Friday, October 10, 2008

church bells are ringing

I have started going to church.

Having never grown up in a church, I've never fully grasped comprehension of the importance of Christian fellowship. It hardly seemed a prerequisite for having a relationship with God.

However,the desire to attend church regularly has been nagging me over the years. It first began when The Boy was just a baby. I worried that I was robbing him by not having him involved in a church. In the end, I always came back to the idea that I would be a complete hypocrite to sit in church every Sunday, going through the motions, when my faith was so shaky.

I never really had much doubt as to God's existence. I truly believe we are born with that innate knowledge, although I admit, I often wondered if perhaps He really was just a creation of a people desperate to believe in something, anything. There were also plenty of times it seemed much easier to ignore His existence, but I never could manage to fool myself to such an extent that I could exclaim "There is no God" without a strangling fear of invoking His wrath. No, my struggles were always simply a matter of my faith in His love for us, my faith in His wisdom and of course, my faith in my own worthiness.

I have also always been troubled by the notion of Jesus Christ as the one true path to God, the solitary savior of all mankind from his sins. I had studied other religions during my search and it struck me as cruel that entire nations of people would be forever banished from God because they chose a different path to take them there. I am afraid that even now, long years after I accepted Christ as my personal Savior, I still have a great deal of difficulty in accepting that God would ultimately reject so many others.

But I digress.

In the years since my husband's passing, I have felt a heightened sense of urgency to begin attending church. I tried to ensure that God was not a stranger in our home and made certain The Boy knew Him, yet I have been haunted with the idea that we were both missing out on something terribly important by not going to church.

We have visited a number of churches over the years, each leaving me disappointed and often even angry. Sitting in a sanctuary surrounded by people who are supposed to be there to worship the Lord but instead view church as just another social clique makes my skin crawl! I often wondered if it wasn't simply the weight of my own guilt, my own sense of inadequacy and unworthiness that made me so uncomfortable in so many churches. But no, the ladies, turned around in the pews, gossiping with their neighbor just before the service began, the men winking at me as their wives bowed their heads to pray, the people looking down their noses at others who did not quite fit in - these were the things that kept us from returning to many of the churches we visited.

And then of course there were the fire and brimstone preachers. The ones who tried desperately to convince you of your eternal damnation should you miss a single service, the ones who sought to put "the fear of God" into their congregations, terrifying the congregation with endless stories of God's wrath against the wicked and His certain abandonment of your soul should you stray from his teachings. We didn't often return to these churches either as I have always firmly it should be love, not fear, that brought a person to God and I was determined that my child not be taught otherwise.

After a while it seemed as though I had abandoned the idea of church altogether.

Then last month, on the anniversary of his death, I visited the mother of a friend who died last year. Never having really known her that well and having a lot of preconceived notions of who she was, I was surprised at the comfortable nature of our conversation. I was even more surprised that, when the subject turned to God, faith and an invitation to attend her church, I found not a trace of judgment in her eyes nor voice.

The Boy and I sat in the back pew during the worship service that Sunday. My husband, who did grow up in a church, had made it clear he had no wish to go. I knew a number of the people there and many of the ones I didn't know made a point to introduce themselves. I have never felt so welcomed in a church. My friend's mother gave me a copy of the booklet they're following in Sunday School before I left.

The next Sunday I bounced out of bed, despite my utter despise for waking up in the mornings, eager to get dressed and head to the service. The following Sunday The Boy and I attended Sunday School, surprised when my husband announced before we left that he would meet us there for the service. This past Sunday was our second week of Sunday School and fourth service. My husband met us for this week's service as well. The Boy has become involved with the youth program, enjoying their weekly Bible study and I am hoping to talk my husband into taking him to his weekly Boy Scout meetings so I can begin attending their weekly women's Bible study.

I find myself reading ahead in the Sunday School lesson and picking up my Bible to read various scriptures throughout the week. Somehow my life seems more full now but I can't quite put my finger on what it is that now fills it. God was already there. I suppose there's a lot to be said for fellowship after all.

We will not be going to church this Sunday because The Boy and I will be out of town spending the weekend with my great grandmother, who is the only person who ever took me to church as a child. At 94, her health no longer allows her to attend church. Her failing eyesight caused her to replace her cherished, soft leather bound Bible years ago with a new, large print version. The words on the front of her old Bible are worn almost completely away after so many years of use and the back cover is nearly completely separated from the rest of the book, but I carry that Bible with me to church every Sunday, complete with her perfect attendance ribbon and a few church directory photo proofs of her and my great grandfather. I also carry my newer Bible, that is just now really seeing any use, as I'm afraid to use hers too much. I simply like having it with me. No one at church has yet to look at me strangely for carrying them both each Sunday. This Sunday I will have them both at her house, along with my Sunday School lesson and perhaps a bit of fellowship with The Boy and I can somehow repay the gift of faith she gave me so long ago.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

say my name

I guess I've finally broken this long silence because I've been thinking of him so much lately. Perhaps if I air out these thoughts they will finally recede to a deeper level of my mind and quit erupting so often.

The word "affair" doesn't do it justice. An affair is cheap, tawdry, all about the sex - or at least that's how I see it in my mind. There was nothing cheap and tawdry about this at all and the sex was merely a byproduct.

It began innocently enough. Old friends who hadn't seen each other since high school reconnected through the internet. Things had always been easy with him. There was never that need to censor yourself and conversations with him often had a way of revealing truths about yourself you never knew existed. Some things never change. Late nights spent discussing everything and nothing all at once, hours passed quickly as we enjoyed companionable chatter, a connection begun as teenagers quickly cemented more than a decade later.

Meanwhile I was miserable with my current life. My marriage was unraveling around me. It did not explode with anger and accusations or demands. I think I could've handled that. Instead it suffocated in silence, two people in their own little worlds, worlds which rarely seemed close enough to touch. It was safe. It was secure. That was what I had wanted after a tumultuous first marriage full of soul scorching passion, the death of my first husband, my best friend, leaving me in tatters, taking solace where I could, accepting of the ideal that such a connection, such a joining of two souls could never be possible twice in one lifetime.

I didn't realize that loneliness is so much sharper when the echo of your own words is the only answer that meets your ears, when your solitude is breached by another presence. I suppose we can accept being lonely when we are truly alone. It's not so easy to accept when someone else is sitting on the couch.

A year into our marriage, which had seemed to grow more and more distant from the moment we said "I do," I received my diagnosis and was scheduled for my first surgery. I was terrified, my mind filled with all the worst case-scenarios as we had yet to receive any definitive information. Through it all, he was silent, my mother and best friend filling the roles of "hand-holders" during doctors appointment he never attended. When the silence was finally broken, it was to ask whether he could somehow "catch" this cancer.

I had spent most of that first year reminding myself that men weren't great communicators, that I couldn't compare my first marriage to a man with whom the conversations were easy and endless about everything and anything to this new marriage to a man with whom the conversations were virtually non-existent but provided a steadfast quality my life I had always lacked.

I explained to my husband once that I needed three things from him - companionship, affection and sex - and that I could deal with not having any one or even two of those three things, but damn, I needed something and couldn't seem to get any of it at home.

The final straw came when the surgery was scheduled, my husband never realizing he was expected to be present, nor understanding why he should want to be and me forcing him to sit down and discuss the matter only to be told, "you've got to understand, this is happening to you and I'm sure this is all you can think about, but that's just it, this is happening to you, it isn't happening to me."

Suddenly, with the uttering of that phrase, I knew my marriage was over. Safety and security was no longer at all approaching enough. Life went on as usual for several months, I in my world and he in his, as I struggled to make myself accept the life I had chosen.

Then an old friend appeared from cyberspace, bringing with him a light I had forgotten existed. Suddenly my life was filled with easy and endless conversations and a growing sense of urgency to free myself from what I believed was a loveless marriage as it was becoming more and more unbearable. A death in his family brought him within a few hours of where I lived and I set off to visit with him. My husband never said a word about the endless conversations or my decision to visit.

The minute I saw him I knew I was lost. I only stayed for a few hours and there was nothing sexual about it at all. Just two friends seeing each other after many years, both jittery as teenagers on a first date but neither giving voice to the pounding of their hearts.

It was days later before he told me he was falling in love with me. The distance between us was unbearable. It had been relatively easy to keep things in perceptive when you were only dealing with computer conversations with someone you hadn't seen in more than ten years. It was a completely different ballgame having seen each other, as though that somehow confirmed the reality of our existence.

Within a few weeks I had decided to take some time off work and board a train to go stay with him for a week. Although he knew where I was going, my husband said nothing as he kissed me goodbye at the train station. Nor did he say anything when he picked me up at the station a week later, despite the fact that I hadn't slept hardly any the entire week and my eyes were puffy and red from having cried the entire 8-hour trip back.

Several days later I told my husband I wanted a divorce. He said he hadn't realized the problems between us were so severe. "But I've tried to talk to you about them so many times, hell I even told you six months ago O was so miserable I was going to end up cheating on you even though I've never cheated on anyone in my life." He just kept saying he didn't realize how I'd felt and admitted he'd often tuned me out when I was trying to discuss it.

He promised to work on things, that things would get better. "You don't understand, I'm past the point of wanting to work on it, I just want you to leave."

I finally told him that I knew we didn't need to be married because I had cheated on him. Oddly enough I think he was more upset that I told him than that I had actually committed the act. "There's nothing here, we don't have a connection." He couldn't understand what connection I was talking about. I actually wrote of that sense of connection in this post at the time.

And so you think you've found that connection with him? "Yes."

He moved out the next day, vowing that he had not yet given up on us.

Meanwhile I realized that when I get that "follow you off a cliff" feeling it's usually because it's someone who will lead me right to the edge of the cliff. My friend was much like my first husband in that way. He was drowning in a sense and I had long ago made up my mind to never again subject myself to the pain that comes with loving and living with someone who has given up on the living part.

All the while, my husband was dogged in his efforts to convince me to give our marriage another chance.

Holy shit, if, after all this, he is still so insistent that he loves me and wants to be my husband, he must really love me and want to be my husband. He deserves that chance. It's only the right thing to do.

Needless to say, lines had already been crossed and there was no going back to the easy conversations and effortless friendship I had enjoyed. We tried for a while, but he eventually decided it was easier to not have me in his life at all.

I was heartbroken and angry. They say it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all and that may very well be true, but not when you lose such a valuable friendship in the process. And especially not when you begin to doubt the value of that friendship to start with for being unable to survive.

And so here I sit, nearly a year since I last spoke with him. In many ways my marriage is stronger. I've come to appreciate the steadfastness of my husband and his tolerance for my moodiness. I've come to appreciate that he never yells, never leaves and never alters his pattern. I've come to appreciate his clumsy efforts at being supportive and his attempts to at least pretend to pay attention as I prattle on.

He has mentioned the affair only once since our reconciliation and that was this past May as we reached the one-year mark. When I expressed concern for his dreary mood one day, he simply responded that he couldn't help but think of what had happened the year before, quickly following it up with assurances that he wasn't trying to make me feel guilty for it or throw it up in my face. And indeed, he's never once thrown it up in my face. Somehow I think he understood, even though he's never found the words to tell me that. He's had a much easier time forgiving me than I have forgiving myself. Our marriage is still silent for the most part, but standing there beside me day in and day out speaks volumes.

Yet I still terribly miss the easy and endless conversations about anything and nothing all at once and continue to kick myself for throwing it all away in an effort to recapture something I was damn lucky to get the first go 'round. That too fills me with guilt.

breaking the silence

There are several subjects I've staunchly refused to broach here. I suppose some things are better left shoved to the back of my mind, far away from the harsh reality of the light of day.

One such subject is the complete crumbling of my marriage more than a year ago and the resulting affair.

Come to think of it, I generally avoid the subject of my marriage all together. I suppose it is mostly out of some sense of loyalty to my husband that I do not write of these things. He knows of the affair of course, but it has not been mentioned in our home since. He also knows about this blog, although I'm not at all certain he bothers to read it, as it is also not mentioned in our home.

I'm certain he wouldn't want to be reminded of the matter and even more certain he would probably raise immortal hell over the public airing of the private aspects of our lives, but this blog was intended to be the catch-all for the maddening thoughts that race through my mind each day, the nagging notions that haunt me in the middle of the night and, basically, everything that makes me ME.

So I've decided to break my silence. To hell with it. Most often my long silences here are the result of my attempt not to somehow betray him by giving voice to that which goes unspoken in our daily lives in spite of the fact that it consumes my thoughts.

But it seems as though a hell of a lot goes unspoken and I grow weary of the silence.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

the itsy bitsy spider

I have spent the past two months in a puddle of self-pity while making frequent trips to the doctor and taking pills.

I came through the surgery and the resulting surgical site infection well, only to be laid on my ass by a critter I never even saw.

Right after the surgery I noticed a spider bite on the outside of my calf. It looked harmless enough and I paid it no mind. As I finished up my seven-day round of antibiotics I noticed the bite was still visible and I remember thinking, "hmmm, this is odd, that must've been one hell of a spider!"

Within a week of finishing that first round of antibiotics, the harmless looking bite had begun to swell and soon I was sporting a hard, 5 cm knot on the side of my leg. I waited a few more days, until the pain finally became unbearable and I could no longer put any pressure on that leg without a sharp shooting pain running down my shin.

The doctor was puzzled. It's definitely some sort of infection. It doesn't look like staph. It's not acting like any spider bite I've ever seen. Let's try a different type of antibiotics and see what happens.

I'll tell you what happened, the antibiotics just pissed it off. By the end of the first week, the knot was continuing to grow larger, was still an angry red and had begun darkening like a deep bruise. Next thing I know, I'm having an inch long hole cut into my leg and having it packed with gauze. Two days later, puzzled that there was still no improvement at all and thinking it must be staph, the doctor cleaned out a bit more of the wound he'd made and packed it again.

By this point I could barely walk.

What kind of pain is it, the doctor asked.

I can't even describe it. It aches and burns all at the same time and every few minutes it feels as though a hot knife is slicing down the inside of my shin.

The gauze came out a few days later when tests confirmed it wasn't staph and I was placed on a third different antibiotic. The official diagnosis? Some unnamed spider.

That was a week and a half ago. I still have a visible circle, about 5 inches across, around the hole made by the doctor and it is still hard to the touch, but the swelling has gone down and the pain has subsided, only flaring up at night if I've spent too much time on my feet or when I accidentally put pressure against it. It's no longer hot to the touch and stopped draining a few days ago, forming a normal looking scab so I assume that means it's no longer infected.

I finally finished the antibiotics yesterday and somehow I've managed not to become addicted to the Vicodin I was eating like candy for a couple of weeks there. Now maybe things will get back to normal around here.

Of course, thanks to a flyswatter and a large amount of Raid, there's probably not a spider living within a five-mile radius of my house!

seven deadly sins

My health has been for shit lately, so I chose not to spread my whiny-ness by avoiding the blogging world completely. Here's a survey I ran across regarding the seven deadly sins just to get me back in the swing of things. I can't wait to catch up on my blog reading!

Wrath....

Who did you last get angry with?
seven men who are elected to represent this county...as one body, they are complete idiots who cannot accomplish anything or grasp even the simplest concepts.

What is your weapon of choice?
a knife, preferably a switch blade, but any knife will do

Would you hit a member of the opposite sex?
damn right, if they have it coming, especially if they have me cornered or hit me first, but I'm a girl, so it's fair...besides if I hit them I figure they have a right to hit me back whether I'm a girl or not

How about the same sex?
only to defend myself, although there was a time I wasn't so patient

Who was the last person who got really angry at you?
hmmm...I don't know, probably my Granny but it's been a while. I seem to have a knack for easily angering her because I refuse to buy into her martydom.

What is your pet peeve?
I hate it when people are rude for no reason. I know everyone has bad days, but some people simply do not grasp the concept of polite, much less kind, interaction with their fellow man

Do you keep grudges, or can you let them go easily?
I used to hold a grudge forever, but I've gotten pretty good at letting them go. I finally realized I was only hurting myself by clinging to the hurt and anger.

Sloth...

What is one thing you're suppose to do daily that you haven't?
with three dogs and a cat in the house, I should probably vacuum every day but I don't. It's an endless chore.

What is the latest you've ever woken up?
I've been known to sleep all day

Name a person you've been meaning to contact, but haven't?
I had been meaning to call my friend Mike for the last few days, but he ended up calling me today cause he knows I'm slack

What is the last lame excuse that you made?
I didn't cook dinner tonight because the meds had upset my stomach so the menfolk had to fend for themselves

Have you ever watched an infomercial all the way through?
quite possibly back in my days as a stoner, but never when I was in my right mind

How many times did you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock this morning?
I didn't count, but it bought me an extra 45 minutes

Gluttony....

What is your overpriced yuppie beverage of choice?
since I hardly consider whiskey a yuppie beverage, I don't have one...when I do get dragged into a coffee shop, I order coffee, that's right, straight coffee, go figure!

Are you a meat eater?
indeed, I have a special fondness for beef and pork

What is the greatest amount of alcohol you've had in one sitting/outing/event?
we used to kill a 1/2 gallon quite often, but by myself, I'd say a fifth

Are you comfortable with your drinking and eating habits?
I generally eat one meal a day and snack the rest of the time. I probably should eat a little healthier...and I should really cut out the sodas....alcohol-wise I only tie one on every few months, so I'm good with that

Do you enjoy candy and sweets?
yes indeedy...in fact I will be making some fudge tomorrow :-D

Which do you prefer: sweets, salty foods or spicy foods?
all the above! lol

Have you ever looked at a small house pet or child and thought, "lunch"?
lol, um, no, I'm a glutton, but not that bad!

Greed....

How many credit cards do you own?
one, and since I've been out of a job for a while it's currently maxed out

If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?
pay off all my bills, pay off the bills of my parents, my granny and my aunt Linda, kick some to my brother and a few choice friends, stash some for the boy's college, use some for my college, stash some away for old age and start a foundation to help support a variety of causes through grants

Would you rather be rich or famous?
rich, who wants the hassle of people nosing into your life because you're famous?

Would you accept a boring job if it meant that you would make megabucks?
at this very moment? yes, but I wouldn't stay long

Pride...

What's one thing that you have done that you're most proud of?
my son is happy, healthy and has never once doubted that his momma loved him

What's one thing you have done that your parents are most proud of?
I think they're probably just proud that I didn't crash and burn or turn out to be a complete loser

What thing would you like to accomplish late in your life?
I'd like to accomplish it a lot sooner in life, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen...I want to be a grief and Hospice counselor

Do you get annoyed by coming in second place?
not when the first place person really deserves it

Have you ever entered a contest of skill, knowing you were of much higher skill than all the other competitors?
no, in fact, I'm usually the underdog

Have you ever cheated to get a better score?
no, but I did write papers for other people on occasion

What did you do today that you're proud of?
hmmm....I forgave someone who really hurt my feelings without even telling them they had hurt my feelings

Lust...

How many people have you seen naked (not counting movies, family, strippers, locker rooms)?
hahahaha....more than I care to remember and for the record, NO, I do NOT want unsolicited pictures of your penis!!! That is NOT a turn on!

How many people have seen you naked (not counting physicians, doctors, family, locker rooms, or when you were a young child)?
not enough to where I have to worry about running into them on a regular basis, or finding any compromising pics or video on the net

Have you ever caught yourself staring at the chest/crotch of a person of your chosen sex during a normal conversation?
I am sometimes impressed by the perfect fit of certain jeans on certain people

What is your favorite body part of a person of your gender choice?
eyes, lips, arms and butt...in that order

Have you ever had sexual encounters (including kissing/making out) with multiple persons?
no, and sorry but that's not on my wish list

Have you ever been propositioned by a prostitute?
um, no, I've been asked if I would consider prostitution though and yes, I turned them down

Envy....

What item of your friends' would you most want to have for your own?
hmmm...I can't really think of anything at the moment

Who would you want to go on "Trading Spaces" with?
nobody, everyone's life is a little screwed up

If you could be anyone who existed in the world, who would you be?
what's wrong with just being me? I'm ok with that.

Have you ever been cheated on?
yes and it hurts to the quick

Have you ever wished you had a physical feature different from your own?
I wish I could've lost my baby belly, but alas, he's 12 and I still have a pooch...I tell myself it gives me character, lol

What inborn trait do you see in others that you wish you had for yourself?
highly driven motivation

What deadly sin...

Do you do the most often?
sloth

Do you do the least often?
envy

Is your favorite to act on?
it's a toss up between lust and gluttony, depending on my mood, lol