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Musings on 2009

2009 was a hard year. It was full of change.

“People are always saying that change is a good thing. All they are really saying is something you didn’t want to happen at all, is happening.” – Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail (1998). I turned on the tv to this movie and this exact quote  as I started writing this post, so I had to include it.

It was my second year in Ohio, which saw the separation and divorce of my parents. So we have all been muddling through, finding strength we didn’t know we had and learning a new way to live as a family. The road has not been smooth and it’s not over. We have a lot healing to do, the forging of new pathways and connections with each other and others.

But this year was also about more than “Le Divorce.” I traveled, saw friends, and got more into chocolate making finding my own flavors and blends. I also got to spend loads of time with my nephews and take them on day trips. They are my continual delight and joy.

Here’s a brief rundown of the year:

Feb – Went to Chicago to visit my favorite cousin, Jojo. We did a whirlwind tour of Chicago including a trip to Millenium Park to see designs by Frank Gehry. My favorite part was all of the time we got to spend talking. He is more like a brother than a cousin. I adore him!

Mar – Returned to CA for two weeks to gain sanity, perspective and a time to be with my support system, the friends that are my family. I went to all my favorite places and saw all of my favorite people. It was amazingly wonderful.

Apr – Started a podcast with my brother called The Mike and Marti Show. (mmcs.typepad.com). Our change to spend time together, discuss our issues and explore topics like spirituality, the church, family, purpose, and anything else we find interesting with acerbic wit.

May – Finally saw Grease on the big screen and in my pajamas.

June – My second summer with my nephews

July – Discovered my favorite Aunt has cancer and saw her exhibit true strength, character, integrity and perseverance.

Dec – Had a wonderful 35th birthday!

I look forward to 2010 with expectation and wonder, hoping for the best!

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Pockets of Grief

I have been working for the past month to get my dad packed and moved into his new place. Moving is one of the biggest stresses. It puts strain on every aspect of life – emotional, physical, and mental. But this move has an added dimension of stress.

My parents will officially be divorced on Friday, November 20th. The reason he is moving is because their shared home is sold and gone. I don’t think I’m able to wrap my brain around this fact yet. I can’t figure out how to reorganize my mind with the knowledge that our family is irrevocably broken and changed.

So, most days I try to ignore it. I tell myself that it’s ok. That we’re okay. That this is the truth and real. No longer can we hide behind our mask of what we thought a family was supposed to be. My mantras work most days. I get through the day. I feel positive about the future. I can approach it from the adult side of my mind.

But some days it doesn’t work. I find myself lost in the emotion pooled right beneath the surface.  Someday’s these pockets of emotions bring me to my knees.  Today was one of those days. Turns out living in the truth can be painful. Not to be melodramatic or anything. LOL.

I spent most of the day unpacking the kitchen. I came across a lot of dishes that have memories. A piece of the silverware from my parents wedding. The dishes my mom loved to put out at Christmas. A pan we’ve had since I was a kid. As I unpacked I could feel myself getting angry.

I was irritated that I was the one that had to do it. It should be my mom. She should be here doing it, but this isn’t her house. I don’t know if she’ll even come here. This made me sad. Trying to avoid these emotions I got really scattered and unable to focus.

Tonight I talked to my mom for a bit and just started crying. I don’t want this to be happening. I’m dreading the holidays. My mom is going to be with her family in Indiana. My brother is doing his own thing with his family. My dad will be going with his friends. I don’t know where to go because I want to be in three places at once. I want us to be together. But I can’t make that happen.

Last thanksgiving was great. We had a bunch of people over. We ate lots of yummy food and played a ton of board games. It was a good day. Lots of laughter. It was easy. It was fun. I wish I had known it was the last one. I would go back and take more mental snapshots of the small moments. I’d relish the fact that we were all together. Now we’re just awkward, distant and unconnected.

Now that I’ve had a cry I can put it back away for a bit. I can move on and get back to unpacking the kitchen. I will again tell myself that we’re okay. That this is the truth and that we will move on.

Processing Life

These past few weeks have been difficult.

I’m interviewing for two different jobs. My dad is moving to a new house, so I’ve been helping him pack. I’ve also been traveling 4 hours back and forth from OH to IN to be with my aunt during chemo. Not to mention watching my nephews thrown in along with prepping for a big craft fair this Saturday both by making chocolate for my dad and jewelry for my mom. Oh and my dad had knee surgery today, so I sat at the hospital all day.

I’m exhausted. Emotionally drained. Physically tired. Soul weary.

The weather is turning cold. The skies are grey. The trees are naked and I feel like it all matches my mood right now. I’m on edge. Little things are bugging the crap out of me.

I’m not hopeless. I’m not freaking out about anything. Life is just stressful right now. I also realize that some of this is part of the aftermath of my parent’s divorce. As the oldest child I am now called on to stand in the gap, a lot. There are needs to be met. There are things that need to be done.

I’m also realizing how much of a team married couples are. When one of those people is removed from the equation there is a giant hole. With the move my mom would have packed, organized and transferred all services. My dad is responsible for finding the heavy lifters and getting it all moved. My dad didn’t stop to think about the things my mom usually does. This is just one example of many. As I step in to help I am hit with a wall of sadness and grief. There is a pain in realizing they are no longer a unit.

I could say no. I could walk away. I could draw harsh boundaries but I want to help. I want to encourage. I want to be involved. I just haven’t figured out how to do that and still take care of me yet.

I realize I need more me time. I know I need to find space to rest emotionally and spiritually. It’s just hard right now. I’m shuttling back and forth between my mom’s house and my dad’s house. I’m hoping that if I get the job I want it will buy me some space.

I especially feel responsible because my brother has removed himself completely. That is how he is choosing to cope. To me that is unacceptable. I can’t do that. Perhaps that is because I’m the firstborn and we naturally assume these roles. We naturally feel obligated. We are used to taking the reigns.

So it’s a whole bag of emotions. I need to get them out. I need to release them. Crying is part of it, but I also need to be creative. I think that’s why I’m so irritated right now. I haven’t had the time I want to focus on this show. I have had zero time to take photos. I haven’t been to a museum in a while. There have been no festivals to enjoy. I am also on people overload. As an introvert I need time alone. I have no space to be by myself. I have no space to call my own. I miss all my stuff that has been in boxes for almost two years.

So there’s a lot going on. It’s not life or death and I feel like I should insert some positive thing right here, but I can’t. It would be insincere. It’s not that I don’t feel positive. I can see lots of evidence of God moving in our lives. I feel settled into my skin more now than I ever have before.

It’s just hard right now. I’m jonesing for a trip to CA. I need to be with my peeps. I’m hoping it will work out that I can go for my 35th birthday. We’ll see.

The Power of Story

Who doesn’t love a good story? The love, the fight, the drama, the comedy. It’s why we go to the movies. It’s why we read book. It is what transports us to another time and place. We are inspired, horrified, scared, captivated and engaged.

All the while we are writing our own story, full of the same emotions, plot points and events. Yet there are so many elements of our lives we keep hidden. We’re afraid we’re the only ones. We’re worried about being judged. We’re ashamed of what happened to us or what we’ve done.

Yet my old pastor always said, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” It makes a world of difference as soon as we begin to give voice to what is happening to us, what we’ve been through and how we are feeling. It empties out brain space. It frees up our heart to move on, so we don’t get stuck in the mire of our circumstance.

This is in part why I chose to blog. Some write stories. Some sing songs. Others write poetry, paint or play an instrument. Anything is better than being silent. Anything is better that being alone. Anything is better than quiet surrender. We have to fight for ourselves. We have to shout, in a way that is healthy, so we can be set free.

My friend Jenn is choosing to give voice to her story of breast cancer. At 34 she is facing a stage three diagnosis, a mastectomy, chemo, losing her hair and fighting for her life all within about a week. To reach out for support and keep those who love her updated on her progress she is blogging through it. I am amazed at her strength, resilience, faith and the joy in her journey so far. I know there isn’t much I can do but pray and her blog helps me do that more specifically.

We are also part of a bigger story that God is telling through us. All of our stories overlap and interact with others. We are not alone. We are part of a huge family. In that there is comfort, encouragement and faith. In the midst of pain it is easy to burrow inward. It is easy to become destructive or self-sabotage. But having the courage to speak out means that we can be held accountable, someone can give reason to our voices of insanity. Or in some cases someone to just give us a hug and tell us to hang on.

I think my friend Erika is right in that we are all a beacon of hope for someone who isn’t as far in their story as we are. We get to lead the way for someone, if we let ourselves speak of what God has done, how he has provided, how he has healed, how he has disciplined and even through how we suffered.

It’s easy for me to forget these things. I want to shut down. I want to block out. I have done that a bit over the last few months. The pain of my parent’s divorce was just too fresh. The death of our family unit was overwhelming. I was fighting out of wallowing in it. I was trying to help my parents. I was trying to be there for my brother. I didn’t know how to be there for myself. I just slipped into survival mode.

I am so grateful for those friends that have kept me sane. I am so blessed with their love, joy, distractions, prayers, encouragement and support. They have made this time of pain tolerable. There have been moments when I didn’t want to talk to God. I was angry at him, yet I knew that I was getting his voice through them. They kept speaking truth. They kept speaking love.

As I come out of the shock and denial of what is happening I can finally begin to give voice to everything. I am starting to process out what it all means to me. I learning how to have a different kind of relationship with my parents and my brother.

It’s all a process.

Un-anniversary

Today would have been my parent’s 35th wedding anniversary.

I suppose it still is, but they’re on the verge of a divorce. It’s odd when your parents separate when you’re an adult. I mean you have your own life. My brother even has his own family.

Although, in some ways you do feel like you’re a kid again. Your parents’ marriage is a part of the foundation of your life. How they feel about each other means something to your own wellbeing for better or worse. How they relate, love, interact and take care of each other plays a big part in every relationship you’ll have, which is probably why everyone needs therapy.

This has been going on since February, so we’ve been living it for a while. I do feel divided. I have to learn new boundaries. I have to divide my time. Holidays are strange. I am bouncing back in forth between their two houses because I want them both to be okay. I know it isn’t my job or responsibility to do that but I’m a caretaker. But I’ve learned that I can’t be their confidant. I can’t listen to the negative about either of them. I didn’t get to choose my parents I just have to learn how to love them. They got to choose each other and can’t seem to figure out how to do it either.

So it’s a sad day as a child, an adult and a bystander. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel. I knew there were problems but I really thought they’d work them out. We were used to the dysfunction. We were accustomed to how things were. I never thought they’d give up. I’m disappointed. I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m confused.

I wonder where we’ll go from here as a family. My mom now lives 30 minutes away. My brother isolates himself. I feel like I’m in the middle. My dad is just silent. Maybe we’re finally showing on the outside how we’ve been living for the last 20 years. Reality is hard to face.

I have to believe there is redemption of somesort. I want to believe that our family will in some way be better or all of this. I suppose that is up to us as individuals. At the end of the day its their marriage. It is their lives. We all have to move forward. We all have to mourn in our own way. I just hope at the end of the day we find a new way to overlap our lives and don’t all slide in different directions.