Sunday, June 12, 2016

Living in the In-Between

By the time most of us are fairly young I think we've realized that we crave belonging.  We belong in our mother's arms.  We belong in our family.  We belong with our siblings.  We belong in our church.  We belong in many places, and it helps us to find security and meaning when things are all too often muddled.

When we marry, we finally breathe a sigh of deep relief that we have found a permanent place of belonging.  An avowed home for our hearts.  A place where we can be weak and broken and scared and happy and on and on and on and on.

But what happens when that belonging is ripped from our grasping hands?  What happens when the person with whom you believed you would always belong becomes worse than a stranger?  When he becomes the opposite of a safe place?  Where do you rest your head?  Who do you confide in?  Who will stick with you through all of the trauma and ugliness and messiness and grief?

Suddenly you find yourself living in the in-between.

Let me define the in-between for you.

You aren't a part of a couple anymore, but you don't really fit in with your single friends either.

You aren't really a "true" single parent- you sometimes have help- but you aren't really part of a team anymore either.

You aren't really able to get out with friends anymore, but you're dying from loneliness and isolation and space.  Just space all around you.

You're never alone, but you're always alone.

You just don't fit anywhere you used to so neatly fit before.

Square peg, suddenly trying to jam herself into a round whole.

I'd like you to take a minute here, and I'd like you to imagine what life would feel like if one morning you woke up in your normal state of belonging, and went to bed that same night suddenly adrift and unsure that you belong anywhere anymore.  You don't know who you can confide in because, dear God it's all so heavy.  People want to listen at first, and you dump it all out like the niagra falls of emotional trauma and confusion.  Then they start to erode.

You're still their friend, and you know they still love you, but you're too much.  You are the in-between.  You're the bad dream.  Your life encompasses the fear shoved roughly into the tiniest mental drawer and locked away.  You are a constant, heavy reminder of what could be.  At first there are calls and texts and friends showing up to ease the burden of newly-single-parenthood as you fall quickly and mercilessly apart.  You know these sweet friends simply can't suddenly become that all-important heart where you used to belong, but you try desperately to find some semblance of what you had because
But you're also too much.  You know you are too much as the hurt spills out of you day in and day out, and you see the burden on the faces of the people you love, and that love you.  You see the weight you've become.  You used to be the lifter of weights.  You used to be the funny, vibrant, shining fun.  And soon even your heart feels like it's stuck squarely in the in-between.  In between the first stabs of trauma, in between the sweet release of healing.  You're the bouncing back and forth bringer of melancholy, and you know it.  And you try to let that fall off of you and be happy again like everyone hopes for you, but you can't sustain the effort.  Not yet.

Oh, God.  It is the loneliest place I've ever drifted through.  I feel like I am who I was, but not.  I am a new woman, but not.  I am strong, but not.

I'm contradiction given face and breath and life.

I don't pray that God would take me up out of this place.  I know He won't answer me the way I would like Him to because there's a lot of shaping that still has to happen in my heart.  This is a defining life event, and I know it.  Someday it will give birth to something healing and powerful and full of the love of God.  But I pray that he brings me someone to stand in the gap of this miserable desert I'm calling the in-between.  Not to take away what I'm going through.  Not to make it all better, because it's simply not time yet for the better to come.  There's rebirth happening here, and birth is a long and painful process.  It pushes you until you think you cannot take another breath, and that maybe you will die here.  But when you finally come out of the other side, having given breath to new and pure and beautiful life, you know that all the pain just made it that much more precious.  So I'm not asking Him to skip me through these hard chapters, even though there are days when I'd really really like Him to.

For now, I'd just like someone to stand next to me in this no-mans-land and hold my hand.  Even when it feels heavy and burdensome and unrewarding.  I know it's a lot to ask.  I'm rough right now.  Sharp.  Full of spiny edges and heavy words.  But this is just the in-between.  I am just an in-between.  It's a brutal and confusing and sometimes beautiful place to be.  It's just a difficult place to stand in, especially if you're don't really have to.

I don't really know what God is trying to teach me right now.  How He is shaping my heart and bringing rebirth.  I know He is, and I know it will be worth it in the end.  But I do pray that it gets a little less lonely here soon.  Because if I've learned one thing about myself in all of this, it's that I crave a safe place to puddle into weakness on occasion.  A place where I belong enough to welcome that kind of melting.

I hope it's out there.  I hope I find myself in a place where God is that melting place and that it is enough for me.  But again, right now I'm in neither.

Another in-between.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Battle Between Head and Heart

Sometimes I feel utterly divided.  The chasm between my head and my heart can be so overwhelmingly wide.

I'm maybe a month away from being divorced.  There's so much that goes along with that.  My heart feels shame when those words leave my mouth.
It feels like fire on my tongue, and my heart breaks a little more every time I utter it.  Shame.  Anger.  Fear.  Deep and unyielding betrayal.  Grief.  Shattered trust.  I feel all of these things constantly, and often together.  It's completely exhausting and overwhelming.  Oh heart, you are damaged, but still beating.  Oh self, his darkened heart doesn't reflect on your own.  His sins are his own.  His adultery doesn't reflect your worth as a woman, a wife, a mother, a child of God.  Simply his own weaknesses and sin.  Dear heart, that shame is not yours.  You did not leave.  You did not give up.  You were not unfaithful.  You were not perfect, but you never deserved this.

My heart feels shame, but my head feels hope.

I know that sounds bizarre.

Here's the thing.  I loved my husband.  Deeply.  I hope he loved me at one point.  I'm not sure anymore.  But I am sure I loved him.  My head tells me that hoping he ever really loved me isn't enough.

"released" My head tells me.

Released from a man who probably never actually saw me.  Never saw my heart.  Never invited me to love that was strong and provided any kind of rest.  Released from love that was selfish and self seeking and self serving.  Head tells heart that it was good to love that man.  But that it's ok to feel release.  That I tried.  That I can't make him loving or strong or good.  That heart has a chance to feel something so much purer and more beautiful than love that is unsure and afraid of being despised and abandoned and ashamed.

My head and my heart aren't quite on the same page yet.  My head, that bastion of good sense and logic… head wants to let go of him.  Let go.  Let go.  Let go.  The constant mantra in my sensible head tries to get heart to do what it isn't ready to do.

Let him go.  Let it fall to the ground.  Let him walk away.  Do not give him any more tears.  Let go.  He is gone, and so is the life you prayed for when you stood facing him and said your vows.  He did not mean them.  Let go.  You deserve a man that means them.  All of them.  Even the unpleasant and hard ones.  Even the ones that require a silent death to self.  Let him go.  He's hurting you.  He's gone.

Oh, stubborn and faithful heart.  Broken and angry and grieving heart.  Heart that cannot and will not let go of that last fragmented splinter of hope.  The last splinter embedded deep within that causes ceaseless pain, but that is the last piece of what should have been.  My head doesn't understand my heart.  My head says that it would never take him back.  That trust has been shattered so completely that it would be impossible to put back together.  My head says that it knows that this treatment is so awful that nothing should entice me to reconsider him.  But heart.  Heart made vows.  Heart values family and  relationship above all else.  Heart still holds onto the maybe.  Even though it's harmful.  Even though it drives the splinter deeper.

"Let go" everyone says.

My heart can only answer "I want to, but I don't know how yet."

I wish I could somehow lay ahold of even a fraction of the ability my soon to be ex husband has to let me go completely.

And yet I don't.  Because letting go of a love that you promised to protect until your last dying breath feels like an unforgivable weakness.  And I may be a lot of things, but weak is not one of them.  My love is not weak.  My heart is not weak.  Maybe stubborn and imperfect and broken and grief-stricken. But never weak.

So I'll just keep letting my logical head keep encouraging my stubborn heart to let him go.  Because both my head and my heart know this truth-

God has better than this ahead.  Better than the hateful abandonment of vows and hearts and love.  Better than the fickleness and selfishness of this "love."  And as much as I'm ready to embrace the truth that God has better, I can't despise my heart for (however imperfectly) holding onto the most important thing.  After all, that is strength I can't claim solely for my own.  My heart, it is what God made it.  Strong and constant and true.  And I know now more than ever that those are qualities that are of vital importance in this life.

So head and heart, someday that chasm will close.  Someday you won't be at odds.  But I propose that right now, here in this moment, it's totally ok if you are.