Divorce: Feeling lost but being found

Saying goodbye to dreams in increments tends to cloud your memory of how you came to these decisions in the first place. I never imagined a life in which my children were not always with me in my home. I didn't set out to put myself at odds with my family and friends. Yet here I am, this week bidding adieu to my yellow farmhouse at a new level.

I never wanted to change the man I married. I never wanted to change my children. They all came to me - the man, his children - foreign, wholly other beings brimming over with themselves from the moment I first laid eyes on them. Why would I change creatures who fascinate me so? I don't want to change them now, even in this season of loss, as dreams warp and dissipate and relationships break and heal and change.

A person doesn't join another person in life choosing someone to change. A mother doesn't adopt children into her paradigm, but must evolve herself as each new being enters her care. The responsibility of parenthood in it's truest form is to nurture the child that comes into the family, celebrating and honing strengths and cradling weaknesses. I stand against those who've tried to teach me a child must be broken, their will crushed, or their character molded. I looked into the eyes of those babes as they came forth into the awareness of this other world we live in. I saw there the power in their personalities. I heard in their cries and felt in their rhythms their Achille's heels long before I could craft a description of them. I know they were fully and wholly themselves as they came to be, and I can only come alongside each of them as they emerge into the people they were born to become. Whoever that is - however different than my initial visions of them, however "right" or "wrong", healthy or unhealthy I perceive their choices to be, I was joined to them irrevocably as their blood and mine pooled together beneath me in their first minutes of life, the first of many sacrifices to be made so that I might reflect their most beautiful light. I can never forget that in the forge of life itself, in the muck and mire of family life, the diapers and the midnight bleary eyed dances in the kitchen; in the sorrows, losses, triumphs and simple moments of joy - we became ourselves together, these four people and I. This metamorphosis may have been halted somewhere along the way by the trauma of evil for me, yet it is the wisdom of such paralysis that has opened the floodgates for me to spill forth this third decade of my life. Right alongside my growing children.

I am their mother. I will cheer when they succeed (and probably shed a few tears). My heart will break with theirs as this cruel world crashes into theirs in all it's beauty and tragedy this next decade. Their words will pierce deeper than any other arrows into my spirit. And mine could do the same to them. Yet, ever more often, these compassionate little people, wise beyond their years, forged as they've been through suffering - they build me with their words. Caleb, with his sudden, fierce hugs, harshly whispers, "You're the best mama in the whole world." Amy, who cannot get enough of my skin, who needs me like the rest of us need water. Rosy who is quick to notice my mood and comfort and encourage with a specific strength or joy she noted in me earlier. Katy, who has always been a little me walking around outside my body: yet she is resilient, alert and stalwart in a way I wasn't born to be, and so I see myself, but sturdier, conscious, methodical, loyal.

In reality, I haven't said goodbye to my dreams. They've evolved, as I have, by necessity. I helped build a yellow farmhouse that was supposed to be where I raised a simple Christian family. Dreams can become prisons if they chafe the new, tender parts of you that emerge as you grow. I no longer fit that particular vision for my life: it isn't surprising that the life I made for the old me didn't match the me I found when I finally had the courage to look inside. The house and the dream aren't mine any longer, yet I feathered a nest with memories of comfort and the type of joy that is dancing spontaneously with your arms flung free, and I've left this legacy to reach into my children's futures in their hours apart from me. Some of us are the hermit crabs, shedding shells and walking vulnerable until we find a new home that fits.

I'll hold yin and yang for you, my children, and for myself. I will call twisting reshaping; I will see breaking as gaining perspective; I will try to hold your lives ever in the balance when I work hard to support you but never so hard that you lose me for it. In all this, not to ever lose myself again either, because in losing myself you all lose me, too, and these four at least need me.

It's like coming out of the long Alaskan winter, when the sun never rises. I am shaking the cold off my bones, I'm walking without a visible limp, my laugh has it's ring back. I'd recommend it, a thousand times over, for all it's agony, this journey of self discovery. Find yourself. I promise it's worth it. I promise you're so much more beautiful than you imagine. I promise you'll see what others have seen - however rare, we've all had a friend or two, a family member, a teacher, a coworker, someone who sees us and loves us. You've spent a lifetime already, I imagine, looking for the person inside you that people dislike. Have you ever thought to look for the person others do like? Why not give it a shot?

Coming out might not mean what you think

truth sometimes settles out of dust and chaos
in unraveling and uncoupling we find deeper wells
despite of or perhaps because of
the tragedies that have swirled around us
we are driftwood strong and smooth

Remembering ourselves
can be radical self-preservation
What you see as selfish heedless foolish
might just be the last spark to my candle
It takes courage to light your own flame
in a howling wind of nay sayers
Acts and deeds over words and creeds
the proof is in the pudding
I'll show you my love - show me yours please

it has been a season of iPhone photos
my camera gathering dust on a shelf.
I am a brushless painter, voiceless poet;
fine art is eye of the beholder stuff
simplicity of routine
the gathering of warm bodies to us
in a shelter we've made a nest
is there anything finer
than growing beauty in tiny humans?
working at what makes our soul sing?
purity of a simple laugh
ringing through a lazy after school afternoon
or the perfection of an embrace that fits just right
I gather moments more than images
for moments mean more and sharing them less

feet on the frozen lake
I sink my feet into life's unadulterated facts
We've no idea still what dawn will bring
with all our devices and sensors and data
it is still a surprise - that first conscious breath
absorbing daylight as much through our noses and lungs as we do our eyes

It's not been just on lonely incense evenings
or in the leaving or the forging of new life
it is in the arms of the lover my soul wailed for
finally cradled in just the ways I need to be held
and love filling empty spaces
that have long collected only wind and rain
I whisper she and am not undone by fear

Who judges what spring will awaken the slumbering hibernation
we willingly or inexorably lull ourselves into?
For me it has been the winter of separation
feeling air all around my soul
in walking away from dogma and certainty
I've found peace bobbing about on the ocean of life's ceaseless wonder and pain
Lifting anchor was the last tether cut
In the reflection of memories forgiven, waves of losses and disappointments
If I can forgive those who twisted me
Perhaps I can even forgive myself

The color, wideness of grin coming back
a gust of wind now and then through my wings
and you can take the high road
I'll take the path through the woods
along the detours, on those dead ends
I've met healing and safety
Pain doesn't paralyze me anymore
because it is important to let yourself be alive
let your humanness breathe without analyzing every detail
get dirty in life together, perfection isn't all -
that's freedom, my soul sings,
and freedom is worth the price.

I don't wear the clothes I've been told I should
I'm a patchwork quilt
A repurposed thrift store find
but for all my scratches and patches
there's eyes that see my beauty
I'll be a Breakfast Club revolutionary
bear those scars and scratches
for the world to see and scoff at

because if one person sees strength
and it catches fire in one soul
if it spares you one moment of pain
I will bear the harsh gaze
I will cut the apron ties
so your kite flies

Some thoughts today on the importance of making your own path: more on why I believe in being authentic and visible here.