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Here There Be Monsters

September 11, 2016
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Sometimes I try to not believe in God. You know, just to give it a whirl. To see if it sticks. To see if the handful of anti-religion atheists who’ve tried to convert me over the years are onto something. I must admit- it would make things so much simpler to only believe in that for which there is empirical evidence. ….except if there is anything that history and science have taught me it’s that our knowledge is so incredibly limited. Every discovery we make opens the door to a thousand other mysteries. I believe humans are so infantile in our evolution and advancement we couldn’t yet comprehend most of what is actually out there.

I can’t close my mind to the possibility (or, in my humble opinion, the likelihood) of a creator of this universe. I believe this creator is intangible, either because it is spiritual, or because humans have millions of years of evolution and advancement to achieve before we can discover or comprehend it. (And maybe THEN “God” can be observed and tested!)

And what if “God’s will” is simply that the human race does survive and evolve and advance to the point that we CAN know the creator (God) personally. WHAT IF God either designed us specifically or just took a special interest in our species as we evolved and decided that he really wanted us to achieve that- he really wanted us to know him. What if he saw that we were really fucking up as a species and setting ourselves on the path to destruction and extinction and he decided to connect with us- through Abraham, Moses, and ultimately AS one of us through Jesus in order to “save us” (read: alter our course- change our mindset to achieve SURVIVAL, evolution, progress, and advancement in order to discover and know him one day.)

I like opening my mind up to those possibilities and the wonder of it all– Therein lies my spirituality! And it’s simultaneously why I can’t be an atheist and why the church is so spiritually suffocating for me. It’s honestly spiritual stagnation for me to continue trying to connect with the evangelical church where the probability of evolution is still a debate. Where gay marriage is still a debate. Where the nature of God and how/what form he exists is NOT up for question or debate. Where the Bible is taken at face value, and where more liberal or progressive Christians are accused of picking and choosing verses so they can live how they like. I’ve grappled with the evangelical church for a very long time. I don’t know what to do anymore. Over the past year I’ve packed my bags and prepared to leave, but here I am- just outside the doors sittin’ in the front lawn of evangelicalism, waving goodbye to all the other ex-evangelicals that keep leaving. I want to leave, too…

I spent 10 years- a third of my life- getting frustrated at genexers and millennials for leaving the church. I felt my generation began blaming the church for fallible people- holding the church to a standard of perfection that imperfect humans can’t achieve- throwing the baby out with the bath water- not being the change we wanted to see- etc. etc.- yadda yadda- blah blah. I held onto the church with patience and persistence and resilient determination for 10 years. But I’m at the point in my life where I’m feeling like there’s a pattern and it’s a big problem, and I don’t think I want to be a part of it anymore…

…When I first met my husband he was somewhat apathetic towards church, but mostly very forgiving. (He’d later open up to me over the years about the hurt he’d experienced within the church, and I won’t go into that… suffice to say he was very forgiving.) He never felt good enough and eventually experienced a particularly crushing disappointment that he didn’t handle very well. He’d subsequently lost faith and became self-destructive. When I met him he was on his way to a recovery- he was involved in a band with some church fellas who were a bit older than him, and I think he felt like they’d taken him under their wing and given him an emotional, spiritual, and creative outlet. I think he felt camaraderie and love. I think he trusted them and looked up to them. Then one day, unexpectedly, they kicked him out of his band because he wasn’t Christian enough. They wrote him letters- on Facebook- explaining just how Christian enough he wasn’t. And that was it for Keith. He was done. He checked out of organized religion and never looked back. When I was pregnant with Eleanor he became even more determined to shield her from the hurt he experienced, and I’ve stopped dragging him to church as I can feel the layers of defense he packs on before he even walks through the front doors. I used to think, ‘Keith had a bad experience with one dude in the church, not the church’ but really, the church breeds that kind of thing– Breeds it, justifies it. Keith simply joined the ranks of those before him who’d been marginalized, cast to the side, and in many cases flat out rejected for not fitting in a tiny little box with a tiny little god. (***It must be noted that one of the guys from Keith’s band later came back and apologized for his part in what happened, and I think very highly of that guy for doing so. He’s a genuine, loving person. It meant a whole lot and I will never forget that he did that for Keith.***)

So… I do think I am ready to leave, but I don’t know where to go. I do fully appreciate and am tremendously thankful for my evangelical roots and upbringing. I do not regret it in the slightest. I will always and forever hold out hope of returning and feeling welcome and comfortable in the evangelical church. But for now I just cannot connect with it, and not for lack of trying. I desire to spiritually connect SOMEWHERE, though. I just don’t know where.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

… Because the testing of your faith produces perseverance… So you may be mature and complete

April 22, 2012
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“Don’t you wish you could go back and avoid that whole mistake?”

No.

I do not regret my marriage to Ben. Had I a choice, I wouldn’t undo my decision to marry him.
And I’m not one of those ‘live without regrets’ people. I do have regrets. That’s just not one of them.
Maybe because I don’t consider it a mistake.
I was young, but I knew exactly what I was doing. I knew the vows I was taking and I was committed. Extremely committed and faithful, to my spouse and to my family, until the day I was told to cut it out and move on because there was no chance of reconciliation.

On a couple of occasions I entertained the thought that it’d be fairy-tale nice if I could be one man’s wife and keith’d be the only one I promised to spend the rest of my life with, the only one I shared the marriage experience with.

Sure. That’d be lovely I guess. But thats just not…. us . First, our relationship has been unorthodox and backwards from the start. And I love it that way. It’s been the greatest adventure of my life. And we would have never met up or become who we are as a couple without our backgrounds.

And also, despite second marriage/ blended family fail statistics, my experience, if anything, taught me that I *know* I have what it takes to succeed. I have issues, but where it counts I’m solid and secure and confident. I know my strength. I know I have the ability to lead my heart when my emotions are tugging me in a thousand different directions. I know how to decide to love and fight for that love in the face of betrayal and hurt and hopelessness. I know the power of forgiveness and grace- giving it, asking for it, accepting it. I recognize the mistakes I made in my pervious marriage. I know how relationships fall into ruts that seem inescapable and I can easily identify the warning signs along the way. I know what to look for and I know the behavior patterns to avoid.

…Deep betrayal and heartbreak tends to strengthen your core and soften your edges. I’m less rule-bound, fundamental, and insecure in my faith. It’s easier now for me to admit how much I don’t know, how much I never knew, how little control I actually have, and how easy it is for me to screw up. I know what it’s like to find yourself at rock bottom and have no idea how you got there. I’m okay with admitting I’m as weak and flawed as any, and I’ve learned to TRULY understand, commiserate, and offer compassion and mercy.

At that, I have adry. Although this experience has been tough on him and challenging for me as his mother, I cannot express how thankful I am to have him and that I appreciate how motherhood has shaped me and my life. I’d relive all the bad parts if only to have him with me now and a part of me and Keith’s life together.

A failed marriage is not what I dreamed up as a little girl, nor what I prayed for as a teenager, nor what I expected as a young bride. But not only have I accepted it, I’m grateful for the experience and invaluable life lessons. I don’t feel gypped, I’m not bitter, I don’t hold any grudges. I’m happy and I look back on good memories fondly. And I could not be more happy about where I’m at now and who I’m with. I’m capable of a much deeper, raw, and honest love, and it feels good to be vulnerable with someone I absolutely adore and trust to know me fully and love me completely.

I feel passionate AND safe.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

And again.

February 22, 2012
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Sucks:

When you spend weeks feeling A-okay about an awful situation. And you think, hey! I got over THAT fast! Maybe I’m just used to this. Maybe I’m better at healing and moving on. I’m totally ready to move on. Which is surprising, but I’m okay with feeling okay!

Until it hits you.

You’ve been in Grief Stage: Denial.

And you’re coming out of it.

And it hurts.

So. So. So bad.

You realize your subconscious has been telling itself that this is only temporary. That things will go back to normal. And it’ll be like nothing happened.

And until now you never came face-to-face with the fact that what was is dead.

I am so sad. I’m sad that my “family members” seem to be falling like dominoes. I’m sad for what we’ve lost.

……the part where good memories become painful.

Summer 2009

Winter 2010

Valentine’s Day 2010

Fall 2010

Summer 2011

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

“but when things once start to go right they often go on getting better and better”

October 27, 2011
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My God I wish I had more time to journal. It feels good to sit down and remember and reflect. I feel sort of like I did back in college when I was still journaling pen-and-paper and by the time I got into bed, opened the book and dated the page my entry turned out to be nothing more than, “hi. I’m alive. I think. Though I feel dead. I suspect the university is gradually stealing my soul bit by bit. I’m empty and have nothing to write about. I just wrapped up a twenty page paper on some obscure civil war figure whom I won’t remember anything about next month. Who cares about my own life!”

Except… honestly… on a whole this is probably… undoubtedly the happiest I’ve been in years. I really like where I’m at. Which is kind of amazing considering I’m now a single mom with a failed marriage behind me, a year of education graduate school that I’m not using, massive debt, all while working for meager wages as a nurse’s aide. And it’s not that I’m content to stay here, but for the first time since I started college I’m confident in where I’m headed. I’m not rushing myself, I’m not stressing out, I’m not doing what I think will impress or make other people happy. I’m just enjoying the journey.

Like a true pessimist I keep bracing myself for the good times to end… I keep waiting to fall back into hard times and real struggle– disappointment, betrayal, heartbreak, daily fighting just to keep my head above water.

But I’m so richly blessed. It’s incredible. The people in my life right now are solid and faithful and I love them all so much. I’m excited for the future. I’m permanently in love with Super Boyfriend (so much that it hurts) and no matter how broke I am my needs are always met. (I honestly don’t even know how it’s possible. I think I have an enchanted bank account.  After budgeting in my car repairs for the month I left myself a whole $10 for gas, $0 for food and groceries, and $0 to pay a few bills,  but SOMEHOW I have a full tank of gas, ALL of my bills are paid, and I’ve had enough extra money to do things like take my kid to the pumpkin patch.)

Life is good.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

January 26, 2011
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Ever hear a quote a thousand times, and you get it, but the thousandth time it really hits home?

Photobucket

“Some complain because roses have thorns, others rejoice because thorns have roses.”

You know that roses are my favorite flower. The delicate beauty, the passion they represent, all of the colors and variations…
BUT ALSO, roses are a reminder to me of the bible verses that I often cling to. You know, the ones about the thorn in Paul’s flesh (whatever tormented him) that he begged God to remove three times, but God did not remove it. Instead he told Paul that His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in weakness. When I hear that story I think of a single red rose: Paul sees the thorn while God brings forth beauty.

Anyway, lately I’ve felt like my life is a chaotic whirlwind of a giant FAIL. I’ve been craving stability and peace and comfort, and I’ve been searching in all the wrong places. I never wanted to be a single twenty-something and I still don’t. I hate it. I’m trying so hard to be patient and do what’s best. (Trying and failing. Miserably.) Half the time I have no idea what’s best. As a matter of fact, I am certain I had a better grasp on life when I was seventeen than I do today.

I’m taking for granted everything in my life that IS right and good and beautiful. I recognize it… I’m just too depressed to appreciate it and prioritize it.

Photobucket

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

To Journal

January 22, 2011
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I journal for me. I always have.

My very first “journal” was just a few sheets of notebook paper clipped together. I don’t think I really comprehended that I was journaling at the time; I just needed an outlet for my grief. I was 10 or 11 years old and my grandpa had suddenly passed away, and it was the first time I had felt that sort of emotional pain. I didn’t know what to do with it. As a matter of fact, I clearly remember praying a little 10-year-old prayer that went something like this: Dear Lord, please come back before Grandma dies. I can’t live through this again. So I gathered loose-leaf notebook paper and stole away to the basement in my grandparents’ house in Olathe, Kansas to begin my journey of sorting through life- thoughts, memories, reflections, and lessons- on paper. I have a box of about 30 journals (kept from ages 10-21) numbered, dated, (AND NAMED, hah) and organized in upright chronological order. And now I continue on the internet.

I enjoy the benefits of internet blogging, ie. the community and knowing I am sharing with people who care… people who tell me consistently that they appreciate keeping up with Adry and I and hearing what I have to say. Some folks complain that blogging breeds drama, but for real- all the compassion and connections and commiseration and support and encouragement and thoughtful advice I have received/experienced (surprisingly more so IN PERSON or in letters regarding/as a result of my journal) FAR FAR outweighs the occasional dramatic blip…

But anyway, that’s not why I journal. If from now on no one read my journal again I would keep at it. For 11 years I religiously wrote down all of my memorable events, my rants, my emotions, my opinions… for no one to read but me. And I’m not about to quit because a few people think I stir up drama, or I’m negative, or I overshare, or whatever. Clearly, considering my history, that is not my purpose here. This is how I deal with life. This is how I remember life. This is how I organize my thoughts and opinions and beliefs. This is how I reflect, learn, and grow. And yeah, this is how I vent, too.

It seems like every online journaler/blogger I talk to or follow gets flak at one point or another. I hope you all know that I appreciate every single one of you, and every single thought or belief or idea or opinion you’ve shared, even if I’ve passionately disagreed. Y’all keep me thinking and learning and opening my mind… Even if I continue to disagree with you, I learn about myself… I solidify. So, thank you and keep at it 🙂

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Mercy

January 11, 2011
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I believe, y’all, that I hit the peak of my selfish, self-centered, run-from-my-pain delusional lifestyle. I’ve come to a turning point.

I’m beginning to come back down and see past myself. I’m beginning to open my arms to loving people, not for what they can do for me, but for who they are and what *I* can do for *them*. My head is clearer and I’m thinking more rationally. For the first time since my split with Ben I can look at my son, and instead of feeling overwhelming guilt and stress and self pity I instead feel full to the brim of just passionate, motherly, self-sacrificial love. Beautifully painful. I don’t know how else to describe it.

It feels SO good to feel more like myself. I want to hold onto this. I’m terrified I’m going to relapse into self-absorbed guilt and grief and depression again. Those feelings are nightmarish.

If there’s ONE thing I’ve learned from this experience so far, it’s mercifulness. In the midst of the most selfish period of my life I learned a deeper level of humbleness and mercifulness… somehow. It’s like, I so badly needed compassion and mercy simply BECAUSE I didn’t deserve it at all. And so now I desire to more humbly administer compassion and mercy to others who act selfish and don’t deserve it. I’ve learned that there’s a lot of pain behind selfishness, so I will be quick to understand, slow to judge.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Really Rough Day

December 15, 2010
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Really rough day.

If you are considering leaving your spouse, please heed my warning that broken misery is 100X worse than married misery. Make.It.Work. FIND HEALING. WORK YOUR HARDEST. Do not go through this.

I am mixed up, screwed up, confused, and unstable… and paranoid and cynical and frustrated. I’ve completely lost myself. I don’t know who I am or what I believe anymore. I feel entirely dead. I let self-pity and other indulgences into my soul and they’ve eaten me alive.

I’m a terrible mother. A terrible sister. Terrible daughter. Terrible friend. I have a heart of steel. My son reaches for me and all I want to do is run the other way. I can’t be what he needs; I’m too weak.

I try to feel something. Anything.

WHO AM I! Who have I become? I don’t recognize any of this.

And I hate being daily reminded of Ben and our marriage and I hate feeling like I’m crazy for missing it. I keep it all locked inside because I feel like if I mention it people’s attitudes are all, ‘how could you miss that? How could you miss him? After everything that happened!?’ Especially since HIS attitude about the whole thing seems to be nothing short of ‘good riddance!’

I also feel guilty for missing it. Like if I miss it it means I’m not letting go or moving on. But really, for me I don’t think that’s the case, because honestly… I don’t think I will ever stop missing it. Not even when/if one day I am happily remarried or whatever… It’s like mourning the death of a person, you know? You can move on with life and still miss them. I mean, I’ve accepted it (the death; the failure). There’s no going back. I want to focus on what’s ahead. But it’s just the recovery part I’m having a hard time with. If I had to sum it all up, I’d say I’m dealing with loss of faith in God and myself and humanity. Everything feels really warped.

But I go through spurts- WEEKS at a time- that I feel SUPER and confident and excited to move on with life, and then BAM out of nowhere the regret and sadness comes flooding in, uncontrollably, and I feel like I’m back at Grief Stage One all over again.  (But I remind myself that I haven’t regressed. I’m just walking through similar landscape of the winding valley.)

Anyway, I just want to start over. I want a clean slate. I want to go back to the day I decided to leave Ben, and I want to launch this Single Mom thing off right this time. I want to be strong and confident and unwavering in my faith. I want to keep my priorities straight.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Six things I wish I’d never done

November 17, 2010
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1o Day MeMe:

Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.

Day Five: Six things you wish you’d never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever).
Day Seven: Four turn offs.
Day Eight: Three turn ons.
Day Nine: Two smileys that describe your life right now.
Day Ten: One confession.

I wish I was one of those people who didn’t regret things. I wish I could look at things as learning experiences. There are many mistakes I have made that I do not regret in the slightest. But yes, there are quite a few I definitely do, and if I could go back and redo things I would.

1) Going to MVNU for Education. I don’t think I regret anything in my life more than this. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to dis on the school or the quality of my education, but it just wasn’t where I should have been. I fought it the entire time I went. I wanted so badly (OH SO BADLY YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW) to quit, but I kept chugging along because I didn’t want to be “a quitter”. I had too much pride. And I killed my soul in the process. Spend three years dedicating your life to something you aren’t passionate about and I guarantee you: it will kill your soul. Upon graduation I didn’t feel accomplished at all; I felt dead and unmotivated.

I SHOULD have done another year at CSCC and then finished up my BA at OSU. I did one year of undergrad at CSCC and had one of the BEST years of my life making all kinds of awesome friends, and I did a couple semesters of graduate school at OSU and LOVED it.  I took health and science classes and LOVED them. I should have and WOULD have changed my major if I had followed my heart and not my pride or what I thought people expected of me.

Also, I can’t regret marrying Ben, but I do think my going off to MVNU pushed me closer to him because I was miserable there and he was my link to home. I’m just not sure I would have married him if I had gone to CSCC another year.

And the cherry on top: the heap of debt I am in for nothing.

2) Letting myself gain weight. I can handle my tummy stretch marks and my surgery scars because those are all battle wounds of sorts, but I hate the fat. I hate that I could have prevented it… at least a lot of it. Some of it is just natural pregnancy weight, but a lot of it came before I got pregnant. I SO miss being skinny. I miss the energy I had (everything was easier and quicker and less clumsy) and the LACK of self-consciousness.

3) Losing my mother’s Sweet 16 ring. Yes, I still regret that. Always will. My dad gave my mom this adorable silver heart ring with two interlocking hearts when my mom was 16 years old. She passed it onto me when I was 13 and not too long after that I took it off in the Limited Two at Tuttle Mall and left it there. That’s kind of something that can never be replaced.

4) Cutting Nick out of my life when we were teenagers; fighting my feelings under some pretense I was doing what was best for both of us. I’m not entirely sure I regret doing that since I was sincerely trying to do the right thing, but I just wonder what life would be like if I had just let things take their natural course…  or if I had at least not done things so abruptly and completely.

When I was 16 I wrote in my journal that I loved him more than anything, but we weren’t meant to be together and I had to end things… and that ten years from now I wanted to be married and raising a family and I wanted him to be with someone raising a family, too. I just wanted us both to be happy. And now life has come full circle it seems and here we are: broken. Together.

(But I’m not gunna lie- it’s kind of nice to have a friend who I love and care about to be broken with. I know he’s helped me a lot anyway. I just tell him he has motivated me to figure things out and move forward faster than he has ;-))

5) All the mistakes I made as a wife. I’m not sure I had the power to prevent what happened, but there is always that what if in my mind. Whether I was meant to marry him, or whether I should have married him or not, I did, and I took it very seriously. I wish we could have been successful. Mostly for Adry’s sake.

Because I regret regret REGRET that I have to watch my son grow up being bounced around from house to house struggling to find stability, consistency, AND the proper amount of time spent with both of his parents. That’s practically an impossible balance to achieve.

Ben and I both made mistakes, but we made our choices and we should have lived with them because we brought a little boy into the world and HE is the one who matters now. I’m not saying it would have been fair for Adry to grow up with miserable, unhappily married parents, but if we would have both decided to be happy it would have worked.

Whether I could have controlled the outcome or not, I still regret it and wonder if I could have.

(Although the truth is that now, more often than not, I am feeling pretty good about all of my future possibilities. Life is going to be great. Life is great. I’m very blessed, Adry is very blessed, and we are going to have some great adventures together. Every romantic tale has its adversities to overcome, right!?)

6) Losing patience with Adry and feeling inconvenienced. Getting self-absorbed and stressed. He is my everything, I just don’t live like it sometimes… I feel like I want, need, to give him MORE. And so I get on these quests.  A quest to lose weight to be an energetic mom. A quest to one day marry and give Adry a family unit and stability. A quest to get into a career that makes more money so I can provide for him. Meanwhile I’m preoccupied and fail to recognize that all he needs is me. I WILL be better.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal