our stories and our childrens’

March 22, 2005

A professor’s response to my latest assignment left my mind darting rapidly in every which direction, desperately trying to figure out what it was I was trying to get out. I tried to go to bed, without much of a desire to do so. But I just laid there, restlessly, feeling as though I needed to somehow give birth, figuratively speaking, and yet not knowing what sort of child I needed to bear. This is the sort of sleeplessness that does not need to be soothed to sleep; this is the kind that needs to be nurtured, coaxed until it can release the creative seed pushing its way forth.
And so I talked to myself, asking what it was that I needed to focus this energy on once I booted the computer back up again.
Before too long I realized what it was that was itching to be put to words. My professor complimented my latest paper and commented that perhaps it was time for me to “tell [my] own story.” I was amazed that she could pick up on what I have been personally dwelling on for the past several months.

And then it occurred to me that I have, in a sense, been telling other people’s stories. With their permission, mind you, but other people’s stories all the same. I am too cowardly to speak of my own story—not in the sense of the story of my family, obviously, but in the sense of my own deep hurts and fears, through decisions I have made and steps I have taken along the way. So, to you who may be reading, I will forewarn you that I am now going to tell one of my own little life stories, and one of the lessons I have learned thus far in my admittedly sheltered and nerdy little life. . .
For 2 ½ years, my life, internally and externally, had revolved around his. When we were happy together, I floated on air, fearlessly tackling all that life could throw at me. And when our relationship was strained, I withdrew into a brooding cavern of melancholic tendencies, so that my life could fall to pieces around me if it so desired.
We started dating my sophomore year of college—his junior year, after spending the year working together as Intervarsity Bible Study leaders. During that year we had spent much of our spare time around each other, if not technically with each other, and so our relationship flowed naturally once we started purposefully sharing each other’s company. It began with evening walks around campus and the surrounding neighborhoods, and then one night, he was more formal that usual, asking if we could “talk.” Well, of course–we always talk, I thought, suspecting all the same—and in disbelief that he could share my feelings surrounding our relationship. Could it be that he were really interested in my? Well, he was, and thus began our relationship.
Over the next several years, we shared our families, road trips, out-of-the-country trips, and lives with each other. And, as happens so naturally, we grew to love and rely on each other. After some time, in a period of heightened family turmoil, I began to 2nd-guess everything, and grew restless in that, the only relationship I had been in thus far. You see, I was a very inexperienced young woman at that point, and naïve in my inexperience.
And so I made light of our relationship and discounted the hurts I could cause him when I was brutally honest about all my misgivings, uncertainties, and dissatisfactions with our relationship. Somehow, I thought what I did couldn’t really impact him so much. I had some sort of twisted insecurity that made me disbelieve that I could really impact someone else’s life. But of course, we all impact each other immensely, like it or not, and the little things we do and say have great repercussions in the lives of those around us. So, eventually, my wavering uncertainties took their toll. By that point, we were planning for marriage, considering whether to live in his Northwest hometown or in my Southern one. Job interviews for me there and phone calls made from him down here.
But my heart was not in it. I was going through the motions and not sure what was wrong internally. As I was getting ready to travel through France for the summer, putting the finishing touches on my senior thesis, I asked him for some time—time to not communicate with each other, but just to think through it all so we knew where we each were emotionally when I returned. What I did not realize until my return was that he did not understand why. I thought I was asking for some pre-marriage reflection time, knowing that, as an extreme introvert, I had to process thoroughly every minutiae of my life. He thought I was rejecting him, in a sense: telling him I didn’t care enough to want to communicate with him, and telling him I was not sure I wanted to stay with him.
And so, for 2 months, I traveled, researched, wrote, and thought. And for 2 months, he stewed, and grew to rely emotionally on other female friends in my absence. I had some notion that he would read into all my internal processing, and did not worry about ever really losing him. When I came back, I was filled to overflowing with self-realizations and new inspirations, ready to run to his waiting arms. I knew now how wrong I had been, all that time. I had mistreated him, telling myself that he would always be there no matter how much I pushed him away periodically to pursue hobbies or passions without him for a time. I also wrongly thought that I had to be involved with someone else in order to be unfaithful to him. But in fact, I was unfaithful to him in my devaluation of his reaction to my internal life.
I also realized that I had not wanted to fully give him my heart because I selfishly wondered if, just maybe, there was something, someone, more perfect out there, considering the fact that ours was the only relationship I had been in. But, reality is such that it is the mundane that makes for the magic of life. There is not some perfect someone out there for any of us—just a bunch of other bruised souls. Some of us just happen to get along well together, and we have lives that can mesh well enough to stumble along this wearisome, and wonderful, path of life together.
As for that particular time of my life, I ended up with a heart that was rejected for the first time. When I returned from France, I could no longer reach him. For the first time in our years together, we were simply coexisting in space together rather than sharing it. He had become convinced that, as his mother had advised him, I “could not love him the way he needed to be loved.” And so he closed his heart off to me.
He was a good man, a conscientious man, and so he did it well. He suggested that perhaps we should end it, and awaited my reply. And my dam burst open, and I cried for weeks, knowing that it did not really matter what my reply would be. But, in his goodness, our gracious Father saw fit to give me peace all the same. After a few weeks of the tears, I was dry-eyed and out for a run when, suddenly, the floodgates opened again. I wept as I ran, and I knew it was time to let him go and that, not only that, I was ready to do so.
So we parted ways. Mind you, I was not so together as to heal once and for all after that. I let myself end up in a small string of whirlwind relationships without fully healing so that, in the long run, I ended up backtracking and healing from that initial breakup during a years-long spell of singleness. It made for a long and drawn-out process of healing. But it also ended up allowing me the emotional freedom to really figure out what it is that I am here on this earth to do, and which me I am meant to be, for however long I am meant to inhabit a little pocket of this earth.
And why exactly do I need to process this now, so many years later? Who knows, really—don’t we all just spend a lifetime trying to figure out why it is we, and people as a whole, do the things we do? It is odd, in that I am only now “getting it out,” when the hurt is so long past that it feels like it belongs to another me, another lifetime. But no, it was in my short lifespan . . . it was a part of my story and so I have to tell it to myself to remind myself of who I am. Life has this odd tendency to suck the life out of us more often than not, busying us with banalities so much that we don’t even recognize the deepest parts of our own hearts. Somehow, someway, we must stay alive—we must listen to our tears, nurture our hearts. And then, when we have sufficiently listened to our own, we must nurture the hearts of our children. We must tell them stories, our own stories and other people’s. We must listen to them, to those children who are so adept at tapping into the realities of life and yet, who are so vulnerable, so easily squelched by us adults who brush them off as silly children . . .Well, enough for now—my blogging is done for this evening [thank goodness, you say?!? :-)]


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