The Difference In A Year

April 26, 2009

It’s amazing really what the difference a year can make. A year ago we were spinning wildly trying to find balance in a world that had suddenly spun out of control. My church family was gone. My “ministry” was gone. My reputation among those I had loved dearly was being systematically destroyed and all my good intentions were being treated as so much garbage.

We were in a financial pit that we are still trying to crawl out of and my children were trying (at 8 and 10) to make sense of all the change in their lives. No, last spring was not a wondrous time of new beginnings and inspiration.

I thought I’d done OK and vestiges of that life prevailed for a time. But in January I put the keyboard into storage. I don’t play it anymore. One because the carpal tunnel got too bad and the other was because that part of me was still raw. I quit writing anything of substance a long time ago. Not at home, not in here and not even in my head. I began questioning even the basic tenets of our faith. I tried to understand. Until it almost broke my heart again.

As months passed and it seemed G-d just got quieter and quieter I quit asking Him for answers. I just withdrew into my world at home and enjoyed it. I’ve always loved and adored my kids. No questions there. But this last year we’ve rediscovered each other and are closer than I ever imagined. The Mr. has always been my best friend but he and I… I can’t even begin to describe the difference in our state of being. It’s good. It’s very good.

I rarely answer the phone. I don’t want to talk to anyone besides the Mr and the boys. I have always had very limited social needs, preferred lengthy periods of time to myself and found myself exhausted by interaction with too many people. Now? Amplify that. A Lot.

The Mr. has this hope that this is only a phase, a wandering in the desert so to speak. He’s worried about me. Why don’t I want “friends”. I have a hard time explaining that I am completely content with him and the boys, their needs and our little house. I’ve no ambitions, no big dreams. I am mind-numbingly boring.

In February I had a weird episode during a particularly stressful day where my legs almost quit working. Stiff, sore, lack of control. I could barely walk and getting up and down from a chair required assistance. Of course I responded by being completely humiliated. Ha! I thought it was weird, it lasted for a few days and then went away. Three weeks later? It happened again and I discovered something. I have to exercise (power walk) every day and get at least 8 hours at night or it starts up again. It’s almost May and I’ve begun to learn the signals my body is sending and try to be pre-emptive. I don’t like getting old. Not while I’m still so vibrant and beautiful!!! (Please, someone bonk me on the head)

Who knows what this is? I have no idea. I don’t like health scares + no health insurance + teenytiny savings… Sucks. Truly.

But the walks? Alone time out on a trail with the dog running circles around me? It’s jump starting my little self again. So here I sit. At 7:12 in the AM on a crisp and clear Sunday morning. I’m not writing anything substantive. I don’t have the desire. I have minimized my life by extreme standards. Partly because my bullshit-o-meter is still pegged out and even the slightest bit of it from any corner tends to throw me for a loop. Partly because my available relational assets are extremely limited. But mostly? Because I’ve gotten to the place in life, hard-won though it is, where I “feel” no obligation to play nice for the purposes of furthering someone else’s status quo. I just don’t care enough. I really don’t. I’ll talk to anyone about anything but you really might not like my answers. Bummer…. Oh well.

See, I realized something just the other day while shoveling out one more steaming pile of BS from my experience at That Place. A “gift” left to me by the 3 1/2 years spent as “friends” to TMUF and the Wizard.

Background: I have always been a very forgiving person. I had the capacity to love anyone and truly care about where and who they are. Believe the best, rarely had a bad thing to say about anyone, there’s a redeemable quality in everyone, you know. Sugar with a side of sweet. That’s been my bent. That’s how I survived being victimized. I carried the weight and the responsibility. I was sorry. They were broken. Weak. They needed understanding. But I could bear it.

So I did. And when we met TMUF and TWBTMUF I followed my same M.O. No matter what he or she did, as inexcusable as it was, I had an excuse, a bit of compassion. A perspective on the situation that somehow lessened the magnitude of the behavior and transferred the responsibility onto my shoulders. Even as our friendship spiraled out of control I was going to be honorable and faithful. When I was doing all the work in the relationship, making all the calls, offering all of my heart, it was ok. After all, at least they were only hurting me and I could take it.

Except I couldn’t. I learned through this that I won’t. Not again. I am not G-d. I can’t bear the burden of another person’s choices and I can’t handle being the scape goat, the over-compensator, the absolution and excuse they look for.

It’s not in my job description.

There are a few people in my life who have poured their hearts into mine and with whom I am safe and free to do the same. Even those I don’t talk to all that often. I have nothing new to say. Fortunately with them? I don’t have to. Which is one of the reasons I love them so much.

While we were at That Place and struggling my friend, the Chaplain, had the opportunity to hear people talk negatively about the Mr and I and you know what happened? She defended us. Me. She stuck her neck out to support us. While I fully expect her to be honest about who and HOW I am it is immensely gratifying to know that even if I’m not there, she is loyal and an ally. My other closest friend, The Transcriptionist, is fabulously, refreshingly honest. She has a gift of being able to cut right through the situation and see the heart of the matter. I know I can trust her to take what I’m saying and hear back from her what I’m not saying. And she’s kind.

There’s a give and take to these relationships. Mutually beneficial. We build each other up, celebrate with, pray for, struggle with. These are my significant relationships. I am completely confident that without their counsel I would have ended up in a mental institution ( I kid you not) about a year ago.

In terms of my life I am a relational pauper. I don’t really have that much to offer. I’m not available to many and the little I have is carefully expended. But when it’s gone? It’s gone and it takes me weeks to recharge. My birthday was a month ago. I had lunches, tea dates, celebrations. It was a very busy week for me. And it took me almost two weeks to get over it. I literally wanted to hide in my house for two whole weeks. My routine was all off kilter. I couldn’t cope with it.

I’m writing this to you, my bloggie buddies, not as a ploy for sympathy, egads! But as an exercise in faith. I have no aspirations of being able to inspire, encourage or even really interact with you. Both of you who are left… 🙂 I am not Heidi the invincible, the outspoken or even Heidi the intelligent observer. I am Heidi the Broken. Heidi the Weak.

And I am OK with it. There’s a new normal here. I’ve cleaned out a lot of clutter in this last year both physically in my house and personally. I no longer have the compulsion to create an illusion of relationship with those who have no desire to reciprocate the reality of shared lives. I lack both the compulsion and the capability.

And I don’t care of I am understood. My survival has depended on a change of paradigm of this magnitude. Because if I didn’t?

I would be doomed to relive the agony of That Place on a large or small scale all over again. And next time?

I don’t think I would make it.

  • Shula

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are actually doing way better than you think. When we are weak, He is strong, and recognizing our weaknesses is really beneficial for then we don’t think of ourselves more highly than we ought.

    It sounds like you have the best relationships you can have – with your husband, your children and a couple of close friends. Really, most of our relationships in life are just acquaintances and we put too much emphasis on the value of having lots of friends. I think most people are not capable of having a close relationship with lots of people. Honestly, it is too time and energy consuming to have too many friends/acquaintances. What you have as far as relationships are concerned is a treasure.

    All that you have written shows that you are growing in wisdom and learning to live with yourself. I sure understand about the physical problems and no insurance or funds to do something. Most things that we struggle with physically are helped best by taking care of ourselves – sleep, exercise, good food and good water, a healthy outlook on life, sunshine. I do agree, though, that it is not fun growing older. This body can be unpleasant to live in sometimes, but that is temporal, too.

    For all the suffering that you have gone through in That Place, it has done a good work in you. From my experience most “religious” groups are not really “safe.” I am very grateful, though, for the few people who stick with me and won’t let me become a complete hermit after the last bad experience in a “religious group.” One thing I do know, G-d is not defined by those groups and He is eternally faithful. His Word is steadfast and true, no matter how the people who claim to follow it actually live.

  • Big Cat

    God bless you Heidi. And blessings on you family. As alone as we sometimes feel, we aren’t. You and your family will stay in my prayers.

  • Pablo

    Continue to take care of yourself and your family. I don’t think you’re overstating how negative and devastating an experience like the one your family lived through can be. It takes time to recharge and gain perspective. For everything there is a season (and all that). Take all the time you need. You and your family deserve it.

    God’s blessings on you all.

  • “I am not Heidi the invincible, the outspoken or even Heidi the intelligent observer. I am Heidi the Broken. Heidi the Weak.” Agreed – though we might get in an argument about a couple of those.. 🙂

    But one thing you are, Heidi, is honest as you can be. That’s what keeps me reading. It’s refreshing in this world which is so full of bull, even in ‘Christian’ circles.

  • Shula, I don’t know you but thank you for what you wrote. Your empathy was like “balm to my weary soul”. To badly plagiarize David. 🙂

    The rest of you guys… Thanks for being brothers. Truly. I am encouraged by your kindness and always thankful you are my imaginary friends. 🙂 Blessings back atch ya.

  • AW

    I have come to find peace in my experience that He wants us Weak. Its freeing actually. Cyber hugs this morning to my south side imaginary friend.

  • You are wise to know yourself. We all have our limits; some may have a week like your birthday week and be energized by it, while others are drained. You recognize what feeds you and what does not, something good to take away from your awful experience. I, too, love to check in on you because you write well and honestly and have an ability to write objectively about yourself and your experiences. It grieves my heart so to read about your experiences and the pain it has caused you and your family. I pray that you continue to heal at your own pace, to understand yourself more completely, to love G-d in spite of what His people do, and to remain healthy, both physically and spiritually.

  • Spacebunny

    As months passed and it seemed G-d just got quieter and quieter I quit asking Him for answers. I just withdrew into my world at home and enjoyed it. I’ve always loved and adored my kids. No questions there. But this last year we’ve rediscovered each other and are closer than I ever imagined.

    Maybe He got quieter so that this would happen – a chance for you to focus on your husband and family. Perhaps this was His answer – rediscover your joy in your family.

  • Steve

    I am sorry things were rough for you. and glad you are better. I really understand. I too have fallen into isolation since my return. Sometimes life does suck, but it doesn’t always.

  • A year ago I was in the middle of the fight for my life in the political world and now I’m without a job and okay with that. A year ago, I thought life was something God would fulfill. Now I believe I’m slowly killing the parts of me He doesn’t want so that I can abandon myself to Him. A year ago, I cared more what people thought of me. Today, let them spit on me, it’s only spit.
    A year ago I still cared if people thought I was wrong for not going to a building to do church, today I don’t care because my father (God) arraigned all of this.
    A couple of years ago you and I were arguing over the dumbest things, trying to prove we each understood God better and now we both know we haven’t a clue and I consider you one of my comrades in this battle.
    What a difference a year can make.

  • Amen Rick. Amen.