Dating {Part II}

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Let's just call this Part II of my rambling series on dating, of which I know nothing about. Thanks for coming along!

Before I went on my a fore mentioned first ever first know the blind date of all types...I spent a lot of time rediscovering who I am. I thought I had me figured out but my vision came crashing down not once but twice. Where I thought my life was headed, what I dreamed to be my future, and my image of being a wife and raising my daughter were stripped from my core. 

Who was I when suddenly my last name was a remnant of a former life, when my in-laws were no longer legally such, and when my home was occupied by only me? What did I believe? What were my passions and my dreams? What was my reality? 

Suddenly, I had no idea who I was anymore. 

So, Year 28 became my year to rediscover who I am. To reconnect with friends, explore hobbies, to soul search, to refuel my spirit, to prove to myself that I could still stand, and to began to mend the pieces from the shattering of my world.

Before ever bringing someone in, I want to be certain of who I am. So, when "dating' went from being 'in the future' to 'Thursday night,' {after nearly having a panic attack}, I got out a piece of paper and a pen and wrote out my standards. Pillars of sorts that when pondering a future husband were nonnegotiable. They stem from who I have become and perhaps things that looking back just didn't work in my marriage. 

Maybe they are obvious but friends, this dating thing is seriously foreign to me so it made perfect sense to my Type A self to have a list to help guide my heart. They are things like ambition and dreams and a desire to raise and be surrounded by family. There are shared interest and shared core values. But of those, at very top is a shared passion for a shared faith.

When I was 16, we shared a fervor for Jesus but over the course of the 12 years, our beliefs in creation diverged. I never stopped believing but having different beliefs, I didn't pursue Jesus. I prayed and went to church on holidays or when visiting family but I had no church to call home and no community in which I was fostered. I never stopped believing, I simply stopped growing. I had become complacent with life as I knew it and quite content waking up on Sunday mornings with the only thing on the agenda being the sous-chef in the construction of breakfast.

When I began working in my current job, I quickly befriended the only nurse that was around my age. If I can be totally honest, sometimes I rolled my eyes at her passionate pursuit to live a Godly life. While I had become content, she was anything but. When my perfectly planned pregnancy began to be filled with hard choices and uncertainty, she began praying with all her heart. There were cards and notes left on my desk, in my work bag, and in my drawer. There were texts and emails with scripture, encouraging words, and reminders that she and her people were praying for me and my Addy daily. She sent me sermons, songs, and books that she thought might encourage me. When I returned to work after my leave of absence, she had a way of reading my mood as I walked through the door, could anticipate triggers before I had to face them, and has a memory that includes the date of every one of my milestones. And there were Reece's, lot and lots of Reece's. She exemplified the love of Jesus to me consistently for two of the most difficult years in my life. And never out of pride, never being overbearing. She simple lived what she so deeply believed.

She sent me the link to the song "Worn" but Tenth Avenue North and told me to listen when I was ready. I filed it under 'someday' and then forgot about it until I was driving to work one day. It was October and I was consumed with how I was going to overcome the grief of Addy's passing and the devastating end of the marriage. How was I going to pick up the pieces, how was I going to mend my heart, how was I ever going to feel whole? As I listened to the words of the song, I wept. Big, ugly tears streamed down my face. I will never forget that moment.

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn
I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I'm too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left
It was one of the two most defining moments of healing for me. Hearing the words brought this overwhelming sense of relief. I had long tried to understand how I was going to overcome all the hurt, sadness, grief, and devastation. In the course of that very song, relief came as I realized that healing was never going to be through me. So I cried out with all that I had left and asked Jesus to begin to heal me in ways that I couldn't heal myself. I cried for rest and a song risen from the ashes of my broken life. It was in that moment, that for the first time since Addy's passing in March, that knew that I was going to be okay. Someday I would be okay.

Since, I have been pursuing my relationship with our gracious God and there is peace within me that I didn't know could or perhaps would ever come. And though I still have hard days and days of hurt, sadness, or even some of anger, good has come. 

So at the very top of my 'future spouse non-negotiable standards' is a shared passion for a shared faith. A shared love and desire to pursue a God who redeems. 

Dating {Oh dear Jesus, save me now}

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Can we talk about something that makes me sweat, want to crawl under a table, and continuously need to pulse check? What could be that bad? If you guessed 'dating,' those party poppers are for you, so welcome aboard this adventure. Oh dear Jesus, save me now.

When it comes to dating, I am a fish way out of water. Not only did I never envision it to be a part of my world but I don't really count my first ever "first date" as such.  You see, it was my 16th birthday and he joined my ENTIRE family for dinner to celebrate. That was it.  Signed, sealed, and delivered, my heart was done for. He was it. But that thing called life happened. And that little 16 year old girl could never have prepared for how that story would end. But it did. And so here I am. Embarking on a new chapter.

I was recently sent on my first date...and a blind date at that.
And let me tell you, he was super nice and totally sweet but he knew nothing about me.
I left feeling overwhelmed by feelings that I didn't even know I had yet to deal with. Things like confusion for how to get to know the depth of someone and they of me, a fear of letting my guard down, and a surprising anger for the reality of being 'single' after once vowing forever. It wasn't anything he did or said, it simply is me coming to terms with where I am in my life.

I feel like there should have been a little warning flag waved  a giant billboard alerting him...

Aly comes with wounds. There is a segment of the city she avoids like the plague, she has a great fear of being hurt, a very tender heart, and a deceased child whom she will grief forever. Not just for another year or two but for forever

That is a lot. 
But I do want to share my life with someone.  And someday, I want to be able to hear someone call me momma.  That's my dream, just as it was at 16, and 23, and 27, and still at 29.

So I've secretly created a fairytale in my head. It's quiet simple. If I could click my ruby red slippers together, my future husband would appear and say, "I know your journey and someday, when you are ready to share, I would love to hear the depth of your heart. But for now, just know that I know and I embrace you."  I would fist pump bigger than any Jersey Shore party you ever did see. Ha. Who am I kidding? I would probably cry. I would cry like a baby at the thought of him already knowing my story and yet hearing him say he embraces all that I am. 

I know when the timing is right, it will be right because He hasn't failed me yet. 
Back to the here and now.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Answering some of my most random but commonly asked we go...

Did you change your last name?

This is the most popular question that I get asked and it just so happens to be one of my biggest internal battles when in the midst of my divorce. I struggled because at stake was the ultimate question of 'who am I?' It was perplexing and deeply loaded, the summation of ones identity. Sitting in a court room, facing a judge felt like an out of body experience. When she asked what my last name would be all I could hear was 'who am I now?' So, the simple answer to such a difficult question is no, I kept his last name. In some ways it was out of pure exhaustion. The thought of having to add more to my plate in the midst of all the other changes invading my world seemed like it could very well push me over the edge. And more so, his last name is my Addy's last name and in my cycle of grief, I wasn't ready to have that taken from me too. 


What is Addy's diagnosis?

I get asked this question quiet often too. When explaining that my child passed away, the question to follow is usually, "from what." And my standard answer is 'multiple fetal anomalies.' With the guidance of a very wonderful genetics counselor, we exhausted every avenue for answers down to an ongoing research study using blood from her umbilical cord as well as samples from him and I. And the results...nothing. I know her major anomalies (a right-sided diaphragmatic hernia and dysplastic kidneys) but the question of why or a diagnosis remain unknown.

Do you still live in your house?

At the present, my home is still my home. I am not sure what my future holds but my status quo world became very unsteady in a very short amount of time so my home was a constant for me. A double edged sword at times, I have a love-hate relationship living in a place that was once ours. But it was also home to me and I wasn't ready to figure out where to go next. I flew the coup solo for the first time in my entire life for the first six months. Believe it or not, prior him moving out, I had shared a bedroom with someone (my sister, a potluck roommate as a freshman, sorority sisters, and then him) for all but my senior year of college! I didn't realize how lonely I had become until by the grace of God, two of my sisters were able to move in with me in January. It is like a never ending slumber party and I welcomed the noise.

Is the grief from the loss of my daughter or the loss of my marriage been more difficult to endure?

Honestly, I am not sure how to answer.

If you followed Addy's story, you know that our pregnancy was a series of ups and downs. Addy's prognosis was not a result of anything I ate or didn't eat, or anything I did or didn't do, nor was it a result of either her daddy's or my family history. No one made a choice that determined Addalyn's prognosis, it simply just was.  And, it wasn't until our fetal health appointment at 28 weeks that we knew her life was going to be limited. My water broke at 35 weeks and 5 days so I had over seven weeks to prepare. And I say the word 'prepare' but there was not really anyway to prepare my inexperienced self to face death.  I simply mean gathering resources...I met with a comfort care doctor to ensure that in her living moments she would never struggle, I selected a funeral home, determined our wishes for her body, and planned a memorial service. I met with other mommas who had lost babies and tried with all the strength I could muster to enjoy my final weeks of being pregnant. I knew, to the best of my comprehension, what was coming and had prepared the best that I knew how. It would be impossible to ever fully ready my heart or my spirit but all plans and arrangements where in place.

The betrayal is different. The events that transpired that led to the ending of our marriage were willingly made yet deceptive choices. I was caught off guard, shocked, devastated, and unprepared to face the unraveling of my marriage. Infidelity has a way of doing that. Of making you question everything, doubt everything, and it is a mixed bag of anger, hurt, devastation, sadness, loneliness, self doubt, and brokenness. And still what hurts the most is that the two are woven together.

While the some of the components of the grief cycle are the same, the feeling are different.
Yet, they overlap. His choices overlaps with the pregnancy, Addy's birth, and the days of trying to desperately make sense of a life without my child. It all fell in a matter on months leaving all the feelings intertwined. It is hard to separate the emotions of one trial because for me, they are so woven together. 

You seem to have a unique ability to walk through your grief.

Most days I feel ill equipped to handle what life handed but when you are knee deep in it, to me there wasn't an alternative.  If you have lost a child, you certainly know that there is not a guide for how to cope. Grief hits at every angle and sometimes it is when you least it expect it. It is not easy to take a picture of Addy to Santa, to host a party without her on her first birthday, or even to celebrate the milestones for my friend's babies that will never be for my Addy. But, I don't do these things because they are easy. I do what any other parent desires for their make memories and to ensure they know that they are loved. I have the same desires for my child. I get strange looks sometimes and I have come to terms with them. The tears and sadness that come with doing the hard things in life, to me just mean that my Addy is loved.  

{Powell Garden Butterfly Festival}

Do you still see your counselor?

Yes, yes, and yes again. I actually saw her a couple years before my pregnancy when I was working through some hard stuff in life. She was randomly selected based off my rigorous criteria...female, close to my house, and covered by my insurance! After Addy's passing, together we went to a few different counselors that specialize in the loss of a child but I just didn't feel they were right for me. Finding the right counselor is vital and it is ok to try out several before deciding on one. Knowing I had to do something to begin to process through the grief, I forwent the specialized grief counselors and made an appointment back at my original counselor. I just jive with her and her diagram loving, dry erase board using self. I saw her weekly for a good six months, then every other week, then every three weeks, and just recently I went to a 'make an appointment when needed' status. And this week, I found myself on her familiar couch after my bestie encouraged me that maybe I could benefit from her guidance. That my friends, is the best friend a girl could as for. One that gets you on such a level and is brave enough to say that perhaps an appointment is warranted. So that little couch which I have come to find comfort in greeted me. And on that couch have been some of my worst days. I can distinctly remember a session where I said nothing for an entire hour. I simply sobbed with my counselor setting near by reminding me that it was a safe place to let it all out. And the day I learned of the affair, I sat gasping for air on that very couch as I tried to process what seemed impossible. And through every emotion, every high and low, every deep dark pain, my counselor has guided me, supported me, and listened to my pain. If I can recommend one thing, when life gets to be too much, know that there is no shame in seeking help. Whether through your church or using my rigorous criteria, find someone trained to counsel you and do so with your head held high.

How did he meet her, did you know her, were there signs looking back that you missed, how did you find out about the affair, are they still together, do you still talk to him?

Out of respect for him and our memories together, these questions will go unanswered.  I married him because I cared deeply about, because he made me feeling special, because I felt loved, and because I loved him. Our marriage was not perfect, we each made mistakes along the way. For a long time, I thought if I could just know all the details of his affair, at some point I would understand why. That some light bulb would go off and I would think to myself, "well now it all makes complete sense." But the more I learned, the less I understood. So truth be told, some of the questions you have are the very same questions I have and it is probably for the best that I leave it at that.  I still care about him and part of me will always love him so I won't pass judgement nor speak to the details of his choices. 

Where do you see yourself in the future?

When I daydreamed about being a 'grown-up,' life as I know it isn't what came to mind. But probably that is true in some capacity for everyone. So I am trying to stop living for the next big thing and be present.   I am still working to heal my heart and my spirit so that is my focus. The here and the now.

Butterfly Festival

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I discovered a little treasure in the Kansas City Area today!
  Powell Gardens is Kansas City's Botanical Garden and it is beautiful!

 The first and second weekend in August is their annual Butterfly Festival.
It was complete with lots of activities, education, and crafts for kids (storytelling, flower pot painting, face painting, butterfly wing coloring, and antenna making).

 Among the perfectly kept gardens and beautiful flowers were lots and lots of butterflies in the butterfly conservatory and the caterpillar petting zoo.

My mom, sister-in-law, niece, and I had a great time.
And, we made sure our Addy was with us. 

I can't help but smile each time I see a butterfly. 

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