Sunday, August 20, 2017

We had an amazing night Saturday night.  It started as I walked out of the airport. I was nervous about how things might go. I know Ryan is put at ease when I smile at him. I kept telling myself , meet his eyes and smile. Often when I am unsure I avoid eye contact with him. I fear the rejection, if I meet his eyes and he rejects me he will see it all over my face. I can't let him see that. Despite those fears, I meet his eyes and smile. He puts his arms around me and kisses me... so far so good!  I ask to stop by Altard State. We get out of the car and he wraps his arms around me telling me how much he loves me and wants things to work out. He kisses me again and again. He never lets me get out of arms length. We grab a burger at Five Guys and talk as we eat. For the next couple hours we talk, he kisses me, we talk some more. We return home around 10pm, tuck the kids in and head for our room. We finally get to sleep around 2AM. If every night could be like last night I would be in heaven. We were both able to be vulnerable, allowing the other to express their thoughts and feelings. I know things are going to come up and we'll have our differences of opinions even more hurts.  But I finally  have hope of finding our happily ever after. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

I really wanted to talk with Ryan last night. He was working until 11pm & I was still in Vermont. I stayed up late talking with a friend I was staying with just to talk with him. It went so badly. I hung up the phone completely crushed. I woke up sad and alone. Had I been at home I would have stayed in bed all day. How can things keep going so wrong? I don't doubt we both want this relationship to grow and be successful, but somehow it just keeps floundering. Driving to the airport my friend was asking how things were going. I was trying not to talk about Ryan and I.  I knew the tears would come and I just didn't want to deal with them today. She was so sweet and gave me some really good at advice. At the time I really wasn't up to hearing it. I've been blessed with truly good friends that know the value of honest advice. Advice that is often hard to hear and difficult to follow… the tears came. I said goodbye and headed into the airport. Ryan had sent a text the length of a book.  Sometimes texting works a lot better than talking. I think it allows Ryan the time to really process what he is feeling and thinking. It makes me wait until he is completely finished with his thoughts. It helps me to not react part way through sending Ryan into fight or flight which feels a lot like blaming or defending which always ends up hurting. It also allows me to respond in a very analytical way which helps Ryan “hear” what I am saying. Maybe we should agree to just text. (Haha) 

I started writing out my goals for the upcoming school year.  I know Ryan wants to spend time together but doesn't always know how to go about it. It's frustrating for me. I keep wanting him to take charge in a sense and “fight” for what he wants. Instead he lets his head tell him I don't want to spend time with him. If he only knew how much I needed him. I'm planning to go to the temple every Wednesday morning so I checked his schedule. He has every Wednesday morning in September off. I know he wants to play tennis. I've designated Friday mornings if he is off as “Ryan” mornings. I checked his schedule and he has time every Friday morning in September.  I feel torn, on one hand I know he will be so happy if I initiate those activities. But on the other I feel abandoned, left to shoulder the responsibility of the relationship again. I want him to want to be with me so badly he makes it happen, he makes spending time with me a priority and a nonnegotiable. But then I hear the advice of my friend ringing in my ears. When I am honest with myself I have to admit it's really my pride that is torn. If I listen to my heart and base my decision on love I would send Ryan a text letting him know my plans.  I'm not sure why it's so hard for me to be vulnerable with him.  My walls are up and I know progress will be so slow until I am able to take them down. Here goes nothing…..

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I've had body image issues for as long as I can remember. My first memorable experience was in middle school. I was being really rude to my older sister and she kindly informed me that she wasn't my size until after high school. I remember thinking for the first time I was too big. High school came and went as did boys and all the talk about weight. I was athletic and strong but never as skinny as so and so. Then came college and a measly 5 extra pounds. I spent the next four years fixated on those 5 pounds and telling myself I was too fat. I graduated and moved to Chicago. I joined a gym and started running with a friend. I found clothes that were flattering but always somewhere in my mind I knew I wasn't thin enough. Then I met Ryan. We dated, fell in love and decided to get married. Sometime after that we were reminiscing and he pulled out his journal. I read through the pages that talked about me... he said a number of nice things but the only thing I remember is "she could drop a few."  I was DEVASTATED!!  He thought I was fat. I wasn't thin enough, he thought I should loose a few pounds. All my fears became a reality that day. He tried to tell me something different but the damage had been done. Then he did the only thing he knew to do; give me space & time to get over it.   
Unable to adequately express my fears and hurts to Ryan we started down a road of misunderstandings. I'd bristle or pull away when he would put his hand around my middle, terrified that all he would feel is my fat. I didn't like him seeing me change, shower, etc. I knew he would somehow be disappointed, disgusted even. Compliments were never his strong suit. So there wasn't much to combat the thoughts running through my mind. It didn't help that he found it difficult to see the beauty in really overweight women. I remember the first time I was expressing how beautiful a woman was and he just looked at me with this blank stare. I asked him, "Don't you see how beautiful she is?"  He couldn't, the weight got in the way. So I started pointing out different features and he actually started to see. 
But my fears grew. I was having babies, gaining and loosing weight. The only time Ryan new to compliment me was when I'd be dressed up for some function. I couldn't get away from my thought, "He thinks I'm unattractive, too fat." He had no idea I was feeling this way. It's only been in the last few years that I've been able to say "I don't feel good about myself, I feel gross." He tries reassuring me but there isn't a lot of emotion behind the words. And he still struggles with compliments. I think in the past I just thought he didn't find me attractive. Now I am beginning to understand that when you shut off emotions you don't want to feel you shut off all of them. So when he runs from the negative emotions, he isn't able to express the tender, kind ones either. He can say the words but there is no feeling behind them. And I am all about the feeling. I want to see it in his eyes and feel it in his voice. But that isn't really the problem. 

Raising four girls God has taught me a lot. As I parent them about physical appearances I feel like the biggest hypocrite. I remember the first time Sam got upset about not fitting into her jeans. I told her it was time to buy a new pair. She came home from college last summer frustrated with her weight. I remember telling her there was nothing wrong with her weight. She still wasn't happy. I then told her, I can help you loose a few pounds if you want but you don't need to lose any, you are beautiful. We ate healthy, she increased her exercise  and she went home a few pounds lighter. Before she left I reminded her again how perfect she was even if she were a few pounds heavier.  I believe size, weight, fitness level, etc has nothing to do with how beautiful a person is except when it comes to me. 
As I parent them and reinforce the truths and expose the lies about physical appearances I have to face my own lies I've told myself. I have to come to grip with the fact that Ryan can't fix those issues, no matter how much he were to compliment me. Those have to be fixed within myself. 

I know the answer lies within the gospel of Jesus Christ. True worth comes from learning about our Savior and His father. It's learning to hear Their voices above the world's. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

I ran away Thursday morning. It was scheduled, Ryan and the kids new about it. I needed to get away, breathe, think and hopefully recoup a bit. Vermont seemed like a great place to go. So far, so good. However, Friday during a hike I found an email from Ryan. The content was a little disheartening but surprisingly I wasn't upset. I didn't feel hurt or angry, I think there was a part of me that thought maybe this would help us. I waited for a response to my response and nothing came. I was up late texting the kids a couple nights later and ryan texted. I told him to call me when he was driving home from work. I thought he would talk to me about his email but he didn't. He talked about the horses, the kids, his and porter's boy trip that was coming up but never about his email. He was saying goodbye and I wanted to talk about the email so I brought it up. He didn't seem too interested in talking about it. As I addressed the situation he came up with his old reasons, putting the blame/responsibility back on me. Again, I felt completely alone. I've expressed my thoughts and intents very clearly. He chooses not to hear or believe them. I'm not sure what to do. I've made so many decisions for him in the past and it's created a very ineffective marriage cycle. I've tried to stop doing it so that he can figure out who he really is. However, his decisions that include me keep hurting me. He tells himself it's what I want but it couldn't be farther from the truth. He wants a wife that smiles at him, engages him in conversation, is affectionate to him and is a good mother. I play that roll and everything in his world is happy and wonderful yet I still feel completely alone and sad. There is no emotional connection. He loves to talk about books, history, church, work but nothing "real". When emotions surface with the kids he grasps for the quickest answer or he lets them walk away giving them space. I think he's said a hundred or more times to me, "I'm just giving you space." For me that translates to ignoring me. If you want to cause me pain, ignore me. I have felt so much rejection in my life I automatically assume people will reject me. I would rather not have relationships because I know they will end up rejecting and hurting me. Our family life is incredibly emotional. The kids have dealt with so much rejection and ugliness. They come home from church and school a mess, often in tears. I am constantly walking them through and processing their emotions. It is overwhelming to say the least. I have so much racing through my head; how do I help them, how do I instill self confidence when it is being destroyed daily, how do I teach them to trust God when it seems as if He isn't listening, how do they keep taking this abuse and not let it change them, how do I help them choose Christ and His ways? Often when ryan walks in the door and asks how my day was all I have is "Good."  I am beginning to understand it's not that he doesn't want to emotionally connect but that he doesn't know how. I'm not sure how we get there. I know the answer is in me being my best self. My best self creates a safe comforting environment for Ryan to be. I'm just not sure how to keep doing that when I am so lonely and sad. I know the answer lies in my relationship with Christ. As I teach my children to choose Him I hear my Heavenly Father giving me the same counsel. I need to allow the Savior to heal my heart, fill it with His love, kindness and charity.  I believe as I do, I will find the ability to endure the loneliness of marriage. I have felt His strength and enabling power through motherhood. I am truly feeling the joys of life through my children. I need to trust I'll have the same experiences with marriage and my husband. 
"Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think he wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the one who created the universe? He loves you not only for who you are this very day, but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become.”-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ryan comes from more of a structurally sound home.  Both his parents had college degrees, his dad was a dentist. His mom was talented and excelled in school. She ran a tight ship. They prayed as a family, read scriptures together, had family home evening regularly and worked hard. I remember getting a call from a college friend before I married Ryan. He asked me if I knew what kind of family I was marrying into. He knew me and my up bringing. I was the farthest thing from a "Molly Mormon"   I had made choices very different than Ryan. He wanted to make sure I knew what I was choosing... in fear that I couldn't live up to their standards. They were good, they made good choices and were/are obedient people. What I realized later was that Ryan struggled more emotionally.  I remember one of the first stories I heard about his mom. She was a young wife and struggling with somethings her sweet husband was doing. She called her mom and started to express her frustrations. Her mother's reply was "You married a good man, I never want to hear you complain about him again!" I've heard phrases like, "Just let them be, give them time, they just need a little space... they will get over it" used often.  I am in no way criticizing his family. I am just beginning to understand how Ryan and I have gotten to where we are.  I am an emotion seeker. I live for emotional connection. Ryan is an emotion avoider, he avoids emotion at all cost; mine, his, the kids. For years we were stuck in a frustrating cycle.  I would feel empty, alone, unfilled. However, the only way I knew to express that was through frustration and anger. So I would get upset and try to help Ryan to understand why. He in turn would withdraw, giving me space and time to "get over it". I would feel more alone, empty, and abandoned. Needing to feel emotionally connected to him I would reengage in the relationship unfortunately reinforcing that what he was doing worked. So it continued for years... until I broke and let anger in, really in.  We moved to a new place and all hell broke loose. I don't use that as a trite phrase. Quite literally I felt as though the adversary had set up camp in our front yard. No matter what I did he was there, making life unbearable. I had never experienced anything like it. What made things worse is that my children were experiencing it too. I couldn't cope. I reached out to Ryan, pleading with him to take over. He liked the idea of me needing him but didn't quite know what to do. The kids at this time were turning into emotional messes. He continued to withdraw from those emotions not realizing how much he was injuring relationships.  I had so many unmet needs. I couldn't get him to understand, I didn't fully understand myself. He wanted a list of things to do so I tried making lists but they didn't help. What I finally realized was, I couldn't make a list of ways to emotionally connect. It was in the way he looked at me, talked to me, touched me, engaged me. At that point I gave into the hopelessness and anger settled in. Unfortunately, that anger rocked our world quite literally. I was so lonely and sad. His withdrawing felt like abandonment. I wanted the hurt to end. My mind was in constant turmoil. I couldn't fix this no matter how hard I tried. So one afternoon it all fell apart...
I love that quote. I am grateful for a wise Heavenly Father that has given me the opportunity to learn and grow through mothering our spirited children.  I am beginning to understand that it is through the trials of motherhood that I have been better prepared to find and experience the joys in marriage. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

21 years 5 months and 8 days ago Ryan and I were married. We've experience a gamut of emotions. What I realized is that neither one of us was emotionally healthy enough to chose an eternal companion in 1996. We both were raised in flawed homes, who isn't. This is in no way criticizing either of our parents. I believe they did the very best they could. Just as Ryan and I are doing the best we can raising our own kids in a flawed home. Mine was more structurally flawed. 
We functioned at or below poverty the entire time I was living at home. My mom is a survivor of abuse, my dad abandoned by his father as a child. There was no "higher learning" for them. They married as a result of a teenage pregnancy.  They became parents at the young age of 18 and 19.  
My dad had a temper and only wanted 2 children. He had big dreams and the talent to make them happen. Those dreams did not include raising 12 children on a laborers pay. However, God had a different plan.  He had a family to provide for so he went to work at the local steel mill. I remember holding Ryan's hand and thinking "His hands are so soft and white," I was a little perplexed. I only knew my dad's hands as being rough and discolored from hard labor. To say he hated that job is a huge understatement. Yet, he went day after day for 25 years. He wasn't equipped to raise 12 kids, let alone amid poverty. He loved cars, he dreamed of his old 57 chevy. But he drove cars held together with heaven only knows what. His clothes were always tattered and worn. The stress he was under is incomprehensible to most.  It doesn't excuse his behavior those years living at home. But I've learned to have compassion and empathy for what he was asked to shoulder. I believe he did the absolute best he could. 
My mom was incredible. She somehow overcame her past to raise and love 12 highly spirited children. She could do anything. She may only have a high school diploma but the knowledge she has gained is far beyond most. I remember her trying to process emotions with us and teach us how to cope. "I feel_________, because__________."   There wasn't a day that went by that she didn't wrap everyone of us in her arms, hug us tight, kiss our faces and tell us she loved us. She taught us to love reading, taking us to the library weekly to check out books. I can still smell those books. She read to us nightly, tucking us in each night; again hugging, kissing and saying I love you. She taught us we could do anything and become anyone. She encouraged us to experience life, see the world and never quit. Even though we qualified for every government program, she chose to live within the means my dad provided. We went without a lot. I can't imagine the stress she must have felt trying to clothe and feed us. She was an amazing cook, she could turn the simplest ingredients into a delicious meal. She had her weaknesses; she was head strong. I remember the school sending free cheese home with the younger girls. My mom sent them back to school to relay the message, "We don't need free cheese."  I think so many people criticized her for having 12 kids and accused her of not being able to provide for them she was determined to prove them all wrong. She was asked once, "How are you going to educate all those kids?" inferring we would become a drain on society. 
I am a product of this upbringing. I learned to love but I also learned to not trust. I learned that people who are suppose to love you often hurt you. I can remember the day I decided to never let my dad see me cry again. Unfortunately, I didn't realize I let anger become my primary emotion that day, masking all the softer more vulnerable emotions. In essence, shutting them off and burying them.  I wasn't ready to make that life changing decision at 23 when I said yes to the man of my dreams. 

It would take 21 years 5 months and 6 amazing kids later before I would be much better prepared to make that decision. I find it interesting that God knew we weren't ready to adequately choose each other in 1996 yet He still put us together. It's been living life, learning about myself amid the chaos and stress that I found me. The me that would not have chosen Ryan at 23, the same me that would never leave him at 45. I believe my true happiness will only be found with him.  It's been a bumpy road so far, full of ups and downs. I've learned that love is a choice and it is much different than romance. Love has the ability to heal, grow and provide comfort. An emotional earthquake occurred the summer of 2016 at our home. I think we all have felt the aftershocks.  We are rebuilding and sometimes that can be slow. I found that I was experiencing some of the same emotions that motherhood had provoked. I remember the hopelessness I had felt before I started writing. It was in writing each night, processing the emotions, allowing myself to feel them that I finally figured out motherhood. It is my hope I can find the same understanding writing about marriage. I hope it will bring the same joy and peace I happened upon alone the journey of motherhood. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Funny story, it all starts with a boy...  a boy that Sam met, became friends with, dated/ing and really likes.  You see, she is suppose to be driving home with Ryan on May 6th after her cousins wedding.  But now, she isn't sure she wants to be home for so long.  Her siblings are disappointed plans are changing and Sam is the one changing the plans.  There are a number of factors that come into play so I called her this morning.  I could tell she was pretty set on not coming home but she didn't want to be the one to cause disharmony, heaven forbid if her siblings were angry with her.  I have to admit I was a bit irritated.  She kept giving excuses why it would be a good idea for her to stay in Utah longer, to which I had a number formidable suggestions.  I kept telling her, "You are a grownup.  You have to make your own decisions."  She could tell in my voice something wasn't quite right.  But still, she didn't want to be the one to make the decision.  She wanted to have her way but not deal with any negative fallout.  "I don't want them to be mad at me."  I assured her they (her siblings) weren't mad at her, just disappointed.  Porter had planned on having a climbing buddy for 6 weeks!  He's going to be disappointed about missing out on that.  Izy wants her to see her race.  We both hung up not feeling super great with the conversation.  After accepting my own irritated feelings and processing them I came to the conclusion that it really is her call.  I should be happy for her that she has met someone she really cares for and that he is a really good man.  I called her back and suggested she really think about what she wants and why she wants it... I hinted (suggested) it had more to do with the boy than anything else, she sheepishly agreed.  Then we could have a real conversation about the options for this spring. She hung up happy & I bought an airline ticket for Ryan.  We will see how this spring shapes up...