Sleeping on the Edge

Every parent has moments where they find themselves in weird positions, doing odd things, trying (and often failing) to keep the baby/toddler asleep.  Mine tend to be of the precarious perch variety.  When my oldest, D, was a toddler we had one of those molded plastic beds in the shape of a race car.  It was only about 8 inches from the floor to the mattress and the frame itself was only about 6-8” wide.  I spent  a number of hours stretched out, balanced on that little strip of plastic, as I calmed D’s nightmares or brushed D’s hair to help D get back to sleep.  There may even have been a time or two when my ex-wife came in and found me asleep and D sitting up watching me with a big ol’ grin on D’s face.

As a child I always wanted my own father to be the one to come and comfort me when I was sick or scared.  I loved my mother, but my father was the bedrock, my security blanket if you will.  I have often wondered why we prefer one parent over the other when it comes to comforting us, even as adults.  There are still things that I find it easier to talk to my father about today than I do my mom.  I have tried to be that for both my kids, but D and I have often struggled to reach back to those moments of when D was young and would come to me for comfort.

Boo on the other hand, prefers me at night.  I assume it’s because I’m such a big soft cuddly bear type she sort of assumes I’m a walking/talking stuffed animal that goes by the name “Daddy.”  I could be wrong though.  Last night…or this morning depending on how you keep track of these things, Boo woke up and needed comfort.  So for the second time this week she and I went down to the sofa, put on some soft music, kept the lights turned down low and cuddled up to what I hoped would be a much needed couple more hours of sleep.  Alas, sleep was about as much on Boo’s mind as reading Stephen Hawking is on most dog brains.  So Daddy got jumped on, crawled over, kicked and punched as Boo tried to get comfortable, and finally, after what seemed like an eternity but was actually only an hour or two, she pushed me to the edge of the sofa (I like to keep myself between the kids and the floor) and then promptly fell asleep.  I spent the next thirty minutes or so, perched on about 4” of sofa left to me by my tiny tyrant, who nonetheless wanted me close enough to cuddle with and rest her head upon.

And it made me think… dangerous I know, thinking…

We spend so much of our lives pushing, stretching, trying to make room for ourselves to grow, while at the same time keeping those we love close to us.  Sometimes we’re smothered and pushed down and under by those who’ve come too close.  Other times we lose them as they fall over the edge.  But if we’re lucky, and we’re willing to work at it, we can keep the balance, sitting on the edge, where there is enough room for both – ourselves and the other.  And maybe that is a broader lesson to apply to more than just sleeping on the edge.

Snowy Lenten thoughts…

So it’s late and I should totally be getting ready for bed and work tomorrow.  That’s the thing about weekends, you can’t wait for them to come but once here they disappear with a flash.  I’ve often wondered the older I get if that feeling would ever go away, much like children think the days last FOR-EEEEEEEEEEVER while we see the months just flyin’ by.  But I think not.  Weekends are like that I suppose.  Take this one for instance.  Friday night after work I went home, spent some time with my son finishing up our Yu-gi-oh card game we’d started the other night, fixed dinner and then I got together with some friends and role-played till about 1:30 in the morning or so.  Saturday I spent the day cleaning up my house and that evening I had about 12 people over for a game night, full of fun, food and board games which lasted till about 1am again, then a friend and I stayed up till about 3 watching a movie.  Sunday brought church, potluck (love our food!), then home to catch up on laundry and other cleaning up from Saturday, then roller-skating for about 90 minutes then home once more to get the kiddo ready for bed and then I settled in to watch a movie.  (Have I mentioned I really really like watching movies?)  And then this…

Where does my time go?

My son wanted to have someone over this week to come visit and as I started looking through my calender of this week it started looking something a bit like this –

Mon – Work, cook/clean, free rest of evening

Tues – Work, cook, roller-skating

Wed – Work, cook, Bible Study

Thurs – Work, cook, help at church with setting up rummage sale for sending our kids to summer church camp

Fri – Work, pick up drive-through, Game night with my friends

Sat – …..getting ready for my second IVLD day, but nothing else yet…

And I thought how amazing it was that I was the one so busy, not him.  Normally it’s the parents shuttling their children around, but this time it’s me.  But during this season of Lent we are supposed to spend the time in prayer and meditation.  Asking for forgiveness of our sins and spending time repenting.  This is a time of preparation, of getting ready to celebrate the miracle that was Easter.  But it has to start in the wilderness…away from all our business and the responsibilities of our lives.  One thing I found out this year as I was looking up some scriptures for church today was that the whole celebration of Lent arose from the scriptures in the Gospels of Jesus’ time in the wilderness before he began his ministry.  It was a time of preparation for him as well.  If Jesus needed such a time before he could go out and minister to the world around him, what does that tell us today about how important taking time away is?

And yet, can we do it voluntarily?  I celebrate my Involuntary Liberation Day the first Saturday of every March.  It’s to commemorate the day my ex-wife left me and I was liberated from the shadows of the man I was.  It’s not a celebration of my marriage ending, nor is it a celebration of the fact that she’s gone.  That’s the involuntary part.  I didn’t want it to end.  But WHEN it (my marriage) ended I was presented with the opportunity to be liberated from the mistakes of my past and the painful habits of a lifetime in a way I never would have dreamed of before.  So I celebrate the vista before me.  I have spent much of the past two years wandering in this wilderness.  Some of it has been my wanderings, other times I have allowed myself to be led.  Sometimes I have even managed to hear the voice prompting me in the direction I should be going.  It’s all been a part of my desert journey.  Moses led the Israelites in the desert for 40 years…not because they didn’t know the way, but because the generation that sinned against God had to pass from the earth before they could enter the promised land.  Those who had never known the spirit-crushing weight of slavery would be able to live and flourish in the new land God promised.  My spirit has been wandering because the parts of my life that have sinned against God must pass away before I can enter into a new covenant with Him.

I wasn’t sure I was gonna share anything about this here because as open as I’ve been on here before there are still some things I don’t like talking about…and I know some of the people who read this…of course part of it’s my own fault, I really don’t have to have this attached to my Facebook page…but this is too a part of who I am, and part of this is a public declaration of my desire to be made new in Christ’s own image and to become a better father for my son.  One of the things I am giving up for Lent is the negative images/thoughts/perceptions I have in my head of my own self-worth and of what women are like.

I struggle liking myself.  I have not had a really strong positive self-image since I was a teenager.  My experience with dating tainted, in many ways, my perception of myself and of relationships with women.  I won’t go into details, but I did not do well in the dating arena and got into situations where the decisions I made had very negative consequences for a number of people.  And for most of the past two decades I have not wanted to forgive myself for those mistakes.  Hindsight is not always 20/20 and the lens through which I viewed those times because the prism that delinieated who I was, what I was allowed to do, to say and to be.  I used the guilt, my guilt, and my shame from that time to build up walls around me and in time they twisted who I wanted to be and I became the kind of person who had to have others around me constantly telling me why I was worthwhile to feel loved.  I was a broken and needy soul who hounded others for approval and acceptance because I would not grant it myself.  I turned from those who could give it to me in healthy ways and instead indulged in a lifestyle of sex and drinking that was inherantly self-destructive, even as I sought out what I thought was love and acceptance.  The arrival of my son saved my life, in so many ways… but it did not uncomplicate it, nor did it suddenly make things all better.  Because of the circumstances of his birth and my relationship with his mother, I still struggle some days with how I view him and what my relationship with him should be/can be/will be.  But these last few years I have had several wonderful, challenging, compassionate people in my life who have challenged my old way of thinking in ways that I don’t always like, or want to talk about, or even think about in my own head.  It has hurt, it has caused me discomfort, examining BOTH the good and the bad actions I’ve done in the past and finding out where the ties are that have bound me down.  I don’t claim to know all of them yet, but I am on a path, and as I’m finding them this Lent season, I am letting go…or at least offering them to God, and trying to get out of the way when God takes them.  That has been my promise to God and my challenge.

I’ve also been struggling with reshaping my views on women.  They aren’t all crazy…well, not mean spirited crazy anyway.  😉

I have been hurt many times by women who saw me as a knight out to save them and then discard when no longer needed.  I have held my partners to unrealistic standards of what one person should be responsible for, it was not their place to heal all the hurts in my soul, nor make me into a whole person.  I need to do that myself with God’s help, and then if desired I can move slowly into a healthy relationship with someone.  But I have lots of trigger points, things that make me nervous, make me mad for no appreciable reason, that all arise from old arguements…  I have used and been used by past partners and desire a new way of thinking, living, loving.  All this is part of my penitential prayer –

God,

You who are our parent, lover, friend, and companion.  You whose love and joy know no bounds.  You who run to us with open arms.

I stand before you… broken…torn…ashamed.

I have turned from you, run from you, hide from you.  I have screamed at you, thrown myself away.  Still you chose to stay close.

I fought you until my strength gave out before the patience of your peace.

Holding me, you took me into the desert.

You walk with me, change me, mold me.  Even as the clay of my life screams out in pain and agony at the process I can feel something wonderful happening inside.

I know it’s not me that’s doing it.  But you require that we agree… that we invite you in.

I don’t remember everything that came before, weariness sometimes overtakes my mind.  But I remember the day I asked you.

I asked you to break me and make me new….and so we have gone to the desert together.

But now Lord, I stand halfway.  My scouring is completed for now… the temptations facing me are almost done.  Once again, my strength falters, once again weariness and shame press close in.

I beseech thee God, wrap me up in the joy of the life you offer.  Flood the wrinkles of my soul with your love.  May the peace of You bring balance to the stormy scene inside me.

My journey is not yet done.

I begin this Lent season with me.  With my sin.  With my repentance.  With my desire to turn closer to You.  Oh Lord, let us begin, and let it begin with me, that I may find new life in You.

Amen.

Nights are the longest time…

So the big day is comin’ up.  Just two more days.  On Thursday at approximately 9:00am the relationship that has more or less helped to define me for almost the last decade of my life will be over and done with.  Space and relationally it ended almost two years ago, shortly before I started this blog.  Legally and emotionally…well, that’s been a different facet altogether.  I knew this was week was gonna be rough, for a couple of reasons.  First of all it’s the 2nd busiest day of the year for work.  Second, the weather and my son make life interesting and a little stir crazy.  And then thirdly, there’s the divorce.  I just have so much goin’ on in my head, even I can’t sort it all out.  Today a dear friend sent me a list of 45 lessons for life in a power point presentation.  I actually had gotten the exact same thing earlier that day from my boss at work, but I hadn’t really wanted to read it then.  The few I looked at in the morning one hit a little close and the last thing I felt I needed was to get all worked up before one of the craziest days of the year for us at work.  And then I got it again tonight when I got home from work after a very, very long day.  And I looked, and tried to listen…  and struggled…

I’m scared.

I’m scared I’m gonna fail.

I’m scared I’ll succeed.

I want to keep on this path, and I have been shown and given such love and support, more than I could have ever imagined.  And part of it scares me.  I’m not used to it.  Even writing this blog, I managed to keep things and people at arms length.  I don’t like to open up.  I know dear readers, it may be a little hard to believe but if you were here in front of me, I assure you the odds of us ever talking about most of what’s on here are about as likely as the KC Chiefs winning the Super Bowl in my lifetime.  I struggle with words, especially when they matter.  There’s a line in a great song I love  – “The more I think, the less I see” – and that is so me.  For a long time I have fought the idea that I could ever forgive myself.  I think too much.  One of my best friends and I, that’s sort of our code for all the things we consider and talk about.  No one else spends as much time on minute stuff as he and I.  There’s a quote from one of my favorite book series by C. S. Friedman, the book is called When True Night Falls.  The two main characters are a warrior priest named Damien Vyrce and a human/demon-prince, Gerald Tarrant, who was once the founding father of the priest’s church, before selling his soul to Fear.  And I think the interplay captures things very well, Tarrant starts off –

“Do you know what repentence means, for me?  Do you really understand it?”  There was anger in his voice now, but it had a desperate edge, “Repentence means standing before God and saying, I’m sorry.  For everything.  All the sins I ever committed, I wish they could be undone.  I wish that I could go back to that time and do it all over again. […]  I wish I could have died before my dream took hold […]  I wish I could have died in ignorance of what this world would become, severed from the world of the living before I could begin to untangle the mysteries that surround me.  I can’t do it Vyrce.  Not honestly.  I could say the words, but I could never mean them.  And my last dying thought would be of all that I had yet to see, which God’s forgiveness had cost me.”  He laughed shortly, bitterly.  “Do you really think that would work?  Do you really think such an attitude would save me?”

Now it was [Damien] who shut his eyes.  He could hear the pain in his own voice as he spoke.  “You’re trapped by your own intelligence you know.  A simpler man would have found his way back to God long ago.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” he whispered.  “Don’t you think that knowledge is part and parcel of my damnation?”

[…]  “No one is ever prepared to meet God,” Damien said queietly.  “We may think we are, but’s only because we don’t understand Him.”

There were many times in days past I felt much more like Tarrant.  The older I get, on the good days, the more I feel like the priest.  Struggling with the good and evil inside each of us, trying to hold onto Hope.  But I’m still scared to go to sleep some nights.  The fear of dying at age 3o is now two years past the date, but it’s still hard to shake the feeling of living on borrowed time.  I try to thank Him every morning for the day I’ve been given.  I know each day is a gift, a present.  I’m just leery of accepting it.  Too many old hurts.  Too many old fears.  They weigh me down and push me around.  And then there’s number 38 on the list… “Yield.”

Every time today I’ve read that one I’ve cried.  Because it’s the one thing on that list I truly want to do, and struggle the most with.  Let go?  Lay back?  Trust?  I don’t want to, but I don’t want to carry it anymore.  Who will I be when it’s gone?  What will be left when everything that has crushed me all these years is lifted?  Will there be anything left?  I’ve been writing in this thing for almost two years and I still don’t feel much closer to figuring out who I am.  Should I yield it all at once?  Can I even do so?  Should I do it a little at a time?  Would I ever get done?

I was going through old pictures today… always rough when you are already emotionally touchy.  Particularly if you are like me and have a tendency to hold on to things that should probably let go.  I have pictures from all sorts of things I probably shouldn’t anymore.  Pictures of ex’s, places and things that are mixed at best in my history.  But they help to tell my story.  But they aren’t always the best parts.  Like the rest of it, should I get rid of them or put them back in storage?  I tell my son over and over again he shouldn’t hang on to the negative memories and emotions, that the only way to move forward is to let go… sounds like good advice doesn’t it?  Now if only I could follow it.

I’m tired.  I’m nervous.  I’m upset.  But in the end, no one has the power to make me feel anything I don’t let them.  And I don’t have to carry the world on my shoulders.  I am NOT responsible for the whole world.  Even for all of MY world.  I just wish I was a simpler man.  It’s not the answer… at least, not the one I’m looking for.  I sympathize a lot with both of those characters though in the quote above.  Where do I find myself these days in that journey?  I like Augustine, a man who would have undoubtedly gotten along with both of them.  Valleys and peaks, pain, loss and shame.  Elation, joy and peace.  I’ve gone through both lately, but this… this is definitely a valley.  I knew this week would be bad.  But I’m trying to remember that God’s most powerful when we are at our most vulnerable.  And as pkkid said on her blog, “Courage being only ‘nothing else left to try’.”  Well…

I’ve tried things my way.  I ran for so long and wasted so many year.  I have nowhere else to turn God, but You.  I have spent myself and throw myself on Thy mercy and at Thy feet.  I did not come to dance.  I did not come to sing.  I did not come to laugh. .. I come to cry.  I come in pain.  I bring my fear to lay before you.  I bring my hate and my anger.  I’m too tired to carry them anymore, but don’t have the strength to let go.  Help me I pray to let go.  Help me please to just let go, and trust in You.  You who are and have been worthy of my trust and my love.  Rock my soul God.  We aren’t done breaking me yet, but the refiner’s fire is hot and the journey is not easy for the metal.  Pain and shaping, cold and beatings… but in the end, if we can hold to it, there’s the promise of something different, something better, something stronger, someone closer to You.

God grant us all peace this day.  I still can’t sleep, but I’m workin’ my way there.  And I defintely am never ready to meet God.  But God is reaching out to me and is surprising me everyday with another thing on the list… Number 30 – God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do — and number 34 – Get outside every day, miracles are waiting everywhere.

May you find your miracle.

hard to believe we were ever that young
hope comes in many sizes



Heartache at home…

It’s never easy when someone you love tells you “I hate you!”  Even if it’s from the mouth of your child.

The anger was real.

So was the pain.

The fear, the hurt, the desire to strike out…

They were real too.

But the words?

Not so much really.  After he’d spent what felt like forever curled up in my parents bed hurling verbal assults while I sat on the floor at the door to their bedroom he asked me if I’d go away once he told me what was wrong.  I told him I wouldn’t go away but I’d let him have some privacy.  Before all this however let me set the tone.  This whole week has been crazy.  In fact, it started off with my sister in the hospital for a possible heart attack.  The doctor’s still aren’t sure what’s wrong.  Tuesday I hurt myself somehow and the pinched nerve that’s been bugging me for several months finally came to fruition (cue my mother making some remark about being an igit and needing to take care of myself).  Wednesday and Thursday were spent trying madly to catch up on projects for work while things were going crazy.  And then tonight I get to my parents house and my son is sitting in one of the recliners with a pillow over his head muttering angrily.

Did I mention it’s the one year anniversary of the day my wife said she was leaving?

I finally remembered to make it to the court house today to pick up some documents we need to get rolling on the divorce…only to be handed a checklist and told that most of them were online now and I could print them off myself.  *sigh*  If only I had a printer…

Work had a potluck today, that with everything else going on I completely forgot about.  My vegetarian friend said I could claim to have helped with the mashed potatos if it would make me feel better.

I had some difficult calls today but nothing too out of the ordinary, I spent some time up by my quiet rock centering myself during my lunch break.  And still ended up being almost twenty minutes late at work helping a co-worker out with a couple of issues.  Not a big deal but man…on a Friday?  Seriously?

And then home to this.

My son didn’t want to talk to me at first, then grumbled at me, then when I came over to sit on him he stormed off upstairs to my parents bedroom where we pick things up.  He hated everybody…”EVERYBODY!”  Except the dog.  He didn’t want to go to church anymore because God was helping him so why bother.  After ranting in this vein for a while he told me he was tired of seeing me, wanted me to go away and felt like I didn’t want to be around him.  I acknowledged that sometimes I didn’t and that it was hard being a parent, especially a single one.  Of course, I didn’t know anything about him as well.

When he finally told me what was really bothering him he told me that he was tired of seeing me.  He wanted to see his bio mom and his ex-stepmother.  He didn’t want to live like this (separate households) anymore.

There was so much pain in that little body.

So as promised I went from the room, but not before I asked him to look at me and told him that I was his father.  I would always love him.  I’m sorry I’m not enough, I wish I could be, I know it’s hard for him.  But I’m not the one stopping either him or his mothers from speaking to each other.  When his bio mom does remember to call him (she called him for the first time in almost 3 months earlier this week) I have no problem letting them talk for as long as they want and in private.  His step mother hasn’t called wanting to talk to him.  And I haven’t heard from her since before Christmas.  I told him again I loved him, would always love him and would be here when he wanted me.

Then I went and sank onto the landing halfway between the up and down stairs.

And prayed…lots…

I’m not a particularlly patient man although I’m sure there are lots of my friends and family who would disagree.  I know better.  I may hide it, but I’m terribly impatient and dealing with my own pain is tough enough…I really don’t always feel like I have anything left to give.  And I don’t want to feel like a caseworker 24/7, been there, done that, it ain’t pretty.

But sitting there, I was reminded of how important it is to be patient, especially when I need to ask it of others.

For, about five minutes later came the patter of not-so-tiny feet and a smallish form was snuggling up next to me, asking without words to be held and reassured and loved.  We made a night out of the rest of it.  We still went to pick up new story CD’s because I had said we would earlier in the week.  He chose Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”  Ah well, at least one is good.

I can’t fix it all.  All I can do is hold it together while it fixes itself.  And tomorrow is I.L.D.

Why I can’t hate her…but damn…sometimes it’s a close thing…

So this past weekend I was talking to my best friend about girls, moving on and our thoughts for my future.  And one of the questions he asked me was how often I thought about my ex (? whatever the hell she is…).  My somewhat flippant reply was never or not often and more often than not that’s probably true.  I can go days, occasionally weeks without thinking about her at all.  But not all the time and not the last couple days. 

My son was listening to another episode of the old radio show  “X Minus One” while I was working online and while I was browsing my myspace page he saw his “mom’s” profile pic, since I haven’t gotten around to removing her from my friends list.  As a result he’s currently crying himself to sleep after being hugged and snuggled, comforted and talked to for about the last twenty-thirty minutes.  He misses her.  He wishes she would come back.  He wants to go do all the things they used to do together…and the last time I told her this several months ago her reply was “Well, that’s great that he says that but I don’t believe it.  He’s just trying to get attention.  He doesn’t really want me around.” 

Try figuring out how to tell your child that the only real mother figure he’s ever had doesn’t want him.

But if I give into the anger and hate stirring around the edge of my soul how quickly will it drown me and destroy everything I’ve tried to become and build in my life?  The lesson for me is to learn how to honestly experience my emotions and let go of the negative ones.  My son’s lesson is that there is a life after she leaves…he’s just got to figure out how to pick up the pieces.

Jason Watson Music w/Caleb Maupin