Last week, when I turned the now infamous corner of my life, I knew in the back of my mind that I could possibly be courting trouble. To be specific, I placed, as my friend said, a target on my back. And boy, was she right.
No more than twenty-four blissful hours later, I managed to run headlong into a roadblock. It wasn’t huge. It wasn’t life-ending. It was just a speed bump in the middle of the road. And when you are looking backwards while walking forwards, you tend to trip over things right in front of you.
And I tripped.
Imagine watching a movie. The actor walks down a street with a friend, talking animatedly, when suddenly, she trips and almost falls on her face. Time slows, the inevitable delayed momentarily. Low, distorted moans of “Nooooooo!” accompany arms and legs flailing in all directions, her friend watching the train-wreck unfold in front of her, unable to help. Then just as quickly, the actor, able to forestall the graceless fall on her face, regains her balance and manages to stand up. She straightens her clothes and continues on–amidst laughter from her friend.
Now, insert me into that role. I don’t know if I have righted myself completely just yet. I think I might be in the end stages of the slow-motion act of this one-woman show. But while I’m in the midst of the slow motion phase, it certainly brings thing into focus. After all, I have plenty of time to look around at all the things I’m slowly passing by.
My daughter met the new love of my ex’s life last week. It was equally hard for both of us. My daughter had to face the awkwardness of seeing her dad with someone who isn’t her mom, while I had to imagine my daughter seeing her dad with someone who isn’t her mom.
Despite our fears, it went great. Oh who am I kidding? It sucked. But it was okay. My daughter survived, quite well in fact. My pride swelled watching my daughter ride the waves of emotion leading up to the evening. She was so strong. So strong! And I did that. I raised her to be a strong, thoughtful, caring and hopeful woman.
So while the scars in my heart stretched and twisted a bit, nothing broke. Nothing came out. Nothing really hurt. But it hung around. Like a bad smell that just won’t go away, no matter how many candles you light.
I spent the next two days in a weird, fog-like state that was at once confusing and depressing. Two days after the meeting, I came home to a daughter that had been locked out of the house by my granddaughter. Emotions were running high. My daughter was panicked. My granddaughters were hysterical and couldn’t understand how to unlock the door. I got home a few minutes later and unlocked the door.
In her great relief, my daughter scooped her babies into her arms, then proceeded to scold the eldest. Loudly. This grandma couldn’t handle it. And I did something I shouldn’t have: I stuck my nose into her business. Let’s just say my daughter didn’t appreciate my lack of support.
I went upstairs, got into my pajamas and started watching TV. Perhaps some time away would calm her down. Then the lid on Mt. St. Lynette’s Volcano ruptured. My daughter called her dad for the support she felt she wasn’t getting from me. And the love of his life was in the background, supporting my daughter and telling her how right she was to be scared and upset.
Yep. I ruptured. Big time. The last thing I needed to hear was how wonderful she was being to my daughter. I stood up, grabbed my purse and phone, and left the house. I got in my car and just drove.
It wasn’t until several miles later that I realized I was a) in my pajamas, and b) had no socks or shoes on.
I kept driving. I drove for about 30 minutes when I ended up at my friend’s house. Her door is almost always open, regardless of the hour or the state of dress. She welcomed me in with open, socially distanced arms. We did not hug, although it was difficult not to.
This friend of mine–she is my beacon in a storm. She opens my eyes to so many things that I can’t or won’t see, and helps me navigate the murky goo that threatens to reach up and swallow me whole. I sat down in a chair and told her what happened.
“Yep.” She said. “I loved your last post, but I also thought, ‘wow, you just put a target on your back.'”
She was so right.
I remember in the early days of my divorce recovery, in some of my darkest hours, I would avoid anything happy or positive happening in my life, because without fail, the very next day, sorrow, pain and agony would sweep silently up behind me and whip my legs out from underneath me.
I was afraid. I was so afraid to be happy. After writing that post, I truly was happy. I felt free. I felt liberated. I felt alive. I felt hope! It did flutter lightly through my mind, the memory of those dark days of fear of happiness and dread of sorrow. But I pushed it aside. I am much more capable of handling those silent stalkers now than before.
But this one…this one surprised me.
My friend sat with me while I spilled my barefoot guts to her and helped me work through it. Before long we were laughing. And the tweaked scar tissue in my heart began to relax.
My poor daughter was so confused. She meant no harm to me or my pathetic emotional state, but knew something had happened. When I returned home, I felt different. I didn’t want to talk to her or anyone else. I knew I had to establish some ground rules with her.
Ground Rules For How Much You Tell Me About Your Dad’s Girlfriend. (available on Amazon soon).
Once I recovered from that volcanic eruption, I realized something important. Stumbling on that road block was good for me. In that slow-motion of me flailing about and trying not to fall, I came face to face with something. I had a choice.
I could either right myself and continue moving forward, or I could fall and let the murky depths reclaim me as their own. I’d be lying if I said the decision was easy. It wasn’t.
The idea of giving up again looked strangely, sadly appealing from that moment of reflection. But then the words “I am done crying over that man” ran through my mind. I remembered – I said those words.
I. SAID. THOSE. WORDS.
So I said them again. And I chose. I chose to be upright. To acknowledge the bump had been there, that it had almost lured me back around the corner to the place I knew so well.
And to give myself grace.
Grace to know that this is not my last speed bump, my last graceless trip and almost fall. I might even fall hard. But the point is to keep looking forward.
One of my favorite hashtags in the universe is from TobyMac and his #SpeakLife inspirational movement. It’s based off his song of the same name, but on Facebook and Instagram, he posts the most amazing quotes on a regular basis. His posts always seemed to be directly tied to my emotional state and hit me when I need it the most. For years, God has used him to speak life into my soul and my heart.
Today, he posted this:
See what I mean? And he used my mantra. “Be Still.” So this is me…watching where I am going. Looking for speed bumps. But most importantly, this is me–