Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Today was extremely busy. I traded phone calls with visits, shopping, and very late Christmas mailings. In one of the many conversations, someone told me I made him feel joy when we talk. I don't know if that's unique to him, but there are few things I would like more than to bring joy to the people I love--and even to perfect strangers.
I don't know how to resolve the current "problem" that haunts me. I don't know how to stop feeling bitter, even hateful. But it's nice to know that in the midst of hurting over this, I'm still able to bring joy to the life of at least one friend.
Darrin held me last night as I chatted well past one o'clock a.m. I keep wondering when he'll say he's had enough--that I'm too much trouble with all my baggage and emotional crap and stupid past experiences. He doesn't say it, though. He just holds me and tells me he loves me.
The truth is that I'm very angry at God right now. I'm not sure why I've chosen that target, but I think it has something to do with the fact that he allows me to tell him how angry I am, but he doesn't go away. When I rage and cry, I feel his love piercing through me, letting me know it's okay for me to feel these things--that probably I should have felt them long ago when I was too young to understand why people who should have shown me love, protection, and respect, were hurting me repeatedly.
I wonder how long this will last.
Tonight, though, I realized that I celebrate Christmas each year because it brings me hope. I hope my Savior will love me when I feel unworthy of love. I hope he will guide me when I can no longer see my own path. I hope he will teach me to care for my brothers and sisters. And in the end, when I have done all that I can to resolve my hurts and transgressions, I hope he will heal me and make me whole.
Perhaps I am naive to place my hope in a person I cannot see or touch. Perhaps I am superstitious to believe in a miraculous conception and birth. Perhaps I am foolish to base my life decisions around that which I believe he would have me do.
But I've tried to walk alone. It's miserable. I much prefer the company of the one who loves me unconditionally. And tonight, I'm very happy to celebrate hope.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
The Best Laid Plans (and I'm going to use this title, even though I'm not a man, nor a mouse--don't argue with me!)
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Tolkien Boy: When's your appointment?
Tolkien Boy: Okay. I think Ginsberg’s leaving early.
me: That's what he told me. So--after he leaves I will snatch you away and take you to a mental health utopia. And no doubt you will find Therapist charming, elderly, and sort of cute, which is good since everything we talk about will probably be a rerun of Tolkien Boy/Sam conversations.
Tolkien Boy: Elderly?
me: He's my age.
Tolkien Boy: Oh, yes. Doddering.
me: We compare walkers and discuss which company manufactures the best canes. Occasionally we swap dentures--just for fun.
Tolkien Boy: Please don't do that when I'm around.
me: What?? I look stunning in Therapist's teeth.
And there it is. I'm not sure I'll ever top that one. Probably, I don't want to. But that is the beauty of talking with Tolkien Boy. Wherever the conversation takes you, there you are. And unless he tells me I'm wrong, I expect to be going places with him, conversationally and otherwise, for a very long time.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
by Lydon, Toon, Norman, & Rutledge
1. Kate, We Haven’t Been Introduced
2. Bar Mitzvah of La Mancha
3. Sand And Primer Your Wagon
4. A Chorus Dot
5. Fiddler Borrows A Ladder
6. Little Business Plan of Horrors
7. A Star's Mom Allows A Handsome Stranger To Buy Her A Drink
8. Indian Territory!
9. The Guy Who Is A Little Intense But Keeps To Himself And Isn’t Really Bothering Anyone Of The Opera
10. Annie There’s A Waiting Period
12. Brand New Acquaintance Joey
13. Handshake Of The Spider Woman
14. Jesus Christ Waiter
15. Starlight Right-of-Way Allocation And Environmental Impact Study
16. Vocal Warm-ups On A Cloudy Day
17. West Side Backstory
Monday, December 1, 2008
I hesitated to post this because I want to be certain everyone who visits sees this post. I’ve been reading Brother Gladstone’s blog for awhile now. I follow a few blogs which have authors who are HIV positive. Some are LDS, some are not. In each blog I’ve found something pertinent to my current journey, and because of that I am grateful for those who have the courage to share their lives with others. And so, before I begin my current tirade, I remind each reader to take a moment to remember those who are living with HIV and AIDS throughout the world, and do what you can to help ease their lives–even if it’s something as simple as offering a prayer in their behalf.
Now, on with the tirade…In a month I will mark my third year of continuous therapy. When I began, I planned that I would need approximately three months. I’m infamous for overestimating my ability to be omnipotent. For those unfamiliar with my story, I began therapy because in November 2005, my cousin’s wife committed suicide. I was overwhelmed with feelings I could not manage–grief, anger, and frustration mixed with elation, triumph, and vindictiveness. These feelings came about because the husband of the deceased, my cousin, was also the person who spent a summer raping me when I was not quite twelve. The death of his wife caused me to, finally, confess what had happened to my father (who, in turn, spent some time in counseling), and to allow him to seek help for me. Notice the wording of the last part of that sentence. I was too stressed to seek help on my own. My father found a counselor for me, and I received a phone call from her the next week, at which point I scheduled my first appointment.
My first counselor was not a good fit for me, but still, I learned from her. We met for about four months before I realized I needed someone new. But in that time, I began talking–something I had not done before. And that “talking” has not stopped for three years. And though I still wish I’d been able to learn what I needed to learn in three months, I also understand that there has been a valuable lesson which I continue to learn repeatedly. Perhaps one day, I’ll finally get it.
Counselor 1 got the “nice” story of what happened to me. In a nutshell, I told her that I had been a sexually abused–just a little. It was all I could manage at that point in time. Full disclosure was too scary and too horrible for me to allow the words to pass from me. So I can’t blame her for what happened next. No doubt she had my best interests at heart, for she is a lovely person. We talked each week for about two months. I say “we” because after the initial meeting, she mostly talked about herself. I would add just enough to reassure her that everything was going swimmingly, and I did all the homework assigned…to a degree. But she was satisfied with my progress enough to say one day, “It looks to me as though you’ve done all the difficult work. Now you just need to hand everything to the Savior and allow the Atonement to work for you, to finish healing you.” I left that session, went home and thought, What a good idea. I wonder how I do that. I pondered for days. I prayed, and studied, and prayed some more. Each week we talked about letting the Savior do his job. Each week I left feeling that I must not have enough faith, I must be a failure, I must not know what everyone else knew.
Tension began to arise between us. I stopped talking. She began focusing on my eating disorder. Eventually I went to my father and said, “Dad, I know you think a lot of Counselor 1. And I appreciate all you’ve done for me. But I think I need to go elsewhere.” He asked a few questions, then arranged for me to see a different counselor (New counselor = Therapist, who I will love forever, for those who follow my blog). As a side-note, my father has insisted on paying for all my therapy. He has been in agony that the person who raped me was invited by him to stay in our home. He asked me, as he has no other way to help, to allow him to help in this way. Therapist, who has also counseled my father, told me it’s good for me to accept this help from my father–so I have, reluctantly. But Therapist is always right–it has been good for both my father and for me.
As I began a new journey with Therapist, a number of things began to happen. Within six months I had met two people who have been key in helping me heal, and Therapist presented new ideas to me. Not only that, he allowed me to have my own ideas, to conduct my own research, to guide my own journey. And as this happened, I began to see the hand of God in ways I had not recognized before. One day I experienced the “Ahah!!” moment that changed my life forever. I was speaking with Jason (author of Gay, Mormon, and Married) and our conversation went something like this:
Jason (speaking of some subject I can no longer remember): I would imagine that would be upsetting for you, as you listen from the perspective of one who has been raped.
me: Ummm, I wasn’t raped.
Jason: Ummm…yes, you were.
me: No, I wasn’t. I’m not a rape victim.
Jason: Sorry, Sam, but what you’ve described happening to you–that’s called rape.
me: No. Rape happens to other people, not to me.
Jason: You need to say it.
me: I wasn’t raped.
Jason: You were.
Me: I don’t want to say it. I don’t want to be someone who was raped.
Jason: And raped more than once.
Jason: I’m going to keep talking to you until you can say it.
And so the conversation continued until, finally, I allowed myself to say the words. Then I think I cried for days. But I learned something in that conversation and in subsequent ones which has been invaluable as I worked toward learning to apply the Atonement in my life: I wasn’t ready. When Counselor 1 suggested I had only one step left, nothing could have been further from the truth. In order for me to apply the Atonement, I had to understand exactly what I was using it for. I had to be able to accept the truth of what had happened to me. And more than that, I had to pass through all the emotions and anger I had suppressed for many years–most of it directed at God, Himself.
As I admitted the truth, as I spoke the words that horrified me, I realized that more than anything, I had wanted someone to save me. To understand that my Heavenly Father had allowed me to be harmed in such a way, made me feel deep feelings of anger and hatred toward Him. I didn’t care if there was a lesson to be learned. It didn’t matter that sometimes the innocent are harmed as a testimony against the guilty. To be left with the memories, the nightmares, the flashbacks, made me livid. Add to that the stories I seemed to hear daily, of people who received Heavenly help with their budgets, finding a family pet, being warned not to invest in a certain stock, or being nudged to deliver a casserole or loaf of bread to a sister or brother who just needed to be loved…I began to wonder if God only helps those with small needs, but my aching body, bleeding on the cold floor of the bathroom, wrapped only in a towel as I was too shocked and horrified to do anything but shake, was too much for Him…
And I continued to learn. I asked constantly why He had let this happen to me. I don’t believe He wasn’t answering me–I just had to wait until I was ready to hear what He was saying. Eventually, when the anger subsided, I began to recognize that my life was not special. Each person has trials and problems that bring them to their knees. Some, like me, experience those things when still children, and often throughout the rest of their lives. Others might not feel the testing until late in life–but no one leaves without walking through some test of faith.
As I allowed myself to work through the feelings, there were days of depression and overwhelming sadness. In those moments, someone tangible and loving was always sent to my aid. As I tried desperately to rise above anger and resentment, I felt constantly the sweet love my Heavenly Father had for me–and I knew it was okay for me to feel angry at him–it was part of learning to grieve. And one day I found a blog where a woman told the story of how she was lying in bed as a young girl, and her father paused in her doorway. This was a man who had molested his daughters (there were three) almost from birth. But the narrator of this story had escaped his attacks. As he paused, she spoke of feeling the Spirit protecting her, and in that moment, her father left her alone. Three months previous to this day, had I read this story it would have triggered an onslaught of anger and self-pity that would have left me confused and frustrated for weeks. On this occasion, I felt incredible joy. I wept and offered a prayer to my Heavenly Father, thanking Him for sparing this young girl. Knowing that she didn’t have to feel the things I had felt brought overwhelming gratitude–and suddenly I understood.
For me, applying the Atonement was not a matter of kneeling down and simply asking. It was a process. I had to go through each step, learn each lesson, and move beyond each obstacle. Being healed could not happen, for me, in a word. It was necessary for me to work a bit, grow a bit, and recognize my fallibility. But as I attempted this task, I was never left alone–not for one moment. Help came from unexpected and unlikely sources. I learned to cry (not something I’m always grateful for). And I learned how to listen to the answers my Father had been giving me for many years.
When unthinking people tell me that I should be grateful for the experiences in my life–because of the growth and learning I have gained–I look them in the eye and I tell them that I will never be thankful that I went through such horrific treatment as a preteen. It should not have happened. It should never happen. And I refuse to honor that act in any way. However, I am grateful that I was granted the strength to endure that which should not have happened. I am grateful that I was able to find my way through the sadness and fear. I am grateful for a Father who loved me then and who loves me now.
I was asked recently, if I ever received my answer as to why I was not “saved” from the trauma I experienced. I believe I have. My answer is my own and it came in the form of a dream. I was in the Pre-earth life, surrounded by people who have been key during the past three years, in helping me work through all that has daunted me. I was sitting next to my Heavenly Father and I could feel His love mixed with deep concern. His arm was around me and He said, “You don’t have to accept this task. I think it’s the way that you will learn the best, but you don’t have to do it. You can say no.” But because I am who I am–I just don’t know how to take the easy way out–I said, “I’ll do it.” He told me it would be a frightening and horrible experience. And He wept as he told me how I would be hurt. Then He said again, “You don’t have to do this.” I looked up at the Father I loved with all my heart and I said, “I’ll be all right. You’ll make sure I am. You’ll send the people I need. And if I get lost, they’ll help me find my way back. I can do this.”
The cynic in me believes that perhaps this was my subconscious finding ways to assuage the pain I’ve been feeling. Perhaps is was me indulging in my inner romantic. Perhaps my poor brain just had to have an answer now. I don’t know, nor do I care. In my dream I knew my Father loves me. And for now, it is enough.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Me: Yay! I love Christmas shopping!
DJ: I need you to tell me what you want.
DJ: Because I have everyone else finished and you never say what you want.
Me: That's because I don't want anything.
DJ: Mom, that's not fair.
Me: I really, truly don't.
Me: A date with your dad?
DJ: You know I can't give you that.
Me: A date with you?
DJ: We do that all the time.
Me: I love new running shoes.
DJ: Which you don't allow anyone to buy for you and I'm not doing a gift card because you never use them. They just sit on your dresser until Tabitha steals them.
Me: Blue eyes?
DJ: Mom! I'm being serious!
Me: Me, too. I'd love blue eyes. Everyone I know and love has them. I'm stuck with stupid brown ones.
DJ: Uh...Tabitha, Adam, and Dad don't have blue eyes.
Me: Oh. That's right. I forgot. But yours are blue.
DJ: Are you going to tell me or not?
Me: Well, all I really want is a flip top contact lens case. I can't find them in the stores anymore and I want to scream at the screw on ones.
DJ (sighing): You're not going to tell me, are you?
Me: I just did. I really, truly want a flip top contact lens case...or roses.
DJ: You're impossible, Mom.
Me: Just don't get me ice cream--I hate ice cream.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Before I leave on my counseling trips, Darrin and I sit down and talk about the things I'll be discussing with Therapist. I do this to:
1. get his opinion about the things I've been thinking and feeling.
2. find out if my view of reality is on par with his.
3. ask if he has any concerns he'd like me to discuss with Therapist.
4. make sure he knows where I'm at emotionally, and that he feels "in the loop."
5. take advantage of him, because I love spending time and talking with him and I'll use any means possible to grab alone time with Darrin.
I've been experiencing some stress in the past three weeks as I've decided to be emotionally honest with myself. There are parts of me which I studiously avoid acknowledging--but no more. One of the most painful things for me to look at is the ways I've been emotionally dependent on Darrin. I don't like the thought that I might have allowed a relationship I love to be even the least bit unhealthy. However, there are some things which cannot get better unless one sees them as they are.
I suppose the potential for emotional dependency in any of my relationships has always been present. I am the poster child for one who is likely to form those ties:
1. Raped at an early age.
2. No physical affection received as a child or teen (touch deprivation).
3. Few authentic friendships, no friendships in which I was emotionally honest, no relationships where I could discuss the trauma in my life.
4. Perception that love is "earned" by good behavior, grades, or performance, and that it will be withdrawn in the event of bad behavior or failure to excel.
5. Belief that abandonment is inevitable.
6. Lack of core self-worth.
Regardless of natural talent or intelligence, I am subject to the perspectives formed based on my life experiences. Jason and I were discussing this and we both agreed, it was probably impossible for me to have any close relationships without forming some degree of emotional dependency. I didn't have the skills necessary to avoid that and move the relationships onto more healthy ground.
And so, I've finally been acknowledging the parts of my marriage with Darrin which exhibit those dependent tendencies. As I look at them it's difficult for me to not feel that it reflects badly on me--that somehow I failed in allowing those tendencies to develop in the first place. It's not easy to remember that there are some things which happen in spite of me and I don't control every aspect of my life.
My point in looking at my emotional reality is to learn how to proceed from this point forward, not to berate myself or mire myself in self-pity. But it's very difficult and creates intense conflict within me. I want to talk about it, but feel threatened and weak when I do. I feel that not being completely strong and independent diminishes me, somehow. I forget that, for me, it takes large amounts of strength and courage to trust others, to accept love, to allow touch. In other words, being completely independent and not allowing others to be a part of my life actually shows weakness on my part--not strength. It's a paradox I'm still trying to understand.
So finally, after a million years, I talked openly and honestly with Darrin about the things I have felt and a few occasions when I acted on those feelings. I asked him to forgive me for the times when I allowed my feelings of dependency to lapse into desires to control or coerce, and for the few times when I acted on those feelings.
The interesting thing: Darrin says he's never felt manipulated or abused. He said he's watched me grow more confident with who I am inside in the past three years--he says I'm learning to know the person he's always known, and finding ways to love her as he does. While he has understood my feelings of needing him, he says I've never seemed "needy". Basically, while I've had the feelings, somehow I've managed to keep them in check. There have been rare occasions when I've overreacted or seemed irrational, but those have always coincided with times of illness or high stress in our lives, so they seemed to be a logical reaction.
I'm fascinated that something which has affected me so profoundly has been virtually invisible to Darrin. But when I look at the ways I've "fooled" people for my entire life, I suppose this fits perfectly.
Again, as I say these things it is so difficult not to lapse into believing there are things I "should" have done to prevent the dependent feelings, or allow myself to feel that I'm less of a person for having those feelings in the first place. It makes me feel weak, flawed, imperfect...just as I am.
I know I'm not expressing this well. I'm not sure I'm capable of such expression. But as I look at my current relationship with Darrin, the urge to try to force him to fill all my needs is very strong. I don't want it. It feels like an impulse rather than a choice. There are times when resisting the impulse seems counterproductive and exhausting. I need to learn how to manage these feelings.
Ugh! This is so confusing and frustrating.
As I said, I'm hoping Therapist will perform a miracle...I'm guessing though, that he'll probably say I have to figure this out for myself. There are times when I sincerely do not like my One True Love.
5:45 a.m. - Darrin kicks Adam out of bed to get ready for school. Sam pretends to sleep.
6:00 a.m. - Tabitha says she's awake, but she's lying.
6:15 a.m. - Sam gets up, calls DJ for family prayer and tells Tabitha to choose an option for hair-styling that doesn't require one hour of mirror time.
6:25 a.m. - Sam goes to work in her p.j.'s (home office), Darrin takes Adam to seminary, DJ goes back to bed, Tabitha wanders back to her room to think about getting ready for school.
6:30 a.m. - Sam goes for a run--it's 39 degrees on November 19th. That doesn't happen very often. At some point between 6:30 and 7:30 Darrin goes to work and drops Tabitha at school.
7:45 a.m. - Sam comes back home, showers and gets ready for the day. She works until 9:30 a.m. DJ leaves for school at 9:00.
9:30 a.m. - Sam rehearses.
10:30 a.m. - Sam comes home, and works for 30 minutes.
11:00 a.m. - Sam picks up friend and they go to the rec center to work out.
11:10 a.m. - Sam lifts weights for forty-five minutes.
11:55 a.m. - Sam works out on the stair-climber for 20 minutes.
12:15 p.m. - Sam rides a stationary bike for 20 minutes.
12:35 p.m. - Sam walks the track for 20 minutes.
12:55 p.m. - Sam goes home.
1:05 p.m. - Sam writes a choir arrangement of "Good Christian Men, Rejoice" for a director.
1:30 p.m. - Sam makes beef stew for dinner and goes back to work.
3:00 p.m. - Sam teaches piano lessons till 5:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m. - Sam, Tabitha, DJ, and Adam eat dinner. Darrin joins them at 6:30.
6:45 p.m. - Sam takes Tabitha and Adam to youth activities. DJ goes to his YA activity, Darrin goes to do bishopy stuff.
7:00 p.m. - Sam works.
8:45 p.m. - Sam picks up kids from youth activity, and puts them to bed.
9:30 p.m. - Darrin and DJ come home.
10:30 p.m. - Sam decides to stop working and call Tolkien Boy on the phone because he said she could in the next five minutes.
10:45 p.m. - Darrin goes to bed. DJ goes to his room.
12:15 a.m. - Sam realizes how long she's been droning into the phone and says good night to Tolkien Boy.
12:20 a.m. - Sam plays online word games with strangers because she's not sleepy, and because her body thinks maybe she worked out too long today--it aches a little.
12:30 a.m. - Sam writes this blog post.
12:40 a.m. - Sam goes to bed.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Lianna sat in the soft mud lining the lake shore. She gazed solemnly at the placid surface, then sprang forward, peering at her reflection in the still water. Dark curls tumbled over her shoulders, disturbing the surface. She returned to her comfortable sitting position. The reflection had shown brilliant blue eyes, abundant black lashes, clear radiant skin, and even white teeth between soft pink lips. Her nose was small, slightly tilted at the end. A beauty, they had called her. She was beautiful.