Saturday, April 27, 2013

I don't understand.

Photo attribution here.

The most universal question in this Devout yet Divorced community must be the question of why?  Why did I let this happen? Why did she do this to me? Why didn't I see it coming? And inevitably we throw God in the mix, like most of us did when we were getting into this mess. Why, when I asked God if I should marry my ex did He not say no?

It was two years in the making for me, asking that question. I'd been faithfully awaiting the day when he would come home from his mission and pop the Q. I was absolutely dying for him to while simultaneously being scared out of my mind. (I mentioned the track record for my parent's marriages, yes?) What this confusing combination culminated in was a sincere, but kind of haphazard moment stolen at work, of all places, where I directly asked God if I should marry the man I had long ago devoted myself to. His response was interesting. What He said was, "You can. It's going to be difficult, but you can." I quickly interpreted this to mean - you will probably have financial troubles. The Mr. hadn't gone to college yet. *Note: That's not what God said. But was I troubled with such trivial things as what I was certain would only be monetary? Of course not. All you need is love. If that was good enough for John Lennon, it was good enough for me. The thoughts that The Mr. could ever be anything but adoring, devoted and endearing, or that John Lennon likely was a bazillionaire when he wrote that song had not even entered my twiterpated consciousness.

Getting married after a short courtship is a gamble. I won't speak out completely against it, because I've seen it work out. However, there is no avoiding the fact that it is irrefutably, undeniably, (to me now) terrifyingly a gamble. So if this gamble was destined to work out so tragically for me, could God have said something like, "Absolutely not," or, "Sure, but it's a terrible idea and will break your heart and end in divorce," instead of, "You can, but it will be difficult"? After all, Latter Day Saint women are up for difficult. Our lives are built on the backs of pioneers who walked across thousands of miles of frozen ground without shoes, burying their babies along the way while their husbands were off on missions. Difficult? We got this on lock.

Perhaps your story is similar to mine. In retrospect we see moments of doubt we harbored. We wonder if that feeling was a warning that we ignored in the wake of romance. Or perhaps you took every precaution, and felt 100% assured. Either way, the answer is yes, He could have been more clear. And I'm convinced now after this most recent study, that He may very well have wanted to be. So, why wasn't he?

These thoughts come from Moses 7. The Lord has taken righteous Enoch into his bosom and is showing him the state of things. Satan has a chain around the world, causing there to be darkness, and he's laughing. The Lord, which is to say, the God of the Old Testament, Jesus Christ, is watching the earth and crying. Enoch is confused. He asks Christ, (paraphrasing) How can you be so upset about these things? You have millions and millions of creations in the world. How can you weep over this moment?

Christ then responds, "Behold, these thy brethren, they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the garden of eden, I gave unto man his agency. And unto thy brethren I have said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood." (Moses 7:32-33)

I have always admired Job for one powerful phrase he contributes to the Bible. After trials that make even the heartache of divorce feel minimal, he boldly declares, "Though He (God) slay me, yet will I trust Him" (Job 13:15) I can think of no better application of this verse than to these moments where we find ourselves again and again asking God why. I have had moments in post divorce aftermath where I have felt crushed, eviscerated, even slain or betrayed by God. These feelings are real and can feel completely justified, but somehow they always leave me lacking. There is no light in them to sustain me. After nights of masticating these thoughts for sleepless hours I am left once again seeking truth. The truth I've found is this:

Jesus Christ (and therefore God, since they are one in purpose and character) loves me, enough to cry over what He sees happening in my life. If He loves me that much, then there is a part of Him that wants to prevent any pain from befalling me, especially knowing that He would have to suffer that same pain in Gethsemane. When, knowing all, He chooses not to interfere or even leads us to pain, it must be an even greater act of love. As a teacher, mistakes and heartache are some of God's choice tools for sculpting our character. He allows us to make our choices knowing He will ache with us, He will grieve with us. And when we cry, the God of the Old Testament does not remove the cultivating force from us. His tender heart cries with us, the workmanship of His own hands. I cannot know why some things will come or others have passed, but I do know that the Man who is willing to walk even this road with me is a Man I can trust.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

See? Even this cat is sad for me.

Photo attribution here

Part of the reason I started this blog is because there are few things in existence scarier to the freshly traumatized mind than the unknown. In the first few weeks of my breakup (and sometimes still) all I could ask those who had boldly gone before me was, "How long does this part last?" This blog is many things. An attempt to sooth your involuntarily frantic four year old soul by providing a basic trajectory for how things may or may not play out for you, is one of them. In that light, I invite you to please look the other way while I tell you how I really feel this day, about 4 2/3 months into divorce recovery. You may want to grab a little cheese to go with this whine.

I present to you, Ten Reasons I Have a Right to Feel Sorry for Myself:

1. My bike has been sitting on my deck in a state of slight disrepair for the last 6 months. The Mr. has the tools and know how for fixing my bike. I clearly cannot purchase tools or learn to repair it myself, and therefore cannot ride my bike.  (Appropriate responses to this may include, "Poor baby", "That scoundrel!" or, "I'd be happy to come do that for you!")

2. Everywhere I go in this town that I never wanted to move to in the first place is plagued with memories of my miserable life with The Mr. 98% are awkward and/or sad. 2% are happy. Either way I'm screwed.

3. I have watched every episode of Bones, transferring any inkling of hope I had for the male species onto the character Booth. (Don't judge! It was January in the dreary Northwest!) Not only am I up to date on the series and have to wait an entire week for an episode now, but I watched an interview and David Boreanaz is inexcusably and irredeemably idiotic .  *Bonus: I just googled his name to make sure I got the spelling right and the first autofill was, "David Boreanaz affair" followed by "David Boreanaz affair texts". Really? Texts? In the words of Meg Ryan in the film French Kiss, "All men are bastards."

4. I have absolutely no hope of getting laid in the foreseeable future.

5. Not only will I not be getting laid, but my shrink has advised that I should not date for the full year following my divorce because...

6. ...divorce rates apparently actually increase from the astounding failure rate of 50% for first marriages to something like 60% of second marriages and 70% of third. (He attributes this tragedy to rebound marriages, hence the year off.)

7. While #6 is really bad enough on its own, renowned psychologist, Dr. John Gottman who's got over 25 years worth of longitudinal studies on marriage under his belt relates in his latest book that people who remain alone after ending a relationship are a bazillion times more likely to have health problems related to loneliness... and die.

8. While I was typing just now, my cat dove face first into my pineapple salsa.

9. I won't be having sex tomorrow. I also won't be having sex on Monday. Did I mention sex is my favorite?


10. According to my shrink I have every legitimate reason to be sad, angry and upset. This will only dissipate with time.

So here's to me passing another evening with chips, a fresh bowl of salsa and some Netflix, sans Boreanaz, I can assure you. I'll let you know when my state improves. In the mean time you just feel free to think lots of thoughts like, "That poor Frowfrow girl, she deserves to win the lottery," only I don't play the lottery, another downer. You really shouldn't waste your positive intentions like that.

Maybe month five will be better?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Eternity is a Long Time

Photo attribution here
One time a pen pal of mine asked me if he should get married, not to anyone in particular, just kind of a quandary about the whole institution. I was still married to The Mr. at the time, but we were in pretty serious marital misery. This is a good bit of the response I gave him. It seems relevant tonight.


Hi my friend. 

I should probably start this by telling you the fact that there have been moments where I wanted to respond with a simple, "No", but tonight, for the second consecutive night The Mr. is out of town. The break has been really nice for reflecting. From that place, and for this moment, this is the advice I have to give. 

Yes. Get married. 

However, my experience has lead me to believe that a healthy marriage requires a radical mental reconstruction of expectations for what marriage is. Let's start with a little demolition. 

Stupid (yet common) Reasons to Get Married
1. You feel like you're getting old.
2. Your mission president (or anyone besides God) told you to.
3. You really, really, really want to have sex. (This seriously clouds your judgement on a fate with eternal implications.) 

Next, What Not to Expect
1. Don't expect the things you like to stay the same, or the things you hate to change.
2. Don't expect her to fix you, make you whole, or to have any hope of saving her.

Marriage is Not
1. An escape
2. Perpetual bliss
3. A hiatus
4. A magic crystal that makes everything more clear

Now for the reconstruction.

Marriage Is
1. A commandment
2. A purifying process that takes daily investment of mind, body and soul on a level you've never experienced
3. Godly.

What To Expect
1. For ALL of your personal issues to come up in a way that forces you to confront them and resolve them. (Compounded by the fact that your spouse is going through the exact same thing at the exact same time.)
2. To expose your soul in a way you never have and to have it both admired in a way that puts you in transcendent euphoria and stabbed in a way that you can not understand how it could ever become whole and okay again.
3. To be happy sometimes, and sad sometimes, kind of like normal life, only with a permanent buddy.

Good Reasons to Get Married
1. You have found a person who you feel 1. Is kind 2. Is patient 3. Is attractive 4. Has common goals, interests and life vision 
2. God has told you in a clear, unmistakable way that the person you are asking Him about is a good match. (You'll need this reassurance to fall back on later.)

Now, here's the thing. Everyone knows that when one falls in love the otherwise "normal" person's brain function changes as dramatically as someone who's on crack. It's the fun phase where you never sleep or eat and you kiss a lot and holding hands is practically orgasmic and all you want to do is make this person happy. Once one falls into this state it is somewhat inevitable that most or all practical ideas of what should or should not take place go out the window (at least if you're anything like me, and I think you may be). 

So, in short, all this advice is useless, but I'm going to keep giving it to you anyway. 

Being married, like being on a mission, is hard, but good. How hard you cannot know until you try it. How good we may not know unless we lose it. (*Divorced me speaking here: I do not believe my marriage was good now that I've lost it. I do believe a healthy marriage may be this way.) Times I've spent dating The Mr. are the most euphoric and happy days of my life. Some times in our marriage have been the most earth shatteringly painful of my life. This is what intimacy does to us. Hangs our insides out for another person to poke around in. You don't know what will happen, but you can be sure it's going to be intense. 

And, I think somehow that's God's plan. Joseph Smith talks about being a rough stone rolling, how every time he bumps up into something, one of his sharp corners is rubbed off. We worship a God that loves to shape us. The process can be painful at times. Marriage has been for me. Some of that I think is inherent in marriage. I know some people say that life is 100 times better since they've gotten married. I can only assume they're being honest. I don't know. I can't speak to that. I can only speak from the standpoint of a marriage that has been heartbreaking in many moments. 

And still, from this place, I would say, yes. Get married. Not just because it's a commandment, but because it's an important life experience to have. Being that dedicated to something, learning that kind of patience and humility, diligence and pervading hope. Figuring so many things out about yourself, developing boundaries, learning to care for someone more than you care for yourself.... the list goes on. But doing so with eyes wide open to what the purpose is may help to make it a more pleasant experience than jumping in head first to what you assume and take for granted will be a limitlessly romantic life of adoration. Marriage is a very long process of cultivation with perks of companionship, sex and someone to (hopefully) keep you in check.


The letter goes on, but my point is this: in surveying my world post divorce bomb I am still unsure where I stand on that question everyone who loves me wants to know: will there be a second marriage for you? But the logic of the letter holds true even now. I sincerely believe that for those in Camp Second Chance, a reconsideration of the function and logistics of marriage is in order. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

She took a deep breath, and let it go.

So, funny story. Directly after composing the post below about the detrimental effects of contacting ones former spouse I had a week of ridiculous and illogical intense desires to contact my former spouse.

I was at my parent's house for Easter Sunday. Among the updates from Lady Pants (my step mom) and The Padre (what my little sis has always called my dad <3) was an offhand comment about how The Mr. had called Lady Pants one day on his lunch break saying he wanted to talk with her and The Padre. They weren't able to find a time, and that is the full extent of that story. The End. But somehow that is what commenced my downward spiral into the sinking kind of thoughts. Thoughts that, even inside my own head, sounded like an old, recorded version of myself talking to me. Sentences that start with; why, when, will he and I wonder spouted off in my head like those twirling sprinklers you ran through when you were young enough to put on a bathing suit without sucking in your tummy. The thoughts splashed about in my mind for a couple days 'till I was playing blocks with the kid I nanny on Tuesday and had this nearly overwhelming urge to grab my phone and text The Mr.

I know! Right?!

So I'm totally the girl that, when things are hard, just indulges her natural inclinations... like the inclination to eat popcorn, ice cream and cereal all day while marathoning my way through all 7.5 seasons of Bones. Or the inclination to buy myself a cheer up dress. Or the inclination to marry a man I hardly know because he's soooo cute and quirky. But this natural inclination, I am happy to report, I smashed the way a girly girl abolishes from existence the daddy long legs she discovers in her shower; frantically, and with great force. Therefore, I have the following tips for my fellow divorcees.

When you are struck with the desire to reach out... do it! But not to your ex. Send out a request to ten people who love you to remind you why you divorced the person you once loved and why you are better off without that person... on the double. I have now, conveniently located in my smart phone, an extensive list of incompatibilities to reflect on in moments of the logic stifling tsunamis of post-divorce-brain struggling to put the pieces back together.

Also, I discovered a secret weapon. This is for both the ladies and gents out there. Regardless of the fact that Pintrest is a corner of cyberspace largely navigated by women, it's a powerful tool! I now have at my fingertips a smattering of sassy, empowering quotes, images of beautiful places and things to bask in, and an entire page dedicated specifically to faces and physiques that could make a girl forget her first name, let alone her first marriage. All this and more to redirect my attention when the memories of the happy days get thick, for the low low price of a smart phone that I will not be using to call my ex-husband.

Also, in church on Sunday we kicked off a lesson on the value of the Priesthood in the home with Families Can Be Together Forever - thanks for that. My fight or flight is really more of a run away or cry - impulse and it kicked in immediately. Do not distress though my friends. I made, "I hate all the orphans in the world," my mantra throughout the lesson, and you know what? It worked! Who knew my advice would turn out to be so useful to me ; )

Hang tough. Some weeks are (apparently) rougher than others, but any way you slice it, it's another week between what is and what was.