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Sunday, December 30, 2007


It's interesting that when there's an obvious villain involved, a story, fact or fiction, seems to have direction and impetus. When the "villain" is humanized, suddenly the motion stagnates. There seems to be no point in continuing.

My story has no villains, only victims. Each character nurses pain and suffering equal to or greater than my own. It's difficult not to fall prey to cynicism which dictates that the struggle will never ease and each story continues to circle back to the beginning, only to repeat once more.

There is something about realizing one's limitations which brings a sense of futility to life. I'm not one to bow to fatalism, but coming to recognize that I am, indeed, vulnerable to the actions of others does not make me feel empowered in the least. In fact, it has increased my sense of wariness in all my relationships, and I find myself trusting less than ever before. Conversations which stray into my personal life create stress and uneasiness. Even though I know it will not happen, I'm certain I will be taunted, attacked, hurt in some way.

Interestingly, the one who seems most sensitive to this, the one who can comment, lend support, and allow me to retreat and regroup, is Sully. He offers empathy and help, but does not press me. He isn't hurt if I don't immediately respond. I would never have expected this of him and I'm fairly certain it's not contrived, but rather a natural response stemming from the length of time that he's known me and the different roles we've played in each others lives. Regardless of the reason, when I leave him I feel calmer, almost normal. We manage to have an equal exchange in which we confide thoughts and feelings, ask opinions, and show that we love and value each other. I don't feel I'm a burden in his life--and he is definitely not one in mine. I suppose this is teaching me, if nothing else, that there is value in allowing friendships to continue, even when they are as unlikely as mine and Sully's.

Of necessity, my journey has become increasingly spiritual. As I realize no matter what I try, nothing actually changes, it is obvious that catharsis can be achieved only through a power greater than my own. I have moved from feeling powerful and capable to understanding I am simply, feebly, human. It's a frustrating revelation for me, but one causing me to seek for help in any place it might be offered. As I seek among my human companions it becomes rapidly obvious that what I'm looking for is above and beyond what they could possibly offer--and I am wrong to seek it from them. I know the source which can grant me help, but there is something comforting in the flesh and blood of a loved one, and I lack the faith necessary to look to God and live.

Each day seems increasingly more difficult. My eating disorder is once again ruling my life. There is something terribly distressing about knowing I am a victim to something which seems to have an obvious answer, and sort of embarrassing to understand that I, with my music degrees, finance business, and other various abilities, cannot eat. I have said in long ago posts that in the past I was able to control the disorder and I was in remission for quite a few years. What I have not admitted is that it took more than seven years to achieve remission. Seven years. That's a long time.

Tonight is a difficult night for me. I said once I no longer believe tomorrow will be better. But I want it to be. I need it to be. I want to believe it again. Is it trite to say, "Help thou mine unbelief"?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Still Playing 20 Questions

DJ: Is it a person?
Adam: Yup.
DJ: A Disney person?
Adam: Yup.
DJ: Is it a princess?
Adam: Nope.
DJ: Is it Snow White's stepmom?
Adam: Snow White doesn't have a stepmom.
DJ: Yeah-huh. She's the one the turns into the old witch and tries to make Snow White eat the poison apple.
Adam: That's not her stepmom. That's the evil queen.
DJ: Yeah. That's Snow White's stepmom.
Adam: No it's not. It's like her cousin or something. She's the one who says: "Mirror, mirror, who's the fairest?" and the mirror says, "Um, sorry dude, it's your cousin."

DJ and Adam pass the time on our trip home

Adam: Want to play 20 questions?
DJ: Okay.
Adam: You go first.
DJ: Okay.
Adam: Is it the thing I'm thinking of?
DJ: No. It's the thing I'm thinking of.
Adam: Hey! You're not supposed to tell me. I still have 19 more questions!

This made me laugh

1. We went to Ted's Bakery on the last day in Hawaii with sister 2.5 and her family. The food was great, especially the homemade fries (and this is coming from me--I don't eat fries) and the eclairs. Husband of 2.5 loved the food, especially his very large, meaty burger. He said, "Wow! We have to remember this place!" To which sister 2.5 responded, "Right. Because we'll be in Hawaii so many times in our life."

2. Sister number one fell on the shore rocks. She told everyone that the marks left were because she was bitten by a baby shark. They believed her.

3. The Laie 5th Ward Relief Society has an M&M bag that they pass at the beginning of each meeting (a good idea, I think). On Sunday they had small packages of lemon cookies in the bag for the babies to enjoy. Sister number 5 whispered that she wanted the cookies for herself. I said she couldn't have any because she wasn't a baby. We took M&M's and passed the bag to my 90-year-old Grandma. She took the lemon cookies and put them in her purse.

4. My four-year-old niece made a Build-a-Bear. They didn't have any princess clothes so she opted for a wedding dress. I was sitting next to her at the airport. The white dress was spotted with blue Gatorade. We decided it was okay since it matched the bear which was the same color of blue. She told me the bear's name was Juan Ashley Purse. It talks when you press its foot. According to the foot, Juan Ashley Purse enjoys going bowling in her wedding attire. (Niece's mom told me later that niece was actually saying "Hawaiian" not "Juan". Either way, I love the name).

5. My dad surfed.

6. My dad stopped at a farm where a Philipino couple let him pick tiny bananas. They tasted the same as regular bananas (apparently they weren't quite ripe), but Dad insisted they were better than any others. I think it's because he got to pick them himself.

7. My hair tried to become dreadlocked (I have no idea if this is a word) no matter how hard I tried to keep it from doing so. If I ever live in Hawaii, I'm going to let it.

8. My nephews bought me a Dora velcro-ball set for Christmas. Then they tried to steal it from me so they could play with it.

9. I hula danced with my nieces and nephews at the Polynesian Village. Afterwards an old man patted me on the shoulder and told me I did a "very nice job."

10. My mom, always obsessed with her weight, weighed herself on the luggage scale at the airport. Unhappy with the numbers, she removed her necklace and weighed herself again.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Just thinking...

I am surrounded by life. Whether in the form of an ocean wave causing me to lose my balance, tiny fish darting about my legs, a bird of paradise flower bowing in the wind, the touch of my three-year-old nephew's tiny hand as he places it in mine...all that is near me feels vibrant and powerful.

Two years ago I dedicated myself to figuring out how to become whole. I felt I was strong enough to look at things that felt horrifying to me. I thought I was ready to "put everything behind me." Instead I have found that life cannot be blocked into a series of play-acts, watched once and forgotten. I'm realizing that each event, feeling, action, belief...each facet of the past seems to take on a life its own, and continues to influence my thoughts and beliefs regardless of how strong I believe I am.

When I left home last week I was in turmoil. I felt inordinately weak after my two years of incessant searching. I would be spending more than a week with my large family in an unfamiliar place. More than anything in the world, for the past three months I have yearned to go to bed and just sleep for the rest of my life. I wasn't sure this "vacation" was a good idea.

I've been entranced by the differing sights and sounds here. It feels lovely to be warm. I've been cold for a very long time. The people here are friendly--I don't have to try to get them to smile at me, they do it of their own volition. I'm in a location seething with life, and I'm beginning to believe that I, too, should be alive again.

It has been difficult to watch my mother, gathering her daughters around her and alternately hugging and chatting with them. I'm not included in this. Sisters 4 and 5 are aware of the relationship difficulties I recently discovered and have tried to draw me in, creating opportunities for me to sit next to my mother, or starting conversations with her which include me before discreetly withdrawing. I realize that they love me--and that it hurts them to see me excluded. After many years they are finally seeing that which I have been aware of for my entire life. As she has always been, my mother is blissfully unaware of the things she does which successfully isolate me from my siblings. Therapist told me this would be the case. I am prepared for it--I am used to it--I am still bothered by it.

Sister number 3 mentioned that the situation isn't eased by the fact that I often retreat to my room. She believes if I stayed present my mother might be more cognizant of her subconscious attempts to obviate me. Sister number 3 is probably right. But I need time to regroup. I need time to remember that my mother's actions say nothing about who I am. This is a difficult concept for my heart to understand.

I had decided in October that I would no longer seek to fill my need for non-sexual touch from any source. I had decided I would no longer try to find a way to bridge the mother-daughter gap in my life. I had decided that I am who I am and trying to fill the deficits is impossible. I had decided that I am not capable of allowing anyone except Darrin to stay in my life on a daily basis. I had made a list of all the ways I am flawed. I was trapped by the list.

Sister number 4 told me that even though we've discussed the fact that I have a touch deficit, I make it difficult for people to hug me. I move away to avoid the opportune moment. If someone breaches my defenses and hugs me anyway, I make it cold and awkward. I'm unapproachable. I suppose she could be right. I don't know. I think, though, that I'm not that way if I feel safe. AtP hugs me. Sully hugs me. I don't believe they think I'm cold and unapproachable. I hope they don't.

I had planned to tell Therapist that I'm finished. I'm tired. I've done what I set out to do and it's over. Somehow, in the shuffle of getting ready to leave for vacation, I made my appointment for the wrong day and missed seeing Therapist before I left. I've decided that's a good thing.

I'm not finished. I still have to figure out how to take all the information I have and put it in context. I have to learn how to live with my life. I won't "put it behind me" because it's real, it has vitality, all that happens to me somehow connects to my past and as difficult as that may be for me to accept, I can't ignore it. I need to learn how to be the person I am, to connect the dots, to bridge the gaps. And in the process I need to figure out how to include the people who love me. Therapist and I have our work cut out for us. I give us four months... (yes, I'm kidding)

Tomorrow I leave Hawaii. I'll have opportunity once again, to immerse myself in my work, to wall myself off from people in my life, to isolate...

It's a safe way to live.

But today I realized it's also a lonely way to live.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Day

Phone rings at 6:00 a.m. Mom wants to know if we're ready to go to Pearl Harbor. Since both Darrin and I hid in our room last night, we have no idea that the family is planning the Pearl Harbor/snorkeling/whatever else expedition. Adam and DJ want to go. Darrin does not. I go to my parents' room to find out what's happening. I decide to drive and let Darrin have another day of rest.

I get to the hotel room to find DJ in the shower and Adam dancing outside the door. I point out that the bathroom door is unlocked and he can go inside to use the bathroom. I'm nearly trampled as he rushes inside.

Darrin decides he wants to go. Adam decides he can forego a shower since he had four yesterday. Darrin says he can shower quickly. I laugh. Darrin gives me a dirty look and gets in the shower. I call my parents and ask for 30 minutes. I dry shave (ouch), pack my swimsuit and opt for a shower when we get home (ick!). We get in the vans at 7:00 a.m. and head for Pearl Harbor. Somehow in the shuffle I end up with Tabitha, Darrin, and four nieces. I have no idea where Adam and DJ are.

We drive the gorgeous winding coastal highway. It's so beautiful. Darrin's been cooped up in the bedroom and has missed most of our scenic drives. He's entranced. We enter the freeway and hear a niece say, "Samantha, I think I'm going to hurl!" I pull over--not soon enough. She hits the floor and manages to cover DJ's manbag. He's not going to be happy about that. We try to clean up and decide to go back to the hotel. Sister number 3, in the van in front of us talks us into going to Pearl Harbor and seeing if we can find sick niece's mom. We drive to Pearl Harbor, listening to five girls complain about barf smell.

At Pearl Harbor all nieces except sick one disappear. DJ finds out about his bag and looks as if he'd like to cry or hit something. We find sick niece's mom (sister number 4) and Darrin (who thinks he wants to spend time with me--yay! I love that man!!--sister number 4, sick niece and I head back to the hotel. Sister number 4 decides that we need to stop at Walmart. Darrin decides he'll help find it. We drive a long way. I say we should turn around. Since I'm driving, we do. I drive around for about a mile and find Walmart. Sick niece pukes twice more in the interim.

We leave sick niece in the car (she's 10), and shop at Walmart. We buy cleaning supplies. We buy laundry detergent. Darrin feels sick because sister number 4 and I also buy cookies and chocolate and macadamia nuts. I've had nothing to eat all day and it's now noon-ish. Darrin says cookies and chocolate are a bad lunch. Sister and I disagree.

We start on the road again. I get on the wrong highway, but we're driving on the coast and it's gorgeous, so we keep going (poor sick niece). We pass communities. We pass stores. We pass gas stations. We pass Hawaiian Hobo huts on beaches (I have no idea what they're really called). We end up on a beach with no more road. We stop and play on the beach. It's made of lava and filled with little pools. We find lots of nice seashells. I see a crab. I see little fish. I see a tiny octopus. We like our beach (wow--Fun with Darrin and Sister number 4!). Poor sick niece.

We leave the beach and try to find our way back to the hotel. Mom calls in a panic to say that there is not enough van room for the number of passengers. Sister number 4 suggests they figure it out since we're at least an hour distant. They do. Smart sister number 4.

We get on the right road. We look at the trees, flowers, Hawaiian cows and horses, pineapple plantations, and very polite wonderful Hawaiian drivers. People in the continental U.S. could learn a lot from Hawaiian drivers. Sick niece hurls twice more.

We stop at a fruit stand and buy fruit. I make the fruit lady laugh. She tells me she likes me. When it comes time to pay, she doubles my fruit choices. Sister number 4 thinks it's unfair that I get bonus fruit. I think it's lovely. We get in the car and eat fruit. Sick niece hurls again.

We arrive at hotel. Sick niece goes to bed. Sister number four takes care of her. Darrin scrubs out the van. I take all the barf clothes and the manbag and do laundry.

As of now, I am still doing laundry. Sister number 4 and Darrin are shopping in the Polynesian Village, sick niece is sleeping, and the rest of my family are...somewhere. I'm alone in a quiet room in Hawaii, doing laundry. It's lovely. Later I think I'm going to go to the beach.

Happy Christmas Eve.

Last Week

Monday: Spent most of the day in extra rehearsals, listened to Adam and DJ debate about who would have the most fun in Hawaii, watched Darrin become stressed, talked with Tabitha about how the kitchen sink absolutely must stay home.

Tuesday: Pretended to be at work so my mother would stop asking me to run errands for her. Tried to pack for my trip. Went to the store a thousand times. Talked to my sister on the phone and found out we wouldn't be leaving for Utah until 9:30 p.m. Took my time, finished packing, cleaned my house. Left at 9:35 p.m.

Wednesday: Arrived in Utah at 4:30 a.m. Followed a snow plow for the final hour of travel through Coalville and Park City area. Slept on my sister's floor for three hours. Got up, showered and went to Provo to see Sully (YAY!), and AtP (YAY!). Left Provo at 10:45 a.m. Supposed to be at airport to pick up Tolkien Boy at 11:15 a.m. Drove very quickly. Arrived at airport just after 11:30 a.m. Put TB's luggage in my back seat, and TB in my front seat. Checked into hotel near airport. Let TB take huge amounts of luggage from my sister's trunk up to hotel room while I moved the car. Forgot room number. Wandered the halls of hotel. Heard TB singing in hotel room and located it by sound. Thank you, TB, for your random singy-ness (I know, not a word, don't care). Spent unknown amount of time with TB, then left to take him home. Went to sister's house and met with Darrin. Went to hotel to drop off kids. Went to TB's house again. Saw Edgy (met Edgy's boyfriend whom I like very much, but not as much as Edgy because he plays Scrabble with me), TB's mom and brother, Ambrosia and Bawb, two of TB's friends, Eleka, Mister Fob, FoxyJ, and Little Dude (Mister Fob and FoxyJ have adorable children). Visited for awhile, went to hotel room and crashed (very little sleep the night before).

Thursday: Got up and went for a run. Showered. Got on shuttle to airport. Lost Adam. Found Adam. Watched Darrin get stressed. Gathered with 39 other family members in terminal. Left Gate D8 and hid in Gate D3. Found in D3 by various family members who decided to stay with me until all 39 were there. Escaped to proper gate until time to board. Slept on plane for six hours after addressing Christmas cards. Slept through all children crying, one potty accident, three whispered adult altercations, and a couple of snacks. Arrived in Hawaii. Followed van caravan to Walmart to procure necessities. Arrived at hotel at 11:30 p.m. Went to bed and slept.

Friday: Awoke at 4:30 a.m. Contemplated going for a run. Snoozed for two more hours. Joined brother-in-law and nieces at pool at 6:30 a.m. Went with brother-in-law for a run (yay! running in Hawaii), came home showered and joined family at Polynesian Village. Tried not to kill oldest sister for being an insensitive bag as she threw temporarily parentless nephew (one year old) in stroller and wouldn't allow anyone to hold him as he bellowed his distress. Waited until oldest sister's back was turned and rescued loud nephew from stroller. Loud nephew weighs 30 pounds and is heavy. Carried loud, heavy nephew back to hotel to wait for absent parents. Went late with tardy parents and loud nephew to Polynesian Village VIP tour. Had a long lovely day at PV. Went to luau. Watched Darrin consume a month's worth of food in two hours. Left to escape crowds for 20 minutes. Went back for night show. Went home to hotel room. Slept very well.

Saturday: Awoke to find Darrin sick, sick, sick. This is what happens when one consumes a month's worth of food in two hours. Left sick Darrin in room and met with family at swimming pool. Went for a run in the rain--warm and beautiful rain. Ran to Hawaiian wildlife reserve. Quiet and no people--I could live there. Ran home, showered and drove along the coast to Honolulu to take kids to a swap meet. Shopped with Tabitha for two hours. Rested in the car eating all kinds of tropical fruits. Mmmmm..... Drove home the long way with kids in the back shouting about needing food and a potty break while my sister and I giggled. Left kids at McDonalds across the street from the hotel. Went in to check on Darrin, who insists on keeping the room temperature at 12 degrees and alternately growling and moaning. Left Darrin and hid in my dad's room. Went to dinner with Dad and siblings at local restaurant. Ate vegetables. Got taunted by siblings. Don't care. Just happy that I'm eating anything at all. Went back to Dad's room and napped on floor. Woke up and went to movie, National Treasure II, with DJ, Adam, Tabitha, and my parents. Got home at midnight and slept.

Sunday: Woke up too late to go running. Darrin was coherent but grouchy. Played with nephews by the pool, showered and got ready for church. Went to church and listened to scary, weird Christmas cantata. After church went to temple grounds with 39 family members and had portrait taken. Went home. Slept. Ate yellowfin tuna caught and cooked by brothers-in-law yesterday on deep sea fishing expedition. Opted not to go to temple visitor center for Joseph Smith movie. Chatted with Darrin--not grouchy anymore. Got online and chatted with AtP (whom I adore) and wrote blog entry.

The end

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It has become somewhat traditional for me to write a post dedicated to a particular person on his/her birthday. I say "somewhat" because I've only been blogging for about three years and it's only been in the last year that I've been consistent about birthday posts. So perhaps it's not a tradition yet. And it may never become one because if I find that I start repeating myself, I'll just post a link to a previous tribute and say, "Happy Birthday". Okay, that won't ever happen. I'll probably continue to write about the people I love on the days of their births, and if you're a person I know and love and I haven't posted your tribute, then you probably haven't told me when your birthday is. My suggestion is that you do something to remedy the situation.

Today is dedicated to a person I've known for much of my life. I'm certain he has known me longer than I've known him, but it's only been in the latter part of my life that I've taken the time to grow closer and allow him greater access to me. It hasn't been easy, because I don't really see him, nonetheless he is always near. I'm speaking, of course, of Jesus Christ, and I know that today isn't his birthday but neither is December 25th, technically, it's just a random day chosen a long time ago, and I don't know that I'll be able to post on his declared day because I won't be home so I'm doing it today. I think he's okay with that.

I'm an incessant talker-to-God. This goes way beyond the commandment to "pray always." I just talk to him--all the time. I'm certain that when I finally meet him again he'll say, "Sam, I love you, but you talk too much. There are other people I need to listen to sometimes, you know." And I'll apologize and continue talking, no doubt.

Occasionally when I'm chatting with The Big Guy, I tell him how much I adore his son. I don't do it often because it overwhelms me and leaves me speechless--which is quite a conversation killer, but I just feel that sometimes I need to tell him how grateful I am for my Savior. I think he understands, and he's probably glad for the tiny break in my incessant chatter.

The truth is that God is one of the few with whom I'll share my feelings for the Savior. I'm fairly careful about talking of things that are deeply meaningful to me. I never want to feel I have to defend my feelings and beliefs. They are what they are. However, today, in honor of his birthday celebration month, I will break my rule and share in a public forum my list of ten things I love about my Savior, Jesus Christ:

1. When he came to earth he mingled with women. He took time to converse with them. He made certain they knew they were important to him in a society where they were looked upon as second class citizens, left illiterate, dependent upon men for their temporal support, and elevated only by the number of children they were able to bear. He was not embarrassed to be seen spending time with them. They were as entitled to his love and respect as the men were. I have felt that same love and respect in my relationship with him. He does not relegate me to a class or status based on my gender. I am important to him and he loves me. There are no qualifications or reservations in the love he offers to me or any other person.

2. He loved to spend time with people. He made sure that those who came to see him were fed spiritually and temporally, and he gave away the leftovers. He must have been a dynamic speaker to draw thousands of people to hear his words. Either that or they were all really hungry and knew that after he spoke dinner would be served. Regardless, he was concerned for each man, woman, and child who gathered near him. No one went away hungering in body or spirit. In this same manner he has nourished my starving soul. He has led me to the words, or person, or place where I could be fed. Sometimes he has spent time with me, helping me to learn that which will help me continue to the next step. I am never bereft when I am with him.

3. He had compassion. When Lazarus died, Christ saw the sorrowing sisters and wept with them. This was even more marked when he visited the Americas after his death and resurrection. It makes sense that his bowels would be filled with compassion toward the people. He had just finished atoning for their pains and sorrows. No doubt he understood personally, the suffering of those who were ill or grieving. He knew the struggles and misery of each person he was with and he reached out to heal them and ease their burdens. He continues to do so today. My soul has been healed often through his sweet atonement. I have no doubt that this is a process which will continue throughout the rest of my life, as long as I am willing to allow him access to me.

4. He encouraged people. He didn't do anyone's job for them, but rather, gave them the tools to help them become self-sufficient. He gathered into his church leadership, men from all walks of life. They weren't the smartest, wealthiest, or most talented. They were men whose hearts he knew. Christ understood the possibilities of each man, and gave him opportunity to grow and learn. I have felt him encouraging me in the difficulties of my own life. He knows I'll fail. He knows there will be times when I will sell him out for thirty pieces of silver, or for desires I cannot resist, or for other enticements or distractions. He understands that I will repeat the same mistakes many times. In spite of all that, he waits for me to come to myself, and look to him once again. He has faith in me--faith that one day I will return the favor and have faith in him.

5. He loved children. Even when he was tired. I read the account of him taking the children on his lap. I think he hugged them and kissed them. I think that in that moment they felt loved beautifully and completely in the most perfect way. As a child I was envious. I felt I could not be included in that love. Today I am certain that one day Christ will hold me--imperfect as I am, in spite of the pain, guilt, and shame I carry with me--and he won't consider me damaged. Though I am grown, there is still a child within. He will make me whole.

6. He loved to teach. It's nice that we have this in common. I understand that I will never be a fraction of the teacher that he was and is, and I'm willing to concede to his greater knowledge and ability. He was half God, after all, when he walked the earth. However, he also invited me to become like him. That opens up endless possibilities.

7. He loved beautiful things. He found solace in the lovely world he created. He used nature to teach lessons. He has shown me how to find peace as I walk among his creations. He continues to help me understand life through parallels I see in the world around me. I think he's happy that my soul is thrilled by a sunrise, calmed by a blue sky, touched by a gentle breeze, enthralled by a butterfly. There are times with I believe each flower blooms to help me remember joy in my life.

8. He did not bow to tradition. When the woman taken in adultery was brought to him, he told her he didn't condemn her. He knew she had been caught in the very act (and where was her partner? Interesting that of the two interacting, only one was brought to be stoned--yes, I know that's how the law worked, or rather, how they interpreted the law), and yet he allowed her to escape the expected punishment. Christ understands the reasons I yield to sin and temptation. He offers me relief both from the burden of sin, and also from the things that weaken me, making me more prone to giving in and giving up. He shows me love and compassion when I am at my worst, shields me from further punishment and pain, and helps me continue, knowing I will stumble again and again.

9. He walked on water. You have to admit that's pretty cool. I know I've never been able to do it. Sometimes I forget that Christ is omnipotent. It's a little bit insulting for me to not believe he can do all he said he would do. He's given ample example of his divinity. He's gone out of his way to make his presence known in my life. I'm certain that in his place of existence I'm know as Samantha-of-little-faith. It's probably good that I have this designation to help avoid confusion with all the other Samanthas. The truth is that I am overwhelmed when I understand that in spite of his greatness, he has personal interest in, and love for, me. I don't know why that is so, but I will always be grateful.

10. He is my Savior, my God, my Friend. I can't help but think that when it comes to the life of Samantha, Christ is infinitely disappointed. I mess up all the time. Even when I'm trying to do the right thing, I usually end up doing something wrong. And yet, I know he's not disappointed. When I go to him I feel nothing but love and acceptance. I know that as long as I keep trying, he'll keep helping, and one day I'll do something right. He blesses me daily with his love and compassion. He has given me the opportunity to see others through his eyes and I have wept as I have felt a portion of the depth of love he feels for my fellowman. He reminds me that I don't have to be perfect today--and I won't be--which is why I need him. He makes me feel that he, too, needs me. And that is an incredible feeling.

Today I wish a Happy Birthday to Jesus Christ. I will always be grateful for his life on earth, and all that he did before, and all that he continues to do today. I'd suggest you visit his blog and join me in wishing him felicitations, but he doesn't have one. It's okay though, because you can tell him personally. He'd probably like that better anyway.

Monday, December 17, 2007


As a young woman I attended church meetings because it was required of all people who lived in my home. I didn't mind. I didn't necessarily believe what was taught, nor did I think I belonged to "the only true church," but the people there were my neighbors and friends, so the experience was painless for the most part and even enjoyable some weeks. I had two Laurel advisers. One was incredibly astute. She often remarked that she felt I was thinking something and wished I would share it with the rest of the class. I believe if she knew what I was truly thinking (as I looked at a particularly beautiful friend in the room), she would have been grateful that I remained silent, smiling at my secret thoughts. She also mentioned more than once that I "march to the beat of a different drummer." That is, of course, still true today.

I'm thinking of this particular adviser because I remember how much I loved her, and I knew she loved me, too. I realize in retrospect that I was looking for a mother substitute in every woman I met. I wanted someone to love me, to hold me, to touch me without hurting me. For many years I refused to admit this because I was humiliated by the fact that my own mother had no desire to care for me, and I believed it was because something about me made it impossible to love me. I have since decided this is not true, but I am left with the residue of the former belief which occasionally haunts me.

My Laurel advisor treated me with warmth and kindness--always. She respected my boundaries which said, "Don't touch!!" but I believe, if we had had more time, she eventually would have breached the walls I put up around me, not because of any effort on her part, but because I loved her back, and I respected her more than any woman I had ever met. Her life was filled with sadness. She had seven children, three had died in infancy. But she didn't act as though she was tried more than other mothers. She made a book of remembrance for each child. The family often talked about the children who had died, and celebrated each birthday with joy. They were her children and she was certain that they were often with her and other members of the family. She radiated joy. She made me wish to be joyful.

As I entered my second year as a Laurel, my adviser and her family moved to a new location. I kept in touch with her almost desperately. I needed her. She made me feel that I could be strong, that I could be joyful no matter what happened to me in my life. The communication became more sporadic as time went on, but to this day has never ceased. At one point I thought about telling her all about me. I did confide that I had been raped by my cousin, and I believe she was aware of the abuse in my home. But when it came time to actually talk about that "different drum" with her, I opted not to do so. Suddenly it seemed unimportant, and she is very busy right now, living outside the United States, helping her husband with his work, consumed with family and grandchildren. When all is said and done, she is not my mother, regardless of how much I would have liked her to be.

I sometimes wonder if I'll ever stop searching for someone to fill the void I'm left with. I truly thought that when I spoke of it with my mom, she would let me know that I had been wrong all my life, that she loved and adored me, and was so glad to have me as her daughter... It didn't happen. I know she loves me. I know she's glad I'm her friend. I understand that she feels no maternal connection to me.

The past couple of weeks have been fairly calm as I accept all this. But I wonder if I'll always be searching for that which I cannot have. I wonder if I'll always wish for the physical contact I rarely received. I wonder how long I will feel inadequate.

In the past three months I have worked through the anger. I no longer feel envious when my sisters are hugged by her spontaneously. I understand all the reasons why I am not a part of that. But I wish it were otherwise...and then I wish I didn't long for a share of that love...

Don't worry, I'm almost finished feeling sorry for myself. The words are almost finished, and I think that one day I won't cry about this again.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Decisions, decisions....

I've decided. I'm not doing my therapy assignments for now. I've made good progress with Darrin, but I'm very guarded about how much I reveal, and I do it very slowly. I had thought with my friends I could accomplish the assignment in a couple of casual conversations. Rather stupid of me.

I have honestly tried. Each time I get close to doing the assignment, or even begin, I find myself so nervous that I want to throw up. Obviously I'm not ready. I get oversensitive and imagine insult where there is none, sarcasm in sincerity, and I honestly feel that the person who has lovingly agreed to help me with this wants to hurt me in some way. This is impossible. I become so touchy that there's no way to win with me. I told Tolkien Boy that I couldn't discuss the things I was supposed to, because I couldn't see his face. He logically suggested that I find someone in my general vicinity whom I trusted, along with the reassurance that he wasn't running away, he just wanted me to be in a situation where I could feel safe. Regardless, I felt at once triumphant because to me his comment solidified my certainty that no one wants to really know me, and lonely because my interpretation (in spite of what he said) was that learning who I really am is asking too much of any friend, even those who think they love me. There is nothing of my practical and beautifully logical mind in this exercise--I'm an emotional mess and I hate what I become when I try this.

My conclusion is that doing this exercise is not making me feel I have greater honesty or access within my friendships (which was the whole point). Rather I feel it driving people away from me because I become irrational and insane. It does not make me happy. I lose all confidence in my relationships. I even went so far as to get another job to fill my time so I'd have a "too busy" excuse because I'm a spineles coward when it comes to this.

Some of you have asked me exactly why I've been assigned to do this assignment, because on the outside what I do seems perfectly normal. Everyone has parts of him/herself that are kept confidential because they're personal or because they're not meant to be casually shared. The difference is, I withhold on purpose with the intent that no one can ever really know who I am. I do it to maintain distance even with those I trust. And I have no idea why.

So I've decided to just hang out and enjoy being with people for awhile. I'll find out who stays and who goes. I'll think some more about friendship, intimacy, and relationships, and maybe try this assignment again sometime (like in forty years).

In the meantime, if you talk to me, don't be alarmed if you hear me say, "This conversation makes me uncomfortable," if you ask me questions that feel really personal to me (even if they seem harmless to you). I'm asking you to allow me my silly need for just a tiny wall between me and every other living person, because right now having it otherwise is just scary.

That's all. No need to reiterate the fact that I'm a spineless coward, right?


Christmas Vacation

In less than one week I will be far away from the snow. No white Christmas for me this year.

I let some of the people with whom I have music contracts know I'd be gone for a couple of weeks over the Christmas/New Year's break, and suddenly they believe I must rehearse with them all day today and Monday to make up for the four days I would normally have rehearsed. There was even a suggestion of rehearsals Saturday and Sunday, which I nixed. Seriously--they can rehearse without me, and I'll be back in January. We already performed our pre-holiday stuff, I don't understand why this is a big deal. People get very stressed at Christmas time.

In five days I will be trapped on a plane with 39 people who belong to me in some way (parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces, nephews, children, in-laws, spouse...). I'm thinking of pretending to be one of the other passengers, ignoring the mayhem my family will cause, and trying to sleep on my very long flight. Or maybe I'll start a game of hide-and-seek with the nieces and nephews, or a six-hour caroling marathon (the non-Christian passengers will love that), or we can play Upset the Fruit Basket (with seat belts, of course--safety first).

I asked my four-year-old nephew yesterday if he was coming with me on the airplane. He said yes. Then we had this conversation:

me: You know, that's a pretty long time we'll be on the airplane.
him: Yup.
me: What happens if we have to use the bathroom.
him: I don't know. Do you know?
me: Nope.
him: I guess they'll just have to stop and let us pee outside.
me: Good idea.

Flying over an ocean obviously means nothing to a four-year-old.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Notable things seen on my walk to work

1. A yard border planted with plastic tulips.
2. A mailbox with a brass plate of Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy (it's a large mailbox).
3. Seven churches, all red brick, one of which is LDS.
4. A vacant lot with a sculpture made of cigarette butts. I have no idea what the sculpture is supposed to be. I can't look at it because I know someone actually touched all those butts, and I'm fairly certain they didn't all come from the same person.
5. A school crossing sign with a pink garage sale notice plastered across the front of it. I'd remove the garage sale sign, because I think it's a hazard, but I'm not tall enough.
6. A house with an adobe chimney sporting a crack that looks like a human profile.
7. A yard filled with antique tractors and farm implements (not artistically arranged, just crammed in there).
8. A tree I would really like to climb.
9. A stretch of sidewalk broken in chunks that have risen above each other like stair steps.
10. A building with an "Exit" sign posted above a brick wall.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Helping the online elves

I do not know why, but I am utterly certain that if I place an order online it will be shipped more quickly if I check on its status every fifteen minutes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What Not to Wear

Adam: Mom, I can't get my jacket off.
Me: Adam, it always comes off easier if you unzip it. It's not going to fit over your head like that.
Adam: I can't unzip it.
Me: Why?
Adam: I shut the zipper slide in my locker door and smashed it a little.
Me: How did you get it zipped up?
Adam: I don't know.
Me: Okay, let me see if I can help.

I pull repeatedly, trying to unzip the jacket, until I'm giggling too hard to be of help.

Adam: Mom! It's not funny! I don't want to wear this the rest of my life.
Me: I know. I'm sorry. I can't help it. I think it is funny! Let's wait till your dad gets home. He always has some tool thingy that will help.

Adam disappears into the garage and comes back in with a pair of very heavy vice-grips.

Me: What are you planning to do with those?
Adam: I haven't figured that out yet.
Me: Okay. Put them away when you're finished with them.

Adam disappears to his room with the vice grips. Fifteen minutes later, he appears at my side, trying once again to pull the jacket over his head. I try to convince him that there is no way his head will fit through the opening. I'm not sure what he says in return, since his mouth is muffled by the jacket. Perhaps that's a good thing.

Me: Adam, it's not going to work. Can we just wait?
Me: Okay.

Adam disappears again, then reappears within two minutes with the jacket off, holding a bloody towel to his mouth.

Adam: I figured it out. You just have to hold the side of the jacket with your teeth.
Me: Are you all right?
Adam: Yeah.
Me: Let me see?

Adam removes the towel to reveal an ugly tear in his lower lip.

Me: Wow! That looks like it hurts!
Adam: Yeah. Do you think it will stop bleeding tonight?
Me: Yes. It might be a few minutes.
Adam: Good. I'm singing a solo tonight.
Me: Since when?
Adam: I'm sure I told you.
Me: I'm sure you didn't!
Adam: Mom, can we talk about this later? My lip is sort of bleeding right now.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


It is a curious sensation: the sort of pain that goes mercifully beyond our powers of feeling. When your heart is broken, your boats are burned: nothing matters any more. It is the end of happiness and the beginning of peace.” ~George Bernard Shaw

I remember, as a first-grader, growing a bean plant at school. I started with a hard seed. I soaked it in water and watched it soften. I planted it in black soil and waited for it to sprout. After a couple of days I became impatient. I dug it up to see if it was growing. To my surprise, it had indeed, begun to sprout, but the growth had broken the seed in two. A tiny vine split at the bottom, holding the two halves of the seed together while it derived nourishment from them. I planted the seed again and two days later watched as a brand new bean plant broke through the soil and began to grow. From that one seed I harvested countless bean pods, each holding new seeds.

Hearts are fragile things. It seems that no matter how well they are shielded, somehow, someway, they must be broken in order for us to grow. I suppose in many ways I've been living with a broken heart, but pushing back any new growth. I've been afraid to allow myself to let go of the hurt and to trust that there was a way for me to allow the new growth to reach upward and outward and make me a more productive person, to renew me, to make me whole.

Part of my love of beauty stems from the fact that when I was so sad I thought I would die, I could see the things that were beautiful and something inside me believed it was God's way of speaking to me--sending me a gift that could briefly calm the ache in my heart and help me breathe for another day. I knew, of course, that they were just natural occurrences, beautiful but random. But part of me needed desperately to believe that someone loved me enough to help me live.

When I began my journey to work through the devastation of my past, I knew that I would eventually have to hand my pain to my Savior. I knew that would be the inevitable end. It has been incredibly difficult for my heart to agree with my head. Reasons I resisted:
1. I could not resolve how I could be so wretchedly hurt as a child, but magically healed as an adult. I did not understand how God could allow me to be molested and abused, but tell me all could be made better just by handing it over to Christ. It seemed horribly inhumane and insensate to allow the acts to happen at all, and I questioned the omnipotence and sapience of a God who would do so.
2. When I truly came to love my Savior, the thought of him having to feel the things that I had gone through broke my heart. That my pain would cause him pain seemed doubly tragic and devastatingly unfair. I saw no comfort in the fact that because he knew how I felt he would understand how to comfort me. It seemed a pointless remedy for equally senseless acts of violence. To give it all to him made me feel as if I was abusing an innocent person. I would be as guilty as my cousin.
3. There was a sense of loss in yielding up the things that had damaged me. For most of my life I had clung to the fact that I had risen above them on my own, and I needed no one to help or heal me. Admitting I had simply ignored, not overcome, made me feel weak and defenseless. I was unwilling to let go and allow myself to be vulnerable.
4. I felt if I gave everything to the Savior I was admitting I had lost. Somehow there was a battle I had been fighting. There was no point to it, nor any way to be victorious. But giving up meant those who had hurt me would win and I would lose. I suppose it was here I finally found a turning point.

Skepticism is the beginning of Faith.” ~Oscar Wilde

When I finally accepted I could change nothing, that my past was here to stay and my mother was comfortable not connecting or bonding with me, I felt an acute sense of worthlessness. I felt life was beyond my control and there seemed no purpose in striving to be or become anything. I was sad beyond expression. I felt hopeless. If this seems dramatic, I believe it is more easily understood if one remembers that I had been working through past emotions and events without pause for nearly two years, and I was exhausted. The outcome had not brought me joy.

For nearly two months I was in this state. I alternated between frustration and anger. I raged at life's unfairness. I longed to be able to make something--anything--change. I found myself once again, questioning all that I believed. A sweet friend whose faith is different from my own, reached inside himself and humbly offered the idea that I might find solace in the atonement of Jesus Christ. It didn't matter whether or not he believed it--he knew I did--he knew I needed to be reminded.

I've been thinking. I've been trying different things. Nothing has worked.

"Measure not God's love and favor by your own feeling. The sun shines as clearly in the darkest day as it does in the brightest. The difference is not in the sun, but in some clouds which hinder the manifestation of the light thereof." ~Richard Sibbes

I have stated without equivocation that I'm certain the people in my life have been placed there by the hand of God. Each person has touched me in a way only he/she could do so. Some have helped me repeatedly. All are remarkable. Last week I was chatting with Ambrosia and she said something I finally heard and understood with my heart. Tolkien Boy has often said similar things, but I was not ready to believe him. The experience with visitor Marvin to my blog prompted this conversation:

me: I just posted my farewell to Marvin. It's probably more attention than he deserves, but it makes me feel better. :)
Ambrosia: I still think he deserves a public flogging.
me: Or a letter on his chest. Wait...that doesn't work.
Ambrosia: hahahaha... Widespread shunning would be great, though.
me: I have a feeling he probably gets shunned on a regular basis, which might be why he's a bully. Maybe we need to overwhelm him with too much love.
Ambrosia: You are good at people.
me: I'm not quite sure what that means?
Ambrosia: You're very understanding. You don't just think about how someone's actions impact you--you consider why they're doing those things in the first place. And then you try to help them. Compassionate, perhaps, is the word I'm looking for.
me: Oh. I suppose I am--some of the time. I'm less compassionate to Marvin, because he threatened my kids and friends, but I still think he's probably hurting. That's sad.
Ambrosia: Yeah, I'm amazed that you can even stop to think that about a guy who threatened your family. I basically never stop to wonder *why * someone is being horrible. I'm just upset with however it's impacting me.
me: It's kind of funny. When Tolkien Boy and I had lunch with my icky cousin, I was fine the whole time. We chatted about his kids and family, work, etc. I was calm and friendly--I did have trouble eating, but that's nothing new for me. But as soon as we walked out of the restaurant I thought I would throw up or pass out. Poor TB, that probably was a little uncomfortable for him. I went from calm and collected to losing my mind in about 30 seconds.
Ambrosia: wow. I still can't believe you had lunch with him. I don't think I'd be able to stand looking at him after what he did to you.
me: I don't know. There's something empowering about knowing he's just a pathetic old man now, and that he can never hurt me again. There's also something wonderful about knowing I've done nothing to be vengeful or hurtful to him. I'm not sure that makes sense. It's just how I see it.
Ambrosia: No, I think it does make sense.
me: Actually, I'm glad we talked about this just now. Every once in awhile I have "ahah!" moments. I've been feeling for the past couple of months, that somehow I fought a battle I could never win for most of my life, and that I finally surrendered to defeat. But today, looking at what I just wrote, I'm not sure I was defeated. I think I won.
Ambrosia: Yes. I think you're right. You did win--you've not only built a great life for yourself, but you're a wonderful person. And you take the higher road by not doing anything unkind to him, even though if anyone ever deserved it, it's him. Sorry--I feel like my words are coming out weird.
me: No. Thank you. I needed to hear what you had to say. I needed to say what I did.

As I saw the words I wrote I suddenly felt the impact of what I was realizing. I think I wept for nearly an hour--not because I was sad, but because I realized I had not lost whatever I was fighting for--and there was no other way to express the feelings that overwhelmed me. I wrote to Tolkien Boy immediately, because he needed to know that the things he had been telling me, seconded by Ambrosia, had suddenly found a place in my heart:

Tolkien Boy,

I didn't lose.

I won because I'm still me. I'm not certain who "me" is, but I didn't lose myself.
I won because I didn't lose my love for others.
I won because I didn't lose my compassion.
I won because I didn't lose my ability to overcome.
I won because I didn't lose hope.

I won.

You've told me this many times. Today, finally, I believe you. I don't know how to say what I'm feeling in my heart. Anyway, I had to tell you. I always feel that I'm talking about things profoundly important to me, but not so much to anyone else. I wish I didn't feel that way, and I really, really wish I could stop crying. Thank you for helping me come to the point where I could finally accept this truth. I love you.

The feelings of despair and hopelessness lightened and I suddenly felt that life was good--and that mine was a rather incredible statement that unfortunate circumstances do not have to dictate an equally wretched outcome. I also began to understand that I'm ready, finally, to finish what I started with the One who loves me more than anyone else.
1. If I truly believe choice is a sacred gift, I must accept that some people will choose to act in evil ways. Sometimes those acts may harm a child. That child might have been me. No matter how much I am loved, choice is something that must always be allowed each human being. I know I was granted a measure of protection, and I believe in time, all things will be made right.
2. I don't need to worry about my pain causing the Savior, one whom I love with all my heart, more sorrow and agony. The deed is done. He did it willingly because he loves me--because he knew at some point I would recognize he could help me--because he values me and wants to help me learn to value myself. He has felt what I felt so he can give me the things I need to heal, the things I cannot give myself. He cannot change my past. He can, however, heal my heart.
3. Being weak and defenseless with one who loves me more than any other person is actually a pretty safe place to be. Giving up my anger and sadness allows room for more love and kindness. I don't have to worry about vulnerability because as I yield my will to his, he will not ask me to do anything that will diminish me. He will only build me. And I will become strong.
4. I didn't lose. I won.

And so I enter the next step. I've uncovered all the wounds. I've exposed them publicly. I've looked at things that were reprehensible and frightening. I've faced the people who inflicted the wounds, and I treated them with dignity and respect. I have nothing to regret. I'm ready for the wounds to be healed. I no longer wish to be the person I could have been had I not encountered the mistreatment I faced in my life. I wish to be the person I am--better than the person I might have been--the person Christ will help me become.

It will probably take a very long time. I think I can do it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Random Thoughts about SSA (Just so you know, this will have reference to homosexual and heterosexual intimacy)

A recent conversation between AtP and I inspired the following random thoughts:

On being friends with girls
I have a much easier time being friends with women who don't know about my sexuality. This is completely my own fault. Once I've told them I'm attracted to women I become paranoid that they'll think I'm going to fall in love with them. And the truth is, that would never happen. I've never been one to "fall in love". Not romantically. I fall in love with people all the time, and I'll forever be in love with Therapist, AtP, Tolkien Boy, Sully, Ambrosia--pretty much everyone I meet who, in some way, changes my heart. That does not mean I'm attracted to them (which is why I laugh when TB asks me if I'm attracted to him). It means I love spending time with them and I miss them when they're gone. And I don't care if my "in love" is different from the world's "in love." This is my blog, so I get to define the terms.

Anyway, there have been many women I adore and love being friends with--but I can't always connect because I'm building walls and sending messages so they'll know I'm not pining away in secret for them. So stupid. I met someone last summer who is absolutely delightful. She makes me laugh and is exactly the type of person I'd love to have a friendship with--but I don't pursue it because I'm concerned that she'll read something into it. She sent me an email out of the blue this week, and I read it and thought I'd like to respond, but I need to be careful...this is so annoying. I'm thinking of having a t-shirt made that says, "I like girls. If God did things my way I'd be married to one. You're not it. Let's be friends."

On feeling attraction:
I just have to say that being a girl has its perks. It is completely socially acceptable for me to stare if I find a woman beautiful. If she notices, I can tell her I admire her hair, clothes--I can even just state that I think she looks really cute that day, and that's considered a normal compliment. No one thinks, Wow! Sam must be a lesbian! because girls just do that all the time. They look at each other. They comment about their looks, their bodies, everything. There's something kind of fun about about being able to express attraction verbally without having people think twice about it or even recognizing it as such. And it seems to diffuse the feelings and allow them to pass. And don't quote me the scripture about whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her... because, quite frankly, I don't care. The feelings will happen, I would never act on them, I'm not endangering my marriage, and there are just some really great things about being a girl. The end.

On having sex:
A few years ago I was having a conversation with a friend who said if her husband died, she'd probably remain single the rest of her life. I asked her why she felt that way. She said she just couldn't fathom learning how to have sex with another man. Now that is something I find completely understandable. However, at this point in my life, I also realize something else. To me, making love has never been an act of physical gratification. I've heard both women and men say that sometimes they just like to have sex--it's fun, it's a tension reliever, it feels good. I don't know if I'll ever get to that point.

Because of what I've been through, physical touch of any kind has some sort of emotional consequence. It's not always profound or binding, but there is always a response. The intimate nature of sex, however, and the ways that it was twisted and used to hurt me have brought lasting consequences. I can only approach sex as an expression of my love for another. I am allowing the intimacy and returning it because that is something reserved only for the one I trust above every other person I know. There is no middle ground for me--nothing casual about it. I don't really have problems with fantasy because in order for me to participate at all, I have to be thinking of the person I'm with, reminding myself that he will never hurt me, trusting that he will listen if I become afraid, staying in each moment. The result is that the experience is intensely binding and emotional for me.

I realized a few years ago that gender does not figure into this. My feelings about sex would be the same regardless of whether or not my partner was male or female. I also realized that because I don't view sex as the natural outcome of attraction, I don't feel bound by any of the "normal" inclinations my friends talk about. I've been present during unfortunate discussions where women talk about prominent men they find attractive and where they've expressed wanting to have sex with that person--and I've also heard similar discussions between men about women. I suppose I've also been in the audience when both lesbians and gay men have mentioned same-sex people they find attractive. I can't join in. I don't see people and feel the urge to be with them physically.

The end realization was that if I felt a deeply emotional connection with a person, regardless of gender, and it was appropriate to express that emotion sexually, I could. And I believe the experience would be authentic and positive simply because in order for it to happen, I'd have to completely trust and truly love that person. I'm not sure what that makes me or even if it's relevant. It's just what I've become--who I am--based on my past experiences. And I'm not really sure why this has been on my mind, except I don't believe everyone feels similarly, and perhaps I'm coming to terms with the fact that since my introductions to sexual acts were not normal, my thoughts about making love will probably be a bit unusual, as well. And the good thing is that the only one who really needs to care about it besides me, is Darrin.

And now I believe I've pondered these thoughts enough for one night. I think I'll go sleep.