This morning I actually came out of hiding to make a phone call. :-) The person on the other end of the phone was surprised not only by the call but by my upbeat tone.
"I thought you had become depressed. I was worried."
I laughed. It seems despite my assurances throughout the last five months that the children and I are doing well, they get lost in the "gloomier" posts. I didn't realize. She suggested a post in the "upbeat" times would be good.
She's a smart lady.
So, let me take a few illegal lines (pinched nerve in my shoulder means computer use is forbidden) to let you know that it's not that bad.
If you had been hanging out with us the first three months after Rob moved out, you would have seen the positive direction in which we were moving. Anna started her drama class. Both children started counseling. Robert's counselor finally looked at me and said, "He's doing great. I don't think we need to work on this anymore. If you see a problem, call, but otherwise, he's good."
And he was. We all were.
In the midst of that, I started a CERT class. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Training. It trains citizens as volunteers to back up major response groups like the police, fire, and EMTs in the case of a large emergency. I LOVED it. Rob had the children anyway, so I went to class for ten Monday nights. I met some new friends, learned a lot about emergency response, found out I really enjoy the search part of search and rescue, and became more fascinated with the medical treatment of injuries in the field. In fact, if all works out, I will be taking a EMR class this spring, which will certify me as a First Responder in the case of a medical emergency. I will basically have all the privileges of an EMT. From there, I can take some other certifications and ultimately take the classes and train to be a paramedic. I don't know if that is what I want to do, but we'll see.
Life was a rollercoaster, and we had some really hard days, and we cried hard, but really, we were okay.
Then November 1, my uncle with whom I had lived in college was found dead. I was not prepared for the effects. While I don't know if I ever felt hopeless, I had reached my mental and emotional wall. I didn't want to check out of life. I wasn't suicidal. I didn't think it was never going to get better. I did, however, want a break. I just wanted to lie in bed, cry really hard--or not, and not have to be or do for anyone. I didn't want to have to pull it together for anyone. I didn't want to think of positive motion. I didn't want to fix meals. I didn't want to smile and pretend all was well. I wanted to simply be left alone to breathe because that felt like it took all the energy I had.
For the next two weeks I struggled, and I knew it. I knew I was not where I had been, and I tried to be there. I tried to simply choose to be there. Surely, enough resolve would get me back there. It didn't. I felt like I couldn't think clearly. My whole goal became making three meals a day for the children because that is all I felt I could do. I made contact with at least one friend everyday, and honestly, I kept expecting one of them to say, "Okay, you are not alright anymore." None of them did. Now I understand why.
Those two weeks were not just random dreariness. They were angry weeks. They were packed with anger, rage, and hurt. God and I had some really ugly conversations. I screamed. I cried. Some would call it a pity party. Some call it plagiarizing Job. I call it....really....ugly.
The reality is healing can be really ugly. Real, deep, honest healing does not happen unless all the puss and infection comes out. I have tried so hard to be constant and stable through this that I have hedged the puss and infection. Finally, circumstances cut deep enough to reach the ick, and it erupted out.
While I was trying to pull it together and be "acceptable", my friends recognized this as a good thing and let it erupt...even when it erupted on them.
In the midst of this, my friend John, who is a former Marine and speaks in language I understand, gave me simple but truly sage advice. He said, "You are where you need to be. You know where you need to go. You may not know exactly what it looks like yet, but you know two vital things: where you were and where you are. From those two things, you can figure out the direction you need to go. Now, keep marching."
So I did. I marched right to Arkansas.
I left the Sunday before Thanksgiving on a trip that was supposed to keep me from being home on Thanksgiving. Really, I didn't want to go, but circumstances made it so I needed to give Rob and the kids the house for a few days. God covered the expenses, and in ways that could never been written off as coincidental (because I would have done that to keep from going), God told me to go to Arkansas.
I can't tell you what really happened while I was there. I yelled some more. I pointed my finger, asked questions, and accused...and hiked...and tried to listen.
And what I heard was not an audible voice. What I heard was different.
What I heard was the voice concern in one of the hikers who passed me when she asked if I was hiking alone. Yes. Yes, I was. The group of five and I walked along together awhile, but the extra three miles I had already done was taking its toll, and I couldn't keep up. They walked ahead, but every so often, I'd go over a hill or come round a bend, and there they would be waiting to check on me. I'd wave. They'd wave, and they'd move on...until I was too far behind, and they'd wait again.
What I heard was the strangeness of making a mistake and hiking 3 extra miles, making a 7.5 mile trek instead of 4.5, but ending in the same amount of time the 4.5 miles should have been.
I heard the beautiful accents of the couple with the map that were coming up the hill as I was preparing to turn around because I was sure I was lost again because it was taking longer than I had expected. Let him check his map. Hmmm....Nope. I'm headed the right direction. Just keep going.
John's words reverberated in my head. "Just keep marching."
And I did.
Until I met a sweet young lady who was far better prepared that day than I. My fanny pack and water were sitting in the car because I was only going a quarter of a mile, but my short trip had taken a long turn, and I was getting thirsty. The young lady and I chatted about the desinations ahead, and when done, I told her to have a blessed day and started to walk on, silently wishing for my water that sat in the car. The sound of her voice made me stop and turn. Did I want water? She held an un-opened bottle in her hand. She wasn't going to use it because she was nearly done. Did I want it? I didn't cry. Didn't even sniffle. Just smiled big, took the water, and blessed her again...aloud and in my heart.
And although I was sure my heart was full from the water, the children at the cave filled it further, overflowing it with their smiles and questions. What about this? And can I that? I answered what I could, but most of the time, I didn't know.
Once I stared at a carving on the wall made by the dripping water, and a small boy (my favorite one) stood and stared intently with me. Finally, he asked, "What do you see?"
I giggled. "I just think it is beautiful."
He stared a moment longer and nodded. "Oh. It's just beautiful." He nodded again and shrugged. It was just a wall, but it was okay. Did I want to sit by him on the rock anyway? Yes, I did.
And we sat...looking around at the immensity of the cave around us, the amazing work of water and God...and breathed.
When they left, I was still breathing...and smiling...and being filled.
There was no booming Voice, and yet, something spoke to me...deep.
By the time I returned home, I was ready to talk about the future, ask forgiveness for things I had done that led out marriage here, to see if there is a way out of where we are...and to be okay if there isn't.
And once again, we are moving forward.
Anna is loving drama, and we'll continue that. Maybe consider some more auditions. I hope so anyway. I'm looking at some activity options for Robert and have been in conversation with some different people and groups. I'm looking at some out-of-the-house class options, so the children have outside friends and I do as well.
I hope to be taking my medical class this spring, and my CERT group is having a holiday CERT Jeopardy party in a few weeks I'll attend. We do some kind of training each month, so I get to see friends then, too. I had hoped to go to Haiti with a medical team this summer, but the focus of the trip has shifted, so I don't expect to go. However, I am considering going back to school if it works with what is best for the children.
And there are my "commune" friends, the folks tight as family that live within three houses of us, and the one that drives in from Waco and invites me to dinner or go shopping. Target is so much more fun with a friend. And friends who are a phone call away for coffee, help getting the car to the mechanic, or a long walk.
And don't worry. I am not ignoring myself. I know if the children are going to reach the other side, I have to get there, too. It's kind of strange being "Jerri" and not "Rob's wife". It's a million miles outside my comfort zone, but it's not bad. Just different. Like I said in my previous post: it's all new...all different..and it's all good.
The weekends when the kids are gone are still hard because I don't know how to fill them yet. I'm not one to sit on my butt and watch TV, and I can only read so much. I'm a get out and do something person, so I'm looking at stuff to do. I am considering joining Habitat for Humanity when my shoulder heals, and I found a wilderness rescue training program that I would love to do. And, there is a rock climbing gym in Arlington that has ladies' night on Monday when Rob has the children and I no longer have class.
So, don't worry. I am not languishing in depression or grief. None of us are. On the contrary, I see great things happening in our family despite the wildness of the last few months. I know great things are to come. The kids are going to be great, and so am I. In fact, we are pretty crazy good already, and it's getting even better.