Embracing Fear

I think one of the struggles of those who identify as “control freaks” is fear.  I don’t like to do anything without thinking of variables and outcomes, so sometimes I avoid being spontaneous or overthink things.  Over the past few months, so much of my life has been out of control that I find myself embracing the unknown and embracing my fears.

I was a fearless kid, but around middle school something shifted.  There was some bullying and I sank into the safety of my mind.  I found myself diving into fictional worlds and with the internet, the worlds were expanded through chat groups.  I emerged in high school and developed a solid group of friends and the same in college.  I met my ex the beginning of my sophomore year and we were great friends and study mates for 6 months before we started dating.  In hindsight, I now see some of the disfunction of our relationship.  Rather than push me to be better, he fed off a lot of my insecurities.  It was a lot of “don’t worry about it, I will take care of it” (even when he didn’t). When we would go to group functions, he was the social butterfly and I just tagged along, but he never tried to actively include me in things.  I often felt like a third wheel when we went out, like I was holding him back.  Over the past few years, I dreaded going places because it was like watching his performance while I sat in the back ignored.  Again, this isn’t about bashing him, but rather seeing that this affair was the straw that broke us, but it was far from the only issue.  These subtle things had created a deep fear that I didn’t live up to expectations or I wasn’t capable of doing things without him.

Fast-forward to May, when I woke up one day a realized that I had to do it all.  I had to make those phone calls I hated making.  I had to be more social and meet the other soccer parents, so I could ask for rides!  I had to drive places when driving is not something I enjoy.  So, I started doing those things and what has emerged in me is something interesting.  No longer to I get anxious when I think about driving into New York.  The phone calls are now part of my day (and now my job).  I now socialize with the other soccer parents and don’t hesitate to ask for a ride (or give one).  I also just dive in without overthinking things.  I just managed to get my cat home from a shelter in Wyoming in a matter of weeks because I was willing to ask friends for help, make numerous phone calls, invite strangers into the story, and just trust that it would work out.

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I also have been finding my sense of adventure returning.  I walk every day at lunch and started looking around during my walks and, in the process, found a network of public trails in the woods behind my work, that I walk daily.  Rather than sit home and sulk over Christmas, I texted a friend and am going to spend it with her family (can we say time for a tea party!).  I just bought a ticket to go see P!nk by myself in Philly this spring!  I have also started thinking about my future and the things I look forward to doing.  Maybe a hiking trip in Africa or South America or whatever.  And guess what, it doesn’t scare me to think of doing it alone!

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The Mess Left Behind

Today Messi and I were working on a wooden birdhouse.  I had saved some of our old Washington license plates for just such a project.  Unfortunately, I knew they were in my damp basement, which is home to all sorts of critters and creeps me out to no end.  So, after Messi and Bolt were unable to locate the license plates, I ventured downstairs.  Before my ex left I had asked him to clean up the basement, which he had been promising to do since a water pipe burst a year ago.  He said he cleaned it up and, for the most part, he had.  However, on the search for the license plates we found a whole area which had been neglected, including a damp box of photo albums.  As the box disintegrated in my hands, the albums fell to the cement floor.  In that box were the photo albums of the first years of our marriage, our wedding guest book, and his old baby book and childhood photos. His photos were damp, but mostly salvageable.  The other albums were a soggy, moldy mess.  The irony was not lost on me.  I chucked the evidence of our first happy years, before he started cheating on me, into the trash.  There are days I wish I could do the same with my memories.  The reality is, though, that affairs are messy and brutally painful.  While he moved out and basically tried to shut a door on the past 14 years, I am left holding the sopping, moldy mess of our shared history.  I am hurting, my sons are hurting, meanwhile he jumped into a new relationship with her and a whole bunch of kids, seemingly not grieving the loss of my sons and I.  I wouldn’t trade places with him, though.  I would much rather be left cleaning up the mess and rebuilding my life than pretending like it never happened.  I am a product of my past, but I want to learn from it and build on it.  So, while I may have thrown away years of evidence of the best years in my marriage, it is still part of me and of that I have no regrets.

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 Humor and Hydrangeas

One of the greatest gifts I feel like God has given me over the past few months is this renewed ability find humor in the everyday and beauty at surprising intervals.  In the first few weeks following my discovery of the betrayal, I had those crushing moments and days where I wondered if I would ever be happy again.  Lately, I have found my eyes and soul open and vulnerable, which has allowed me to see, hear, and feel more acutely, both in grief and beauty.

A few weeks ago, I stood at my kitchen at nearly midnight getting ready to finish shampooing my carpets (a monthly process in a home with 2 boys, 2 large dogs, and 2 cats).  I had just made up a batch of carpet shampoo from some Pinterest recipe.  I had run upstairs to grab my machine and stood in the kitchen looking at something on my phone when suddenly there is a loud “pop” and I found myself showered in bubbles.  Looking around my kitchen there were bubbles dangling from the ceiling, the television, a framed picture and myself.  Apparently, my homemade shampoo and continued to bubble up after I put the lid on until the pressure caused an eruption.   My first instinct was to cry in annoyance knowing that more time had just been added to my day before I could curl up in bed.  Then suddenly I found myself laughing this deep belly laugh over the humor of standing in my kitchen at midnight covered in bubbles.

Before the boys came home from Ethiopia, I used to enjoy sewing.  After jumping off the high dive into parenting 4 & 5-year-old boys, I was just happy if I got laundry done and the kitchen cleaned.  Now that they are older and help around the house and are more self-sufficient, I have begun doing things I enjoy again.  One morning in May, I woke up and knew I wanted to start creating beautiful things again and I decided to start by making a baby quilt for my very first niece.  For the past 6 weeks, I have been spending free moments listening to audio books and sewing.  I finished it last week and I love it more than I imagined.  This week the quilt will make a journey to the Midwest awaiting the arrival of its’ owner.  Next up, aprons for a tribe of amazing women who have held me up during this time!19732096_10156327079163294_3163002541257329923_n

One of my favorite workout programs is this funny one called, “Sh’Bam” by Les Mills.  It is just a mixture of dancing to different songs.  For those of you that know me, you might remember that my dancing skills leave something to be desired.  Someone recently compared it to Elaine on Seinfeld, which, admittedly, I had to look up.  So, this program, allows me to perfect my dancing moves in the privacy of my home.  However, lately my newly found dancing skills like to just randomly appear, most notably when our ER ambulance phone rings with “Danger Zone”.   So, yes, that crazy nurse dancing to “Danger Zone” in the middle of the ER is me…I apologize for the traumatizing image.

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Just two days ago, Bolt and I were driving home from Karate when I we passed some green hydrangea flowers.  I began talking to Bolt about how, in a few weeks, those flowers would turn purple or blue or pink or white, dependent on the variety and the acidity of the soil.  He began peppering me with questions and then started asking if unusual colors were possible.  Suddenly, red and blue flashed in my rearview mirror and I pulled to the side of the road and a police officer pulled up behind me.  Apparently, in my discussion over hydrangeas, I had not been paying attention to my speed.  As we sat there waiting for the officer to run my information, I felt myself becoming overwhelmed and then upset as hydrangeas were the featured flower at my wedding.  I began to feel the familiar anger with my ex-husband emerge as I thought how he had stolen my love for those flowers (and how, obviously, he would somehow be responsible for my ticket).  Then, I looked up out of my car window, and right in front of me were a group of hydrangeas in full bloom and in my favorite periwinkle color.  I looked at the blooms and began laughing hysterically at the irony.  When I finished laughing, I looked at the flowers again and realized, they are still one of my favorite flowers, despite the painful association.  The officer came back to my car and gave me a warning, and I drove home thinking about the comedy of the whole situation

When I was in the “depths of despair” (to quote my favorite heroine, Anne Shirley), grief threatened to steal my joy.  It has been a conscious process on my part to not constantly wallow in pity, but to embrace the entire rainbow of my emotional healing.  God has been faithful to provide opportunities for me to grieve, but also for me to experience laughter and joy and beauty again.

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