Work is worse. My manager didn’t back me up this morning when I was trying to enforce policy. Instead, she overruled my decision, and decided to use it as a teaching moment to explain to me that this is why people think I’m so stubborn.
I got a fancy new tablet from my hubby for my birthday, anniversary, Christmas! Windows 10 (not sure if it’s worth it yet) and it has a keyboard that attaches magnetically.
By the end of the day, I’m so fried I don’t want to blog, but this way I can write during my lunch break and not have to re-type it to blog it later! Hooray!
In the past five days I have yelled at both my kids, had a sobbing fight with my husband, reamed one of my best friends for her behavior toward one of her family members, got into one major and several smaller arguments with my manager, nearly took the head off one of my vendors at work, threatened to terminate every vendor working on my portfolio, sent an infuriated email to my school’s financial service office, and came unglued with an undertrained Target employee.
I was sitting a cafe, waiting for Spike to join me for lunch when he called to say he would be a few minutes late. “Hey,” he said when I answered the phone. Who ever knew such a small word said in just the right way could stir up so many feelings? I had completely forgotten the way my ex-husband used to say that; like an Italian mobster, but cut short.
I was so disoriented through the short call. I couldn’t get my head straight. Who was I talking to? Then I heard myself say, “I love you too,” and I was wrought with grief when I put the phone down. How many times did I have that same conversation in my previous marriage? That relationship hasn’t caused me grief like that in years, but remembering him in that moment, like a casualty of war, was painful. It’s painful now, two days later, to think about.
We met in December 2003. My best friend was finally marrying his best friend, and they recruited me to help plan the wedding. They wanted a short engagement: two months. I was frantic to get everything in order, but he steadied me. He joined me on errands to put it together and stayed up late talking to me like we were old friends. It didn’t take long to fall in love with him. Three years later we were married in the church I grew up in. Three years after that I asked him to move out. He had betrayed me to such a degree that I couldn’t even recognize him.
Divorcing him was an easy decision compared to the decision to lose his friendship. I couldn’t be married to him, but cutting him out of my life was like surgically removing my lungs. I didn’t know how my heart would continue to beat without him. He was everything to me for the sum total of my adult life from age 19 to 25. I don’t regret the divorce, but it doesn’t make me immune to how much I loved him.
It gives me hope to know the loss didn’t turn me to ice. My heart grew larger for lack of air, not weaker. Today I can assure myself that even if my heart must accept another path, my loyalty to its keepers will never fade.
“Based on the information provided and the information obtained, it appears at this time it is in the best interest of the children to remain in the care of Ms. and Mr. [Spike] and the guardianship be granted.”
The Investigator’s Report to Court is in black and white and sitting on my desk. I’ve been staring at the last sentence most of the evening, and I’m still exhaling. The court will make their decision based on that official recommendation. Until now we have only been able to hope and pray the investigators would see through the lies and truly see what’s going on.
They saw it. Thank God. Twelve more days until our next hearing, but they can pass in peace. The girls will be safe. They’ll be with us.
“When you are appointed by the court as a guardian of a minor, you become an officer of the court and assume certain duties and obligations… If the probate court appoints you as a guardian of the person for a child, you will be required to assume important duties and obligations…
The guardian of the person of a child has the care, custody, and control of the child. As guardian, you are responsible for food, clothing, shelter, education, and all the medical and dental needs of the child. You must provide for the safety, protection, and physical and emotional growth of the child.
“As guardian… you have full legal and physical custody of the child and are responsible for all decisions relating to the child. The child’s parents can no longer make decisions for the child while there is a guardianship. The parents’ rights are suspended – not terminated – as long as a guardian is appointed for a minor…”
Duties of Guardian, Superior Court of California
If the judge signs the order, we will have the official papers in less than two weeks. I’m surprised how shocked I am at that reality. I knew I was guarding myself against the worse-case scenario, but now I can feel just how guarded I was. The weights are slowly coming off my shoulders, but I still feel vigilant.
Their dad has a history of violence involving weapons, even guns. He’s a coward and a liar, but he’s dangerous. And we’ve just beat him at “the war” he started. God help us.
“I’m just glad you’re here,” my Writing comforts me. I’ve stopped apologizing for absences. The Words don’t criticize me, so why should I be chastised? My heart is heavy, so I’m here. I don’t know what to Pray, so I wait. I know He’s here, and the Peace lets me take a deep breath. My pulse slows. I exhale and close my eyes briefly to shut out the lights, but my mind whirls in every direction until I open my eyes again. The Words will find a focus where my mind hears only chaos.
“What is it?” my Words ask. My hands are steady, but my chest is tight. Fourteen days. Will the countdowns end? Am I strong enough to endure it with a degree of grace?
The problem with being branded a saint is that people expect that it’s easy to just keep living like one. They’re uncomfortable with the idea that it’s hard, as if only certain people can do great things; as if only certain people can be exceptional and it’s easy for them.
With a single decision a person can alter the course of their life. Many only think of that concept in terms of ruining their lives, ending up in jail, or in the gutter. But a single decision can permanently alter your path in a positive, uphill direction as well. If you pull a kid out of the street or you decide to work as a paramedic, you could be branded a hero.
But it isn’t easy. Your saints are faking if they pretend it is. It isn’t glamorous. The thoughts a saint has are not always admirable. They’re human, make no mistake. But the more admired they become, the more pressure they feel to hide what doesn’t belong in the picture. They see the look in people’s eyes when they voice their insecurities, and they slowly retreat to take a more powerful stance. “I don’t know how I’m going to get through this,” transforms into, “Everything happens for a reason.”
Their friends raise them higher. They’re acquaintances deify their very existence. And the saint starts believing their own catch-phrases. They forget they’re capable of fear. They deny themselves the need for true human connection. They encourage others in their struggles, but never seek out a listening ear for themselves. Their lives become a living encouragement, and frighteningly capable of toppling the faith of others if they fail to live up to all the expectations.
The thing is, no one quite knows how to communicate with heroes. Congratulations abound, but unless another hero comes along who understands, no one has quite the right things to say. “Wow, that’s amazing!” needs am empathetic counterpart: “Do you feel safe? Can I call to check on you tomorrow? I can stay if you don’t want to be alone. I can listen if you want to talk about it.”
It’s hard to find that friend when everyone believes heroes and saints are born, not raised; destined, not determined. “Do not grow weary in doing good,” I remember, but what an admonition. Where are the people who give rest to those travelers?
“I started a business consulting business!” I couldn’t take the words back. I realized I sounded like an imbecile about half-way through the exclamation and completely killed the delivery. But the words were out before I could think twice about them and I immediately regretted having put absolutely no thought into how I should describe myself in person now.
I’m unfocused. I don’t really know how else to describe it. I have a hundred things I need and want to do and I can’t decide what the priority should be. So like any reasonable human being, I’m not going to do a thing.
I finished The Scarlet Thread yesterday. Spike came in while I was on the last few pages. “You don’t look like you love that book,” he smiled. I didn’t realize I was actually scowling. “It’s high fructose corn syrup Christianity,” I said, surprised at my own precisely accurate description. “It’s sickeningly sweet. And fake.”
I’ve already ranted about my issues with this book, but I can’t leave it alone. It isn’t in me to complain about the way things are without offering a solution.
I love classic romances. Wuthering Heights was actually the first novel I ever read, and I was hooked. I read a lot of Jannette Oke books when I was in junior high and high school too. I wonder if I would still love them, or if I would sense the same HFCS Christianity overtones now. Of course my romance reading had a heaping side helping of Disney princess movies. My mother was once warned not to let me watch Sleeping Beauty so much because it would warp my sense of true love. Luckily for me it came from her mother-in-law, whose advice she never took, so I continued to dress up and lie on top of my toy box, waiting for Prince Phillip. (He never came of course, but I loved to pretend.)
I’m still drawn to romances as an adult, but more in the form of TV shows and movies. Downton Abbey is my most recent favorite. It’s the perfect mix of romance and my other favorite genre: historical fiction. I’ve watched every movie and TV series I can get my hands on that’s based on a Jane Austen novel.
Is there a way to present romance that doesn’t send people screaming or set their eyes rolling? Could I write a better romance? I’m fairly certain I’m at least living a better romance than the one I just read, so that’s a start. I could tell my story. It’s full of heartache and tears and miracles. Would anyone read it? I know I would, which is really the most important part of writing anyway. I would have a lot of help from that bookshelf full of journals.
I woke up at 4:00 this morning with the most wretched pain in the middle of my torso. I was having trouble breathing it hurt so much. I didn’t know if I was having a panic attack, a heart attack, or some crazy bout with indigestion. Lying down made it worse, so I went with indigestion and didn’t call for an ambulance. God it hurt though. I broke out in a cold sweat twice. My neck and back were locked-up in pain. It took effort to calm my breathing and drink some water, but eventually the pain subsided. I emailed work and told them I was calling out for the day though. There was no way was I going to power through the workday with that kind of night behind me. I was afraid to lie down though, so I pulled my nightstand close to the bed and slept slouched over it for a couple hours.
I guess that’s what I get for taking a dose of one of those pain killers I was prescribed after my dental work on Friday. My mouth was throbbing last night, so I took one – ONE – The only one I’ve taken since Friday. I probably would have gone to the ER this morning, except that this has happened before. The last time I took pain killers I nearly blacked-out at work. Spike came and took me to the hospital. We thought I was having some kind of allergic reaction, but it was just dehydration and hyperventilation. My blood pressure is pretty low as a rule, so apparently if I add dehydration and narcotics to that, I’m a bit of a pansy and can’t do things like breathe real well and stand upright. Awesome.
Spike was really sweet this morning though. He stayed up with me and rubbed my back and made sure I was okay. He took the girls to school and let me sleep. He checked in with me periodically throughout the day too. I think it freaks out most husbands to see their wives in pain. Not being able to do anything about it must be debilitating. It’s no picnic for wives either. Staring into the puppy dog eyes of your husband when your body is hurting gives you a terrible heartache on top of it all.
I slept until almost 11:00 after waking up a few times from my arms and legs alternating between falling asleep and being rearranged in my slouched-over position. I stayed fuzzy through most of the day, maybe from the dose of narcotics, maybe from lack of coffee, but I took advantage of the sick day – a free weekday – and got some paperwork filed with the court. We’ll have our Legal Guardianship hearing for the girls in 60 days. Events from this past weekend have made the step necessary. We’ve been talking about it for a long time, but we didn’t want to rock the boat with the girls’ family. But boat-rocking be damned, it’s time. It’ll be two years in July since they came to live with us, and with both their parents living out of state, the girls simply don’t have the legal protection they need from the private custody agreement we have with their mom.
Their dad isn’t going to make it easy though. He’s made that very plain. This morning could have been a panic attack just from the possibility of facing him in court. He can’t win, but he can make our lives hell in the process. My vehement prayer is that he simply won’t show up, that he will fold and walk away like he always has and will leave us all in peace. I hesitate to write any of this because I know everyone has their own idea about legal proceedings and child custody battles and parental rights, and I’m not going to defend our case here. Don’t be surprised if I delete your discouraging remarks. [This is not an equal-opportunity-to-take-a-shot-at-me blog.]
Those who believe in me, please pray for us. It’s going to be a very long 60 days, and it may be longer still. I need my body and my mind and my emotions to hold up under the pressure. I’m finding it hard to have courage. I’m afraid of failing this process. I have no reason to be afraid. Our case is solid, but where children’s lives are at stake, there will always a mother-bear raging fear that will blindly tear anyone apart that dares to threaten them.