Broken Dreams

I am getting rid of my son’s baby stuff. I kept everything. When my son was a baby I was just sure that a wonderful man would come along, I would get remarried and have more babies. So I kept everything. Clothes, bedding , toys, furniture, accessories of all kinds. As he grew older, I just kept putting the old stuff in storage. My storage unit, which once had plenty of space, slowly filled up. Well my baby is seven now, there is still no man on the horizon and the thought of having another baby has become decidedly less appealing. So I am purging. Everything.

But as I worked in my storage unit. I looked at all the other things, that have been in there for the past 7 years. Tables and chairs, cake pans, special linens, art, all the things to make a house a home. And I thought, at what point do I give up on that dream too? At what point do I give up on ever being able to gather friends around my table that seats 8. At what point do I give up on having a kitchen I can bake cakes in? At what point do I give up on having space to display the things I love?

When I took a Divorce Care class, years ago, they told us to make a list of all the things we had to grieve the loss of. Not just the loss of your spouse, but the loss of the plans and dreams. The thing is, no one told me those losses would continue so far into the future. I have healed. Most of the time I don’t even think about it much. But lately I look around and I see that there is still so much fall out. There are the holes that I wrote about last year. But there is just the everyday drag, and the feeling that none of this should have been like this. It shouldn’t be this hard.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to go back. I wouldn’t trade the lessons I have learned and the person I have become for anything. But I just want something to be different. Something to make it a little easier. I want someone to wrap me in their arms and tell ME it is going to be all right. Tell me not to give up on my dreams. Tell me that someday I will be able to sit around my table with friends and celebrate that this chapter is over.

 

 


Alone

I have heard this sentiment so many times and in so many ways. I think it is wise and totally true and something everyone should learn. I thought this was a good version, and the painting is hauntingly beautiful.

10151416_675032745883776_2157172414783979823_nHowever, it makes me want to scream.

So much of this type of advice is presented as a formula: Learn how to be happy alone AND THEN you will find someone. When you don’t NEED someone anymore, THEN it will be the right time. When you stop looking THEN someone will come along. Well guess what? I am happy, I am not needy, and I have stopped looking multiple times…and NEWSFLASH: I am still single.

I have learned HOW to be happy alone. But it doesn’t mean I WANT to be alone. I WANT a companion. I want someone to go on adventures with, to share the wonder, someone to be the second driver on awesome weekend trips, someone to talk to at the end of the day, someone to laugh with, someone to cry with, someone to be honest with, someone to do the dishes at the end of the day when I have nothing left.

In the past 7 years I have been in one relationship and gone on 4 first dates, and exactly zero second dates. From each one I have learned something new about myself, or about what I want. Being divorced makes you realize idea of “The One” is ridiculous. I believe there are multiple people out there with whom I could have a happy successful marriage. And with each of those people life would probably look very different. I am not picky, but there are certain qualities that have to be there. I know what I want, and maybe that is the trouble. I don’t see the point in “dating” for fun when I don’t see it going anywhere. As a single mom my time is precious.

Somewhere near the top of the hard and awkward list is being a divorced, single mom and tying to date. The number one issue is time, how do I carve out time for myself? And when I can, do I really want to spend it awkwardly talking to someone I don’t know over coffee? But wait, I have to meet someone first. How am I supposed to meet people? And where? And with whom? My friends are mostly married with kids, so they don’t go out anymore. I don’t really have many single friends, because, you know, I have a kid. And on the rare occasion that I do go out I want to have fun, not spend my time figuring out how to meet people. And on top of all that I am just naturally awkward and probably would have no idea how to respond if someone was actually interested in me…much less know how to show that I was interested.

Everyone tells me I should do online dating. But I just can’t bring myself to do that. There is too much personal history relating to my divorce to make meeting people online seem ok for me. Someday I might be able to work past that, but not today.

So where does that leave me? Alone. Happy, self sufficient, and not looking too hard…but very much alone.

Too Long

There is a saying that floats around on the Internet, I am sure you have seen it. It goes something like this: Depression is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of having been too strong, for too long. I used to think it was kind of stupid, because depression after all is a mental illness, a chemical imbalance.

I used to think it was stupid…until about a month ago when I started feeling like it was describing me. I am tired. Tired of always being strong. I can feel the depression creeping in, the apathy and despair and I can feel the hope draining out. And I try to fight. But fighting takes strength, and I am just so tired.

Having to be strong all the time takes its toll. Never having the luxury of falling apart, because there is no one to pick up the pieces. No one to pick up the slack. No one to hold you. No one to help you make the decision. Just you, all the time. It is too much for one person. We weren’t made for this.

I am guessing that most single people feel this way at some point or another. But I guarantee that ALL single moms (and dads) feel this way. Parenting wasn’t designed to be a one-person job. It is hard to constantly pour yourself out for someone, with out someone pouring into you.

There are two more quotes that were shared today by friends as I was thinking about this, and I thought they were rather fitting. The first one I thought was beautiful way of putting it.

“You don’t need another human being to make your life complete, but lets be honest. Having your wounds kissed by someone who doesn’t see them as disasters in your soul, but cracks to put their love into is the most calming thing in this world.” – Emery Allen

The second more in depth

“To be loved but not know is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully know and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” – Timothy Keller

I am tired of being strong alone. I need some kisses on my wounds, I need to be known, I need to be liberated, I need to be humbled, I need to be fortified.

Resolutions

I am not a big fan of New Years Resolutions. Probably because I hate introspection. It is hard to think about what you should do, when you don’t want to think about where you are.

Twenty-thirteen was an interesting year. Full of high hopes and deep disappointments. The best of friends and hollow loneliness. The end of one chapter, but no start to a new one.

I find it hard to resolve to do anything except keep on living and taking life as it comes. The things I want the most aren’t things I can resolve to do. They are things that I have to let come to me. Things I can do nothing to make happen.

I am tempted to resolve to give up hope, so that I will stop being disappointed. But what is life without hope? So I guess I will just resolve to keep doing the next thing and keep hoping.

Sameness

I write when there is something I need to get out. A thought, or an idea that just can’t be kept in, that has to be shared. Something that is real. Something that might help someone else. Not because I have all the answers, but because knowing you are not alone is half the battle.

I have had multiple thoughts and ideas lately, but when I start to think them through, I realize I have already written about them, and I have nothing new to say about them. This seems to be the story of my life right now. Sameness.

I had big plans for this year. I was going to graduate, find the perfect job as an OB nurse, save a little money, and move into a place of my own.  You know with a real kitchen, separate bedrooms, and (dare I dream) a bathtub. I was going to get my things out of storage and decorate for Christmas with ALL my decorations. Then I was going to have all my friends over for a dinner party for my 30th birthday. It was going to be wonderful.

But, as they say, life is what happens when you are busy making plans. I graduated. (YAY!) I got a job as a caregiver for my grandma. And I am still live in my tiny “studio” apartment. I can almost taste the disappointment. I can feel the walls closing in. The apathy of depression seeping in around the edges.

Change can be difficult. Sameness, when you are expecting change may be even more difficult. I am finding it hard to be grateful. I know in my head that I am so blessed with what I have. But in my heart I just want to be somewhere else.

Thanksgiving came and went, and I tried to make my November thankful posts on Facebook. But I only made a few. I know I have lists and lists of things to be thankful for, but I just couldn’t make many heartfelt spontaneous declarations of thankfulness. Now Christmas is upon us, my favorite time of the year, and I am just not feeling joyful. Yes I am aware that joy is a choice, but sometimes feeling it is good too.

My pastor taught on generosity last week, (If you think you have heard every sermon on giving that you ever need to hear, you haven’t.  Listen here. 12/1) and he drove home the point that even the poorest of us here are SO rich. Point taken. Then we started this Advent for Orphans calendar, where you put specified amounts of change in a jar for things such as: # of bibles or games you own, # of eggs in the fridge or cans of food in he pantry, or # of carpeted rooms in your house. I may only have one room, but it is carpeted, and heated. Has lights and running water, hot water even.

Nothing like perspective to make you feel like a ridiculously selfish spoiled brat. Perspective may not immediately change how I FEEL, but changing how I THINK is a start.  I may still want something different, but I can also be content with what I have.

In the midst of all the disappointing sameness I need to remember that there is a comforting sameness. The same God who has gotten me through the last 7 years, is the same God who is going to get me through the next 7 years. I have believed steadfastly that he has a plan for me, that he has the perfect job waiting, that he brings good things to those who wait. He stays the same, even when he doesn’t do things in MY timing. He stays the same.

Words

“When words are written down they can be the finest expression of the human soul. Once words are marked down on paper, they cannot be taken back, they are in the world for good or for ill. They wither or they endure. Words can be dangerous things. They might find expression when we least expect it. Or they can desert us altogether”” – From Larkrise to Candleford

I wrote this quote down while watching TV because I thought it was so true, and I wanted to share it here. That was months ago. Apparently my words deserted me. I went from twice a month blog posts, to once a month, to now 4 months of silence. I don’t like being silent. But there are times when I don’t want to know what I think.

Words aren’t only an expression of my soul; they are the way I find my soul. In sitting down to write, I figure out what I really think and feel in ways I never do otherwise. Writing is as much self-discovery for me as it is self-expression. And sometimes it is just easier to just not discover.

Where to begin? The last 4 months have been a whirlwind. I graduated from nursing school, my son graduated from kindergarten, we went to the mountains, my grandma fell and broke her hip, I took a board review class, I took and passed RN boards (woohoo!), one of my dear friends got married, I had jury duty, we got two puppies, my ex-husband moved to North Carolina, we moved my grandma home on Hospice, and my son and I went to Legoland. And those are just the highlights from glancing over my calendar.

 

Within the next month, my son starts soccer, first grade (at a new school), and AWANA. Throughout all this I am caring for my grandma, looking for a job, organizing and boxing things in my home and in storage in preparation for moving. Tired yet? I am. The kind of tired where it is easier to pop on an episode of Downton Abby in the evening, than to face thinking about anything.

The uncertainty of my life right now is overwhelming. While nothing has changed, everything has changed…and everything is about to. I have been looking forward to this change, but so far it is not looking like anything I had planned. But isn’t that what they say? Life is what happens when we are busy making plans? So I am just trying to go with the flow. And breathe. In. And out. And not panic. And not hold on too tight. And not drowned in the overwhelming loneliness of it all.

See, there is that darn self-discovery sneaking in. I had not thought about loneliness, and certainly didn’t intend to write about it. But there it is. Marked down on paper, so it cannot be taken back.

When one reads the list of things I have been up to, loneliness would not be the first thing that would come to mind. But loneliness does not come from being alone, and it does not leave in the presence of busyness. It comes from not having someone to share your thoughts with at the end of a long day. It comes from having no one to help you figure out the logistics of getting your kid to practices and games and school events, and how in the world you are going to do all that once you get a job. It comes from boxing up baby clothes and not knowing if you will ever have the chance to use them again. It comes from lying in bed at night and wishing there was someone next to you, just for the comfort of it.

And this, my friends is why I have been silent. Because I just can’t face it.

Holes

“Time heals all wounds”…but time doesn’t fill the holes.

Driving down the road, suddenly I feel a tangible emptiness on my left ring finger. Where once there was something, emptiness, a hole. I have been acutely aware of holes lately.

Until lately I have been able to ignore the fact that something is missing in my life and my son’s life. Life has been good, and he has never known anything different. (of which I am grateful)  But as he gets older things have gotten harder. His behavior is out of control. I am at my wits end. And that is when I notice it. The gaping hole. The hole where a father should be. I have tried to tell myself all along, that we will be fine, that he will turn out just fine, that I can do this. And while all those things may be true, I am left to wonder how things would be if the hole was filled. I can say with certainty that things would be different. How? I don’t know. That is the thing about holes, you never know what could have been. You just know that it would have been different.

I have prayed for this hole to be filled from the day it was created. And yet it is still empty. And I have to stare down the disappointment. It is hard to keep praying for something through disappointment. It is hard to keep praying for other things, and people, when the disappointment of unanswered prayer is staring you in the face every. single. day.

Contentment. Something that I thought I had figured out. But then the disappointment swells up. Today in church we talked discontentment. How it is really a way of saying that God’s way is not good enough. We want God’s will, our way. But it doesn’t work that way. If we want God’s will, it has to be His way.

I want God’s will, more than anything. Because outside of it, life is just a purposeless mess. Not to say my life hasn’t seen its fair share of messes, but I can see his handwriting all over it, and I can see purpose growing from the pain. But it is hard to be patient when more seems to be falling into the holes. I know that he will fill them; He has given me assurances of that. But I feel like a ticking time bomb, that if they are not filled soon, it will all cave it. I have to want His will HIS way, not my way, because He understands why, and I don’t.

How do I go about keeping the disappointment at bay? I need to focus on the daily expressions of his love. The little things that happen all the time that show me his Love for me. I cannot and will not let those things be swallowed up in the holes.