PTSD

What does PTSD feel like? What causes it?

I remember first finding out about my husband’s arrest, then slowly learning of the betrayals, addiction, and complete destruction of our family. I felt very much like Alice in Wonderland . I would dream and cry upon waking to find that my life was real and the dream was only wishful thinking. The PTSD came on as a result of the nature of the secret lies, the public arrest and media coverage, and the fact that I was married to someone for twenty-five years that suddenly became a stranger to me.

Suddenly my world no longer made sense.

I felt like everything was unreal.  The trauma was palpable and unnerving. I walked around in a daze for hours and days and then weeks and finally it felt like years. I had to numb my heart and mind or it would not recover. The very first full day after no sleep….I cried like there was no tomorrow. I couldn’t even breathe.

I completely lost my ability to think clearly for a while. I couldn’t do simple math, and my memory came at a very labored price. I forgot simple things like names, phone numbers, and history stories that I teach. I had to read each story five minutes before I would teach it for that first year. I had to make lists for myself in every area and carry them around so I wouldn’t forget to pay bills….cook dinner….do laundry….water the plants….get gas…..and breathe!

I was able to function…talk…dress…and even teach if I didn’t have to use my memory. But anything complex became a horrible struggle. I have NEVER felt so stupid in my life. Sometimes I would just cry at night….my heart broken over the fact that I had forgotten how to spell a simple word like awful…..or couldn’t remember the name of a colleague in the hallway that day.

I would also see things out of the corners of my eyes that were not really there. I would jump at the slightest sound. Trusting anyone felt like it took the strength of Hercules…..and just desiring to eat was a conscious choice I had to make. I was weepy,  and yet prone to days when I could muster no feelings at all.

I j umped at roaches and would see them crawling in my peripheral vision. My heart would tremble and my body would go into fight or flight at the slightest stress. The slightest trigger could make me cry for hours.  I remember someone sharing a song with me….and the lyrics made me cry for hours. I would watch a movie and have to cry…..see a commercial and totally be triggered by the women……..I remember going into Publix for the first time after I had learned everything….and being completely overwhelmed by the feeling that everyone knew….and some of the women might have met up with my husband. It was completely unnerving and disheartening. Feelings of intense hopelessness and worthlessness would flood over me seemingly out of nowhere. I was in very real danger of closing up my heart and never opening the door to my emotions ever again.

I remember my saving grace was teaching. I would walk into the classroom and could immediately feel almost normal. I could be the Leslie I used to be in front of the children. I could run my classroom and take field trips and forget that I was this broken woman in my other areas of life.

There are days now when I am able to be strong. I can believe that the world will be a good place and I have worth. But there are still times when the PTSD will return briefly. My heart will falter. Something will trigger an emotion or a memory, and I will feel so alone or so unable to move forward. My whole sense of time goes off kilter….five minutes can seem like five days. I lose the ability to think for awhile. I cannot plan. I cannot execute my plans. I simply have to hold on emotionally and try not to drop out the bottom of the black hole. This week it was returning to a pizza joint. I went there with my ex-husband….pizza night….anniversary dinners…take out. Sitting there in the restaurant, I could feel the wall…the numb….the dizzy feeling of all the emotions crowding around. I couldn’t be comfortable, and I just wanted to run out. It is crazy. I know when it is happening….and can look back and see what I should have done…..but in the moment….I am not able to deal with all those emotions. I will become numb.

Sometimes during this time, I will write. I often will try to do something that has beauty attached to it…..music, art, poetry, reading……a wonderful movie.

I try to pray or read scripture but often….I am immobilized and unable to do anything but feel like a scared rabbit in the grass being hunted by a giant war eagle.

Today it is not as bad as it has been in the past but it is there occasionally. I feel the tremble. I feel the fear. I feel the spinning that could go out of control.

Time seems to be lingering and hopeless. I cannot seem to trust that Good and Perfect gifts come from my Father. I cannot seem to believe fully that I am lovable and that someday I will feel loved again.

I am trying but my mind keeps getting stuck on what I do wrong in relationships. I have been up since three am and I need sleep. I have not been able to eat much and my heart is aching. I am longing again….longing for someone to hold my hand…..someone to see me…someone trustworthy to come into this mess and help walk me out. I am beating myself up….hearing the words that tell me I am not enough.

These and ten million more thoughts cross my mind and make it difficult to even breathe.

I have been in touch with a wonderful woman, Laurie Hall. She wrote a book called: An Affair of the Mind, which I read two years ago. She has walked this road and had some wisdom for me. She said:

Your fear of trusting anyone is very normal.  PTSD is also very normal when you’ve had this kind of trauma.  I lived with PTSD for over 20 years.  It was awful: self-condemning thoughts,
panic and anxiety, that would come out of nowhere and torture me.  I have finally found peace from that.  

Try this: when you go to bed each night, remind yourself that God is present with you and loving you and then repeat, “I let the love wash over me, I let, I let it be.”  Keep repeating this until you feel the love.

Then, repeat “I let the peace wash over me, I let, I let it be”.  Keep repeating until you feel the peace.
It was so good to just hear that all this is normal….that I am not just so broken in a way that cannot ever be fixed. It is so comforting to know that this is not something I am just making up in my head. I forget that broken places can take on normal ebbs and flows and others can help guide you through them. I am not broken because I did something wrong. I am not experiencing something strange…..I am experiencing something known and that gives me hope.
I can begin to use God’s word to fight this battle. I can begin to strengthen my mind and my spirit along with my heart. God does not fail us. When He says the truth shall set you free….He means it.
So I intend to work hard to gain freedom over this PTSD….these feelings of hopelessness…panic….anxiety….worthlessness….they will pass. I can identify them and feel them coming…..and I can fight them in the power of Christ’s love. I am so very grateful to Laurie Hall for speaking into this situation….and Barbara Steffens and Leslie Vernick for their powerful books as well….three women who are valiantly fighting for the hearts and minds of women (and men) who have been scarred by someone else’s sexual addiction.

God come for me in these moments. Help me to release control, breathe  your vision into my life, and walk forward making beauty out of these ashes. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder……PTSD…..

Come Lord Jesus…..create in me …..Patience, Trust,  and Self-Control …a reordering of my mind!  PTSC……a much more pleasant way to spend a morning! Take even my mind and make it yours today!

Plenty of Fish

I just spent some time looking through a website for dating….Plenty of Fish.  I heard about it while having coffee with someone. I am laughing and horrified and so aware that I am feeling like a high school girl all over again….you know….the one who walks down the hallway carrying her books….carrying her dreams in her head….carrying her hurts in her heart…..wanting someone to see her but terrified of rejection. THAT girl!

I cannot believe we have come to this. We put up some pictures of ourselves….some look professionally done and others look like the person doesn’t know how to take a good picture……We write what we consider to be a witty opening….”Will You Be My Valentine? Are you Looking for Me? A Cutie with a Booty” (that one made me laugh out loud!

Then we fill out all the statistics about ourselves….5’8″ tall….brown eyes….desire a woman between 34-47…..looking for someone honest, caring, compassionate, and sexy!

Wow! I am reading through these and the fear is sky high! I see men that look absolutely crazy….others who look great but sound absolutely crazy…..some that look lost….a divorced, shy man who has young kids and admits that they are just getting by and things are tough because of the divorce….another that says he has a brain injury and is so lonely…..another who looks so arrogant…..and another that has posted close ups of his biceps and every picture shows off his chiseled physique.

My mind is spinning….I cannot make myself sign up. Online seems like an irrational place….a place where people go to pretend they are real people…a place where we go to look through shop windows and try to find someone in two dimensions when real people exist in three. How on earth could I click on someone’s profile and invite them to a cup of coffee? I would not sleep every night before the coffee. I would have to have my friends do a complete background check…fingerprints would be great, and then I would need three references and would need to find someone that I know that actually knows this person and their story! I would have to find someone from my area, and I would have to actually find someone who knows them first and could introduce us in person……perhaps dating sites need to be like LinkedIn….where you can see how you are connected to people…..then you could date within a real life realm….if everyone in your Facebook or LinkedIn or Pinterest…or Google circles who was single would show up…and it would tell you who you know that knows this person….then a dinner could be arranged…..a background check could be done….their story could be shared and there wouldn’t  be flipping out ……worrying that this stranger was not really who they claim to be!

How on earth could I trust someone to tell me the truth about who they are?

And that is the reality….I think online dating just sets it right up there in front of my eyes….on the screen….I am seeing my ex! I see him in every profile….

I remember sitting at lunch with someone who was telling me their story. She was telling me some very tough things about her ex-husband and she stopped a minute and looked at me….”But if you met him….you would think he was wonderful! You would think he was one of the nicest guys you had ever met!”

That stopped me in my tracks.

It made me think about people and their stories. How will I move into a place of trust? God this is scary! I know that for me…online dating can probably never happen….my story is of such a horrible online betrayal……I know for others online dating has led to wonderful marriages….my own dad found his wife online, and they are very happy. I have heard stories of lots of women who find  online dates and have met wonderful people.

I am the one broken…..and I can see that now. I just need to quit beating myself up over it and realize that for me….God will provide a different way because He knows my heart. He knows what I need.  I need to continue to live into “Try less and trust more!” So online dating is really no different in the end. Someone can deceive you in person as well as online. I am well aware of that!

There are plenty of fish in the sea….I am still trying to figure out how to trust just one of them someday.

Hard Things

I have been thinking a lot lately about why dating feels so uncomfortable…..

It isn’t that I don’t enjoy the attention…….It isn’t that I don’t enjoy meeting people. It is not that I cannot talk about my story or cannot hear theirs. It is not that I cannot handle imperfection, or that I am looking for someone without any flaws. It is not that I am super picky, or that I won’t allow anyone into my heart or my life. It is not that I am too broken, or that I am not pretty enough, or that I am not passionate enough.

I seem to be really….really struggling  with what to do with all those memories….the moments….the time and everything else that was wrapped up in knowing someone since I was 15 .

It is the fact that starting over from the ground up feels so impossible some days.

It feels like it cannot happen.

I simply  feel that I cannot build those kinds of memories and that level of trust ever again. I don’t know why that feels so difficult but it does.

No one else…… in my mind anyway ……..can ever appreciate some of the things my high school friends and I know. Someone else cannot have the memories from these girls growing up. No one will ever be the guy who has a bead on what my family was like when I was in high school and no one will ever….ever know me as that young girl again….the young mother…..the woman growing and learning in that family.

I am forever forced to be two people moving forward…..the one that had that life……and the one that has this life.

I will be forever labeled a divorced woman…..a betrayed woman…..a woman who could not make it work. I am forever a woman who has seen sexual addiction up close and personal. I simply cannot find a space in my head that will allow me to feel comfortable sitting next to someone on my couch and thinking that all these other memories…..all that lifetime I lived up until now….will ever make sense or even mean anything to that person.

I cannot find a place inside that trusts that God can build a bridge from this life to a new one.

I also cannot find a way to get past some of the pronouncements……and some of the fears. How do you begin to think it will ever be comfortable to be physically close to someone at that level again….without ripping my heart out of my body and numbing my mind so it never has to doubt again?  How can you un-hear the words from a man who held your heart? Will I ever believe another man if he tells me I am beautiful or if he tells me I am perfect and that he loves my body?

Could I ever believe that in that space……I am enough? That wound is larger than the Grand Canyon. How  can I ever hope to believe someone else? How am I ever to trust that his words and his action line up and that this time they are for real……truthful….meant at the depth of his core.

I truly believed that other man…….

And it hurts to even remember that I believed him.

It hurts to even go back to that place and remember that he spent twenty-five years  pretending to be a man in love with me…….and I believed him.

How can I ever hope to believe again, or to open myself to the possibility of finding out again what a man REALLY thinks of me after twenty-five years of believing….to find out in the space of a day….a month……a few years……that all those sweet words were not the truth; to find out again…..that he really considers you less than…..

I know it is small and inconsiderate of me to just flat-out tell God it cannot happen and I cannot see a way.

I know that I am supposed to trust more and try less…….

But when you are fighting with a girl and worrying over another and shopping with a third and experiencing heartbreak with another…..when your day just seemed to have too much and not enough all at the same time and you are worrying about how their hearts are ever going to get to a place of healing…….

When your day is filled with having to be strong and having to be weak…….having too much time and never enough…….

When the mere thought of  allowing yourself to be seen is too much for your heart…….

How ……HOW do you make space for EVER trusting that someone could enter this and understand and walk alongside and truly find you to be enough…….?

How do you get to the place where you stop needing to have your life in order…..have it make sense…..have all those ducks in a row and functioning with whole and healed hearts before you feel like it is safe to invite someone else into this mess?

How do you get to the place of accepting that your body is this….nothing more….but it will suffice?

How do you ever just accept that God can make a way, and God can give you what you need….with or without someone to share it with?

God….this is just hard!

Parenting is hard…..being a woman is hard……being a grown up is hard……being divorced is hard and I know….being married is hard.

I am ready for some place soft to land.

All this hard is making my heart hurt tonight.

Dancing and Singing

So I woke up today and saw this on Facebook. I love it! I love it because I don’t have any great and noble thing to give or arrive at other than a playfulness in life. I love being playful and fun and really….squirrel like. I love seeing new place and old buildings. I love exploring and meeting new people. I find God’s world so fascinating and beautiful even through the broken and darkness.

So perhaps….just perhaps the key for me will be to learn to dance this dirge…..and sing this lament. I need to embrace this time in my life and find the beauty here.

I certainly have found more depth to my soul here. I am a different person.

I have a God that walks with me…..He loves me and has shown me such tenderness and care…..from a car to dinner…..from intimate answers to prayer to checks that come just the same day you pray about the need. He has been here when I cry and when I laugh. He has spoken to me so lovingly and often that I simply cannot….CANNOT…..escape His presence.

I am happy most days. Yup….you wouldn’t know it from reading a blog……because blogs are snapshots….moments when emotions are rolling and storming and flowing like a mighty river. But…..most days I am simple and walking a steady, calm enjoyable road filled with teaching and living and parenting and cooking and laundry and sunshine and good food and good people. My life is wonderful even here in the midst of healing from a very large wound.

I find great joy in God’s world. I love theater and music and stars and puppies. I find smiling to be natural and seeing the good in things is easy for me. I am a basically positive person who loves to see things as half full and mostly good. I can see that anything can have a positive spin if you look at it from the right angle. For me….learning this dance has meant learning to honor that sometime…..sometimes it is OK to see the bad and the dark and the broken and the horrific….and just sit there allowing it to wash over you; grieving because this is NOT how God intended our world to be. I don’t have to strive to see everything as good and positive…..I can let the hurt run through my veins and wash out my eyes. I can feel with others the great brokenness, and it will not crush me. I can sing the sad song and my soul can feel the agony……and yet I know that someone else has borne the weight of it. My Savior took it all and still has the strength to carry this little heart.

So…..perhaps I can rest a little more in this thought today. I can dance and sing…..I can make it my goal to enjoy the walk here in the dark woods…….there are plenty of interesting things happening even here.

Trying to daily focus one’s mind on the dance and the song instead of the destination is a difficult thing……not impossible with the help of friends and community…….but difficult.

Thank you God for difficult things. Easy songs and easy dances would not be nearly as enjoyable. I love complex things…..and You know my heart. Thank you for bringing me closer even in ways that feel like medicine….like my death…..like the ending of all that is beautiful and then….opening up new paths and new possibilities from all the brokenness.

New Year……New Dreams!

Could I really come to believe that an honorable man would come for my heart….someone like those other men I have been shown……….

………….might I dare to dream that there is a man like that out there for me?

You know….the ones that even after 25 years still awaken and place the covers tenderly over their wife because she kicks them off….

 the ones who bake a cake and celebrate her birthday every year…..and take pictures….

the ones who sweetly work overtime to earn money for a cruise because the daughter has cancer and needs to think about something other than the chemo he has been taking her to receive….

the ones who plan surprise parties and buy her special jewelry and take her to hear her favorite performer…over and over…..

Could I begin to dream of a man who would stay and make me tell him my feelings and my heart and my mind….even when it hurts…..and who doesn’t give up and who isn’t afraid?

Could there be someone who would tenderly love the grandchildren and be an example of a strong and tender man for them?

Is there a man who would stand in and protect these daughters even though they are not his by birth?

Is there another like those men I have seen who speak tenderly to their wives via Skype calls in airports and who take jobs in foreign countries to protect their daughters from harm;…….

God….do you mean to tell me that there might be a man like that for me?

How could I hope to deserve that much?

I feel so small and unworthy. I have come to believe I am not worth the sacrifice and the time needed to learn how my heart works….what my heart yearns for. I have come to believe that I am not worth the money and effort and patience and honor.

When and how I got here has been my constant endeavor in learning these past five years. Sometimes it has been a long and arduous road that meandered often and had just enough good on it to distract me. But it  has brought me this far.

 I sit here today hopeful…..

Of course there is hope!

My Father always gives me hope….

I hoped for children….and now look at me! I am the mother of four gorgeous beauties with hearts as large as their bodies  are beautiful!

I hoped for a long marriage…..I was faithful for 25 years….and would have continued forever…..till death do us part….

I hoped for an open and welcoming heart….it cost a pretty penny….but it is worth it! God does not waste our pain….it is spun into the most beautiful of garments!

I hoped for a profession I enjoyed that would challenge my intellect and keep me pressing forward to more and better and higher…..I could not have asked for a better school or curriculum or parents or students with which to pursue that goal.

I hoped for friends…..and WOW! I have some of the most beautiful friends on the planet! My heart overflows with the friendships now….it brings me to tears…..they have comforted and taught and held me up and been honest with me always. They are willing to see my faults and be plain with me….but at the same time….they are willing to see my glory and not excuse my hiding of it. They allow me into their hearts and I get the privilege of seeing the real them….complete with faults and glory…….and I am overcome with how sweet really seeing can be! My heart cries out….deeper….deep unto deep…more….higher….purer….let them see more and more clearly ….open the floodgates of your soul and heart and mind….Open it all and don’t hold back!

I hoped for financial stability….and God came and showed me a path so strewn with tender care and mercy that I could only ever praise Him as a husband that truly desires the best for me!

I hoped for family….and I now have a father and brothers and sisters restored from a breach of long ago! I now have a tender sister and mother from another family….who have my heart whenever they desire. I have sisters in Christ who share my burdens and trust me to walk with them on their journeys as well. I have men and women in my community who pray with and for me. I have people to whom I can turn to face whatever comes.

I am one VERY loved girl!

My New Year will be full of New Dreams……and I will dream a mighty big dream!

Sick of This

I have been really sick this year. I don’t know when it started to really dawn on me…..perhaps it was last week when reflecting that early in this school year, I have already had to take seven days off just to get better. Perhaps it was weeks ago as I stood there in the doctor’s office getting a chest x-ray…..or the  CT scan….or the pulmonologist visit.  I stood there with all the possibilities swirling in my head……weighing down my chest…..and flying through my brain…… and it dawned on me….after my friend pointed it out mind you…..that I have been fighting this since late January….whatever THIS is.

I have talked with a few women who have gone through a similar trauma. Sex addiction and the discovery and subsequent trauma are very difficult on your body. It is very difficult on your mind. It is very trying in your very soul. At first…..I walked forward on adrenaline alone. I made it through the first two years on fight or flight chemicals coursing through my body. I could handle anything. I could probably have lifted a truck off of the ground if the need had arisen.

 I just couldn’t feel anything.

 My body shut down feelings in order to protect itself from all the pain that was happening on a daily basis. I couldn’t feel joy or pain. I couldn’t remember things, and I couldn’t think past the present….even memories took a back seat. All I could do was function on a daily basis in order to handle the many changes and continued disclosures…..the trial and the facing of reality. I had to  teach and eat and sleep and clean and pay bills and ….basically….I functioned but didn’t live.

After that…..my body slowly turned back on my heart.

And WOW! That was painful.

To process trauma…..to walk through the ugly sinful mess without the numb and without the fight or flight chemicals was painful.

I remember the tears that would come some nights. I remember the pain in my chest…..the feeling that crying hurt but not enough. It felt like nothing could ever hurt me enough to make the pain go away…..to release it from my body. I would cry so hard that I couldn’t catch my breath yet I couldn’t stop.

 I remember and it makes me cry even now.

Then came a period of calm strength. I remember having my first day where I felt a little normal again. It scared the living daylights out of me. I almost clung to the pain…..the sorrow…those felt so normal now. I recall having a weekend that was full of ordinary happiness again. Then I experienced a full week of pleasure and simple happiness at work and home…..these were in contrast to the long weeks of crying and grieving that was also taking place. This yo-yo of emotions was difficult….but I was physically still pretty strong. Only grief could make me weak. I would teach and mother and clean and cook and then….in silence whenever I was alone….I would collapse and cry and fall apart…..sometimes for the space of the ten minute ride alone in the car to pick someone up……sometimes for the space of a weekend as I was alone and the girls were at friends’ houses.

Now….this past year….I have seen more days where I don’t have to grieve at that intense pace. I am more steady and more balanced. The hard work in counseling and my beautiful friends have brought me forward to a greater place of emotional freedom…..but my body is exhausted. My mind is exhausted. My soul is exhausted.

The women I have talked to have all gone through a similar time. Their bodies began having allergies or sinus trouble or heart trouble or some strange trouble. It was difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat. It took months of healing and walking forward before they began to resolve the issue.

Ugh! I am there.

I am so tired at night that I often go to bed right after dinner and occasionally….before dinner.

I spoke with a friend tonight, and she reminded me that we are integrated beings….spiritually and emotionally and physically. I am finding a voice and grieving and working through this trauma…..I have to be mindful that the enemy doesn’t want me to have a voice…..nor healing. I have to seek physical remedies and spiritual remedies. I need prayer and medicine……exercise and meditation……supplements and support in community.

Trauma and discovery and trials and grief and family struggles have all taken a toll here in this life…….

I need to concentrate more and more on staying grounded in God’s word…..staying grounded in His good earth and in relationships that feed my soul. My first response to all of the sickness is that I am too much. I should just handle this alone and pretend to everyone around me that I am finally well….it has been over four years! Surely I should be finished. But in truth…..I feel like I am just getting started with healing some days. I feel as if I may never know what a healthy, loving relationship is like, and I may never feel truly “good” again.

God come and give me your view….take mine and take it far from me. I desire to see through your eyes and not mine. I desire to follow your ways and not my own. I know I screw up regularly…..I know I am a mess and completely botch just about everything you give me…..but still…I am coming to you again to seek forgiveness and healing….because I cannot do anything without Your Holy Spirit to guide me and Your love to reach me here in this darkness.

New Frames and Boxes

If this is a journey to health and healing….where is the healing and where is the health?

I have to ask myself that question just about every day so that I keep reminding myself to look for it and remember that I am not stuck in the past…..telling the story doesn’t mean I am stuck there. Releasing the story slowly and looking at it from different angles doesn’t mean I am stuck……it means I am gaining health. I no longer get swept away by my story. I no longer lose heart and feel as if this story is bigger than what can be handled by one girl alone. I now look at it as the thinker….the feeler….the intuiter….and the senser….as all those parts of me roll this story around in my brain, packing it away into boxes, filing it in appropriate places and alongside appropriate memories that now have a more complete picture………I can begin to leave the story in those frames…..in those rooms…..in those places……as I begin to build new memories.

So as I look back now over the five years after and the twenty-seven years before……..I can piece together a woman who is changing and growing and becoming……..

One way that I see a lot of growth coming is through relationships with people I have let get close to my heart. Some women in particular stand out……..I have shared very deeply with them and they have allowed me to see into them…..this has been life changing. I can’t exactly put into words why…..but there is a freedom in letting another person really know who you are inside……the weaknesses as well as the strengths. It has been through this sharing….which at first….I won’t lie…..felt VERY painful and scary and half-hearted……..that I have developed a sense of my boundaries. Job one was discovering they had to exist. Job two was figuring out that I just didn’t have many. Job three has been exploring what is and isn’t OK in my world and now…..here in the middle of job four…..I am practicing them…..and that is scary and painful and difficult.

I have to practice using them with my mother. I have to practice using them with my father. I have to practice using them with friends and family and people I have coffee with…..and I have to practice them when a man takes me on a date.

Boundaries seem to come up a lot…..who knew.

And…..I have to sort through the times when I didn’t use them in my marriage and figure out how I sinned and how I messed up and what I would do differently if I ever allow myself to trust someone with that much of me ever again.

So I was sitting yesterday at my computer. I was also staring at my phone as I was trying to write some lesson plans…..and it hit me as I reread a text I had written to someone whose reply to me was just brutal. I read my response and was delighted to see that it had pretty strong boundaries…..and yet….it was not angry nor was it mean-spirited .

I was doing it.

I felt like a kid learning to ride a bike for the first time…..of course….the next step will most likely be me falling off the bike and scraping up  my knee….but that is OK. At least I am continuing to try and continuing to build what feels right in my world and what doesn’t.

I have had moments of panic as I write an email and it leaves the inbox to go out into the wide world…..panic that what I have said is harsh or judgmental. I have had moments of panic wondering…..worrying over why someone has not answered a text……why they might be angry with me for messing up…….why I am so not worth engaging with or giving a generous assumption to in a world where words can totally destroy us.

And then it hit me……words cannot totally destroy us unless we give up and don’t keep talking. I currently don’t have a relationship with one side of my family…..some words were spoken, and I was told to never speak again…..and when I do speak, I get a blank wall and get told through a third-party that my words are judgmental and false and mean and crazy and that  I need to apologize or never speak again

I realized as I sat there that I was able to give them a generous assumption….. I do not hate them ……but they cannot be in a relationship with me right now…..and that is OK. It is OK to not have a relationship when both sides cannot see …..it is OK to step back and say….I cannot walk further with you because your choice to disregard my pain makes it impossible to allow you to have influence in my life right now.  It is OK to say that you cannot have a relationship unless someone comes to help…mediate….guide the relationship until it reaches health again.

I also saw that I could give the generous assumption to friends who hadn’t answered texts and emails after I had clearly been the one in the wrong…..I could think they had a busy day and were engaged in other realms…..I could tell myself the story about how more important things were occupying their day….and I was right. When the answer did come…..my wrong was not something that sent them into a story of hating me and rejecting me and throwing me out of their life…….

I have been able to see that I am not perfect nor do I have to be.

 Sometimes….the hurts in my childhood set me up for a lot of pain….not because others continually hurt me….but because the story in my head is that they hurt me on purpose and that anytime I do something wrong…..they will stop loving me.

That is the central message I received or dreamed up or formed or put together in the great puzzle of my childhood. Every time anyone messed up…..all hell would break loose verbally, and they would be ostracized. The mess up was one of three things usually…..telling the one in charge that she was wrong…….. that perhaps there was another story……….. or that you might just desire to see and know and love your dad. Those were the big three……and because I was the youngest of the four…..I saw all the fallout from the older siblings choices….

The blackness went on day in and day out…..it was mind numbing…

But I look back and see….it is not a mystery to me why my message….the one deep in my soul………. is:

“Do NOT mess up or you will feel pain”.

Unfortunately, I cannot help messing up.

I am not a perfectionist in any realm of my life. I like to do things well….but I like to do them well from an intuitive and feeling place…..not an all my ducks in a row way. I like to “KNOW’ my curriculum….in a way that allows me the freedom to use it like play dough. I know languages……I know math concepts….. and stories of history……. and Latin and Bible…..I know them and am comfortable with them like old friends. I could never be someone who perfectly sees every detail or can hold every detail in my head….I simply know in my spirit and use what I know to teach. It is difficult to explain….but I always appreciate the people who know in a different way. They know because they see it all and process it all and have the ability to focus on the details all the time in every way. I am in awe of them…..yet I can never be them

Coming to grips with my weaknesses and my flaws has been a journey. Coming to a place of accepting my body, my mind and how it works, as well as my place in the universe is an ongoing battle these days.

God give me strength to continue to journey. Help me in this new year to keep my mind solidly focused on Your heart’s desire for me. Help my new year’s resolution to be more thankful and more praising …….to do more breaking and giving away…..and to have more frames and boxes and rooms that are processed and cleared away to make room for the new memories that I feel I am on the very brink of discovering and enjoying forever!

Some of the Time

I was reading some of my words….hearing some that I have spoken….

.even if I am single forever…..

I feel it today.

I have to admit there are many, many days when I feel like….no….. I fear….that I will be alone forever. I feel in my heart that no one will ever have the desire or courage to come into this messy heart….this messy story….this place where I feel like I am wandering through…..and walk with me. I feel as if no one….upon a closer inspection….would ever want to continue in relationship with me.

I see who I am….I see my lack…..my head tells me that every man  desires  women in pictures and movies……those imaginary perfect beings that need nothing and give everything.

I see where my personality is not always alluring or captivating or exciting or….whatever.

I see it all and it still hurts.

I feel the rejection so acutely some days. Whenever I even contemplate getting close to someone…..it is like a shadow begins lurking in my mind. I wonder if it is like this for every man or woman  trying to get over a betrayal….

I wonder if everyone has moments when even the slightest information or smallest insight into someone else will trigger all these feelings.

I just saw his wedding picture. It is not a big deal right?

But it has the power to undo me for a few days.

I begin to build a story….one where he loves her and always will. I build a story where he will never love me and could not ever love me because I am not like her. I build a story in which he is searching for her replacement or searching for a way to fix his past.

I just hear a conversation….it is about a difficult thing and suddenly….I am sure this person is not who they say or seem to be on the outside. Of course they have used porn and now could never be satisfied with someone as simple and plain as me. I could never hope to be all that someone could desire. I am sure that no man could ever fight with me, fight for me, or ever, ever see me….the real messy me….and stay.

I only texted….I only visited…I only…..

Thank goodness I only feel this way some of the time. Other times, I feel whole and confident and sure of myself. I wonder if all women go through these scary moments?

Are we all crying at odd moments while feeling like the world is ending?

Are we all comparing our bodies with fake women and real women and other women and imaginary women and our fears?

Are we all alone….on the inside…..wishing that we were not alone and could share our real thoughts and feelings with someone and still be loved?

My heart is alone tonight, and it desires intimacy.

I don’t know how to fix this, and I don’t have the way forward today.

I will just sit here….in my car….and cry. I can sit in here and cry. The tears can come out and heart-break can find a voice.

I know another day will come and then these feelings will pass. I know it is not always real or even longlasting….but I will just sit here today and let this feeling wash over me because I can.

Then……I can go upstairs into my condo…..pet the tiny baby quail….pet the visiting bunny….do the dishes…say goodnight to my lovelies…..take a bath….climb into bed….and by tomorrow, my heart will right itself.

God….thank you for new beginnings……for new dawns. Thank you that I can release all this and then walk forward knowing that I don’t see clearly and I never have to feel like you love me. You love me despite my feelings, and You hold me in your eyes gracefully constantly whispering to me in each moment that I am BELOVED!

Artichoke Dip and Quail Eggs

I had a wonderful day. I spent it with my youngest….we found affordable ways to spoil ourselves today.

One was a massage…….

I have only ever had one other in my life. If you have never had one….it is an eye-opening experience. ….at least for me it was. I hadn’t realized just how much my body was craving touch until I got a massage.

One thing about being married and then suddenly not being close to someone in the space of a day was that my body sort of…..I don’t know how to put it….my body just got really thirsty for touch. It was  a longing for holding someone’s hand…..having someone touch my back, for someone to place an arm around my waist, or hug me…..someone to sit close to or lie next to…..they were all ripped away.

I hadn’t realized how much a marriage is wrapped up in the simple touches.

I do remember also being thirsty the last few years of my marriage.

But in the midst of that drought….there was still a closeness that was at least greater than nothing. There was still a sense of someone close…..a hand to hold….someone to talk with.

But tonight…..after a massage, my body is again grieving. The last massage did the same thing. My body simply remembers, and I cannot make it stop. I sat in the tub to sob. I washed the dishes and the crying just came….without warning and without a way to stop it. I am not crying for someone. I am not crying because I regret my decision or wish I was married to him again.

My body is simply grieving the destruction and loss of something precious. To me….my marriage was precious and something sacred. I loved being a wife, and I loved being close and having someone to love.

 I was unaware of his ongoing destruction…….and that made me uncomfortable….and his pushing and deciding that I wasn’t worth caring for tenderly…..I hated that. I hated feeling like I was uncared for. I hated feeling unprotected. ….I desired that he see me and care for my heart.

So when a massage is more tender and more caring than in your marriage…..something is wrong. If a man who doesn’t even know you can caress your back with more tenderness than a man who knew you for twenty-five years……something is wrong. If a man who pledged to love you and care for and cherish you always makes you feel unsafe and as if you are not enough….there is something wrong.

I cannot get it through my head enough…..I was not the problem. I am more than capable of loving. I am more than willing to honor and trust and respect. I simply could not do so when the other person in the relationship was hiding and masquerading and cruelly using and objectifying me for selfish reasons. I was always intuiting the reality that was there behind the mask and intuition told me that I was not safe, cared for, or protected.

Tonight….the grieving  is so palpable. I see on Facebook….. some high school friends have found love……many….many happy couples are posting their lovely vacations……so many of my friends have  joyous  happy marriages…….

I feel so betrayed by him some nights.

Tonight I sat there on the couch watching a movie with my youngest……we had a great day…..we ate chocolate strawberries and artichoke dip….but even there….having to answer the question about where I learned to make artichoke dip……. the memory of Alison and Greg and being at seminary and spending time growing in that place in life is filled with past memories. Even there….a simmering gnawing ache waits as I try to explain to the girl where this recipe came from without bringing up her wounds and her places of hurt. To explain it to her without triggering all my pain……..

It all gets so complicated….this meandering through a minefield of grief.

I often think God should have brought this to light much sooner…when my girls were little…so I could make memories with someone new. If they were little then I could have started a new family with someone and then we could have bonded over children growing up.

I have no such thing….instead my girls are grown. I am old. My body grieves, and I am lonely and seem unable to meet men who would desire to step into this story.

At odd moments I am  afraid of the future. I am afraid of spending a lifetime alone. At other moments I welcome the alone. It feels so much safer than trying to trust someone else ever again. I welcome God using my singleness to take me places I couldn’t go as a married woman.

I wonder if God could take me half way around the world and give me adventures I could never even dream of?  I know in heaven I won’t even need this desire any more. No one is married in heaven so why should I feel the need or desire here? Is it not better to remain alone…single….unattached…able to give all of me to my girls and my teaching? Is it not better to rely only on Him for my needs and only have to trust myself?

So why does that make me sad?

I question my own faith at moments like these. Am I just weak and really only believe up to the point at which my needs are met….as soon as God does something I don’t agree with or don’t understand…..I fall apart or fall into doubting or questioning or crying out that this isn’t fair?

How can I be so fickle and faithless and not trust Him in the big places as well as the small? How can I hurt so deeply still five years out?

I thought the first two years were tough.

I remember thinking that I would surely be someone safe and calm and filled with a new life at four or five years out…..just like my friends. I definitely didn’t think it would hurt worse. I didn’t think I would feel like if I spent one more day grieving I would go mad and get stuck…… and then feel stuck…… and then berate myself for being stuck……….. and then realize that I cannot stop grieving because I have to get it all out or I WILL get stuck yet still worry that other people will think I am just a negative person for being stuck in this and unable to move quickly past it.

Ugh!

Grieving is hard work, and I am exhausted and I sometimes think I will die of a broken heart. I feel as if I will never be open to someone, and yet I desire it so greatly.

Why can one massage make me grieve so much? Why can one little massage make my heart-break and overflow and cry out so much?

Then I found the ornament….I had forgotten it after taking it out of the Christmas box and placing it aside instead of putting it on the tree this year. There it sat on my dresser.

Picking it up makes me realize that I hate him tonight.

I do.

I want to smash this ornament and smash that fake, conniving, horrible man.

I want him to hurt like this….I want him to feel as if he will never trust someone and will never heal. I want him to listen to girls’ hearts break and have to stare at their pain and  relive his own childhood fears through the pain in front of him…..remembering  all the longing for a daddy and seeing it forming in his own children. I want him to have to process every single memory from a twenty-five year marriage through a new lens of betrayal…..wondering if there was any genuine love…any genuine touches that weren’t filled with desires for others and more and ugly and horrific and dark.

I want to forget that I ever loved him and forget that my heart actually sang….after the affair I remember folding laundry and counting my blessings that I had a wonderful husband, and we had made it through a major trial. I was humming there in the laundry room…so thankful for his reassuring text and for the simple pleasure of folding his clothes and my girls’ clothes and so content to have a love and a life and even mundane things like laundry.

I know I am supposed to forgive him…..and leave bitterness behind. I have seen a life so filled with bitterness and hate over a past wrong….I do NOT want that for myself or my girls. I don’t even want that for him.

But….I also need to process this grief and get to a place of ending and finality.

I need to be able to recall the good that I thought was there….and take it as the good that God was giving even  in the midst the evil that this man was daily deliberately choosing and trying to hide.

I need to be able to freely walk forward…..I no longer feel a guilt about dating. I was faithful….a faithful wife….and that made dating feel very….wrong and difficult. I no longer feel that way. I can freely walk forward and love someone should an opportunity arise.

But I also see very clearly the obstacles….I teach fifth grade…….I don’t have a lot of contact with single men. I don’t have time for the Republican Club or Salsa dance lessons……painting classes or even Book clubs or other such groups where I am supposed to meet these single men. And I have four daughters…..all of whom I desire to support and nurture and finish parenting…..none of whom are going to easily and readily open their hearts to someone they do not trust.

So God…here in this new  year….2017….I am laying this at your feet. Tell me where to go and how to walk because I do not see a way forward. I long to feel comfortable….to trust someone…to feel they know me and see me and that we can talk about anything and everything….but in my mind….I do not see how that can happen. You will need to surprise me…….I look forward to the adventure and trust that you will either take away this desire and replace it with a new one….or You will find a creative way to surprise me with a man who can hold my heart dear to him and who will be able to walk in the dark woods for a bit to lead me out.

Happy New Year……

I am looking forward to waking up and starting a new life that honors all that I am and have walked through thus far.

Survival Skills

Have you ever made bread and then sat looking at it only to decide that you simply couldn’t give it away…..because it is a failure and not good enough to be given away?

Therein lies the struggle in my heart today.

My gift is simply not enough.

I have failed at a few things this week, and I have struggled with feeling like everything is suddenly not enough.

What is this weight of comparison that I carry? Where does it come from? Why do I judge my life in light of others or in light of a perfection that I cannot ever attain?

I was defeated before I even stepped into the world or put my feet on the floor this morning.

I am not enough.

I know it from somewhere deep inside. I was not enough to love. I was not enough to make my parents love one another. I was not enough to make a mother love me or a father fight for me.

I was not enough to keep a man faithful.

I was not enough to interest someone I found interesting.

I am not the right weight or height or shape or someone with the right confidence level….ethnic background….hair color….or even the right eye color.

I don’t have the right genes, the right laugh, the right flair and finesse.

I am in no way special or fascinating or beautiful.

What is this blasted comparison that drags at my heart?

I cannot quite put my finger on it.

Does it come from the early childhood lack of a father….the lack of a foundational self from a man who loved me unconditionally?

Does it come from the lack of a compassionate mother…a woman who could see me and speak into my life with unconditional love?

Does it come from reality….I simply am not enough and have not been able to face that properly… I don’t see my right station in life…scullery maid wishes to be princess?

Does it come from reading all those comparisons and feeling the intuitive comparisons that I knew were happening for so many years?

God….You have to make this right! I don’t get a do over! I am not able to fix this on my own. I need You to come and make this OK….to fix my heart…..it hurts!

This place….this comparison place hurts so acutely. I feel as if I will die of comparison on some days. I understand the recluse….I understand the outcast…..I understand my feelings. I just don’t know exactly where inside me they are coming from in order to process them and get them out.

I cry whenever I see a strong father/daughter…..mother/daughter……strong, confident woman. I cringe when I find some spot of confidence in me….drawing back for fear of pride. I look again and am convinced there is no goodness or beauty, and that I was completely prideful and misinformed.

Ugh!

Some days it is difficult to be human.

Walk with Him…..wrestle with Him….cry out to Him. I am charged by my counselor to walk on a beach with Jesus and cry out to Him. I am supposed to wrestle and then listen…..bring these questions to Him and then listen for His response……but I am alone on that beach lately….alone and lonely and confused and afraid and hurting and just plain angry because I am alone!

When will I be able to face me…all of me……. truthfully and without fear and comparison?

When will I feel like me….totally me……. without worrying about comparing me to someone more worthy?

This system sucks! This walk sucks today! This life sucks right now. When will it ever get better?

Grieving seems like it is endless, and I move from a good day to a day filled with misery…..I move from confident days to days filled with pain and misery.

When will my life even out into sunshine with occasional cloudy, rainy  weather?

I am a fifth grade teacher. I teach fifth graders all day and spend the rest of the time parenting four gorgeous, growing girls who are quickly entering new phases of their lives.

When will I be content to simply be….to simply be me without anyone else?

Why do I feel the panic of a woman trying to figure out if she will be alone forever and what that looks like in this world because men only prefer younger women…..only prefer voluptuous women…only prefer beautifully healed…..only desire strong confident needless or is it needy women?

 I do not even know anymore.

This is me wandering around in the woods without a clue as to the path or the proper survival skills needed……

Patiently Impatient

I kid you not….I sat and stared at a website for facials today…..like it was the fountain of youth!

There is something very unsettling about being fifty and thinking about getting older……alone.

I don’t even know why.

It all started with a conversation at Publix with a total stranger.

I have beautiful girls…..I was just standing in line at Publix and the man behind us remarked, “Oh wow!  I know they are certainly your daughters. They are beautiful. ….I know exactly what you looked like when you were younger.”

Ugh!!!! That one stung just a bit. I am sure he didn’t mean anything by his remark….but there I was…..older and not young and beautiful…..and not loved by a man who knew me when I was young……..not looked at lovingly for who I am and what I mean to someone who has grown to love all of me…..not just a part of me.

I was in the kitchen today finishing up a few Christmas cards. I know….they are going to be late for the first day of Christmas….good thing there are twelve days in this joyous holiday.

I was addressing one last card….one that I didn’t think I would ever have the pleasure of addressing. It is to my oldest brother and his wife. I received a card from them today…..the first one ever! I was so surprised. It was lovely to see them at the funeral. Isn’t that a strange thing?….but it was! It was surreal and surprisingly sweet to spend a few days seeing them and the other family gathered to celebrate the life of my brother. I loved standing by a grave and listening to my brother and sister talk. It just made my heart  seem a little more real….a little more connected.

So I opened his card and there was the Christmas greeting and the signature…..and then at the bottom…a P.S.

There was a lovely postscript that was an invitation into a deeper relationship. He gave me his number and said he hoped to hear from me…a phone call or text would be welcome.

Isn’t life simple.

We only have to start a conversation.

Some conversations lead to deeper and deeper connection and some lead to heartache….but they all make us feel a bit more alive.

So tonight my heart is alive in two areas…..one aches and one rejoices.

This dual nature of life and having a heart that feels is uncomfortable when you have been numb for so long. It feels so strange to cry at the drop of a hat…..to cry for joy and cry for brokenness and cry because your heart just about bursts sometimes when you remember or see something that reminds it that life is full of beauty and broken places.

I was signing cards just a minute ago…..and I was signing the names and ages to the picture I am tucking in the envelope to my friend in Hawaii…..and it hits me….

So long ago….our children were little….babies and toddlers. We have grown as women and our children are now grown. There will be weddings and new families and grandchildren. We will continue to grow as friends…..but for me….

This is not where I expected to be on this road. This is not the picture I expected to be mailing out as my girls became these ages…..as they stood on the brink of marriage and lives that spread out into new families. It is so very painful to be sending this card…..the one that has to be signed as a single mom.

I am grateful….really I am. I have more richness  to my life now. I have a community of friends and a church family. I am someone different. I am changed by this whole story. But it still hits me some nights that I didn’t desire this story. I didn’t see it coming, and I never could have dreamt this up in a million years….this ending and new place that I find myself.

I struggle with the story….I fight against it in places. I was arguing with God today. I am supposed to practice walking with Him….and asking Him my questions…..but I find myself arguing with Him mostly.

Why? Why have You not come for me with someone else yet? Why is it my story to be alone and walk alone and never feel connected in that way again?

Why do I have to be patient, and why should I have to wait so much longer than the others I have talked to? Why is my story one of tarrying and going down roads that seem to stretch out into nothingness? Why do I feel this desire for connection only to find that I cannot seem to connect with anyone who would see and care for my heart?

I have not received an answer…..except to wait.

And I am not a good wait-er.

I am not a patient person in any sense of the word. I hurry through thoughts….hurry through projects….. and even hurry through writing.

I am impatient, and I know God is forming a soul that will wait for eternity. I know I chaff at His rebukes, and I know I lack trust when it is the very thing I need the most. But dang it….knowing doesn’t make any of this easier. Knowing He loves me….even here in my core…..doesn’t make the desire to be known as a wife just disappear. I wish it did.

I am finding I am called to wait and be patient despite my feelings. Ugh! Then I get on Facebook and the only thing in my feed is this:

Christmas is conceived in my world when I simply receive it. However Christ and His will comes to me. – Ann Voscamp

Yeah…..I am such a silly girl. I walk so faithfully in my mind….until I have a bad day. I seem so put together in my head….until I have a heart wrenching moment. I seem so confident….collected….cool under pressure…..until He comes and reveals my brokenness and shows me just how far from trusting I am still. And yet….there is never a hint of disdain….or impatience. He only points it out as He lovingly pulls me in.

Geesh….when will I learn to abide? When will I learn to trust? When will I learn to accept His love and trust His goodness……and quit trying to make Him prove to me that He is not crazy for making me this way…forming me thusly….giving me this story….and making me wait?

When will conversations in line at Publix not lead to staring at facials and worrying that I am worthless because I am no longer young?

I am sitting here patiently being impatient.

Merry Christmas…..I will wait….I will walk forward….I will continue to allow Him to form me even as I rebel in ever creative ways. And I am trusting that He will most likely continue to surprise me with more and more….deeper and deeper…..mending my broken even as I shake my  fists and tell Him I know I could do it so much better…….

Trusting in my own mental understanding becomes a hindrance to complete trust in God – Oswald Chambers

Gypsy Magic

 

Mental note….never….NEVER watch Christmas Dramas during the holiday season. Never watch happy, lovely romantic couples talking about how much they loved their wives…..NEVER watch Liam Neeson in Love Actually talking about the love he had for his wife….never watch families making their lives work or families falling apart…never watch a movie with a professor that has a cute secretary that he falls for as a frustrated older man….NEVER EVER…..just saying!

I just remembered it…..a small memory….I watched this particular movie, Family Man,  with my ex….before he was my ex….when he was my husband. I remember the feelings while watching it….

I remember having a nagging feeling in the back of my soul that he….he desired to be the man at the beginning of the movie. He desired to be the one with the success and the car and the women. I recall that I told myself he was the fabulous, loving husband,…..the one who saw his wife and was so in love. I told my heart that I was so lucky because my husband was actually in love with me. I just couldn’t feel it properly because I was so closed off. I recall feeling off even then….like the universe was somehow out of kilter. I wondered how any man could desire a job that placed family first and a life that included little babies crying, toddlers screaming…..fighting children…..financial pressures, sleepless nights, unsatisfied dreams, and familiarity that seemed to be breeding complacence. I was troubled in my soul…..wishing in my mind….and sure in my head that my life was the one in which he loved us….really loved us despite all the sacrifices. He was loving us sacrificially because he saw that we were so worth it!

There it is…..the hurt is so palpable again in those moments when I am  staring at the wound. That wound was…is….will probably be for quite a while….that hurt lies in wait…..waiting for an opportune time to come out my eyes. ….out of my chest….. and out of my heart.

Sometimes I desire to be done grieving and my body says….not yet!

So what do I do?

I make bread.

It is a melancholy proposition making bread……I  get to gather wonderful ingredients like flour and butter and eggs…..and turn them into one of my favorite things…..Walnut Rolls.

As a little girl, my mother would make walnut rolls for Christmas and Easter. It was a recipe passed down from her Great Aunt Sophie….the Hungarian gypsy who would take an apple and onion and disappear into the forest all day only to return at night to cook in the wee hours of the morning. I loved that! I loved that as a young girl I could be a gypsy, and I could make the bread she made. I loved that I came from an exotic place like Hungary and had gypsy relatives.

So I learned to knead the dough  and patiently wait for it to rise. I learned to roll it out and spread the butter on the sticky dough. I would layer on the walnuts and then roll it up to rise again. The smell of the bread baking is one of my favorite smells….along with onions and garlic and mushrooms cooked in butter on Thanksgiving….these smells take me back to a childhood that had lots of good food.

So tonight when the grief decided to return…..because of a movie clip…..because of the holidays and Christmas cards and family pictures and who knows what…..

I baked.

I baked because I finally feel like baking again.

I finally feel like making the bread and smelling the aroma again! I am joyful and grieving all at the same time. I am full of light and hope and melancholy and gypsy magic all at the same time!

I loved feeling the dough again and kneading it as it became a sticky flexible lovely mass of hope just waiting to rise and double and take on the yeasty aroma.

I loved the chopping of the walnuts and adding the sugar. I loved melting the butter and rolling out the dough.

My whole condo smells of freshly baked bread and melted butter.

Of course I had to sample my work…..

Tonight I am heading to bed full of delicious bread and a little emptier of my grief. Crying does wonderful things sometimes. The heaving sobs have a way of cleansing your chest and the bread has a way of feeding your soul!

I am so anxious sometimes to get rid of the melancholy ache of grief. I just want to be all light and all joy some days. I am coming to grips with the fact that they are both possible within me. I can have lovely evenings filled with theater, wine and conversation…..lonely evenings filled with crying and grieving and aching. I can laugh and remember the wonderful memories even while I cry and ache for the tear that still rips at my heart.

Walnut loaves and gypsy magic…..it is a recipe for finding a little more of myself tonight. Walnut rolls and melancholy music…..some nights grief and joy walk hand in hand.

a life in process, beauty all around us, and finding our place in the world

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