Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Unfinished Business

We all, I think, have our own bucket lists.

Some of them are probably more formal than others.

Mine's not very formal.  It doesn't even exist outside myself. My bucket list sits in a rarely visited corner of my brain. And it's only in the dark recess of night that I start to think about what's on that list.

Most of what I long to do is fairly exciting. Find my house in Costa Rica or thereabout. Write a story and publish it. Learn Gaelic.

Exciting for me, I guess.

Some of the things on my list are more about closure and healing.

One thing heads the list: finish this blog! I have a bunch of unpublished and unfinished posts I need to edit and post.  Once I do, I'm going to print my last blogger book, and close the cover on the first half of my life. It gets harder to do it with every day that passes.  The joys and hurts of the past belong in the past.  But I've never been a person to leave something like this unfinished, and I don't want to start with something this critical.

To that end, I've printed my posts all the way back to the very first one.

This blog is a heck of a read! I love reading about our family and my boys, my developing faith, and my zany journey. I love the history of a marriage and family that mattered; it was valued by both myself and my husband, our families and friends, and our sons.  I love seeing the small glimpses of how I loved my job and why it mattered to me. Most, I love remembering all I did to celebrate my life and the lives of those around me.

I still do that.  I still find the good, the silly, the joyful.  I still focus my energy on what I most love.  I still start and end my days in gratitude. 

Today, though, there's a new angle.  It has something to do with truth and with authenticity.  It has to do with humility and grace.  It has to do with letting go of me and trusting that God has my back.

For a long time, I made the best of my life. I was able to focus on the good things, spend energy filling up the gaps and empty corners, and achieve at a high level.  Like Walker Percy, though, I couldn't understand why I felt so empty, alone, and unfulfilled.  I wanted what I had to be enough.  And it wasn't.

There's a dark side to my story, one full of disappointment, anger, and despair.  I remember waking up in San Francisco on my twenty-second wedding anniversary and standing at the window staring out without seeing the streets I loved.  My husband rolled out of bed and gave me one of the best hugs of our marriage and told me, "You are the best wife ever!" His thrill spilled over.  He was so happy I had complied with his longing for public sex.  My heart was broken; in the moment I heard those words, everything tender and loving in my heart for my husband died.  I couldn't reconcile the pornographic side of our marriage with the person I longed to be.

Still, leaving my marriage wasn't an option. By then I had already given up so much of what I'd hoped for in the marriage and in my life.  I wanted a large family and Joe didn't; in fact, it took months of begging before he agreed grudgingly to have a second child.  His pointed lack of interest in the pregnancy and even the infant son scared me; I thought I'd doomed my second child to a fatherless existence. And Jakob was the end of our family. There's no compromise when it comes to family size. Joe got his way.  There were other concessions, large and small. Things like church attendance, career choice, family obligations, and finances.  My life was horribly disappointing to me too.  I remember thinking that if God really loved me and wanted me to be free of the marriage, I would die.  Or Joe would.

I chose to deal with my disappointment, anger, and despair by doing the best I could not to feel anything. I numbed myself in a number of ways. Alcohol was my last choice and it was a successful one.  When I drank, I didn't have to think about what was lacking or disappointing.  I didn't have to try to see a bright future.  I didn't have to deal with a man who couldn't understand me.  I didn't have to think about the emptiness of a future I didn't want.

The chain of events that led to my divorce tells a sad story.  When I failed, I did it with gusto.  There never were any half measures in my life.  The good news is that when I decided to recover, I did that with gusto too.

I know I need to write the rest of the story; it's unfinished business. 


I will.


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