***Disclaimer: Guys, this is some crazy stuff! It’s
good God stuff. This post is going to be extremely raw and real. It is about my life and the life of my family. I’m writing in hopes of freeing myself and helping others. I genuinely hope that the authenticity of my words expresses the emotion I feel inside.
I’ve been going through a rough patch for some time now. I’ll say our immediate family has, and while we have persevered through many a tragedy (my view) a decision has been made that is life changing – To us all.
The Real Part
My marriage has been in jeopardy for years. We’ve seen counselors and pastors, read books and prayed, yelled and discussed and the greatest of those couldn’t save us. Only we could save us, though it is now apparent we were not in it anymore. It was time to look at this from my counselors perspective and ask myself those things she posed to me a year ago….like:
1) Are you trying to avoid pain and are you fearful (get to the heart of that)?
2) Why would you stay and why would you go?
3) What are your goals?
4) What are you getting out of it?
5) What do YOU want?
In my case, I feel like all of those are important questions to answer before making a decision and I feel like the last one, the most important of all, is the one I’ve had such a hard time with for so long.
Recently a trusted friend said something to me that, for whatever reason, I never gave much thought to. It’s true, though. While I have always deemed my complacency the issue for the inability to make a decision, reality showed me that, in fact, I’ve never looked at the situation from my perspective. In short, I have always put others needs above my own and never really thought about “What do I want?”
There is so much wisdom that has come from this friend – I could write a blog (not just post) about it. Though I have gained great knowledge there and from a couple of other companions (new and old), it was a 5th grade book that brought me out of darkness, from the ashes, actually. Thank you Cari Noe. Apparently God had a plan weeks ago when you asked me to sub. (Insert grin and shrug)
The Raw Part
Saturday…Sunday…Monday…Tuesday… this was happening to me:
After months of going back and forth, Saturday morning was the day of truth. My husband and I sat down at the kitchen table and had a tough, emotional decision making discussion. It was probably one of the most logical conversations we have had in years – honest and revealing. Everything was on the table, so to speak.
The next three days were torturous for me. Everywhere I looked there was a memory. Every song I heard had us in it. I ached everywhere and I wailed uncontrollably on and off. I held it together in front of the kids and others but I felt like I was dying all over again, as I had last year. Only this time…this time there was no going back. There was no bandaid. There was so much destruction that even thousands of pounds of mortar could not put this house back together. When I was honest with myself, I did not want it back together. I had lost myself in him for all these years and it was time to find me, again. In those three days I read:
If you lose someone but find yourself, you won.
If your love for someone is dependant on…
…and I do not need to finish because that statement is profoundly..Mmhm…yep, conditional. How did I not see it all these years? You know what I know? Love is pure and kind. It holds no conditions. That is the kind of love I need, want and deserve.
Getting back to the ashes…
Saturday, Sunday and Monday I spent bawling my eyes out and thinking death was near. Well, not really but I felt horribly outside myself. Some of that feeling was the fact that I had to get out of bed on Tuesday and go teach four classes of fifth-graders, whom I love and who love me, and fake that I was OK. I spent Monday night contemplating calling in sick, but for each thought of that I also had an overwhelming urgency to go to work and feel – feel the pain, feel the connection, feel the spirit. I knew I had to go and I knew it was going to be hard.
I’ll skip the few tears that were shed, morning routines and get to the point. I was sent to school Tuesday to be recreated, resurrected if you will, out of my ashes.
I was teaching ELA to the fifth graders and part of my objective for the day was to read Pax. Now, I had never heard of this book but knowing Cari Noe it’s gonna be a book that has a very endearing storyline (meaning I’m going to be crying at some point). Yep, uh huh, thanks Cari.
Upon opening the chapter that my first class was reading, I took a deep breath and dived in. (Sigh) Let me tell you, it did not take very long before I had to take another breath, and then another one…I was reading the ending to my story or maybe it was just the beginning.
Here’s what it said (Pax by Sara Pennypacker – Peter and Vola conversing)
“She always wore it. She’d hold her wrist up so I could play with it when I was a baby. I don’t remember that, but I’ve seen a picture. I do remember her telling me about it, though. About the charm, I mean. It’s a Phoenix. That’s a special bird. It’s red and gold and purple colored like sunrise, and it-”
“Rises from the ashes. I know what a phoenix is.”
“Right. But out of its own ashes. That’s the part that my mom cared about.”
“It’s own ashes?”
“When it gets worn out, it builds itself a nest high in a tree, away from everything.” Peter stopped. It suddenly occurred to him that Vola’s cabin felt like a nest. He circled on his crutches to look around. Yes. A secret, protected nest, surrounded by trees. Away from everything.
I had been in my nest for the last three days, in the comfort of my home and my bed.
…”So the phoenix fills its nest with its favorite stuff- myrrh and cinnamon is what’s in the story, I think. Then the nest ignites, burning the birds old body. And the new bird rises up out of the old birds ashes. My mother loved that. She said that it meant no matter how bad things got, we could always make ourselves new again.
Hello! At this point I seriously am about to become a puddle on the floor. I AM a phoenix! Think Isaiah 61:3.
Oh, but the story does not end there because Peter and Vola continue to have a conversation about all of her “philosophy bingo cards” that are hanging up on the walls. That’s what Peter calls them and he says that she is supposed to be the wise and great helper. She suggests to him, though, that she is there to find who she is and can’t help him until she can help herself. Ugh!! I feel like I am reading the story of my life. If only I had a cabin, out in the middle of the woods, surrounded by trees (sad face).
I concluded that the jist of the story was about finding oneself (even though Peter was searching for his fox – that could be an adult theme ;)).
I read the story one more time that morning, had a breakdown at lunch with a fellow teacher, read the story two more times in the afternoon and had a breakthrough before I left school that day. My true, beautiful colors (like those of the phoenix) are shining bright. And like Vola, I write as a reminder of who I am. To remember where I came from and to where I am going. I will cherish and preserve my “philosophy bingo cards” to remind myself that I have risen out of my ashes!