Sunday, December 27, 2015

My grown-up movie weekend...

Okay, so finally, something different is willing to come pouring from my fingertips and into cyberspace. Movies.

I see a lot of movies, if that isn't obvious from my Facebook and Twitter feed. I see pretty much every kid movie that comes to the theater, and I've now entered into a tween genre as well, which mostly seems to include lots of apocalyptic stuff. But I go to the movies nearly every weekend, and so on the weekends that I am kidless, that means I get to see anything that the girls might not be interested in seeing.

This weekend that included two movies, one which I got to see with my sister, and the other which I saw alone. I am getting much more at ease about seeing a movie by myself-I'm pretty sure that the people that work at the movie theater know me, so I'm likely that sad lady who sometimes has kids with her and sometimes is all alone, dateless on a Saturday night. My, that is a depressing thought. But I do believe that everything that I'm doing at the moment is leading me to wherever the heck it is that I'm supposed to end up, and so learning to entertain myself seems a big part of that.

Anyway, I digress. The movie that I saw with my sister was, naturally, Sisters. It's funny and raunchy and the kind of movie that a few years ago we would have all been like, oh my goodness, women can be vulgar just like guys. But in the years since Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy has made a career of those movies. So it's not shocking. But it is gross and hilarious and just enough of a literal mess to make my OCD sister squirm in her seat for the majority of the movie. Tina Fey is the oversexed, messed up sister, Amy Poehler is the uptight, do good, divorced sister in need of both a man and a drink. One of the biggest differences between raunchy girl comedy and raunchy boy is the heart, and this one delivers on that front-it's point is that who you are at 13 is not who you have to be a 40. Which is true, to a degree. I'm still so much like my nerdy 13 year old self, it's hard to completely buy that.

The second movie that I watched was Joy. Of course. It's a movie about a woman who pulls herself from the depths of despair to be a millionaire. A woman who gets divorced but ultimately is such good friends with her ex that he helps her on her journey. A woman who is at a loss for exactly how to take care of everyone in her life, but who is ultimately the savior of her family. And her name is Joy, for goodness sake. So yes, I had to see it. Jennifer Lawrence does an excellent job, as she seemingly does in every role she has ever had. The movie is a bit all over the place, but it means well.

I did not walk away from the movie with a magical map to the answer to how exactly to fix my life. But that is likely the point. This Joy could not have imagined that one day a mop would be the answer to all of her prayers. Heaven knows what my answer is. Surely not a cleaning product. But this rabbit hole is leading to somewhere.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Not Quite Perfect Christmas 2015...

Christmas 2015 is over. Part of me wants to scream, "Thank God!" Part of me realizes that this Christmas-different and unperfect as it was-will live in my memory forever.

Christmas this year was far from normal. The girls and I only read a handful of our Christmas books. We didn't watch all of the Christmas movies. Not all of the decorations were dragged out of the closet.

Our literary tree-the real tree-was smaller than in years past. But Betsy and I carried it in the front door and placed it in the tree holder ourselves. Yes, it leaned a touch to the right. But oh, how proud the two of us were.

The lights on the artificial tree-the big one in the family room-they only go up as high as I could reach. Which is nowhere near the top. But I did it, myself. And that imperfect tree is a reminder of that.

The girls have left now for a week at their dad's. The weight of how lonely I am is almost too much to bear. But they need this time with him. So badly. They need to see Star Wars this week and have that memory be forever connected to their dad. Much as I wanted to take them. It's something special that they connect with him, and I have to just push myself aside and let that be.

I have plans for this week. I'm going to the movies with my sister tonight. I am planning to have dinner with a friend sometime this week. I'm getting my hair done. I'm working. I'm cleaning. I have a stack of books to start.

And I'm writing. Some of it here. Some of it in my journal. Some of it completely navel gazing, self consumed drivel, surely. Some of it hopefully having nothing whatever to do with my personal life. But all of it as my outlet, as my connection to Joy Elizabeth and who she is, and who she was, and who she will be moving forward.

Lucky me. I always get to start the new year with a new age. Let's hope that 37 is going to be an amazing year of growth.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A letter to myself of 6 months ago...

Dear Joy,

I'm sorry, first of all. I am so sorry for all that you are enduring right this minute. You feel all alone, and surrounded by sadness, consumed by a grief that you can't quite name, unmoored from everything you have ever known or believed to be true in your life. You are questioning every single moment of the past 15 years of your life, trying to pinpoint exactly when you should have realized that your life was a great big lie.

Well, I have some news for you. First of all, your life is not now, nor was it ever, a lie. Did your life take a turn you weren't expecting? Yes. And it is sad and hard and it hurts. But it doesn't undo all that came before. You are still you, inside of all of this overwhelming sadness. I know that it's hard to feel that, but it's true. You are still the girl who fell in love, you are still the girl who had the faith to move a mountain. I know that it's hard to believe right now, but your faith was not in vain. No, the story doesn't end the way you wanted, and no, God did not answer that prayer that you have been praying so faithfully with the answer that you were expecting-but the fact is, he did answer it. And not even with a no, like you think he did right now. He answered your prayer for an answer to so much confusion, and questioning, and that constant feeling in the back of your mind that something isn't right-he brought everything to the forefront and said, you are free. You have loved faithfully and steadfastly for 15 years. And the fact is, you deserve to be loved faithfully back.

That leads me to the second thing that I need to tell you-this is not your fault. I need you to repeat that over and over in your head. It is not your fault. Are you a completely blameless person? No. Did you never make a mistake in your marriage? Is there nothing that you wouldn't go back and change if you could? Of course not. You are human. You have been careless and headstrong and selfish. Own them. But this is not your fault. You were lied to, you were made to feel a fool, and there is no excuse for that.

I don't know the end of this story. I wish I did. But I do know that it has, in fact, gotten better, just as so many people have told you it would. I know that right now you feel like you have fallen down a long, dark tunnel, and that there is not even hope of a tiny speck of light. But there is at least a glimmer of light to be found. It is still hard to be without the girls on the weekends that aren't yours, but you are getting better at filling your time. You go to yoga. You get your hair done. You have seen many, many movies. You shop. (I know-you think I'm making that up. I'm not.)

And when you are with the girls, which is genuinely most of the time, the three of you are so much closer. They need you in a way that they can't quite put a name to. And I know that right now you feel useless, you scarily feel like they would be better off without you. But that is not true at all. You are their link to the world. They are watching you to see how you handle this. Today someone very kindly told you that you are leading them through this very hard time with grace, and it was like a prayer to your heart. And while you mess up sometimes, and you feel overwhelmed a lot more than you want to admit, the three of you (the three musketeers, you call yourselves)-you have a bond that nothing can break. Not your sadness, not your fear, nothing.

I wish that I could tell you that this has a happy ending. I hope it does. I pray it does. I know that you are scared that this was it-this was the one great love of your life and you won't get another chance. I know that you are in a panic that no one is ever going to ask you out, or be even remotely attracted to you. I'm going to be honest with you, the panic is still there around the edges. But mostly you know that you need to heal, and work on becoming the person that you want to be. Mostly.

I know that right now you feel a lot of shame. You feel like everyone can see right through you, like they are thinking that you are a fraud. But that is all in your head. People are praying for you and you don't even realize it. People are coming into your life who are guiding you though this. It's amazing when you look back after six months and see all of the people that God has brought into your life who are helping you through this. People who have known you forever, and people who you are just about to meet.

It is okay to acknowledge that you mostly had a good marriage. Clearly it wasn't perfect but nothing is. But it's like Miranda Lambert said-yes, brace yourself, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert got divorced-but anyway, she said that her marriage left her a high standard for her future relationships. And you nodded and said, yes, that is true. In a lot of ways, you were blessed. And this will turn into a blessing. Because that is how God works, how life works. And you know that. You have traveled through scary valleys before, through things that you were sure would break you, and they led you to places that you now realize you needed to be.

This path that you are on isn't what you would have chosen, but it's where you need to be. I hope that in six more months this is all even clearer. But for now I really do know that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.