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It’s only been a couple of days since my last post and already I’m embarrassed by my little tantrum… <she said sheepishly>

My life is not that bad and I know it.  My husband is working really hard to be Mr Amazing and more and more he actually succeeds.  Our finances are the result of circumstances – and a few bad choices  – but we still have a roof over our heads, food on the table and vehicles to get to work in.  My two best friends are great and lots of people think I’m pretty cool.  There IS a light at the end of the tunnel and I know it’s not a train… but I can’t be the only one who has down days and becomes emotionally unstable for an hour or two, right?

Right.

The trick is to grab your bucket, mop up the floor after your little melt-down and carry on.

And by the way, I was tested last year for being Bi-Polar and my doctor said no, I’m not.

Sooooo…  Moving on.

Starting a new year, for me anyway, always brings the desire to set goals for myself, to change my life and become someone better, someone different.  To be that person I am not but wish I was.  This year isn’t much different except I’ve been so busy with my new job that I haven’t gotten around to it as soon as I normally do.  Gasp!  It’s already January 19th!  But the extra time has actually been a blessing because it allowed me to think back over my blogging for the last couple of years.

This particular blog has only been up for just over a year and oh, what a year it has been!  I had a different one for at least a year before that but I deleted it for a variety of reasons I won’t get into now.  The topics were pretty similar though:  marriage issues, church issues, work issues, depression, feelings, blah, blah, blah…  I like to write but don’t feel like I’m very good at it so my main purpose in blogging is to help me sort out my feelings.  It’s very useful for me to write things down and then go over them again and again until the writing says exactly what I’m feeling and thinking.  It’s actually quite therapeutic for me, creating all these blog entries.  I never go back and re-read them but just getting my thoughts and feelings out in print and editing them over and over again until I’m satisfied my post properly reflects where I’m at is strangely calming and soothing to my soul.  I’m weird, I know.

Thinking about the sorts of things I’ve blogged about over the last couple of years I’ve come to realize that the days of figuring out who I am are over.  I am a lot of things, some of them good and some of them bad but all of them are me – and the list keeps changing.  Slowly I lose some things and gain others but they are still me.  I am… Myself.

So what’s next, now that I’m comfortable with who I am?  Starting this year I want to work on the parts of me that I know are important but are still “in the rough”, things that are jagged and splintered and I want to begin smoothing and polishing them until they fit into my life gracefully, adding beauty and joy to every day.  Things like: I Am Lovable.  I Am Valuable.  I Am Deserving of Good Things Happening To Me.

It’s going to be a long road.  I can almost guarantee you that I will have more emotional break-downs and write more of those awful, nitty-gritty posts about the crazy-ness that is my life but everything I write has been and will be true to the way I’m thinking and feeling in those moments – it is what it is.

My family has been working our way through all six Star Wars movies and at the part where Yoda raises Luke’s ship from the swamp Luke says “I don’t believe it!” Yoda replies “And THAT is why you fail.” It always amazes me how much truth you can find in movie one-liners…  This year, 2014,  is going to be my year of Learning How To Believe.  This year I am going to learn how to believe that God Loves Me and when I can embrace that one, simple truth I will be able to accept all the other truths I want to believe as well:  I Can Be A Good Wife, Mother and Friend.  I Can Make A Difference No Matter Where I Work.  I Am Worth Loving.

That is my goal for this year.  What is it you need to start believing?

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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.

Stephanie is right – I do love my family.  Stephanie, thank you for your note and the gentle rebuke.

Your comment has made me realize that I’m actually still quite mad at him (and I’m not at all offended with you!).  I have read your advice over and over again and I can see that I’ve become very selfish.  I’ve grown tired of waiting, I wanted him to do things for me, my way RIGHT NOW because I deserve it  and am tired of always giving and giving and never getting much out of this relationship.  That, however, is not unconditional love so now I’m finding myself wanting, ha!, demanding what I am no longer willing to give.  Oh the irony…

Now, in spite of having spent the last 7 – 8 years watching the slow, gradual change that God has worked in his life to bring him to the place he is today I had stopped trusting God to complete the work He started in my husband and decided it wasn’t fast enough to suit me anymore because “I deserved better than this”.

Essentially, this most recent bout with discontent can be tracked to one particular disagreement that happened almost two years ago now:  For various reasons I wanted to leave our church and attend a different Charismatic, Christian church.  I didn’t have any particular church in mind, just any other church, preferably closer to home so our girls could get to know other Christian kids that hopefully lived in the neighborhood and could connect at both school and church.

Now my husband is of the stay-where-you’re-at-until-you’re-given-new-directions-by-God-Himself opinion, basically he believes that until God speaks to him in a loud, booming, audible voice “You will start attending church such-and-such  at the beginning of next month”  then we are to stay where we’re at.  My reason for leaving is logic-based, that if we are not continuing to grow as individuals and as a family then just maybe we’ve learned all that we can at this church for now and should go somewhere else where our learning can continue to move forward.

We went back and forth over this for months.  Why did I want to leave, why did he want to stay.  Finally he told me we would go and try other churches just to see what was out there.  He was serving as an usher and they asked for a month’s notice to replace him so he gave his months notice and on our last Sunday we sat in the sanctuary for a really long time after the service ended.  Almost everyone had gone home before he turned to me and said “I can’t do it, we’re not leaving”.  With that statement and decision he broke trust with me.  He had made me a promise that we would go look for other churches and then decided that this church has a higher priority in his life than I do so that promise to me wasn’t worth keeping… and it made me feel like I was insignificant to him and to our family.   When I look at it carefully I see that what’s really happened over the last two years is that I became angry with my husband and I have let that anger build to the point where I was one conversation away from kicking him out of the house about two months ago.  We did manage to reconcile that day and avoided a messy separation but my anger stayed in it’s crock pot, tucked into a quiet corner while it slowly heated up again and all I could see were his faults, magnified.

This is what I need to forgive him for, and I need to ask his forgiveness for my staying angry with him for all this time.h

Once again, Stephanie is right – I need to forgive him and stop judging him so harshly.  He is as God made him, warts and all, and he is trying the best he knows how to love me, warts and all.

The fact that I haven’t had mushy, ooey-gooey or passionate feelings for anyone or anything for a super-long time probably just means that my “feeler” is broke.  I think I buried it along with my heart in self-defense a long time ago and the fact that I’m “missing” having feelings is – hopefully – a positive sign of something deep inside starting to heal.

Oh – and Hiddinsight, I have been referred to a psychiatric counselor who does both counseling and medication management while keeping my primary doctor in the loop so hopefully that will be more helpful to me than my previous counselors have been.

I’m going to wrap it up for now, my pills have kicked in and it will probably be hilarious to read tomorrow what I wrote tonight but the pills don’t seem to change what I think, they just free me to write more than I usually would .

Have a fabulous 4th of July, I plan on spending as much of it as possible in bed getting lots of rest before I have to go back to work on Friday.

Again, comments are always welcome, I’m learning and growing and I’m sure I can’t be the only one out there going through this kind of stuff.

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.

Yesterday morning I sat up in bed as my husband was sitting across the room putting his shoes on.  He had been withdrawn and grumpy for the last few days so, in my never-ending quest to become bolder, I simply said the words:  “Are you upset with me?”  I’m so brave, I know…

He paused and then we had a conversation where he told me:
1.  His addiction wasn’t really an addiction, it was just his attempts at filling a “hole” in his life of something he was missing and he only accepted 50% responsibility for this “hole”, the rest was my fault.
2.  He didn’t think I was a Godly Wife because I didn’t “desire” him but he couldn’t prove it because he didn’t know any scriptures to back it up with.
3.  He couldn’t believe that there was never any “attraction” between us because why else would we have stayed married all these years (almost 19) if we weren’t attracted to each other?

I felt he was angry and speaking from his heart, finally saying how he really felt so I very calmly asked some questions to clarify his statement until I was satisfied I knew what he was saying.  Be proud of me, that took A LOT of effort, just sayin’.

I rode the bus to work and started writing him a letter which I finished on a break later in the day.  I wrote about how he had brought pornography into our marriage right from the start and after just a few years we were convicted that it was wrong so “we” stopped viewing pornographic materials.  (It always made me feel so yucky inside, it wasn’t very hard for me to stop.)  I felt like I was writing with “righteous anger” and the words just poured onto the page.  I refused to accept responsibility for any percentage of this “hole” in his life that was clearly there long before I ever met him and I informed him that yes, indeed, he had an addiction and needed to admit it and defeat it.  I concluded my handwritten, 9-page letter (on 6″ x 8″ paper) by saying there were plenty of $500/month apartments near where he worked and he should go get one and be gone from our house for a minimum of one year.

My anger has changed over the years, I used to withdraw and “turtle up” until it was safe to come out again.  In my quest to “find myself” I have become a warrior, hard as a diamond and cold as the Arctic.  Don’t mess with me, I will not be your doormat anymore.

So after work I go home and immediately have a phone situation to deal with.  Almost 2 hours later I have solved one of our two problems and am sitting in the easy chair, playing Farmville2 on my laptop while my husband is sitting on the couch next to me, watching a show and reading a book, acting like everything was fine and dandy.

I have not given him the letter, wanting to write it up neatly because it was a rough draft with things crossed out and what not.  I am trying to keep my face neutral to stern, hoping he will notice and ask me what’s wrong…

It finally becomes obvious that he is not operating under the belief that our morning talk had an impact on our relationship so I finally asked him if he had any other thoughts regarding our conversation that morning.

He put his book down, sighed and said that obviously I had some thoughts about our conversation so why don’t I share them?

We wound up having a good, open, honest talk.  Maintaining my austere aloofness I asked him, point-blank if he still thought I was an Ungodly Wife and if he still believed he didn’t have an addiction.

It immediately became clear that just as I shouldn’t have any serious talks at night after I’ve taken my sleeping pills, he shouldn’t have any serious talks first thing in the morning, despite his belief that he is a morning person…

I put my newly-found sunglasses of Love and Forgiveness on while he did most of the talking and realized four very important things:
1.  My husband has absolutely no self-esteem whatsoever.  The self-talk that goes on inside his head is so cruel and negative – he almost cried while talking about it and if I wasn’t in Xena Princess Warrior mode I would have cried too, it’s horrible to imagine anybody living with that.
2.  My husband has the emotional maturity of an 8-year-old.  Seriously.  Sticks and stones can break his bones but words and dark glances will kill him.
3.  My husband is not a good communicator.  He uses words that I associate with completely different things than he does.  For example when he said I wasn’t a Godly Wife because I didn’t “desire” him I immediately thought “sex”.  He meant something more along the lines of “respect” and wanting to spend time with him… and so on.  Most likely I’m so weary of having sex all the time that I’m on the defensive, hearing and seeing “suggestiveness” in everything he says and does.  But still, what he means is not what is usually communicated to me.
4.  My husband is probably depressed and should be on medication.  He actually said the first part – that he wonders if he’s depressed.  I said let’s go to the doctor and he immediately resisted, claiming it was embarrassing enough to be going to a counselor.  I have quite a bit of Prozac left over from when my doctor switched me to another medicine so I suggested he start taking that (yes, I know, all kinds of wrong and illegal) and if after a month he felt better, then he could go to the doctor and get his own prescription and if he didn’t feel better he could stop taking them.  He said he doesn’t want to be stuck taking pills for the rest of his life…. ugh!  (This one I will win, he just doesn’t know it yet.)

So, to sum it all up, for almost 20 we’ve pretty much had the exact same needs – to be appreciated and loved/respected for who we are – but we’ve been speaking totally different languages and had completely unreasonable, and entirely unspoken, expectations regarding the other.  That, right there, changes everything…  I decide to hold off on giving him the letter.

I grew up with no self-esteem.  I started to recognize that fact it in my 20’s and have been actively working on believing that I have value for the last 10 years.  I never imagined guys would have this problem too, and especially not my macho, controlling, selfish, easily angered husband.  I had actually thought he esteemed himself too highly for all these years, if you want my honest opinion.  But last night he was broken before me, poured wide open in emotional honesty for possibly the first time in his life.

This changes the way I will talk to him – I will use simpler communication not expect him to react like a mature adult.  I will give him more encouragement and praise and ask the girls to do the same.  I will (quietly) ask men at church to encourage him and build him up.  I will wait another year to see if he improves and re-evaluate life at that time.  If he is playing me, and I’m sure some of my friends will think he is, then a year is ample time to prove himself to me one way or another.

My eyes are wide open and my heart is still going to be guarded but last night, in just a few moments of listening and hearing what he was saying, everything changed.

I have been looking for something positive to write about for the last week because  I’m tired of moaning and groaning about my life when I know so many other people have far worse circumstances than I.  However, I’ve been completely exhausted and unable to do much more than go to work, come home and go to bed.  In spite of my exhaustion here are some of the silver linings I have found recently:

1.  People at work like me.  Granted, I bring a lot of candy to give away but I think that just catches their attention and helps them notice how quick I am to help them out with special requests, etc.  I smile and they smile back.  Some days it’s a lot more gratifying to be at work, than at home, let me tell you!
2.  Because the Mean Girl at work quit I got a seat by the window (a somewhat exclusive and prestigious position… no extra pay, unfortunately)
3.  Because the Mean Girl at work left a really Nice Girl is joining our team.  She’s a very happy person and I’m looking forward to the positive impact she should have on the atmosphere of our little group.
4.  My husband really is trying to be amazingly nice.  It frequently turns into him being nice to me to get nice things for himself but I’m choosing to give him grace and  continue chalking it up to his addiction – at least for a while longer – and see if that change comes to that are of his life as much as the rest of him has changed.
5.  Tomorrow (technically today) is Easter – I have baskets all ready for the girls and my husband and they’re just going to have to share with me.  I even have eggs to hide but we’ll see if I have the strength to do that or if I just  make the girls hide them for each other – that could be fun too!
6.  I work the morning shift this coming Monday and when I get home I should be able to just jump into bed – my bed is warm, soft and fluffy.  I LOVE, love, love having the bed all to myself for naps.
7.  My roses are beginning to bud and I need to trim them soon.  I adore sweet smelling roses that are bi-colored and can’t wait to add to my collection in front of the house this year.
8.  We went to my favorite restaurant for lunch today.  It was far, far out of the budget but I didn’t care.  I was fighting a panic attack, felt like I could die at any moment (no, I didn’t tell them that) and wanted my favorite food so the whole family went and we had all the meat we could eat of all different cuts, marinade’s and styles, rotisseried pineapple with a brown sugar glaze, a little bit of salad (why on earth did I pick the salad? I should have just stuck with the meats) and creme brulee(sp?).  It was fantastic and I could have died a happy woman the moment we walked (rolled) out of the front doors.   If I ever become a bad girl, go to prison and  get executed I know exactly what I want for my last meal.  In the meantime, however, I’ll remain a good girl and continue to eat there whenever possible.
9.  My husband was very concerned that I did not feel well today.  He kept asking if he could help and was there anything he could do, I think I scared him more than usual, either that or he’s paying more attention than usual to how I’m actually feeling.  It was very nice and helped me feel better, at least a little bit anyway.
10.  My husband is not (totally) the horrible guy you may think he is from all my previous posts.  He’s trying very hard to be a nice guy, a better guy and he is noticeably more supportive to me now than ever before in our marriage.  The Two Month period ends on Friday so we’ll just see what happens.  I have more hope now than I did when we started this adventure, ha, ha, on Feb 6th.  God knows if this will work out in the end or not and I’m learning to trust Him with everything, just like I did as a child.  At the moment, all I want to do is sleep forever…

Everybody’s life sucks at one point or another – what are the silver linings in your life?

This was the question of my small group leader yesterday morning.  Not specifically to me but to all of us – how do we pray?  Some ladies take Prayer Walks and talk to God while they’re walking.  Some ladies write their prayers down and call it Prayer Journaling.  Some ladies have lists of people they pray for and some ladies just talk to God all day long while they’re doing the dishes, folding the laundry and chasing their children all over the house.

Some ladies shared specific prayers like The Lord’s Prayer and The Tabernacle Prayer.  I know there’s also the Ripple Prayer, Arrow Prayers, Prayers you think, Praying the Word and several other prayer formats, most of them my church has taught from the pulpit or had classes on at one time or another and don’t get me wrong – sometimes good to have a format to follow just so you don’t sit there for three minutes thinking “Uh…I can’t think of anything to pray about so life must be OK and I’m done praying now”.

I didn’t actually share with the group yesterday about how I pray.  Throughout a normal week my prayers to God usually consist of conversations, me talking to Him about this or that, just whatever’s going on.  I know God already knows everything I tell Him but it helps me to speak out loud the things I generally bottle up inside.  But for the last six months or so  my basic prayer, the one I pray almost every day is “Save Me”.  I say it over and over again.  I think it over and over again.  “Save me, save me, save me…”.  When life just gets too overwhelming, too crazy and my brain looses it’s ability to think coherently all I can do to pray is say “Save me”.

And He does.

Not all at once, not like in fairy tales or movies where the hero comes swooping down and rescues the princess in one courageous battle and then they ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.

The saving comes slowly and softly so I have time to adjust to each little step of the change that is Being Saved.  My thoughts begin to change.  My heart begins to soften.  My soul starts to thaw.  The chains that bind me grow lighter and are closer to becoming breakable.  My goals and dreams, once nothing more than ashes and dust, show teeny, tiny signs of life returning to the pots I have kept them in at the back of the closet in the furthest recesses of my heart.  With a little water and a lot of faith they will grow into a beautiful plant and bloom once more.  It will just take time, lots of time.  And I guess that’s fair, it’s taken almost 40 years to get to this craziness I call “Normal Life” so why shouldn’t it take a few years to be saved from it?  To find a new “Normal”?

I’m still working on putting together a women’s retreat.  That’s a goal I think I can accomplish within this next year.  I’m also working on making prints of my paintings to sell them – I need to do some more research as far as cost to get started.  My art makes me happy when I look at it and other people say it makes them happy too so maybe there will be a market for it, who knows?  And I want to have my own band although finding the right people and equipment might take a few years to really get it off the ground.  But these are all things I want to do as a part of defining who I am separate from anybody else.  These are things that make me happy when I do them and so I will pursue them – and pray about them, asking for the favor of God and man to be successful in them.

Please support the people around you who are trying to accomplish their dreams – and say a prayer yourself.  Pray that they would receive what they need and that your needs will be met as well.  God hears you and He loves you, every little thing is gonna be all right.

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…

Rain falls softly in the Garden of Winter
It is ever raining here
Allowing the Stone Angels to weep always
This garden is a place of beauty and solitude
I come here to be alone

And I am, alone
Even when others come to the Garden of Winter
To find solitude
We are each alone here
Always

A place kept secret, always
Everyone needs a place to be alone
I find that place here
In the Garden of Winter
That secret place of solitude

When one needs solitude
One must have it, always
The Garden of Winter
Allows me to be alone
With my thoughts, here

And I can weep with the Stone Angels here
In quiet solitude
When I need to be alone
I cannot always
Go away to the Garden of Winter

So the Garden of Winter
Is here
Inside me always
A corner of solitude
A piece of my heart that will ever stand alone

The Whole “I Love You”… Thing

My teenagers are a sophomore and a junior and I’m noticing that everybody, I mean EVERYBODY in high school, including my two daughters, are saying “I Love You” to everybody else. Everybody else that is, except their sister and parents. What’s all that about, seriously?

Guys say it to girls seemingly regardless of whether or not they are The Girlfriend and I myself have witnessed several studly, 18 year olds shout out “I Love You Man!” to other teenaged guys. These same young men will pack at least one more body onto my sofa than it is designed for and all sit there, jammed in like sardines but grinning like the Cheshire cat and pretending to be just as cozy as can be, some with their arms around the other’s shoulders and sometimes there’ll be one or two guys sitting on another guy’s lap. I see strong indications that the Personal Bubble space has shrunk in this last generation and is all but ready to pop! And thankfully, the message seems to finally getting through that Real Men can hug and say “I Love You” without losing their Man Card, yay!

Today’s teenaged girls seem to be on the same page because they not only say “I Love You” to their girlfriends, they also write it, and sing it and my girls in particular like to shout “I Love You” from the open window of my car at anyone they see and might possibly know (and that’s only a slight exaggeration) as I’m driving them home from a school function. I’ve heard girls say “I Love You” to guys where there is no Girlfriend/Boyfriend relationship there. I hear my daughters say “I Love You” at the end of nearly every phone conversation and in-person goodbyes, IT’S EVERYWHERE! Either this generation is a bunch of first class saps or maybe they’re on to something…

To quote the Princess Bride: “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means…” We all know words change in meaning as cultures change, for example to be “gay” used to mean you were happy and now it has a homosexual connotation. So has “I Love You” changed in meaning as well? Or maybe I never learned the true meaning of love in the first place.

I grew up thinking there were two kinds of love – romantic love between a husband and a wife and family love between parents and children. Anything else seemed to be wrong. (Yes, the more I write about my childhood the more I realize it was pretty screwed up and heavily contributes to the mental mess I am today. Thanks Mom.) Needless to say my growing-up years saw very few hugs, kisses or touching of any kind that was not discipline and I’m struggling to remember my mother ever saying “I Love You”. Once I turned 17 my mother seemed to see that something was wrong with me and she started to say “I Love You” and tell me that I was pretty but by then I didn’t believe her.

To have feelings of “love” for my best friend in high school meant, to my mother, that I was on the verge of becoming a lesbian. I don’t think I ever told Mom that sometimes we would hold hands, hug each other or wrap our arms around each other’s waists just to be affectionate. As much as I craved the physical affection and desperately needed it – I felt evil for participating. My best friend from high school is still my best friend now and to this day I have a hard time saying “I Love You” to her in our phone conversations even though she’s always saying it to me. I am so grateful she’s hung in there despite over 20 years of my crazy weirdness in trying to figure myself out. I wasn’t very nice to her sometimes and she just stood back so I could work things out and when I finally looked up she was right there, waiting for me to be ready to be friends again. Girl, I know you’ll be reading this – I Love You!

I have one more best friend, unfortunately I moved 8 hours away from my high school best friend so while we have great phone conversations we don’t get to see her much. My “new” best friend is a gal I used to work with and we’ve been friends now for just over two years…wow it seems like longer than that though! She is only about a half an hour from me and we try to hang out as often as we can. I love her too.

I’m afraid I’ve become far more like my mother than I intended to. I don’t say “I Love You” to my children nearly as much as I should – although I saw it far more than it was said to me. I try to give hugs to them but it still seems so foreign to me, almost wrong, because that’s not how I grew up. All I can do at this point is pray that when they’re parents they do better with their kids than I did with them. I think that’s every parent’s prayer for their kids.

I used to say “I Love You” to my husband all the time, hoping desperately that he would say it back and believing that if I said it enough with my mouth that my heart would start to feel it. Neither happened. The people who say that love is a choice are correct. I have chosen to stay with my husband of almost 19 years because I made a commitment to him at our wedding ceremony and it’s the right thing to do. I choose to love him by staying in this marriage and by trying to make our house a home. I do not have feelings of love for him and as far as I can tell he feels something that he thinks is love for me but cannot properly express it. I’ve always been a good girl and tried to do the right thing and so I will stay with him.

As far as the whole high school fad of saying “I Love You” to anyone and everyone I’m thinking I approve. At least their hearts seem to have something in them and they are getting affection from their peers. May their lives be fuller than mine!