Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017

I can't begin to express the feelings of my heart.  It is so full.  Life is nowhere near what I had invisioned.  However, this family Ryan and I have created is magical.  There is fighting and crying, anger and tears, happy and sad, name an emotion and we have experienced it.  But somehow there is this love and belonging that truly is magical.  We all huddled around the computer today waiting with anticipation for the hour we would have with Casey.  We had Sam on video.  I could tell something wasn't quite right.  Come to find out she was a bit distraught earlier.  You see, she was floating past Haiti trying to get an internet connection and it wasn't going well.  She had already missed Thanksgiving with us.   And even though she was on a cruise with Phil and his family, a bit of her heart really wanted to be home in Kansas City crowded around the computer with us.  She went through a slew of tissues.  Thankfully, things worked out and she and Phil were able to join in on the hour of laughter with Casey.  We have so much fun chatting with him. Every time we are caught off guard when he says, "I only have 15 minutes."  My heart aches just a little bit knowing that we have to say goodbye.  There are no perfect families.  But this family is perfect for me.  They help me grow.  They let me love them, make mistakes and laugh.  They are my treasure, they have my heart.

Christmas Eve 2017

The house was dark and quiet, I checked the time and it was only 8:15pm.  Ryan and I climbed into bed thinking we'd get a long nights sleep.  We started talking and laughing and finally fell asleep after 1:30AM.  Marriage has not been easy for either of us.  However, after nights like last night I can't help but have hope of one day creating the marriage we both dream of.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

I remember the wave of emotion the day I married Ryan like it was yesterday.  It was such a unique experience, one you never forget.  I had never experienced anything like it until we decided to move to Missouri.  I was sitting in the airport and that wave of emotion hit for the second time in my life.  It's been a rough road.  One full of disappointment and pain.  However, today was one of those days I will look back on and remember with fondness.  Ryan and I are no where near having the relationship either of us wants.  We are committed to each other and our family but in noway satisfied with our relationship.  It started out like most other discussions... me asking Ryan what he was feeling.  I listened as he expressed his thoughts.  I tried to explain some of my reasoning.  He was listening for a bit and it seemed like he was internalizing what I was saying.  However, part way through he got angry and threw out a slew of words that normally would have sent me cowering back into my fortress of walls.  You know those walls, the ones you throw up to keep the hurt at bay.  The ones that only damage a relationship more.  Well today was different.  As I talked with him I realized that the anger and bitterness towards him was finally gone.  I was amazed as I continued discussing with him the situation at hand, my emotions didn't spike.  I could stay in the conversation without feeling like I needed to run away.  We spent the day together.  I think he thinks I'm crazy in a few ways, and I would agree.  I hope someday he will find value in what he sees as crazy right now.  I am understanding him a little better and trying to embrace his idiosyncrasies.  I can learn a lot from him. I believe he just gets stuck inside his own head sometimes.  But today was a success.  We took one step towards the relationship we both desire, that's a win... for both of us.

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