Friday, June 30, 2006

A Tale of Two Goodbyes

Anticipatory Grief is a term used in psychology to explain the process of bereavement that begins before the actual loss has occurred. For example, when a loved one has a terminal illness, family and friends tend to begin feeling the loss before the loved one actually passes. The past few months have included a lot of loss and to be honest, I've rather resigned myself to the fact that it's just going to be a rough patch for now.

A while back I wrote in my journal that I could handle anything so long as I knew I could redeem in through writing at some point. And while I'm sure that I still believe that, right now, I just want the pain of parting to be over.

The losses I'm grieving are all intertwined, though somewhat independent. I'm not sure if that makes it easier or more difficult. At this point, I can't really analyze it, I'm just living it, and that's okay for now. I've been listening to the audio book of When God Doesn't Answer Your Prayer by Jerry Sittser. What I've appreciated about the book so much so far is the freedom I've found in being really, brutally honest with God about how I'm feeling. I didn't realize how much I've held back from being authentic. I suppose that if, as a child, you learn to put your best face on for your parents for no other reason than you want to be okay, that you learn to approach your heavenly Father in the same way. I don't want to seem ungrateful for all the things He has given me, so I'm hesitant to tell Him how it hurts me to be denied the things I really desire. But, Jerry tells me, isn't it better to come straight to God with our unfiltered feelings and let Him absorb them? David's Psalms often start out with him railing against God and then, ultimately, end up with him making peace not only with God, but also with his situation.

David's Psalms give me hope that this anger is only a dot, not my destination.

A few months back, I was experiencing probably the sweetest time in my life. It seemed that everything I had hoped for was finally coming together at just the right time. Ever since my head injury, my personality has become less accomplishment-oriented, and much more relationship-oriented. Relationships have always been a challenge for me, but the two types of relationships I most yearned to experience were, for the first time in my life, fulfilled at the same time.

The first relationship was family. A few years back, I was asked to move into a smaller office to accommodate a new co-worker. When he learned I had to move, he invited me to have dinner with his family to make up for it. This family of four is now a family of six, with the youngest daughter being my god-daughter. In addition to adopting two little girls, this couple adopted me into their family in our own formal way. For the last several years, I never had to think about where I would spend Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, my birthday, or any other occasion that historically has triggered a sense of loss. When I visit my biological family, it's "Mom's house" or "Dad's house." I don't belong there. I have a key to this family's home and I know I belong there. This family has done more to heal my heart than anything else I've experienced as an adult. They have shown me unconditional love and modeled family in a way that has utterly transformed me. I've been able to watch a husband and wife run a full gamut of emotions where leaving is not even a thought. I've watched patient parenting in action and loved on four of the best behaved kids on the planet. I never even really wanted kids until these kids wiggled their way into my heart. Now I long for a legacy of my own. In this family, I finally have a vivid picture of what I want to create for myself.

And they're moving. Not just out of the neighborhood. Not out of town or even out of state. They are moving to the other side of the world and the thought of it makes my heart hurt so much I can't breathe.

I have no doubt that they're doing what they need to do. Though they don't move until August 1, they will be gone from the neighborhood most of July, starting on Sunday. Less than 48 hours away.

I've known this day was coming for more than a year. I do feel a sense of progress in that, when I learned this news, I didn't pull away as I would have so often in the past. I made the most of the remaining time we had together. At the same time, not a day has gone by when I haven't prayed that God would bring someone into my life so that I can start creating my own family. The time has come, I believe, when I shouldn't have to settle for being the add-on to my friend's growing families.

This winter, I thought I found him. I've always been so cautious, so full of fear and anxiety when it comes to dating. I was wary of those who got emotional too quickly. After all, you've gotta be wise about these things and I had just the checklist to help you along. But then it happened to me. I met someone and he was everything I wanted and more than I could have thought up myself. And amazingly, he wanted me too. For once, I was pursued, hard, by a good guy...a great guy. No red flags anywhere, just green all around. I met his friends. He met mine. We all got along. The first time I walked into his house, I felt like I was home. (The first time I met him, I felt at home). I could see our life together and I loved what I saw. It wasn't just exactly what I had been hoping and praying for, it was better. We both felt so confident that we started making plans, seeking counsel, planning our budget, dreaming our future. Finally, talking about marriage with someone filled me with joy, not fear. The timing seemed so perfect, I was losing my family, but gaining MY family. It balanced out. It made sense. It was finally my time!

I had been struggling at work. I had known for some time that though I was fully recovered from my head injury, I was not fully healed, and I was not the same. I couldn't do the job the way it deserved to be done. I could give 20 good hours, but if I tried to give 40, the rest of my life suffered...and it did suffer. But I needed to work to pay my bills. So I put life and God and my passion for writing on the back burner to make money, each day feeling a bit of a failure for not being who I used to be. As talk of marriage became up more often, I finally felt free to admit that I needed to leave. I began talking with my boss and planning for my departure. I looked forward to moving out of the fast lane and moving into a life I really wanted: as a wife and mom who writes as God inspires.

This spring I hit a rough patch with my boyfriend, which I believed was due to the distance. We both got testy and picked fights. The content didn't seem to me to be anything substantial, and we both agreed that we needed time to develop an everyday relationship. With my job change in the works, I agreed that we needed to take a break and slow things down. I knew enough about relationships to realize that they have seasons of peaks and valleys and understood that it was to be expected that the distance would create a valley, especially if we really did want to be together. He had been so confident in his love for me that I felt secure in stepping back for the time being to get caught up in the other areas of our lives. We continued to talk every week, and I continued to share my status of my transition with him. I hated the thought of selling my house (see previous posts) but it was tempered by the idea of moving into his house after we were married. As my final day at work neared, I started thinking about where I would move. Would I stay here and visit there more extendedly? Or should I just go ahead and move to where he lived? We had talked about both. Finally I decided that moving sooner rather than later would be easier--one move, and I would have plenty of new things to occupy my thoughts and hopefully help with the transition. I was scared for all the change, but so excited about starting this much-anticipated new chapter of my life.

And then the other shoe dropped.

A week before my last day at work, he called to see how my day went. We were planning to get together in Minnesota in a few weeks and talked about how good it would be to actually see each other again. We got talking about my transition and my move. And that's when he told me he had changed his mind. He didn't want to marry me after all. He had made the decision in his mind and had emotionally moved on.

<<<The thing is, as much as I hate the way things ended, I understand it. Well, maybe not IT, but him. He's so much like me, personality-wise. In all the good ways and in all the annoying ways. Typically I've been the one to internalize my concerns and spring a decision on someone. Granted, I never got this far, and I never took my words back, but I still understand what drives a person to have this sort of decision-making thought process about someone without that someone. Being on the other side has forever cured me from not sharing my apprehensions with someone along the way. We have our differences, but I can't imagine finding someone so much the same. And that's what makes me sad. I can't say it was the right decision. For sure, it was a premature decision. But it is the decision he made, so it's decision I'll accept.>>>

I can't say that I handled it as well as I could have. I know that he cares for me, and I do think he realizes how much it hurt me. At the same time, I wasn't willing to take his olive branch of friendship, either. You can't offer someone your heart, your dreams, your life...and then say, "Never mind all that, but let's be friends." I thought we were friends...and more! I was blindsided by his change of heart. I thought I was finally secure in a relationship that could weather ups and downs. He was plain down and out. I just didn't see it coming.

We didn't get together as planned in Minnesota, though we did see each other twice. Once was anticipated, when we were in the same place at the same time. The other was an odd coincidence, where we were in the same suburb in the same restaurant. Our relationship was filled with little coincidences and affirmations. I'm sure they played a part in why I let myself fall for him so fast and so hard. It just seemed like everything was perfectly aligned for us to be together at just this time.

We didn't really talk when we saw each other, either time. I don't know what he experienced, but what I felt was the horrible awkwardness of wanting so much for him to show me in some way at all that he did care for me once, even if he no longer did. I wanted him to say he was sorry that it didn't turn out the way we dreamed, because it was a really wonderful dream. I wanted to see some sense of sadness and pain, not because I want him to be full of sadness and pain, but because I don't want to believe that he could get over me so quickly. I wish I could get over him as quickly. But he didn't reach out to me. He didn't touch me. He hardly said anything. And that's how I knew it really was over, and part of me wonders if it ever was. It had been so wonderful, I think it must have been just a dream.

Since then, I've left my job. I'm still selling my house. And after that, I'm not really sure. I'm praying that God will show me what I can still do well with the lasting limitations of my head injury. Life is not turning out the way I planned, and I'm in desperate need for Him to show me a new plan. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. I feel like my heart is terminally ill.

My family here got me a webcam so I can still see them after they move. I gave back all my ex-boyfriend's things so I wouldn't have to see them anymore. As I've been cleaning and sorting through my things to prepare my house to list, I've been going through my memory boxes. Pictures of my family here. Pictures of the man with whom I thought I was going to have a family of my own. One set of pictures got burned to a CD so I'll have them when I settle in my next place. The other set got deleted so I can start healing.

I'm starting to say goodbye.

I Love You This Much

Another great song for the child of divorce soundtrack. This one was performed by Jimmy Wayne.

Check out the video here.

I Love You This Much
performed by Jimmy Wayne
from his self-titled album

He can't remember
The times that he thought
Does my daddy love me?
Probably not
That didn't stop him
From wishing that he did
Didn't keep him from wanting
Or worshipping him

He guesses he saw him
About once a year
He could still feel the way he felt
Standing in tears
Stretching his arms out
As far as they'd go
Whispering daddy
I want you to know

I love you this much
And i'm waiting on you
To make up your mind
Do you love me too?
How ever long it takes
I'm never giving up no matter what
I love you this much

He grew to hate him for what he had done
'cause what kind of father
Could do that to his son?
He said 'damn you daddy'
The day that he died
The man didn't blink
But the little boy cried

I love you this much
And i'm waiting on you
To make up your mind
Do you love me too?
How ever long it takes
I'm never giving up no matter what
I love you this much

Half way through the service
While the choir sang a hymn
He looked up above the preacher
And he sat and stared at him

He said
'forgive me father'
When he realized
That he hadn't been unloved
Or alone all his life
His arms were stretched out
As far as they'd go
Nailed to the cross
For the whole world to know

I love you this much
And i'm waiting on you
To make up your mind
Do you love me too?
How ever long it takes
I'm never giving up no matter what
I love you this much

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I Just Wanna Be Mad

Another song for stickin' it out...

I Just Wanna Be Mad
performed by Terri Clark
from the album, Greatest Hits 1994-2004

Last night we went to bed not talkin',
'Cause we'd already said too much.
I faced the wall, you faced the window.
Bound and determined not to touch.

We've been married seven years now.
Sometimes it feels like 21.
I'm still mad at you this mornin'.
Coffee's ready if you want some.
I've been up since five, thinkin' bout me and you.
And I've got to tell you the conclusion I've come to.

I'll never leave, I'll never stray.
My love for you will never change.
But I ain't ready to make up.
We'll get around to that.
I think I'm right, I think you're wrong.
I'll prob'ly give in before long.
Please don't make me smile.
I just wanna be mad for a while.

Well, now you might as well forget it.
Don't run your fingers through my hair.
Yeah, that's right, I'm bein' stubborn.
No, I don't wanna go back upstairs.
I'm gonna leave for work without a goodbye kiss.
But as I'm drivin' off, just remember this.

I'll never leave, I'll never stray.
My love for you will never change.
But I ain't ready to make up.
We'll get around to that.
I think I'm right, I think you're wrong.
I'll prob'ly give in before long.
Please don't make me smile.
I just wanna be mad for a while.

I'll never leave, I'll never stray.
My love for you will never change.
But I ain't ready to make up.
We'll get around to that.
I think I'm right, I think you're wrong.
I'll prob'ly give in before long.
Please don't make me smile.
I just wanna be mad for a while.

I just wanna be mad for a while.
I just wanna be mad for a while.
I just wanna be mad for a while.

Worth It All

Another addition to the child of divorce soundtrack, based on Isaiah 43:1-4:

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you are in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God, the Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you. . .That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.”

Worth It All
w/m: FFH
from the album, Voice From Home

O Child you’ve never known
How I really feel
Cause you’ve never been shown
O child, you’ve never known
That my love is real
Cause you’ve never been shown
I’m about to show you for myself
So listen baby, You don’t need nobody else – cause

You are mine, you are loved
You have always been thought of
When you hurt I feel it every time
You are mine, you are loved
And I’m never giving up
Till I’ve dried all the tears you cry
Long before you took a breath
I took your pain upon my chest
I knew your name, I heard you call
It was worth it all
It was worth it all
You are worth it all

O child, it wasn’t fair
How they walked away
Left you standing there
My child, I saw your tears
Was with you everyday
Through the lonely years
I’m about to bring back what they lost
So listen baby
Forget about the cost – cause

No matter where you go,
I’ll come and find you
You are precious to me…
My everything
No matter what they’ve done
I will restore you
You’re a masterpiece to me…
Only I can see
That underneath the hurt and the pain
Is a picture of me
O child, where did you go
Please don’t walk away
I love you so
So here I come to say

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Roll to the Middle

My church has been doing a series on family relationships for most of the summer. A few weeks back, they used a Sara Groves song with a message on reconciliation. It's a good one...

Roll To The Middle
w/m: Sara Groves
from the album, The Other Side of Something

We just had a World War III here in our kitchen
We both thought the meanest things
And then we both said them
We shot at each other till we lost amunition

This is how I know our love
This is when I feel it’s power
Here in the absence of it
This is my darkest hour
When both of us are hunkered down
And waiting for the truce

All the complicated wars
They end pretty simple
Here when the lights go down
We roll to the middle

No matter how my pride resists
No matter how this wall feels true
No matter how I can’t be sure
That you’re gonna roll in too
No matter what, no matter what I’m going to reach for you I long to find a love that doesn't say goodbye

Thursday, June 22, 2006


It's been quite a month since my last post. To be honest, I've not been exactly sure how to share what's been going on. There have been some significant changes in my life and a few rather heartbreaking disappointments. My life is not moving in the direction I thought it was just a few short months ago and I'm grieving the differences.

The reality is that I struggle so much with struggle. I like to think that as a woman of faith I should just be able to happily take in whatever comes my way. A friend shared with me that the peaks and valleys of life are both to be expected, and yet we are so surprised (disappointed, shocked, angry) when we hit that next if we are somehow immune to them. I shared with another friend the honest humanity of my emotions...I want to be above these feelings. I want to be unfazed by life's disappointments. I want to smile and have an unshakable faith. I want that, even in the midst of being blindsided by my circumstances, to believe I can be so utterly fulfilled with God alone that being let down by someone I loved would somehow not hurt quite so much.

The truth is, that hope is a fantasy. We are created for community. We are designed to desire and be desired by others. When hope is deferred, when dreams are dashed, our fragile hearts can't help but break because anything less means we didn't really love in the first place. So I'm encouraged by my hurt, as twisted as that sounds, because it means I did love, even if I lost it. And I'm encouraged that even though God isn't obligated to answer our whys, He still invites us to ask the hard questions.

I have so many questions.