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!

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My blank page

My very first entry in this new space. Blank pages always haunt me. I am so desperate to get something out but I never end up with what I had in mind to begin with. There is a stereotype of “bloggers” which sometimes keeps me from writing and that is “people who blog are very self-absorbed.” I have to admit I am a self-absorbed person much of the time even when I don’t blog. Lately I have been poked and prodded mostly by my own soul to write more. It’s one of a few things that I liked consistently (besides reading) for as long as I can remember. While reflecting on my own and with my counselor, I realized writing is one of the main things I get passionate about.

I have been struggling to uncover my “life’s work.” The blank page I stare at before writing is kind of like my life right now. There are so many things that could appear on the page in a matter of minutes, but I am terrified as to what the result will be. Yet at the same time I am exhilarated. I am not sure if anyone can quite understand what I mean unless they are me or God…or maybe have been through what I have.

There is a significant piece of my life that is slowly drifting away. Because that something was there, I was held in bondage. My future-if, in my mind, I even had one, was fixed, held, grilled into my brain. I saw the “prize” and went for it, all the while stumbling, drowning, like a crazy drunkard. I wanted to reach some end goal that I believed was my dream. If I reached my dream, I would achieve what my soul desperately craved: joy, peace and freedom. But whenever I reached the so called dream (attending college, graduating from college, getting a boyfriend, getting my first job, etc. etc. etc.) I was left with nothing beautiful. I was left with only that something-my closest and yet most wretched of friends. That something is depression, an ugliness I have battled for over ten years.

For the first time in a decade, I truly feel I am free. The freest I have ever been. THANK YOU, GOD!

Right now I am thinking of all the possible things listeners are thinking when they hear about “depression” or “people who struggle with depression.” They may think, as I often do, “depression” is a walking cliche. Why couldn’t I have been struck with something less common or less heard about? Can we move on to something new?

Other responses from people that perhaps have depression is #1) that I am in denial. When you are in the muckiest of muck, you really do not feel you will ever get to the place that I am. And, that may lead to an even more likely response #2) that I did not suffer like you have suffered. I have to agree that I go from questioning whether I really truly suffered (or if it was “all in my head”) to thinking that I am just telling myself I am fine. More about my healing later…as this is a huge topic, one I will not be able to contain in this blog.

Due to depression being in the background rather than the foreground of my life defining every thing that I did, I am a totally different person. Similar to the prisoners who were released from death row in the film Shawshank Redemption, I am entering a new world, and it is scary. The “dreams” I always had as a child, teen, and young adult, I have come to realize were not dreams after all, just things to build me up so I could try to achieve love, attention, and acceptance from people (from whom I usually already had love, attn and acceptance).

So I am trying to rediscover my dreams. I do not know if my current job as an elementary Spanish teacher is a job I am called to do. I have doubts about the graduate program I am in (special education). I have always dreamed of marrying and having children at a young age, but now I know that was faulty thinking. I do believe I will marry and maybe have one child, but I do not have a timeline. I try to enjoy each moment as it comes because I will never get this one moment back. I will never again be single and in my 20s! It has been amazing to see what God has done as I have been less frantic about finding a man and simply enjoying His presence through the wonderful people I have been meeting lately.

The one dream I had as a child and continue today (I believe it is a “real” dream) is to be a writer. I do not know what that consists of. I would like to publish something but I know I have a long way to go. The biggest thing is God has given me many gifts and He is directing me to share them despite my terror. I went through what I did and there’s no way to take it back. I have been looking for ways to let people know they are not alone. Because of where I am in life, I believe I have more of an opportunity to do that than I have ever and maybe ever will!  To God be the Glory because without Him, I would literally be dead…He has done miraculous things in my life and I often feel so unworthy. If you are interested in my journey through depression, I hope to post more on that soon!

>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.

>New Things

>My mind is busy as always. The last two weekends were pretty fun. I went to IL to see family. Got to stay with my beloved cousin, Becca and her husband Dan. It was refreshing to get away. Then, on Monday, my first day of Teacher Workshop Week, a really bad cold hit, from which I am still recovering.

My parents came this past weekend, as well as some friends from out of town. Although a little overwhelmed with thoughts and discussions with my parents about theology, my weekend was, for the most part, refreshing.

Tomorrow I start my first day of teaching at my new job. I also started my Special Ed grad program last week. Lots of thoughts are floating around about faith, God, and Christianity; getting back into teaching; people with disabilities and why I decided to go into special education; depression/mental health; my upcoming trip to OR for my brother’s wedding; relationships with friends; and an important decision I must make about a particular relationship with a good friend who happens to be a guy.

I am feeling mostly at peace about all of these new things. But the dreariness outside has put me in a strange mood. I feel tranquility that is on the edge of a kind of nothingness, blah-ness. I want to be ready for my week but it’s like there is a strange something blocking my path toward awareness. I would like to get out of this funk but I am not sure where to turn or what to do.

>Lonely but at Peace

>A few weeks ago I had the deepest feelings of loneliness I remembered having in a very long time. I cried and cried my heart out to God. I did feel sad but it didn’t feel like depression as much as just this aching emptiness. I was supposed to go to this event with a friend and she backed out of it at the last minute. It was a “Wellness Picnic” hosted by the chiropractor/wellness place I go to. And it was too last minute to ask anyone else, beside the fact that not very people in my life are interested in this sort of thing. For almost nine weeks I have battled internally if I should even be going to this place. Since I started going my anxiety and OCD tendencies (obsessive thoughts) have gotten way worse. I have been extremely ambivalent and pulled in two different directions, wondering if on the one hand I am going overboard with my health concerns (that are now obsessions) but yet wanting to take care of this body God has given me and seek solace and freedom from my many maladies. I have felt utterly ALONE in this process because everyone in my life is on one side of the fence or the other (the majority thinking this place has made me more anxious and obsessed and I should stop going).

SO the Saturday of the picnic when my friend (my one “health nut” friend who lives nearby) backed out, I was torn. My parents were in town and I knew I’d see them tomorrow but felt I “should” be with them instead of going to some thing where I didn’t know anyone. I did end up going and it was okay. The talk on “Spine Fitness” was good and I picked up some tips. But I didn’t meet anyone my age in my situation as I’d hoped. In fact there weren’t very many people there at all. I quickly got over my extreme sadness after the event and during work at the group home that evening.

But I still struggle with this intense loneliness off and on. Mostly due to this health battle, depression/anxiety battle, and what faith/God has to say about it. Feel quite misunderstood and discouraged by both the people who seem to know me and care about me best AND by these new people who I feel have some hidden knowledge and I’m struggling whether or not to trust them. Also because I don’t have a significant other with which to share these intense struggles. 😦

I don’t feel lonely very often because I am an introvert. Being alone is something I love. Even when I was seriously dating I had to be alone many nights a week (this drives a boyfriend mad, I realize.) I am so dragged down when I am around lots of noise, commotion, and chaos also because I am an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) (See one of my links to right if you’re wondering what that is.)

A blog friend of mine said to talk about my birthday party. I wanted to put up pics but I am house sitting so I don’t have them handy. I had a really crazy weekend (half of the events I’d planned ended up being cancelled due to a 3-day migraine–my body’s way of telling me “too much!” I suppose). But Sunday I was feeling better and had a birthday get together at a nearby place called Chatterbox Pub (I planned the event myself). I had written to God in my journal earlier, “I am going to have caffeine and maybe a little alcohol because I want to be like my outgoing, extroverted friends.” And, being that I am extremely sensitive to caffeine because I no longer have it, my one cup of tea had me wired for the evening! We had a great time. I couldn’t believe about twenty of my friends showed up. Less than two years and a few months ago, I knew only two of these people. I am very blessed that God directed me to the church I am at now (Woodland Hills) and these wonderful people. We had yummy food, played games and of course the best part: karaoke! Only a very few people were actually interested so that was a bummer, but we still had a good time. After there was only me and few people left, we decided to leave, but I still felt insatiable like I wished I could keep singing the whole night. I knew it had to do with caffeine and my love for singing, but this energy and desire kind of scared me. That night I ended up awake until 4:30 a.m. the next day but I didn’t even have a migraine the next day. Thank you God!

During my party I didn’t have any of the obsessions about food or health and really was able to relax with my wonderful friends. Even the food I had didn’t affect me negatively (like most restaurant food does). Hallelujah!

After that night, I felt a bit of a let down. Because as always I was searching for something to fill me up. Of course it wasn’t wrong to go out and have fun…but I can’t really get into that here. I spent a few days with my parents in WI and that was good. Now I am house/dog-sitting for some friends of mine and again feel kind of lonely but at the same time glad to have it quiet and relax some.

Lots of thoughts and some neck and hand pain (from typing) but I am so glad to be at peace now.

>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!