Air

I hold my breath.

I am used to this practice, a habit of sorts now, as he rolls onto me, eyes wide with wanting.

He doesn’t like that part of me, the in and out, rhythmic, life-giving and life-releasing inhale and exhale. So I hold in the stale air, wet with morning dew and the building humidity of night.

I don’t remember when I learned to hold my breath…probably in infant swimming class. My mother drove me to the university pool, which in my mind still seems like this monstrous body of water, all-encompassing like the ocean, only without waves and salt. The ceiling hung over us like a forest canopy, so high we could never reach the top, with windows and light I wouldn’t be able to count for at least two more years. The experience now only lives in my mind as stories my mother has told me.

The instructor asked our parents to blow in our faces and then stick us in the water.

I try to picture my mother, not from the vantage point of being in her fragile arms, but like an outside narrator observing mother and child, blowing and holding, breathing and kicking. I try to see us bonding together, but the picture blurs as if I am the one under the water. My eyes sting from the chlorine.

I’ve been watching and unwatching myself since then. At times, a clear picture emerges, and I am there, seeing and breathing and smelling and feeling and tasting. More often, I am that child in the water, forced not to breathe, not by my own choice but by instinct.

I want to learn to exhale.

“You were my new dream.”

I woke up in the early morning last week, when the house was quiet. As I lay there, sandwiched between covers of cotton and down, I thought about dreams…not the kind that were evading me at the moment, but dreams of life and love and achievement.

Remember the moment in Tangled when Eugene is about to die and he utters these words to Rapunzel: “You were my new dream.”…?

She gently and ever-so-quietly replies, “And you were mine.”

In my marriage, my husband is my new dream every day. As we have changed together over the past several years, we have created new dreams that always include each other. I do not think of life without him. He is my new dream…and each day that we wake up together, we get to know each other–in whatever forms that day may bring.

What is your dream? Does it change? Does it include anyone special?

Sending you love as we begin this Valentine’s Week here on MiddleofMyStory! xoxoxo

The Truth About Happily Ever After

I would love to be profound for a moment…but I just don’t have it in me today.  Let me just share a few thoughts….

“Happily Ever After” doesn’t just happen. You make it happen. And, everyday you wake up and choose to stay in love, you choose to work out issues, you choose to forgive and forget, and you choose to stay with the person you committed to “Once Upon a Time.”


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Remember that?  How your story together began?  And, in the true nature of princesses and fairy tales, your goal was/is:

And-they-lived-happily-ever-after
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Right?  And everything between the ellipses was just witches and goblins and icky bad guys that you would conquer together, right?

Nope.

Sorry.

It’s not really that simple (and yet, in some ways, it is rather simple after all).

After a decade and a half in the same relationship, I have learned a few things that I would like to share with you now in a spirit of love and light and wanting to preserve and support relationships.

First of all, there are lots of moments and even days when I feel like this:

And sometimes I am so irritated, stressed out, exhausted, and who-knows-what-else that hearing a sweet love song like makes me want to spit.

Truly.

And I’m not good at spitting.

But, guess what?!?!?!?!?!

I stick around this relationship. Not because I want to feel crummy…but because I know that we are building something together. We are building a life, a family, our faith, and a future. You see, I don’t believe that relationships end at death.  I believe that we will be able to carry on our family and marriage relationships in the life after this if we will keep working through our issues and pulling together.

I know that media and maybe even the experiences of others might say that the grass could be greener in some other relationship. But, I made a commitment to this guy several years ago. More than that, I made a commitment (and covenant) with God years ago that I would stick with this guy. So, I’m not leaving. Even though hard things may come our way, I can do hard things. And I can do them even better when I have the help of heaven and this really cute guy I married.

So what if we are getting old? We are getting old together. So what if our hair is turning grey (me) or disappearing (him)? We make adjustments. So what if some mornings we irritate each other so much that we are happy to say goodbye? We usually make up during the day and are so anxious to be back in each other’s arms at the conclusion of the day.

Here’s my bottom line. Marriage is hard. It takes work. But it is sooooooo worth it.

On a more personal note, I used to hear lots of people say with regard to marriage that they loved their wife or husband more today than they did when they were married. For the first several years of our marriage, I didn’t understand those statements. I vacillated back and forth between super-in-love-happy to I-can’t-stand-you-right-now-and-I-need-to-go-run-before-I-say-something-else-hurtful-I-will-regret-later. I didn’t know if I would ever get past that point. But, eventually I did. And now I recognize that the need-to-go-running moments are less frequent and the in-love moments are more frequent (maybe that’s what those old married couples meant?)…and I’ve learned to weather and wait out the crazy times knowing that the bliss will return again at some point.

And I’m willing to wait for it and to work for it…’cause marriage is worth it.

And bliss is really sweet.

And I want to be with this guy for a lot longer than the rest of my life.

Another poem…

Loneliness

I can’t remember which toothbrush is mine
So I grab one from the drawer, one I think is mine, and start to scrub.
I’m calling your number as the bristles scour off layers of plaque and the Caesar salad dressing
Ring
from lunch while I waited for you at the table
Ring
And the bristles tug at the sugar swirls from the Skittles
Ring
I had in the car on the way home from oblivion
Ring
And I finally feel a click and I expect to hear your voice again but it’s not you…only a computerized invitation and I’m waiting through the words to leave a message at the tone for
You

But your voicemail is full.

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A quick poem

Dental Hygiene

I just flossed my teeth
And you bring me almonds
(Which I love…& I have been trying to eat more healthily, anyway)
Which, as I chew, fall into empty crevices of space where gums don’t quite reach around and hug the tooth the way they did when I was
Younger,
Pinker,
Perkier.

I toss another handful into my mouth and relish the sweet, white flesh as I decide I will happily
Floss again.

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Love…True Love

I remember laughing so hard my insides hurt when I first watched Peter Cook recite these famous lines:

I laughed even more when a dear friend of mine, who I dare say captured the essence of Peter Cook’s delivery of those lines, along with her own comedic flair, would recite those beloved lines.

“Wuv…troo wuv….”

Well, I am writing today because I have been considering “The Thing Called Love” (which, incidentally, was a movie I enjoyed back in the day but haven’t revisited for years). Before you go “blame it on your lyin’, cheatin’, cold, dead-beatin’, two-timin’, double-dealin’, mean, mistreatin’, lovin’ heart,” you might want to consider LOVE for a little while, too…and more specifically the opportunity or possibility for an eternal or timeless love….

I am not a big Twilight fan.  I haven’t read any of the books; I never waited in line or paid for a ticket to see any of the films.  I did, however, out of respect for cultural literacy, decide (maybe at about the time New Moon was released) that I would probably ClearPlay most of the films by the end of the series.  As of last night, I have completed watching the films (mainly due to one of my children’s unlikely fascination with the franchise)…and as I have pondered what I have learned and the attraction of the story, I have some thoughts to share.

I believe in eternal love.  I believe that relationships exist beyond this life, and that we can be with our loved ones again who are currently separated from us because of death.  I also believe in the immortality of the soul.  I do not, however, believe in the reality of vampires (no matter what history might say about Abraham Lincoln hunting them) :).  Still, I think the medium of vampire culture serves a purpose to paint a picture of a loving, supportive family, with couples who honor vows to one another.

Could our disposable society learn anything from these messages?  (Here I would like to insert my belief that I do support the option of divorce in particular circumstances…but I think people often throw away relationships that could be saved with effort and work much like they throw away their fast food wrappers and paper plates after dinner….)

I am also captivated by the story found in The Time Traveler’s Wife.  While I found the abundant profanity in the book offensive and skimmed over some graphic sex scenes, I felt compelled to finish the book.  As I read, the power of a committed relationship that did not bend to time taught me again and again.  Now, I do not believe in time travel (though I do find the Back to the Future movies highly entertaining).  What draws me to this story is the decision two people made to be together, to grow together, to live through challenges together, and to love each other fiercely.

I have heard that any two people committed to each other and committed to God can make a marriage work.  Not to say that some people aren’t more well-suited to each other…some are.  Still, committment is key in making a relationship work.  And, every day anyone in a relationship wakes up each morning and makes a decision to stay with that person (or not).  This decision may not be consciously made, but it is made nonetheless.  And the decision is yours to make your love…[a] true love that will stand the test of time (and maybe even eternity).

A Valentine…for you

I wrote this earlier this week for a dear friend who lost her father recently.  She posted that he remembered her on each Valentine’s Day and recorded her sadness that he would not be able to send her anything this year.  As I thought of what I could do for her, these words came.  Forgive the lateness of the post, but I hope it finds its way to her.

For you, who lost someone recently who always remembered you on Valentine’s Day.

For you, across the veil of forgetfulness, are still remembered, loved, and treasured.

For you, even without physical arms around you, are still enveloped in love.

For you, because love is stronger than the bands of death.

For you, a Valentine wish that you feel love surrounding you on this day.

The Ring

As he slid the metallic, hollow circle over my knuckle, I was surprised how comfortable it felt on a finger which had been naked for so long.  Thin band of white gold with a solitaire in the center.  Had time passed so quickly since David died, or was I just really ready to take this step?  Four years is an eternity to sleep alone after being together for what felt like a lifetime…but maybe seventeen years is just a drop in the bucket of lifetimes…?

“How does it feel?”

I looked up from watching the light catch the facets of the diamond and into his eyes, realizing I was probably lost in thought again.  I really didn’t mean to be so distracted.  He was so gentle, so caring.  So different from David in stature and mannerisms, but so similar in personality.  Perhaps that was the attraction.  That, and the children seemed amenable to him.

After David’s death, I invested the insurance money, bought a house, and worked on web designing and social media marketing to make ends meet.  I resisted the desire to date, the desire for touch, the desire for noise in the quiet of my bedroom without the snoring sound David once made while lost in dreams.

Sometimes, in that same quiet of night, I would scream silently into a pillow…David’s pillow.

On the year anniversary of his death, I threw it out with the trash.  Not that I didn’t want to remember him…but I always said that a year was long enough to mourn.

My body felt it, too.  I would watch sappy rom-coms to feel connected to love, to life, to relationships.  But I wanted touch.  I wanted my bed to be warm during the cold Wisconsin winters.  I wanted someone to take my hand as we walked into a store together.

And, he had done those things…except for the bed.  My bed is still cold.  We agreed, because of the children, to wait.  I wanted them to continue their moral education, and no matter how much I longed for him, we set boundaries.  And I knew I would never forgive myself if I crossed them.

“Babe?”

I had done it again…wandered in and out of thoughts, of memories.  I wondered, if I am creating a new reality with him, here, now, why can’t I get my mind out of the past?  The feelings flooded more freely lately, like a deluge of emotion I never saw swimming in a sea of obligatory, perfunctory actions.

But this was right.  I knew it.

And as I looked up at him again, I said, “Right.  It feels right.”

Forgive and…forget?

I’ve been pondering the gift of forgiveness lately…and one morning lately, I wondered if “true” forgiveness involves actually forgetting the wrongdoing (or whatever action called for forgiveness).  Can you forgive and still hurt inside your heart?…or inside your head?  Can you remember the pain and still consider yourself to have forgiven those around you?  Do you try to remember and hang on to what hurt you, like tying a ribbon around your finger?

I don’t have answers yet, but I certainly welcome your thoughts.

As always, sending hugs your way.

Feelings…

I was a bit startled when I typed the title into the little box above where I am writing now that I had this flashback to the movie Big, where Tom Hanks (as the “big,” grown-up character of himself has to sing, “Feelings” for his mother in order to prove to her that her son is indeed okay).  Aren’t minds peculiar sometimes?

Through last week’s trauma experience (I use that term a little loosely–as in the experience was not life-threatening but indeed traumatic for me and our son and our family), I have remembered how I have dealt with trauma in the past:  I go into this place of numbness.  I shut down my feelings.  I think I’ve been practicing this behavior for many years.  And, I think the root of the feeling is fear.

Well–I would like to report a breakthrough.  Are you ready?  I’m not sure I am…but here I share anyway!

I allowed myself to feel.  I allowed myself to share with others my fear.  And I allowed myself to share my experience with others.

On Wednesday, (surgery day), I sat in the waiting room with a buzzer (similar to the one you may receive while waiting for a table at a crowded restaurant) for a moment without phone or book or watching the television on the wall.  I just sat still and processed the last few days, prayed a bit, and felt.  I took deep breaths.

And I started to cry.  My eyes welled up (though I didn’t let tears fall…I’m not that uninhibited…yet), and I felt the fear and the hope and the trust that all would work out for the best.

And, I’m happy to say that so far, it has.

Hugs!