08 October 2014

God told me to write this...


Sandra Bullock told me to leave my husband.

Well, that’s only partially true.  It was God but he used Sandy to do it.  God doesn’t often speak to me in words or pictures that are crystal clear but when he does, it’s generally one of two ways.  The first method is more subtle.  It’s a tap on the shoulder; a “hey, over here” kind of thing.  The other method has all the subtlety of blunt force trauma.  This time, though, was something between the two.

A brief recap for those of you who might not have seen the movie:  Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock’s character) is part of a US space shuttle mission.  Near the end of their mission, she and the rest of the shuttle crew are caught in a shower of debris from a destroyed Russian satellite that demolishes their shuttle and leaves Dr. Stone stranded in space with a very slim chance of ever returning to Earth.

My life at the time I saw Gravity was feeling more and more fragmented.  Like Bullock’s character, I saw almost no chance of our life returning to anything close to what it had been.  When the Spousal Unit and I met and married, he was AA sober and had stayed that way for many years.  However, over the last decade, and especially the last six years or so, his drinking had steadily increased to the point where he was now drinking copiously every day – whole bottles, morning and night.  His willingness or desire to try and hide it was less and he was becoming more vocal about how I needed to just shut up and deal with it or leave.  The SU and I were both in the grip of alcoholism and codependency.  I wasn’t the one drinking but alcohol and its effects ruled both our lives:  irresponsible behavior, isolation, lies, deceit, anger, sorrow, rage…

Living with a drunk is difficult at best and soul-destroying at worst.  Part of that is the actions and attitudes of the alcoholic but part of that generates from the person living with the alcoholic; in this case, me.  In general, those of us who love alcoholics become part of the insanity without even really knowing it.  To borrow the AA/Al-Anon phraseology, our lives become unmanageable but we don’t really see it.  We’re so set on trying to figure out the set of circumstances, the ritual, the “bottom”, the ONE THING that will cause the alcoholic to realize what he or she is doing and turn away from their self-destruction and towards sobriety that we miss the signpost that says we passed the Twilight Zone a long time ago.

To quote Eeyore:  “It’ll never work.”

During this time, I started journaling again.  My opening entries are full of anger and fear, so many of them starting with some variation of “SU drank.  And lied.  Again.”  I desperately wanted change and healing.  I wanted my husband back and I brought that to God time and time again.  There was no one prayer.  There was no one time.  There was no one experience.  All of it involved tears.  I did not understand why I continually implored God to rescue my husband and was always met with the response (subtle in this case) to remain in the marriage, to continue to learn about God and to be Jesus with skin on to my husband.  Didn’t God know how hard this was?  I mean, seriously, dude (Lord)?  You want me to be Jesus to a guy who gets blind drunk every night, calls me names, lies to me, threatens to beat me, leaves me feeling bereft, alone and insecure?

Every time I’d ask that, He’d say “Yes.  I do.”

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, I can see better what was happening at that time.  In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about cheap grace versus costly grace.  Cheap grace acknowledges what Jesus did for me but lets me go about living my life exactly as if nothing has changed.  Costly grace calls us to follow Jesus, to understand what He did changed everything and I am to follow in his footsteps.  With cheap grace, it was very easy to consider that God loved me.  After all, I wasn’t the alcoholic.  I wasn’t the one wreaking havoc.  Costly grace told me to remember that my sins were no better than the Spousal Unit's and that God loved him just as much as He loved me and hurt just as much for the SU as I did.  Cheap grace creates a hierarchy.  Costly grace makes us all equal.

While I prayed to God to change the Spousal Unit, God was working on changing me.  One of the first things that He worked on was my willingness to be obedient and submit and one of the biggest ways I was asked to submit was by staying in my marriage because He was telling me to do so.  God and I talked a lot about that one because, to be totally honest, there were a lot of days where I desperately wanted to leave.  But I had to come to a place where I was willing to put God back in his proper place, to let him be my security above all else – even my husband and my relationship with him.  To help with that, He pointed me towards Brennan Manning and Henri Nouwen.  Manning wrote a Christian classic, The Ragamuffin Gospel, yet he struggled with alcoholism his whole life and died from its effects.  Nouwen dealt with deep depression.  Both of them wrote truthfully about their struggles and how God loves us as we are in all our brokenness and pain; that He hurts along with us even as He asks us to follow him and carry the crosses He assigns to us.  Their writings gave me hope and showed me a God who was NOT indifferent but was, in fact, deeply involved in my life and in my particular circumstances.  A journal entry of mine on that topic reads:

“Whose mind, whose outlook do I adopt?  God’s or man’s?  I must deny the right to set myself up as the authority.  You have my interests at heart.  I must deny my desire to take authority and wrest this situation away from you.  I must pick up my cross and follow you, seek you, become you.  Be your beloved and find my identity and my safety in you and not the things of this world – not even my relationship with my husband.”

Another thing God taught me was the need for consistent prayer and that my timing was not necessarily His.  I learned to beat a path to Him every day and, more than that, to be honest when I prayed.  A lot of times there was nothing very pretty about my prayers.  There were no elegant words or pretty turns of phrase.  If I recall correctly, there was some cursing involved at times.  I had to ask forgiveness a lot for trying to impose my timeline and asking for proof.  I had to learn that just because I didn’t feel like God was there didn’t mean He wasn’t.  It meant I wasn’t experiencing Him the way I thought I should or wanted to and I had to back up and rethink my attitude and mindset.

In Gravity, there is a point shortly after the space shuttle is destroyed where it appears communication with Mission Central in Houston has been lost.  However, Dr. Stone keeps talking, telling Houston what she is doing, what is going on and what she is going to try to do next with the hope that they can hear her even if she can’t hear them.  Every time she does, she starts off her transmission with “Houston in the blind” and I tend to classify a lot of my early prayers as starting off with some version of “Houston in the blind” because I was angry.  Angry that even though I was praying and trying to do what God wanted me to, I still wanted my timeline.  I wanted my miracle – even more so when it became very apparent that my husband would, in all likelihood, drink himself to death.  You see stories all the time about God miraculously doing something or another in response to someone’s prayer and all those stories seem to sum up with “And the next thing you know…”.   How could God ask me to stand by and try to be Jesus in a situation like this?  Wasn’t He going to rescue my husband?  Wasn’t there going to be some obvious, unmistakable turning point where everything magically became better?

Yeah…no.  God can certainly do that if He wants to but a lot of times I think he has things to teach us in the midst of our suffering and we can only learn those if we choose to bend our will, submit and be obedient to what he asks us to do.  In Jesus, the One and Only, Beth Moore writes, “A plan of profound importance exists that sometimes overrides the miracle we desperately desire.”  She also says later that Jesus doesn’t only see our excitement but that he also sees our exhaustion.  Well, he was seeing a lot of exhaustion with me. 

Let me tell you, obedience is a slog.  It’s a painful, heartbreaking slog where you have to get up every day and ask for the strength to submit to Him again because you just don’t see the freaking point.  You have to bend your stiff knees and remind yourself in prayer that you have asked for God’s will to be ascendant, not your own.  You ask for patience when you can feel the frayed threads of your sanity ready to snap.  Some days you can say that all in a normal tone of voice.  Some days you scream it out in the car on the way to work.  Or sob.  Or a combination of both. 

It’s a good thing waterproof mascara exists.

God was speaking to me but he was doing it in a book chapter here, a worship song there, a conversation with someone.  Then, in July 2013, God spoke directly to me through my journal.  I’m not going to write it all down but there were some very important things he said that I kept holding on to as things continued to get worse and worse:

“Do not try to steer.  You don’t know the way, where I want you to go.  Let me steer.  You cannot perceive of what I am doing but I am about my Father’s business…. Your strength is  in your submission…The beauty of what I will do is far beyond your imagining...Do not hold back until you “see” me act because you will miss it.  Step forward.  Act forward.  Act in love.  Act in faith…What you ask for will be done.  Do not hasten it or try to craft it, push it into being.  We are on my timeline. Walk the beaten path to me everyday…I will give you everything you need if you trust me to do so.”

That was in July.  In December or so, we went to see Gravity.  I remember watching the Spousal Unit to try and gauge how sober he was and settled down for what I figured was going to be just some time to turn my mind off and get away from the wreck of my life and my marriage for a little while.

I got much more than that.

One of the first introductions we get to Dr. Stone is when the mission commander, Matt Kowalski asks her what she does after work.  She just says she listens to music and “just drives”.  It turns out this is what she was doing when she received word her daughter had died from a freak accident and it’s what she’s kept doing since, caught up in an endless cycle.  After the debris destroys the shuttle, Dr. Stone manages to make it to the International Space Station.  She takes off her space suit and curls up in the fetal position, floating.  The hoses attached to the airlock door look almost like umbilical cords.  This was the point where I truly heard God say, “I want you to pay close attention from right now through the end of this movie.”

What became clear to me through the words and pictures of Gravity was rebirth, was the idea of more than just the will to exist but to more than that, do more than survive.  Bullock’s character became me in a way.  She was showing all the behaviors and all the ways I’d shut down and shut myself off – I’d been “just driving” the same way she had been.  When she makes the choice to try and get to the Chinese shuttle, Tiangong, and says that it’s time to stop just driving and go home, God said, “I want you to do this.”
My response?  You want me to fly in a space shuttle, God?  Really?  ‘Cause that’s a little weird, I gotta say.  Also a little out of my price range.

That was the moment God proved He has a sense of humor ‘cause he didn’t smite me.  Instead, he said, “No, keep watching to see what I mean.”

I watched the last several minutes of the movie feeling like I could barely breathe.  The Chinese escape pod, pointed towards Earth, is caught in the planet’s gravity and Stone’s control of the pod and the outcome of her journey is negligible at best.  She calls out to “Houston in the blind” and says:

“All right, the way I see it, there’s only two possible outcomes:  I either make it down in one piece and I’ll have a hell of a story to tell or I burn up in the next ten minutes.  No harm, no foul.  Either way, whichever way, it’ll be one hell of a ride.

I’m ready.”

Stone then punches the ignition button and begins a bone-rattling, fiery free fall to Earth.  At this point, I’m starting to cry because I understand what God is telling me.  He’s saying,

I’m going to ask you to do something that seems at least as scary as this.  You’re going to feel like you’re in free fall too; completely out of control.  You have to trust me and be ready.  You have to love me more than you love your husband.  You have to love clinging to me in uncertainty and faith more than you love the predictable insanity you now live in.  You have to decide who you love more:  the person I gave to you or the One who did the giving.”

On February 6th, I told my husband we needed to separate.  My journal entry that day contains a plea to God that this not be the road He is asking me to walk down.  On February 8th, our 22nd wedding anniversary, I wrote: “Henri (Nouwen) talks about choosing to respond to circumstances and how you can choose to respond with joy.  Right now all I have is sorrow.  Abba, the cry of my heart is that this can be stopped. ..my first request is for my husband to be returned.  If not, help me to be obedient to you and walk the path and someday find joy again in it.” 

That was my own way of saying “I’m ready.”

At what looks like the last possible second in the movie, Stone’s escape pod releases its parachute.  My parachute came in the form of friends, and family and church members who grieved with me and helped me do the things I needed to do in order to move out and set up my own apartment.

The parachute deployed again when my husband left me a note pleading with me to help get him to rehab and God moved swiftly and obviously, bringing together both the rehab and the funds to get him there in just a four days.  On February 14th, I put my husband on a plane to California to begin three months of rehab (which means I totally win Valentine’s Day forever).  My prayer that day and every day since has been for both of us to have the courage to face up to the triggers, issues and pain we have been carrying around, that we would have the strength to submit and seek to make God the center of our lives both individually and collectively as a couple.  I’ve prayed for both of us to be able to find the resources He will provide to live in a state of separation while we work on reconciliation – and He has.  He’s provided my husband with a job, a place to live and even a car.  He’s provided us a therapist who cuts through the smokescreens we cling to and helps us figure out other ways to go with care and with honesty (and not without a little sarcasm as well).

He’s now been sober nearly eight months.  We are tentatively talking about living together again and how that will work.  There are no guarantees he will never drink again.  Of course, there’s no guarantee I won’t try to revert to previously insane behavior again so, you know, all’s fair.  Our therapist asked me during our session last week what I would do if the Spousal Unit started drinking again.  My response was that if he stumbled but got back up on the horse, I would have all the time in the world for him.  If it began to turn into what it had been previously, it would depend on the situation and what God was telling me to do.  But I know now that I can do more than survive.  I can do more than “just drive” whether or not he is drinking, whether or not our marriage falters or is renewed. 

Either way, it’s going to be a hell of a ride.

I’m ready.

06 July 2014

Tales from the Couch

We're nearly five months into the sobriety thing and almost a month into couples' therapy.  I have to say this round of therapy is an improvement because at least he's showing up sober to the sessions.  It makes a difference...

Sometimes I really just feel like I'm flailing like that robot from Lost in Space ("Danger, Will Robinson!  My arms are flailing wildly!").  I have yet to be handed the road map to this kind of experience and most of my thought process is taken up by behavior (mine and his) and is it healthy, dysfunctional and so on and so far ad infinitum, ad nauseum.  Our therapist, Cortana, protege of Master Chief, has told us flat out that prognosis is poor for couples unless both are fully committed to the hard work and the long haul.  We are trying to work through years of dysfunction and alcoholism and it can be exhausting.

In session last week, the Spousal Unit talked about how he felt resentment that I had continued my plans to move out versus waiting to see the "finished product".  In his mind, I did not say I was going to move out until after he went to rehab.  I refrained from my first response which was something along the lines of his timeline was incorrect because he was blitzed/in a blackout for the entire month of January - which is when I told him - so his recollections suck ass.  I think I pared it down to "As far as I remember, that's incorrect" and then clamped my lips shut before the rest of it could escape.

Cortana made an interesting comment then.  I'd had kind of unformed thoughts around what she said but she put it into perspective.  She asked the SU a little about his first marriage and how that ended.  When he asked her why she'd wanted to know, she told him that she wanted some background because a lot of times someone may be having a conversation with the person in front of them but they're actually looking just over that person's shoulder at the memory behind them.

I do think the Spousal Unit is worried that my creating the separation is going to make it easier for me to either say I want a divorce or to "find" someone else.  To the first?  Never been my intention.  To the second?  That would imply I'm looking and, frankly, I'd rather run naked through poison ivy and then roll around in honey and dive headfirst into an anthill as a finale.  So...no.  But okay, I think I kinda get it.  Rehab was/is in part to save our marriage.  I mean, it is.  But it was also to save his life and to save mine.  To do that, I had to leave, to get somewhere where I could start to sort things out and get healthier my own self. It was never a case of one of us being totally in the wrong and the other a perfect angel.  It's easy to point to his drinking but I have my own junk - it was just better hidden.

Time away has given me perspective.  I can see the insanity we were living in.  Sure, I could have stayed.  I could have stayed and been abused.  I could have stayed and come home to his body some day after work.  I could have stayed and done a lot of things.  I stayed as long as God told me to even when there were days I wanted to walk out the door long before God finally said "OK, step aside.  It's my turn."

And I do love the SU.  I love him a lot.  He makes my heart glad when I see him.  But I also can still see all the crap floating around that I have to deal with if I'm going to be healthy with or without him.  And I have to say "without him" because I don't know how this will end up.  He's also his own person.  We both want to be married to each other but the other side of the coin has to at least be acknowledged.  Nobody is guaranteed a happy ending and our better ending is only going to come about by dint of much blood, sweat and tears.

I want it.  I want to work at it.  But it's scary and frightening.  This is not where I thought I would be at close to 25 years of marriage.  To be completely honest, there are some days I think it would be easier just to not work at it.  I can admit that I like my own apartment, that I like being able to buy and cook the foods I like without hearing about icky vegetables.  I like the quiet and I like the peace.  But I also miss the sound of a guitar being played and someone to snuggle up next to at night.  I miss sitting and holding hands while watching TV (and just for the record, honey, Quarles did die at the end of season 3 of Justified.  You don't lose a limb like that and just walk away :P).

I pray every day for the restoration of our marriage.  But I also pray that I walk in God's will for my life and not mine.  That can be hard because sometimes (well, a lot of the time) God's will has been different than what I've wanted and it can be heartwrenching to say "yes" to God and "no" to what I want.  Right now I'm praying not to live in fear of "what may" but to work on "what is", to ask God for what I need for this day only and to work on letting him be in charge of the rest.  Some days it's easier than others.

Kinda like therapy.

01 June 2014

The Life Raft of The Dawn Treader

The Spousal Unit has been back for about two weeks now and we've settled into what I guess is a kind of normal for us.  This is truly a set of experiences that I desperately wish there was some kind of road map to follow, left behind by others who have gone before.

Yeah...not so much.

Right now he has no funds except what little I managed to save from our joint account and the money I've put in from my own account every now and then when I can.  I've kept him on my insurance so he has relatively inexpensive access to the meds he needs.  I've bought him groceries each week.

Part of me feels the things I'm helping him with are unfair.  He *censored* up yet it is still affecting me - has never stopped affecting me.  I know rehab isn't a vacation, per se, but for those three months the SU didn't have to worry about groceries, bills, et cetera, while I did.  I had to coordinate my move into my apartment as well as the closing down of our old apartment.  NOT that I'm going to say God wasn't there in that because He was.  His generosity along with the love and generosity of His people made these last three months something...good; in a way, even awesome.

But I struggle with the idea that I took care of things then and I'm still doing it now.  Part of it, I know, is I have a money button.  My dad was never very responsible with it and, for me, having a surplus on hand represents security.  I wonder at times if that makes me akin to the parables about those who try to store treasures on earth.  They store treasures.  I look for a particular number that makes me comfortable. Although, come to think of it, they never stopped storing up treasure and I never found a number that made me comfortable.  Ah, irony.

Maybe that's what God has been trying to drum into my head?  Not to spend willy-nilly but to be generous with the Spousal Unit as my Abba has been generous with me.  It was God who paved the way for the SU to be in rehab in four days from his initial request.  It was God who showed his provision for me with all of his people who offered money, love, supplies and time.  Now that I have the opportunity to model this for the Spousal Unit, I balk?

To give the Spousal Unit his due, he has set out to do exactly what he said he would:  demonstrate a commitment to sobriety.  He has attended a meeting each day since his return.  He has a sponsor.  He starts his new job on Monday.  He is respecting my boundaries.

I think part of what makes this difficult for me is that there are so many triggers - some of which I don't even know about until they get set off.  Let's take yesterday for example.  We went to Walmart.  He pulled the truck into a space and I started to get out just as he took his foot off the clutch.  The truck jolted forward a couple feet.  This is a normal "oops!" moment for anyone else.  It's an "Oh no, he's been drinking!" moment for me even though there was no indication of it.  It's a trigger.  It's past behavior that is now inextricably linked to something bad even though, now, there may be a totally benign explanation.

I do my best to not ask about his meeting attendance or what he does with his sponsor.  His recovery, not mine and controlling co-dependence is so unattractive :P.  I definitely need not to try and control for my own recovery and mental health (scroll back through previous entries to see how well my attempts to control his drinking worked.  Cliff's Notes answer?  Not very well).  But holy cow, it' shard!  I want to know.  And I want reassurances.  And I want them in a language I can understand.  But I also know that to "make" him do or say the things I want him to will not really assuage my fears in the end.  They will be done or said because I demanded them and not because they came honestly from him.  I have to...HAVE TO...let him say or not say, do or not do, what he will in terms of recovery and relationship repair.  And all the time, I have to be working on my own healthier boundaries and expectations.

Separating and attempting reconciliation along with mental health is a ball of laughs, let me tell you.

We've had two date nights so far.  He comes over on Saturday afternoons to do his laundry.  We hang out on the sofa, watch Cops and cook frozen pizza.  It's actually not a huge change from what we used to do but it has been a long time since we've done it.  It's nice.  We've both said how much we've missed doing things like this.  No spending the night yet.  I'm not ready and neither is he.  I want my apartment to be my safe space a little longer; introduce him gradually into my new world.

To work on forgiveness and grace in such an active manner is painful at times.  The SU was a blackout drinker, meaning he has no recollection of a lot of the things he did or said.  BUT I DO.  Vivid, technicolor memories.  That means I also have to work past wanting my pound of flesh (carefully weighed and measured, mind you) for the pain he has caused me over the years.

However, I'm currently reading Timothy Keller's Jesus the King as part of my study.  In it, Keller talks about the need to go deeper in a relationship with Jesus past the "I wants" and the attempts to carve out or preserve what we believe our identity should be instead of building it on Jesus.  Doing that and letting Jesus go as deep as He needs to in order to be our foundation is risky and painful.  Keller illustrates this with the chapters of C.S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader where Eustace has been turned into a dragon by his own greed and thoughts.

Just when Eustace thinks there is no hope left, Aslan appears, tells him to undress and jump in a pool of water.  Eustace figures out "undress" means to shed his dragon skin and starts trying to do so layer by layer.  But as much as he gnaws and tears, each shed layer only reveals another layer underneath.

It's at this point Aslan tells Eustace that "you're going to have to let me go deeper" (i.e. use his claws to divest Eustace of his dragon hide).  Eustace is afraid because, hey, claws! (and remember Aslan is not a tame lion, either).  But he agrees.  In describing it, Eustace says, "The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart.  And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt."  Soon, though, the skin is off, dark and ugly-looking and piled to the side.  Eustace is thrown in the pool and realizes he is a boy again.

Keller's point is that Eustace tried to do it little by little and could never have succeeded on his own.  He desperately wanted to be a boy again but tried to do it just by taking Aslan's instruction as a suggestion and never asking him how to get the dragon hide off.  It was only when he let Aslan take over that the change, the transformation, occurred.  We have to - I have to - let Jesus "use his claws", as Keller puts it, and reconfigure the main thing my heart wants.  The SU remaining sober is one of my most heartfelt wishes but as has been shown time and again, MY attempts to grant MY wish have ended in failure.  I have to let Jesus act as Savior and know that even though He can grant me what I want with a snap of his fingers, I need to let Him go deeper, let him deal with and remove/change the anger and fear that threads through my relationship with the Spousal Unit.  Forgive and be forgiven.  That's the only way either of us will ever receive true healing.

15 May 2014

Starting Over

Yep...long time again since I posted anything.  Maybe I should make *that* my subheading for this blog.

The Spousal Unit came home from rehab today.  I did meet him at the airport and took him to lunch.  He was really tired since he'd gotten up at 3:30 PST for his flight and then flew to CST so I think that played a part in how quiet he was being but there was definitely some awkwardness between us.

He looks really good.  I would say that rehab agreed with him.  He's lost a bunch of weight, his eyes are bright and clear, he has a tan and a new flattop.  He told me he's going to a meeting tonight.

But still...

Since we are still separated, a guy in the church has a mobile home he said the SU could live in rent free for a while.  This is good since the SU has no income right now except for what I've been putting into the last of our joint bank account to help.  We drove out there and, well, he's definitely back to where I met him post-divorce: living in a rusty single-wide.

Looking around, half my brain immediately flashed to how I needed to make this better because (as per previous entries) still working on that codependency thing.  The other half kept trying to tell me that this was *not* my fault.  This is more of his consequences.  I also kept wanting to ask him if he was mad at me but I didn't.

We came back to town and went our separate ways.  I'm now having an ugly cry while I write this.  Go me :P.  I know today was harder than I thought it would be but, then again, I've never been separated from my husband so how the heck would I know what to expect?

I'd like to be all eloquent about this situation - maybe wax a little philosophical - but all I can say is that the hurt is still there and the wounds are still there; slightly healed, maybe, but still just as painful.  Everyone keeps asking me what the plan is.  Well, I don't have one.  All I'm doing is repeating the "Three C's" to myself:  didn't cause it, can't control it, can't cure it..  I desperately want someone to tell me that it's all going to be okay.  Instead, I have to keep going back to Step One:  I am powerless.  I have done my part and am continuing to do my part.  I can't control his.  I can't make it better no matter how much I want to because that's part of the dynamic of the past.  If I want a chance at a new future, I have to put all this stuff I'm talking about into practice.

Have I mentioned how much this sucks?

31 March 2014

New Digs

I just noticed that it's been a long time since I posted anything...oops.

The Spousal Unit completed his 30 days of rehab and has since moved to a sister facility for aftercare.  Insurance has okayed at least 30 days which will take him to the middle of April.  We are praying for another 30 days to give him a full 90.  When I talk to him, he sounds like a completely different person than the man I have been living with for the past seven years.  He talks about a renewed optimism and hope and being focused 100% on his recovery.  He also said in a letter I received Saturday that he wants to demonstrate the ability to live sober so he can regain my faith and trust and affection in him.

The only thing we kind of have words about is the separation.  I finished moving out of our old apartment into a one-bedroom this weekend.  It's a little scary and I'm praying I can be a good steward of my funds but there is a sense of peace in coming home to something completely different that is totally my own.  There are no memories.  It's a clean slate and this place will become what I make it rather than be a reminder of what happened before.  I woke up Sunday morning and felt relaxed which is a new feeling for me.

His contention (and I'm not sure how much he's truly holding on to it and how much is his sadness over taking this step) is that he would have liked to have tried living together when he gets back.  I asked him if he truly thought that would be possible to live together, tripping over each other's triggers while trying to become healthy.  He admitted he didn't know but insisted he would have liked to try.  I finally just told him that wasn't possible for me and that was kind of the end of our phone call that night.  It made me feel bad and I found myself questioning if I was doing the right thing.  I put the question to several people I trusted and got a resounding "yes" from them so...

I do agree but, emotionally, it's a hard thing and it's not helped by my good old friend, codependence.  You know, I swore for the longest time I was not codependent and then my new therapist, Cortana, made a few, er, astute observations and my response was "Dammit, Jim!  I *am* codependent."  So now I get to separate what is a healthy emotional response from me wanting to fix things for him - which I did a lot of.  I get that now.  But I think I'm learning to make dividing lines.  For example, the SU asked if I would check with our previous therapist, Master Chief, to see if he could recommend some therapists - preferably ones in recovery themselves.  I asked, got the answer, and told him I would send him the info but that he was responsible for making the appointment.  Before, I would have done it or else asked him a bizillion times if he had.  So, yeah...therapy and Al-anon once a week are hopefully a healthier person making...

I would be remiss if I didn't point to how much and how awesome God has been in my life.  He continues to absolutely amaze me with specific answers to prayer, with support and encouragement from so many people.  Heck, *eleven* people from the church showed up to help me move.  People have asked for the SU's address to write him notes and send him things.  People have stopped me before and after church to ask how each of us is doing and what they can pray for.  Resources to help pay bills have shown up or been offered.  It's truly been amazing and something I never would have even dreamed would be poured out over me.  God has been such a wonderful, gracious God and I cannot thank Him enough for all He has done and continues to do.

I guess the only thing to say is that the process continues with reconciliation still the goal for both of us.  In speaking to his counselor, she says that is what the SU is working towards also - is a stated goal of his - and she believes that if both of us continue on the path we are on that we will be able to do it.

Here's hoping.

04 March 2014

A Different Lens

(My journal entry from yesterday, March 3rd)

Something so simple hit me like kind of a "duh" moment in my reading.  Brennan Manning points out that Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened" because He KNEW there would be times of being tired and discouraged.  It wasn't just an exhortation to the emotionally downtrodden or the poor.  It was a reminder, a signpost for all of us to come to Him every time we are discouraged and weary.  No one can walk through it with us the way Jesus can.  My own journey has been living, solid proof of that.

"Come to me."  Not because He will make it all better or because He will always reveal some miraculous plan for you to follow.  You may still have to walk through every last thing.  But come to Him because He will sustain you.  He will give you strength and comfort.  He will give you a peace that is beyond your comprehension and is even a little but puzzling.  You're in the midst of craptasticness!  Why should you feel peace?  Because you've gone to Jesus as he asked and said, "Lord, I cannot carry this burden alone.  I need help."  And he does.

Henri Nouwen calls us to embrace all of our past - good and bad - because all of it has brought us to where we are now.  Nothing happened outside of God's notice or His love.  Even the things we are not grateful for having experienced need to be looked at - and looked at with God's eyes and NOT ours.  Through the good and bad events in our lives, we can be brought to "a deeper recognition of God's mercy, a stronger conviction of God's guidance, and a more radical commitment to a life in God's service."  But to do so, I think we have to let go of the fear, shame and anger that comes from the bad experiences.  It is easy to thank or praise God for good experiences, for the ones we perceive as blessings or gifts.  To embrace the bad, I think we have to give up the "why?".  Why did this happen to me?  Why do I have to deal with this?  That is in no way an easy thing to do but getting stuck on "why" narrows my field of vision to me and only me.  There is no larger context because I have made myself the center of my universe.  By going to Jesus ("come to me...") and laying my need to know why, to understand what is happening to me at His feet (again and again if necessary and I know it has been for me at times), I gain a larger perspective.

It doesn't happen all at once.  It may be slowly and over time.  But I realize that I am in this alone.  God has provided not only Himself and His Son but resources to help me, His Word and fellow Christians being chief among them.  I may never know "why" but "why" has become less important as I seek God's guidance and rely on His strength to go through whatever is in front of me.

Rom 12:12 - "Be glad for all God is planning for you.  Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful."