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11 days

The last 11 days have been something.  I am having trouble finding a good word to describe them.  Bad, heartbreaking, scary, weird, different, emotional…no one word works.  They were just something.  Watching the water rise up out of our pool and flow onto the back patio and then around the house was a relief.  Watching street after street on the news fill up and flood houses, cars, and businesses was almost surreal.  I could see the unending rain, but the water here just flowed away.  Away down to those places that were filling up.  And I didn’t know what to think or feel.  I’m good at not thinking or feeling anything so I think I tried to do that.  Be numb to it all.

The tornado warnings and flood warnings were coming every 15 minutes those first few days.  So much that we didn’t move off the couch after the first few.  We just hoped that we would hear the train like sound they say comes with a tornado, and we relied on Candied Jansen who said it didn’t smell like a tornado yet.  And we complained that the TV was giving us repeated flood warnings when so much was already under water.  It felt like a slap in the face.

Schools closed and offices told their people to stay home so we did.  The first Friday off of school seemed like a vacation.  I got caught up on some school stuff and felt like I’d had a nice day long reprieve from normal.  And then it turned into more days and it didn’t seem like a reprieve anymore.  Where was normal?

But then shelters started opening for people who needed to leave their flooded lives, and it sounded like a good idea to go and volunteer.  But the shelters close to home quickly filled with volunteers and weren’t taking anyone else.  The powers that be on the TV said stay at home and don’t get out into it unless you have to.  So we sat at home and watched and waited and felt and I tried to numb it all.

My daughter who is struggling with life right now was staying with a friend, and I worried she would do something stupid and go out in the flood looking for fun.  She seems to only be concerned with having fun lately.  So I worried, but I didn’t want her with me because I am not her type of fun and that would have caused more stress and different feelings.  So I checked in with her but that was all.

My wasband and his wife were already weathering a different type of storm when the rain and winds and floods of Harvey left them with two and a half feet of water in their house.  They couldn’t do much about it because her health was very precarious and she was in the hospital fighting a serious infection.  Their friends rallied around them to help with their house.  He messaged that some keepsakes from when the kids were little were beyond salvageable, and my response was for him to not tell me what was lost so I didn’t have to grieve it.

Day after day and night after night, we saw and heard of the destruction on the news.  Every station showed us what was happening.  They didn’t even have to replay the stories. Every day and hour and minute was filled with tornados, street flooding,  mandatory evacuations, cars, lives, people…all experiencing it in that moment.  I got tired of seeing it and not being able to process it so we changed to channel to movies and recorded shows.

Sleep was fitful at best.  It was scary to stay asleep for very long at first.  We might be need to evacuate.  We might need to hunker down.  We might need to prepare for the worst.  Then when exhaustion finally hit, the sleep that came wasn’t restful.  Dreams/nightmares of things not remembered made for tossing and turning and dark circles in the daylight.

When we were finally cleared to leave, Candied Jansen and I went to help some friends who had several feet of water in their house.  I don’t know how much actual help we were, because there was so much to do.  We carried boxes and cleaned out a closet, but in the grand scheme of things, it was such a tiny portion of their loss.  I felt overwhelmed at the enormity of all they had to do.

At first Candied Jansen and I weathered the storm fairly well.  But then we didn’t.  Tempers were shorter and all of my bottled up feelings came out as arguing and frustration and hurt.  Dealing with my fun daughter caused more arguing and frustration and hurt.  Candied Jansen is a feeler.  She is quite intuitive but because I wasn’t allowing myself to actually feel any of my feelings all she got from me was the arguing, frustration, and hurt.

Yesterday, we watched Collateral Beauty together and I sobbed.  All of the feelings that I had bottled up came out and spilled over again and again and again.  We watched Selena and I sobbed some more.  Words didn’t come…just feelings and tears.  So many tears.

Today was the first day back at school for teachers.  The school psychologist shared with us about how we can help the kids deal with the trauma that we as a community have faced over the last 11 days and counting.  He did so by dealing with us in the same way.  Tears silently rolled down my face as person after person shared how they felt during the floods.  Of the 25 or so who shared, only two were actually displaced because their house flooded.  The survivor’s guilt and the helpless/hopeless feelings everyone described helped me to understand that this was a traumatic event even for me.  As I sat in my dry house with electricity and a fully stocked pantry and refrigerator, I experienced trauma, and I hadn’t handled it well.

These are the first words I’ve shared about all that I’ve felt.  It’s the first time I’ve really been able to put words to it.  I know there will be more feelings to process and the idea of that exhausts me.  I already feel depleted of strength.  Harvey hit at a time when I was already emotional over my fun daughter’s life choices.  I was in a weak and vulnerable place.  But I know I can’t bottle it up.  It wasn’t pretty and caused some damage to my relationship with Candied Jansen.

Candied Jansen and I still aren’t doing well.  The hurt is still there.  It is one of my biggest fears and regrets.  She is one of the best things to ever happen to me.  She is fun and crazy, loving and sweet, and is the best at giving of herself.  She makes me want to do better and have more fun and get to know people.  She makes me think beyond myself and my situations.  I love her more than I have words to express.

 

 

 

 

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in spite of myself

Lately I’ve been thinking about my sins.  Or rather what protestant Christianity would call my sins.  I’ve been thinking about the verses in the bible that talk about how children are punished for their parents’ sins.

Numbers 14:17-18 says this…

17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’

For the past year or more, my youngest daughter has been smoking marijuana.  I know that to some, marijuana isn’t a big deal.  Honestly, I never thought much about it before.  It was always wrong to do drugs in my mind, but with the more lenient laws concerning marijuana in some places, I just didn’t think it was a big deal.  Until it was.  At first, I had no idea she was smoking it.  She joked about it, but I just never believed she was serious. And then it was serious.  She was missing school and blowing off tests.  She didn’t get to graduate with the rest of her class because of it.  She had to go to summer school just to finish her senior year.  She had a bad case of senioritis, but I feel as though the pot smoking made it worse.  She expressed an interest in trying other drugs because she wasn’t getting the high she wanted from the pot anymore.  It was definitely a gateway drug for her.  I drug tested her, set up some boundaries, and she promptly broke all the rules.  After much back and forth, I finally told her she couldn’t live in my house and smoke pot.  She didn’t have a job or any money.  Her car belongs to me and I pay for her phone.  I wasn’t going to support the life of a pothead when that’s all she was being.  Then she added xanax to the pot.  And it was worse.  I could tell when she was on it.  She stumbled around and could barely stay awake.  She wanted to sell her TV that she wasn’t using to buy stuff she would use, AKA cigarettes and weed.  I refused to let her even though it was 100% her TV and not purchased by me.

There’s more to her story, and maybe, hopefully, things will start turning around in the near future, but all of this had me thinking about my life choices. Was God punishing her because of my choices?  I know I was immersed in Christianity for 40 years.  I know that the helpless and hopeless way I feel concerning my daughter causes me to try to figure out why she’s making the choices she’s making.  I know I wasn’t the best parent, but the other kids aren’t making those same choices.  They don’t all have their lives together perfectly, but they aren’t living recklessly.  And the guilt I feel because of those damn bible verses frustrates me.

I remember when I was in high school and hearing about my Uncle who was unfaithful to my Aunt.  There was all kinds of talk about how we needed to pray for them and then finally there was a divorce and he married the other woman.  They are still married today.  But when his kids starting having issues, I remember thinking it was his fault.  He had three children and they all had different things going on in their lives.  I remember feeling so bad because the kids didn’t ask for their dad’s problems to be their problems.  One of my cousins died of health related problems (Crohn’s Disease, I think)  5 years ago, but I wondered if there had been drug abuse or anything like that as well.  I don’t know.  He’d had a hard life up until his death.  In my head, I think I blamed my Uncle for all his transgressions years ago.  Yesterday, I got word that another cousin died.  She was 50 and had been married and divorced 3 times.  She’d had a hard life and from what I’d heard over the years, blamed everyone else for her problems.  I haven’t heard how she died…they think from an accidental overdose of depression medicine.  I talked to this cousin back in December at my grandmother’s funeral.  She asked me if I was seeing someone.  I wasn’t sure how much she knew, so I started to talk and she interrupted and said they all knew that I was a lesbian now.  She was happy that I was happy.  She told me that she was an atheist, but that her mom didn’t like her to talk like that.  We didn’t talk long, but I was glad to get the chance to visit with her.  So now this Uncle and Aunt have lost two children and a grandchild drowned over 20 years ago in the midst of the cheating and divorce stuff.  And I feel so sorry for their family.  And in my heart, I know I can’t blame the Uncle, but the weight of my past wants to drag me to that place.

And I have to stop asking myself if my daughter’s issues are my fault.  She is making her own choices.  She knows right from wrong.

Me loving a woman and choosing to pursue that isn’t wrong.  I’m not hurting my children with that decision.  I have had to remind myself of that lately.

And speaking of that woman.  She is supportive of me and my kids and goes out of her way to help make their lives easier.  I am broken and messy, and she loves me in spite of myself.  I love and appreciate her so much.  I don’t show her how much she means to me nearly enough.  And she still loves me.  Sigh.

Part 1 of 1

I hate trilogies.  Pretty strong words.  But true.

I LOVE reading a good book.  There’s nothing like getting so invested in a story that you can’t put it down.  I don’t read as much as I used to, but when I do pick up a good book, reading is all you’ll find me doing in my spare time.  I’m often wishing that the story would continue after book one.  Many times it does.  Book two is almost as exciting as the first, but the thing that book two does that ends up frustrated me is it doesn’t end.  Book one usually has an ending that can be the end.  Even if the story can be carried into another book, book one can often stand alone.  Book two never can.  That makes me have to read book three and by then I am usually tired of the characters and wishing the story would just be over already.

Hunger Games…book one could have been the end of the story.  I’m glad it wasn’t, but Catching Fire had to have a sequel.  I loved the first two books and waded my way through book three.  I ended up loving all the movies.

Divergent…loved book one.  Insurgent was ok, but then I started Allegiant but never finished it.  I skimmed read the last half right before the movie came out just so I would have some idea what to expect.

The first trilogy I remember reading was The Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers.  I absolutely loved Book 1, A Voice in the Wind.  The main character, Hadassah, taught me a lot about faith.  Book Two, As Sure as the Dawn, didn’t delve into Hadassah’s story at all, but focused on other characters.  Book 3 tied the two together again, but it was my least favorite of the stories.

Trilogies should not be confused with series.  In a series, it seems as if each book stands alone, even though they might reference parts from other stories.  As a kid I loved The Wizard of Oz books.  There were 14 of them, and each was amazing.  Same goes for The Chronicles of Narnia.  Each book was good, but I didn’t feel the need to rush out and read the next one immediately because each story ended well.

I say all this to say that a month or so ago I began book three of a trilogy whose name I don’t remember.  It was obviously going to be a trilogy from book one because book one didn’t end.  I knew what I was getting myself into when I started book two.  Sigh.

Friends.

When I came out in 2009, all of my friendships changed.  I had a fairly large friend pool which mostly included friends from college, church, and life overseas.  I haven’t seen or spoken to most of those friends since 2009.  I have kept up with them on Facebook, and we’ve commented back and forth a few times, but there isn’t any face to face interaction anymore.  Going from being a Southern Baptist Missionary to a Lesbian changed things.  I wasn’t comfortable hanging out with people who were going to love me through it, pray me through it, or try to talk me out of it.  I knew it wasn’t a phase and nothing they could say would be any different from what I’d already told myself numerous times during my years long struggle.  Accepting that this is who I am was so freeing.  Sometimes I feel bad that I haven’t talked to my friends, but then I remind myself that, for the most part, they haven’t tried to contact me either.  Friendship goes both ways, and I think we were all uncomfortable with trying to wade through the differences.

Since coming out I’ve made some new friends.  Some are from my old job and some I met at a campground several years ago.  But that’s basically it.  My friend pool is definitely small.  And these new friends are great and would do anything for me, but we don’t see each other all that much because of distance and time.

Since that day in 2009, I’ve dated 3 women.  The first talked about having friends, but I only ever met one person and that was when we happened to run into her while we were out.  All of our time was spent with just each other.  I missed having couple friends and people to hang out with.  She didn’t seem to mind it too much though.

The second girlfriend had friends that she brought to the relationship.  We would visit them or hang out with them some, but none of them lived close so when our relationship ended, so did my contact with her friends for the most part.  We did make the camp friends together, but they weren’t big fans of the ex so we didn’t hang with them much after a while.  When we were breaking up, they called to make sure I was safe, and we were friends again.

And that brings me to Candied Jansen.  We aren’t just dating.  We are married!  She is my wife!  We plan to do life together.  She brought several friends to the relationship.  We hang out with them some, but again, distance and time make it hard for me to nurture relationships with them.  I enjoy them and they all seem to like me, but it will take time to grow those relationships.

So now what?  Candied Jansen and I have talked about making friends.  We want to have people we can hang out with.  We joined a Mardi Gras crew last year thinking it would be a good place to meet people and make some friends, but we haven’t been to a single event since that Mardi Gras celebration.  We’ve gotten the calendar and talked about going to different things, but we’ve never actually followed through.  The main problem is that all the events are held in Galveston which is over an hour away.  And it’s hard to talk ourselves into going to their regular meetings on a Tuesday evening when we get home from work.  We do plan to go to the Mardi Gras celebration this year, but we aren’t sure if we want to renew our membership.  Will we commit to participating more?

We have met a couple of people close by, but it’s still early in the relationships.

Trying to figure out how to make new friends as an adult is hard!

I’ve bored myself with this one!

Since we moved into our new place, we’d been talking about getting a large shelf for the garage. We’ve got lots of camping stuff and random other garage type things that needed a permanent place other than in a pile on the garage floor.  Last Saturday, I went to Home Depot and picked up the shelf that Candied Jansen and I had picked out.  I lamented the fact that I had to make a trip to Lesbian Mecca alone, but Candied Jansen wasn’t feeling well, and if I wanted to start the work in the garage, I had to go get the shelf.  I had someone at Home Depot load it into the car, but when I got home, it was too heavy for me to unload alone.  Candied Jansen was napping so I decided to open the box while it was still mostly in my car and carry it in pieces to the garage.  Genius!  The directions were very simple, but I couldn’t manage the construction of the shelf alone.  It was just too big.  When Candied Jansen awoke, she helped me put the shelf together and then had to rest.  I spent the rest of the day emptying boxes and arranging the shelf and another sports shelf we have in the garage.  It felt so good to get it done!  Alas, though…we still can’t park in the garage!  We have several boxes of books that need a place, and I haven’t decided if that place is here with us, donated to a school, or sold to a used book store.  Also, we recently acquired some “new” living room furniture that we are storing in the garage for my son. He’s getting it the first weekend in February so that is my deadline on the boxes of books.    Once the books and furniture are gone, there are only bikes to deal with.  The cars can fit with the bikes, but it will make for a tight fit.  The bikes will eventually get hung and then the garage will be completely car ready!  I can’t wait!!

(How’s that for a completely boring, nonpolitical post??)

And because reading back over the post bores even me, here is a picture of the bike Candied Jansen got me for Christmas!!bike

That is one awesome machine!  This picture is from the Walmart.com website because the pics we took were a little blurry.  But not because we’d been drinking too many margaritas to hold the camera steady!!

Geez…this is a lame post!

Noise

I need to write a blog post, but I have no idea what to write!

I refuse to write about politics, because everyone is writing about it and I am sick to death of it all!  UGH!

I don’t want to talk about the Women’s March.  Again…too much.

I think Joe hit the nail on the head in his comment on my last post.  We used to write about random stuff, but now it seems like everything should have purpose.  Meaning.  And I don’t want to write about all of the stuff going on in the world.  Because everyone else is already screaming about all of that, it just seems like noise at this point.  I am not a fan of noise.  I don’t mind listening to friends or having discussions with people in person, I just don’t like for the feeds of every social media site to be so clogged with noise.  I care about what is going on in the world and in our country, but I am a lifestyle evangelizer.  That was the term we used when we lived overseas.  Let people see how we live and let them be drawn to that.  I will live with purpose and support the causes that are important to me, but I won’t be writing about them.  This is not that place for me.

 

 

 

Writing

I miss the old blogging days when we would all read and comment on each others’ blogs.  Before the days of social media bombardment, writing seemed easy and took place in way more than 140 characters.

I started blogging because I had a friend who had a blog. I’d read her blog for a few months and noticed that she had links in her sidebar to other people with blogs. After blog hopping and reading about people I didn’t actually know, I decided that I needed a blog! I lived overseas and liked that I could write about what was going on in my little world and that my family living in the states could read all about it. That first year I only wrote 48 posts, but my love for blogging grew and over the next two years I cranked out 640 posts on one blog and 86 on another. I had definitely found my thing!

The age of social media was definitely dawning my first year of blogging.  Facebook became a thing that everyone over the age of 13 could use in September of 2006.  I didn’t join until October of 2007.  Twitter was started in March of 2006, and I finally got involved in January of 2008. Facebook and Twitter were both ok, but blogging was definitely something special.  On Twitter and Facebook, people showed their best selves, but in blogs, authenticity rang true for the most part.  There were a few people out there who would copy other blogger’s posts and post them as their own, and blogs written by people claiming to be someone they weren’t.  I remember the outrage we all felt at being lied to and manipulated by other bloggers.  But I also remember reading about real people and how they handled their real lives.  I remember reading about people’s children and families.  Most of what I read back then were what were later called Mommy Blogs.  I remember the first time I ventured out from the typical Mommy/Daddy Blog.  I was reading a blog post by someone I read regularly and they were excited because they had been listed on Alltop.  I had no idea what that meant, but I clicked on the link and discovered that some genius had created a list of blogs in categories!  I had no idea that there were that many different types of blogs out there!  I remember seeing a heading for gay and lesbian bloggers and sucking in a deep breath because OMG gay people wrote blogs!!  Between the lgbt blogs listed on Alltop and blog hopping through the links on their sidebars, I got a glimpse into a life that I wanted but wasn’t sure how to get.  It was like the world opened up when I read those blogs.  It was my beginning.

I can’t begin to know where I would be today without both the blog posts I’ve read and the ones I’ve written.  Reading and writing became therapy for me when I was having a crisis of faith and coming out.  Being able to express myself was so very necessary back then, and I wasn’t able to do it aloud.  Knowing that I wasn’t alone in the way I felt helped me cope with the loss of who I had been.  Encouragement from those who commented on my posts helped me put one foot in front of the other and heal.  I had no idea when I started blogging that the written word would save me.

I don’t feel that same urgency to blog these days.  Maybe because of how far I’ve come.  Maybe because of the influx of so many different apps and social media sites.  The fact that we can stay connected 24/7 on phones and watches kind of takes away the appeal of the blog I guess.  But for me, blogging will always be my first love.