Saturday, February 17, 2007

Twilight Zonish

Dearest one and I know that when we start swearing at a computer, it's time to turn it off. I understand why people are tempted to throw computers out of windows, I really do. I've repeatedly tried to log in to blogger today only to be greeted by a screen that pretends I haven't typed anything into it. I've been swearing up a storm all day.

This has been a full week. We started with our 25th wedding anniversary Monday. Tuesday dearest one had a job interview. Wednesday we met with friends. Thursday dearest one got the job. Today it was announced to his coworkers.

Just a few weeks ago dearest one was driving to work, talking to God about his job, his desire to get out of shift work. Dearest one prayed, "Make me an offer I can't refuse that doesn't include night shift." Oh, the balls it takes to pray so. That afternoon dearest one phoned to tell me that he had been approached that morning to apply for his boss's job. She had taken a transfer to another unit at the hospital and they would need a replacement. Never has a prayer been answered quicker than it was that day. It ranks right up there with the time dearest one sat in this yard that we now live in and told God, "I have no money for a down payment but I believe you are a God of miracles, so if it's your will that we live here, make it happen." Shortly thereafter the real estate agent phoned and said that the owner was willing to carry the mortgage for us.

Don't be mistaken, we are not of the name it and claim it mindset. Far, far from it. The name it and claim stuff makes me a bit sick to my stomach. It is so far from the cross of Christ. God is not some magic puppet that bends to our wishes as if we speak into a drive thru microphone and arrive at the fast food window to collect our order. All I know is that from time to time dearest one prays really specific prayers that God answers in a way that feels surreal and twilight zonish.

Dearest one is humbled by this latest answer to prayer and thrilled by the challenges of it coming to pass. To be in a job where all his life experience, especially the stuff outside of his short nursing career, is valued, is a gift. He starts next Wednesday. It means working 8am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday, with weekends and holidays off. We have spent so much of the last few years asking each other what day it was because dearest one could have worked any day of the week and the days tend to blur into one another after several 12 hour days in a row.

The next few months will be challenging for dearest one as he moves from what he knows and is comfortable with to the unknown steep learning curve in front of him. If you think of it, please pray for him. He is a man after God's own heart. He has been praying overtime for humility and wisdom. He has wonderful leadership qualities that have never had the opportunity to be honed quite like this. He has this quiet way of knowing that God not only loves him but likes him, too.

I have been trying to keep busy with things outside the house. Trying to make my world bigger so that I feel like what I am doing with my time is worthwhile. It isn't working. I don't feel like I have any more purpose than I did before the busyness. But I'll keep doing the community volunteering that I'm doing. Faking it until I make it. Hoping that I will wake up feeling worthwhile. There have been spans of time this winter when I've felt worthwhile. Then there are times, like today, when those feelings evaporate. Some days I think I am still mourning the empty nest. Other days I am mourning my loss of health. Most of my days are clouded in a fatigue that feels relentless.

Next week I start physiotherapy for an injury that is most likely a result of my connective tissue disorder. I don't remember injuring it. One day my elbow started to hurt and eventually I mentioned it to my doctor. No tennis elbow. No golf elbow. Just a weird collection of knots above my elbow. With a defect in my collagen - the glue that holds the whole body together - I can't afford to let an injury become chronic. The last time I did that, 7 years ago, I was left with an injury that still hurts when I sleep on that side.

Next week I also start a 12 week commitment to participate in a chronic pain rehab group. The week after we start house sitting for two weeks in town. I hope to get to many AA meetings in that two week period - it will be a treat to live in town and go to as many meetings as I can.

Three years ago we were a family using the food bank and collecting welfare. Life's circumstances had kicked us in the you-know-where and it hurt. A lot. I told the woman who ran the interfaith food bank that one day I would go into the churches in that town's community and share our story. I would put a face to the food bank user. I phoned her a few weeks ago and told her I was ready to share our story now. This coming Sunday I will be speaking at the United Church in that small town. A church whose people walk the talk and are among the most active volunteers with the food bank. I will share how humiliating it is to walk into a food bank and how difficult it is to think straight when you aren't eating a balanced diet. I will share how our faith kept us going and how I told dearest one how hard it was to struggle without the relief valve of an addiction. There are 7 or 8 more churches on my contact list and I hope to speak in those churches during Lent.

Some days I use blogging as an escape from doing the next right thing. Some days I use it as an escape from most everything. I've decided to take a break from blogging until after Easter Sunday. Other than email and bloglines I'll be silent between now and then. If you knew how hopeless I am at being quiet, you'd laugh. I will be back eventually. God bless you.

Monday, February 12, 2007

You're Still The One

"Like most people on their wedding day, we didn't understand that love is about embracing imperfection."~Rona Maynard, Chatelaine, Feb 2007
I was 19 and dearest one 21 when, twenty five years ago today, we stood before a Justice of the Peace, fumbled our vows (I said "awful wedded husband instead of lawful"), managed not to erupt into giggles and got ourselves hitched. We brought a 75 year old friend along to be our witness, not realizing we needed two. We forgot that we needed rings so my engagement ring was removed from one hand and put on the other. We have no wedding pictures because we forgot our camera. By the grace of God here we are today, not only lovers, but friends. If you click on the title of this post you'll go to a site that has the lyrics of the song we listen to often, especially today.

There's been a lot of living between then and now.

* Addictions,relapse and recovery,
* 3 bankruptcies,
* 19 residences, 2 provinces
* 5 pregnancies,
* 2 miscarriages,
* 3 full term babies.
* 17 surgeries,
* 3 rounds on welfare,
* 2 on food banks,
* 2 post secondary educations,
* 5 church homes,
* 4 denominations.

Numbers are incapable of telling the whole story. We are not defined by them, they simply chart our journey without describing the landscape. There can be beautiful flowers in the desert.

Gratitude for having reached this day and for the journey that has brought us this far outweighs all else. There came a crucial point where I was going to walk out the door because I was unwilling to embrace, or even recognize, my own imperfections while I was intently focused on dearest one's. All I can say is that God's grace met dearest one where he was at, despite my ultimatum, and the result was that he came home a changed man. Had that not happened, my pride and his would have seen us go our separate ways. We had two children 3 and under and I was pregnant with our youngest son. We still get teary when we think of how close we came to missing out on sharing the journey to today.

I don't even know where to start to tell the rest of the story. So I'll leave you with this verse from the book of James that says it all.
"Kind mercy wins over harsh judgement every time."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sorting and Dealing

Yesterday I took my graced confetti post to my session with Fr. Charlie. Two hours later I had some direction after lots of conversation, some tears and some prayer. What I took away most from the session was that Fr. Charlie told me I needed to go buy a full length mirror. He said if I was wanting wholeness I needed to learn how to accept all of me, and that included my body as it is right now. He said that wholeness was impossible while I was putting myself into safe categories of what to accept and what to reject.

Had I known he was going to tell me to buy a mirror I would have left the post at home. But after my initial 'no fucking way' knee jerk response in my head I considered what he had to say. Fr. Charlie's not pushy. I could decide to never buy a full length mirror and he'd never mention it again. He trusts God to do God's work in me in God's time. Which makes it all the easier to actually condsider Fr. Charlie's advice. Accepting my body (ok, with clothes on it's doable, naked it ain't) isn't within my comfort zone. It felt like an act of faith to come home and put a mirror on my shopping list.

Then this morning I read this comment left by jim(who is my brother in the Lord but his comments always make me feel like he is looking out for me like a father does for a daughter):
"Hope...Go to here and read what is a long entry for Kdip, an article written by anonymous, and possibly one you may have encountered before. Volumes of truth, though, and would speak to you if you haven't."

It is well worth the read. This is the paragraph that brought tears to my eyes:
" You realize that it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to come charging over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that happily ever after is a process that begins with acceptance of what you cannot control so you can sort through and deal with the rest. A deep sense of serenity is born of this acceptance." (emphasis added)

Sounds like the serenity prayer, doesn't it?

God, grant me the grace to sort through and deal with the rest.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Graced Confetti

Bobbie at emerging sideways wrote a meme post a week ago called wonderful, glorious me where she listed 5 things she loved about her body. She left the meme open for others to consider themselves tagged. I sat at my computer screen and did a quick head to toe evaluation of my body and came up with one thing. My beautiful blue eyes. Everything else I might love about my body were dependent, in my mind, on being 80 pounds lighter first.

I was still thinking about that meme when I went clothes shopping this past Saturday afternoon. Just know that I'd rather go to the dentist than shop for clothes. I don't have a full length mirror at home and God knows I sure wouldn't be undressing in front of it if I did. But on Saturday I stood in front of one and took stock. Thighs the size of what my waist once was. A belly as big as when I was nine months pregnant. And all those dimples so far from my face were not a pretty sight. I stood there feeling disgusted with myself. I tried to just accept what was, reminding myself that I'm dealing with the food issues in my life. Or rather with the issues that masquerade as food issues and as a consequence, my fat body. After 26 years of yo yo dieting I no longer have a diet head mentality. I celebrate that. I do have more calm and peace than when I was still bingeing my way through life. Yet I stood there knowing I'd rather be dealing with all that from within a thinner body. The body, that when I'm in it, feels comfortable, like it fits yet screams at me for protection because its thinner self awakens so much sexual baggage. Baggage that lies and says my worth rests in what I have to offer sexually.

I blocked all those messages from my head and prayed "Help me be content even if I never get to see a thinner me reflected in a dressing room mirror". It's just as futile to think we'd love ourselves more if we stopped sinning as it is to think we'd love ourselves more if we were thinner. If I'm going to live this journey one day at a time I want to love myself now. It's easy to talk about the unconditional love of God for others. So hard, at times, to believe it for myself.

Before I went shopping on Saturday I went to my AA meeting. I asked God to help me open my spirit wide to receive the gift of story happening in the room. Stories of gratitude to anger and tears were shared and I felt blessed to be there. I don't think I've ever left a meeting without a renewed sense of hope for the journey. Without having witnessed a living testimony of what it looks like to rest in the unconditional love of God.

Yesterday at church I prayed for the grace to open my spirit wide to what God might have to say to me. I was still stewing over my disgust at my body and while Jesus may never have been fat, I know he understands what self loathing can do to a person. How crippling it can be. How it can spiral out of control and lead to destructive behaviour. I celebrate nearly 12 weeks of abstinence from sexual addiction today so God help me not numb myself into oblivion. Help me not seek that which will bring release from self loathing only to add to it when the numbing effect wears off. Help me accept where I am on the journey, disgust and all.

During the scripture readings yesterday, this line jumped out at me:
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain." ~1 Corinthians 15:10
I rolled those words around in my mouth like a sip of good wine. Sometime during the Mass I realized the disgust I felt about my body had been superseded by how beautiful I felt in my spirit. I don't know if I looked radiant on the outside but boy did I feel it inside. Moments like that are pure gift. I whispered to God, "I feel beautiful." And I knew what I really wanted was the beauty that radiates from a countenance that speaks of God's blush of grace.

You know how a person empties the pockets on their clothes before washing? Some days I feel like I'm collecting all those little bits of lint and paper like a bag of confetti....each bit a remembrance of the graced moments in my life. One day I'm going to the other side and I see myself reaching in my pocket and leaving a trail of graced confetti as I go.

So where does that leave me today? I'd still rather experience those moments from a body that was 80 pounds lighter. I doubt I'll care on my death bed what the scale says. I do know I care in this life though. I still can't come up with a list of 5 things I love about my body. But the hope lies in that I don't stay stuck in the self loathing when it hits me these days. I don't numb myself into oblivion trying to escape it. I don't do any of these things perfectly and for today I can rest in that. The grace of God meets us where we are. And how thankful I am that I don't have to be thinner, or prettier, or smarter, or sinless first.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Caught Ya!

An old fashioned wooden mouse trap did the trick, first try.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Once, Twice......

Speaking my truth feels foreign to me. Through my sessions with Fr. Charlie I've recognized my need to learn how. I'm used to trying to speak my truth and then feeling the need to defend it or tell the other person how skewed their perspective is for not matching my own. Giving voice to the truth within me is something different than that. It's telling my story without needing affirmation from anyone else. It's telling it for my sake alone. There's no emotional punch to it. There's no trying to make a point in order to change someone's mind. It's just saying what is.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? To date I have done it once in my life. Once. And I hang onto that once knowing what it felt like within me. It gives me hope that once will turn to twice and with every time I add to that, I will become a little more comfortable being me.

Today is my oldest brother's birthday. We're not good with birthdays in my family. As a child they were a big deal. The one day of the year I could count on that my mom would not fly into a rage. We got to pick out the colour of the cake and icing and presents were usually something we wanted. After I left home that all changed. I can count on 2 hands the number of cards I've received from my family in the last 25 years.

Quite a few years ago I started making a point of sending my siblings cards on their birthdays. My sisters and I talk during the year but there is no communication with my two brothers. Finding a card to send to a brother who you only speak to on his birthday is a challenge.

The brother whose birthday it is today has a sister-in-law who has the same birthday as me. I was friends with her as a teenager and we were delighted to find out we were born in the same year, same day. I've often puzzled over why my brother would not remember to call me on my birthday. His sister and his wife's sister were both celebrating. Surely he would remember? Nope.

That changed this past year when my brother phoned me on my birthday. I have no idea what prompted that call. I wasn't turning any big number (well a big number to some people but it didn't end in a zero!) I wasn't home when he called so he left a message on voice mail wishing me a happy birthday. Hearing his voice on the phone touched something deep inside me and the tears just spilled over. It had been close to 30 years since he had recognized my special day.

Before I went home for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary last summer, I told Fr. Charlie that I was going to tell my brother just how much that phone call meant to me. How his silence all these years made me think I didn't matter to him and how his phone call gave me hope that maybe I did after all. It was going to be a moment of speaking my truth for no other reason than I needed to speak it. For me.

As I arrived to help get food ready for the anniversary party my brother was the only person in sight. I just about chickend out but I took a deep breath and told him how much his call had meant to me. How it had given me hope that maybe I mattered to him. In my family speaking so plainly about matters of the heart is a rare thing and I think my doing so caught my brother off guard. He simply said, "oh" and then our conversation moved onto other things. I wasn't looking for a response. I just needed to tell him what his call had meant to me. It was speaking my truth without any expectation on my part. I needed to tell him for my sake, not his. There was this deep contentment inside me afterwards for having done so. It is a contentment that I still can touch, one that gives me hope there is more contentment to come.

I don't know what went on in my brother's head as a result of that conversation but he made a point of finding me the evening before we left for home to see what time we would be heading out in the morning. He was staying 5 miles away at our cousin's home but he got up and made sure he was there in time to see us off. As we left my parents' yard I glanced in our rear view mirror to see every member of my family who was still in the neighbourhood, waving goodbye. I have never felt like I mattered so much as I did right then.

So tonight I will phone my brother and wish him a happy birthday. Maybe he will be out celebrating and I will leave a message on his voice mail, letting him know that he matters. I don't know if my call or my card make any difference to him but he is my brother and he does matter. And afterwards I'll be able to change my once into twice. With the grace of God I hope the number eventually gets so high that I lose count one day.