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Letting Go

“Time heals what reason cannot.” (Seneca)

Tonight I had the opportunity to chat with a Colorado friend on the phone. We’ve emailed occasionally, back and forth, since I moved to Utah but I can’t remember the last time we talked. She told me I sounded like my old self and asked, “Tell me, are you really as good as you sound?”

I assured her I was.

She then said, “O.k., then tell me how you’ve done it.”

I’m not sure I had an answer for that.  How do you heal from the wounds and trauma of a very unexpected life?

In the beginning, I was overwhelmed with trying to make sense of anything and to reason through it all. Everything was of such a magnitude, and so shocking, reason alone didn’t heal me. There’s no way it could. So I have to credit my healing to time–it has been 23 months since I was thrust into a life I didn’t plan for or expect, but I’ve seen for myself that there really is something to the old adage that “time heals all wounds.”

I’ve done it through reason, time…and due to a great big miracle. It’s a miracle to me that I have healed. I remember wondering if it was possible to recover from losses like mine. I remember doubting I’d ever heal or feel whole again in my life, but I honestly do.

I think the key to recovery is this:  what reason doesn’t take care of, what time cannot heal, and if there’s anything not covered by your miracle…the rest you simply have to let go.

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” (Author Unknown)

I recommend this course of action to everyone. Moving forward is a whole new adventure in itself. At least, it was for me. It even led to falling in love, getting engaged…

O.k., so that is really all it has led to because I haven’t moved forward beyond being engaged–yet. The love update, for anyone who has been with me for awhile and to any newcomer, is that I’ve been engaged for over 9 months now! I NEVER expected that. But just in case that should change any time in the near future, I think it’s time to share some highlights of the past 9 months.

“I recorded my hair this morning, tonight I’m watching the highlights.” (Jay London)

Here we go…

What Miracle Is Wrought

“Don’t rush me sonny. You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.” (“The Princess Bride”)

Not long ago, I was reviewing my unexpected life; pondering all that has happened and the many miracles I have received since March 18, 2009. There have been many.

Although, it’s funny what you become accustomed to. For awhile, my situation was so desperate I was blessed with huge miracle after miracle. They almost became “the norm!” Then I realized it had been awhile since I’d experienced a jaw dropping miracle so I thought, “That must be a sign that I’m healing and things are getting back to normal. I guess I must not need many big miracles any more.” (And I admit there was a tiny part of me that was sad miracles, for me, had ceased. I felt like I still needed a little help!)

I should have known better.  ”Miracles happen everyday, change your perception of what a miracle is and you’ll see them all around you.” (Jon Bon Jovi)

The other day, one of my cute, single college student co-workers shared a miracle she received with me: someone purchased a plane ticket for her to fly to visit her family at Christmas. She was so touched, and so grateful, she felt like crying! I was happy for her, and full of gratitude and admiration for whoever made that possible for my friend.

It made me think about miracles I’ve received. For example, that my children and I have remained healthy and safe the past 21 months is a miracle. That we have wonderful old and new friends that bless our lives is a miracle. That I got a job in a tough economy after not working for 19 years is a miracle. That I survived two corporate down sizings, and kept my job, is a miracle. And last but not least, not only did Bachelor #5 arrive in our lives, but that he continues to hang in there with me during an engagement much longer than either of us anticipated as we prepare to marry some time in 2011 and blend two families and eight children is also a miracle!

I could go on and on.

I receive miracles every day; but I’m overwhelmed by tender mercies lately. The following have all come to me THIS month:

As mentioned earlier, my neighbor fixed my car. It was a blessing to have it repaired. And of course, it goes without saying that each time we drive it, we continue to be grateful for functioning windows and a warm driving experience!

I got a little bonus at my work Christmas party last week, which will allow me to purchase Christmas gifts for each of my children.

Two issues that have plagued me since my spouse revealed his Ponzi scheme and crimes, were finally resolved. THAT is a miracle.

We got to see a current movie in a theater (AND buy treats!), courtesy of a Denver man who saw the NBC-affiliate news story that ran on our family and he contacted us with words of encouragement–and a gift card to a movie theater so we could enjoy a movie as a family! It was the first time we’ve been able to do that since our unexpected life began and it was a thrill! In fact, I don’t think my youngest remembers ever seeing a movie in a theater. Current movies in real theaters are one of those “luxuries” that aren’t in our family budget any more. The man said that although throwing rocks is fun, so are movies, and he is right! What a great start to our holiday season.

I guess the season for miracles in my life is not over.

And I realize that it never is.

For any one.

Regardless of which end of the miracle you’re on.

“When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” (Helen Keller)

Edward Eyes

“I have looked into your eyes with my eyes. I have put my heart near your heart.” (Pope John XXIII)

I don’t know how it is for all divorced, single women, but I can tell you how I felt and what I thought.

I couldn’t believe it had happened to me. I was a in a bit of shock at the events that led to my divorce and the fact that I was divorced. My divorce hadn’t happened in what I imagined were the typical ways–we had never fallen out of love, become indifferent to one another, fought with each other or hated each other. It wasn’t a downward spiral leading to a break-up. The necessity for a divorce came in one day, out of the blue.

My feelings of self worth suffered. I walked around, sure that all eyes were on me, that everyone knew I was single, that everyone probably thought I’d done something wrong to end up that way and that people either pitied me or thought I was a loser.

I was filled with grief that a marriage had ended and an intact family unit had been destroyed.

I felt the marriage that ended had been my one marriage, my one chance at having a husband or being married, and that I was destined to be alone the rest of my life.

But at the same time, my divorce didn’t destroy my belief in the institution of marriage or in the purpose of families; I remained a fan of both. I remember sitting in church one day a month or two after my divorce became final and the Sunday School lesson was on marriage. I sat there, listening, as I always had when a woman sitting next to me leaned over and whispered, “I’m sorry. Is this hard for you?” No, I answered, and I meant it. It hadn’t dawned on me to sit there and feel bad for myself or mope about what I didn’t have.

However, as a single woman, there were certain things I noticed.

I noticed every wedding ring on every man’s finger. My husband had never worn a wedding ring, and although it had never bothered me or been an issue for us (due to my dad’s profession, he hadn’t worn one either, so I didn’t grow up with the expectation that married men should wear wedding rings) I began to appreciate them–after I was single.

I noticed young couples in love, particularly the way they looked at each other, specifically the way the young men looked at the young ladies. I couldn’t help but see it, probably because I’d been told my spouse hadn’t looked at me in years prior to our divorce. Somehow along the way, I decided I wanted that for myself someday.

Some people look for money. Some people choose a mate based solely on chemistry, intellect, physical appearance or personality. I decided, among other things, I was going to hold out for a man who looked at me with “the look.” I didn’t want a relationship where my husband spent year looking at the tip of my nose again.

Enter Bachelor #5.

He told me he’d marry me tomorrow if I were willing; I was slower than he was to come to that decision. I had a lot of observing and investigating to do before I committed myself. And one of the things I was checking out was “the look.” Did he look at me that way?

I wasn’t sure.

It was time to find out.

One night I sat nose to nose with Bachelor #5. I directed him to look at me. He laughed and told me he couldn’t, things were too blurry to see that close up! I explained he didn’t need to see me, I just needed to see the way he looked at me. He shook his head, teased me about trying to live a teenage fantasy in my 40s and holding out for something that doesn’t exist in real life, but he had the good grace to look me in the eyes anyway.

For a second or two, as I looked into his warm, brown eyes, I wasn’t sure what I saw. Then before I could decide, he opened his eyes as wide as he could, gazed intently into mine, raised his eyebrows (to the point he was looking a little like a zombie) and asked, “Can you see it? I’m looking at you with my best Edward eyes. Do you see my Edward eyes?”

I told you he gets me.

He’s not even a Twilight fan, but he somehow knew what I was thinking, what I was looking for, and at least jokingly, tried to be that for me.

Just one more reason I finally decided it was time. Why I said, “Yes.” And why we’re still…engaged.

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” (Author Unknown)

It’s all part of the unexpected life.

Depend(s) On It

I was in Victoria’s Secret last night, waiting in line to make a purchase. A woman ahead of me, at the register, was having an animated discussion with the clerk. The transaction ended, the woman walked away, and I stepped to the counter.

The employee apologized to me for the wait but explained the woman was getting married. Apparently, she had just received a phone call from her fiance who told her to “pack warm,” they were getting married, so the woman was rushing to buy a few things before she departed for who-knows-where to get married!

Obviously, my situation is very different. Personal beliefs aside, with eight children between us whose lives will be impacted by our marriage, Bachelor #5 and I don’t feel we can run off and marry; we need (and want) to share it with our children. However, I couldn’t help comparing the woman’s situation to my engagement.

Mine’s more like this:

“No sooner met but they looked; no sooner looked but they loved; no sooner loved but they sighed; no sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason; no sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy; and in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage, which they will climb incontinent, or else be incontinent before marriage.” (William Shakespeare)

Sounds like that engagement was lasting at least as long as mine to Bachelor #5!

You can DEPEND(s) on it.

I just hope I don’t have to.

Bachelor #5 And The Pinky Swear

“To pinky swear (in some regions referred to as the pinky promise) is when two people entwine their pinky fingers…to signify that a promise has been made…Traditionally, the pinky swear is considered binding and tantamount to a handshake in terms of sealing a deal. The pinky swear originally indicated that the person who breaks the promise must cut off their pinky finger…The pinky swear signifies a promise that cannot be broken or counteracted by the crossing of fingers, the “I take it back” or any other trickery.” (WIkipedia)

The September wedding date wasn’t going to work.

I informed my children. They seemed disappointed, except for my oldest. He looked worried and advised, “Don’t push it off too far, Mom, or he’ll lose interest and dump you!” (Have I mentioned how much I appreciate the confidence my children have in my ability to hold the interest of a man? Lol.)

My son was apparently very concerned that pushing back the date meant Bachelor #5 wasn’t going to follow through with marrying his mother.

When I told Bachelor #5 about that conversation he laughed and offered to “pinky swear” promise to marry me in January, and told me not to worry, he ALWAYS keeps his pinky swear promises!

I’m pretty sure I know four children who plan to hold him to that.

“Broken promises don’t upset me. I just think, why did they believe me?” (Jack Handy)

The Ring

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” (Albert Einstein)

Bachelor #5 persevered. He stuck with his problem (me–Lol) a little longer. He took me to more stores. I found bands that I sort of liked, but nothing that felt right. They were all just ok. I didn’t know what I was looking for or what I expected, and maybe I was being unreasonable about the whole thing, but felt that if I was going to get a ring, it needed to feel “right.” And was that even possible for me to feel, the second time around, at my age and after all I’d been through?

I only knew that the first time I’d married, the wedding dress had been the dilemma. Until that moment. The moment I stepped into a dress and my mom and I looked at each other, stunned, and said, at the same time, “THIS is the dress!” I looked completely transformed in it. I fell in love with it. And I guess I was expecting MY ring to hit me in the same way.

The saga of the quest for an engagement/wedding ring continued. The bright side was that at least we’d narrowed the search for a band that would serve as my engagement ring and wedding band. Now we just had to find it.

We went to several more stores and found nothing. And then one day we went to a little family-owned jewelry store to look at their selection. Nothing. And then the man said, “Wait. I think I might have the perfect ring for you. Of course, it would have to be made. But what do you think of this?”

He showed me a picture. It appeared to be everything I’d been looking for and had imagined for myself. But I was nervous about committing to it based on a picture. The man told me not to worry, ordered a sample and we returned to the store to look at it when it came in.

I put it on. In that instant I knew. It was the band for me. It was MY ring.

After all of my hesitation and unwillingness to choose a ring, even look at rings, much less wear a ring, I would have taken it and worn it then and there without worrying about how to pay for it (and without even being officially proposed to!) I loved it.

I left the store feeling a slight sense of loss that my ring had yet to be created. The wait was on.

But there’s always a lot of other stuff to keep you busy and occupied. Especially in the unexpected life.

In my case, Bachelor #5 had yet to propose; we had to blend two families. And trust me, none of that is as easy as it sounds.

“Frogs have it easy, they can eat what bugs them.”

Ring Shopping Part II

It’s funny, the things you forget.

I remember when I had my 4th child, I was a lot more laid back in my preparations for him than I had been for my 1st, 2nd and even my 3rd children! About two weeks before he was due, I looked at my daughter and said, “We’d better get to the store and get some things we need before the baby comes!” She and I got to share in the fun of buying the things we’d need for a baby. We did it in one store, in one shopping trip, and when we got home and had hauled everything in, I was ready.

I had everything I needed for the new arrival. It was my 4th child, I knew what I was doing and after the shopping trip felt completely prepared. Until my daughter, in 5th grade at the time, looked at me and asked, “But Mom, if you have a baby don’t you need…diapers?” I had COMPLETELY forgotten about diapers!

That’s a little how I was with the whole willingness to marry Bachelor #5 thing.

I had finally told him it was time, but I had forgotten, completely, about the engagement/wedding ring portion of the ritual. When Bachelor #5 mentioned it, reminded me about it, I honestly believed I didn’t need a ring. I didn’t want one.

Divorce devastates many people, financially, and I didn’t want to add to anyone’s financial burden. Plus, I’d had a ring the first time I was married. I’d worn it and put my heart, soul, life, love and the finest of all of my efforts into my marriage and my husband, had thought he was doing the same and that we were close to blissfully on track for eternity–and it had ended. Unexpectedly. The icing on the cake of that failure was that not only did the marriage end, but the government took my wedding ring away because it was an “upgrade” (not the original wedding ring) when they seized the assets we’d acquired due to my ex-husband’s participation in a Ponzi scheme.

I didn’t want or need another ring.

But Bachelor #5 insisted. I told him to just go get anything and I’d be fine with it. But Bachelor #5 didn’t want me to “be fine” with it. He wanted me to love my ring, and said he wouldn’t have a clue what I would like or want without my input, and patiently endured the first ring shopping experience in which the only thing I decided was that I hate ring shopping…and I didn’t want a diamond ring.

“We do not know what we want, but we are ready to bite somebody to get it” (Will Rogers)

Ask Bachelor #5. I wasn’t the friendliest, most eager customer the poor sales clerk at the first jewelry store had ever tried to sell a ring to. In less than 10 minutes, in fact, I’m pretty sure it may have been less than five minutes, he stepped away and brought out the big gun: the store manager. An experienced woman. She calmly took over. And I came to a decision.

I wanted a band.

“As good as I am, I’m nothing without my band.” (Steven Tyler)

As Simple As That

“My mother says I didn’t open my eyes for eight days after I was born, but when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring. I was hooked.” (Elizabeth Taylor)

He’d been telling me for quite awhile he’d marry me tomorrow if I were willing. I had eventually responded by saying, “It’s time.”

I was happy, calm and content–absolutely willing to enjoy that state of being for awhile. When I’d uttered those two words, I hadn’t envisioned moving forward with anything beyond that in the near future. Life had been moving pretty fast for me; I was ready for a “breather!”

However, a few days later while driving down the road, Bachelor #5 threw in the phrase, “And then we’ll go ring shopping if we have time.” If I had been the one driving the car, it would have come to a screeching halt right at that moment. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The thought of setting foot in a jewelry store and shopping for an engagement ring, at my age, was something I’d never thought of or planned on!

I’m not sure why. I wish I could say I handled it well, but that would be less than truthful. Thankfully, we didn’t get around to it for a few more days. But that didn’t make it any easier for me. I was slightly slower to convert to the idea than, say, Elizabeth Taylor.

But Bachelor #5 didn’t give up. He remained patient and calm through the whole process. (And it WAS a process.)

We entered the first jewelry store together. An innocent young salesman approached. I don’t think he had any idea what he was in for. But neither did I.

I don’t know the typical female response to ring shopping, but I wasn’t sitting down and anxious to look at any rings or try any on, and I certainly wasn’t gushing over anything that sparkled. I’d never gone ring shopping, or looked at diamonds, in my entire life. I didn’t know much.

I was finally persuaded to try on a setting that I didn’t love, but I had to start somewhere to appease Bachelor #5 and the clerk. With the setting on my finger, the clerk dropped an assortment of loose diamonds into the center of it for me to look at. I didn’t know if it was the size of the diamonds or my age (aka. poor eyesight) but I had a hard time seeing the diamonds very well. Everything seemed so small. I said to the clerk, “I’m sorry. But these diamonds all seem so small. I think you’re going to have to show me some diamonds that are at least a karat. Yes, at my age, I think I need at least a karat.”

The salesman replied, “Ma’am, all of the stones I’m showing you are LARGER than a karat; in fact, most of them are close to two karats!” (See? I told you I didn’t know anything.)

I knew then and there I was fighting a battle I couldn’t win because I didn’t even have a clue what the rules were! We left without buying anything. And the only decision I’d arrived at after that ring shopping experience, was that I didn’t want a diamond ring.

I hated ring shopping. The things men “make” women do. Lol.

“Men are like a deck of cards, you need a heart to love ‘em, a diamond to marry ‘em, a club to beat ‘em and a spade to bury ‘em.”

If only it were as simple as that.