Monday, December 29, 2008

Depression Part 1

I woke up two hours ago.  At 4 am on the nose.  I couldn't fall asleep last night even though I was completely and utterly exhausted.   

I'm battling severe Depression.  Not a word I like to use.  Not something I like to admit.

In pubic, I think I hold it together pretty well.  Most people would describe me as friendly and well-put together.  Recently, I was mistaken for a High School student.  Granted, the woman was old enough to be my great-grandmother... it is also possible that she was blind in one eye and couldn't see out the other... but still... at almost 37 years old, I'll take it.   

I used to be a cheerleader (Did I just admit that?) and in many ways I still am.  Usually, I love to encourage others... I'm quick to compliment and try to overlook faults in others.  I do my best to smoothly navigate through rough conversations with "sandpaper people" as I call them.  I hug.

Lately?  I'm likely to call people names.  I'm tempted to foster grudges.  Is it just me or does everyone have some sort of personality disorder? I don't have a lot of patience and virtue feels like a vapor I can't seem to latch on to.

I'm weary.  I want to sleep and cry and I lie in bed wondering if swallowing a handful of pills would mean that I wouldn't have to do the hardest thing in the world:  swing my legs over the side of the bed and begin again.

Last week,  I looked at the knife sitting on the counter, and I thought about using it to slice my wrists.  Which is not something I'd ever do.  Too messy and painful.  The mere fact that I even had the thought, startled me.

When Brittany shaved her head?  I understood her.  She was oppressed.  She was in a rage.  Some people pull their hair out... some people cut... some people hit, berate, and accuse others.  Pain has to go somewhere.  When the photos and videos of Brit were circulating through the media, I was going through my own personal hell.  I was being torn apart by sexual abuse.  Absolutely shredded.  It's a wonder I didn't shave my own head.

I had a six month old baby and three other children.  Two of whom were victims and needed me to be their pillar.

So I tried to be everything to everyone.  I nursed my baby through sleepless nights.  I did my best to listen to my talkative, active son who cried alligator tears when I told him daddy couldn't live with us for a while.  I raced around trying to make everything all-better for my daughters.  I ran our fishing business, oversaw a construction project that was built from the ground up while my husband was away.... I ran kids to school, grocery shopped, shoveled the snow that delayed the construction project.  Spoke to attorneys, counselors and advocated for myself, my husband and my kids.  I moved from Alaska to Washington and back again. 

Until my husband was out of prison, I kept it together, day by day.  I counted the hours until he came home.  Naively,  I thought everything would be better after May 17th.  And some things are better.  Much, much better.  And some things are not.

I didn't realize that after being in survival mode, I would crash.   I see myself  like a wine glass slipping out of a wet hand... suspended... breath-held... praying to God everything would turn out OK... that the glass would merely bounce, not shatter.

If fantasizing about violence with kitchen knives, craving a bottle of pills and justifying BrittanySpears' hairdo is any indicator... I've hit the floor. With force. 

I sat in my closet, wrapped my arms around myself,  and admitted it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

This Christmas, I Channeled Grandma

My Mom's Mother was German.  As a child, I spent a lot of time wondering why she cleaned so much and laughed so little.  She's not remembered as being a very loving woman but every time she gently pin-curled my thick head of hair, I knew she loved me.

Grandma did a lot of funny things by accident.  When we laughed at her, we made sure to do it in private.  After all, this is a woman who was known to start whipping kids with the wooden rosary she'd just been praying on.  And it wasn't just Mary and Jesus she threw around, her broom was used as a powerful weapon. With it, she chased small children and animals into hiding all the while shaming them with German curses.  

Unless she was angry, Grandma spoke English.  Her mother, my Great-Grandmother Folk, tried not to speak German in public, either.  Since this was post-war America, speaking the language of Hitler was something done in private.  Or in extreme anger.  Take your pick.

Once, Great-Grandma Folk came over to watch my mom and her two sisters while my Grandma went to the dentist.  She was getting fitted for dentures and of course, had to have her teeth pulled out.  When she came home with a painful, puckered and unsightly mouth, she reverted to speaking German with her mom.  My aunt was hiding under the bed bawling because she thought that without teeth, Grandma couldn't speak in English.

She pronounced Tylenol, "Ty-nol", called the couch a "Davenport", and had friends that were "Eye-talian".  Her medicine cabinet was filled with so many over-the-counter drugs that I'm sure would be of great value to the neighborhood meth user.  My Grandma often confused the drugs in her cabinet. 

It wasn't uncommon for us to be laughing at the kitchen table because we heard, "Jesus, Mary & Joseph! I just dropped Pa's nasal spray in my EYE!" coming from the bathroom.  Or, "Oh, for Pete's sake! That was BEN-GAY?! I thought it was Polygrip."  It is the running joke in our family.  

Which is why my mom called me a few years back to tell me (between tears of laughter) that instead of cleansing gently with a cotton-ball full of astringent, she had rubbed her face raw with nail-polish remover.  Jesus, Mary & Joseph.

Yesterday, I used my own astringent.  I noticed that it seemed a bit bubblier than usual and thought that it might be my imagination.  I inspected my cotton ball to see if maybe there was some soap on it or something.  And then today.  It happened again.  Instead of the nice, tingly lavender rubdown, there was a strange, foamy residue.  I marched downstairs-in my towel, even- and confronted my 8-year old.

"Lambchop.  Tell me the truth.  Have you been doing science experiments with this?" I asked as I held up the bottle in question.  He denied it.  I didn't believe him.  I pressed again.  "Are you SURE you didn't add something to this??  Hydrogen Peroxide?  Soap??  Come on.  Just tell me."  I could not get him to admit he'd been tweaking my skin-care even though I practically interrogated him.

Which is why I felt just a little bit guilty when I discovered it was eye-make-up remover I'd been smearing all over my face.

Under my breath, I muttered "Jesus, Mary & Joseph...."  I fugured my Grandma and I were just wishing each other a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sabbath Dinner

After I made a delicious, vegetarian version of Pad Thai for dinner, I asked my husband and 8-year-old son, "Lambchop" if they liked the meal.  It was one of those conversations I assumed was happening above my two-year-old's head.

Lambchop:  "I'm not a spice man.  I'm more of a sour man."  


SciFi:  "I batman!"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!

I'm sitting in the local coffee shop feeling like a princess because there is only one outlet in this joint, and guess who's computer is feeling the love?

Beneath a child's cut-out snowflakes, taped to the nearby window are flyers announcing upcoming community events. If I really wanted to attend, I would have to decipher the time and place by reading from right to left. Ordinarily? Not a big deal. But considering I've been on the opposite side of of the social status-quo for almost two years now, I find it poetic.

I guess that's where I've been since my last post. Learning how to live with my modern-day scarlet letter. I was first introduced to this term as a kid. I don't remember in what context, but if I had to guess, it would've had something to do with my German Grandmother giving some sort of warning to my aunts. In my mind (heavily influenced by 70's sitcoms, mind you) I imagined Penny Marshall flying into her apartment with a giant, loopy, cut-from-felt "L" on her shirt. I mean, Laverne was doing the kinds of things that called for the wearing a scarlett letter, right? Quite honestly, I still imagine it that way.... that cursive thing stuck to my chest.

In reality,the scarlet letter is elusive. I'm not sure who put it there or who else sees it. I see the reflection of it in some people's eyes but not others'. Sometimes I remember to remove it with prayer, and some times I stick it on myself and hide behind the tremendous weight of it.

I battle with this. I stay home from social events. I decline dinner invitations. I lower my eyes in public. I allow shame and embarrassment to overwhelm and depress me. I hide at home unshowered and in the sweats I slept in. For two nights straight.

I recently made something called a vision board... it is suppose to way to keep me focused on things I would like to accomplish in this life. In the middle I drew an ornate mirror to remind me to see myself the way God does. But lately, I've forgotten to listen to him and all I see in the mirror is a woman who hopes her God is holding on to her because somewhere between the last post and the present, I think she let go.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Grandpa, the Internet is Better than a Billboard.

Ah! Two posts in one day! I'm dizzy with excitement. Let me tell you why I now post again even with my just-turned-two-years-old distraction wrangling around on my lap! Carol Davis- Morning Show Host Extraordinare and THE most entertaining woman attending the Proverbs 31 conference in June, "tagged me"! I'm not sure what I'm suppose to do, but I will tell you I about passed out with joy that someone other than my mother was reading my blog. (Sorry, Mom!)

The drill:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Write 6 random things about yourself
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them
5. Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up

So, apparently, this is less like freeze tag and more like, "Hey.... do you remember when your Grandpa told you not to reveal anything about yourself that you wouldn't post on a billboard? Let's do it anyway!"

1. If you were to climb into my bed and fluff my pillows, you might just find hidden treasures. I tend to take things off while napping... my watch, hair-ties, maybe even the phone.

2. When I was waiting for my husband to get out of the slammer (don't I sound trashy?) I measured the time by a little toenail experiment. I went out for a pedicure just a couple of days before his incarceration (see, not so trashy) and applied light pink polish. Because I was too labored with kids, work, depression, and oh, yeah... kids, I didn't have a chance to get another one. So, after a few months, I got curious and wondered if I'd have ANY toe polish left when the hubby got out. Guess what? It takes exactly eight months for my large toenail to grow out.

3. My favorite kind of film is a documentary... action films put me to sleep.

4. I am not responsible enough to have a cell phone. In the last ten days I've misplaced it countless times and as of now, haven't seen it in 6 days. It doesn't really bother me and the mere fact that it doesn't, drives my friends and family nuts.

5. As a young girl , I would sometimes comfort myself by quietly singing an obscure Amy Grant song when I felt lonely, insecure or afraid. In my most distressful adult moments, I sing it in my head.

6. I am a dental oddity. I enjoy straight teeth even though I sucked my thumb until I was... um.... lets just say old enough to have a crush on The Karate Kid.

Real Men Take Out the Trash

In the time it took to for me to drink a sinful double-tall-decaf-mocha-breve, I was reminded of why I call my hometown, “Fishbowl, USA”.

I was simply sitting at the coffee shop, enjoying both my highly coveted window seat and my high fat, high sugar coffee bomb. I felt rather urban with my laptop and all. I fooled myself into thinking I was just an anonymous, city-dwelling girl who scored a great seat by an electrical outlet. My fantasy was short lived.

I was interrupted when an Old Friend walked in. Old Friend being someone my age that has known me long enough and well enough to recall in detail the contents of the proverbial trash can that sits outside my home. It’s a rusty dumpster filled with the stinking, rotting, scraps of sexual abuse that God asked my children to quit hiding and my husband to purge. And guess who wants to dig through it?

He sits down next to me and with the kind of lowered voice reserved for widows, the destitute and sometimes those who don’t speak English, asks, “how are you?” My mind goes blank for a moment.

Oh yeah.

I’m suddenly in the category of people that evoke tremendous sympathy from others because of a random, tragic life experience. In these moments, I can either give him an easy-breezy “I’m Great!” (which, said just right will be taken as the blow-off it’s meant to be) or, I can bite on his invitation to walk around in my trash with an honest, vulnerable smile. Because, that’s all it takes, really. Any sort of opening, and people will bite on a chance to walk in garbage.

A better Christian would’ve seen this as a time to lead this lost soul to Christ. A stronger woman wouldn’t have cared if he were offended by “I’m GREAT!” A more prepared version of me would’ve foreseen this. But on this day, I was none of those things.

I allowed Old Friend to say ignorant things to me. I allowed him to talk about my family as if he had walked in my shoes. Somehow HE needed to talk about my situation, and I passively indulged him. In this hour long, roller-coaster ride of a conversation, here are just some of the comments that have lingered:

“I can never forgive your husband. I don’t even have the time of day to think about him. If I were you, I couldn’t live here. I don’t know how you do it. I had a bad childhood, too but I must just be a stronger man. A bad childhood seems like a lame excuse. When I think I’ve had a bad day? I just think about you and I feel better.”

And I thought I was just going out for coffee.

The struggle I have with all of this isn’t about what Old Friend said. God has been so gracious with me. He’s gifted me with more than enough grace to spare for this situation. Old Friend has not walked in my shoes. Old Friend may even need to talk about this more than I do…. After all, he was also disappointed by my husband’s actions. For that, I will not throw a stone.


My dumpster? Consider it hallowed ground, Old Friend. That garbage was drug outside with blood, sweat and tears. Removed with heartache, passionate faith and heroic strength. The mere fact that you even know it exists is a privilege. When you walk by and turn your head in horror, remember this: I’ve known you as long as you’ve known me. As far as I can tell? We’re different in only one way.

My trash is on the curb.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Where There's no ego, There is no Limit.

I just did something a little bit bold. I posted a question in the forum and in that post, invited readers over. If you came over, Welcome! What you should know is that as of now, only three people read this blog: My mother, Jenn (who was kind enough to leave a comment- thanks, Jenn!) and myself. You may have just doubled my readership.

Until today, I've been struggling with whether or not to disclose the nature of my husband's crime. Dragging my feet a bit, I guess. Wives of criminals suffer as many punishments as their husbands when they are incarcerated, but when your husband is then known as a sex offender, these punishments become even more shameful and ultimately more burdensome. Because one of the consequences of the crime is for my husband to be listed on the sex offender registry, our family now lives in a new reality. A reality where privacy and discretion even for the victims no longer exist. Where even the innocent are punished every day. The only modern place where a person's basic civil rights don't seem to apply. It is an instrument of punishment done in the name of safety used in the same humiliating fashion as stocks.

My husband was inappropriate and sexually compulsive within our family. When the matter was disclosed to me, I first maintained the safety of every family member and then supported my husband as he dealt with his demons and encouraged my children as they dealt with theirs. Practical advice from legal counselors and friends was to do what most families do: try to work it out within the home in fear of the legal consequences. At the time, I was determined to "do the right thing" and not just allow punishment, but even ask for it. I question the wisdom of that decision every single day yet even as I say that, I know with certainty that this experience has allowed our family to see each other as heroes, find more freedom than bondage, and to clearly hear the voice of God in this painful valley of life.

On the internet, we can be anyone we want. We can have a new identity by escaping into a fictional person altogether. We can choose to disclose just enough information of ourselves to create an inaccurate caricature of who we wish we were. For the first few posts, I happily and wrongly avoided the topic of sexual abuse. In part because this blog could've been an escape. In part because knowing my mom was my only reader makes posting here feel much like the time she found that note in the wash.

Because Prison Talk served me so well, I felt it would be a disservice to all the people in the Loving A Sex Offender forum to have anything less than the truth here on my site. If you are really here, Thank You. Thank you for your replies when I posted in the middle of sleepless nights. Thank you for your wise legal advise. Thank you for your love, acceptance and comfort. Thank you for your 24 hour, 7 days a week saving grace.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Rubber Boots and GQ

When we were first dating, I used to snoop through my husband's medicine cabinet. Not that he would've minded, or even that he was hiding anything. But, in my foraging, I found a couple of midly-shocking bits.

First of all, my husband is a strong, fisherman of the Alaskan variety. He has been in the fishing industry for over twenty years. His hands are rugged and thick. With ease he can work heavy equipment, effortlessly haul whale-sized fish aboard, and hand pull an anchor from 300 feet of water. On any given day, you can almost bet he's wearing a pair of rubber boots, polar-fleece and rain gear. Might I add, he's also the kind of guy that makes even rain gear seem GQ worthy.

Which is why I was so shocked to discover his bathroom secrets. Behind the mirrored medicine cabinet, I found... Biore Pore Strips! Teeth Whitening trays! Astringent! I don't really know what I was expecting? Maybe Bunion removers or drugs? But here, these beauty aids were proof that even my burly, rugged fisherman works a little at his looks. Aw. How cute is that?

I was remindid of this when I came back up to Alaska last week. I was getting all settled in and unpacking my goodies, combining our toothbrushes and merging our shampoos. When I started placing things in our medicine cabinet, I felt like I did on my first few bathroom snoops. Between the time he was released from prison and me movin back in, he had purchased enough new products that I felt as if I were discovering him all over again.

A new brand of toothpaste sits next to a fancy blue and neon green toothbrush. He now uses very cool swivel-head, triple-blade razors (I already tested them... they're great!), a "made from organic oats" face lotion made especially for dry skin, and even Chap Stick. Chap Stick? Who is this man?

I'm having a great time finding out.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Scratched Retina

When I come back from trips, my cat gives me the cold shoulder for a couple of days. This is the cat that for some reason, would pounce on me in the middle of the night and then gently bite my chin until I'd respond with a backhand. It was the second strangest thing I've had a cat do to me. The first kitty-puss in my life did something even more bizarre.

She sucked on my eyelashes.

What's even worse is that I LET her! At only 8, I had a new kitty who was having some sort of separation anxiety from the her mother and one day while I was lying on the floor, she came up to my face and started "rooting" near my eye until suddenly she was latched on to my lid and lashes. I figured it was no big deal since I could still watch the Brady Bunch with my other eye. I'd lay there, sucking my thumb, with a cat nursing on my lashes. It wan't really the sucking or my obstructed view of Bobby Brady that finally got to me. It was the kneading of her paws and the occasional sandpapery retina lick that finally made me stick her tail in her face as a substitute.

From that day on, we had a tail-sucking cat.

So, when I returned from being at the very awesome and very powerful Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference, I was surprised when instead of my current cat putting me on ignore, the baby did. After he did the "mommy's-home!" celebratory jig, he remembered that I left him for THREE LONG NIGHTS. It was nothing but the cold shoulder and the stink eye for the rest of the day.

I have a pretty good chance of making it up to him because tomorrow I'm flying he and his brother to Alaska. He'll be officially reunited with his daddy. Although the baby has been visiting him over the winter, my 7-year-old son, (aka, "Lambchop") has not. It will be a special day for our family. (Must say a big thanks to hubby's probation officer for taking the extra time to re-evaluate his interpretation of the conditions of probation and do everything he could to help make this happen! I don't think there are many men in the system who actually take measures like this.)

So, by tomorrow, I'm sure the "airplane! Airplane! AIRPLANE!" ride, will put an end to the baby's grudge. Can't wait.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Burnt Sienna with Carnation Pink High Notes

I noticed it the first time I visited him in prison- he didn't smell the same. In the 8 months he was locked up, I was allowed to hug my husband four times. Each of those times, I nuzzled my head to his chest and tried to drink in the moment with all of my senses... but that smell... fruity? And where was it coming from... his scalp? Deodorant? Was he now using foot spray or what? Whatever it was wasn't necessarily bad or anything-just new. An imposter smell to replace his usual one. Which, if you must know, smells exactly like Crayola Crayons and is only noticeable once in a blue moon. (Or would that be a Cornflower Blue moon??!!)

Anyhow-the books and the comforter I gave him for Christmas…. Fruity. Wallet? Infused with the new fruity smell, too. At first this was totally annoying (Ok, not annoying enough to re-wash…) but now I find it oddly comforting. After three weeks out of prison, it feels like somehow this nightmare didn’t really happen. While we’re back into the swing of business and some the basics of life, it’s so easy to compartmentalize the prison time. It would be nice to pretend it didn’t happen, but it did. So, that pseudo smell? It’s simply tangible evidence that my husband really did return safely from a trip to another planet. He survived. WE survived. We’ve got alien aroma as proof.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sleeping Octopus, Hidden Tentacle

If you've ever walked around with an octopus stuck to your face, you may be able to grasp the concept of how frustrating it is for me to fly with my nearly 2-year-old son. After just one flight with him, I'm physically altered. Aside from wearing both my coffee and his cloudy, backwashed cup of water on my pants, I also have blurred vision and teeth gnashed down to the nub. He doesn't scream, cry or make such a pest of himself that other's are inspired to double up on their birth control, its just that he glaums on to me and grasps every single object he can or can barely reach ... just when I get him in a tolerable position, like perched along the cliff of my knees, I'll catch one of his body parts covertly stretching out to make contact with things that are just slightly out of reach. Even if it means the perfect stranger next to us who's all... "Maybe if I concentrate really hard on this book, I can ignore your son's outstretched big toe stroking my wrist hair." At one point, Squigglepuss managed to balance somewhere up near my clavicle, slump over my head, and inform that same gentleman next to me that we were On. The. AIRPLANE! AIRPLANE! AIRPLANE!

Now I'm sleepless in Seattle. I should be getting some rest because I 'm catching a flight to Alaska in just two itty- bitty hours, but I simply can't stop the celebration of being the sole occupant of my personal bubble. A celebration that can only happen because finally, Finally, FINALLY, the baby and his tentacles have slipped into a jet-lagged coma.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Home at Last

Unbelievably, it has been 100 hours since my husband's release from the land of confinement. Our day didn't go exactly as planned (imagine that!) mostly because a blanket of fog threw itself on our little town and held my flight hostage. Instead of greeting him at the prison as he walked out, I had to wait a few extra hours for him to fly home. Our reunion took place exactly where I didn't want it to: in the tiny airport of our hometown; the hometown that's served as the stage and backdrop for all our recent family drama and where the members of our small community at once seem to play the role of audience, judge and critic.

Our day was filled mostly with work as our clients arrived only a few hours later. We had a "to-do" list a mile long, but we were trying to be thankful that we could at least tackle it together. As soon as we were hand in hand, shouldering the world seemed like more of a grand adventure than an obligatory burden. I felt complete for the first time in a long time. As for our first night together, it was all at once new and old, familiar and unfamiliar; it was a sweet evening marking both the beginning and the end.

Because of the conditions of my husband's probation, there are a lot of new boundaries to navigate through. First of all, his probation officer is playing God. A role I hear many of them feel compelled to play. My prayers are that this man takes a closer look at the sentencing report and realizes that his interpretation of it is completely off the mark. If he does not come to this conclusion on his own, then we'll be happy to watch him answer to a judge in a hearing. But truly, I'm praying God sends a lightening bolt down from the sky, zaps the probation officer on the head, and tells him to humbly remember his place. I'm trying to give this all to God, but I keep wrangling it out of his hands into mine like I can actually do something about it. I keep telling myself to be anxious about nothing... be anxious about nothing...

When I visited my husband in prison, I was shocked at how he was treated. It was difficult watching the guards give him commands like he was mere poodle. On the outside, it is more of the same. He was to report to his probation officer at 8:00am on the first business morning after his release. Of course, he set aside the urgent task of training in some key staff members that were currently walking around in a daze, wasting our time and money, so he could make the appointment. When he arrived, the probation officer was out of town and his little helper made my husband fill out the same paperwork he filled out twice before. Little Helper then rescheduled my husband at a time where he will have to put more staff training aside. When he asked if the probation officer was out of town often, the response was, "why do you want to know?" Another suspicious government worker assuming that because a person is an ex-con, they are inherently evil and will suck the blood from their polyester-clad body only to be left in a decapitated pile of skin on the floor if they are civil enough to offer a straight answer or, heaven forbid, a little respect.

After two days in our home together, I had to come back down to see our kids through the end of the school year while he single-handedly runs the business. Now there is not only air, but a big old ocean and thousands of miles that distance us. My sheets are once again cold, and I can never seem to get as comfy on my pillow as I do on his arm.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


In just hours, I get to watch my husband walk away from the world of cold metal toilet seats and communal underwear. I'm sure it will be a humbling lesson in gratitude as I watch him discover and appreciate all the little things freedom has to offer. I'm so giddy, I must be glowing. The butterflies in my stomach must've gotten a hold of some speed because these things are getting wilder by the minute.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why, Yes, that IS an Ice Pick in my Backseat.

The fantasy: I drive up to the prison, run up to my husband, wrap my legs around his waist in a gigantic, borderline obscene hug... the camera circles around us as to capture the moment from every angle while the music swells beneath us. Those around us begin their applause as their eyes overflow with tears of joy... they watch us with a tinge of jealousy as the most inspiring inmate they've ever met walks off into a new and improved life with his beautiful, young, supermodel wife. Maybe the guards are moved enough to throw their hats into the air like proud Harvard Grads.

The reality: I'll drive through two gates wrapped in razor wire while the guards rush me around so I can wait in the designated get-away area. Carrying a plastic garbage bag filled with whatever kitch he accumulated while in there, my husboda will slink over to the car in his last act of expected submission. I'll sweetly follow all I'm instructed to do- look forward, keep my hands on the wheel at 10:00 and 2:00, and stay in the car as I'll be forbidden to get out. Just for fun, I think I'll fill the backseat up with lots of sharp objects. Nail clippers with the files in tact (gasp!), box cutters, real forks. I'll figure out a way to put them to use while I wait. Yes, that will be me. Picking breakfast out of my teeth with a butcher knife until my newly commissioned "ex-con" husband makes his way to freedom. I might just pull over in the prison parking lot, wrap my ankles around his neck and hold him hostage by his cuticles.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Debutante Ball

I’ve had this site designed for months now, but have been scared witless of the blank screen & practically paralyzed by the performance pressure of my debut. And, truth be told, I wanted to post anonymously but because I was SHIMMERING with excitement as I developed my little piece of the internet world, I blabbed about it to all of the people closest to me. Now, I’m more exposed than a shaved cat.

After today, the blank screen isn’t as intimidating as before. Today’s one of those days that has left a greasy smudge on the timeline of my life. I deserve to hang a flag half mast and declare today a national day of mourning but because the president hasn’t returned my calls, I’ll commemorate it with my very own “coming out” post. Welcome to my debutante ball. And if you’ve ever been around the Irish, you know we see a party as an opportunity to “hang crepe”. Don’t mind if I do.

My husband has 11 days left of an 8 month prison term. Turning in his crime has created a mess that overwhelms me. Aside from the general train wreck my life resembles, I’ve been single-handedly raising our four children, running our family business, dealing with legal matters, and acting to most of the people I know as if I really can do it all. And then there was this week. I’ve had the balls drop in every single area of my life in the last few days. I sent my oldest daughters half way across the country as they decided to grow horns and vampire teeth to match their raging teenage hormones. Grandma and Grandpa are earthly angels for offering their support. I’ve also faced what I call frENEMY fire which resulted in having to say goodbye to a key person in our business. Since our business is a seasonal fishing charter service and this person was a captain, I’ve had to find a worthy replacement at the last minute. And, while I count down the 11 days until my husband is released and can help, 11 days also marks the first day of the season. Let me translate: In the next 11 days, I will be running my Neddy off. It seems trivial to mention the two-year molars working their way through my toddler’s gums, but the sleepless nights and cranky-pussness of it all really puts the icing on the cake.

Thankfully, in all this mess, God is still sustaining me with all that I need… He provided a safe place for the girls, an enthusiastic replacement captain at just the right time, and He has somehow kept checks from bouncing all over the planet. He has provided me with a sense of humor and the ability to be optimistic in dark times. When it seems I’m standing under a torrential waterfall with my life crashing down on my shoulders and pooling around my ankles, out of nowhere, I can still grasp on to hope. Lately, that hope takes a little longer to find, and it feels like I waver in my convictions, but inexplicably, hope still shows up. Truly, I’m wrestling with a God I’ve always believed in and relied on. I’ve cried out to Him with my face flat on the floor. I’ve been on a long, miserable journey and my strength is nearly gone. I sometimes forget to give all my burdens to God & I naively think that muscling through this dark time on my own ability by outrunning, dodging and evading my present circumstances will actually bring results rather than just make me weary. It’s this forgetfulness that finds me flat on the bathroom floor with my face buried in the rug. But if I lay there long enough in a tearful, spent surrender, I begin to hear God’s whispers.

It was in one of these dark, fetal position moments that God recharged me by turning my tears into laughter. While I was crying and carrying on about the possibility of losing everything, I was struck with this thought: Hey! Even without the shirt on my back, at least I’m still waterproof. I ended up with an unexpected fit of giggles while thanking God for the gift of skin!

So here it is, my debut post- consider this my strut down the grand staircase of my very own debutante ball in nothing but my waterproof suit!