March 2015

Eat, Pray, Love, The TIS Version

by Priscilla on March 24, 2015

We were lying in bed when I asked, Where are we on the plane tickets?

Silence.

More silence.

Did you hear me?

Deafening silence.

I’m not going.

What do you mean you’re not going?

Light switch turned on. Me sitting up.

I’m not going, and I can’t do this anymore.

Thus began my version of Eat, Pray, Love. Except I wasn’t Julia Robert playing Elizabeth Gilbert, the savvy New York writer who turned to her husband and said, I don’t want to be married.

No, I was the poor schlub of a husband staring shell-shocked into the eyes of whom I thought was to be my life partner, and I was being dumped.

Hard.

He didn’t go to Florida.

I did.

I made up some excuse to our girls about his having to work.  I packed their bags, got on the plane, rented the car, traipsed to the beach, traveled to the ball games, ate my weight in ice cream and shopped the tchotchke stores. My girlfriends kept saying, How are you doing this? I had a one word answer, God.

I slathered sunscreen on my girls whose beautiful brown island skin doesn’t need it half as much as my WASPy epidermis does. We played in the ocean waves and built sand castles and threw footballs on the beach.

I think.

To be honest I don’t remember much except the night time. That was the time I lay alone in the twin bed of the condo where we were staying wondering what the hell was waiting for me when I returned home. How was I going to do this? Seriously, How.Was.I.Going.To.Do.This?

That was a year ago.  You know those retrospectives they show at the Oscars that honor the actors who have passed that year? That’s what my year has been like. Lots of looking back. I’ve come to accept that my marriage died around nine years ago, only I couldn’t accept it at the time. I didn’t have the courage like Liz Gilbert did to say, I can’t live like this anymore. I was knee deep in potty training and news from Iraq and nice housewifey Bible studies at church, and even though I was well aware of my husband’s shortcomings, I thought I could change him….so I changed me.

I changed my hair color…several times. I changed my diet. I changed my exercise routine. I changed how I spoke to him or wrote to him. I read books about marriage and magazine articles about heating up my sex life. I listened to girlfriends whose marriages were solid, and I prayed. God, how I prayed. I prayed for God to heal my husband’s heart. I prayed he would grow attracted to me again. I prayed our family would remain intact because I knew intact was God’s bestAfter all, that’s what the pastors and counselors and Christianese writers of NYT best sellers say, and clearly they know best because they are on  NYT best seller list.

Or so I thought….a year ago.

Here’s the deal. The Former Mr. TIS did me a favor. In a failed marriage someone has to have the courage to walk away. I didn’t have that courage. He did. Yeah, he did some other stuff too, but those  were symptoms of the problem; they weren’t the root of it, and at the end of the day, he wasn’t ready to work on the problems so instead of dragging us both forward into 20 more years of hell, he left.

Here’s another deal. I chose him. I chose to stay in it and fight for it as long as I did. I chose to suck it up. I chose the false hope that I could change him, and so I changed myself….I lost myself so much so that when I look back over all of it, I don’t even know the woman I became. But I, and I alone chose that path. I created that life. That part is on me and me alone.

That was then.

I’m writing this from my bed…alone.  It’s better to be alone in a bed than share it with someone who doesn’t want to be there with you in the first place. I’m planning a return trip to the beach. Alone. The former Mr. TIS is taking Twins A and B to All Things Harry Potter land, so I called a Do Over. My own little Eat, Pray, Love. Yes, Liz  took off for a year to Italy, India and Bali. I’m just going to the Florida for a week, but cheap ass women from Fly Over country with kids still in grade school can’t afford a year off to find themselves.

I don’t know what’s in store in my next 20 years. I have no guarantee of 20 years in the first place, but this one thing I know: the spitfire, untamed mane little girl who got in trouble for praying the wrong way in the third grade is back in grown up woman form, and she’s praying the same wrong way again.  She’s a blonde again. She’s running and swimming long distances again. She’s reading again. She’s connecting with her daughters again. She’s in touch with all the girlfriends again. She doesn’t bawl through church anymore. She can perform 88 box jumps. And, AND she’s working on a future NYT best seller – several of them to be exact. Movie rights will be negotiated.  She still eats over the sink, though, and it was over the kitchen sink yesterday that God showed up in the form of yet another epiphany and whispered into her soul, You wanted me to save your marriage, but I wanted to save you. You asked me to heal your marriage. I did. I ended it.

A year ago the words, I can’t do this anymore, cut through my psyche. Today, the Still Small Voice beckons,  It’s you and me, kid.

And.I’m.Happy.

 

 

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Thank God for Bacon

by Priscilla on March 9, 2015

This weekday morning found me in my usual place – in the kitchen making breakfast for Twins A and B. Bacon’s on the menu a lot in our house, and as I was opening the package a small voice whispered, Give me thanks.  Small voices in my head aren’t all that startling. I can carry on whole conversations with myself covering a multitude of topics from Jim Boeheim’s  suspension to the President’s lackluster response to ISIS – I’m just that good. But this was a different small voice. It was The. Small. Voice. I’ve learned when The.Small.Voice. speaks, I pretty much need to listen. So, without much thought, I started in.

Thank you, God for this bacon. Thank you for providing food for my family. There are mothers all over the world wondering how they are going to feed their children today. Forgive me for not doing more for them. Thank you for everyone responsible for bringing this food to my table. The farmers, the butchers, the truckers, the buyers, the stockers, the checkout girls and the bag boys…and for all those people labeling me sexist as I write this, God, the checkout boys and the bag girls. Bless them. Thank you for the electricity I have to cook the bacon. Thank you for the light that comes on in my kitchen so I can see what I’m doing. Thank you for my sweet girls, the reasons I am cooking the bacon in the first place. IMG_5181

The list of thank you’s continued, and as it did, I looked up out of the window over my sink and witnessed a glorious sunrise. The pinks and reds and oranges and yellows captured my attention, and I stood in wonder and awe and whispered another thank you. Thank you for this gift of life. For a brief moment I didn’t nag myself that the window I was looking through needed to be washed. I didn’t beat myself up for not getting the dishwasher unloaded last night. I didn’t lecture myself for reaching for my third cup of coffee in an hour. I just stopped. And noticed. And experienced. And lived.

This may all sound so trivial but considering that about 12 hours earlier I’d found myself on my knees praying a whole different kind of prayer, this change of perspective was no small miracle.

There’s a lot advice our there for people like me going through divorce. Some of it is good. Some of it is not so good. Some of it is complete shit, like some of my  friends telling me the answer to my loneliness is, You just need to get laid. Um. No, I don’t. Religious convictions aside, having sex means I’d have to shave, and I barely have time to brush my teeth much less shave, and besides that, I think I’m due for a new razor which means another trip to the store, and considering I was there and back four times the other day for a whole list of things I kept forgetting, I think that’s a pretty good idea to leave the whole opposite sex thing off the table for a while. If I can’t remember the plastic cups…or the hummus…or the balloon order…or the drinks, God knows I can’t handle a relationship with anything other than my dog.

One good piece of advice I’ve taken, though, is to attend every social event to which I am invited. Yesterday was one of those social events.

Several months ago, I signed the girls up for a volleyball league, which, I found out after the fact, doing so meant that for the next three months, my Sundays would be spent traipsing to various area high school gyms watching the 12 &U crowd miss serves, stare in silence at the ball as it fell to the floor amongst them and tangle themselves up in the net. At least it started out that way…then something magical started to happen….

The girls started to click.

I’ve been reading about the female brain and how it’s biologically geared to make connections with others. It appears when boys (and men) get out on the court (and out in life) they are driven by the desire to win respect as well as the game.  Girls, on the other hand,  like to compete, and like to win, but what drives them (and us women) most of all is the fact that they like to connect, and when they connect, something beautiful starts to happen.

Not only did these little pint sized future Gabby Reece’s start mastering their overhand serves and getting their three hits in, they began to group text and plan play dates outside practice and games. With each Sunday we parents, stuck together for 4-5 hours, began connecting as well – learning about one another’s vocations, university backgrounds, families and vacation plans. We yelled at our girls to quit fixing each others’ hair and focus on the ball. We held our breath at each serve and wondered sometimes too loudly if the line judge knew what she was doing.  At the beginning of the season this group looked like the Bad News Bears of volleyball, but every week they just showed up with their big hearts and smiles and kept winning, and every week they moved up into the next level of competition bracket completely oblivious to what they were achieving.

IMG_5168

Human connection is a beautiful thing.

And then the whole thing came to an end.

Yesterday, was the final day of play for the season, and afterwards we met at one of the parent’s house for a Season Finale Party. The girls swarmed down into the basement while the parents clustered in kitchen drinking beer and sharing stories of creative marriage proposals, frustrating coworkers and one hysterical tale of I tried to break up with her, but she said no, so I just gave up and proposed three months later. Cops and doctors. Accountants and software designers.  All parents of little girls who happened to be assigned to the same volleyball team. I looked around and realized how far I’d come in my healing.  Months ago I would have been very aware that I was the only single in the group, but now I just felt like Priscilla. I whispered a prayer of thanks. The party ended. I drove home with the girls, and it was about the time I was checking to make sure their homework was finished, that I realized how much I’d loved this whole volleyball experience, and now it was over.

The Grief Struck.

I’ve been doing so well, but damned if The Grief doesn’t nudge the door to my mind open, shove its way into my heart and sit hard down upon the seat of my soul. The Grief reminds me as I’m climbing into bed alone again that I have no one to share the events of the day with. The Grief convinces me to get used to it, that this is my life now and to suck it up. The Grief mocks me, telling me I’m a complete emotional wreck and always will be.

Damn Grief.

A friend whose life journey is much harder than mine reminded me that The Grief lessens with time – that God will grow from my Holding on to Dear Life into My Enough if I lessen my grip on how I think things should be and accept how they are, and I fell asleep accepting The Grief. Thanking God for it. Asking Him to use it somehow for His will and His glory. (For the record, sometimes I can barely get those words out. I really hate saying them. Really. So sometimes I just don’t. I tell God a whole lot of other nasty things instead. But sometimes, I surrender completely…for 30 seconds or so…and in those brief periods, peace reigns.)

Which brings me back to the bacon. It always comes back to the bacon. I may have gone to bed frustrated.  I may have even awoken with more tears, but God showed up in a pound of pork and reminded me I’m not alone. I am loved. People do care. My girls are going to be okay. I’m not a horrible mother. My future isn’t as bleak as I’ve been imagining. Jesus came out of the desert to do amazing things, and so will I…

…and so will you, my friend. I don’t know what your bacon is today, but maybe it’s there right in front of your face so say a prayer of thanks and be amazed at the transforming of your mind.

 

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