Category Archives: heartbreak

Nine Years

We’ll start with that next time, my counselor says, indicating that this time is up.

Pushing off with his feet, rolling in his chair to a desk in the corner, setting up next week’s appointment, I am left sitting on the couch with that statement. Beside me, my husband tries offering a reassuring presence in the form of his comforting smile and nod, but I am having none of it.

At thirty-six years of age, it took every ounce of courage to speak the place where trauma, pain, and betrayal hijacked me as a teenager. This time. My counselor is calling me deeper. Next time.

My breathing grows shallow, and blood runs cold as ice through my veins. The trick of dissociating by numbing out and viewing myself from a distance begins to take over. Noticing this, Counselor checks in and rolls from his desk to the expansive bookshelves lining the wall. Scanning them in earnest, he searches.

I am afraid to ask, though had he told me, I could have located the volume first, having become an expert at focusing on those titles and authors behind him while trying to stay grounded during sessions.

Here it is. You need to get a copy of this book to read.

He does not offer to give it to me or let me borrow it. I cannot take it home today. I have to get it for myself. Later.

Taking it into my hands, glancing at the image on the cover while simultaneously reading the title and subtitle, draws copious tears that I struggle to sniff back, but they morph into full-blown sobs, betraying my stoic facade. I cannot hide the fear and terror evoked by the simple act of holding this book.

What’s wrong? Why the tears?

Counselor’s gruff bedside manner does not mask his concern, as he gently prods my pain, following the trail I am leaving.

I don’t want to look at my story! I hate everything about my story!

This visceral response is gut-wrenchingly real. His response to my outburst is kind. He affirms something about my story having value, etc. . . I am not in a place to hear or believe him, but I know that since he has recommended To Be Told ~ God Invites You to Coauthor Your Future by Dan Allender with my husband in the room, the book will show up at our house.

Anything to help me, to fix this, my husband of fifteen years will do.

The book arrives, and I reluctantly begin reading. It feels too big and too much to think of actually writing out and sharing parts of my story to process with others, as recommended, yet I am intrigued by lines such as this, Neither your life nor mine is a series of random scenes that pile up like shoes in a closet. (To Be Told, p. 3)

I am shattered. Undone. Curious.

Nine years later. . .

It would be easier and tidier to write ten years later, but an honest time frame says nine.

Nine years have passed since that original scene of facing what was terrible, traumatic, and unspoken in my heart. I am forty-five years old, mid-forties, still processing and in process. I am in a healthier place of healing and growth. Redemption has come knocking on my door, and I have chosen to bravely open up to it, in all of its scary, strange, disruptive glory.

Growth has not been easy. It has taken much time and courage. There are still painful places in my story to visit and name. I have been living life in the meantime; a life large, messy, and full of its own trauma, trial, and error. Life stops for no one.

Nine years ago, I was married for 15 years and had seven children ranging in age from 15 to 1. Little Mae, the surprising finale to our family, was not even on my radar. Now I have half of an empty nest, with four children living at home and four living life on their own.

Nine years ago I was 36. So young. I felt so old.

Dear thirty-something struggling with your role in your story, it is not over. It is not all written. There is hope. Investigating the shoe pile-up in your closet is worth it. You do not need to struggle alone. Find someone to help you find your brave.

Nine years later, I have had time to process and to practice new skills. I have learned more words for finding my feelings and speaking my reality. I have had people sit with and support and guide and encourage me. I have had time to sit with others.

Not everyone is called to this journey a friend once told me, as I wrestled and struggled and questioned and cried, every fiber in me wanting to go back to what was.

Nine years ago, I could not have known the role that the book To Be Told and the work of its author would play in my life. I could only take it in hand, take courage to read, and keep moving forward.

Now, I am not looking back, unless it’s to help me move forward.

Summer Rising

It’s not even technically summer, yet, but we will call it summer.

School is out, finally and completely finished for everyone. The first morning of us all home together wrung me in the worst of ways. In the span of hours there were tears and heartache and disappointments and relief, and that was just from me.

Each child had his or her own voice to add to the chorus. Fifteen minutes of weeding the side yard and watering the rogue vines growing in the dirt pile out back offered a bit of relief for my soul.

I woke from a nightmare that was morbid and gruesome and disturbing. It’s meaning makes complete sense to me. My brain is full and dumping data on overtime’s schedule. Vivid dreams are one way I deal with overload.

After traveling at breakneck speed for the last weeks, it feels as if my internal emergency brake handle was pulled, leaving emotions to fly forward as I simultaneously jerk them back. The collateral damage felt through my eyes and heart reminds me of the messiness of even the good parts of life.

Day One. Send off adult kids to their own homes on the heels of a big graduation weekend. Process hard places and disappointments and Plan B with newest adult and send him off, as well. Hear the rest of the voices left under the roof, clamoring for attention. Drop one at a friend’s, take the others to the library, make semi-annual contribution to the library’s operating fund in the form of overdue book fees, talk to a sister or two on the phone, read for a little while. Try to write. Feel feelings that are stirring and allow self to cry. Go to quiet corner only to find it claimed by the queen of the house. Sit on bed instead.

Zephyr

I am trying to accept the arrival of summer with open hands. I see the kindness in the chaos and the goodness in the grief. It is only day one. There is time for space to open and for dust to settle and for change to offer perspective, as I feel summer rising.

Choosing Texas

Would you rather go to Hell or Texas?

Little Mae asks me this very question during our ride to school one morning in May. She sneaks it in after we finish dropping her older brother off at middle school but before arriving at ours. We are rounding the traffic circle, if memory serves.

I am shocked, stunned, slightly panicked.

Where in the world did THIS question come from and WHERE is it going?

Masking my ability to jump to the worst possible conclusion to anything in a single bound, I respond with a question of my own.

Why do you want to know?

I am learning, slowly, but surely, to put into practice all of those good parent techniques that other parents seem to have a handle on. Like asking clarifying questions.

Well, in Sunday School we are learning about the Apostle’s Creed, and there was the question, “Would you rather go to Hell or Texas?”

Aha! Now I have a context and framework. Of Course! He was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into Hell. The third day, he arose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven. . .The words that I learned as a child flood back to my mind.

While some would say there is no difference, I definitely have my answer. . .

I would never want me or anyone to go to Hell, and I have been to Texas, so I definitely choose Texas.

In fact, I would love to be in Texas, where I was almost five years ago when I met the woman who would prove to be instrumental in guiding me to the place that I am today!

As is the case any time Mae and I engage in conversation, there is more. Big things and deep thoughts happen in the space of ten minutes, and this time is no exception.

At least I have someone I already know there waiting for me. You know. Porter?

My heart catches in my throat as we enter this new conversation about her cousin born too soon. I never know when to expect them or what to expect from them. Some times are predictable, like kindergarten graduation when they would have graduated together. Others are not, like when we are driving to school.

Yes. Porter is already in Heaven waiting for you. It will be exciting to meet him one day. It’s nice to have someone you know already there before you. . .

We talk about him for awhile and remember together. Well, I remember, and share with her. Each year, she understands a little more. She always understands that he is the cousin her age that is not here.

Just like Kirk has Deacon, and Chloe and Kanah have Jude. She loves Hadassah, but Porter is the one who would have been her age. In her class.

Porter is the one who is missing. Waiting for us on the other side.

So this year on the day that we should be celebrating him turning eight, I honor him by remembering him and reminding us that his life mattered. It still matters. He matters.

We miss you, Porter Silas. We wonder what you would look like and what you would act like. I wonder what it would have been like to teach three second graders this year, with you as a role model to those first grade boys, balancing out that first and second grade table of five at lunch. I wonder what it would have been like to teach you. Thank you for all that you taught us during your short, meaningful life. Thank you for living out each day written for you with purpose and dignity, even when we didn’t, and still don’t, understand why you had to leave us so soon. We are honored to call you nephew and cousin. We remember and will choose Texas every time. We can’t wait to meet you one day in Heaven.

Comparing My Gray to Your Sunny Day

I slather my feet with Waikiki Beach Coconut shea butter foot cream before tugging on thick black socks and sliding into rain boots. It’s the closest I will get to Hawaii as I troll Facebook for pictures of my younger sister’s vacation, living vicariously through her, her husband, and their adult children.

My sky is gray and pours rain today. Again. It has been raining consistently for weeks. Ever since, it seems, my husband made an edict that I would no longer be driving our middle school son to school unless it was raining, it has been raining.

My pedicure is non-existent, waiting in a bottle in the bathroom cabinet. I am grateful that this isn’t sandal weather, as I pull on boots for another wearing before the season officially ends. I grab a sweater while I’m at it.

I long for the breathtaking scenery and list of beach chores and pictures of toes in the sand posted to my sister’s wall. My nephew and his wife are sunkissed in the surf and gorgeous. Other pictures posted shout lovely, relaxing, grown-up family time, and I want it!

I want my sister’s life in this moment but not all the things.

I don’t want the very hard parts, yet those are a part of the sunny day package in the life of another.

And that is the dilemma, especially in the world of photos and social media and the age of technology. We get to see another’s best sunny day and measure it against our gray. We don’t always get to see the flip side.

I tend to fill in the blanks of a great Instagram picture or #hashtag with most awesome backstory and future coming ever!

It feels very gray in my world. The weather has been chilly, rainy, and bleak. My heart has been cold, teary, and weak. And yet, there is someone looking at pictures and posts of my sunny day moments. They don’t see the hard, the struggles, the stress.

Even when I share openly about the hard, there is still the very hard that remains to be sorted and worked through in quieter, more private spaces. I want to run away from it to the sunny that beckons from another’s world. I want to leave this behind and escape my reality, instead of embracing what is and waiting for the gray to fade.

I pull off my boots at the end of the day to the scent of coconut lingering in the air. I drag the rake through my zen garden , smoothing sand, dreaming of the ocean. I open a picture of tiny shells in a text from my sister to show her little namesake who likes tiny things.

I hold gratefulness in my heart for the sunny that she gets to experience; a respite from storm. I ponder why it is harder for me to rejoice with those who rejoice than to weep with those who weep.

I choose to remain in a hopeful stance that the sun isn’t too far away.

Start

It’s God’s glory to conceal things,
then we get to figure them out.
This can cause one to wonder
Just what is this life all about?

As dross is removed from the silver
Before a vessel is made,
So trials may press on a heart,
Before glory can be displayed.

But often these trials and pressings
Bring with them wounding and pain.
It’s tempting to want to give answers
To think the complex can be plain.

The way to approach is in silence.
In holding a sacred space
For the one who is hurting and broken
And feeling confused in this place.

Then a wise word may be spoken,
To carefully water the heart.
For those confused, who don’t know what to do,
This is a good place to start.

~for those who wonder from Proverbs 25~

All

We all are that person,
that woman, that man,
Running to darkness
as fast as we can.

Deceived and deceiving
and lacking in sense,
We are harmed and harm others
without recompense.

But wisdom is watching.
She’s seen this before.
She knows what will happen
if we walk through that door.

So take time to listen
to wisdom’s advice.
Turn away from temptation,
And try to think twice,

Before moving towards what will
cause pain and death
And leave your heart slain
And your spirit bereft.

~sobering thoughts from Proverbs 7~

Friendship Friday ~ Making it Happen

I planned a date night.

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but for me it is. For me it is saying, I really care about spending time together, I know Steve will enjoy this, I know I will enjoy this. Even though there are 1,001 reasons to not make it happen and then feel disappointed, I am going to TRY.

When I saw that Second City was returning to JMU, I wanted to go again with Steve. We attended a show a few years ago with No Strings Attached, and it was fun. I participated in a Second City workshop in Chicago while chaperoning a school trip for my son and learned a lot.

I desired to do this together.

Several weeks ago, I checked out the tickets and pricing. Seats were going fast. There were a few left scattered here and there, mostly in the balcony. Asking Steve what he thought about going, and not hearing clear Let’s do it! in his voice, I let it go.

Several weeks ago there was also great letdown as a failed communication between us resulted in an anticipated longing falling by the wayside, unmet. I struggled through deep disappointment and wrestled with how to let go of past hurts while communicating present ones honestly.

It was difficult to admit to myself and my husband that I stuff pain and quickly say, It’s okay, or It’s no big deal, when it’s not and it is. I had to acknowledge my hurt, disappointment, and true feelings without accusing, blaming, and attacking. It was a difficult time. We are still learning to communicate honestly and to hear one another in a safe space.

Steve can’t read my mind.

I minimize desire. I long for more together time but don’t take action. I wish for connection but grow busy with distraction.

It was time to make something happen.

Last night, out of curiosity, I logged onto the theater website to see what, if any, seats were left.

The seat map showed two yellow squares at the edge of a sea of x‘s. And by sea, I mean every other seat was marked taken.

Two seats at the end of a row! A countdown timer at the top of the laptop screen ticked away the minutes I had to make a decision while Steve was out walking Dewey. Two seats. At the end of a row! (Can you tell that part in itself was HUGE for me?) The last two seats. My favorite spot in any row.

I took them.

Almost immediately, contempt and sabotage began to creep in.

What did you just do? That was stupid. You don’t even know if you can get a babysitter at this late notice. Steve didn’t act as if he wanted to go when you mentioned it before. You just spent money on something that you don’t know will work out.

And on and on.

I began my usual pattern of faux-not-caring. He can always take a friend if we don’t get a sitter. I can be here with the kids. It doesn’t matter if I go or not.

It mattered.

I tried.

I told Steve when he returned and was met with a positive response. He helped me begin looking for a sitter, which in the end I secured.

Thanks, Mom and Dad!

So tonight is a real date night, not that popcorn and Parenthood at 9:30pm doesn’t count. It’s the fighting forward for fun together that doesn’t just magically happen because I wish it would. It’s being in the moment in our marriage, knowing that it is worth it.

We are worth making it happen!

Buddy’s Saturday Adventure ~ Guest Blogger

It all started when I woke up on Saturday morning.

I forgot to feed my guinea pig Buddy because I wanted to look at the clock to see if it was eight o’ clock. The reason I wanted to was because I wanted to pick episodes on netflix with my brother and sisters. The reason we had to wait till eight was because our mom and dad said we HAD to wait till eight.

So after we watched episodes on netflix, I told my mom that I would be washing Buddy. She went and cleaned the cage for me. ( I have a really nice mom. )

When I finished washing Buddy I took him down stairs. My mom was finishing putting the bedding in Buddy’s cage. I told her I was taking Buddy outside, so when I did my little sister put the cage down and I put Buddy in the cage. ( The cage wasn’t all the cage it didn’t have the floor part so it was just the top. )

Well, a little while later I wanted to flip the cage top so the top of it was on the ground. (Note: do NOT do this it is a very stupid idea. )

So when I did my little sister asked if I wanted a Danimal, and I said yes. She asked me if I wanted a straw. I said no but then yes. So when she went in I turned around and started snapping my fingers. When I turned around BUDDY WAS GONE.

I started freaking out and crying. My guinea pig was GONE! When my little sister came outside she started looking too. Then she told me to come and I came. When I came she told me to listen. I could hear a cat and a guinea pig noise. I started to worry, ” What if Buddy is being killed by a cat!? ”

My little sister asked if she could go get mom, and I said ” YES PLEASE DO! ”

When my mom came outside she started looking. A few minutes later my mom thought about how Buddy liked to hide in his hutch, so I started looking behind and in stuff. Then my MOM found BUDDY in the fire wood.

(We found Buddy in that little empty space you see here.)

wood pile

I was SO HAPPY I was glad God helped us and that I have ( and I really do. ) an AWESOME mom! ~ Roo

Editor’s note. This is all Roo’s original work. Paragraph editing only. Editor did NOT add any comments relating to Roo’s mom, who has at other times been rumored to be the WORST MOM EVER! The verdict is still out on that one.

Editor’s note. We have since said Goodbye to Buddy.

Glorious Light

Even in darkness, there’s glorious light, found in the standing with, pouring out, stepping into, coming alongside.

In places of pain, redemption is close, found in the welcoming of heartache and tears and embracing the task of bringing together the blessed ones. The mourners.

So don’t hide your light or keep yourself small. Call attention to the wick and beckon the flame.

candle

Shine your light and embrace your glory in the darkest of times.

Death will not have the final say.