Sunday, March 27, 2016

The road diverged...

Easter 2016 meant going home.

I sat in my pew today at Rix Mills Presbyterian Church. I sat by my mother and father and sister, just as I did as a child. My girls took part in the Sunrise Service. I said "debtors" instead of "trespasses" and didn't have to think hard about the next line.

It's home. It really is. Walking into church, I see my grandmother at every turn. I see faces of family-and neighbors so close that we all feel like family.

But I also see my wedding. And I see memories that I can't erase-that I don't want to erase. But I don't want to be awash in them either.

It's hard.

Finding my seat at the Methodist church has not been easy either. Finding our place to sit, figuring out how to sing (use the words on the screen, not the hymn books), even figuring out which service suits us best-it's the earlier one-all of that has been a bit uncomfortable, like trying on clothes that are pretty but don't exactly fit like yoga pants.

I know in my heart that God doesn't care which church I attend.

This Lenten season I have focused myself on Jesus' words. "Oh God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" I know, I have been taught the lesson many times that Jesus was quoting the psalm, that the psalm ends in victory for Jesus, and that ultimately he was proclaiming victory on the cross.

But for me, this year, it was just about the first part. About feeling abandoned. For me this year, that was how I approached Jesus. Alone and abandoned. I don't pretend to know how human Jesus was. The Gospels each paint a different picture for a reason. But for me this year, I needed a human Jesus. Hanging from a cross, in such pain because of nothing that he did, but in pain nonetheless.

Easter, of course, is about life. Is about new beginnings. I have had a weekend full of pivots, full of seeing my life as it's moving forward and away from such overwhelming grief. I have seen the cusp of new chapters to be written. I am grateful. I am scared. I am completely and totally unsure of everything, and yet somehow sure that that is as it should be.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Out of the ashes...

Many people have been asking me lately about my new job. Allow me to say I love it. Love it. I kind of pinch myself everyday that I get to go to work in the town that I love, near to my girls, with such genuinely funny and warm people. I am so amazed that this is my life.

It is a life that I could not have had if Nick had left me sooner. I also realize it is a life I would not have had he not left at all. Ultimately I truly am grateful that something so wretched led me to something that I am enjoying so much.

Not everyday of course. Some days I miss my old life. It's hard to explain and put into words. Because looking back on the past two years of my life, I see so many things that should have been a wake up call, that should have made me realize that the distance that had crept into Nick's heart could not be breached by my just wishing and hoping it so. I believed for such a long time that even though Nick could not remember so many important, life changing events in our life, it was okay, because I would remember them for him. I have a memory rather like an elephant. Which can be useful but hurtful. I have learned throughout my life to pretend sometimes to forget things, trivial things that don't matter, because people look at you weird when you talk about a commercial for Snickers that was on 12 years ago.

Remembering now hurts, of course. And I can't quite figure out how to forget. But I am working on remembering the good and smiling, and remembering the bad and facing that it was bad. And that doesn't mean it was all bad. Somehow that has been such a roadblock for me. Saying that I'm glad to not be living with tension does not mean that there was tension all the time. Saying that I'm able to imagine being happier with someone else does not mean that I wasn't happy in my marriage.

In nine months time I have gotten two jobs, met many amazing new friends, reconnected with some old friends, managed to find at least a small voice to speak to my truth. It feels hard, standing here with empty hands, and yet feeling completely changed.

I have always believed that things happen for a reason. I know that everything that has happened will led me to something better. I know that walking through fire leads to an emergence of something beautiful, something changed, something more than what it began as. I know that in my head. It's, of course, much harder in my heart.

I told Nick several months ago that I feel like someone who lost their legs and everyone just keeps saying, forget you had legs. Just move on. It's hard to just let go of the life that you had, of the faith and trust that you had, and accept that it was misplaced. I still feel a lot like a fool, like everyone looks at me like I was that girl that thought that she had it all and it was all just a great big lie.

Learning to live with the disappointment in myself is the hardest part of all of this. I don't trust my own judgment anymore.

But...tomorrow I go to work. To a job that I never dreamed I would have. I work on these abs and these arms and believe that I am making progress. I drown in my girls, in their never ending love for their messy, sad mother. I pray and I hope and I try to have faith. And maybe, just maybe, one day that faith will be rewarded. I will hope, Joy Elizabeth. I will hope.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ode to a butterfly...

So...good things have happened.

I have a new job that I love. I'm feeling genuinely happy for the first time in nine months. I'm ridiculously proud of myself for doing things I didn't think I could do.

I'm scared too. I'm scared that this is all a mirage and that I will slip back down into that black hole again. I'm scared that the smallest misstep will cause me to lose my grip on all that I've managed to create.

I really do feel like that donkey. You know, the one in the parable that goes that this donkey fell into a hole and the townspeople couldn't get him out. And he was old and injured anyway. So they start throwing dirt in the hole, thinking that they will bury him and he will lay down and die. But instead he starts climbing on the dirt that they are throwing in the hole, until he is able to climb out.

That's me. I so wanted to just lay down and die. I wanted to wrap grief around me like a blanket. And I did, in the beginning. For nearly a month I was just immobile, unable to function, unable to eat, unable to believe that I was expected to just go on living even as my insides had surely shriveled up and died.

But somehow-and I don't really know how, except that the girls just had to have a functioning mother-I managed to emerge enough that I could get up. That I could eat, even if everything did taste like sandpaper. That I somehow was not going to die of a broken heart.

Grief has become a friend. I welcome him every morning, wondering what we will be feeling today. Lately though-lately I've been feeling happy. Contented. Proud.

I have done so many things in the past nine months that I just did not think that I could do. I have learned so much about myself, which sounds so clich├ęd that it pains me to write it. But the thing is, the person that I was, she was a good wife. Truly. And her husband was going through something that was painful and her every thought, her every action, it was in a hope that she was doing the thing that would fix it, that would make it better.

Letting go of that-letting go of the idea that Nick is no longer my husband but just my friend-it has been sad, and hard, and freeing. I will always care about Nick, of course. But I have taken that weight off my shoulders. And in its place I have started to learn things that I always wanted to learn but didn't think myself capable.

I learned how to fix my hair the way I always wanted it to look. This seems stupid, I'm sure. But I was always just a girl who threw her hair in a ponytail. My hair finally looks the way it's always looked in my mind's eye.

I exercise a lot. I push myself. I have dreams about what my arms and abs will look like-and for the first time in my whole life, I honestly think that maybe they might look that way eventually.

And I reached out and got a job that I wanted with all of my heart. I say this a lot, but I am blessed.

This past weekend has been another huge step in this grief process for me. Because I spent a lot of time with Nick and Jenifer and I did not feel sad. I felt light. I felt content. I felt like I am in the place that I need to be. And luckily, that place seems to be a place where we are all friends. Which has been my goal since forever. I know that many people wouldn't feel that way, and I don't judge any one else's path. Divorce looks different for everyone who has lived it. Grief takes a different shape for everyone who feels it.

Grief is not linear, no matter what we might imagine. Grief skips around, makes you feel sad and haunted and unable to breathe. Sometimes. Grief is still with me. Tucked away like a childhood blanket, ready for me to remember some silly thing that happened eleven years ago. Or six years ago. Or yesterday.

But I also feel healing. Like the sinew is restructured, like the scar is slowly disappearing. In the end, I feel whole. I feel changed. I feel like the person that I always wanted to be.

If I fall apart, it's okay. Because I know that I have lived through what I was sure would kill me. I will make mistakes. I'm not fully healed yet. Maybe I never will be. I don't know, I've never done this before. The days are long and there are surely shadows still to absorb. Memories still to surface. But there is joy. There is joy.