Eight months ago my life changed forever. I'm not gonna lie, it still hurts but there are precious days peppered here and there and coming with greater frequency that the pain doesn't catch in my throat or fall from my eyes. I am still confused but no longer raw. I'm adjusting and learning to navigate my new reality.
Every step from there to here has been uncertain. I hope I'm doing right by God and my fellow man in a situation that is anything but comprehensible. I pray I bring glory to Him with my words, actions and reactions but know I've fallen short because of my emotions, exhaustion and confusion. I have no handbook on how to navigate this, except the Handbook that said God allowed divorce due to the hardening of hearts but that it wasn't like that in the beginning. I try to learn from every situation, may what I learn help me be a voice of comfort, hand of support and shoulder to fall into for others who unfortunately find themselves here.
I have felt more unwanted, alone and abandoned than ever before in my life… but only by one person. One person left and a world of support came flooding into my life! When I consider all the blessings the LORD has provided for me I am overwhelmed with gratitude! By God's amazing grace all my needs have been provided for, not a bill has gone unpaid, not a belly empty for even a day. I've even had some wants tossed in the mix, silly things like make-up remover, tools of my own and headlight replacement tutorials. These little thing might seem insignificant but to me they were gifts from God, through man, at specific 'asked for' moments in time.
I have been well loved by friends and family, near and far. I've had people fly thousands of miles to surprise me at 6AM on a Sunday morning, drive hundreds of miles and leave motorcycles in my driveway to make someone wonder and make me laugh for the first time in a long time, walk dozens of miles asking leading questions and listening to me babble about the chaos that is my life. I've had people put their plans on hold to let me fall into their arms and onto their couches and cry like a baby. I've had people tell me the next right thing to do because I couldn't think straight or give me a plan for my day because I couldn't even remember to shower without a prompt. I've had help moving once and now for a second time to adjust my life to my new reality. I've been given books and advice and wisdom from fellow travelers on this troublesome trail. I've been enveloped in big strong arms that remind me I am still safe, cared for and being watched over even if it is a time for me to be alone. I've been blessed with a faithful mama mentor who sends me love and wisdom every morning. I have people at work who keep me from making foolish mistakes because I'm emotionally exhausted. Others keep me in their prayers and send financial assistance despite my pride.
No, never once have I been alone. I wish I could single out and thank each person who has been here for me but the list is too long and the gratitude too intimate. To each of you, and you know who you are, who have supported me, thank you!!!
And now … this new place; The Middle. The Leaving is behind me, the middle is here. The best analogy I can come up with is gross but it works. Bear with me... As most of you know I took a NASTY spill on a 12 mile training run a few weeks back, messed up my face, knees and apparently foot. I will heal but the open wound on my knee has taught me much about this time in my life. At first the thing was open, exposed raw flesh, the blood and puss seeped up and it stung and burned. My attempts to cleanse it actually made me feel worse but it was necessary to get the dirt and grime out so that my flesh could heal properly. And then the scab came, thin and malleable at first... fresh and easily broken with necessary day-to-day movements. I've had to modify my work-outs and sit at work (I'm a stander so sitting down is like being in prison). But now the scab is thick and solid. For the most part, I can move however I want and it doesn't hurt, but it's still there and it's itchy! Itching is good, it means I am healing, pulling in from the outside, mending slowly and when the time is right letting go of what was because the new, though sensitive and delicate, is no longer raw or infected … just new and ready to be exposed.
I am a thick, itchy scab right now. Not quite raw anymore, not quite whole yet. I am here, in The Middle, getting a little better every day. I'm OK here because I know this is only a transition, my job is to take the time to heal, to learn, to mend and to appreciate each moment and blessing along the way. Good people are in my way and statistics and faith promise me that love will find me again. I know it's coming but not too soon. If I peel off the scab too quickly, I don't just open old wounds, I make fresh ones that increase the healing time and leave worse scars. I will take time here, in the middle, to heal and when the scab is gone… well then, it'll be a whole new song, won't it? All I know now is that it's going to be a good transition. I will embrace The Middle.
Apparently the kissing strangers scene in Finding Jordan has inspired my baby brother to find a stranger of his own to kiss when he ventures out on his trek across America. Since I'm still musing about what to write this week, I thought I'd share a little of Jordan's kiss with a blue eyed stranger with the rest of you. The back story is that Jordan is interviewing for a job as an Intervener (a person who works with someone who is deaf-blind) for a world famous adventure seeker, Hank Moore. Hank has challenged her to find a stranger on the plane to kiss. She found her guy but lost her courage and then returned to sit by Hank on the plane...
“Well that didn't work.” I said as I refastened my seat belt.
“This is hard.”
“I didn't say it was going to be easy, I said it would make you understand what life is like for me. Everything is a risk, new and unknown and takes incredible effort, even something as simple as a kiss isn't so simple if there are barriers to overcome.” As we were talking someone came walking up the aisle, and stopped beside me. Jean jacket, faux wool, blonde hair. It was my blue eyes! What was he doing up in first-class?
“Hang on Hank,” I said stopping him in mid-sentence, with a hand on his forearm, as my eyes reconnected with my handsome stranger. I had to remind myself of my interview because as soon as I realized it was him, I forgot all about everything. I saw his blue eyes dart to Hank, saw the surprise. It was a common look I was used to for those in the sensory-impaired community. He saw Hank, then saw Hank's blindness, and he was no longer a man sitting beside me, he was a blind man, and Blue Eyes didn't know what to do, or what to say. I wondered what his initial plan had been in the first place. I was about to introduce him, whoever he was, to Hank but he moved on, quickly, like I had up the aisle and into a vacant bathroom. I smiled. I knew he was interested. There was a bathroom back there way closer to him. He followed me.
I explained to Hank what had just happened, from the beginning. He knew better than I did about peoples' reactions to him.
“He's your mark.”
“He's the one. Kiss him.”
“What? I thought I got to pick.”
“Fine then, but I recommend you pick him.”
“OK then.” I was going to do it. He was going to come out of the bathroom and I was going to stand and grab him and kiss him like my life, or at least my career depended on it. I was. I was! And then he came out and I froze again. He looked at me and made me forget everything I had just planned to do. My legs wouldn't move, nothing...all I could do was stare, like a deer in the headlights and watch as he and he kept walking... then, as he passed, I finally reacted and grabbed his ringless-left hand in desperation and said, “Wait!”
He stopped and looked at my hand on his, then smirked but said nothing and stood still. He was cute, definitely, my age and my ticket to pass this phase of the interview. My heart beat like hummingbird's. He was looking at me, I stood, never taking my eyes from his. He was much taller than me, over six feet, easy.
“OK,” I said standing to meet him. “This is going to sound like the worst come on line on the planet, but I have to kiss you, right here, right now. You don't have a girlfriend or anything like that do you? Crap! Wait... don't even answer that.” I said remembering Hank already told me this was the guy, “Just... let me kiss you first then I won't know.”
“Uhhh,” he smiled, “Why do you have to kiss me?”
I grinned and put my face in my hands and shook my head. “I can't believe this,” I said to my hands. I knew Hank couldn't hear that even if he could hear any other part of the conversation. As awkward as kissing a boy on a plane was, it was a means to the end. To the job of my future. Blue Eyes gave me the perfect way to include my weird interviewer into the moment. “This is Hank Moore, he does TV shows about adventure.”
“Yeah!” Blue Eyes said, “I thought that was him,” he said, all of a sudden way more interested in Hank than me, “but then I was like, no, no way. So you've been to the Congo?” He asked turning his attention to Hank, who nodded and sat up and forward toward us his right ear cocked noticeably toward us. I wondered how much he could hear from his distance down and three feet away with all the engine noise. Our own conversation side-by-side had been choppy and staggered as it was. Blue Eyes looked at him, then me, and the uncertainty flooded across his face. I did not know him, but I thought I knew the look. He wanted to know something but didn't know how or who to ask. And this would be the guts of my job, connecting Hank to the outside world, not only the places and activities but the people, the fans, that he couldn't see and they couldn't do without guidance.
I smiled lightly and said, “It's OK, he takes questions, you can ask more if you want.” And then it occurred to me that maybe Hank didn't take questions.
“It's OK if he asks you questions right?” I asked leaning into Hank's good ear.
Hank nodded his head up and down once, his ear still turned toward Blue Eyes.
“So, I heard there are stories about a dinosaur that lives there, is that real?”
Hank turned toward me, he couldn't hear, “He wants to know if a dinosaur lives in the Congo since you've been there to explore.” I asked a little louder.
“Dinosaur? Oh, Mkele um bembe? Yes, there are rumors, of a sauropod-like creature that lives in the waters. Huge, plant eating. Highly territorial. Most of the natives are afraid to say too much out loud. They think it will anger the beast.”
“That's crazy man. Did you... uhhh” he stopped, looked at me nervously, “see one?” he finished asking Hank then turned back to me.
“No, but we did have a close call with a hippo though. That was interesting.”
“Yeah, I remember that on the show,” Blue Eyes said with a smile, then turning to me, “So what does he have to do with you kissing me.”
“Oh,” for the slightest second I forgot about that. I was doing what I was supposed to do, what I dreamed of doing for a living, then he reminded me of the kiss. Apparently he hadn't forgotten. “He wants to know about the kiss,” I said loud enough that Hank could hear. I felt suddenly exposed, the two of us were standing in the front of first class and I was speaking loud enough for most of the others around to hear as well as Hank, “I'm, um, actually, trying to get a job working for him.” I knew he wouldn't know what an Intervener was and didn't want to say companion and job in the same sentence so I left it there, “It's my task for the plane ride.”
He pushed his lips together in contemplation, staring at me hard, nodding his head then said, “Well, if you have to kiss me, how about I make it easy for you?” and pulled me close to him in one quick, fluid move. The electricity running from him to me was palpable, I looked down, then up then leaned into him. Both of us refused to close our eyes. I don't know what his thing was, I kept mine open to be sure he wasn't going to change his mind at the last minute, and leave me standing there expectantly with my eyes closed, not that Hank would see it if he did, but I would be embarrassed. Everything proceeded in slow motion, until we were only inches away from each other, each watching the other for permission to move closer. Finally, in desperation, I begged him, “Would you just kiss me already?”
It was all the permission he needed. He smiled big, grabbed my face in his hands and covered my lips with his...
“It is what I was born for – to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world – to instruct myself over and over...” – Mary Oliver
I argue that 'this world' is anything but soft, but, I love this quote. Observation, instruction, learning, it is part of who I am. Through this divorce I have looked hard at my life, listened to the words of people echoing around me and learned some tough lessons.
I know rejection on a deeper level and I thought I knew rejection well. I have learned that sometimes no matter how hard you pray, cry, try, it's not enough to change a bad situation or put things back the way you want them. I've learned that I have less grit than I expected and fold under pressure like origami paper… over and over again... much to my chagrin. I've learned that I have a greater support network than I imagined and that they are here for me when I can't figure out how to do life one day longer. I've learned that both lavender vodka and ice cream can do wonders for escaping pain for a moment but that really... “pain only hurts” (that's a quote from Scott Jurek's Eat and Run) and that if you feel the pain and push through it, you know how to do it better next time and you CAN do it better next time!
Next time is upon me.
The end has come. Fourteen years of “us” is over. I honestly expected “us” to last forever, but it didn't. I couldn't fix it. I've spent the last eight months reeling and unsure. And here I am.
There's a story about a great king with a deathly ill child. This king beseeched God with all that was in him to save the child. He didn't eat or bathe. He offered sacrifices and pleaded on behalf of the child's life but in the end, God did not answer his prayers...
The baby died.
The story is from the Bible, the king was David, and though I am no ruling authority I completely identify with King David. I begged and pleaded and sacrificed and the marriage died. It's dead. It's over. What was will never, ever be again.
The world I knew was destroyed, by my sins, by his sins, by God's will, fate, life... However it came to pass, the fact is... my world burned to the ground! Life as I knew it is dead... gone... burned up! There was weeping, there was gnashing of teeth and now there is a whole new world in front of me. The promise of God is that He makes all things new. Whether I expected it like this or not, He made my life new. I am a new person. I have a new perspective.
I'm not “his woman” anymore. I am my own woman. My boys are practically grown men, as are their sisters (who have mothers of their own but have allowed me space in their life). I've never had this much experience or knowledge in my life. I don't know too much but I know enough to bury the baby and start living the rest of my life with deliberate intention and wild abandon!
I am going to look, to listen and to lose myself inside this world and instruct myself over and over. For me that means I'm starting to date. I've cleared it with my dad, my kids and those I respect the most in this world… and Jesus and me got this figured out.
I've listened to comments which have ranged from “It's about time!” and “You deserve it!” to “You're not ready yet.” and “You just got divorced!” I respect each comment and concern more than I can say and have taken it all into consideration. Here's the thing... I agree with them all and have therefore decided to date my way, which, I admit, isn't conventional but neither am I so why would I do dating normal?
The way I figure it, LORD willing, I only have a limited time to date so I might as well glean as much knowledge as I can from the experience and regret nothing. For years now I have been telling my girls, and the girls I worked with at the Tech Center to be strong in their character. They are meant to compliment a man but not to be completed by one. I told them to be sure of who they were, to have at least 5 things they liked to do by themselves without anyone else, or at least without a boy. (I also told them to marry for love but date the rich guys but that was a little tongue-in-cheek, so yeah… :P) I told them to reserve their body for the one it belonged to, not to give it up freely or under pressure. I told them a good man will wait and understand and respect them for saving themselves for the one they belonged to.
Now, incredibly, I am here, like them, anticipating my lifetime companion… only for me it's round three and this time it's either third time is a charm or three strikes I'm out. I will do this mate thing exactly one more time EVER then, for good or for bad, I'm done! There's an old addict quote, “I got another relapse in me but I don't know if I have another recovery in me.” That's where I'm at. I have exactly one more hope for a lifetime companion. Yeah, it's fatalistic but … it's me, that's how I roll!
The point is, the severity of the issue at hand necessitates my utmost discretion so #1) why wait? And #2) Why hurry? Yep, chaos and irony! I've taken lessons from the muse and have embraced chaos and irony as part of who I am.
He has a woman, he has found his everlasting. I am happy for him but I'm not there yet. I'm just dating. I am analyzing the data. I am taking my time. I am not going to get serious any time soon. I have a “yes” policy to anyone who has the courage to respectfully approach me and doesn't give me the creeps. Considering the fact that I'm socially awkward and go exactly four places; home, work, church and the gym I've decided to set-up an online profile. I've heard enough positive experiences to believe it is a feasible option. I have some pretty specific rules of engagement and most guys won't get me or be interested in a bookish, Jesus-freaky, gym-rat so I figure I'll be able to gather a good sampling over the next 18 months of the men that I share common interests with. With the exception of the MAJOR characteristic I'm looking for, I have a control sample and all will be held to that standard… and maybe he'll come around, or maybe he's just a good guy that all others will be compared to. Either way I want to learn what the norms are, I want to see standard characteristics and standard deviations and I want to make an informed decision based on data, time and, most importantly, God's leading.
Every man is his own story and I love stories so I'm excited to date and get to know guys... something I have been restricted from for my ENTIRE adult life. That realization was mind-blowing to me... for my entire adult life I have avoided men… because I belonged to someone. It never bothered me but, now that I'm here, I see that there are so many good guys out there! Listening to men talk, looking into their eyes without shame or fear of repercussion is like new life. I get to hear a new story every time I talk to someone new. I admit that my body is anxious to get this dating thing over with and move on to the mating part but my heart, soul, mind and spirit understand there is more… so much more to know about a man. And I will know him first.
I eagerly await HIM. LORD willing, he will know I'm HER and will get it right with God and make me his. Until then I will enjoy the good, pure, fun, fitness-minded, godly company of good men and know that he's on his way to me… or is waiting for me to figure myself out. Until then, I wait patiently and I follow my chaotic path and save myself for him. So yeah… I'm dating, it's weird but I'm here and I'm going to do it right, without compromise for once in my life, make my Father in heaven proud and make the man I belong to for the rest of my life proud as well!