Breathing in Your Grace…

Your Grace Finds Me…that Matt Redmon song was on the radio as I set off to do my Saturday morning errands.  It’s one of the songs that has spoken to the deep recesses of my heart during this season…grace in the midst of the storm…God’s little whispers, and sometimes outright shouts that everything will not only be okay it already is okay.

I was singing this at the top of my lungs in the car this morning not because my circumstances and emotions were in the right place but because sometimes we have to sing/speak of His unseen hand to declare to our unstable hearts that the Person we put our faith in is real.

Emotionally and circumstantially its not been the greatest week,  but yet I have been given a lot of protection, grace and favor this week too.

On Thursday night I came home to find my front door wide open.  This was after a wonderful dinner with a new-found friend who is walking the same journey as I.  We talked for three and a half hours.  Such a God connection as the story of our connecting came about purely by two…not just one…divinely appointed meetings.

So coming home to find my front door wide open was a buzz-kill for a moment anyway.  My front door needs to either be replaced or rehung as the house settling over the years has warped it.  This Summer it didn’t want to open so my husband did a temporary fix on it to give the locking mechanism more room to move.  Well, now that lower humidity has come with the colder weather the doorway has expanded and the mechanism doesn’t get good connection.  If I don’t get the deadbolt tightly secure the door will open with just a gust of wind.

Fortunately, a criminal did not come by and take advantage of the situation and even more miraculous was the fact that none of my cats…one in particular who is an escape artist…took advantage of the situation.  They were all inside when I got home.  My furnace was running like crazy, and the big evidence that the door had been open for hours was the fact that it was 93 degrees in my closed-off bedroom.

Grace.

Well, today as I ran errands I was looking for an outfit to wear to a wedding tomorrow.  Living on a single income for the past 10 months has really exercised my frugal muscles.  I get frugality naturally from the way I was raised, but let’s be honest, all girls like pretty new outfits.  I’m no exception.  So armed with a meager budget off shopping I go whispering a prayer.  Well, I found a pair of boots for $17 and a dress for $15.

Grace.

There’s a blood shortage in my area and because I am the universal blood type (O negative) I decided to stop in the blood center and donate.  A year ago I had left a much-loved coat there accidentally.  I had called back the next day to see if it was still there and the person on the phone assured me it wasn’t.  I believed them and prayed that whoever picked it up really needed it and would be blessed by it.  So what do I see hanging on the coat rack when I walked in the blood center today?  My coat!  I told the employee working up front, “Um, you’re going to think I’m crazy or trying to steal a coat, but I think that’s my coat.”. She said, “Did you leave it here over a year ago?”. I said, “Yes!”. She said, “Well, it’s yours because that’s how long its been hanging there.  We didn’t give up on its finding its owner.”

Grace.

To top the day off I stopped into Chick-Fil-A  for lunch since I had a gift card I had gotten for Christmas.  They were having “Circus Day” for the kids.  A friendly clown walked up and gave me a card (photos below) with scripture.

Ah, God whispers…this week audible shouts filled with Grace…
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A Season of Transition and Unsurpassed Grace

I’ve been getting some new followers lately and some feedback on my older posts.  Since I haven’t written any new content in several months I was wondering what was generating the attention.  Well, I Googled and Bing-ed my blog title and my blog comes up as the the first to third on the hits list (depending on the day)  so I was like, “Whoa…”  I decided that it was sign that I write something again.   I’ve been wanting to write, but well, my life took a dramatic turn about 10 months ago. I’ve wanted to blog more times than I have, but I’ve just not been ready to share.  I’m still not sure if I’m ready to share, so I’m writing this not knowing than when I’m done if I’ll hit “Publish” or not.  I’m going to write the below with an effort to be honest yet honor the people that it could affect.  I never want to use my blog to expose or hurt anyone.  That is not my desire.  I also know the weightiness of putting your personal issues online.  So, the “issues” are not going to be put here.  Not the place.   I’m really a very private person by nature.  I have tons of  journal content.  Those books know my every feeling, so it’s all written down.  I think one day it might make a pretty doggone good book, but that’s years down the road if ever, only if God leads.  I also thought about whether or not to rename the blog as my life has taken such a dramatic turn, and my possible childbearing years are nearly over, but I still think it fits.  I’ll write more about that later on down the line.

So, time to get to the point…

My husband and I are separated.

I realize in this day and age that’s not a very big bomb-drop statement, but to someone who expected to be married forever those six words carry a lot of weight, sadness, and a whole boat-load of other emotions.  It’s commonplace until it happens to you.

Again, I”m not going into the nitty-gritty of the situation.  I still care very much for my husband, and one of the very few ways I can honor and care for him right now is to respect him.  Also, what goes on inside a marriage is very personal and very raw especially when a marriage is in distress.  This is OUR relationship and shouldn’t be fodder for public scrutiny.  I can’t say I’ve been one hundred percent perfect in this area, but through some mistakes and through healing I’ve come to the place that those issues are solely between my husband and I.  I say this knowing that our marriage has an affect on SO MANY people.  I have a small handful of trusted friends and a great counselor who know my side of the story.   I’ve been floored by just how many people it has affected, and we don’t even have children!!  When marriages break down (with children or not), societies break down.  Evidence proves that, but that’s another post for another day.

I guess you can say I’m spouse-less not by choice right now…like I wanted another label…

Did unplanned childlessness have an affect on our marriage?  I would be lying if I said, “No.”  It had a greater affect on both of us than I ever knew.  I made HUGE mistakes.  I didn’t always handle my grief maturely.  I grieved over an extended period of time, because infertility/childlessness is not something you can grieve for 6-12 months and move on with your life.  You deal with it all your life, and it does put a HUGE amount of pressure on  a marriage.  Do, I blame infertility for where we are now?  No.  I don’t.  Our marriage is way more complex than one issue,  but it was always one of the elephants in the room of our lives.  It’s the same as the loss of a living child or miscarriage.  There’s no denying the loss, and the loss will always be there. It has to be dealt with one way or the other, and this kind of loss takes time and lots of it.  Running from it or trying to avoid it only makes a larger crisis inevitable.

I cannot write everything I want to write in one blog post, and I don’t know how frequently the blog posts will come.  I’m not going to pressure myself into saying I have to write at any specific interval, but I want to say this today as a person of faith in Jesus Christ:

I’m closer to God than I’ve ever been.  He is so real to me even during some of the greatest emotional pain I’ve ever been through.

It would take a War and Peace-sized book to tell you the emotional and spiritual journey I’ve been through the last 10 months, and it’s far from over.  I can honestly say the almost 20 years of infertility/childlessness was a cakewalk compared to the last 4 years of marriage turmoil and subsequent separation; however, through all the horrendous pain there has been a tremendous amount of healing…healing I don’t think could have happened had I not been alone.  God says he always works everything for our good.  The key word is “works” because not all things are good.  The Bible gives so many examples of that, but in the end it works out for the good of all involved.

I believe in covenant marriage.  I do believe that once people marry it should be for life.  If not, why do even most secular vows consist of some version of “for better for worse, for richer or poorer, till death do us part”?  Because God ordained it to be that way.  Yes, divorce has always been allowed for in extreme situations, but when Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees in Matthew 19 he said, (paraphrase) “It’s only so because the hardness of your hearts”, and he goes on to  reiterate God’s plan for  the earthly permanence of  one-man, one-woman marriage.  When the feelings aren’t there anymore then love and commitment come down to a choice, and sometimes you have to grit your teeth and barrel through the hard times even when it seems like the hard times won’t end.

I don’t want to get on a soapbox, but this is what I believe, and this worldview is where I’ll come from in subsequent posts.  I don’t bash or judge anyone with opposing views.  I love divorced people…God loves divorced people.  I’m looking possible divorce smack-dab in the face.   Because of the tragedy of no-fault divorce in some states people don’t get a choice.  It happens, and none of us are immune.   Most likely, if your spouse wants out there’s not a thing you can do about that piece of paper that severs only the legal tie.  I believe the tie in Heaven remains until death do us part, and it even has eternal implications.

With that said I want to end this post on an upbeat note.  I really am doing okay.  God has shown me SO MUCH through this time, and he is changing me for the better!  Yes, the pain is unimaginable at times, but the pain is working in me things I should’ve allowed God to work in me years ago.  I’m stubborn, and I’m a slow learner, but through it all God has not abandoned or forsaken me.  I could be bitter and angry, and I have days when I have those feelings, but surprisingly, after some healing I’m not.  I’ve also had some great opportunities that have come through my situation and through this blog.  Because of the blog I am being contacted rather frequently by publications and media for interviews.  I do not want to waste any of this experience.  I want to minister/help others in some way whether it be big or small.  I’m not looking for notoriety.  I just want to write and use this medium to reach others as God sees fit; nothing more, nothing less.

Well, I guess I’m going to hit  “Publish”.

Questions and Answers

I’ve been getting some new traffic and comments on my blog, and I’m always humbled by the comments I receive.  I also receive questions from time to time.  Most of the time I just respond to those questions directly to the commenter/asker, but I know not everyone puruses the comment section.  So, I’ll try to answer most of the questions I’ve received lately in this post (unless they are of a personal nature to either I or the commenter).  Here are the latest questions I’ve received with the corresponding answers.  Now, these are just my answers.  They are by no means “expert” by any stretch of the imagination.  They are just what I’ve found true in my life.

— How do you move with purpose/intention/motivation?  I too have days (weekends/holidays) of loneliness.  Unlike you, I struggle to find motivation to work around my house.  Why clean today, when I can clean tomorrow?  Why run that errand now?  I can do it later?  Why get out of bed now?  I can do that later too.  Sometimes I feel as though (to borrow the term) I am “chasing away boredom” when I move toward activities I enjoy.

These are good questions, and I promise you that I’m not trying to evade answering them by saying that  what gives YOU purpose, intention, and motivation will be different from what gives me purpose, intention and motivation.  This is something I have struggled with for years; however, because I have now entered a new season that has forced me to look head-on into my life’s purpose here is what I am learning…

You have to learn to work with the hand you’ve been dealt…you have to come to a place of acceptance.  This is paramount to living your life with purpose.  If you run from what is happening/has happened to you…or from what hasn’t happened…you will not find purpose, intention and motivation.  Once you come to the place of acceptance then you can start working on this.  Aceeptance is a process.  I came to the point of acceptance of my childlessness a couple of years ago.  That was good timing , because then I was dealt another life-altering situation that required has required me to go on the journey which is accepting another reality in which I have no control.

In summary, you have to find your own life outside of your identity as a childless woman.  Are you a wife, a daughter, an aunt, an employee etc. etc.?  I can guarantee you are something.  You are probably many things.  With that said from my personal beliefs and faith I am first and foremost a daughter of God.  My identity is first and foremost in Christ.  I honestly, don’t know how anyone gets through this life without faith in God.  I can honestly say that after the last four years I would be six feet under if it had not been for God and His strength to get me through.

As far as motivation that is personal too.  If you don’t feel like cleaning, doing errands, or even getting out of bed one day, and you are not forced by circumstances to do these things then DON’T DO THEM.   I find that a day of low motivation is usually followed by a day of higher motivation.  I had that experience this weekend.  I felt  like doing nothing on Saturday, but by Sunday I was a whirlwind of energy.  If low motivation is a chronic problem for you then you might need to get counseling or a life coach to help you find motivation for everyday living.  Someone once said, “The problem with life is that it’s so DAILY.”  That is so true.  We’d love every day to be an adventure of fun/new experiences, but the reality is most days are full of routine and mundaneness, but you can find joy in the mundane if you look hard enough.  I find that doing something for others is a kick start to get me out of bed and/or off the couch.  Also, I have to work.  Work is a big motivator for me because I like having a roof over my head and food on my table.

Pssst…moving towards activities you enjoy IS chasing away boredom.  That’s the point, so don’t second-guess doing what you enjoy.  As the old ad campaign says, “Just do it!”
— Is there an answer to meeting needs of kidless families in the church?  I was so lonely and trying so hard to connect in the church.  We finally started our own small group.  It attracted more young marrieds than intended, even though we carefully worded the description.  People read past that and expected it to be for young marrieds.

I won’t lie to you…meeting /finding childless families in church is hard, because we tend to be isolating by nature to protect oureselves since we are in the minority…that is if we don’t give up on church altogether which many of us sadly do.   Since my post about church and the childless is now a couple of years old I have gained a whole new perspective on it.  Church is filled with families, but I think if you look really hard you will find people who are lonely and in need of a friend.  I go to a very large church, and the key to finding social connection in church is to connect to something even if the people are not in your exact life situation.  Find a bible study/small group/activity group and just join or start/continue one and just minister to whomever shows up.  No, there are no guarantees that you’re going to find childless couples/people, but you might find a friend in an unexpected place.  In church and life in general I started making friends with folks whether or not they had kids or not.  This came after significant healing, but I finally  got tired of isolating myself because I couldn’t find the perfect childless friend(s).  When I got to that point my social life changed dramatically.  I now have several friends with children (mostly grown children now–but one with a 2 year old), and lo and behold, in the process I also have developed friendships with two childless women.  Sometimes when you quit looking so hard you find blessings in unexpected places and sometimes find what you were looking for in the first place.
—  I am divided in how to construct my use of time.  I used to be full force on a career.  Listening to wisdom of others, I didn’t want life to pass me by and have “only” my career and spouse at the end of my life.  I eased up on the career, but now find myself trying to figure out how to use my time.  Bored.  Lonely.  My path is shaped by God’s hand, I know.  I also believe I am responsible for my choices.  Not sure what this “freedom” and excess of time is supposed to be for.  Or how to commit 100% to the mundane without munchkins or being super-involved in work.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with focusing on one’s career if you are able to balance the rest of your life–big family or no family.  I say that being someone who never aspired to a career.  I only wanted to be a wife and mother.  For years I lamented the fact that I had to work, but yet I’ve done it so long now that I think I would be lost without it.  Sure, I’d like to work three days a week instead of five, but reality is it’s not going happen anytime soon if ever before I retire (if I retire–with the economy who knows?).

First, seek God.  I’m sure you have gifts and talents that could help someone…volunteer, find a social hobby.  If working fulfills you then find a lower-stress part time job you enjoy and go back to work on a limited basis.  Again, only you know what is right for you, but don’t think having a career as second best because for you it might be for the best.    I think looking back at the end of your life  if you’ve played the cards that God has dealt you to the best of your ability you’ll have no regrets.  If you don’t do something  you know God is telling you to do then you will have regrets.  God has withheld children for a reason.  That is not your responsibility or a reason to have regrets.   Quit regretting what is out of your control my friend!  It will only make you miserable.  I know.
— What would you tell yourself 5 to 10 years ago?  I want to live well and react wisely along this path.  What hindsight have you gained?

Wow, if you only knew what a loaded question that is.  Let me compose myself a bit…

Okay…here goes…if I could go back 5 to 10 years I would invest more in my relationships instead of focusing on what I didn’t have.  I would not let bitterness and jealousy take over my life to where I did serious damage to relationships that may or may not ever be healed.  I would enjoy the blessings I had in my life.  I would love more and wholeheartedly.  I would embrace life for what it is instead of what it’s not.  I would live AUTHENTICALLLY in each day like I’m doing my best to do now.  The hard truth is that you can’t go back and undo the past.  You can only go forward.  Apologize to those who you have hurt along the way, and accept their forgiveness if they’re willing to give it.  If they’re not then go forward anyway with or without that relationship.  Only you can choose how you live your life.  No one can make you happy.   Your happiness in fullfillment in life comes from only two things God and how you choose to live your life.

(Sorry…that question made me preach to  myself, but I hope you got some kind of answer out of it).

Wow, these were great questions that covered a lot of ground, but if you have more please send them on!  I’ll be happy to answer the best I can!

Blessings to you today!

It’s Been A While…

…a year and two days exactly since my last post.  A lot has happened and is happening, and God has sent me on a journey that s stretching me in ways that I’ve never been stretched before.  Right now, I cannot go into details for a multitude of reasons.  Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to blog about what the last year has been like.  All I can say right now is that God is showing me things beyond my imagination.  He’s also giving me strength to live in circumstances I never thought I could.  While my faith has been tested (and is being tested daily) I can honestly say I’m closer to God than I’ve ever been.  Do I have bad days?  Yes, very bad days; however, on those bad days God gives me the encouragement I need to keep going EVERY TIME.  When all you have left is God you realize that all you really need is Him.  I’m stronger in my faith than I’ve ever been even the midst of the greatest pain in my life.

I re-read my last post from May 10, 2012  and realized that it is more relevant to me today than it was a year and two days ago.  It’s not hard to find since it was last post before this, but for your convenience here’s a link:

https://awomanwithoutchildren.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/a-word-of-prayer-with-myself/

Looking back at it I realize God was preparing me for the journey I’m on now and why I had to put my childlessness behind me in order to cope with what I was getting ready to experience.   While my comprehension of my future is fraught with uncertainly I stand on this scripture:

” For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11  NIV

A Word of Prayer With Myself

It’s the week that most childless women dread the most, the week many of us call “hell week”…the week leading up to Mother’s Day.   For years I joined in with the collective pity party of the non-moms, and while there’s a solidarity, an us-against-the-fertile-world feeling there’s not any real comfort in it, and honestly, it’s never made me feel better about the day

Mother’s Day is not really what I want to address  in this post though.  I’ve had to come to some very harsh realizations lately based on some circumstances and relational issues.  So, when I say what I say below please note I’m talking more to myself than anyone out there.  I just hope that, maybe, as an infertility/childless veteran I can spare someone  the same pitfalls I’ve experienced.

Are you ready?  Are you sure?  Here comes the sage advice from nearly 20 years of chidlessness….

Just get over it.

Is that a collective gasp I hear throughout the childless blogosphere?  Will I wake up to comments of outrage  in my inbox in the morning?  Maybe, but hear me out.  Again, this is me having a word of prayer with myself.

How many more years are you going to spend pining away for that child you’ll most likely never have?  How many more times will you let that non-existent child keep you from happiness?  God gave you one life to live, and while you’d like to march right up to His throne, stomp your foot, and demand an explanation for why He didn’t give you children that’s not going to happen.  So, the best thing you can do is trust His sovereignty and hand him all the mess and pain and tell Him he can have it.  (Disclaimer) If you don’t believe in God then give it back to the universe, mother nature, or whatever entity you believe controls everything.  If you believe in nothing then it’s all a moot point anyway, and so you better get over it and live this life to the fullest, right, because when it’s over it’s over.

Really, what good are you doing to yourself by dragging it with you like the proverbial ball or chain?  Quit waking up in the morning and putting on your garment of pain and self pity.  Honestly, it’s not attractive.  It’s a heavy, moth-eaten old garment of mourning.  It’s made of scratchy wool; it stinks; it weighs you down so get rid of it.  You’ve grieved long enough.  Even in the olden days the period of grief when a loved one died was usually one year.  While your grief is different it’s still grief.  You’ve been mired down in it for years, and it’s time to snap out of it.  Get help to snap out of it  if you need it.

I’ve come to another big realization…your family/friends don’t understand.   They really don’t, and that’s why they sometimes/many times they come off as aloof and uncaring.  They don’t know how you feel (unless they’ve been there themselves), and what they want is you and not this constant grief and sadness you emit.  This is particularly true with your spouse.  If you’re relatively new to this path your spouse may be very understanding.  They may go out of their way to do things to make you happy.  You know the worst thing you can do when they’re trying to make you happy?  Not be happy.  I’m sure your spouse is wonderful, but after years and years of trying to pick you up out of the mire they will eventually run out of emotional resources to continue.  They are dealing with this too, and you are doing them no favors by constantly wanting them to wallow in the mire with you.  Heck, some of them will eventually pack their bags and leave… if not physically then emotionally and intimately.  Don’t let that happen to you.

I wish I could say that there is some magical formula to make this happen.  There’s not.  It’s really making up your mind and determining in your heart that it’s time.  This may be a place you come to on your own, or like me, circumstances may drive you there.  I do, however, have a few ideas on changing your mindset.

  • Appreciate each day.  Wake up and instead of putting on that horrible garment of pain put on some light comfortable garments of gratitude and think about what’s good in your life.  Even if you’re not where you’d like to be there is something good going on in your life.  Think about that  instead of the negative things.
  • Appreciate what childlessness gives you.  If I’d had children when I wanted to I’d be dealing with teenage angst and college tuition bills.  I will never have to deal with either.  I have more disposable income, and I am free to change the direction of my career or even my address without the added stress of, “How will this affect the children?”  Face it, I have more freedom even if I would’ve given up that freedom gladly for children.  I might as well enjoy the freedom because I have it.
  • Plan a kick-butt vacation even if it’s a mini-one like we did last weekend.  We spent two nights in a B&B and did a bike trip down the Virginia Creeper Trail in Damascus, Virginia.  It didn’t cost too much, and we made some awesome memories.  Even if you can’t afford a couple of days take a short day trip near your own backyard.  As Ellie in up said, “Adventure is out there!”  You just have to get  your depressed, lazy butt up off the couch and find it.
  • Start dreaming again.  This is something I am actively having to work on.  It doesn’t come easy for me because my dreams stopped when I realized that children weren’t coming.  It was easier not to dream anymore and avoid any further pain.  What I am realizing is that by not dreaming I was causing myself more pain in the long run.

Again, this is a very blunt and direct post and a trip to the woodshed for myself, but sometimes instead of patting each other on the back and saying “there, there” sometimes we need to give each other and ourselves a swift kick in the bum.

So, consider this the swift kick we all need.

 

 

Chaotic Musings of a Less-Than-Spotless Mind

Uh-oh, I want to write, but I have many topics swirling around my head at the moment, so I’m going to ride the wave of wandering thoughts.  Maybe later I’ll write more extensively on some of the thoughts later if they decide to become cohesive.

  • Since my husband is  traveling for business more…which is 100% more than he was traveling last year…I have to spend up to two weeks at a time without my spouse.  Other than our stint at a commuter marriage last year this is a relatively new experience for me.  At first I revel in the, “He’s gone, so I can do anything I want when I want” euphoria, but several days in the euphoria wears off, and I just want him back home.  Of course, I work full-time during the week so I cope pretty well during that time, but the weekends can be a HUGE challenge.  Of course, I could schedule my weekend social calendar out the ying-yang, but I also need downtime for rest and energy renewal.  My problem is I’ve never had to learn to be alone without being lonely.  Many of us haven’t.  Being Ms. Practical that I am I decided that Google might help me find some resources, and sure enough, I found some interesting and creative ideas about how to enjoy being alone.   You really have to practice at it.  Alone-ness is really not a popular concept in our culture which demands we always be connected to someone either face-to-face or through technology and social media.  This video really spoke to me in it’s creative and artistic way: 
  • I had a woman at church come up to me after service last week and offer to pray for me.  She said that she could sense that I was struggling with something.   I was.  It’s not been a good couple of weeks on the childless or relational front, and I found myself at church last Sunday in an a less-than-enthusiastic mood.  I’m sure I was exuding a wee bit of a Debbie Downer vibe as, let’s face it, I can be a wee bit of a Debbie Downer at times (just ask my husband).  Anyway, when you attend a charismatic church with high-energy worship and you sit on the pew like a bump on a log people notice.  So, maybe this is how this person noticed, but no matter, I did need prayer, and I did want assurance that God is not going to leave me in depression forever; so he sent this sweet little lady to pray with me.  Even though I go to a charismatic church it’s a megachurch and having people pray over you personally is not the norm, at least in my nearly decade of experience there.   I did tell her exactly what I was feeling, and how I struggle with depression over childlessness and the effect it’s had on my relationships and family.  Her response (loosely quoted) was, “I’m a mom, and I can’t say I know exactly how you feel, but I’ve struggled with situational depression, so I can relate on that level.”  She then said the sweetest, most thoughtful prayer I’ve ever had some pray over me.  Very uplifting and encouraging.
  • Speaking of depression…while I’ve known for I while I suffer from it (along with anxiety), but I’ve never really owned it.  Last weekend I watched the movie, Girl Interrupted, and while I’ve never been depressed enough that I thought I needed hospitalization (others in my life might disagree) I could really relate to the main character of the film (the film was based on her real-life experience in a mental institution).  It made me want to learn more about depression and how it affects the sufferer and those who love them.  I found a book called  Is It Weird in Here or is it Just Me?written by a depressed man while he was in a mental institution.  While I take comfort in the fact that I don’t think my depression is severe I also find it sobering that I can completely understand how he feels in his depression, and how even though you know your thoughts and feelings can oftentimes be irrational and lie to you your emotions can sometimes take complete control and have an epic battle with your logical thought.  Still reading it, but I can already say that it’s a good read especially for folks who have loved ones who are depressed and don’t understand why they can’t just snap out of it.
  • Planning a weekend getaway for early May with my husband, and I think it’s going to ROCK as long as the weather cooperates.  I’ll definitely write about that experience one way or the other.  Traveling is always good therapy for me even when  I have to  fight off the anxiety monsters who want to keep me miserable on trips sometimes.

I think that’s about it for the moment.

When Hope Seems Cruel

I’ll admit it,  I’ve been caught up in the whole Hunger Games hysteria.  It started  innocently enough.  When I found out that the movie was being shot in North Carolina; more specifically, the arena scenes in my home county in forests that I frequented as a child, and the capitol scenes in my current city of residence, well, I had to read the books.

The books are not my typical genre of choice.  I’m not into dark story lines or stories that contain a lot of violence, but there was something about this story line that drew me in.   Since I  hail from Appalachia I’m  drawn to stories that originate from there, but I think what drew me in was the story’s main character, Katniss Everdeen.  In the books the story is told from her perspective.  If you don’t know the premise by now you’ve probably been living in a media-free cocoon, but simply Katniss is a 16-year-old girl who is primary caregiver to her younger sister and mother.  They live in a dystopian future under an oppressive totalitarian government that chooses 2 “tributes” from the 12 established districts (between ages 12 and 18) every year to participate in a gladiator-style, death match dubbed as “The Hunger Games”.    This is mostly for the entertainment of the privileged Capitol citizens, but it originated as punishment to the districts for a past uprising and serves as a yearly reminder that the Capitol is still firmly in control of every aspect of their lives.

I see some of myself  in  Katniss Everdeen although I’m not as brave as she.   She is an introvert by nature who has suffered painful loss in her life and is now just trying to survive her situation the best way she knows how.  There are people in her life that she loves dearly, but she has cut almost everyone off from becoming too close, because she is afraid that one day she will lose them.   In the movie she talks to her closest friend about never wanting to have children.   It’s understandable given the oppression she lives under.   On “Reaping Day” for the Hunger Games Katniss’ life changes forever in a moment of fate and choice.

Below  is a poignant scene in the movie (edited by the original poster for content–there was more said in this scene).   The President of Panem,  Corolanius Snow,  is speaking to the head gamemaker, Seneca Crane, about a situation happening during the games (not a spoiler if you’ve not seen the movie).  It speaks into a situation that has recently arisen in my life:

Why did that scene speak to me?  Well, recently, quite unexpectedly I was given an unexpected glimmer of hope concerning my fertility.   After many years of  fertility treatment and then many years of giving up I began having regular cycles on a drug (natural progesterone) that in and of itself shouldn’t have made my cycles regular.  To say that I was utterly shocked by my doctor’s declaration that I am most likely ovulating is an understatement.  I was FURIOUS!

That might seem like an odd reaction to news that just ten years ago would’ve thrilled me, but I was/am angry.  After all those years of hoping and praying and trying expensive fertility treatments it turns out that simple natural progesterone was the magic trick for me…at least to produce ovulation.  Now that I am 43 speeding on towards 44 it all seems like a cruel joke…too little almost too late.

I told my husband and a trusted friend the day I found out.  I cried my eyes out, and I  still can’t speak about it without crying.   I don’t think either of them understood my absolute devastation at hearing this news.   That simple statement totally eroded several years of healing I’d done in an attempt of finally coming to grips that we would forever be childless.   Of course, this brings up  a whole myriad of questions that I wasn’t emotionally prepared to deal with:

Could I actually get pregnant?  Do I want to get pregnant?  Could I survive a pregnancy loss?  Could I deal with a very high-risk pregnancy which is what it would be at my age?  And the biggie…do I actually want a baby at my age?

I do have answers to those questions; however, I’m not at peace about my answers.   On one hand I want to give God every opportunity to fulfill his intended will for my life and to give joy and hope to the people in my life that I love dearly, but on the other hand I’m not sure that pursuing the glimmer of hope I have been given is in my best interest or that  a positive outcome is even remotely possible.   I’ve  lived so many years on emotionally shaky ground that hope at this point seems like yet another doorway to heartache and pain.  That’s why right now I can relate to the hope being stronger than fear principle and like President Snow I just want to contain it before it reeks any more havoc.

Thoughts after Trauma

For two weeks after my dad’s accident I lived at a hospital.  Well, not 24/7, but mom and I spent upwards to 10 hours there everyday.  My mom has been there almost an additional week beyond me.  I had to return to work this week.  I’m happy to say that my dad is being transferred to an inpatient traumatic brain injury rehabilitation program today, so the hospital vigil will officially end for my mom.  I’m encouraging her to get some much-needed rest and not spend her every waking hour at the rehab with dad.

Like I said  in my last post my perspective changed while spending every day in the hospital.  I hesitate to say my life became simpler given the seriousness of my dad’s injuries, but in a way life did become simpler.  My entire focus was on being an advocate of my dad’s care and support person for my mom.  Of course, I had to make sure all my responsibilities were being handled at home and at work, but once that was settled I could put all my energy into that main focus.

For the first time in a long time I felt I had a purpose, an important one, and that I was very needed by someone.   Yes, at times it was exhausting (still recovering from that) and my emotions were on a crazy roller-coaster (still recovering from that too).   On particularly bad days there were times I called my husband and virtually cried on his shoulder, but most of the time I surprised myself at how totally in control, assertive and stable I was  in the midst of a traumatic and life-changing time for my family.

While I’m definitely ready for this situation to be behind us I’m already missing that time when my life seemed to have real purpose.  Coming back to real life (the rat race) where my life purpose seems a little ambiguous has been more difficult than expected.   I felt whole and complete caring for my parents which is actually going to be an ongoing task with new dynamics depending on how well my dad  recovers from his brain injury.  Trying to manage this from 2-1/2 hours away may prove to be more challenging than I’m equipped for, but as with the acute care of my dad I just have to rely on the Lord to make a way and give me management skills and the emotional/physical fortitude that I don’t possess at the moment.

Again, the  situation has prompted me to question many things in life, and there are no simple answers.  Things were happening prior to my accident that already had me questioning whether or not I was going to remain where I am much longer (I’m being vague here, because, you know, it’s the internet).   I’ve felt for several years that  I’m being pulled in too many directions, stretched too thin, and the last few weeks has amplified the feeling that I need to simplify life and focus on family more.

Honestly, I have no idea what that looks like or how it is to happen, so I’m giving it to God.  If He truly wants this for me he’ll make a way.  I’ve often said that the upside of not having children is that I will be more available for mine and my hubby’s aging parents.  In some ways that’s true, but because of life and the reality that bills still have to paid it makes the the execution of this very challenging.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through all of this is don’t take your family for granted.  While I know that losing my parents is inevitable (unless I go before them) I kept telling myself, “They probably  have at least 10 good years left”.  Life is so fragile.  It took spending a week in a neuro-trauma ICU waiting room to realize just how unpredictable and fragile life is.

ICU Perspective

I write this sitting in a Neuro trauma ICU waiting room.  At approximately this time last Monday I got the news that no one wants to get.  My dad had had an accident.  He had been cutting a tree on his property.  The tree didn’t fall exactly where he planned, and he didn’t get out of the way fast enough.  He was being airlifted to a trauma center.  Of course, I immediately dropped everything and drove two hours to the hospital terrified of what I would hear when I got there.  I prepared myself for the worst.  I don’t think I’ve ever prayed so fervently in all my life (except when my husband had to have emergency surgery).  I was almost relieved when I was told he just had a skull fracture and a small subdural hematoma and no other injuries; however, we spent nearly a week waiting for him to wake up not knowing if he ever would.

He did wake up yesterday, and today he was extubated and attempting to talk some and wants to go home!  It’s going to be a little while before that happens though.

Spending a week in the neuro trauma ICU is a vivid lesson on the fragility of life.  I’ve seen gunshot victims, knifing victims, car accident victims and another tree cutting accident victim that is much more injured than dad.  Dad’s ICU neighbor is a 20-something young man who started having strokes for some yet-to-be-determined reason.

It will take some time and rest to fully process how this week has affected me, but I know I will walk away from this experience with an entirety new perspective on some things.  I know for certain that what was a big deal to me at 3:00 p.m. last Monday is not such a big deal to me today.

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