If This One Thing Happens

Writing my way through seminary

Why Do I Dye My Hair – The Straight Answer

I forget that my hair is an unnatural color.  All the time.  Right now it’s currently this teal-blue-green color that I absolutely love.  But I forget that it’s not “normal”.  That is, until someone asks me about it.  I’ve given all kinds of answers depending on how I’m feeling that day.  Sometimes the answer is “I get bored.”  Which is true.  Sometimes the answer is “Well I don’t like my natural color, so if I’m going to dye it anyway it might as well be fun!”  Which is also true.  Sometimes when it happens to work out right, I laugh and say “Well it matches the liturgical season!”  Gotta love those church seasons.

The color of the month

The color of the month

The truth is though, the answer is much longer and bigger than those.  My natural hair color is this dirty blonde.  I first started getting highlights when I was 8, and had been dying it red since I was 12.  I really don’t even know what my natural hair color looks like when it’s longer than a pixie cut.  I first dyed my hair pink when I was fourteen.  I was incredibly depressed, dealing with severe social anxiety, and I didn’t like who I was.  So I decided to be someone different.  At a time where I felt invisible, I wanted to be seen.

That was the beginning.  Eventually I went back to my burgundy, red, auburn hair and continued to keep that color up over the years.  It was still bright, but wasn’t quite so unnatural, and was a bit more fitting for most workplaces.

It actually was more of a fire engine red then it shows in pictures

It actually was more of a fire engine red then it shows in pictures

At one point when my hair was super short, I even went black.  One of my friends said it seemed too “emo”, but I had gotten tired of the same red, it was beginning to feel less like who I was.

Last year, I was working as a caregiver and from home as a book-keeper, and I no longer had any restrictions on my hair color.  I started trying to make my way through the rainbow.

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I would get comments, mostly good, some not.  At this point my haircut was similar to Romana Flowers from a popular comic book/movie, so simply saying that helped answer the question of why my hair looked the way it did.  At one point, I had a family friend ask me who was it that I was trying to “attract” by my rainbow hair.  I hadn’t thought about it.  I was in a serious relationship at the time, and wasn’t trying to attract anyone, I was just trying to make my outside look out my inside felt.

After a few months, I gave in to the negativity I received.  I ended up going blonde, and trying to be someone other people were wanting me to be.  I had gotten compliments on my rainbow colored hair, but when I went  blonde I was told how much more professional I looked.  How that’s what people want from their pastor, how much “healthier” it looked.  Honestly I hated it.  I felt like I was putting on a show, wearing my mask because the person underneath wasn’t what people wanted me to be.

Then my break up happened.

I cut all of my hair short enough that it was only my natural hair color.

I wore a lot of hats

I wore a lot of hats

I completely started over, I moved to seminary, and I decided that being an adult was about being myself.  I was tired of trying to be something that I wasn’t, and it was so obvious at that point that being that person wasn’t helping me.  I completely redid my wardrobe, no more plain jeans and a t-shirt or office-wear, I wasn’t working in an office anymore, I didn’t need it.  I loaded up on dresses, Doctor Who and Marvel shirts, bright colored leggings, and a lot of really awesome headbands with bows.  I decided:

This is who I am. I can’t not be me.

So why is my hair a strange color?  Why do I change it so regularly?

  • Because I can
  • Because I love it
  • Because when I look in the mirror, I see ME

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Living in Anxiety – How I’ve Pushed Past It

word cloud

Last Sunday, I preached for the first time ever.  My first ever sermon.  There were all these moments leading up to that Sunday where I let that negative self-talk monster get into my head.  What if it’s terrible? What if I trip walking up to the pulpit?  What if no one takes me seriously? What if this isn’t actually what I’m supposed to be doing?

It becomes a slippery slope.  Part of my problem was that I have been suffering from social anxiety my entire life.  From as young as I could remember, I was that really awkward kid who always said the wrong thing at the wrong time, and my peers let me know it, it was difficult to be myself, to be an extrovert who could never say the right thing.  Eventually whenever I had to talk with people I didn’t know very well or any sort of class presentation, I would begin to shake and my face would turn this shade of red that is only ever seen in my skin.  I’d trip over words, suddenly have some sort of stutter that wasn’t there before.  I would be able to feel every part of the joint in my jaw tremoring.

Needless to say, it was a nightmare.  I have this bubbly, sort of over-the-top personality, and I wasn’t able to speak.

When I was fourteen, and in a really deep depression, I decided this was not something I could abide.  I had no idea what my future would hold, but I knew that this anxiety was going to hold me back.  This was long before being diagnosed by a professional with “social anxiety”, but at the time I didn’t even know there could be help for this.

So I started putting myself into situations that made me uncomfortable.  I dyed my hair pink.  I stood out.  Each morning I would go up to at least half the class and say hello.  I volunteered first for every class presentation.

Honestly, it was hard.  And often it sucked.  I still shook and turned beet red often, I still tripped over my words, I still felt embarrassed and ashamed that everyone else seemed to be able to talk normally when it was such a struggle for me.

Once I got to college I was smoking at least a pack of cigarettes a day.  Somehow the cigarettes made it easier for me to talk to new people.  We already had something in common!  Not to mention that whatever terrible chemicals exist in cigarettes helped alleviate some of the anxiety.

Fastforward a few years later, and I started doing karaoke as regularly as possible.  The first few times I got up on the stage with the lights in my face and held the microphone to my lips were some of the most terrifying moments of my life.  It was like starting over again, but I just kept doing it, until I was only shaking a little bit.  I told myself the lights brightened my face so people couldn’t see how red it was.  I just kept pushing forward.

These last two Sundays I have gotten up in front of two different churches, and proclaimed the Gospel.  I’ve felt a few moments of shakiness, I had to keep reminding myself to breathe and not lock my knees.  I put on a pound of foundation so the redness in my cheeks isn’t as obvious to those watching.  I can’t eat anything beforehand and I have to drink a lot of water to make sure my throat stays clear.  But I’m doing it.  Twelve years ago I didn’t know what it was I would have to do, all I knew was that I couldn’t let my anxiety control me, and now I finally understand why.  Even though the anxiety still rumbles beneath the surface, I’m finally able to do what I was meant to do – preach.

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Playing Catchup – Adding a New To Do List Item

It’s been a bit difficult to get anything written down lately. I think the major issue is that once classes picked up, I was writing so much for class it was hard to find anything else to write about. Now I just feel like I’m always playing catchup, which is usually how I like to do things, but today my to do list just seems completely overwhelming.

I love lists. I specifically love making to do lists, because often there’s so many different things to do, and I need a list.

to do list

Better yet, I need a very well organized listed. With prioritization on all the to dos. I can say “this must be done today”, “this must be done as soon as possible”, and “this must be done”. Each day I review it, there’s one “this must be done today” item that has been there for three days now, but I’m feeling lucky today, I’m thinking I’ll at least start on it.

One thing I’m going to add to my to do list though – is write.

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Moments of Clarity – Why Jesus?

<Re-blogged from Creator Lutheran Church>

My first ever sermon!

Lookin snazzy

Lookin snazzy

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Why I Love Study Buddies – Balancing Social Time with School

Something I’ve learned about myself over the years – I do better if I have a comrade working next to me.  They don’t have to be working on the same thing, but a productive person in the same room while I am also trying to be productive is probably the only thing that has gotten me through long work days and mid-terms, readings, and papers.

It’s fun! I swear!
Especially when finals week or intensives hits, finding time to be social with others suddenly disappears.  My inner extrovert is crying out for some sort of social interaction, but unfortunately the pile of reading I have to do is calling me elsewhere.  And although there are times where I will get together with my study buddy, and no work will be done, that we have a little too much fun, often something actually gets accomplished!

Occasionally we’ll pause the music playing to discuss our lives, and then get back to our separate readings.  Breaks are important for study, and they naturally happen with a friend as laughter and babbletalking ensue.

Productivity
I am a (relatively) responsible person.  But for whatever reason, I had a very difficult time starting work.  I mean, to be fair, there are often times where I have a difficult time continuing work, and there are times where Game of Thrones calls me and I find my brain wandering away from my task, but more often than not, I just need someone to be like “Hey, what are you working on?” or “How’s that paper coming?”  Or often a swift poke in the side of “Facebook is not reading.”

I know that eventually the work would be done, but having that extra little poke is so helpful for me, it creates a sense of accountability, and sometimes that’s absolutely necessary.

Having someone to bounce ideas off of
So to be fair, often this is just reading a sentence out loud and asking “does this sound like a heresy to you?” or having someone to let you talk out your logic, to make sure it’s actually logical.  But sometimes the conversation goes a little like this:

Me: “I wish I had a beard.”e

Friend: “Okay.”

Me: “I feel like I keep touching my chin wishing I had a beard to help me think.”

Friend: “Like a thinking hat?”

Me: “Yes.”

Friend: “That’d be cool.”

Me: “There’s a costume store down the street.”

Friend: “Here’s my keys.”

And the thinking beard was born

And the thinking beard was born

I get some of my best writing done wearing this beard.

 

In short – thank you to my study buddies, to my coworkers, for sharing your productive time with me, help me to stay focused, and make me laugh hysterically while at the same time helping me learn, pushing me to finish that last work project, and sometimes helping me just to get enough on paper that I truly earned my drink ;)

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Don’t Give Up on Us – A Millennial’s Cry for Community

I had a conversation today about community that left me a bit disheartened.  The notion was that my generation and those younger than me were “anti-community”.  That there was a trend coming from the west – that young people are not interested in gathering together, that we would rather be in online communities, and that we were focused only on ourselves, and that we had did not actually have an interest in reaching out to others.

This has been bothering me all day.

I don’t think it’s true.  I don’t know if the statements made to me were based on actual studies, anecdotal research, or just the person’s own experiences, and do completely I understand how easily our generation might be construed as “anti-community”.  Our generation is, after all, the generation that caused #selfie to be the most popular word of 2013.  I hear constantly at seminary this need to build community, this forceful and awkward reach to get people to partake in fellowship, and I see it not working out very well.  I won’t argue that our culture isn’t individualistic or apathetic, or that community is becoming harder and harder to find, but I will say that we as a generation are not lost to community.

We just can’t be.

I think the problem has more to do with the fact that our generation just doesn’t know how to commune.  Those claims that say our generation is anti-community seem to only be seeing the symptom of the problem as a new trend, and rather than working within our context as people in desperate need of others, it sounds like they’re trying to figure out how to create community without…community?  I’m not really sure what the plan is in dealing with this “trend”.

From conversations with friends, acquaintances, and sometimes even strangers, I hear people crying out for community. Friendships are vitally important to many of our generation, we wish we had more.  Many of us feel alone – often.  And that’s the rub.  I can’t count the times I’ve heard someone my age say, “I feel lonely.”  The individual friendships just aren’t quite enough, because there’s no body of people for them to turn to in times of stress, and because at the end of the day, their coworkers and classmates (and often even fellow congregation members) didn’t actually connect with them in a meaningful way.

I don’t have answers, I don’t know how we can help form communities in authentic and real ways, or how we can help others learn to do so.  I know for me personally community has become second nature, and I think a lot of it has to do with gaming. Whether that be online or in person, I have been able to be part of the same model of community over and over again:

  • Coming together around a common interest
  • Often having a meal (or at least snacks/drinks) together
  • Depending on others (without the healer in the party we’re not going to fare very well)
  • Acceptance of who each person is for their skills and their faults

Throughout my life the gaming community has always been a welcoming, nurturing place for me to find comfort, relationship, and rest.  It’s one of the few places where even in anti-community zones like Seattle I was able to create relationships.  It’s this strange phenomenon where I can walk into a gaming store and join in on a game with complete strangers.  It’s a weekly or even monthly meeting with friends that I actually want to make.  All it ever takes is an invitation.  Oftimes I’ll decline politely, busy schedules run rampant, but eventually there will be a week or an evening that I can make, and I always get hooked.  I get hooked on the community.

With all the studies about youth leaving churches, with the constant talk about what’s happening to our communities, and with this new “anti-community” trend topic, I can’t help but see that the problem isn’t disinterest, but a problem of know-how, it’s a problem of making sure one has the invitation, and continuing to invite them.

Our generation might just have to be the ones to start inviting.

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A Girl of Many Houses – Finding Home

For years I’ve declared myself to be a nomad, often more happily than not, but over the last year of so many different places that I laid my head at the end of the day, it was beginning to feel like I wouldn’t find a place to really call “home”.

Finally having my own apartment that I could make my own has helped that.  It’s filled with my Doctor Who doo-dads and pictures of friends and family.  At the end of the day when I lay my head it’s on the same pillow that I laid the night before, and I wake up to my dog’s happy tail wagging ready to go for her morning walk.  We meet up with neighbors in the dog park, chatting about classes and laughing as our dogs play.  It feels like home.

I head up to campus for classes, laughing with my classmates about the paper we all struggled writing.  Then on to the cafeteria for lunch, where somehow there’s always a table with an open seat.  I’ve only been on campus for two short months, but already there are so many faces and names that bring smiles to my face.  It feels like home.

But then I go back to Seattle for Easter.  I go back “home” to visit.  I walk into the houses of my family and friends, these places I’ve laid my head, and they’re home too.  They bring those same smiles to my faces. I walk into my church, sitting in the same chairs I’ve sat in for years.  Smiling and laughing with members who have watched me grow up and can’t wait to hear about seminary.  It feels like home.

I miss Seattle when I’m in Minnesota, and I miss Minnesota when I’m in Seattle.  When I walked into my friend’s home, hugged her grandfather, and went to put my belongings in “my room”, I was struck with a sudden fear – maybe I was still homeless.  If this was home, and that was home, and all these other buildings filled with people I love were home, how could I really call anything home?

I may be nomadic, I may have had many places to lay my head, but each one has been home.  I am lucky enough to have many homes to call my own, many buildings, many families, many friends, and I have finally been able to see it, that all these places, all these people are my safe places.

It feels like home.

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Liberation, Leaving, & Love – Why Oh Why Am I Single (pt 7)

Previously – Working this out for myself in the form of blogs, reliving the story of my last relationship in how it was and how it ended, learning to understand and grow past my attraction to the unreachable, the negative self-talk (NST) monster, working through forgiving my ex (and myself), and then smiling through the list of my ex’s and what they taught me.  Now, finally, the last post – the good bits!

Liberation

It’s hard not to see the serendipity in how things work out.  The Vegan was in my life at the time that he was for I’m sure many reasons, reasons I still have yet to find, but one thing he gave me was the buffer I needed.  Long before him and I had met, I was nervous about moving for school.  I had found all kinds of excuses, and had even contemplated doing my degree at Seattle University, but since SU isn’t Lutheran, I would still have to move for my “Lutheran year”.  I just wasn’t ready to make the jump, I’ve never lived away from the greater Seattle area, never moved away from my family, never had that safety net built in, and luckily The Vegan was in no hurry to move away either.

But the thing was, not only was this relationship a placeholder for me not moving, once it ended, it led to a freedom I didn’t know I had.  All the excuses I had fell apart.  My boss (who is also my mom) said that I could continue to do my work from Minnesota (I mean I am already telecommuting anyway), my stepbrother wanted to move into the house I was renting from my parents, I needed to move somewhere, I had been semi-homeless for weeks, things began to fall into place, and there was no stopping it.

Leaving

Before I knew it I was calling the school, figuring out the logistics of the move, and then suddenly I was on campus for intensives with my online classmates.  Smiles, hugs, and tears from these people who met me where I was at the hardest moment of my breakup, and here they all were.

Then I was on the road, with my two best friends riding along with me, halfway across the country, in January, during the polar vortex.  There were a lot more goodbye’s that I would have liked to say, but the one thing I did learn – the one brilliant thing about this heartbreak, is that it gave me the freedom and the will to say yes!  Yes to this adventure, yes to this path, and yes to whatever my future may hold.  Hopefully I won’t be in the state of singledom forever, but if I am, it’s not the worst place to be.

Love

I mentioned in several different posts that I had a difficult time believing I was deserving of any love, and even then when I contended that I was in fact loved by God, I couldn’t admit that I deserved any kind of romantic love.  There are some moments where I still can’t beat back the NST and these thoughts creep back in, but for the most part, these moments are becoming less and less frequent.  Something about that agape love I get from God, and how that love has shined through the people in my life, allowed my broken heart to finally begin accepting love. God gave me what I needed through the break up, he gave me His love, and the absolutely humbling, tear-jerking love of my family, friends, and classmates.

That night during (and then in the months since) the breakup, there was an outpouring of love.  From Dana over the phone, angry that she was going out of town and couldn’t be there for me right then.  From my friend Keith, who stayed up with me until 3am while I cried and cursed.  And when the tears wouldn’t stop, when my pillow was soaked and my dog wouldn’t stop licking my face (which is either sweet or creepy, I still haven’t decided), my classmates, met my reach with theirs, continuing to support me through messages, and then during January the immense amount of love in them couldn’t be stopped.

My friend Mehgan and I binge-ate junk food and watched bad TV together, and she let me talk forever.  I received calls and texts from my sister in Montana, my sister here gave me the biggest hug I think she’s ever given me.  When my mom hugged me, and didn’t ask me about the deposits for the church, just hugged me and let me cry in her arms. When my dad talked with me for hours about the relationship, and only pushed a little on what he thought of, and what he wanted to do to, The Vegan, but helped me with everything I needed for my new place, and gave me a place to stay in the months I was in between.

It wasn’t about The Vegan, it wasn’t about getting married, it wasn’t about anyone else, but what I needed, and I can never be thankful enough for the people in my life.  Over the last few months, I realized I was more than just loved, I was cherished, I don’t know if I had ever felt that way before.  I can’t help but think it was through Him, through His grace that I was led in this life, through relationships and heartbreak, to a calling, to a path, and to the most amazing love.

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Addendum

It’s funny, I wrote this entire series all together and then broke it into these seven parts (Was nice not to think about writing during my first full-time semester at seminary).  In doing that though, this post is actually seven weeks old, and it’s amazing what can change in seven weeks, or even in seven days, and how grateful I have been to share this story with others, it was in the writing of this series that I was able to really be healed, in the conversations that spurred from sharing this story that I was able to fully be open about my hurt and healing in a very public sphere, and in the irony of timing for this final post, I can read through my thoughts from seven weeks ago, smile, and know that there is often something more going on that we only can see in hindsight.

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The Ever-Growing List of Learning – Why Oh Why Am I Single (pt 6)

Previously – Why oh why am I single?  Some days I so wish that I wasn’t, and other days I thank the Lord that I am.  Looking back at my last relationship, the love story and the broken ending, reviewing the questions on why I seem to only choose to date the absolute wrong guys, how I’ve learned to deal with all the icky feelings that come out of the all-too-regular heartbreak of relationships, and then practicing forgiveness, it leads me to here, the bit where I can look back on all of this, all of these relationships, all of this life so far lived, and see the wonderful happenings that lead me to the places I’m meant to be.

I’ve mentioned before how we refer to the term “learning experience” as a euphemism for “oh shit” moments.  Well maybe I didn’t quite describe it that way, but it was implied.  Every relationship, friendship or romantic, is a learning experience, but there’s something about romantic relationships, and usually peering back through time at those relationships, where you can’t help but say “Well now I know a little better”.

And my best friend can attest, I have gotten better.  Each relationship taught me certain things.  Sometimes we look back on these relationships and regret them, thinking we should have known better.  I’m not in the habit of regretting things, gets too messy and the guilt just kills me (I’ve never heard of “Lutheran guilt”, maybe there’s something to that).  But when looking back on past relationships, I know I’m not alone in the fear that we passed up opportunities for a guy, or that we gave up something we cared about for someone else, and although this can happen, I realized something – I never did that.  I used my relationships as an excuse to not do things I was too afraid to do, or maybe there was a higher hand in it, it’s hard not to think that “someone” (hint hint) put these people in my life at certain times to lead me to where I am now.  I don’t know, maybe?  Let’s take a look at these men that have so shaped who I am, who I’m becoming, and have led me to where I am now, who they were, what they taught me, what excuses they enabled me to have, and a little bit on their “stats”.

 

There’s just something about a man with the power to level up my character

There’s just something about a man with the power to level up my character

The Dungeon Master (Fiance #2)
Stats: Constitution -1, Charisma +5
Special skills: Bluff +4, History +3, Dungeoneering +2

Don’t get me wrong, the DM definitely has his qualities, a photographer, a grip, an entrepreneur, he always had some kind of “project” that he was working on, but there were a LOT of lessons learned here.  That even if someone is an amazing DM and they can create a wonderful world of dungeons and dragons, doesn’t automatically make them a good mate, that alcoholism is a disease that really can destroy people and is not easily fixed, and that if someone doesn’t have an income and needs to move in with you and “rent” a room but never pay rent, you probably shouldn’t start dating them.  I used “settling down” with the DM as an excuse to turn down an acceptance to NYU’s Social Work program.  There were plenty of other excuses as well, but it didn’t feel right, and I couldn’t say yes, thankfully this was a person put into my life to keep me occupied while I figured everything out, and it did work.  It was in one of the worst moments in this relationship that I started praying, it was out of the brokenness and desperation of someone repeatedly choosing alcohol over me that I finally opened up to God.

Nothing beats your first love

Nothing beats your first love

The First
Stats: Dexterity +2, Intelligence +3, Wisdom +2
Special skills: Insight +9, Streetwise +9

If I could ever convince him to marry me now I think we could totally live happily ever after.  Except that we were off-an-on more times than Ross & Rachel, granted that’s high school, but it was my first break up – get back together sort of thing, still hadn’t quite learned from it yet though.  I did however learn how important communication was through our break up, but it was his voice that gave voice to my doubts, it was him that started me on the path towards agnosticism and atheism, and although he’d probably hate to hear it, it was that path that lead me back to faith, a faith that was all my own, a faith that doubts and learns and evolves.  Not to mention one of my closest and best friends now, a rock for me to lean on, even when he himself feels a bit shaky.

Having more pictures of him with large groups of women than you on his Facebook is a good clue

Having more pictures of him with large groups of women than you on his Facebook is a good clue

 

The Player
Stats: Charisma +4, Constitution +3
Skills: Bluff +4

The one who probably first instilled in me trust issues and self-doubt, I learned that even if a guy is scrawny and awkward doesn’t mean he doesn’t have game, and if he used that game on me when he had a girlfriend, he probably will continue to do that once we’re together.  The Player had his own place, and a lot of “female friends” that were never friends for very long.  He partied a lot on the nights that I had to be home with family, and it was only after the relationship ended that I realized I should have listened to my instincts.  I don’t know if The Player was really that good at deception or if I was just in denial.

Poor Bad Luck Brian

Poor Bad Luck Brian

The Nice Guy (The Ex-Husband/Fiance #1)
Stats: Constitution +2, Strength +2
Feat: Human Perseverance

When I was seventeen years old, fresh out of the relationship with The Player, I so needed a nice guy.  And there he was, five years my senior, Army Reserves and student with me at college.  Family life at home had gotten pretty rough, and so when the possibility of a deployment came up, we decided to get married.  The thing was, he was never deployed, and I realized after six months of marriage, that it had been a terrible mistake.  I used this relationship as an excuse not to apply for the Peace Corps, granted now I know that they wouldn’t have taken me anyway because I wouldn’t have really been very helpful with my Associates of Arts degree and lack of skills.  This is still teaching me things today, the importance of what marriage is really meant to be, and how not it was when we were together, how my own agendas tend to get in the way of real relationship, and how not to treat someone who is genuinely very nice.

I really disagree with the Frozen trolls on fixer-upper men

I really disagree with the Frozen trolls on fixer-upper men

The College Boyfriend
Stats: Dexterity +3, Intelligence +4
Special skills: Alertness +3, Diplomacy +2

We still talk here and there, The CBF was my first boyfriend while I was in college.  He was sweet, and cared about me a lot, but was incredibly obsessive compulsive (it was a requirement in our apartment to clean the microwave after each use, even just for popcorn!)  But for the first time that I could remember, the relationship REALLY wasn’t about me at all.  The CBF needed me a lot more than I needed him, and what I learned is that the relationship wasn’t about me learning anything, it was about him.  It was for him that I was there to learn how to relate, and in some ways (he’s told me this years later) how to feel.  Fortunately I did finally learn the off-and-on relationship lesson through him.  I hated the phrase “Oh you’re back together?” and learned that needing to break up is a lot like needing a lawyer – if you think you do, you probably should make a phone call.

 

The Vegan
Stats: Charisma +4
Special skills: Knowledge (random) +3

He was so into his utter veganism, will spend hours watching videos on youTube about what the best proteins are and laughs hysterically at the huge muscle-builders and all their “protein” supplements.  Honestly this relationship, as heartbreaking as it was, did SO much for me.  It taught me that there are guys out there that would date me even though I’m in seminary (I know that’s a weird thing to have to learn, but trust me I needed it).  This relationship taught me that just because a guy is everything I want, definitely means he is probably not what I actually need, that I don’t want to be a savior anymore, I don’t want to “fix” anyone, or to help them to “be better”, that I need more than that in a partner.  I can’t have someone standing on my shoulders, I need someone to hold my hand.  But this relationship came the moment I needed it to, for multiple reasons.

 

It’s amazing to think about these people who have so shaped my life for better or for worse (I like to think that it’s for the better), and if it weren’t for these strange and wonderful people who loved me and unloved me, who taught me more about myself than some days I care to know, and who through these experiences helped me to be stronger, smarter, and more myself than I was willing to be.

Coming Soon the Final Part – Liberation, Leaving, & Love

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There’s No WAY I Can Forgive Him – Why Oh Why Am I Single (pt 5)

Previously – Why oh why am I single?  I’ve been working my way through my most recent relationship, and the heartbreak that resulted in that relationship.  Trying to answer the many, many “why” questions that come up after a difficult breakup, as well as fighting off all the self-blame and nasty things I often say to myself. I went through some of the ways I’ve found to fight off the negativity, but there’s one more that I’ve left out, one that I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to do.

After I told family and friends about the breakup, the reactions were almost strictly one of these two:

  1. “Oh no!  Are you okay?  How are you doing?  That’s so terrible!”  People shared in my grief, they worried for my own well-being, all in all, as much as I hated the pity party, this was the reaction I could most relate to.  My eyes were red for days and I’m pretty sure my face is allergic to my own tears as I go all red and blotchy forever after a good bout of crying.  These friends and family cried with me (or at least pretended to).
  2. “Where is he?  Does he really know jiu jitsu?  I’m going to kill him.”  This immediate outrage startled me.  My friend in New Zealand was typing in all caps, debating whether or not to empty his savings to come and avenge my honor from the other end of the earth.  My dad let loose a slew of curse words and started a comment war on all the photos of us on Facebook.  This was problematic since The Vegan actually didn’t use Facebook, or access to it now that the cable internet I had been paying for was now in my car.  He likely never saw any of my dad’s comments (the likes of which I am not sharing here), but our wedding photographer did, as many of the photos that my father was seeking vengeance on were part of her professional page.
There is no facepalm strong enough

There is no facepalm strong enough

A part of me was relieved, since at least it was three weeks before the wedding and not the day of, or God forbid after the wedding.  The other part of me was just broken.  I didn’t really have the time to be angry, I was too busy just dealing with everything.  Phone calls and packing and trying to get everything I owned into my friend’s minivan.  All I knew was that I hurt, and that I didn’t want that stupid pink fuzzy lamp The Vegan bought me.  I knew that all this anger was a way for my friends and my dad to express their hurt for me, through their call for vengeance, they were trying to share in my grief in the only way they knew how, and it was sweet, and it did make me smile, and then a little worried, and then a lot embarrassed, but mostly it made me feel loved, the same way the hugs and tears with others made me feel loved, and I appreciated their less-than-tactful means of showing that love.  I just wanted my own anger to end, my own hurt, and no matter how many threats at the ex’s live were made, it only seemed to make things worse.

But then I remembered something!  I believe in this Dude that is like super cool and forgives everyone. And there’s always this talk about loving your enemy, and never cursing against someone else, and all this stuff that I totally did not want to think about.  The Vegan totally wrecked my world.  I was so sure that we were meant to be, that it was destined, and all this stuff that just didn’t seem to make sense anymore and it just sucked, and I wanted to pretend like I was fine around people and then go hide and wallow with a hundred pounds of ice cream.  I wanted to forget about him, to move on, to get away from it, but I kept dreaming about him, I kept crying myself to sleep and waking up and crying some more because he filled my dreams.  It didn’t seem like it would ever end.

So I caved.  I decided that there can’t be anything worse than this pain, so eff it I’m going to forgive the jerk, even though he really doesn’t deserve it, even though I’m told from very good sources that misery loves company, and even though I literally did not know how.  I started with just saying it out loud:

I forgive him.

I forgive him.

I…

forgive….

him….

 

Image credit: natulrich / 123RF Stock Photo

Did it work?

Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy.  I still felt terrible, I mean, I guess I knew there wouldn’t be a quick fix right? Doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t super-duper wish that there was.  So I tried a different tactic, this same Dude also says that we can’t do stuff without Him.  Or at least it’s an awful lot harder to. Like, most things that are important, but it’s especially relevant when we’re trying to do the impossible – like forgiving the worst ex-boyfriend ever – we need Him to help.

psst....that dude?  Yea...It's Jesus!

psst….that dude? Yea…It’s Jesus!

So I grabbed some tissues, tucked myself in, and started to pray:
“Hey…so…this sucks, like a lot, I just….Okay, so I need your help.  I know I’ve been asking a lot the last day or two, but it’s all been for me, and that’s not really working, so I’m changing my approach.  I…I want you to help me forgive him.  I don’t want to hate him.  I don’t want to be so angry.  I do…I do want him to be happy.  He’s got a lot of problems, I guess I always knew that, but…I can’t be the one to help him anymore.  He needs you.  So if you could help him…if you could help him to be happy, to figure out all the good things I saw in him are still true, that he does deserve love…please?  Help him to find you, or Buddha, or whatever works, just…he needs you, a lot more than he needs me, and honestly a lot more than I need you right now.  Like, I know you, and everything, I know that I’m loved, and I’ve got this really great support system.  He doesn’t have that…I don’t know who he’s talking to, who he can go to, with all this stuff, so I’m hoping he goes to you.  So…yea…God….Jesus….help?  Amen.”

Eventually I stopped praying, I said all that I possibly could, and I did feel a little bit better.  I did still cry myself to sleep that night.  Granted, I had been crying already, it just didn’t stop after the prayer ended.  But there was a difference, The Vegan wasn’t in my dream that night.  I dreamt about fighting aliens with laser guns (SO much better).  So I added The Vegan to my prayer list.  Every night before bed, along with my family and my friends and the people of Uganda and everything, I prayed for The Vegan’s happiness, for him to find love, for him to love himself, and for maybe, just maybe, for him to find God, with hope that it be the love and grace of God through Jesus (hey a girl can dream right?).  It’s been four months now since that first prayer, and I still pray for him.  I don’t know if I’ve fully forgiven him, but I’m closer now.  Now I’m not so afraid of him appearing in my dreams, and if he does, I don’t know if it would be so bad.

Sometimes the impossible becomes possible, it’s amazing and wonderful, and luckily I’ve had LOTS of experience in figuring out how to forgive people that I don’t really want to forgive.  These super fun “learning experiences” that just seem to keep popping up.

Coming soon – The Ever-Growing List of Learning

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