25 April 2009

One Day at a Time

In this healing process that the kids and I are going through, there seem to be stops and starts. One thing for certain is that I have to keep a check on how busy I allow myself to be, as sort of a self-preservation method. If I am constantly on the go go go and busily doing this, that and the other, there is little time to think about all that is happening.
I get anxious when I think beyond this current time period. If I try to let my mind wander even six months down the road, I become preoccupied with where I want to be - physically, emotionally, in life, in the healing process. It overwhelms me, and so like the "take action" kind of girl that I am, I start trying to develop a plan on how to get there. This is never productive, specifically because I don't know how to get there. All I know is that this day, and this moment are a gift from God, and He is helping me through it.
I don't want anyone to get the impression that I'm falling apart. I have my moments. Certain things still have the ability to bring me to my knees. I am still quite capable of tears, but I know there will come a day when I'll be stronger. God is daily teaching me that His grace is sufficient for me this day. If I can stay focused on that, it is a good day.
I heard about a divorce care group at a local church, and I am thinking about joining. I haven't decided yet. I think it could be pretty toxic, and have no desire to sit around and listen to a bunch of ex-bashing. So, if I check it out it will be by sticking my toe in and testing the waters. I also want to be extremely careful - the circumstances of my situation have the opportunity to paint me the victim. I have no desire to be such.
There is this learning curve. I know that I never had a partner in life before, and that instead of carrying part of the load, I had an extra burden and a force beating me down, literally and figuratively that handicapped me. There is a peace amidst the chaos. I know we're going to be alright. I'm just trying to take it one day at a time, hand in hand with my Papa.

21 April 2009

Awaiting the Beauty

The kids and I went 17 Again this afternoon. It was pretty good, lighthearted fare. The main storyline is a man who is losing his family because he has resented all that he had to give up when he married his pregnant high school girlfriend. In a "freaky Friday" moment, he is transported back to 17. Even though this is a story of redemption, how he finds his way back to what matters most, it made me so angry. All along the road of life we have choices, and we don't get to blame someone else for where those choices carry us. I know - I was married for a long time to a man who resented having to be a husband and a father, but all along the way we made choices together about the kind of life we wanted. It was me left holding the bag, trying to survive and make it all work without a partner. Although not everyone abuses their spouse in their frustration, many people neglect and abandon their spouse. It is infuriating.
I was talking to a friend last night and I decided that I still believe in love. It has become crystal clear to me that no person can fully know another person. Within each of us is the secret life of our thoughts, the private hopes and dreams. That is what makes it so beautiful when two people decide to open their hearts to one another, sharing those intimacies that lay embedded in the human soul and make it work somehow.
That was not the case for me. Maybe it never will be. I wouldn't have to go back to 17 again to know how to keep from mucking things up. I have been working faithfully all along, but found that my partner had abandoned me in a burning building. My life lay in ruins around me with my footprints in the ashes, awaiting the beauty.

16 April 2009

The Job

I got it!!!!
The one where I wore my underwear upside down to the interview. Yes, I did. It is a fantastic job that is not too far from home. The pay is great, the benefits are great, it is homeschooling friendly. When I say great benefits I mean you get 13 paid holidays, 2 weeks paid vacation every year, health coverage including dental and vision, paid sick leave, paid doctor's visits, and you even get your birthday off and paid. The job is also at a very lovely college campus and I will be working with some really awesome people that I can't wait to get to know better.
I am so thankful as I see doors open and God's provision for me and the kids. It overwhelms me to see His concern for all the littlest details.

On another note, I am going to be putting in my two weeks notice at Walmart very soon. I don't start the new job until May 18th, but I am trying to plan a week off to do a few things with the kids before I am working full-time. I would like to leave on good terms so that I can possibly pick up some part-time work for the holidays, or if anything should ever happen in the future where I needed employment. However, although I have enjoyed my time as a cashier for various reasons, some hard realities have become apparent.
Nobody working at Walmart makes enough to live on. This is called a "living wage". Over the last several months I have worked alongside attorneys and realtors and other professionals and educated people who are there because there is not enough to keep them working. It is a huge blow to get that first paycheck. When you realize how hard you are working - on your feet for 8 hours a day doing often back-breaking labor and still not taking home enough money to meet your basic needs, it is hard.
I think it is time with all the economic change going on in our country to get a grip and realize that minimum wage may be suitable for teenagers who are living at home with their parents, but it is in no way a fair wage for an employer to pay people who are trying to support families. Walmart pays more than minimum wage, and it still is not enough. They also keep most of their employees at part-time status and work them at 33-34 hours and don't have to give them any benefits.
In the hiring process, Walmart asks whether or not you are on public assistance. Is that the plan? Does this huge corporation think that their employees, though they work hard, must provide for their family straddling the line of their wages and qualifications for welfare? It is terrific if they are providing jobs for people so that they can get off of welfare, but why should a person that works need to be on the dole?
These are just some frustrated and discouraged thoughts. I am hopeful because I have a better job waiting for me in a month, but I am sad for all the people who I leave behind who have no prospects for a better situation.

12 April 2009


This past week, I started to feel pretty good about my situation. In spite of wearing my underwear upside down all day unnoticed, I was starting to get excited about the possibility of a good job, and settling into a new life with my kids. I had become exceedingly grateful for the peace that had seemed to settle in our home. Even with my erratic work schedule, we were developing a cadence and rhythm that seemed to work. Then it happened....
Wednesday night I was doing my thing, ringing up customers and trying to send them away with a smile when I looked up and saw him. Yes, him. Travis. He stood back smiling like he expected me to be happy to see him, and I felt my blood turn to ice water in my veins. I started to shake, not so much with fear, but boiling anger. He said he wasn't there to bother me. It was alright. He only came to see the kids. (Interestingly enough, he must've expected to see the kids at work with me....)
One problem. The kids don't want to see him.
I asked all three of them if they wanted to see him, and encouraged them to do so.
I guess that seeing someone rant and rage and kick and scream and throw and shout and stomp and run and slam and curse every day of your life makes you pull back. I told them all that I would take them to him and that it would not offend or hurt me whatsoever. I did not want them in any way refuse him out of some sort of obligation or loyalty to me.
Not one of them wants to see him right now.
It breaks my heart. Not for Travis. I know that he is laying in the bed that he made for himself. He was told for years, more years than anyone deserved of the damage he was doing to all of us and he persisted. It is very difficult to allow someone to live with the consequences of their own actions. But live with it he must, because it can no longer be at the expense of me or my children. Kendra wrote it so eloquently:
Now I feel free. I feel like a weight has been lifted. I am far away from that situation...from that house...from that state of mind. And I am so happy! When you're living in it, you don't even realize how oppressive it is. I felt like everything was closed off and I was destined to lead one kind of life. Now I feel as if the whole world is opened up to me...

Some days I feel it, like a dirt I can't wash off - the scummy film of abuse. The names you were called like stickers pasted around, swaddling you like a mummy with torn and filthy bandages. The real you is under there but you feel that all you or anyone else can see are these labels, the things that he said you were.
Since he got here, Travis has pretty much left me alone. But there is that feeling of knowing he is here and that I might encounter him around every corner that stalks me. It is the reason that after being separated for months, I knew I had to leave Texas. Even that state wasn't big enough for the both of us. His deciding that he needed to be here, and that his needs mattered more than the space the rest of us needed for healing to take place is just confirmation that this is right.
I am stronger every day.

08 April 2009

Should Not Be Allowed Out of the House in Real Clothes

I had a big job interview yesterday. I was pretty anxious about the clothing thing. My life for the last 18 years or so has consisted of a jeans and t-shirt uniform. I liked it that way. Even the church we attended for so many years was of the casual variety - come as you are. So I came, as.I.was.
The night before the interview, I pulled out what I thought might be workable and started trying things on. It was hopeless. I bought a new bra - I guess I thought my boobs should look more professional, but when I proceeded to try clothes on with my newly shaped parts, nothing fit correctly. I went to bed with my best choice being a pink top and some brown slacks. Pink? If you know me - you know how out of character it would be for me to wear pastel pink. Oi vay!
I woke up the next morning, the day of the interview and knew I could not wear the pink. I decided it might be the bra and with that quick change, I found that everything fit me much better. Black slacks, and olive green top with a black camisole underneath and I was good to go. I even had knee highs, and nice shoes. When I left for the interview I felt pretty confident, until I noticed I was getting a wedgie. At first I was thinking it was from the slippery dress pants that I'm not accustomed to wearing. As soon as I got to the office, I checked in with the receptionist and excused myself for a moment to the restroom to check my windblown hair, and the wedgie. I was mortified to find that I had left the big folding tag on the back of the new slacks. I ripped it off and stuck it in my purse, deep enough so that should I be asked to pull out my wallet for any reason - I would not also produce the tag. And as always after using the restroom, I pulled my underwear back up. The act of pulling them down and back up is usually resolves any wedgie issues.
Then the interview. More on that later - but at one point, sitting in a very nice office in an upright chair, I felt something pricking me in the back. Prick, prick! So I moved a little, and more pricks. I knew almost instantly that it was the tag, still inside my blouse. In my nervousness to get ready - I had failed to remove any tags whatsoever. I sat there answering questions, attempting to ignore the seeming sword that was trying to run me through from behind.
I rushed home once the interview concluded to change into my Walmart uniform and head off to the job that I already have. When my shift was over, I came home and went to the bathroom and found that I must've put my underwear on wrong. I noticed a seam where it should not have been. The reason for the wedgie? The crotch of my underpants had been on my left hip all day long, and I never noticed.
So, never be fooled by how put together I might be on the outside. I really should not be allowed out of the house in real clothes.

05 April 2009

The Birthday Wish

I can't believe you're 18. Where did the time go? In the beginning there was just you and me, hiding behind a wish that became our little secret. I have said it before, you saved me. It was the moment I knew that my life was significant to something bigger than myself that I decided to sit up and take notice. But still, you were the practice child. The one I had to learn everything with for the first time, which is essentially a nice way of saying you're the one who graciously endured my mistakes. It wasn't easy trying to be both parents to you as it never should have been - and I always hurt for what was lacking - but this year for your birthday the best gift I can give you is the freedom of peace and joy and a quiet, loving atmosphere. I pray that you use it well. Surround yourself with people who treat you with love and respect and dignity. Forgive those who might belittle you, or raise a hand to you for your own sake - but don't allow them into that inner circle, or give them the intimacies of your heart. I hope if you've seen any bad examples from me, that you choose to learn from them and do the opposite. I know from experience that sometimes the worst examples are the best way of knowing what not to do.
While you keep that inner circle guarded, don't forget to open your heart to love when the time is right. Remember that people are imperfect, each with their own inadequacies. Please don't be afraid to risk your heart for a person who is deserving. Don't be afraid that every man will be the one you have known. If you panic or hide or run from love, you will miss out on the best moments life has to offer.
Never settle for mediocrity, in any area of your life. Henry David Thoreau said "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams; live the life you have imagined." I can't think of better advice on your 18th birthday than that. Don't allow your life to be derailed by someone who puts those dreams down, or refuses to be a companion on that path, be it friend or lover. Take responsibility for your own life, because it is yours alone.
Thank you for moving back to West Virginia with me. I know it meant sacrifices on your part, and I will never forget them. You are an amazing young woman, and I am so blessed to be your mom. You have always given me courage to try to be better than I am, because you deserved the best mom I could give you. Always remember that I love you. Happy Birthday baby.

01 April 2009

A Cause and Effect God

I have struggled spiritually so much over the last several years. When you reach a dark place, it is very difficult to train your eyes to see even the tiniest spark of light. I would dare to say so hard that often in despair you close your eyes and surrender to the darkness. This is where I have been.
As I struggle back to the surface, trying to find some grounding, and allowing my eyes to adjust to light and my heart to surrender to the love that surrounds me, I see a flaw in how I have viewed God. So much of what we're taught about God makes us think of our relationships to him as "cause and effect". Do good things and be rewarded. Do bad things and be punished. It leaves a person in a bad situation to believe that they have deserved what they got, they were the map that led to this destination, the magnet drawing in the negative consequences. This line of thinking leaves a person in despair, hopeless, drowning without a life raft.
I have come to understand that good things often happen to people who do not deserve them. David knew this (Psalm 73) when he lost his footing at the sight of the prosperity of the wicked.
I have also seen good people suffer through ungodly circumstances. If this were not so, how would we account for babies born addicted to crack before even living one day on this earth? How would we account for the atrocities of war, the holocaust, the elderly rotting in nursing homes day after day with little more than having their basic needs met?
Our culture tells us that we are rewarded or punished for our deeds, and somehow this concept has been applied to God and spiritual things. I know it is not true. Moment by moment, in my pain and suffering, He has not abandoned me. I have suffered things I know that I do not deserve, but I know that through it all He has not abandoned me. He has been beside me all the way. My pain is His pain. It was for the hurts of humanity that Christ went to the cross. The next time I am tempted to close my eyes in despair and let the darkness swallow me, I will remember I am not alone.