A Newly-Married’s Reflection

Yikes, My last post was eight months ago! It was called “What is Love?” and I was trying to figure out if I was in love. It is so crazy how life seems both exactly the same and radically different. I feel like I wrote that post yesterday. Well, not only am I in love. This is my first post as a married woman….! Yes, most days I still can’t believe it. Neither of us can. One month ago today, “I married my best friend” as they say. I used to roll my eyes when I heard that…but I can’t deny that it’s true.

What happened to me? Well I guess I should ask, What is happening to me? I haven’t been around much lately on here, on any social media really. In fact, after we got married I got even more secluded. It is so hard even venturing on here. Maybe, if you know me or have followed me over the years, you know how much I wrote about dating and wanting to find that “one person” to make my life complete.

For so long, I was obsessed with getting married. Not necessarily because I wanted to, but because I felt completely inadequate without the label “wife.” I went from relationship to relationship as a young Christian woman. I tried so hard to make every one work. I was either a failure at letting it go on too long; or a failure at not getting it to work. I let my family down (I believed), but especially I let myself down. I was missing out on what was “out there.” I knew if I just kept trying, eventually I could achieve what I believed was my “dream”: to be married.  By God’s grace, my rigid thoughts slowed and I started thinking more realistically. I distinctly remember the day I began to entertain the thought: I am just as worthy as a single woman as I am a married woman. It seemed such a strange and radical thought, but I began to believe it…

Over time, I unfortunately went to the opposite extreme.  I soon tried to convince myself that my dream of marriage was just that-a dream that was not even close to reality. I mean, look at all the stress my siblings and friends were under. Look at all the failing marriages around me. Look at how I can barely be civil with my roommates, who are so giving and tolerant of me. How would I even make it work with a man? I love being alone. A lot. Maybe I was not marriage material and, in fact, I knew I could be perfectly happy as a single my whole life.

Around the time I met Nathan (a year ago), I had recently entered a new stage in the “dating” game. My thoughts were more like, “Let’s have fun with this.” Who knows…I may meet someone, I may not. To be honest, I still had a deep desire to marry as all of my closest friends and family knew, but it was just tampered down a bit. The neat thing was, I was changing. My many years of therapy, self-discovery and spiritual growth had created in me a well-rounded person who had learned to change her thoughts. I soon discovered not only did I have a healthy view on marriage, but I was a healthy person, spiritually, emotionally, physically (overall) and mentally. I just did not have the self-confidence to continually believe it.

The cool thing was God was working in Nathan’s life similarly and so we were a great match for each other! This was not to say I didn’t continually doubt throughout our relationship. In fact, up until the wedding day, I would constantly hear the thought: “It’s not too late to back out.” I would shove the thought away as “just a thought.” My deepest heart knew there was no way I could “sabotage” this relationship. For so many years, I felt I was more undeserving of love (for some reason) than others. I had created a pattern of making myself miserable.

As Nathan and I reflected throughout our relationship, I soon discovered that my thoughts of marriage had radically transformed over the years. I now realized marriage was not just a status, a way to make myself feel complete. I now began to see it a selfless act, not only for my spouse but for God. I had been right, that I could have been content without a spouse for all of eternity. With God, anything is possible. But, I was wrong in that I was not marriage material.

Even in these early days of marriage, my former ideas and assumptions of marriage have been shattered. I just cannot believe how selfish I’ve always been. I can’t believe how much God has wanted to transform me by radical trust. Lately, this has played out in my ability to believe that I have what it takes to be a good wife. It seems I will ever be tormented by the lies, “You are weak and emotionally unstable,” “You are stupid” and “You are a failure and always ruin relationships.” While I am married to a wonderful godly man, who constantly reminds me of my worth to him, I have to believe it myself: that I am strong and can do anything with the power of Christ.

Low self-confidence, low self-esteem is really my enemy these days. Throughout my college years and most of my twenties, I took it in stride, almost worshiped and enjoyed the idea of me being depressed and lowly. I thought it was better than being full of myself. But now I know both are one and the same. Both are a way to think and obsess about yourself. Lack of self-confidence and fear of failure is just another way of telling God you don’t trust him or telling your spouse that what he says has no value. It can kill a marriage.

So here I am continually in awe of all the changes I have gone through: a new husband, new job (literally I accepted a new position right around the time I got engaged!),new commute, new house, new neighborhood, new name. So many other new things thrown at someone who doesn’t even deal with small changes that well. Yet, with Christ, I have been thriving. And, while being a new wife has thrown all sorts of fuel to the fire of my ever-present enemy (perfectionism), I have learned how to give myself grace.

I am learning to “go with the flow” and let the waves roll over me. Maybe I never will fully process everything I have been through. Maybe the reality of marriage will never fully set in; maybe I won’t “wake up” and be able to live in the moment of my wonderful reality. Maybe my low self-esteem problem and addiction to perfectionism will haunt me til kingdom come. Maybe I will still have the same addictions and skeletons in the closet. Maybe the boxes will stay strewn around the house. Maybe my new husband and I will never agree which tupperware to give and which to throw away or never find an answer to the infestation of fruit flies…Maybe. But I doubt it. We’ve seen God’s mercies at work already in our new marriage. We’ve seen him at work in our lives so fully before we got together and saw how he wove our relationship together from the very start. We are dreaming big about the future even with all of our stresses and never-ending amounts of work. Through the chaos, the messes and the fruit flies, I have learned to say, “It is well with me” and “God is good.” I hope you, too, are able to see the goodness and accept the Lord’s favors and grace in your life!

Advertisements

>Past

>I keep deleting what I am going to say. I took a free Enneogram thingy last night and I think I am number 4: “The Individualist” which could explain why I rarely write on here or share my true self with that many people:

The Individualist: The introspective, romantic type. Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.

Who knows if anyone reads this. While I write, I simultaneously and desperately hope and fear that people will read this.

I am in Wausau, Wisconsin visiting my parents. In the last few days, old things have come in to haunt me. In many ways I am healthy, thanks be to the Only One who can turn Ugliness into Beauty. I praise my Savior for changing me, even though I highly doubt anyone in my life really notices. For the first time in 9 years, I am not on an antidepressant and have felt more emotionally and physically healthy than I can ever remember! (Although maybe not a lot of people realize it because I unfortunately tend to complain a lot…at least I am aware of it!)

Despite my freedom (overall) from depression, things from my past still have their wretched claws gripping my heart. It seems everywhere I look I hear and see babies, engagement rings, people kissing, and white dresses. Is that ever going to be me? I feel like a few different people because while I have no desire to date and could not imagine having a couple of kids and being forced to cook and clean for a man…I am aching to at least HAVE THE OPTION of doing those things. And I don’t. At least at the age I am now…because if any of that happens I know in my heart it won’t be for at least 5 years. What’s wrong with that you might ask. Most of the time, I encourage myself with that very thought: “It’s not too late.” and “It WILL happen for you. It just may be ten years later than you’ve always dreamed.” But then some weird thing inside me says, “Look at how you have failed. It won’t happen.” Then my combating answer, “You’re right-it won’t if I keep repeating history. But with God’s hand, there will be a miracle. I will learn how to love.” (Because that’s what I think the problem is with me and men. Granted I know, I am not totally to blame in my failed relationships but there’s one common denominator in all of them: me. And for some reason I can’t love a guy because of all my negative thoughts toward him and it needs to change!)

I feel like I am going in circles. Today in my personal journal I was reflecting on how I don’t want to open my past because it’s too painful, but yet I NEED to in order to figure out what my problem is…because it will just come out and continue to haunt me if/when I decide to date again (it already does and I’m not even dating).

I felt like I was getting closer to being free of this lie that my self-worth is dependent on my marital status. Overall, I am. But the last few week old memories have fluttered in (being in my hometown does not always help) and I’ve been feeling angry at myself for not being “over this” and content with who I am. But does being content mean stuffing the crap in your closet? In comparison to what others in my life are dealing with and the disaster in Japan, why would anyone freaking care about my problems?

If you don’t see this posted, it’s because I deleted it. I am “withholding [myself] from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective” but hopefully one day I won’t be this way.

>What is on my Mind

>Well, I had an interesting day today. A friend of mine ended up subbing at the same middle school with me and we actually team taught (I was the regular math sub and she was the ELL sub) just for one period. It was fun to see her and have someone to eat lunch with! She and I go way back, but anyway, that’s for a different day. It was very bizarre for me to be “working” with her…She said the same thing.

Unfortunately, my day kind of went downhill after that. It is a very hard school, with students that are ethnically diverse and have lots of behavior problems. That probably would not be an issue if the periods weren’t 85 minutes AND I did NOT recieve a prep (break) period NOR did I get paid for it. But I stuck it out and now I am fried. The last period was so intense. Kids talking, shrieking, laughing, yelling, coming in and leaving, throwing things, breaking things, all the while, I am trying to keep them on task. Luckily, there were kids from the high school that were helping. But I still felt like everything was going crazy. I spent the entire day taking huge deep breaths, but, of course, I messed up a lot. At the end of the day, a very large boy really scared me and ended up acting really inappropriately with a female student, so I got him out of the room. For the last fifteen minutes of the day, students were supposed to be cleaning up the trashed room. There was a broken sharpener smashed, little blue pieces all over the floor. Ripped papers. One student dumped a pile of ripped up papers over the head of another girl. Another girl dumped a bunch of little pieces of papers from her desk onto the floor. No idea why. It was-to say the least-chaotic. I found myself going into my usual out-of-body state. Like I was watching something out of a movie. I can’t control it, but it is definitely real. The best part was getting my name changed from Ms. Bettger to Ms. Butt. Like they literally erased my name on the board and wrote that. Haha. I am just glad no one got seriously hurt and that my day is over. I made sure to leave a nice long note for the teacher, as I usually do.

Even though it was hard, I am now home and can laugh about it and know that I don’t have to go back if I don’t want to. (But I probably will.)And I was able to sit and relax on the deck on a beautiful afternoon with my roommates! And, believe it or not, the hardest days I have subbing, usually CANNOT compare with how EVERY SINGLE day was for me as a teacher of inner-city Kindergarten last year, that being, COMPLETE HELL. Yes, it’s hard to believe I made it through nine months alive! THat’s why I try to take these days as a treasure, these days I can come home, with no lesson planning, grading, classwork, parents to deal with, awww, yes. I can just relax, at least try to! Although I still feel like a failure a lot of the time as a sub and want to do a perfect job, I usually forget about it, whereas last year, I had a very unsupportive principal to deal with who was always breathing down my neck. (No wonder I didn’t last at that school).

Another thing on my mind is, as always, marriage and babies. Yes, I found out when she showed up today, that my friend, the other sub, is having a baby. She and her husband got married last July. I am happy for them. I just still cannot believe it…(you would have to know the history behind the two of us, but that is a book to one day be written!) A few years ago, I never would have guessed where she and I are today.

Besides just the wierdness of being with my friend in a school classroom, I have to say I had a very familiar feeling of … envy (that she is pregnant) … creep over me subconsciously and tried to push it away. Again and again.

In fact, I laid in bed last night and thought (again) of all the young women in my life who have found their “perfect someone” and are now trying to or are having children. I tried so hard to pray for forgiveness for perhaps having negative thoughts toward them, but I could not help but feel the intense but very familiar pain. OF not measuring up. Even though, in my MIND, my worth has nothing to do with my status as a single, it will take maybe til my dying day to understand this in my heart. Especially when you work in a profession in which everyone is a woman, and all they talk about is marriage and baby raising…

Bleh. Deep breath. I need to find some single women who share my pain! Luckily the tears aren’t burying me alive like they were last night.

>On Being Single

>I am going to write about something quite personal. Not that anyone reads this, but I hope it encourages maybe at least one person. I have recently decided to stop dating. At least at this time in my life. So here it is: I am single, and increasingly, I am proud of it.

This is how I ended my personal journal/prayer today: “I never dreamed I’d be here. Sitting alone on my bed age 25 1/2, no husband or kids, no full time job, college loans not paid off, living in a dark, warm, rattly basement room with two single 30-something women. And I’d never dreamed that I’d be, what was that, content?”

That is, almost content.

I am so sick of mommy blogs. Okay, so when I find myself not working like today (again), I read blogs, a lot of them written by married women with young children. I have some favorites that you can find on my blog roll. I like them because they are entertaining, yes, the kids are adorable, and I like getting ideas for cooking, crafts, etc. Some I read so often, I feel like I almost know the people. But when I look at these blogs, bad thoughts play in my head at times. Bad thoughts I have come to find quite common.

That is me, that is supposed to be me.

Who ever said I was supposed to be them anyway? Well, this is a very touchy subject. But the pain, thanks be to God, has ever decreased over time and I can talk about it now.

It goes back to what a lot of you women remember growing up. Well, for as long as I can remember, I wanted to have babies. I’ve come to realize it’s because my mom was the oldest of five kids, my dad in the middle of four, and so there were always women having babies in our family. I just loved them. I remember for a long time, there was a new baby every year in our family (on either or both sides). I was a typical little girl, with lots of dolls. As I grew up it turned into, my goal in life was not only to have babies, but to find that “perfect someone” to have babies with. Okay, so it wasn’t my number one goal, but it was ALWAYS in the back of my mind in my early teens, then into high school and college. Especially as I came to realize when many of the women (grandma, mom, aunts) met and married their spouses. Quite young. Met in their teens and married by age 20 or 21.

As a child, I idealized women and, regrettably, I still do. (That’s why this blogging business can be dangerous.) My mom, aunts, cousins, grandma, teachers, babysitters, and all the women in my favorite movies and shows, especially Dr. Quinn, Laura Ingalls, and Anne of Green Gables.

With all these women, there was usually one similarity. They had a man. And if they didn’t (by a certain age), something was wrong with them. You see, one of my biggest fears is that people might see me the way I saw single, unmarried women. AS a child, I remember feeling pleasure that a teacher was “Mrs.” but if she was “Miss” or “Ms.” something must be wrong. If the teacher was “Ms.” that meant she was divorced and if she was “Miss” and not reasonably young I would think, “Why is she not married? Is she not pretty enough?” blah blah blah.

Somehow in my thoughts and observations as a young girl, I came to believe this is what it means to be beautiful and worthy: to have a wonderful man at your side and to have his babies. While I still struggle now to dismiss this as a lie, I am so proud of how far I have come!

I still wonder when I see beautiful women how or why they are single. But then I am reminded, Oh yeah. I’m a beautiful woman and single. (In fact, I’ve been asked this so many times in my life.) So in a way, it’s kind of nice to have support and be supported by people like me.

That brings me to a point of frustration: I wish there were more blogs out there that are written by people like me: mid 20s, single, and not that content about it! It seems almost every blog is young, married and trying to get pregnant; young, married with kids; or older 30s, married with kids. There are a few that are young and newly engaged or married, and even fewer that are college age. Even less I have found are older than 40. Okay there are a few that are single and 20s, but they seem more the partyer hard core type, not the traditional-at-heart like I am. While I enjoy reading all different types of blogs, it would be nice to find a few like mine! (But at least I have my friend Becca’s blog. She and I are kind of in the same boat, I think!)

Thanks for listening to my scoop on singlehood. If you’re there, hang on, I understand!