is by grace I exist.

Funny how we spend 18 years trying to “grow up” as quick as we can but we never really understand the furthest reaching consequences of our actions until much later.  I am just now beginning to realize that some long and hard journeys are chosen simply because the beginning of the trail wound around a rose garden with an enchanting fountain while the paths with the brightest futures are often ignored because they begin by camping in a tent in the middle of a briar patch.

Here I am, on a narrow ledge better suited for a mountain goat than for myself, looking up the trail, looking down the trail, looking over the edge…  There is no future in the past and there is no life over the edge so my only choice is to press onward in hopes that the path will soon widen and I can stop to catch my breath.

Learning which dreams to give up and which dreams to keep have been a painful lesson.  Some dreams are only possible when there are two dreamers who are dreaming the same dream.  A single dreamer cannot complete the work they were called to when they are not walking hand in hand with another like-minded dreamer.  Large works require that many dreamers unite towards building the dream.

More painful, by far, is the awakening of the dreamer who has linked dreams with another only to find that you and your soul-mate aren’t dreaming in the same direction.  To see your dreams slip from your hands because you chose someone who has an entirely different dream – or sometimes – someone who has no dreams at all is quite devastating when your eyes are finally opened to realize the full effects of your choice.

My solution, my “cure” for loneliness has been a success in fact only.  I am not “alone”.  But what no one ever told me is that the greatest depths of loneliness hide inside relationships, not outside of them.  You can be with someone and yet still feel completely and utterly alone.  It is a wounding that takes your breath away and leaves you gasping for your very life, like a drowning man clawing at the surface of the water.  I rushed into marriage believing it was my one and only chance at having a precious gift and I have spent the remainder of my life questioning that choice.

So now the question begs to be asked – not just who am I but have I ever known who I am?  Or have I always been just a compilation of words and actions, attitudes and behaviors that were expected from me by my parents, my church and my schools with no real input of my own?  Have I ever truly had my own opinions or have I always just parrotted the opinions of the “important” people around me?  Things that make you go Hmmm…  I wish I had an answer for that but right now I just don’t know.

I think that I’ve lost myself, that I’m broken and need help.  There are a few things that I’ve been doing because I enjoy doing them just for me:

Painting/Drawing
Writing/Singing/Playing/Listening to Music
Baking
Growing Plants
Helping People
Writing/Blogging/Poetry

These are a good place to start with identifying who I am today.

This is a good place to stop and think some more.

Goodnight.