My Love

My life unraveled rather quickly.  It definitely wasn’t a slow undoing, but I saw glimpses of it, the unraveling, for a long time.  I got hints it was there on the horizon, maybe even from the very beginning. 

I still remember what he feels like, and what it felt like to have his arms around me.  I remember his smell, his smile, his goofiness that was once endearing and became less and less so as the years wore on.  I remember the way my head felt resting in the hollow of his chest, and the way his sideburns were beginning to gray.  I remember his height, and the way his feet looked.  I remember the songs he sang in the shower and the way he rubbed gel through his hair.  The memories of him are not yet fuzzy. 

I can remember his size and the weight of him as I tried to shove him in the large walk in closet.  “Please don’t let the kids hear this…”

I stood staring at him, he wouldn’t look at me.  He never looked at me anymore.  The tears came before I spoke a single word.  I was so mad at myself for always crying.  I stood before him this broken shell of a human, I felt worthless and useless and ugly and tired.  I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror, I didn’t see the light in my eyes.  He made a slight face, a sneer, as he turned his back on me.  He began busying himself with putting the pile of clothes away that was on the shelf in front of him. 

I talked.

He didn’t listen.

I begged.

He was silent.

I cried.

He ignored it. 

My mind was frantic.  I didn’t know how to get him back.  I didn’t know what to say or not say.  I didn’t know how to act.  I didn’t know if I should even be trying.  I didn’t know how to make him love me.  All I’ve done is love him.  Why can’t he love me? 

I quieted and stood staring at his back.  I turned and walked out.  I was as tired of our closet conversations as he was.  Outside I discovered life was continuing.  So I walked into it.

That night I couldn’t eat dinner.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten.  I heard my voice saying, “I need help.  I can’t sleep.  I can’t eat.  My stomach hurts all the time.  I feel like I can’t breathe.” He looked at me across the table and asked what I wanted him to do. 

Love me.

Find me.

Instead I said, “Can you call the pharmacy?  Can you see if I can get something for anxiety?”

He never responded.

That night, I lay down in bed.  He was beside me, back turned, looking at his ipod. 

Soon the bedside lights were turned off, and I could hear his soft snoring beside me. 

I lay there so weary I didn’t think I would survive, but sleep wouldn’t come.  My eyes burned.  My heart pounded.  It was too hot.  It was too cold.  The sheets were bugging me.  I didn’t like not being covered up.  The hours ticked by.  I realized the chanting in my head was all that go me through these days.  Tonight it was, “God please help me.  Please help me.  Please help me.  Please help me.”

Sleep came, but even in sleep I felt the awful pain and ache that was always in my stomach.  The pit, I called it.

Moments, or hours, later I awoke.  My chest was burning.  I was crying uncontrollably.  Why was I crying?  What just happened?  I couldn’t breathe.  My stomach was filled with such a wrenching pain, I thought I had been stabbed.  For the briefest moment, I believed I had. 

I sat up abruptly.  There he was, sleeping, snoring, looking peaceful.  I felt rage surround me.  I stood up.  Breathe, breathe, breathe.  I kept telling myself that.  I looked down to make sure I hadn’t been harmed somehow, the hazy feeling of sleep still surrounded the edges of my reality.  But the pain.  I took a breath.  It sounded more like a sob.  I took another one.  Another sob. 

I stood in the corner of the room, facing the bed, and heard myself calling out, “I think I’m dying.  I need help.  I think I’m having a heart attack.”  I saw him open his eyes and look at me.  “You allright?” He said, his words slurred by sleep.  “NO!  Help me.  Please.  Hold me.  Please, call someone.  Please, love me.”  I realized I was hysterical.  He sat up and folded his knees under him wrapping his arms around his long legs.  He sat there staring at me as I fell to the floor on my knees, sobbing, trying to find reality.  Tears dripped of my face, into my hair, landing on the tile, one drop very quickly turned into a small pool. 

Out of the darkness of the pain I heard him say, “You’re fine.  Stop overreacting.”  I stared up through the curtain of my mangled hair and watched as he lay back down, rolled to his side, and began snoring again. 

It was over.  I knew in that dark moment, in that panic and fear and utter sorrow, it was done, but I wasn’t.  I would fight.  I would never stop fighting.  He WOULD find me.  He WOULD love me.

The man who promised me his life, the man who helped me bring two beautiful children into the world who stood there holding my hand and cooing to our newborns, the man who dreamed with me and planned with me, who made me laugh, who held me when I cried and picked me up when I fell, the man I supported, and fought with, and loved without hesitation, the man who had become my world, was gone. 

I stayed on my knees that night for a long time, trying to breathe.  There was nowhere to go.  That bed felt like a prison, but so did everything else.  No one was there to dry my tears or hold me.  I was in a secret hell that few people live in and I resolved that night my own secret hell was better than making it anyone else’s, so it would stay that way.  I would love him enough to bring him back to me.  He would find his way back because he always did. 

But he didn’t.  I’m not sure the moment the shift happened for him, when he became okay with dreaming differently than he told me he did.  I don’t know if it was weeks, or months, or even years before that moment when he said his final farewell to me.  Sometimes I wish I knew.  Other times I am at peace that I don’t know. 

A friend told me recently, I did all I could and I loved him the way I should.  I have that to be proud of and carry with me.  I wish I believed that.  I wish I could say that my loving him far longer and far beyond his capacity to love me was enough to make me proud.  But it doesn’t.  Not right now.

I do know that I had to give him every minute of time and energy I could to see if he’d find his way back.  I don’t regret that, but I do know now, he never could have been mine the way I wanted him or needed him to be. 

Heartbreak is an interesting thing.  The pain of it comes and goes, it ebbs and flows.  Somedays I have the very incredible and amazing world at my fingertips.  Other days I want to lay in bed and die. 

As I listen and learn, both to God and to those in my life who are helping me through the darkness, I know something I’ve never known before.  I won’t settle.  I spent a life pursuing someone who could never love me the way I deserved and needed to be loved.  I didn’t see that in the darkness, I see it now, the light has been shed on it.  I lied and told myself if I just loved him enough in the right ways he would find his way to me.  He never did.  I never achieved what I set out to do so many years ago.  Twelve years came and went.  There were incredible times and horrific times together, but I don’t remember a single day that I didn’t pursue him with the belief I could love him enough to make him love me. 

I miss him, and I miss my dream of him, but I want more.  I want the love that my heart needs.  I want the peace that I should have.  I won’t pursue love, when it doesn’t pursue me right back.  I don’t know how that will happen in my life, or where, or with whom.  I do know I will defend my heart and my life.  Now seems like a good time to start.

Listening

I lay on the bed, curled tight into myself.  The song from reverberated in my ears as I hit play and then play again, and play again.  The harsh world of my new reality was fading into the distance as I allowed myself to listen and breathe and relax. 

I was aware of how quickly the feeling of calm changed within myself.  I felt my heart rate increase, I could feel the familiar prickle of panic as it rose on my skin.  As the airconditioning blew cold on me, it was like I was back there.  I could hear the sounds of the apartment around me.  I could feel the sunlight beating hot against my arm through the window as the airconditioning blew it cool again.  I could hear the whir of the fan as it moved the air throughout the hollow room.  Down the short hallway to the bathroom I heard the voices of my Dominican neighbors laughing and talking through the bathroom window.  I smelled their lunch as it cooked.  That airshaft that brought all our lives together in that tall apartment building also introduced me to the culture that I thought would become part of me.

I lay there knowing my exact place in space, in my room, in my parent’s home, and yet I was there too in the loud and too large apartment in that loud and too large city.  I felt desperate to open my eyes and get my bearings again, but at the same time I wanted to sit with it.  I wanted to figure out why my mind took me back to the place that left so many scars. 

The version of events I tell people about my return here to this life is ever changing.  Sometimes I am honest and don’t leave a detail out, other times I give the most brief version I can.  Sometimes I find myself telling people details somewhere in the middle of that or giving details here and there, in small bites at different times.  For a while telling it was reliving it again, which was too hard, too painful, too traumatizing.  That wore off.  Then the telling became like someone else’s story.  I told it pragmatically, void of emotion or much thought.  For the most part my life there felt like a bad dream, when I look back over the last year, it’s hard to believe that it was my actual life. 

So I laid on my bed with my eyes shut tight, the song surrounding me.  What?  What was I supposed to be hearing or working through?  Why did my mind take me back there?  Quite suddenly there it was, that moment in bed, in the Santo Domingo afternoon, my youngest napping in the room next to me, my oldest playing some game down the hall.  I had never felt so alone or so afraid.  Far worse moments were to come, but that was the first moment a new reality began to dawn. 

For so long the only feeling I could identify with was fear.  I was afraid of everything.  From the day we left here almost a year ago I felt fear, and if I’m honest, I felt fear long before that, not fear of a new land and culture, but fear of my life, my choices.  In fact fear was such an integrated part of my life I couldn’t see anything that wasn’t first taken through that lense.  The questions always swirled in my head, what if I was rejected, what if I wasn’t good enough, what if they didn’t like me or my kids or my husband, what if I wasn’t able to succeed, what if no one loved me?  That fear led to apologizing for everything.  If I could apologize for my existence I would, and I’m sure at some point in the past I have. 

My response to that fear was to begin building.  I started the long process of building the wall I surrounded myself with years ago.  Brick upon heavy brick, bucket after bucket of mortar, the wall went up.  I built it high and strong.  I didn’t put in windows or doors, I closed it up tight, all around me.  It felt good if no one could get in, and felt even better if I didn’t allow myself out.  The day I picked up the first brick, I let the fear win.  And with each brick that was built into that wall the fear became shut inside, and I was free to work on making my life look pretty from the outside. 

Last night I sat with a friend, giving the abbreviated version of events that happened in my life in January.  It was almost too painful to talk.  Thinking about the moments that led to the first crack in my wall hurt almost more than I could bear.  I realized if I talked much longer about it I might break, so I stopped short and ducked behind the wall.  It hurt because I was allowing someone in, someone from outside my tight inner circle of family, the hurt came from acknowledging the mess that is my life.  The pain exists because I’m finally allowing it to.  The pain I felt that day in our apartment was there because I stopped ignoring it.  In many ways it finally led to my freedom.

I opened my eyes and the view was quite different from the one I was imagining.  The windows letting in sun were shaded by the large tree outside the window.  Downstairs I heard a dog bark and the front door open and close.  I realized at that moment that I need to be listening. I also realized that the reason for the pain, the reason that the moments of my messy life are so painful is because as painstaking as it was to build the wall, it’s even more painstaking bringing it down, and that’s what is happening.  In some ways if I could blast the wall to pieces in one move I would, but I know that it must come down as it went up, brick by single brick.  With each brick that comes down I have a more clear view of the freedom that is outside the wall.

In some ways I realize I am still so comfortable behind the wall I built, but I know God didn’t create me for a life of comfort, especially when that comfort comes from a place that ultimately hurts me.  God wants me to live boldly.  He wants there to be more purpose to my life than this pain.  He wants my freedom as much as I do.  Right now I don’t know what’s around the next corner.  I don’t know what lays ahead of me down the road.  I do feel scared by the not knowing, but even more than fear, I feel free. 

I’m listening.

Say Something

I had arrived home.

In those very early days of late nights and early mornings, strong coffee, and the insanity of four boys reunited in life, not much stuck with me but those simple things. My focus at the time was one foot in front of the other, and breathe…one foot in front of the other, and breathe…

I remember it was cold, so cold. I couldn’t warm up, and my body hurt from the intense cold. I remember the sky was sort of that late winter hazy color. The world wanted to warm up, the sky wanted to become the vibrant blue of summer, but it just wasn’t quite there yet. The mornings were cold, the nights were colder. It snowed beautiful fat flakes at least twice. I wore a gray sweatshirt jacket my mom had loaned me. I wore it everywhere, zipped up to the neck, often times hood pulled up. I couldn’t believe the cold of those first days.

One evening while driving I heard a song that I had never heard before. The words stopped my heart. They hurt to think about, I became breathless and sad. I hate remembering that pain that rips your breath from you and takes an ax to that already huge pit in your stomach. Tears pricked my eyes and I was surrounded by this wounded song that described the very pain, the very life I had just walked out on. Not ever had there been a song that so perfectly and intensely described a moment in time.

“Say something, I’m giving up on you.”

Before I knew it I was sobbing. Tears were pouring down my face. The words were too much, the song too painful. How could one song so fiercely accompany my own personal pain?

“I am feeling so small. It was over my head, I knew nothing at all.”

Before I arrived back to my sister’s house I had gathered up what I could of myself and attempted to put it all back into place.

Later that night, the song kept ringing in my head. I finally pulled out my laptop and opened the bright screen. It hurt my eyes to look at the glaring screen in the darkness and I had to adjust to the way it made my head feel. I could feel my fingers gliding over the keys quickly typing out, youtube. Then I typed in the lyrics. The song came up and I hit play. I was again engulfed in the sadness that had nearly drown me hours earlier. I let the song play once, then twice.

Suddenly a memory, vividly crisp and clear came into my head. It’s as if I was there at that moment, not lying under a heavy load of covers that were attempting to keep me warm. I was sitting in the oversize brown chair. It held me and both boys, but often the days were too hot to sit together like that and often it was occupied by him, sitting sideways with his long legs hanging over the arm rest, his head thrown into the crook behind him. I could hear the sound of the traffic six stories below, and the food vendor calling out loudly, “AGUACATE!” at the top of his lungs. The soundtrack to my new life. He stood in the dining room. I could see him from where I sat in the chair. He was listening to a song on his iPod. I was feeling angry and frustrated and hot. The boys had been acting crazy that day and I was overwhelmed and tired, a feeling I had grown accustomed to, but never learned to like. I was angry, angry at him for all the ways I saw him checking out. On that day, he stood, in another room, avoiding both me and the boys, listening to music, not paying attention to the world around him. Life had become that way. The more I pressed into him, the more he walked the other direction, and sometimes he didn’t walk, he ran. I was alone and scared. I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do with all the fear, so it turned easily into an intense and hot anger.

I could feel the anger rising in my chest, the inevitable eye roll that was coming. I was this complete stranger, someone I didn’t recognize at all, and I hated who I was becoming, but even more, I was starting to hate him. I glanced up again, and watched him with his back to me, swaying to a song I couldn’t hear, tethered to the wall by his cord, plugged faithfully in. One must never let the battery die, it might force engagement on his part.

Suddenly, he turned, and in the voice was so familiar and yet so scarily different he said, “LOVE! You gotta hear this song. It’s so beautiful and kind of haunting, but really really amazing!” His enthusiasm bothered me. The fact that he still called me love, his pet-name for me for so many years, really bothered me. After the whirlwind he’d put me through these last few months, how dare he call me LOVE? I didn’t want to listen to his song. He unplugged and brought over the little white rectangle that had become his entire life. As he perched on the edge of the huge chair and disengaged the earbud from his ear, the strains of a song came tumbling out of the small speaker, “Say something, I’m giving up on you. I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you. Anywhere, I would have followed you. Say something I’m giving up on you.”

I pushed him away, telling him it was a horrible song. Why would he play a song like that for me? He looked at me, with those eyes that had become unrecognizable in the last few weeks, and told me he thought it was beautiful, that was all. He wandered back over to his post in the dining room, plugged back in to the wall, turned his back, and tuned the world out with his earbuds.

I didn’t finish listening to the song that day.

As I lay in the dark that night, remembering that moment, I couldn’t believe how I had missed it all. The subtle hints that turned into bigger things, all the moments he was trying to say in his own cowardly way, “I’m giving up on you.” He tried many times after that first one to make me listen to his song. I never did, not until that day, weeks later, when we were separated by an ocean. Even that physical distance couldn’t come close to the emotional distance I felt from him.

My sister informed me a few days later, when I admitted to listening to it over and over and over again while crying a lake of tears, that it was super popular. She couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard it. I guess there wasn’t a huge market for sad, sappy, English language love songs in our loud, hot, island corner of the world.

The first time I heard it, I broke. The first few times I listened to it, it was his song to me, but the more the words became etched on my heart, the more I realized it was my song to him. Every single word of this tragic song embodied my final months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds with him.

“And I, will swallow my pride. You’re the one that I loved, now I’m saying goodbye.”

Five months have passed. Five entire months of living this alien life I don’t recognize. I still listen to the song, not nearly as often though. I can go weeks before I think of it. It has become an anthem to me, it speaks to the pain that allowed me to walk out the door, but it also has healed me in ways I never expected a song could do.

This song has become a part of my story. Every time I hear it from now on and in years to come, I know it will bring me right back to this place in time, where I will remember the tiniest things that came together to make up this season in my life.

Help Wanted

I have to get a job, and not just a job, a career.

It is something I think about all the time. In fact, I think it dominates most of my thoughts these days (aside from parenting, my impending divorce, finances, and asking the question, “WHAT just happened…”), but I think getting a job ties into all those other thoughts so tightly.

I ask myself all the time what it is I want to do. There are a ton of things I would love to do, but none that are lucrative enough to support my family. And let’s face it, that’s my goal right now.

The more I think about all this, the more blank about it all I become. I’m not sure why. I always had ideas about careers that I would love. I always had those thoughts, “well if I weren’t doing this, I would do this…” but as life started happening, marriage, kids, supporting my husband, I sort of lost those ideas. What were they?

The other night I was lamenting this to my parents.

“I should know what I want. I’m 35. I should have some idea of what I want to be, where I want to go, what my dream would be.”

They said, “You did know what you wanted. You had an idea of where you wanted to go and what your dreams were. They were just pulled out from under you.”

Yup.

I guess I hadn’t thought about it like that. I just managed to beat myself up over being 35 and not having any ambitions. But I did, oh, I did.

I wanted to be a wife. I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to be a missionary. Full-time. I wanted to support my kids by being there for them. I wanted to menu plan, grocery shop, meet friends at the park, clean my house, do laundry, volunteer at school, help out in ministry, greet my husband at the end of a long day with a hot meal. Reading it now, I realize how counter-culture and backwards it sounds, but it never felt that way. It never would have felt that way had I been able to pursue that my entire life. I wanted to be able to fulfill what I felt God was calling me to do, and be. I liked my job title.

But that rug, that I believed I was standing so firmly on, has been yanked out from under me, and I’m sitting here in the middle of the mess it left looking around and wondering where to even start the clean-up effort.

So, whether it’s my choice or not, a new future has been mapped out for me. I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to want it. It just is this way. And it’s time to move forward.

I realized something the other day, I was giving my husband and his choices power over what is happening now and what is to come. Nothing can take away the fact that I am MOM to some pretty incredible kids. Nothing will ever take away the kind of wife I tried to be. I wasn’t perfect, oh my, was I imperfect and broken in my marriage, but I tried so hard.

I guess what struck me today is that I am terrified. I look at my seven year old and his specific set of needs, and how much time of my day, or week, or month, that I dedicate to him, just to make sure he will be okay, and it’s a lot of time and I always counted it worth it because I won’t ever regret doing absolutely everything I could to make sure he succeeds and becomes the man God wants him to be. I don’t know how I am going to make it work. I look at my parents and how much they are carrying right now, and honestly wonder how much more they’ll be able to do. I look at wanting to be independent and then realize, I never really will be again. I will always need that extra set of hands that isn’t there anymore.

It’s like I don’t even know how to begin looking at everything differently. I am so scared to trust it will all work out. I am scared that one sacrifice in one direction will end up hurting in a different direction. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to make the best decision for my family. I’m afraid I’m not capable to fill this role of single mom.

I guess facing this is the beginning of dealing it with. I know once we’re on that path it will feel okay, and the details I worry so much about will be taken care of. I know that because God has already taken care of so much of it. My biggest fear in reaching out for help and walking away from the man I loved, who was self-destructing before my eyes, was how I would ever be able to do life without him, and we’re at almost five months of life without him being here physically, and we’re closing in on a year of him not being here emotionally. Here I am, standing, surviving, and in many ways thriving. My biggest fear was realized, and God has carried us through the debris of that explosion.

Maybe right now that is all I have in the midst of my fear. God is here. God is taking care of us. Maybe that’s all I need right now, well that, and a job.

Leftovers

For over a year now my life has been in a state of upheaval in one form or another. Exactly a year ago at this time I was planning for what I believed to be a semi-known future. Our dreams were finally being fulfilled. We were looking forward to a 10 day trip to a new country, where we would choose our home. The future looked and felt so bright.

Last August we got rid of eleven years of accumulated stuff. We gave away and sold almost all of our earthly possessions. What didn’t make it into those piles was packed into suitcases. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for a new start with a few pieces of familiarity to surround ourselves with.

A mere six months later I was packing everything I could fit into three suitcases. When I closed the door behind me that day I felt I was walking away from everything I had ever owned. It was an interesting feeling because I was so desperate to get out of there I didn’t care.

A month after arriving back stateside I stood on the porch of my parents house and stared down the eight suitcases full of my stuff that had miraculously made it back to me. I wasn’t sure how to feel about those suitcases. I didn’t know what was in them. I didn’t know if I wanted to know. I was terrified of the pain they might represent to me. They made their way into my parents foyer and eventually found a home in the garage. Every single day I would look at those suitcases. Eventually I began opening them. What I saw before me was a life I couldn’t relate to any more. What I felt was the pain of that dead dream. Ugh! So I walked away from it.

For six weeks those suitcases sat out there in semi-unpacked state. I would pass by them at least once a day. I would think about them. I would wonder what else they contained. When I finally conquered them what struck me was how little actually made it home. What struck me even more than that was how little I cared. My life and the stuff in it has been whittled down and whittled down this year. It’s gone from exploding an apartment out at the seams to fitting neatly into a small corner in the attic.

As I was beginning the process of sorting the mess that was inside those suitcases my sister suggested I go through all my stuff. The stuff that we had packed away and stored, the books, winter clothes we were sure wouldn’t ever be used again, pictures, decorations…

As those items came out to be gone through so did other boxes – boxes I hadn’t seen in years, full of stuff I had completely forgotten about. The leftovers of my life.

First, I cried. I wept over the clothes in the men’s XXL sizes that represented a life I would never have again, the life I had dreamed of, prayed about, cried over. I allowed myself to feel the pain of what letting go of those items represented. He’s gone. His choice was not the best one. The ramifications of his choice will forever be a part of my story, so I cried and grieved. Then, I tossed those leftovers of that life out. It felt good.

Then, I began to open boxes that were full of my life as a child and teenager. I sat down and looked through the folders containing notes, papers, and information on classes I hardly remember. I smiled when I realized I had saved almost every card and note I received from anyone in my short childhood. I read over and savored the words my grandma wrote to me in birthday cards. I remembered her handwriting and her smell when I hugged her. I laughed at the old dance pictures from high school. I cried when I came across a picture of my dear friend who lives in Germany, who I only had in my life for a short time. I read over all the notes written in my jr. high yearbook. I came across letters written to me from a boy I liked one summer. Letters I never remembered receiving. I laughed as I read a college letter from my sister about her college crush (he became my brother, her husband). I smiled as I looked at the folders covered in endless doodles. I remembered a man who died last year. A funny man, a good man, one who fought in WWII and somehow wound up here, in my random small town and small life. I wondered where so many of these people wound up. I remembered to be grateful for the life and experiences I had.

As I began to sort through those pieces of my life I was kind of amazed at all the stuff I forgot about. They were like the leftovers of a life I once had and a person I once was. They were good leftovers. It was a good reminder to hang on to and remember the goodness, all the simple and amazing goodness in my life.

Life is really hard right now. There is no other way to say it, but it is also so good. In the midst of pain and sorrow it was so good to be reminded of the life I have been given, the people God has placed in my life, and the hope I have for the future, all because I was handed a box of my random leftovers to go through.

DIVORCE

It’s a word that was never a part of my vocabulary.  

To be honest with you, I looked upon the whole idea with judgement and disdain.  I know many divorced people.  Most of them have what I considered to be good cause to leave their spouse.  I just put my marriage and life up on a pedestal, you know the kind, super high, very rickety, and bound to send whatever is placed upon it crashing down.  I just believed it would NEVER happen to me.  It’s not like we didn’t have problems.  We did.  Every couple does.  We clashed, we fought, we differed greatly in our opinions regarding certain things, but I always felt like there was a safety there.  The safety I believed was there made me feel safe to clash and crash against one another.  I was wrong.  It wasn’t safe, in fact, it wasn’t there.  

As our years together progressed the list of past hurts and wrongs grew.  One day I woke up and looked at that list.  It wasn’t a nice orderly list, it was everywhere.  You could see the images and words of those past hurts like ghosts on the walls of our home.  You could hear them echoing through the vents, rattling around angrily.  You could smell them in the carpets and on the furniture, like an old odor that’s almost impossible to get rid of.  They were written on my heart, they were etched into his.  That day I woke up and realized it, I sought God.  I sought help.  He came alongside me, or so I believed.  

I had this deep held belief, one that was so, so, so wrong.  I told myself every day, “Just keep moving.  Just keep moving.  It will get better.  It will go away.”  I deceived myself with those words.  And sometimes, I think, even worse than that, I deceived others with those words.  No one was allowed in.  No one.  I told myself again and again, “We’re Christians.  We love Jesus.  We are missionaries.  Our world is watching us.”  In many ways I felt like we had been put on a pedestal as well.  Even as we were falling from that height, I was clinging to the edge of it, praying that God would make it all go away, magically.  

It wasn’t going away though.  You see, that list of past hurts went back through my life.  So did his.  As I sit here tonight I realize, the scars on my heart were like scratches.  You know, not too deep, and even at their deepest were fixable.  The scars on his heart were like gashes, still open and bleeding.  

So the options I had were to give in to it and live the rest of my life carrying my wounds and allowing them to define me or work on allowing those wounds to define who I become in better way.  I gave in, in so many ways I gave in.  But I sought help too.  I started talking to someone.  I started looking at the state of my heart.  I started healing.  The most interesting thing in all of that was that even as those scars were healing and my heart was ever so slowly being transformed, new cuts were being made.  And I fooled myself into believing he was healing too.  His healing might be different, or take longer, but he was doing it too.  

And then my life as I knew it was over.  Twelve years of marriage had come and gone…and so was he.  In the beginning everything was hard.  Everything reminded me of my life with him.  I had thoughts for weeks of, “Oh, wait until I tell him, he’ll think that is so cool (or weird, or funny, or sad).”  I had to constantly remind myself he wasn’t here.  Most of my memories aren’t great ones.  It’s not as if I’m re-writing history either.  I am just finally allowing myself to see things as they were, and life with him was often very hard and painful.  Life with him always felt like being on a rollercoaster, and if you know anything about me, you know how much I hate thrill rides.  I like safety, comfort, peace.  

Being back without him was okay.  I have tried often to use the term, “single mom” in referring to my new life.  I have reconnected with old friends.  I am working on making new ones.  I am moving forward.  But this last week has been tough.  I have grieved and mourned and screamed and yelled about it all more in this past week than I have since I left.  Each day does not get easier.  It’s hard.  I’m pissed off.  I am so angry with how he has handled my heart.  

And then today I heard the word, “divorce.”  My heart was flooded with relief, the same heart that couldn’t even fathom the concept was relieved to hear that word – relieved and scared.  I have so many questions and worries.  I can’t stop thinking about my boys.  It dawned on me today, I must continue to work on living in the in-between space that is currently home.  So many of you know the space I am referring to, the one between love and hate, anger and sadness, fear and relief, joy and grief.  It, in so many ways, is the worst place to live, but I am learning in that space too.  I am learning about myself, how to care for myself, and how to allow those who love me to care for me in healthy ways.  I am learning about my boys, what they need, what they don’t need, how to love them while they live in that space.  

This has been my longest, saddest, most tear-filled week yet.  Sometimes in the pain the answers don’t come.  Sometimes I just want to scream or go to bed until it’s all over.  But where is God in this if I can’t seek him and find him in the darkest places?  What does it say about me when my God is a God who only belongs in the bright moments, the moments of sheer blessing and joy?  

He’s there, but He’s here too.  

Worn

I want to write.  I think about it multiple times a day, but every time I sit down to do it, I feel at a loss for how to say what I want to say.  It’s hard, deciding what to make public, what to keep private, what can fall into the gray area surrounding my new life, but writing is so helpful and healing so I am going to try to do it more often.  

The other night I found myself sobbing, on the edge of what felt like hysteria.  It was nearing 2AM and I had mistakenly checked my email two hours before, right before turning off the light and going to sleep for the night.  I had received an email containing information that scared me, broke me, and wrecked any chance at all of sleep.  It was dark.  I was alone.  I was scared.  So, I cried.  Not only were tears running down my face, soaking into my pillow, but my heart was crying out to God.  I was walking the thin of line of losing myself to a panic attack.  It was a feeling I was used to.  The emotions were familiar.  But it had been months since I had felt them.  It was a place I had grown accustomed to living in months ago, but since arriving home, they had slowly dissipated until they were gone, until the other night.  As those old familiar feelings came flooding back, I allowed myself to slip back into my very dark and scary ways of thinking, the places where Satan finds us and wreaks his havoc in our lives.  I allowed the fear, the darkness, the loneliness settle into my heart, and I ached.  I was overcome with fear of an unknown future.  I was overcome by feelings of guilt about what this is doing to my boys and how the mess of my life is affecting my parents and my sister’s family.  I was overcome with anger, just wanting justice and vengeance.  I was overcome with hatred.  I was overcome with sadness, just wanting him to do the right thing, and make the best choice that would give our boys their best chance.  And in those moments I realized I no longer know the man who pledged his life to me.  I don’t know if I ever knew him.    

I remembered the last night of my previous life.  I remember laying in my bed with my sons lying on either side of me, knowing in the morning I would wake, say goodbye to the life I had dreamed of since I was eleven, and go home where we would land in the arms of those that love us most.  I remembered the peace I felt in my heart at that moment, the peace that came from finally asking for help, for revealing to the light what had been in the dark.  I remembered my resolve to leave, to get my boys back to a support system, to pack up what I could and leave everything else behind, knowing I might never see it again.  I remembered feeling relieved.  I remembered having hope for the first time in a long time.  The conflict in that was almost unbearable, having hope in the midst of my destroyed marriage.

Thinking back on those final moments made me recall all the moments that led up to that point, the moments I can’t really talk about here.  The moments where I fought hard for my family, for my dream, for my children, for my husband.  I thought about how I stopped sleeping, how every night felt like a lonely dark hole I might never crawl out of.  How my fears overcame my heart and panic became my worst enemy.  How I didn’t see a way out. I didn’t know how to stay in.  

Going to that place in my memories the other night felt awful.  But something came out of it I never expected during those bleak and dark hours of the night.  I also remembered that after each night spent like that for months and months, the morning always came.  The sun eventually rose in the sky, the city would roar to life, and I would plant my feet on the floor of a brand new day.  

So, I began to pray and cry out to God.  I remembered a song I listened to a lot right after I got home.  I started singing the words, over and over again.

I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes…

Within minutes a peace flooded my heart.  A peace that passed all understanding.  My tears began to slow.  Finally, I slept.  And, guess what?  The morning came, and with it came perspective, and peace, and support, and love, and purpose.  I don’t have any belief my marriage will be redeemed and I don’t believe that is supposed to by my path or the path for my children and I don’t want it to be.  I don’t think that will happen, and I haven’t thought that since I left.  But, I do know God will redeem my life, and my broken heart.  He may not do it this side of heaven, and then again he may, but I have that promise and that’s enough for me.   And in this brokenness I pray God guides, and uses, and teaches me.  I have no guarantee the sorrow will subside today, tomorrow, or in a month.  I have no promise this grief won’t be a visitor who stays a long while.  So, tonight and tomorrow, this will be my song.