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Magical World

Wouldn't it be lovely if, with just a twitch of the nose, life, or any aspect of it could be changed. Instead, positive changes always seem to involve tremendously hard work, determination, and endless setbacks. How lovely it would be to have the powers of Samantha Stephens.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What's all this???

A redhead checked me out at Walmart. And yes, she was my cashier, so there is a double entendre here. She did the up-and-down thing with her eyes. I was buying cold medicine in the self-check lane, so the machine stopped and I had to get approval before continuing. I got it--in more ways than one. Then she started flirting--was I old enough to buy pseudoephedrine? Could she see my ID? The giggling, the eye-contact. I don't think I've been called "beautiful" or "hon" as much in five mintes as I was at that moment.

Yes, Darrin was there. Yes, I was wearing my ring. I'm wondering what I did to trigger her gaydar...

Darrin said younger women shouldn't call older women "hon," it was too weird. Too bad he missed out on the real weirdness.

Normally, I have a thing for redheads. I felt no response today. I blame my cold...or perhaps I thank it? There's something gratifying when someone attractive flirts with you--for someone in my position it's usually also uncomfortable and a little frustrating. Today, those feelings didn't happen, either. I was just friendly, but obviously I noticed that I was being noticed--perhaps some things never change.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Okay, I was eavesdropping on my sons, I admit it.

Adam: DJ, what do they do at Junior High Parent Teacher Conferences?

DJ: They just talk to your parents and they say they love you. And you don't apply yourself in class. And then your parents come home and they're all like: (in StrongBad voice) "Try harder. Get better grades. Oh, and your teacher likes you."

I learn new things all the time from my children.


Time to vent. Better here than anywhere else. These are things that REALLY bug me:

A. Inanimacies (yes, I know that's not a word--but it should be):
1. Cupboard doors and/or drawers left open in my kitchen.
2. Crooked lines on the streets.
3. Dull pencils.
4. Eating.
5. Messes.
6. Crowds.
7. Dirty cars.
8. Objects placed where they do not belong--especially if in plain sight.
9. Smoke and pollutants that trigger asthma.
10. Low blood-sugar.

B. Human Interest:
1. People who believe daily showers are unnecessary.
2. People who lead me to believe they're my friends--but just want something from me.
3. People who hide things from me, either for my own protection, or for theirs.
4. Friends who say one thing, but do another, and, when called on the discrepancy, tell me it's none of my business (and even if they're right, it still bugs me).
5. People who ignore me or avoid me. I'd rather be told to shut up and go away.
6. People who ask me for truthful answers, but then are hurt if I don't say what they want to hear (which I will NEVER do--I'd rather be friendless).
7. Friends--in general--bug me. I've never quite figured out the social niceties of friendship. I don't understand it. Mostly, I've found that friends are really good about telling me if I do something they like--but if I mess up, it's forever, and I have no idea why. Maybe I just need more forthright friends? More honest friends? Fewer, but better friends? I don't bugs me. (This refers to corporeal friends who live in my general vicinity)
8. People who treat me as if I'm stupid. There are many things I don't understand, but I'm not stupid.
9. People who think they know what's best for me, then get all offended when I tell them they don't.
10. People who expect me to accept them in any circumstance (which I actually think I do rather well), but want me to make bunches of changes to accomodate them. That just bugs me.

Okay--done. Shallow and stupid rant is over and I feel better. I suggest everyone take a moment to purge themselves, but if not, I'll enjoy the moment alone.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Be my Savior, and I'll be your downfall...

Something weird...
I feel normal
Why is it weird to feel normal?

because normal isn't so normal anymore

So--if I let go of all the past crap--who will be left?

good question?

You have to still be my friend, even when I'm not conflicted, confused and bizarre anymore.
It's not a choice--I'm not letting go.

heehee of course!
I don't think I will either

Because I think maybe I'm ready to live again, and that's really scary

that's huge! but exciting!

you can't laugh at me, but I'm stupid crying right now.

i'm not laughing

and I don't know why

why are you crying?


oh, nix my question then...

because I'm scared?

all of the above, add one part stitched up thumb, blend on high for thirty seconds

Sorry--I should do this in private.

you can do it on my chat screen
you just know that I won't have very helpful responses to what you're writing

I guess I just feel bad putting you in one of those awkward situations--I didn't know this would happen.

This is a stupid question, and we both know the answer--but I want to have it reinforced--the atonement can help me through this, right?

it's really amazing what the atonement can get us through

All the things my cousin did to me--the atonement can make it right--right?

of course, it's the only thing that WILL make it right

And that space inside me, the one I wanted to fill with love for the cousin who doesn't love me, I can give that to someone else--yes?

yes--there are so many who'll easily reciprocate that love if you choose to give it to them

Okay--thanks. Last question...
Am I ever going to stop crying?

most likely no, but the reason for the tears will change

I feel really bad that this happened right now--although I'm really glad I wasn't alone.


Okay, I'm better.

you are?
that was fast

Well, I'm not crying helplessly anymore--that's definitely better.

i love you

I love you, too. Thanks.

I think, after all these months, after talking about it, after thinking forever, finally, I'm ready to give up the person I've been for almost my entire life. It scares me to death. It makes me feel a little sick, and I wonder if I'm afraid to be happy. Or maybe I'm just afraid that I'll lay everything on the alter and someone will tell me it's too much, or I'm not worthy, or maybe Christ doesn't love me quite as much as I love him...

Regardless of the outcome, I think the time is here. I'm finally ready to find out what is true. I'd love some extra prayers from anyone out there who feels even a little bit interested. Can I ask for that? Well, I am.


I woke up this morning and I didn't feel sad. I don't remember the last time that happened. I didn't feel a horrifying need to run as if my life depended on it. I slept beyond sunrise. Something is happening.

Sacrament meeting was boring. I used the time to wonder about my internal workings. And I also wondered about a new feeling. I'm missing the guys who came to visit last week. I never miss people. I like them. I love to have them visit. I don't miss them when they're gone. Today, I wanted my friends with me, once again. My apologies to the rest of them, but I was especially missing AtP, who makes me laugh, gets my jokes most of the time, and makes me feel a little less like a freak. Oh yeah--and he loves me--at least, that's what he says, and I choose to believe him.

After Sacrament Meeting, I was putting my lesson together for YW, when the Bishop asked me to come talk to him. He thanked me for last Saturday's fireside. He started weeping and said, "I happen to know you're the one who put that together. I can't thank you enough. My eyes were opened, the Spirit touched my heart, and I can't even express the love I felt for the young men who spoke." Then he told me he was grateful to me, for enduring the challenges of my life, for staying close to the Lord and living in such a way that he could, through me, find more understanding of those who have SGA. He asked for details of how I had been able to marry. I told him Darrin was very special. I don't know if there is another person who could live with my past abuse, sins, and temptations. I also mentioned the emotional on/off switch I developed due to the abuse in my life. He grinned at me and asked, "A mixed blessing?" Perhaps, I don't know, but it was helpful as I tried to navigate the intricacies of heterosexual marriage.

He asked me if I'd thought anymore about the Relief Society calling he had extended to me in July. I told him that right now I had to find a way to get my eating disorder under control. That was my sole concern and focus. I talked about the many people the Lord had led me to that had helped me in this regard. I let him know that such a calling was not one I could even think about (and I don't) until my life was healthy again. I left his office feeling a little dazed.

My lesson with the YW was really fun. I love the fact that they have so many questions, and that they think. The topic was health care in the home. We decided to scrap that, and just do a gospel question/answer discussion. It was really wonderful, and the best part was that I wasn't the only one answering the questions. Some of my seminary students actually remembered much of what we talk about in class and fielded some of the questions for me.

When we got home, I was throwing some food together for dinner. I was chopping chives and my thumb got in the way. I chopped it, as well. I knew immediately it would have to be stitched. I wandered around, thinking about it. My kids called my mom and asked her to come drive me to the ER. I chatted one-handed with a friend, till my mom told me we had to leave.

I got some expensive stitches and a tetanus shot, and went home after a couple of hours. No conducting the Messiah orchestra tonight--especially since the practice took place while I was being stitched. David and his brother stopped by to check on me and to see DJ. DJ and David double-dated for Homecoming last night, and got their dates a dozen roses. The girls hadn't had a chance to take the flowers home, so the guys went to deliver them. Darrin went with them.

15 minutes after they left, Tabitha and Adam were wrestling near the stairs. Tabitha was on Adam's back, fell off and down the stairs and broke her arm. Darrin got home as I was trying, one-handed, to put shoes and socks on my daughter so I could go back to my favorite place in all the world. He dressed her and we went to the ER. Tabitha had the same doctor who stitched me. Three hours later we left with Tabitha in a temporary cast (we have to go to a specialist on Friday). A few of the staff recommended that we stay home the rest of the night--no more injuries. They think they're hilarious.

I called my dad while we were at the ER, and asked if he'd teach my seminary class on Monday. He was happy to do so. Darrin and I got Tabitha into bed around 11:30, then we did some clean up, relaxed for an hour or so, and went to bed around 1:00. This is not a day I'd like to repeat anytime soon--if ever.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Poem


Okay, I haven't lost it, nor am I trying (and failing miserably) to give T.S. Eliot a run for his money. My Google Reader lists the first word of the title or post, and today, I just felt like sharing. Honestly, I really like my poem--it took no thought or creativity, and it makes me laugh. Enjoy!!

P.S. The more you read it, the more sense it makes--hidden meanings, and all that--frightening, yes?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a little girl with dark brown eyes, and dark brown curls--lots of them. She had three beautiful blue-eyed sisters, who also had silky blonde hair. They had no brothers, but they did have five energetic and very lovable boy cousins, with whom they spent every spare moment. The five cousins were loads of fun and helped the very proper young ladies learn to climb trees, tell ghost stories and mostly clean jokes, swear, and play poker. They were fast friends. They shared secrets and watched the stars at night. They went fishing and camping together. The young ladies considered the cousins "brothers" and looked up to them and loved them.

One of the cousins was blue-eyed and brash. He had golden hair and a huge smile. He was older than the curly-haired sister and she loved him. She was certain that he loved her back. The oldest sisters and the older cousins grouped together. They played games and went hiking. They played tricks on the younger cousins and sisters. They were partners in crime and inseparable friends.

One day the blue-eyed, brash cousin with the beautiful smile did something unspeakable to the curly-haired sister. She didn't understand. She was afraid of him. And yet, for many years the sister continued to love the cousin and to believe he loved her.

Many years later someone told the no-longer-curly-brown-haired sister that the cousin didn't love her. This caused her to ache incredibly. The hurt was terrifying. But when she could breathe again, the sister felt lighter. A great weight had been lifted. There existed simultaneously inside of her an immense relief and a gaping hole. The love space she had saved for her cousin was empty.

And now, the sister wonders how to fill that emptiness...the relief is amazing and wonderful, but the void inside gnaws at her. What to do next? How can she proceed? The brown-haired sister is very, very confused...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Well, Duh....

Amazing Friend: Who are you, Sam? At this moment, who are you?
Samantha: Ugh, I hate that question.
AF: I'm asking it anyway.
Sam: I don't even know how to answer.
AF: You're my friend. You're a human being who is, I feel, frightened still. You're confused, yet you still love.
Sam: You know, there may be something about love that I'm missing...I thought, I really thought my cousin loved me.
AF: He didn't love you. He used you. He used you when you couldn't resist him.
Sam: Do you remember when I said, a million years ago, that I couldn't imagine anyone not loving me?
AF: Yes. It was yesterday. ;)
Sam: I've never thought about him not loving me. No one's ever said that to me.
AF: Even if he thought he did, he didn't. Would you ever treat someone that way that you loved? Ever?
Sam: I wouldn't treat someone I hated in that way.
AF: He's offensive on every level. To treat someone like that, anyone, but especially someone I care about and then call it love...damn him
Sam: When you wrote that he didn't love me, it felt like someone kicked me in the gut.
AF: I'm sorry. Truly I am. But I don't want you to ever think that he did. That can't be love.
Sam: AF--how stupid am I? I've never, in all these years made this connection.
AF: You're not stupid at all. He influenced you at a very young age.
Sam: Okay, I have to say this; realizing that he couldn't have loved me hurts like hell; knowing that he didn't love me makes me feel relieved. I don't even know what I'm saying--thank you for saying what you did. I really think part of my problem has been that I can't seem to conciously hurt people I love--and part of me loves him. He was my friend. I looked up to him.
AF: Yes, I can see that. But he misused your love. He made it part of his attack.
Sam: There's so much of me that's lost.
AF: If it's lost, it's because he stole it. But Sam, there's so much of you that is intact, too. Things he can't take.
Sam: I know it's stupid, but I really want that little girl back--without any of the knowledge she should never have had in the first place.
AF: :) I want you to have her back, too.

I beg forgiveness of the sweet friend who had this conversation with me today. But I have to post this because in spite of the obvious nature of our discussion, I had an amazing "ahah!!" moment. I loved my cousin. I loved him. I loved him. I loved him. I can't stop thinking about it.

I thought my cousin loved me. I was certain that he loved me. I knew that he loved me. He loved me, I was sure of it.

Today I heard the truth for the first time in my life. It hurt more than anything I can describe. My cousin did not love me. There was no love involved in anything he did. He was not my friend. He set me up, betrayed me and used me. He did not love me. He didn't love me.

My head has known this for many years. For some reason, my heart has wanted my abuser's love. I don't know why this is. I have no understanding of it. Perhaps, if he did love me, there would be one redeeming thing in the ugliness he created. Perhaps if he did love me, I wouldn't feel that there was so much pain in being used and discarded. But the truth is, he didn't. He doesn't. And no one has ever said that to me before.

I know this is obvious to anyone on the outside looking in. When I tell Darrin about it, he'll say, "Well, yeah, of course he didn't love you." But Darrin didn't say it. When it comes to my past abuse, I'm still eleven--I'm still a kid. I don't understand much of anything, and I need it all spelled out for me. Perhaps that's why Therapist keeps telling me to talk with anyone strong enough to stomach it. Because each time I do, I learn something new--anyone else would say, "Well....duh..." and I know it's probably obvious to everyone else--but it's not obvious to me. I need it said. I need to hear it.

Amazing Friend is not a fan of my blog--he has very good taste. I don't know if he'll see this post. But publicly, with all my heart, I thank him for saying what I've needed to hear for many years. My cousin did not love me. There is freedom in that. And the wonderful thing about all this is, the person who has helped to set me free, does love me. There is healing in that.

What does all this mean? I have no idea. I only know that tonight my burden feels lighter, and I am incredibly grateful for the friends and loved ones who bless my life.

Counseling: 7th Session

I had a list of things I wanted to discuss with Therapist. I didn't get to all of them. It turns out that he had a list of things to discuss with me. He asked if he could start. Since my last counselor never seemed to remember me from session to session, I was excited that Therapist had actually thought about me since our last appointment--I let him start.

We spent a long time discussing his observations of how I'm atypical as an abuse survivor. These were his generalizations based on his education, internship, prior clients and research:
1. It's unusual for victims of severe abuse to get married. Obviously, I've gotten past this somehow. Nothing more to say.
2. Some female abuse survivors will do many things to avoid interest from men, including gaining extra weight and being unkempt. Little, if any, attention is paid to personal appearance. This is a defense mechanism. To me, this seems counterproductive. It invites more rejection, something I find difficult to deal with. And as long as I have to see myself in the mirror, I'd like to see someone "well-groomed" (AtP's words). As far as weight goes, I'm not touching that one.
3. Some female abuse victims will become more sexual in behavior to men and/or women. They find validation in the sex act. I would have to admit that there was a time when I sought out women sexually. I don't believe this was connected to my abuse. Neither does Therapist. I have never sought validation through sex with a man.
4. Depression, eating disorders, and chronic physical ailments are typical of victims of abuse. I have experienced all of these. Therapist says the difference is that none of it is typical. The depression isn't clinical, and seems to be linked to stress more than anything else. The eating disorder is also linked to stress, rather than a typical body image obsession, and the physical ailments seem to be resolved, and have been for about five years.
5. Difficulty in building relationships is commonly encountered. Therapist says I seem to have no trouble building relationships, and his only concern is that I seem to have a preference for gay men, which to him, signifies a continued mistrust/fear of straight men and all women. I disagree with him categorically.
6. Personal boundaries are weak or non-existant--or so strong as to shut out all potential friends. Therapist feels that my boundaries are intact and healthy. Not that he really knows...
7. Extreme reactions to everyday problems are common. Darrin has reassured Therapist that it's unusual for me to have an extreme reaction to anything. Occasionally it happens, but not often.

So, I'm an anomaly--nothing new there. My assignment: to look closely at each of these items, and discover what it is about me that doesn't allow me to react typically to my situation.

I spoke with Therapist about my "I hate my body and so do my friends" theory. His take was that my friends probably don't hate my body--that is just my perception. But the fact that I have that perception is interesting to him. Whether or not it's true, I believe it, and he thinks that's significant. My assignment: Find out if my belief system concerning my friends' assessment of me is truth. I'm not sure how to go about that. I've already asked a couple of them. It's kind of uncomfortable.

We talked about a few more of my concerns and I came away with the following assignments:
1. Think about my belief system that I can somehow control everything. Think of things beyond my control. Observe how I react to those things.
2. Research pedophiles. Learn about their behavior--how do they use entrapment, how do they think, what are their goals. Use that information to evaluate my cousin's actions toward me. Also use that information to formulate a theory as to why he did not seek me out in my teen years and beyond.
3. Find ways to take breaks from stress--learn how to hand it off to God, even if only for a little while.
4. Blog, blog, blog--write everything, no matter how ugly and publish it.

I'm still in love with Therapist, but I'm unhappy with the bulk of homework required. However, if it will help, I'll do it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I used to believe that allowing myself to express the negative, self-centered feelings in my life was counter-productive. I felt that it was wallowing in self-pity, and that to allow acknowledgement of those feelings meant that they would become larger and consume me. What I have found, in the past few months, is that each time I let the ugliness out, the confusion in my life becomes clearer, and inevitably, I discover truths previously hidden or unrecognized.

One of the complexities with which I struggle is that what I know in my head is strongly contradicted by my heart. I continuously fight to believe that the things I have lived through are not reflected in who I am--that I am more than the acts forced upon me. Every once in a while, however, I write something and I realize that I really do believe it.

"Today I looked at myself in the mirror. I realized how very much I still hate my physical self. I took a good look at my face -- it doesn't look beautiful to me, only sad, haunted. The rest of me looks very female. I thought how self-destructive it is for me to associate with friends who find my body as much of an anathema as I do. I wonder if I have sought them out because they reaffirm that I should not love that part of me. They justify my hatred of my physical body--for they dislike it as much as I do. Perhaps that's not fair. No one has expressed that. It is my assumption drawn from listening to general comments made by my friends about the bodies of women. And I am a woman."

I adore those friends. I love them with all my heart. And I'm very aware that the female parts of me, the parts I despise, are also despised by my friends. Is that the kinship I feel in our friendship? A shared hatred of me? It's no more twisted and bizarre than the fact that, although I hate those physical aspects of me, I am attracted to them in other women. It doesn't make sense, and yet it is so. And when I am with those friends, I feel at home, at ease, and infinitely aware that I hate my body--and justified by their shared distaste of me.

I know. This is too weird for words. It's freakishly wrong. It's also very true, and I don't know how to change it. This will be a good one to discuss with Therapist.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Just me, venting again

I've gone more than two weeks without seeing Therapist. I'm blaming this post on that fact.

The last week became increasingly more difficult daily, which aggravated me because I had friends coming, and didn't want to be bothered with such a stupid problem. I hate the fact that when stress in my life increases, I channel it into my lame eating disorder. It sucks that I'm able to do so many things in my life (and some I do very well), but I can't get a handle on something so basic that toddlers understand it inside and out.

I think I'm in a good place, that things are going well, that I'm figuring out what to do to make my life better...then everything starts to ache again, and I find myself wondering why... why can't I let go of the past? why do I cling to those things that happened so long ago? why did my cousin, the first David, want to hurt me? why can't I just forget? why do I have to know about all the different ways one can misuse God's procreative gift--the one that's supposed to bring joy?

I think my head is going to explode.

Today I looked at myself in the mirror. I realized how very much I still hate my physical self. I took a good look at my face -- it doesn't look beautiful to me, only sad, haunted. The rest of me looks very female. I thought how self-destructive it is for me to associate with friends who find my body as much of an anathema as I do. I wonder if I have sought them out because they reaffirm that I should not love that part of me. They justify my hatred of my physical body--for they dislike it as much as I do. Perhaps that's not fair. No one has expressed that. It is my assumption drawn from listening to general comments made by my friends about the bodies of women. And I am a woman.

I see Therapist tomorrow. It has become my lifeline. I ate my last meal Monday morning. I'm going to try to forget all that's bothering me and try to eat today. I want to be able to tell Therapist I'm doing well...

What's up with that???? Why don't I tell my therapist I feel like crap? Who am I trying to protect here?

There is something inside me that makes me feel as if everything I do, every life I touch, every person with whom I come in contact, is tainted. I have defiled them in some way. I should remind them as they come near me, "...touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing..." I feel I have to protect everyone...from me. Even Therapist. That's so freakishly stupid. How can he help me, if I won't let him? How can I protect people from myself?

It's all wrong today--everything in my head.

Some sweet friends, ones I love with all my heart, told me yesterday that they loved me. Darrin tells me daily, several times during the day, that he loves me. There is a loud voice inside me screaming that I don't deserve their love, I'll never deserve any love, and that I am hurting them by loving them back. I want the voice to stop. It makes me tired.

I need to make it through today. I see Therapist tomorrow. Someday, I want to stop needing him. I hate the fact that I need him now. I need to make it through today...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sunday and Monday

We stayed up till after 2:00 a.m. Saturday night. There was too much adrenalin flowing--excitement at being able to present a much anticipated fireside, at being together with friends, and just having fun together. I was so tired when I finally got to bed, I was asleep almost immediately. 2.5 hours later, I awoke to the sound of my son's alarm. He was subbing for a friend's paper route. I got up and turned off his alarm, telling him not to fall asleep again. I got back to sleep about 30 minutes later, only to awake at 5:45 with Darrin. No more sleep for me.

I arose and broke the Sabbath. I did laundry, mopped my kitchen floor, and went shopping for some items I'd forgotten Saturday night--AtP and Jerman were with me Saturday, so I was a little distracted and very tired. Then I came home, went for a run, showered, and made breakfast. Tito made scrambled eggs because I looked too tired to do it myself.

We scrapped Sac. Mtg. and Sun. School, and made it to church in time for me to teach my young women. AtP came along. He looked a bit out of place, and refused to recite the YW theme, or sing the opening song. He witnessed the awkward moment when the YW President opened the door during the prayer, and hit the praying young woman in the back. I giggled through the rest of the prayer--no blessings for me. AtP talked for a few minutes about drug abuse (lesson topic), then escaped to find some testosterone in David's ward Sac. Mtg., where the other guys were congregated (David was speaking--he needed an audience). I finished teaching my lesson, then joined them. After Sac. Mtg. the guys stayed for the rest of the meetings, I went home to start dinner--a big one, to be shared with my family (about 20 people in all).

While I was frantically cooking, the guys arrived and helped--thank goodness. We ate, and David and I left to go to Messiah practice for an hour. Then we met everyone back at my house. We visited and waited for Smurf and Carrot to join us. They arrived around 11:00. David and Tito left at midnight. The rest of us played a game of Trivial Pursuit, which ended shortly after 3:00 a.m. I have no idea what we did with the next three hours (although I believe at some point during the night I slept briefly). AtP kept trying to go to bed, and then coming back to join us. Darrin sacked out by the piano and snored loudly enough to keep the rest of us awake.

Around 6:30 we decided to go get David and Tito and get breakfast. It was a little tricky, and we managed to get them to come, but not without waking up the entire household. All eight people crammed into our six-seater car, and we went to Village Inn. Tito asked me if I was on a diet, because I ordered healthy food--how funny is that??? The secrets of life were shared over Village Inn breakfast (our waitress never checked on us...hmmm), Smurf tried to eat pineapple and die, and I got more and more tired.

On the way home, Darrin decided it was a wonderful time for a tour of our fair city. In spite of pleading and begging to go home so we could sleep, he continued his educational, but boring, tour until David mentioned that maybe we ought to go home, since he was giving a lap dance to the gay guy beneath him. We arrived home, I fell asleep on the living room floor, and really have no idea what anyone else did, except I think AtP and I are bonded for life since I woke up and found him on the floor next to me--don't worry, Jerman slept on the couch as a chaperone, and Darrin was somewhere in the house. Smurf and Carrot found beds--smart people.

Darrin woke everyone around 11:00, so they could pack and get on the road. Tito and David arrived shortly after that. Smurf, AtP, and Jerman grabbed quick showers, packed, and the crew left around noon. I didn't want them to go.

After the departure, I fell asleep till 3:30, got up briefly, then back to sleep from 5:00-8:00 p.m. I went to bed for good at 10:30. Total sleep from Monday till Tuesday morning = about 17 hours. Boy, did I need it.

I know only AtP reads this, but for you, and just in case any of the other guys, or Carrot, happens onto my scary blog--I love you and I'm so glad you came to visit. I hope you'll come again. I hate to admit it, but I miss you all. What a privilege it has been to spend time with you.

Caving in to peer pressure

I took the quiz:

You are a

Social Liberal
(65% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(25% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

My Kids Are Dorks

Tonight at dinner, Adam turned to me and said, "This is exceptionally enjoyable pizza."

Tabitha added, "Yeah, thanks Mom, for a delightfully divine dinner."

Then they looked at each other and laughed.

Are they related to me?

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Darrin and I stayed up till 2:00 a.m. Friday night. We had purchased new desks for our computer stations and wanted to assemble them (fun date night). To make room for them, I had spent the last few days throwing away anything I could find that would escape the radar of my family. I wanted to move a seven-foot high bookcase, which collapsed on top of me, making a horrible mess, and that led from one mishap to another--hence the 2:00 a.m. bedtime.

We arose at 5:45 to get ready for our temple trip, deposited Tabitha and DJ at their grandparents' home to be with my sister and family who were visiting, and left town around 7:00. We arrived at the temple, met Attempting the Path, Tito, and the Jerman, and spent a couple of hours in a very beautiful place. Smurf, his mother, and Carrot met us outside the temple afterwards, and we all went to lunch with the students from two of the singles wards, one of which was Darrin's ward.

We all traveled back to Smalltown, USA, ate dinner and went to our Stake Center where AtP, Jerman, and Smurf addressed local stake and ward leaders on the topic of living the gospel while dealing with the issue of being gay. Jerman started us out. He was somewhat hesitant and a bit nervous as he talked about an uncomfortable and highly personal, sensitive subject. His words were so appropriate as he told of his experiences and bore his testimony. He was humble and sincere and a wonderful opening speaker.

AtP followed Jerman. A different perspective of the same topic was presented. AtP included beautiful words about his feelings toward his deceased brother, as well as bringing his own experiences and testimony to those who listened. A wonderful spirit, brought by the Jerman's message, continued and increased as AtP spoke to a countinuously more receptive audience. My favorite part of AtP's remarks was when he, without hesitation, bore witness that he was a Son of God, and that was a much more important part of him than any attractions he might have.

Smurf was the final speaker. He, again, added one more perspective as he addressed the topic. He was funny and engaging, and had the advantage of an audience who was now listening intently as they realized how courageous these young men were, sharing a very private and controversial part of their lives in a reverent and sincere way. Smurf shared scriptures and testimony, and ended with a poem he had written, which, by his own admission, sounded much like something which could be attributed to Dr. Seuss.

The speakers were followed by a question/answer session. The questions were appropriate, and very thoroughly answered by the gay panelists (who openly admitted how nervous they were to answer such questions). Following the Q&A, refreshments were served (purchased by DJ and David--choice of a root beer float OR gay-pride sprite/rainbow sherbet float--their own idea), and most of the audience stayed to chat, introduce themselves, and ask more questions of AtP, Jerman, and Smurf. It was a most amazing evening. What a beautiful event. I am so grateful that these three would be willing to travel so far to help my stake better comprehend a difficult and highly misunderstood subject. I will get to have a chance to follow up on this meeting in a couple of weeks, as I address the stake auxilliary leaders in a training meeting. Thanks to the words said tonight, there will be little left for me to say.

Smurf and Carrot returned to our neighboring state, to spend time with Smurfs family. Jerman, AtP, Tito, and David came to our house and visited till the wee hours of morning, then Tito and David left for David's house and we all went to bed.

There are moments I sometimes wish could be frozen in time. This unbelievable day is one of those.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I have a wonderful friend, Lydia, whom I love. She's about ten years older than I, but we have always had a wonderful friendship. We meet regularly for lunch. Last year Lydia met another "life partner" (her third) and is now enjoying time with her.

When we first started meeting for lunch, about three years after I graduated, she told me I was one of the most beautiful straight people she knows. I took the compliment--after all, how many people hear that in their lifetimes? Unfortunately, Lydia also knows it makes me a bit uncomfortable when she says stuff like that (although she has no idea why), and she takes it a bit far sometimes. She's been bugging me lately because I rarely wear my wedding bands. Here is our conversation at lunch today:

Lydia: I'm telling you, guys keep hitting on you.
Samantha: Like you can tell!!
L: I can. I may be a lesbian, but I know hormones when they happen, regardless of the gender.
S: Can we talk about something else?
L: I think this is fun. Let's stay on this subject.
S: You are not my friend today.
L: I'm your best friend today, because I'm going to prove something to you, my oblivious beautiful friend.
S: Stop saying that!
L: Watch this...

At that point our waiter came to take our orders. He was in his mid to late twenties, and even I (who rarely notice these things) had to admit, he was very cute. He paused and began to talk to us about the day, and asked if we'd decided what to order. We placed our orders, and the waiter turned to leave.

L: Can I ask you a question?
Waiter: Sure.
L: Would you say my friend Samantha, here, is beautiful?
W: Ummm...yes?
L: I'm just asking for an honest opinion. And just so you know, she's straight, and I'm not.
W: Well! I don't get asked questions like this every day.
Sam: Lydia, leave him alone.
W: Actually, I would have to say yes.
S: You don't have to say anything.
W (looking me in the eye): That's true. I still say yes.
S: I'm not giving you a larger tip if you say that, you know.
W: You don't have to give me ANY tip.

He left. I was getting upset.

S: Lydia, I can't believe you just did that!!
L: Sam! I can't believe you don't notice!!
S: I don't have to notice! I'm married!
L: So...why don't you wear your ring?
S: Because I hate wearing rings! That doesn't make me not married!
L: Well, if you're not going to wear it, then you should be aware of what can happen.
S: I'm changing the subject.
L: Okay.

We ate. The food was great, my mood was lousy. The waiter checked on us six times, which was certainly excessive, each time engaging Lydia in a conversation which always led back to me. Lydia watched over it all smugly, and I squirmed in discomfort. When the waiter came to get our payment, he looked at the ticket and cracked up.

Sam: What?
Waiter (to Lydia): Is this for real?
Lydia: Oh, yes.
W (to me): Is your phone number XXX-XXXX?
L: Yes?
W: If I call you, will you go out with me?
S: NO!!! I'm married!
W (to Lydia): An important point you forgot to mention.
L: Yes, well, you WOULD ask her out if she wasn't married, wouldn't you?
W: Without question. (turning to me) It really was a pleasure serving you today.

Lydia cracked up, the waiter gave me a very amazing smile and left.

S: Lydia, I think I hate you.
L: Nobody hates me. Lunch next month at that vegetarian place?
S: Okay--but we ARE going to talk about this before then--you can't do that to me again.
L: Well, maybe. Call me tonight. We'll talk.

She is definitely getting a phone call tonight.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell

By Gwendolyn Brooks

I hold my honey and I store my bread
In little jars and cabinets of my will.
I label clearly, and each latch and lid
I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
And none can tell when I may dine again.
No man can give me any word but Wait,
The puny light. I keep eyes pointed in;
Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
On such legs as are left me, in such heart
As I can manage, remember to go home,
My taste will not have turned insensitive
To honey and bread old purity could love.

Adam makes me laugh

Newest conversation with Adam:

Adam: Mom, remember how I told you I liked Cheyenne?
Samantha: Yes.
A: Well, I still like her, but I like Janessa, too.
S: Variety is good.
A: Yeah, well, Janessa lives by us.
S: Oh?
A: So yesterday I was riding my bike home from school, and she was walking on the other side of the street. So she waved at me.
S: Wow--that's kind of fun.
A: No, because I didn't know what to do--and then I crashed.
S: (tries not to double over in mirth) YOU REALLY CRASHED!! THAT'S HILARIOUS!!!
A: MOM!!!
S: Sorry. Did you hurt yourself?
A: No. But it was embarrassing.
S: And funny...
A: MOM!!!
S: Sorry. Well, what do you mean, you didn't know what to do when she waved. Usually, if a girl waves, she wants you to wave back (demonstrates waving back, and giggles again).
A: Well, I just didn't know...
S: Let's practice. You be Adam, and I'll be the beautiful Janessa.

So then I waved, Janessa-like, and Adam waved back, laughing helplessly. We practiced three times. As we finished our last wave, DJ walked by us, muttering, "Seriously!! What mom DOES that?? You're so weird..."

Raindrops on Roses...

Sometimes I smile like this when I run. Posted by Picasa

I will wear my flipflops until it snows. Posted by Picasa

My favorite cookie. Posted by Picasa

Where I used to run before I grew up. Posted by Picasa

I want this for Christmas (thanks TB). Posted by Picasa

Just funny. Posted by Picasa

Winter where I grew up. Posted by Picasa

:-) !!! Posted by Picasa

My favorite time of night. Posted by Picasa

My one true love...okay, a close second. Posted by Picasa

Mmmmmm.... Posted by Picasa

Something to read, every day. Posted by Picasa

I love storms. Posted by Picasa

Especially electrical storms. Posted by Picasa

Oooohh!! Lightening. Posted by Picasa

I could eat these all day. Posted by Picasa

Just fun. Posted by Picasa

My most favorite wildflower. Posted by Picasa

Where I will be on Saturday with really wonderful friends and family. Posted by Picasa

I want to pet bumblebees, but I won't. Posted by Picasa

Where I want to be today. Posted by Picasa

Just...beautiful... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Another one of those sort of explicit, personal posts

In the recent months, I've been asked some interesting questions, in person, in chat, and in e-mail. Some of the questions I've ignored because I felt the explanations would take too long, or sometimes, I just wasn't in the proper frame of mind to answer them. My initial reaction, when people started asking questions, was that I didn't want to share some of the more personal answers, but then I realized, it's good for me to think about and to verbalize the answers, so, in a way, I thank those who have asked. Today I'll address some of those, and hopefully, satisfy the idle curiosity. By the way, these are my thoughts and opinions--these are my own decisions and no one else's. I am not planning to explain or defend them in any way--regardless of what anyone may say about them.

1. You were quite young when you got married. You've indicated at least one lesbian relationship prior to that--how old were you when that took place?

I was young when I got married. But I think I became an adult the first night my cousin visited me. I know from that moment I no longer thought of myself as a child. I was completely disconnected from my body, mentally, and yet, felt ruled by impulses from within that body. There was an enormous amount of conflict, and no outlet. I was an avid reader. By the time I was thirteen I was reading all that I could about homosexuality. When an opportunity came to be with another female, I took it. I believe I was 14 at the time.

2. Why did you decide not to continue pursuing a homosexual lifestyle. You've made comments about it feeling safe. What changed?

I would have to first state that I'm not sure anything "changed." There were some things that happened that led me to decide I needed to go away from homosexuality. First, although there was much in that relationship that made me feel right, in a sense, there was more that frightened me. I felt emotionally consumed and isolated from the world, in general. I felt a great need to have my partner with me at all times, and my autonomy and independence seemed to dissipate daily. That was really scary for me. I suppose the biggest event happened when I was sixteen. I fell in love with my best friend. She and I were incredibly close. We had sleep-overs regularly, we showered together, we were unashamed to dress or undress in front of one another, we shared regular physical affection (hugging, arms linked, snuggling) within a heterosexual teen girl realm. When I realized my feelings for her had progressed to the intensity I was experiencing, I knew our friendship would be over if I didn't get them under control. My friend was most decidedly NOT gay. I wondered how many other friendships would end with my falling in love and becoming emotionally dependent. At that point, I started making efforts to look for other options.

3. How were you able to overcome your fear and hatred of men so that you could marry Darrin?

By the time Darrin entered my life, I had experienced some very positive experiences with men. I suppose the greatest experience was that my father and I began rebuilding our relationship when I was around 17. We have continued to work on that and he is one of my closest male friends, as well as my dad. I had a wonderful guy friend in my life from the time I was nine-years-old. I believe I was able to maintain a relationship with him because we were close friends prior to the abuse in my life. He showed me that not ALL men wanted to hurt me, but because I could not see him in the same light as other men, this was only helpful on a small scale. There were three or four young men in high school with whom I felt safe and had postitive dating experiences. That was helpful. Also, my close relationship on a daily basis with my Home Evening Brothers was more healing than I had ever imagined any relationship could be. I met Darrin when he came to visit my HEB's, which gave him an "in" in my life, which most men did not have. Because I viewed him in the same light as my Brothers, we remained in touch during the summer and he revisited our friendship in the fall.

When I realized that Darrin wanted to marry me, there were a series of hoops he had to jump through in order for me to trust him. Perhaps, at a later date, I'll talk about some of the things the poor man had to endure in order to win my trust, but not now. At that point, I wanted to get married, although I didn't necessarily want all that the marriage relationship included. It seemed that no matter what I said or did, Darrin would not go away. Among other things, I dated other young men after we got engaged. Darrin said, "Let me know when your finished with that," and he didn't break off our engagement, as I had anticipated. He was like super glue, and the more I tried to make him leave, the more he just kind of stuck around.

One day I realized that if I was going to marry someone, it should be a person I loved, but more than that, it needed to be one I trusted who would not leave me when I was psycho and weird. Darrin is, I believe, the only one who would do that. He seemed to recognize that all my bad behavior was motivated by something deeper, and was willing to work through pretty much anything I threw at him. Plus, he was one of the few guys I could kiss without wanting to retch, and his touch didn't make me shudder--those were good things. The weirdest thing, for me, was that I felt safe with Darrin on many levels. When he held me, I didn't worry that he was going to hurt me. When he kissed me, he stopped when I asked him to. When he held my hand, it felt comforting and right. Somewhere inside me I felt that if I needed someone to love me in any instance, to protect me when I was afraid, and one who would accept every broken part of me, Darrin was that person. I was not wrong.

As far as overcoming fear...there are still times today when I am afraid. Darrin knows this. But the times have become less frequent as time has passed, and if I remind myself who I am with, the fear often abates. The most amazing thing to me is this: after all these years, after all this time, Darrin still loves me. He still thinks I'm beautiful. He still wants to be with me, in spite of all the baggage I carry with me. He knows that I feel horribly broken, that past hurts spring up spontaneously, that I can't seem to feel worthy of him. He understands that I've made decisions in the past that were not righteous or chaste. He knows that I came to him impure, used and unclean. He still loves me. He stands beside me and holds my hand as I try to work through the agony of dealing with what has happened to me, who I am, what I want. He never seems to go away. I hope he never will.

Friday, October 06, 2006

How are you?

I have a rather tactless sense of honesty. This means that I am unabashed when it comes to asking personal questions, I'm not concerned about hurt feelings when I tell someone to mind her/his own business, nor do I feel guilt when I tell people "No." Former counselor said she believed this was a defense mechanism to keep people at a distance. Therapist says he believes its just an integral part of who I am, and that no one important will take it personally. Have I ever mentioned that I'm in love with that man?

As an example of that integral part of me, I remember a time when my mother was discussing (gossiping about) a certain young cousin of mine. I was seventeen at the time, Young Cousin was fourteen. The discussion contained speculation that YC was pregnant. Knowing the social activities of YC, I was not surprised, but I found it interesting that the conversation continued for a very long time, speculating the "is she/isn't she" aspects of the problem, and reasoning with great detail as to why the first of the two speculations was probably true. I was frustrated that so much time was taken up with wondering about something that was none of our business, and that there was a healthy dose of "I told you so's" and "that's what you get's" thrown into the mix.

I waited until YC and I were on the schoolbus the next morning, then I sat with her, something I had never done before, and I asked her if she was pregnant. Her eyes got very big, she sat silently for a moment, then she said, "Yes." My sole purpose in asking, at first, was just because I was tired of the conjecture and I wanted an answer. When she said yes, I looked at her tiny 14-year-old-body and I wanted to cry. I asked if she'd been to a doctor and if her parents knew. She said no doctor yet, but she was planning to tell her parents right away. I was worried about her and I told her so. She promised she'd see a doctor as soon as her parents were told. I pulled her close to me and we sat quietly, my arm around my cousin, her head on my shoulder, not speaking. I noticed how tired she looked. A few moments later, I noticed she was asleep. I squeezed her closer and rested my cheek against her hair, wishing there was a way to make my heart stop aching for her.

Two days later, when I arrived home from school, my mother was waiting for me. She said, "Did you really as YC if she was pregnant?" I said yes. "Just like that? You just asked her?" I told my mother it seemed more fair to allow YC to answer the question in person, than it was to talk about it behind her back. I also mentioned that I was worried that the prenancy would harm my cousin and that she seemed very tired. Then I went upstairs to do my homework. Two of my sisters followed me. They said I was either "very brave" to have asked YC, or "very stupid." I ignored them. My questions had nothing to do with bravery or stupidity--I simply wanted to know. Curiosity, in my case, always wins out.

I think of this when I hear people asking me, "How are you today?" I remember a time when my body freaked out a little and started sprouting tumors inside my bladder. Bladders are sensitive little things. They don't like foreign objects in them. The tumors were attached at the neck of the bladder, and grew downward so that when the bladder emptied the tumors got squeezed--OUCH!! Cancer screens came back negative--many times. The tumors were surgically removed, only to be replaced in a couple of weeks by others, composed of different materials. There seemed to be no end, and I was in agony--mentally and physically.

When all this was going on, I remember a need to talk about it to anyone who would listen. I was highly stressed that no one could find an answer as to why the tumors kept recurring, they were discussing bladder removal, and I had become a lab rat at the university hospital in a city two hours from my home. It seemed, however, that no one wanted to talk about it. My family avoided the subject. For the first time in my married life, even Darrin would not talk about it. I learned later that he was too afraid--he thought I was going to die--but at the time, I just felt alone and abandoned.

One day in church, a friend of mine asked, "How are you?" Because of my lack of social prowess, I took the question seriously and told her of my pain, the doctors' uncertainty, my fear that I might not get better...She gave me a distracted smile and said, calmly, "Oh, I'm quite certain you'll be fine." Then she walked away. I'm not sure what I had expected--but it wasn't that. I remember thinking, WOW!! I'm paying thousands of dollars I don't have to doctors who can't cure me, but YOU know I'll be fine. Perhaps I should have you as my doctor, instead!

I learned a valuable lesson that day--the majority of people who ask how you are, really have no wish to know. It's a social gesture, not a real question. And I also learned that the only correct answer is, "I'm fine, thanks." But inside, I yearned to talk about what was hurting. I didn't want to seem like a whiney, unhappy individual, but I was afraid, tired of so many surgeries and experimental drugs that weren't working, and wondering if there would ever be an end...and I really wanted to share that. In the end, I kept it inside, because I was afraid that in the sharing I would lose the people around me, and I didn't want to be alone.

Recently I have acquired friends who actually ask me how I'm doing because they want to know. It's difficult to tell the truth after years of keeping everything inside and saying the "right" answers. And sometimes I have days when I would feel tremendous guilt if I shared my actual feelings. I'm very blessed--I acknowledge that--and I'm not trying to seem ungrateful, but sometimes I have bad days when I feel worthless and sad, and sharing those feelings with people who love me seems, somehow, wrong. And so those sweet friends ask, and I struggle inside myself, the conflict being that I want to be honest, but I also want to protect those I love--I don't want them to know that sometimes I'm overwhelmed by degrading thoughts, sometimes memories make me physically ill, sometimes I'm just really, really sad.

Friend: How are you, today?
Sam: I suck.
Friend: Really? Why?
Sam: There's a hole in my soul. I'm pretty messed up inside. It's hard, sometimes to understand how I can have any worth. I'm sad.
Friend: Wow! Sorry I asked!!
Sam: Yeah, me too.

The good news is, I'm working on not feeling those things. I have hope that someday I'll stop being weighed down by burdens I take on myself. When I can stop trying to change the past...stop feeling consumed by events I cannot change...stop feeling that stupid aching sadness... THEN I hope everyone will ask me, "Hey Samantha, how are you today." I'll answer, "I'm doing so well! I'm fine! Thanks so much for asking!" And it will be the truth.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Things That Turn Me Inside Out

When I chat with people, I usually leave our words behind when we say good-bye--which isn't to say I don't continue to think about our conversations. But I rarely recount them to others, and I don't think I've ever talked about them in my blog. Today, however, I had a conversation that stays with me in an unpleasant way. I can't shake it because it reveals truths about who I am...things I'd rather not address. Trivial things of no importance...except to me. Honestly, the way this came about was innocent. The person talking had no idea that the things said would have dual meanings, or would stir old feelings of resentment and anger. But isn't that how it always is? The things that strike closest to home are said ingenuously...and how could the person speaking possibly understand that his words would have a deeper meaning that the one he intended?

It's difficult to explain exactly what happened. Perhaps I'll start with the conversation bits, and move on from there.

Samantha (quoting Conrad): "Often far away there I thought of these two, guarding the door of Darkness, knitting black wool as for a warm pall, one introducing, introducing continuously to the unknown, the other scrutinizing the cheery and foolish faces with unconcerned old eyes.
Delightful Friend: gotta be one of the more telling lines in literature
Every time I knit or see women knitting, I think of that
Samantha: Do you knit?
Delightful Friend: I have in the past
I had to learn for a play I was in
Samantha: I have awards for my knitting--don't tell anyone. I don't do it anymore.
Delightful Friend: My dear! Is there anything you can't do?

There's too much sarcasm there--and I wish I'd said nothing. I hate the fact that I'm uncomfortable that I shared in the first place. I feel that gnawing need to retreat and hide. I don't understand why I feel shame about this. Perhaps because much of what I have learned to excel at has been under the auspices of my overbearing mother. Perhaps because even though I'm good at it, truthfully, I hate knowing how in the first place, and I don't know why. It's frustrating and I don't understand.

Delightful Friend: How can you even stomach talking to me, I have to wonder sometimes
Samantha: I don't understand why you would ask that.
Delightful Friend: Well, I mean, you've withstood so much in your life ... have been so strong under pressure ... and here I am squishing like a grape in the winepress ... squelch ... and yet you don't even get mad at me...

My first impulse is to feel sick at the thought that anyone would ever believe that I would judge his life against my own. Perhaps if I had chosen everything that has taken place in my life (and, of course, I never would), then there might be some sort of bizarre, sick heroism in it. But since I didn't, and I don't consider surviving heroic by any means, there can be no comparison. The things that trouble each person are as large and difficult to him/her as the things I have been troubled with in my own life. It's like saying because I can't run a marathon today, the six miles I ran are pointless, which is deceptive and untrue. For me, six miles is a marathon, for it is all I can do today.

My next impulse was to feel that I was a fraud. Somehow, I've given the impression that I'm some sort of martyr or weird paragon of suffering. Truthfully, that's as far from the truth as anything can be. I've had bad things happen to me--but other people have, as well. It's not like I want to be held up as the cereal box kid for surviving sexual abuse. In truth, there are only two choices in a situation like mine--live or die. I chose to live, which doesn't make me amazing, just stubborn--or perhaps too cowardly to follow through with an act which could have stopped the pain I continue to feel today.

Finally, I just felt sad--sad that my friendship is not acceptable on a normal level--that I can't share everyday troubles and burdens belonging to someone I love, without inspiring guilt. I felt sad that my friend's knowledge of me impedes him from seeing me as just another person, offering a shoulder when he feels down. I wondered if I can ever share my past with someone, without it altering how they feel about me. I just wanted to be someone who understands, who wants to help, who wants to cheer up and give love to a friend.

Delightful Friend: Wow, look at you.
Samantha: I can't--no mirror. What?
Delightful Friend: Thine avatar...thou remindest me that I must need changest mine
Samantha: Oh..I forgot I put that one up. That's my metaphorical image.
Delightful Friend: a hott woman wrapped in money?
Samantha: A painted lady worth $1
Delightful Friend: how is that metaphoric at all?
Samantha: That's how it feels after what has happened to me. I'll take it down.
Delightful Friend: Oh, I see...don't take it down if it means something to you
Samantha: Well, I put it up when no one was around--just forgot to take it down--silent venting.
Delightful Friend: :) Does it help, silent venting?
Samantha: More than you know.

Nothing left to say. Except, maybe, I don't know how to feel in my own skin. And I hate finding that out in casual conversation. I also hate the vulnerability that comes as I realize after all these years, I still don't know who I am.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Someday, I hope you have a child JUST LIKE YOU!!

My mother said this to me often throughout my child and teenage years. Each time she said it I thought, What a wonderful party that would be!! Someone with my sense of humor who gets my jokes, doesn't take the world seriously, gets good grades, and likes to dance!! I'll take that!!

And I did...sort of...get one just like me. Adam is very like me in many ways--except that he's a boy, very much so, and I am not (very much NOT). In temperament we are equals. His sense of humor parallels my own. But he is also very much "Adam". He makes Darrin nuts, which leads me to believe that one person like me is enough for any family, regardless of my mother's generous hopes that all my children would be in my image. But Adam and I understand each other on a deep level, we can talk about most anything, I know when he's lying, we laugh at everything--all in all, I'm pretty blessed with my "just-like-me" child.

The thing that I did not anticipate in any way, shape, or form, was that I might have a child completely unlike me, or Darrin, for that matter. That "gift" was delivered in a Tabitha package. She lurked quietly for the first three years of her life, luring us into the misconception that she was sweet, quiet and innocent. Then she turned four, and all hell broke loose. Tantrums would pop up over a bent straw, an untied shoe, lint on the carpet, and the rising sun. I would watch in awe, a little bit impressed at how her head disappeared behind her open, screaming mouth. When the noise got to me, I would walk away, hoping someday she might damage her vocal chords and lose her voice permanently. Everyone assured me, Tabitha would grow out of it. Three years later, I was attending parenting classes to keep me from inflicting bodily harm on my child. Darrin's and my previous agreement that spanking would be a rare, if not non-existent, form of punishment, was on the verge of being rewritten. In short, I was ready to sell my emotional daughter for any amount of money offered.

As she got older, we made it through the tantrum stage, and many other typical "girl" stages. I tried to be understanding and kind. Some of the time I succeeded, but occasionally I was heard saying, "Tabitha, if you value your life, you will stop_________________immediately." As her personality developed, it became abundantly clear that she had zero similarities to Darrin and an equal number of traits that were mine. Darrin and I were seen exchanging bewildered glances at everything she did.

Things about Tabitha that her parents find confusing:
1. Eating habits. Tabitha firmly believes that none of her family members are capable of proper digestion without her incessant chatter. Her concern with this matter keeps her from eating her own meal in a timely manner, thus, Tabitha's mealtimes can stretch out for hours. Sometimes her entire day constitutes eating one meal for 16 hours. Darrin threatens constantly to get her a t-shirt that says, "HELP!! I'm talking and I can't shut up!!"
2. Collecting. Tabitha believes that if it can be picked up, it is collectible. This includes rocks, used tissues, gum and candy wrappers, paper in any size and shape, pens and pencils (she's a kleptomaniac when it comes to those), markers, beads, hair clips, dishes from my cupboards, cd players (doesn't matter who the owner actually is) , cd's, blankets, strings, toilet paper and paper towel rolls (with or without the TP or towels intact), legos, and cooking utensils. I am often heard saying, "Tabitha!! Go get my stuff and PUT IT BACK IN THE ONE PLACE!!!"
3. Tidiness--lack of. A clean room to Tabitha means that you can walk in a trail between the walls of "stuff" she's collected. It means, with a little work, you can dig out her bed. It means always having a variety of reading material because you can never find the book you were reading, so you simply start another one. It means having at least one clean uniform for school the next day. It means the clean, folded clothing made it to the bedroom, if not into the drawers and closets. It means that when Tabitha asks for permission to do anything, the first phrase out of her mother's mouth is, "Yes, certainly, after you spend some time taking care of all the clothes on the floor of your room..." or "after all the books in your room are shelved, upright, spine out..." or "after you've filled a trash bag with paper/trash/broken toys from your room."
4. Singing. Tabitha sings constantly. This would be nice if her voice was pleasant. It's not. It's shrill and loud. And she sings songs no one enjoys listening to in the first place. "Wicked" is a wonderful musical, but if I hear one more song from the soundtrack, I will puke repeatedly until I die. There is nothing that aggravates family members more than when Tabitha decides she must sing herself to sleep at 10:00 at night. D.J. comes to me, sleepy, cranky, aggrievedly asking, "Mom, won't you PLEASE make her stop?" Darrin gives me a pleading look, Adam adds his request, and I am left to gently break the news to my darling daughter that no one is enjoying the joyous strains of her lullaby, and therefore she MUST STOP!

Darrin and I were discussing our sweet Tabitha one day, and we both came to the startling realization that all her annoying habits are the same ones that drive us nuts in our mothers. We looked at each other in dismay. She is a conglomerate of all that is dizzyingly confusing and frustrating in the matriarchs of our former lives--the ones we left so we could cleave unto each other and none else. We thought we had escaped, only to be joined by an incarnation of all that antagonized us in our youth. What kind of sick joke is God playing on us???? We're good people...surely we don't deserve this.

DJ often asks me if I'm still planning to sell Tabitha. I reply that I'm sorely tempted at times. We laugh. We get over our snit at her assinine behavior. Then, when I'm tired, when I least expect it, I find that Tabitha has folded all the laudry, or made dinner by herself. I find her cuddled next to me as I read a book. I find her helping me make dinner, or planting flowers with me. I watch her make lunch for the brother who's running late as he gets ready for school. She takes out the trash and vacuums my living room. She shops with me without asking for anything for herself. She says a special prayer for mom when I struggle to eat, for DJ when he has a bad day at school, for Adam when they've beat each other to a pulp over a lego...

I suppose my Mom-daughter isn't for sale after all. And I made it through my first life with my mom--I can make it through my second life with Tabitha. "And if thou shouldst have a daughter like unto thy mother, or like unto Darrin's mother, and the sentence of frustration passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the depths of her bedroom; if her constant prattle conspire against thee; if fierce singing becomes thine enemy; if her mood gathers blackness, and all her emotions combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of Tabitha shall gape open, the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my Samantha, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How do people go to sleep? I'm afraid I've lost the knack.” -- Dorothy Parker

Something that frustrates me beyond belief is that, occasionally, I get insomnia. It usually happens after some major change occurs in my life, and that change can be physical, emotional, or even spiritual. When school begins in the fall, I can usually count on at least one week of insomnia. It also plagues me after daylight savings time, around Christmas, following spring break, and every time I feel emotionally stressed--in short, it happens way too frequently.

The cycle can thusly be described:
1. Samantha goes to bed...lays in the dark, looking at where she believes the ceiling is (but really has no idea if it's there or not, since she's pretty much blind, and the room is dark).
2. One hour later, Darrin is snoring, and Samantha is wrapping a pillow around her head, gnashing her teeth.
3. Two hours and five unnecessary trips to the bathroom later, Samantha goes to the computer and works on her seminary lesson. Usually she finds friends silly enough to stay up late, who will chat with her, but if not, she amuses herself by putting random words into Google to see what will come up, and works on her Spanish (although she insists, "no etiendo espanol").
4. One or two hours later, Samantha feels guilty about keeping friends up, so she pretends to be sleepy and signs out of chat. Then she sits on the couch, reading the dictionary and watching the weather channel.
5. Two hours before Samantha has to arise to get ready to teach her seminary class, she decides to try to sleep again. She alternately dozes, and shoves Darrin to make him stop snoring. When the alarm rings at 5:00 a.m., Samantha feels relief that she can stop pretending to sleep, and be with live, breathing, awake people.

After about three days of the cycle, I find myself feeling sleepy during the day. I don't want to nap because I want to save that sleeping thing for night. A week later, the sleepiness becomes intolerable, and sometimes I'll allow myself to catnap. There have been times, however, when I've found myself dozing off during a piano lesson--once I was talking when it happened. Another unhappy side-effect of all this is that if the cycle continues more than one week, I have episodes of sleep-walking when I am sleeping, which negates the quality of my rest.

Usually, if the insomnia continues ten days or more, I end up crashing. Sleep comes unexpectedely, and I have no choice but to allow it. I always pray it doesn't happen when I'm driving or teaching. I have been known to pull off the street and sleep for an hour, to avoid falling asleep at the wheel. This has happened within ten blocks of my house. Knowing this can happen, I try to be very cautious. Unfortunately there are some side-effects of not sleeping that inhibit my good intentions.

Lack of sleep has the following effects on me:
1. Irritability--since I'm rarely cranky, this takes its toll on my family. I hate it.
2. Procrastination--this is something totally out of character. I'm never late with a bill, my house is always tidy, I make menus and have dinner ready in a timely manner, I prepare in advance for lessons, presentations, and client meetings. In short, normally, I'm anal retentive about life. However, with prolonged lack of sleep, I just don't care. Nothing gets done, and my life becomes chaos (which doesn't help me want to sleep).
3. Apathy--My house could burn to the ground and I'd have a difficult time caring. This insomnia episode, my daughter's bedroom became so messy we could not open the door. This is not acceptable behavior. We have "one place" for everything we own. Tabitha believes there are 101 places--and she collects things like gum wrappers, used tissues, and nail clippings. Normally she would have privileges restricted until the room was clean. This time I told her, "Well, I hope you figure something out...otherwise you'll need to sleep in the hall." I guess she did, because I never saw her asleep in the hallway.
4. Emotionalism--I am not an outwardly emotional person. After prolonged insomnia, I find sentimentality in grapes, gym socks seem beautiful, and the cracks in the pavement break my heart. My sense of humor becomes a little bizarre as I find myself laughing at a nicely bubbling pot of water, the sound of my blow dryer, and the smell of pickles. I know at that point, I'm losing all control--sleep needs to come, and soon.

I experienced three bouts of insomnia, each separated by two days of regular sleep, from the end of August until today. This morning, as I got ready for seminalry, I felt an overwhelming need to sleep accompanied by nausea. I made it through my seminary lesson, drove the carpool girls to school, came home, threw up several times, and slept until 2:00 p.m. When I awoke, life had new meaning. I taught piano lessons with fervor and direction. I made a wonderful dinner for my family. I spent an hour playing with my daughter. I had meaningful conversation with my husband. I made phone calls, paid bills, and ran five miles.

There is no point to this post. But I thought, since I now have so much energy, I just as well empty some of that into the black hole of my existance. Oh yeah, and I'm so happy!! -L- would accuse me of being manic...or some other medical crazy word. I just think I finally got some is so good...sleep is amazing...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Someone forgot to use spellcheck

"I've also learned that the straight and narrow path isn't a straight line that takes you neatly from point A to point will take you EVERYWHERE." --Attempting the Path

AtP said this a few weeks ago. It made an impact on me, because sometimes I believe I think that walking the straight and narrow involves wearing blinders, trudging forward doggedly, looking down at the path, never really living. I make myself believe that it cannot include stopping to gasp at an incredibly gorgeous sunset, seeing the vivid fall colors contrast with the brightness of the sky, feeling the eyes-closed warmth of the sun as it seeps into my skin. I imagine it means not stopping to explore the people I meet along the way, ignoring the different ideas they present to me, being blind to the beautiful glimpses of their souls. And quite honestly, I find it impossible to keep myself from gazing, tasting, searching, and reveling in my surroundings and the people I find there. I find it impossible not to laugh--in joy, humor, mockery (sorry), pain, or sadness. I find truth in beauty, beauty in humanity, humanity in life. I'm like the child who has to look at every bug, smell every flower, pet every dog, and gaze at the clouds--and sometimes I talk incessantly while doing it. Straight and narrow....impossible.

One of the speakers at conference this weekend (I'm too lazy to go look it up), talked of how carefully manicured parks and landscapes are built over landfills. He related this to how Christ makes something beautiful out of the refuse in our own lives if we allow him to do so--and once the change has been made, we should continue to cultivate it rather than digging around for the trash we have lost. I wondered as he talked, how much of my "refuse" do I use to define who I am? Am I afraid to have something beautiful made of my life? I certainly have more than my share of trash--my own private landfill is very large. What will I lose if I give it up?

There's an underlying trust issue in each of the two ideas above. What do I give up if I travel the straight and narrow--and do I really have to give up anything? If I believe AtP's view, above my own, the path will allow me to find everything beautiful, and continue to connect with people I love. If I believe my own, there is no way I will ever stay on the path--too many wonderful distractions. But if I believe that the beauty of this earth and its inhabitants are the product of God, how can his way be anything less than delightful? His path will take me "everywhere..." What do I give up if I allow Christ to create purity amidst the filth I hold close? To make something lovely of all that I feel is ruined about myself? If I truly believe him, he can make me whole--he can make my life beautiful--he can take away my anguish--so why am I afraid?

For all my life I have been shaped by my experiences. I have fiercely vowed that I would not be overcome. I have stubbornly clung to life, even when it felt so painful that I did not believe I could endure one more day. With every ounce of my being I fought against the bitterness inside, trying desperately to love, refusing to become resentful, hateful, ugly. In a sense, the struggle to live in spite of everything, has been a core part of who I am. If I give up the fight and yield my pain to my Savior, who will I be? Why will I live? Will I disappear? Will those who love me continue to do so? Will I actually be able to find rest? Is there peace for me?

"Our life's journey is an ever-unfolding work of art that tells the story of where we have been and with whom we have traveled."--Iyanla Van Zant

I've been to places horrifying and painful. I've felt defiled, disrespected, hurt, and finally useless and broken. But I've been to places triumphant, loving, joyful--places where I was able to build up from the nothing I had become, a person I was willing to present to my fellowman. I have found value amidst the filth, and pushed it into the foreground. But ever present, hidden from the world was the knowledge that beneath all that I put forth, was the darkness of my mind, built from my past--the core of my being. Will Christ, who knows me so well, accept that? Work with that? Bring light into the sadness I hide in my soul? "Our life's journey is an ever-unfolding work of art that tells the story of where we have been..." There are times when I would like my "work of art" to tell the story, not of where I've been, but where I have gone, in spite of it.

I suppose, with interesting traveling companions, I'd stay on the straight and narrow indefinitely--perhaps forever. There are so many people in my life who help me as I try to believe in the worth of my own soul. They assure me it's there, and someday I must remove my blinders, that I may see it, myself. They tell me the blackness I feel is temporary. They bring light and joy, that I may find relief. They lead me to Christ--the one who will help me make the light and joy a permanent part of my life. The straight and narrow path, traveled with those whom I love, "will take [me] everywhere..." Perhaps, given their help, my life's story will leave the past behind, becoming beautiful as it ever-unfolds.
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