We Need to Talk

One thing I love about where I live is the amount of opportunities I have to enjoy community events on topics that I both know little about and find interesting or that I know lots about and already love.

Last night, our local Friends of the Library hosted Celeste Headlee who spoke about communication and her book “We Need to Talk.” One of the points she referenced was a study that reported that there is less than half-a-second between the time a speaker finishes a sentence and the listener responds.  She shared that we tune into a conversation for about ten seconds, immediately formulate a response, and then wait for the other person to stop so that we can start.

She shared a study that reported that since the year 2000 there has been a decline in empathy among young people and while there was no definitive reason as to why (yet), she offered her opinion that technology, specifically smart phone technology, could be the driving force.  That it was much easier to send a quick text than to make a call, that feelings are conveyed not with words but with emojis.

When I was going through “The Craziness“, a night did not pass that a friend wasn’t calling to check on me, there was not a day that my family didn’t hear the same story over and over, and there was not a time that I could not pour my emotions into a keyboard and find a kindred spirit in blogland.

I believe in times of crisis, we generally do a good job of communicating with each other. We see this over and over with natural disasters and sadly, unnatural ones. We are a tribe, we are a hive, we are unified, we synchronize, we move as one — it truly is when one hurts we all hurt. Brené Brown shares that vulnerability can transform and move us towards great things and that the most vulnerable in a crisis situation is not necessarily the weakest one.  It is the person who risks their own life to rescue those in danger, the one who speaks up when they see wrong, or the one takes a moment to call and verbally convey the words “I care.”  It is those that choose to dare greatly knowing they are most at risk for loss.

Personally, I don’t want to wait for a crisis to wake up and look out from behind selfies and passive aggressive 40-character tweets to see that people are not the titles they carry at work, the labels that they wear, or the roles they have been assigned. They are the people behind that job title, the person behind that responsibility, the individual just wanting to be heard.

We do need to talk. And it might be, as Celeste shared, we need to talk about why we’re not talking. Or it might be that we just need to talk because it’s time for our inner voice to see the light of day again.  I am not a job title, or a label, or a role, I am just someone that wants not only to be heard but I dare greatly in putting myself out there hoping that someone listens.

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What a Difference A(nother) Year Makes

 I realize I could start by apologizing for not writing but who would I be apologizing to? Myself? Maybe? But then I would remind myself that this year has been one of no apologies, and no excuses.

Three years ago, my husband of eleven years was telling me that he had an affair, that he didn’t love me and that he didn’t care to reconcile or even consider our marriage. Two years ago, I was counting every single day -still trying to accept what had happened. One year ago, the stress of all that I had gone through for so long took its toll on me physically and I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.   August 1 will come again and like cobwebs, his last words still cling to me. Even though M has been gone for almost 3 years, I still feel tangled in his lies. I make no apologies for feeling this way. I own my own inadequacies, I also embrace them. I have been able to move on and move forward and I have new dates that hold special memories for me now.

Over the past year, I have spent more money than I should admit to on concert tickets. After M left, one of the first things I did was go to see Ed Sheeran in concert. In Atlanta. Alone. And it hasn’t stopped since. Just this past year I’ve seen Matisyahu, The Steel Wheels, The Swinging Medallions, Mercy Me, The Air Force’s Airmen of Note, Apollo’s Fire, The Sensational Sounds of Motown w/ Mr. Motown himself, New Kids on the Block – even got to touch Joey McIntyre (squeal), Paula Abdul, Boys II Men, and before the year is over, I’ll see Crowder, Ed Sheeran, see Jonathon Byrd perform at a local coffee shop  and spend Christmas with the Oak Ridge Boys.

I helped pick our city’s best taco. I rode in an Uber that had eyelashes over its headlights. I took time off to attend our local TEDx talks. I enrolled in a leadership course at work, which opened my eyes to my own failings but also to strengths I didn’t realize I possessed. I took computer design courses and I’m embracing my newly created job position.

I still, unapologetically, get monthly massages, regular pedicures, manicures, acupuncture, and reflexology treatments. I remind my co-workers and anyone else that will listen, that self-care is too often neglected and that we all need to be kinder to ourselves. I, the most unlikely person for this task, led a team of 10 for six weeks on a fitness/wellness challenge where we placed #20 out of over 200 teams. I have maintained my plant-based nutrition program with just a couple of days where I could have made better choices, and did so the next time around. I’ve lost 65 pounds, which means that shopping for clothes has been more fun and I’ve got a closet full of new clothes. I met with the neurologist for my twelve month check-up and his comment to me was “If I didn’t know you had MS, I wouldn’t have any clue now” and he is starting to come around to my desire to manage my symptoms with nutrition and self-care even suggesting I look into the new research involving biotin. I went through my storage unit, yes, “the” storage unit. I opened every box and tossed, donated, sold, and sorted everything left from a life that was no longer. And I survived, much better than I expected I would, and it feels good. I still go to “Mental Yoga” and again, I tell everyone I know that we all need professional help sometimes.

I’ve been “published.” A local art council accepted a poem I had written not long after M had passed, and they hung it on the wall for the public to see –I was raw, and exposed, and liberated all at the same time. I joined a newly formed poetry group and am serving as their inaugural president.  I started taking ballroom dance lessons after telling myself that if I’m going to start dating again, I need to know how to dance like a lady and not be “dropping it like it’s hot” anymore. I’ve got to leave a little something for my future husband to look forward to. Yup, that’s a new one too. I’ve decided that there is still so much more within me, so much more love I can share and I do want to get married again. I’m not going to lie; dating is different than when I was last out there. But I know what I bring to the table, I’m not afraid to be by myself and if a guy can keep up with all that I’ve got going on, I hope he introduces himself.

I’ve also attended too many memorials and funerals and have said goodbye to friends who left this earth way too soon. And I’ve said goodbye to a couple of friendships. Life isn’t fair, period.

But I will rise up each morning because although life isn’t fair, the fight within me is far from gone. I’ve learned that to heal your body, you have to heal your mind, and to heal your mind, you have to heal your spirit, and to heal your spirit, you need Jesus.  Just because M is gone doesn’t mean he’s not “here.” I accept that he will always be a part of my life, even if it’s just a momentary look back every August 1.

And I know without a doubt that one thing is for certain. I now live in the present, embracing life for what it is at this very second, because I want to live as if this isn’t just a moment, but rather a memory.

Webster has no words

I hate the thought of labels, but secretly I crave the definition just for some sort of inkling as to who I am now.

Since the word vomit incident, I’ve been back to see my therapist. I shared with her what happened and she said what I already knew – maybe there are still some unresolved items. Maybe she’s right.

Some things in life are easy to define; but consider infidelity, divorce, and then suicide all in a matter of just four months and who knows what to call it other than mind-numbing. This I know… this was the craziness that was my life in 2014.

Since the “craziness that was my life” happened, I’ve struggled what to call it, how to refer to it, how to give it the “respect” it’s due. In fact, I always seem to default to calling it the “Craziness.”  It doesn’t seem to fit any mold, at least none that I know.  I mentioned to my therapist that I think I struggle with defining it because I really don’t want to be tied to whatever label might come with it.

To me legally divorced and emotionally widowed is the only thing that makes sense and yet, that’s not an option when filling out paperwork (since the Craziness every time that question comes up, I leave it blank.)  With my recent determination towards self-care, I affirm each morning that I am a child of God, that I am loved with an everlasting love, that I am clothed with strength and dignity and laugh without fear of the future (Prov 31:25) but there are times that I still can’t seem to figure out who I am and the lyrics to Irene Cara’s song Out Here on My Own play over and over in my mind.

I’m not sure I will ever really know what to call it. And maybe the Craziness will just be what it will always be. And maybe I don’t need a label. Maybe the definition of it will be just a picture of me surviving after such a crazy time that was my life. Maybe…. nope, definitely.

 

Reservation for Two, Table for One

Since M is no longer a part of my life, I’ve been to movies, concerts, restaurants, and local events by myself. That’s nothing new for me – I was doing all of these before I met M and immediately after the craziness that was my life in 2014, I did things by myself primarily because I needed the escape from my own life.

I still go to movies and concerts and out to dinner and local events but now I prefer to share these moments with others.  Recently, I purchased two tickets to see one of my favorite songwriters, Matisyahu.  I had always purchased multiple tickets and I was always fortunate enough to find someone with the time and money to go – that is until now. For weeks, I asked everyone I knew and the answer was always no thank you, can’t make it, I don’t know that artist, nope.

Now mind you, money is still not the easiest for me to come by, so having $80 wrapped up in a ticket that I was going to have to suck up really hurt.  Just because I was willing to spend $80 on a ticket didn’t mean anyone else was willing to spend $80 on a ticket.  In the end, I called a friend at the last minute and said that either I could go by myself or find someone who enjoys all kinds of music even if they didn’t know this particular artist. And in turn, she drove and paid for dinner so for me that was a win/win.

Yet somehow, this became yet another reminder that at the end of the day, it is just me – a table for one. When I pause and remember to put it all in perspective, I’m realizing I’m in good company since after all…

Just one sun lights the sky.
Just one moon turns the tide.
A man can change the world with just one thought.
One promise made can last forever
Just one rock will bend a river
One God up in heaven is all we’ve got        

yup… sometimes one can be a lot

One Can be Alot – Blackjack Billie

Technically, it’s Not Illegal

That’s what the police officer said to me a few weeks ago.

I met a friend for lunch at one of my favorite spots. We had finished our lunch and were getting ready to start our discussion of the Bible Study we were doing when the manager discretely came over and said to us, “Did you know the guy sitting at the table next to you?”  Neither of us did and the manager continued on to say that one of his employees, while delivering food to another table, noticed that person recording on his phone. To which my friend, K says “he was recording our conversation?” and the manager said, “No, he was recording you” (making that statement directly to me.)

Of course, we were full of questions and probably asked the same one over and over again, trying to find out what the heck he could have been filming or even why… going so far as to even ask the manager if he was sure.  Yes, the employee has the same phone and was positive the phone was in the record mode. The manager said that he observed the guy leave, followed him out and then provided me with the license plate number and the model of the car as well as a general description of the guy.

As the conversation went on I got more and more shaky and uncomfortable. K and I wrapped up the conversation with the manager and I headed to the police station to file a report.  After giving the details of the incident, which mind you included the time, place, location, description and plate number of the car, and description of the individual I was told that technically what he did wasn’t illegal.  Wait, what?!?!  Nope, it’s not illegal for someone to electronically violate your sense of “assumed privacy” (my word not theirs) in a public place.  So aside from being mindful of what’s going on around me, and reporting anything suspicious there wasn’t anything they could (or were going to) do.

That restaurant is still one of my favorites and the few people that know what happened that day ask me why I still go back. Honestly, why wouldn’t I? The manager has proven that he’s got my back. I talked to him not too long ago and told him how much I appreciated what he did. He said he was torn that day. He didn’t know if he should have confronted the guy or even tell me not knowing how I might react. I told him I appreciated the fact that he acted as if I could have been his sister/mother/ aunt –getting me the information and talking to the police after I filed the report.

There are moments when having M around would have made me feel safer just because of his presence, but the reality is that M isn’t here anymore.  In the past couple of years men in my life have stepped up to the plate to watch out for me: my father, my brother, my pastor, my friends, and now a stranger who had no idea about my past but thought enough of me as an individual to consider my future.

Old Habits Die Hard

Its amazing how I still go through the motions of a relationship that doesn’t exist any longer. I opened up a new tube of toothpaste today to discover that I had purchased the gel type. I almost got upset until I remembered that for most of my life up until I met M, I used gel toothpaste. He didn’t like it so we always bought the paste. Was there any reason that we couldn’t each have our own toothpaste in the marriage? No, but it was just something that I adopted from his life.  I also realized that I used to use two big fluffy towels after a shower, one specifically to wrap my hair. M told me that I used too many big towels…so I started using just one towel and a hand towel creatively wrapped and secured to hold my wet hair.

Two years after he’s gone, I’m still following that same routine. I can’t believe I didn’t realize it before but somehow it took the shocking neon blue color of the toothpaste to bring it to light. Thanks Colgate – you’ve brightened my smile and my future.

What’s in a name?

Twenty seven months ago I found myself in a much different place…a place I never expected to be. They say time heals all wounds… and in the midst of it all,  I would not have believed that but now, two years later, it’s much easier to accept.

I struggled with continuing my story on top of my  previous blog . It just didn’t “feel” right…and so rather than try to force the matter, I realized it was time to start a fresh blog–one in which I could  share the triumphs and trials of a life that is continuing to (re)build, a life I refused to give up on, a life that is now imperfectly, perfectly mine.

So what is in a name?  Why did I name the blog “behind the glass”? Well, during all the craziness, I found an unexpected ally. A friend that never hesitated to remind me that I was worth it… that yes, time does make a difference, and that yes, while it was OK to feel sorry for myself, it wasn’t the place to live. C shared one of her favorite sayings and its stuck with me since the day she said it.“When you find yourself being treated cheaply it was because YOU put yourself on the sale rack. It was time to get behind the glass where the expensive items are kept.” 

So I say to all of you out there in blog land that have gone through or are going through the crap that is unfaithfulness, divorce, and the loss of a life and lifestyle that you once knew… it’s time to get yourself behind that glass. YOU are worth so much more than you might think.  Just like C believed it enough for me until I could see it myself, I will believe it enough for you until you can see it for yourself.

And in the meantime, I’ll keep on keeping on…it’s not been easy, but it has been easier. I’m not starting over, I’m just starting again.