Monday, November 24, 2014

Just Try Harder

I remember when I first became a stay at home mom back in 2010 and my kids were 2.5 years and 9 months old. I remember thinking to myself that I had it all.
I had a husband who was in school and working. I had gorgeous, healthy children. I had friends. I loved church.
Money didn't matter. We weren't ever rich but I didn't care. We payed our bills. We fed our children.
I was happy.
I had everything I had ever wanted.

It's been 4 years and 3 months since then. Everything has changed. Most of the things I loved don't feel existent right now.

I miss out on so many things with my children. Parties at school, playdates, moments when they just want their mom, etc. I'm not always there. I can't always be there.

I hate it.

I don't hate my job. I don't hate school. But I really, truly find myself resenting divorce because of the many changes.

A lot of the times I can get through the hard moments, trusting that there are also many beautiful moments ahead. I try to stay positive. I try to forgive and not judge and love the people around me.

But I don't always succeed. Today I didn't succeed.

Today it wasn't possible to be tough and hold back the tears like I normally do. I couldn't handle the stress.
I couldn't handle the thought of one more day where my kids would have neither of their parents at a school program to cheer them on.
And then I got a call that Ninja had an accident at school and I cried thinking about everything our divorce has put him through. He isn't as emotionally transparent as his sister but the scars are still there. The accidents and the finger-sucking and the baby talk---they are all signs that he is hurting and scared.

The guilt was weighing heavily on me. And along with the guilt, I was angry at the decisions that placed us all in this position. I thought I had let that all go or that I was at least getting better about letting it go but today it all came back.

Today it felt like a punch in the stomach.

All of these things I didn't choose that have effected my life in some of the most heart-wrenching ways just seem so unfair and messy.

When my heart feels this way, it's really hard to not question God. When everything first went down a year ago, I seriously wondered if He had made a mistake in allowing yet another hard thing into my life. Although I know He doesn't make mistakes, I still doubted my capabilities.

Let me rephrase that---I still doubt my capabilities. I do. It isn't a constant doubt but it shows up from time to time.

I used to wonder why certain people didn't seem as engaged at church or didn't attend every Sunday. I used to find myself wondering and maybe even judging people who were less active. Although I was a defiant teenager, I had never truly experienced those feelings {until this past year} and my lack of understanding caused me to think they must've not been trying hard enough.

It sounds so simple. Just try harder.

I love my church. I have a strong testimony and know that Jesus Christ died for me. But I struggle to feel like I belong. I often feel alone when surrounded by some of the most incredible people in my life who are there for me at church. I hold babies and make comments and sing hymns but it isn't always easy. In fact, a lot of the times it is really hard.

I struggle to keep my children in sacrament meeting. That has always been a challenge with my son. I try to stay patient but we usually end up in the hallways or we go late so I don't have to deal with it.

I struggle to stay in Relief Society---especially when we talk about eternal marriage or families. It is really painful to know you don't have what so many people have. It's hard to feel like people don't understand why you're single. It's hard to hear those lessons and feel like a piece of you is missing because your family is broken. You are no longer the "typical Mormon family".

I struggle to substitute in Primary callings. Because after that first hour of "heaven and hell" all I want to do is drop my kids off and breathe for two hours...and then go home and take a nap.

But I should just try harder, right? That's what I would've told myself a few years ago. I should go to church and set the example for my kids and practice more patience.

There are days I don't want to go to church. There have been moments in the past year where I've decided I wasn't going to go back. My testimony has always gotten me there but it doesn't take the struggles away.

It is possible to have a testimony and not want to go to church.

It is possible to feel an aversion to prayer or scripture study and not be a horrible Mormon.

It is.

I know what I want to teach my children. I still fight most weeks to get us all to church. But it is hard. Being a good Christian no longer looks the same way that it used to in my mind. Being a good Christian means trying---sometimes failing---but getting up and trying again. It means fighting for peace when peace seems nonexistent. It means trying to love myself the way my God loves me---and that includes not beating myself up for missing church or falling asleep without praying.

Although I often have an easier time talking about things "after the fact", I want today to be real. I am staying afloat. I am not swimming like a champion and I am not drowning. I am just struggling to float and not fall any further.
I don't necessarily doubt that we will get through this divorce and stand strong like the warriors that we are but somedays, like today, are just so hard.

I know my kids will see my sacrifices someday. I know they will understand when they are older. I'm just so done with missing out on so many things and feeling so exhausted from trying to be their mom and provide for them and giving myself time to be me.

It's probably not impossible---but it seems impossible today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I am a Child of God

 Tonight was a night of reading old blog posts.

I was reading through the posts of when our separation began and when that separation turned into a divorce.

It was hard to read because I can remember the feelings I felt as I wrote. Even on the most uplifting posts, I know how scared I was in those moments. I know how raw those feelings were.

I read through a few posts about my kids. I was reading about how it wasn't fair for them to have to share their parents and go through these trials. I was so worried about them. Their sweetness had turned to anger and sadness that seemed to last months. Some of the ways they react to situations now are things I noticed had started after their dad left.

But I think of all the ways they've grown.
They were so little back then. I felt so guilty putting my 5 and 4 year old through a divorce. It didn't matter that we were extremely amicable in front of them or that we talked positively about each other when the other wasn't around. Scratch that, it did matter. But they could still feel the changes and the stress and the anger.

I keep thinking about how much I've learned this past year. I am a different person than I was. I am a better person than I was. I am more resilient and less judgmental.
And then I think about my babies. Physically, they look so much older than they did a year ago. But they have grown much more than that. They are different. They are wiser. They are closer to their Heavenly Father.

Often times, instead of giving my kids answers to their every day challenges, I ask what they think they should do. Then I ask them what they think Jesus would do. At ages 6 and 5, they are grasping the concept that they are children of God so strongly.
Every day, as they each leave the house for school or babysitters, I tell them, "Mommy loves you. Jesus loves you. You're a child of God."
One day, as Ninja hopped out of my car for preschool and my mind was thinking about the fact that I was running late and had a busy day ahead, all I said was, "Goodbye. I love you." and a few seconds later, he poked his head back in the car and said, "I'm a child of God, mom!"
I haven't gone a day without saying it since then.

Two days ago, my little Warrior Princess came in my room and handed me a piece of paper.
As I read the words "I have worth. I am worthy of love.", I couldn't keep myself from smiling and giving her the biggest hug.

She sees that message every day of her life when she walks in my room and for some reason, those are the only two sentences on my 'whiteboard of positive messages' she reads outloud to me almost every day.
These same messages have been on my white board for 6 months now. They all apply and help me. And in turn, they help her.

I remember the first day she read "I have worth" and asked me, "Mom, what does that mean?". I got to sit on my bed and explain to my little 6 year old what true worth is and where it comes from.
I pray every night that she always remembers.

We aren't a perfect family. They are not perfect children. I am far from being a perfect mother. But I don't think perfection is the ultimate goal on earth. Perfection is something we attain when Christ makes up where we fall short.

Every day, I try to become like my Savior and every day when I fall short, He sends me reminders that I am still worthy of Him. I always will be. Whether He has to make up 10% or 80% for me, He still loves me.

I'm so proud of my children. I am proud that I am their mother and that we are together for eternity. I am proud of the choices they make and the love they show toward other people.
I love who they are. I love being able to witness who they are becoming.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

 "There's no one alive who is youer than you."

A month ago, I was trying to come up with ideas for my birthday post. I wanted something different and more vulnerable than the things I normally post---and might I add that I feel like I post a decent amount of vulnerability here.

When I woke up that morning, the only thing that seemed to fit was to thank God that I have been allowed 27 years of learning and growing on this earth. Whether 27 sounds old or young to you, it is such beautiful thing that 27 has brought me to this particular point in my life.

With 27 years of bravery under my belt, I realize just how many incredible things I can do.

A few months ago, I was working hard to get my ariel. I know, weird, right? I used to be able to tumble back and forth but never in my life had I successfully done an ariel. I decided 27 is going to be the year. So there you have it. Sometime this year, I'm going to be able to do an ariel. Impossible is not really a word I believe in.
Twenty-six was a huge testing year for me and I'm ok with that. Without this past year, I wouldn't be the Suzanne that I am.

Although there has been pain, I have gained confidence in my ability to be a single mother, a working mom, a student, and a good person. I am proud of who I am. I am proud of the things I have done.

I've hated myself a lot of this year. I remember days where looking in the mirror and seeing any kind of beauty seemed impossible. I remember thinking I'd never love myself or be loved again. I remember looking at my stretch marks and all of my imperfections from having kids and wondering how anyone would choose to marry someone like me.

But this year, I've learned that whoever ends up with me will be lucky because I have worth. For every negative thing that can be said about me, there are ten positive things to counteract it. I have the ability to love and be loved. I was a good wife. I will be a good wife again someday.

I am doing the very best that I can and that's what matters.

The other day, I was at the doctor's office and I had to be weighed. You guys, I was panicking! I have not weighed myself since I started eating disorder recovery because I'm working so hard to see my worth without a number attached.
Anyway, I saw my weight. Hmm. Ten pounds heavier than a few months ago.
A few months ago, that would've sent me into a spiral. But a few days ago, it didn't. Instead, I was grateful. I was grateful what that ten pounds represented. It represents strength and recovery and health and happiness. It represents becoming whole again.
I was surprised at my own reaction. I was surprised that any amount of compassion was able to be focused from me to me.
I was able to see straight through that number and find beauty. I was able to love the person that I am right now instead of panicking and wanting to change everything about her.

I'm a warrior. I've said that a lot this year. Sometimes I've believed it and sometimes I've said it because I wanted to believe it.
Today I believe it.

Instead of fearing the future, I plan on punching fear in the face and showing life what I'm made of.

So for my birthday post---a month late---I wanted to share a side of me that you may not see very often. I love music. In fact, music is definitely in the Top 5 of things that helped me through divorce. So many times I would be driving and crying and a song would come on the radio that comforted me and reminded me that I am going to make it.

In some of my darkest hours, the place where I turned for peace remained the same.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Today I Watched Porn

 I'm assuming that title caught your attention. And I'm glad it did. Whatever reason brought you here, I hope you'll stay and hear me out through the end.

Because today I did watch porn. I wish I could have prepared more for today or been "sick" during my Philosophy of Sexuality class but I don't have the best grade right now and I can't afford to miss any assignments.

So I went---knowing we were diving into our chapter on pornography.

I figured I would have the chance to reiterate my feelings about pornography use and that our discussion, although uncomfortable for me, would give me an opportunity to stand up for what I wholeheartedly believe in.

None of those things happened.

I got into class and our teacher was holding a dvd. I couldn't make out the title other than the phrase "feminist pornography" I prayed it would be a documentary like the last one we watched. I squirmed as I waited for class to start. And after taking attendance, he announced we would be watching a video and would have to write an essay on it before next Tuesday. And then he pushed play.

It wasn't a documentary. Or maybe it was. Yeah, I guess it would be considered a documentary since there were interviews mixed up between vulgar scenes. I tried not to look up after the first exposure. I knew I had to keep my composure so I started taking notes on any of the interviews I heard and tried to let my mind wander when the interviews weren't playing.

I guess I just don't get it. Now having been exposed to mainstream pornography, I am even more at a loss as to why some people don't think pornography is dangerous.

Among my anxiety, I felt a lot of sadness---that some women are treated poorly, that some women feel suppressed and choose this lifestyle, that some people can't feel satisfied in a loving relationship with just one other person.

I don't get it. I don't want to get it.
I believe in physical love, love between a man and a woman who have vowed to be with each other for eternity.

Today brought back pain. A lot of pain. And feelings of inadequacy.

I wish that pornography wasn't available like it currently is. I wish there wasn't a chance that my very own son or daughter could stumble across the videos I watched in class today. I wish that people viewed sex as more sacred than the media tells us it is.

Because when a person becomes addicted to pornography, they start to lose the real love in their life. They have a harder time differentiating between what is real and what is completely fake.
Pornography seems equivalent to selling your soul to the devil.
I felt Satan in that classroom today. I felt the darkness that came and I felt it leave as I left the class, praying to overcome my anxiety and finish my next classes.

If there is any truth to saying that pornography can "spice up your love life" and is healthy within a marriage, I would counter by asking, "Why take the risk?"

Why risk what you have for something that could possibly harm you and your relationship?

The people you love are not worth that risk. They aren't. Real love is more powerful than anything you will be able to find on a computer screen.

Real love will always be greater.

In case you're wondering how I reacted in class today, I didn't raise my hand a single time. I couldn't. My mind had shut down and I couldn't even stand up for my values because my brain was busy focusing on getting through the class without a meltdown.
I don't exactly know why my teacher would expose our class to that material. I think he thought it was necessary but I can assure you, it wasn't.
I'm not angry. I'm just sad.

Because I think my bubble had been holding on by a thread and today, it was completely popped. Today I was exposed to so much harshness that surrounds us.

Pornography is real and it is dangerous.

Protect yourselves. Protect your families.