Tuesday, January 31, 2017

the advantage of a moment: planting flowers for the new year

It's early morning (okay, it's just morning), and my baby is asleep upstairs. She probably heard me type that. When she wakes, I will run, and we will snuggle, and I will forget all about writing for awhile. You may have guessed, this happens a lot. It's a new kind of life, and I am smitten with it.

The birth of our child has brought a sort of rebirth to our family, as well. In our hearts and handholds, we have changed somewhat. A baby will do that to the ones who love her. The world could be crumbling outside, but one look at her causes everything to be still. Uncertainties solidify. She shifts priorities in an instant, and calms the center.

As in any birth story, there's pain, trial, triumph, determination, and strength. The renewing of our family, and my personal, outlook is no different. We hold tight to the ones who love us, we let go the ones who refuse.

Recently, a dear friend of mine let me know that she doesn't like me, and hasn't for some years. I've gone from being someone I thought she loved, to someone she refers to as "that woman." She won't even meet my baby, unless I agree to leave the room first (if you're guessing, no, she hasn't met our baby yet). There was a facade of love and like for a great while, one I believed wholeheartedly. I suppose, though, pretending only lasts so long, and eventually, we have to be true to ourselves -- she had to be true to herself, too, and let me know.

I remember my mom telling me once, many years ago, how she'd rather be kicked in the shins than have people talk about her behind her back, and I can say now, I agree with the sentiment. Like me or don't, but don't pretend to.

So why am I starting the year this way? Why bring this up at the beginning? I can assure you, I'd rather not. Besides, this story makes me look like a total asshole. Someone dislikes me enough to reject a baby. It's possible I am as horrid as she has been telling people I am. Why in the hell would I write about this? Because, life has a way of blocking us from the page unless we agree to write about the hard stuff. For all my attempts at writing about something else, I couldn't, haven't been able to. So here we are.

One moment, one word, one choice; ad nauseum. Time and life spend themselves like small change; the ticking clock and the tally are always running, on our relationships, on our finances, on our visions. These moments, these small bits of ourselves that make up who we are and how we are in relation to one another, they are like nickels and dimes in a wallet. They fill up like jars on a shelf. We are, after all, a collection of everything we've been.

If we can nickel and dime our way into debt, surely we can nickel and dime our way out of it. This concept has struck me anew as I've processed the loss of, what was to me, one of my favorite friendships. All without knowing, my friend has been hurt or has chosen to believe I want to hurt her. Instead of checking in with me, talking to me about it, or believing I have good to offer, she kept it to herself until she couldn't anymore. Over time, these bits of myself have accumulated for her into something very big. It's the tiny-heavy-gathered stuff that makes or breaks us, anyway. If we, by small acts of insensitivity, have squandered something, it is going to take small acts over time to repair that same thing. If something can be ruined, certainly, that same thing can be fixed, or made new with effort and perseverance. Little by little, good can be added.
Right?

Maybe. When it comes to those who will not forgive you, small change in this case looks like self respect, like self assessment, like moving on. It's 2017, a new year, and this time, I choose to listen. I understand there are people who don't like me, and I won't be forcing anything. Former versions of myself would have spent countless hours of energy worrying those relationships into a fix, even if it meant the abandonment of self. But the present version of me just doesn't have it in her. She's full and happy, and will invest her heart only where it will be allowed to grow. I'll pay attention to those people who say it can't or won't, only so far as it allows me to do the opposite.

And besides, look at this girl I'm snuggling. She's the reason I stay up at weird hours, have foregone previously unmovable boundary lines of self, type one-handed. This year is one for enjoying the village; and the village around this girl and I, well, it's full and beautiful. If you are looking for us, that's where we'll be.

photography: www.thelabourunion.com




Saturday, December 31, 2016

Cadence

The year has reached its culmination point. The rhythm has been set, and it's a pace we automatically found comfort in. Our baby girl arrived under late November's wire; bringing with her a flood of love and joy. We are one month and some days into her beautiful little life, and she's as perfect today as she was when she was born, as she was when she was in my belly. I recognized her right away. They put her up on my chest and she swiftly kicked a little leg out and I thought, "I know that leg."  Our first glimpse of her confirmed our suspicions: there she is, the girl we both felt was in there (though we hadn't known for sure, we certainly suspected). Watching my husband love our daughter, calm her cries, soak in her presence, has solved me, as she has solved me. It was automatic; we don't know how to be without her.

This year and our baby girl's arrival have proved the village. We have eaten, slept, rested, and felt love because of the people around us. My parents love our girl as if she had always been here, as if they have know her forever; they love her without question and it moves me every time. My sisters, from go, have been my number one supporters on this journey of motherhood. They answer late night texts, and tell me their stories, and hold my baby as if she were their own. Our friends have become family, as we lean on their support, and the bringing of meals, and the messages of encouragement and connection. In short, we are blessed. What a wonderful gift to end a year on. 

I'm writing this post in a way I never have: on my phone. I have our sleeping babe on my chest, the cousins are playing around me, and our friends are downstairs, caring for us. I am exactly where I want to be, and my life is surrounded by good. Happy Year, thank you for what you brought to us. Through the hardships we came stronger, through our grief we came out healed, through confusion you brought clarity. And here, in my arms, there's this girl. Thank you Lord for this girl. 

(I will share a photo once I get myself onto a computer)

xo
a.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

any day now (tumbles)

photography by
The Labour Union
www.thelabourunion.com

Any day now, you will be here.

Those little feet and my ribs will greet each other on opposite sides; though I can tell you, my ribs will miss the nearness of your toes.

Tumbles, you have taken space and we are already so proud of how you've grown. How much more will we love to know you, once you're here?

You'll get to meet your Daddy, know love like only he can show. You're luckier for having him than you'll ever know. We're all better for being near him, and you are his; a high honor, all yours.

You have brought our hearts so much, and we haven't even met you yet. We have guessed, of course: whose eyes, whose feet, whose hands like our hands will we meet? Whose heart has been carving a rhythm, and in whose chest? Any day now, you will be in our arms and not just our imaginations, and we will live to learn the rest of you.

Any day now, you will be here. And oh, we are so ready.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Enough, now.

I made a mistake. When I miscarried last year, I didn't take care of myself. I was okay too soon, because I viewed myself as someone who needed to be okay. I viewed my tasks as those which needed to be done by someone who was okay. I did not care for me, because I told myself I didn't need to, so reliant was my self-worth on being...okay. My family and friends asked and I was okay, because I believe it is better to be okay than to be a burden. I became so good at convincing everyone I was okay, that I even convinced myself. I didn't talk about the loss, didn't grieve it properly (or without guilt for that grieving), didn't expect anything from myself other than my ability to be okay. Denial became my lifeblood. I did not take time off work. I worked with coworkers who, with full knowledge of the details, spread rumors I had made it up, that I hadn't really been pregnant; coworkers who complained to the higher-ups that my commitment to work had really lapsed lately, and I should be held to a higher standard. So when I was called in and told of the many complaints, I apologized. I stopped escaping to sleep and cry, and within weeks of the loss, was back in full swing, and I didn't look back. There was no room for my grief, even in the rare moments I took note of it. And on the story goes.

I made a mistake. I didn't take care of myself, and in so doing, collapsed. It would be a good story if I could tell you that I fell apart in private; that my inevitable mental health breakdown was one which happened and was felt by only me, or even involved only me. But so deep had my denial grown, and so had my grip on reality. This is what happens when you do not take care of yourself; real life becomes illusion, and illusion, real life. But I didn't know that, couldn't tell the difference. I woke up one morning, and I, or who I had become, swung. One large bat-crack on the legs of someone I love the most, someone who deserves it least, and in public.  I spun paranoid delusions as fact, and people believed me. Because I am okay. They took my word for it, because I am okay. But I had lost touch, in every way, with Truth. 

I still remember the sound of that cracking bat, still remember the exact feeling of the air as it rushed past my hand as I swung. I still remember the sound of the world breaking. I was not okay, I was not okay, and I didn't know what I was doing. But I broke it. I broke my world.

I call myself the afterthought composer, and as often happens, I find it difficult to write until things are gone, or resolved, or settled, so I can reflect on them. So I can find the lesson and move on. But the effects of how I started this year have written most of the story, and quite frankly, time is up. I made a mistake, and I know now, it's time to move on.

If you want to know someone's truest heart for you, let them see you at your weakest, then wait. My public mental health breakdown immediately transformed my life into a giant sieve, of sorts. Within minutes, hours, over days, and as the months have gone, there are those who have showed themselves as passing sand, and those who show themselves steady; rocks; unmoving, in my corner. I have lost a lot this year, but oh, have I gained the truth of those hearts who've stayed around me. I woke up that morning and I broke, and by nightfall, was entirely shattered. It took a lot of ruin to see where I really was, and when I saw, oh God, it was so dark. The only reason I am still on this planet is because of my husband, who held me to the earth with what little thread I had left. He clung to me, and it is because of his love that I did not slip through my own fingers. If I pray one thing for you, it's that you know a love like this.

As I look into this basket of my life, I am surprised. People I was certain would still be here, aren't. They looked at me at rock bottom, and they kept me there. If you asked them even now, you would hear it; I am the worst version of myself. They've used my lowest moment to justify their leaving, they show it to others when they can. They have no remorse for joining those who spend their breath on sabotage (after all, my weakness proved their lengthy, buried point). But, there is good here, too. Because this basket of my life is still full. Full of rocks, boulders, loving hearts and good, good people.

When I felt like I needed to leave the earth, it's because I assumed my actions had emptied the basket. And they should have. If you ask me, I'll still tell you, I don't get it. I don't understand how, in the aftermath of such a terrible display, I still have people who love me. I still have people who hold me up, see me for my bests, know there is still good in me, and point it out when I can't see it. There are still people who fight for me, invite me, stand up for me, defend me. How easy is it to notice the few who are bent on destroying, and fail to see the many who are standing in defense? How easy is it, to live afraid of what those soul crushing people will say? Too easy, but it's enough, now. I am so thankful for my village, for the shape it's taking, and for those who choose to be in it. That is putting it far too simply.

It's time to move on to better things, to let go, to shake the dust. There is so much good in the world, and I am choosing to see it, to live it, to breath it in and run full tilt into the wind of this beautiful life.  And this life is about to get a lot more beautiful. Coming soon, the most wonderful announcement my husband and I could possibly make.

Do not worry about the sand, it adds not a minute to your life. There is good here; time to accept it.




Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Eden, pt 2

(part one)

The World was all before them, where to choose
Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:
They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,
Through Eden took thir solitarie way.
Paradise Lost, Book 12, 646-649


               ~~~~~~~~~~
 
Rooney Mara in Vogue; by Mert and Marcus
All the world is before us, and it is too big to face alone. Our wandering is slow; our attempts to rail against the slowness rush us heartily into vast decision, and the search for meaning. We walk hand in hand, like Milton’s fallen, but this togetherness is a cruel joke; hands must part to do the work. At the base of our very humanity, we are alone. Solitude is a natural state; enforced on a will we’ve been told is free.

The truth is, we have not moved on from the struggle of Adam. We are all standing at the edge of the world, looking for a place to rest. Though, we know by now, rest is elusive. The act of completion isn’t ours to make. Our exile from the garden was the loss of peace, so our search for resolution is never finished. There is no rest for the wicked, and, as the story goes, we are wicked. Eve and I have a lot in common, after all, and the fruit of the justified upper hand appeals to me (and has lost me), too.

There’s an irony in the story of their exile, though. Adam and Eve walked out, under the eye of Providence. Imperfection demanded separation, but God could not bear it. He told them to get out, and followed them anyway. This new creation, so newly disappointing, was not ended, but rather, sent out to flourish. They were tasked by their seed with the salvation of humanity, though they themselves had doomed it. God left them in charge of the world when they could not handle Eden.
 

Though Providence may guide us, Providence eludes us, too. He is always moving on, and so we must move on. From our losses, from our deaths, from the peace that comes with entitlement; we don't get to rest. We must move on.

To what? 

 
To work, which is the burden of our life. To life and loneliness with others. Even held hands must part, to do the work of trying.

All the world is before us. It is too big to face alone, and yet in one instant: we are and are not.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sunday's coming.

Sunday's coming; Anticipation's rest.
Sunday: wherein the very bests will be upon us,
cause our heart's rust to be made new.

I used to imagine the storm was calmed with ease;
what a smooth surface, what a nice picture. Then a whisper came.
There is no surface healing; all healing is soul deep.
Jesus doesn't hand out band-aids, does he?
That body of water was not merely made straight so he could walk,
no: from the storm which caused its thrashing, it was freed.
The water was calmed

not just on the surface, but in the deep.
In that light I thought of my life as that very same sea; how in my feeble
boat where from I cast my desperate attempts, through wind and waves,
I beg the Lord to come here, calm me, walk through my life
as though my life were sea, and storms are raging.

Sunday's coming,
and in bliss, like sun after sleep, we'll know:
past surface, down into the deep, He's healed us.





Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday's here.


Friday's here.

This day, so familiar by now. Death in waiting, darkness as the days gone by.
There have been smatterings of light here, and there;
and now, on yet another Friday, we wait for something more.
For true solace, fulfilled hope we've oft' been called to want before.
Anticipation yanks us from our homes, draws our eyes upward, and out,
to horizons
along our spinning bit of earth, to sun-rises
and sunsets
and belief in the end of our Fridays.

Can we dare to face this dying? What loss have we felt, what marring?
Which ache leads us, holds us to the ground? This fear, which stands us up
and sits us down, is merely
Friday.

Tombs do close on Friday;
and blood drips upon the ground;
and sweat, from holy and, alike, unholy brows,
does salt our faces
parch our mouths,
and we, unquenchable, thirst.

Because it is only Friday.