Why You Don’t Deserve That Apology (a post for couples)

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Crap Mountain. We’ve all been there. Its that place that when you find a tiny piece of crap and then more and more mounts up and it becomes a long and arduous climb to the stinkiest, most disgusting, stomach turning, vomit producing peak of your marriage to date. Its at this peak, the place you swore you and your spouse would never, ever get to, that your thinking can turn a little… well… sour. (*Please note that not taking out the trash, turning the toilet paper around the right way, forgetting to call on the way home, or coming home 30 minutes passed when they said they would does not constitute you having climbed Crap Mountain.)

For the sake of simplicity, lets say you are the one who was wronged by your partner. Their crap has built the very foundation of the mountain you are standing on. It wasn’t an overnight process more than likely. Their stank has seeped out onto you and you are wearing hurt, pain, embarrassment, lack of self-esteem, resentment, tears, and much more like the nastiness that covers a garbage truck after a long 4th of July weekend. Its ain’t pretty.

You stand atop Crap Mountain and your thoughts initially may go several different ways:

1. “Oh, it’s on!” Here you envision yourself flinging the biggest turd you can find back at your partner. And you keep flinging more at them over and over and over until you have reached the bottom of the mountain and they are buried under it.

2. “Where’s my helicopter?” This is where you start making exit plans. Running away, divorce, separation, whatever it takes to protect yourself and leave them high and dry.

3. “Go Tell it on the Mountain” Here you decide that the best way for others not to smell the crap on you that your partner has brought is to start announcing it to all who can hear from your peak. Oh, you tell it like it is… from your perspective. Surely, surely, no one would look sideways at you for just being honest. 

 Regardless of where your thoughts initially took you I would bet that what you want out of all of this is an honest and sincere apology. Well, I need to break it to you… you don’t deserve it. Not a single one.

**Before you start throwing punches at me let me clarify that sincere and heartfelt apologies coming from the “offender” are helpful and most certainly encouraged often and in detail (no generic apologies).

Consider this, while atop Crap Mountain, your partner senses you are looking for an apology. Often the cold shoulder, no sex, snide remarks, etc. are good indicators. If, then, your partner says a generic apology and you have to ask them to be more specific about what they are sorry for… is that hearfelt and sincere on their part? Nope. They are just trying to make the decent from the peak less miserable. (Oh? You forgot about the decent? Yeah, you gotta get off this thing one way or another. Like I tell my neighbors, your dog’s crap does not melt away in the snow. You have to get rid of it yourself.)

What you do want is to see God make a heart-change in your partner. One of humbleness, confession and authenticity. One that remembers what a precious, rare and remarkable jewel Christ sees you (Yes, YOU!) as. A heart-change that will illicit an apology better than the one you feel you deserve.

God deserves to be honored by the marriages he ordains. That gives him glory! Christ deserves the apology from your spouse that says, “Lord forgive my selfish, disgusting, and hateful ways that have blinded me from the love you have poured out on me, the grace that you wash me with every moment of the day. Please help me to see my partner through your eyes so that I can love him/her the way you love me”. 

Christ is the only one in your marriage that deserves that apology. But he does want you to have it as well. He wants you to have a marriage that is far from Crap Mountain. But the only way you get there is to stop thinking about what you deserve. Even when you are the one that has been wronged (Yes, I do speak from experience personally and in my professional work). How is your partner suppose to be self-reflective if all you really want them to do is think about you and what needs to be said in that elusive apology that will make all things right (it won’t).

If you find your marriage atop Crap Mountain start thinking like a Christ-like couple and jump in a bobsled together to get off this thing. No one has a game plan, timeline, or whatever so do it in a way that keeps Christ as the focus and the dignity of your marriage in tact. if it takes a week or a year or several years I promise you that getting down and away from this mountain takes you to a much better, healthier, happier and less stinky place – and it will be worth it.  

Make your priorities this:

Love God. Love others. Love yourself.

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A Letter to the Working Dad

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Dear Working Dad, Much attention is given to the Stay-at-Home-Mom (SAHM) and the Working Mom about the struggles, the guilt and the choices they have made. What about you? Where do you fit in? Everywhere in our day. From the moment I pull my toddler out of bed until breakfast is on the table I get questions like…      Is Dad here?      Is he at work?      Did he drive his car to work?      Is Dad here? (Hoping for a different answer)      Where did Dad go? (Praying I will say ‘Just to the bathroom’ or ‘In the garage’) And so it goes until he is satisfied that my answer are true and unchangeable. Though, throughout the day, I will be told that he is making a Lego catapult for you when you get home from work or that I am not doing something quite the way you would do it. And I don’t mind one bit because it tells me you have made such a personal and loving impact on our child already. Then, around lunch time, the barrage of questions listed above begin again with more intensity (nap time is coming, mind you). But these questions have a different tone by this point in the day. Instead of being investigative of your whereabouts the questions have become concerning the reason of your absence. These are the ones I love to answer. Why did Dad go to work, Momma? …because Dad is a hard worker and he goes to work so that we can live in our comfy house, play with your toys, wear the clothes we have and eat the yummy food we’re eating. Isn’t Dad so good to us? A few more questions will arise about if you’ll play with him and what we will all do when you get home. We moms have thoughts of you, too. Usually around nap time… when we get a little bit of energy back… we think sexy thoughts. We have high hopes that the remainder of the day will go as planned and our energy level will stay up so that when the kids are officially down for the count we will take off our Mom & Dad hats and be us again. Sexy, frisky, romantic us. Lingerie, dim lights, snug in each other’s arms… zzzzzzzzzzzz…. snrmk gnahhh zzzZZZZ… Dear, sweet, loving and hard-working Dad, you are very much a presence throughout our day and your time away from home does not go unnoticed. The world generally expects that a short time after the birth (3-5 days) you will throw yourself back into your work as if nothing in your life has changed. But, oh! It has, hasn’t it? Your thoughts are with your sleep-deprived and exhausted wife (double this for every additional child thrown into the family mix) who is desperately trying to balance out her post-pregnancy hormones while getting to know her new routine. You feel guilt for leaving her to scramble, you miss holding the new baby and being there during the day. You dream up with some way that you cam make millions instantly and both be Stay-at-Home-Parents. We moms have dreamt up the same kooky plans. We also miss you being by our side. Not only because we are devastatingly bleary-eyed and tired and have had to search for our coffee cup three times in an hour (fridge, pantry and in the upstairs bathroom). We miss you because we know how precious these days are. These years. We miss you because the combined joy of both of us oohing and ahhing over how our children are the most amazing children in the world is always far better than thinking that alone during the day. Our days at home are not easy. They are long. They are exhausting. They make us cry in front of our children and hysterically sitting in the dark of the closet. But we are thankful for them and we are most thankful for you… even when we forget to say it as we throw the kids at you when you walk into the door and “go use the restroom” for 30 minutes. 30 minutes of no one staring at us as we pee or crying for us as we take a much coveted shower. So, thank you. For your dedication to provide for our family, for the personal sacrifice you make to be away from us 50 hours a week (though in our more snarky moments we may resent you – you lucky jerk). We are thinking of you all day long and are always thrilled when you come home. Love, The SAHM and kids P.S. We promise the sexy-energy will return. Sometimes in spurts. That last one day. But it will return.    

Hoping for Change, Praying for Static

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As I look back over my 34 years of existence I can honestly say that almost nothing ever stayed the same. I have lived in 18 homes (11 with my family, 5 on my own and 2 with my husband) and nine cities. 17 jobs in 18 years. Growing up, money was not a constant. Where my family lived was fluid. Whether or not and where my Dad worked was always up in the air. I learned resiliency quickly and I learned to pray hard.

This lifestyle has been a blessing and a curse at times. It created a dreamer’s complex – if a situation was bad I would dream up how I wished it could be better and how I’d make it better. It helped me develop the ability to have a pity party then (somewhat) quickly dust myself off and keep going. I learned how to make the most of what I had – if you can’t buy new furniture just rearrange what you have in every single possible way.

The curse? It created a dreamer’s complex – I’m never satisfied with what is and am always plotting how I want things to change. It helped me develop the ability to have a pity party – I never gave honor to the pain I was feeling or that others I loved were feeling and I could leave them in the dust without a second thought. I learned to make the most of what I had – I tried to control every situation and make my own rational conclusions instead of allowing God to enter into the equation and Be.

Recently, my husband and I had conversation about how nothing is ever static and how it seems like it would be so peaceful and nice if life could just be predictable and calm. I just don’t know if “static” is a part of my make-up! I have been a SAHM for a total of 4 months. That is not a lot of time. For anyone. But, I am on the brink of the possibility of accepting a new job. That would make it job #18 in 18 years.

Why am I doing this to myself? My whole life… WHOLE LIFE… all I have ever wanted was to be in a position (of financial stability) where I could stay at home and raise my babies. Well, welcome to that dream! It’s here! Its bright and happy and creative and adorable and perfect. But so is this carrot dangling in front of me. And so I bite. And I regret. And then a take a bigger bite of the carrot until, it seems, I must have the whole dang thing.

I have many ideas of what God looks like… when I think of him watching over me. Often, I assume, his head is in his hands saying, “Why doesn’t she understand this by now!” I also presume he is laughing his butt off at my hope for change in my life whether it’s a new way to express my creativity, the desire for a new house, another vacation, moving back to Texas or another child. And, in the next breath, I pray for things to remain static. Predictable. No surprises.

I then I feel the nudge. I feel God’s presence reminding me the He is constant. He is predictable. He is and always will be unchanged. Then I draw a deep breath that fills every square inch of my lungs and fight back the tears and the guilt of still believing that it’s not enough.

I am a hungry soul. I hunger for the best conversations, meals, vacations, romantic moments, family pictures, games that will make my son bellow with the deepest laugh. I hunger to mean something to the people around me, to make a difference, have a purpose. I hunger. I ache.

Do you? What do you hunger for? What strips away the ability to accept amazing grace God desires to pour out on you every single moment of the day? Today, I will work on being still. When I pick up my son from school in 45 minutes I will be present with him where he is at and not frustrated that he is not where I want him to be. I will take delight that I have the ability to care for my home during the day instead of cramming in chores in the evening vs. spending time with my husband. And, most importantly, I will take the time to meet God in His word and in our gathering place of prayer.

TMB: I’m Still Trying to Figure It Out

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Well, who ever you are that sent me the kind message that lit a fire under me to get back to this blog – thank you. You have no idea what impeccable timing you had. My son was 6 months old that last time I wrote. He is now 20 months old and more amazing than I ever thought. Motherhood is more amazing than I ever thought.

I’m not sure if this is a common feeling but I often see motherhood and the rest of my life as separate from each other. What I mean to say is, I think I safeguard my child in a way that is separate from the rest of existence. Is this motherly instinct? A way of protecting and preserving that which is most important to me? Maybe.

As great as its been being Nico’s Mom, it’s been a ridiculously tough year for me personally. Things change – I get it. But MAN! Can’t a woman get a break?!? As a therapist, I see many hearts broken, relationships severed, unhappiness, sadness, frustration, confusion… you name it. But I would venture to say that my personal life for the past year has been the toughest for me to deal with.

So, what is TMB? I really can’t say. God’s grace and protection more than anything I suppose. It seems that every month in 2013 started out with me saying, “Maybe this month will be better.” And it ended with me saying, “Maybe next month will be better.” But it hasn’t been. At. All.

Now, this is not me throwing a pity party. Believe me, I did that in January when I had my first miscarriage. I did that in February when I had to terminate an employee that I genuinely liked. I did that in March when my Dad got ran over with a tractor and my parent’s house caught on fire and then we had to put their dog down (true story, I kid you not). I also had a brief pity party in April when I found out my heart condition grew a tiny bit worse (nothing to really worry about as this is the first time its happened in my entire life).

I know, it sure sounds like a pity party. But, here we are at the end of May… just when I thought I actually would get a “happy” month. I had a lovely trip to Texas to see family, the weather has been getting warmer, I planted some beautiful flowers… and **BOOM**!!! The biggest bomb that has ever rocked my world occurred. So, big that I am not ready to share it or even sure if I ever will. So, let’s refer to this as “the biggest bomb” moving forward.

Sheesh… what a depressing post. I am sure that the sweet person who encouraged me to write again is banging their head against the computer key board right about now. But, let’s see if I can salvage this…

God is good. When everything else in our life seems madly out of control. When it feels like we are living in a really bad dream or we are just waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out telling us we’ve been punked. When we feel like the only way out is to run and hide and pretend like nothing every happened… and yet we stay put. We resolve that God’s ways are better than ours and we begin to feel His presence washing over us, guiding us and protecting us. Then, we remember, again, just how amazing our God is.

I really felt/feel that I am at a point where if any other bombs get dropped or anything changes negatively I might just crumble into a pile of dust. And then my Savior reminds me that He’s got my back, He is my strength. And I can be still knowing that truth.

I am a romantic in the sense that I always believe things will work out for the best – whatever that means. That, at the end of my life, I will look back and be pleased with what God has done in my life. Life might have shaken me this year but I am holding steady. Thanks to God, thanks to my best friend Jennifer.

Here’s to more optimistic posts. This might just be the therapy that gets me through.

Be Strong. Be Brave. Be Still.

Stephanie

TMB: It’s the Little Things.

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It’s the little things that remind me of what I’m suppose to be doing, be grateful for, focus on, etc. I think, so often, I am looking for some big, hug ol’ sign that guides me to make choices. As if flashing lights and signs should appear for me to know the answer to my questions. But, more often than not, small things happen that show me my course of action.

Nico is 6 months old now. It has taken half a year for me to “get back” to myself – and I still don’t think I am quite back just yet. Just last week I was able to admit to my friends and husband that I am dealing with post-partum depression. Why did I wait so long? Because I’m a counselor who has counseled women on this topic, because I’m in denial, because I’m an idiot, because I want to appear to have it all together, because I don’t want my some to pick up on my emotions. It could be any of these reasons depending on the day.

Now, if you’ve ever had depression, you’re probably imagining me stuck in bed, not wanting to get out and see friends, crying all day long, not having the energy to shower, etc. But that’s not what is going on. It’s as simple as this: My. Hormones. Are. Nutso. Yep, that’s purely clinical terminology there, folks. But, seriously, its my hormones that haven’t returned. A dear friend asked if I could change anything in my life to make me happier what would it be. And, in all honesty, nothing. I recognize how good my life is, there is nothing I would change, my husband is amazing, my son is so stinkin’ perfect…. Well, with the exception that he never sleeps. So, lack of sleep does not help me in any way shape or form.

This is different. But, its the little things that keep me on course. It’s an old friend asking me out of the blue if I blog (Ugh, do I blog… I have A blog. Better get to work on it so I can say I blog!), its a friend who brought me coffee and a muffin one morning so I could pour my heart out, its another friend who is a seasoned mother and wife that was brave enough to ask me tough questions to get me talking in the first place, it’s my son’s face the first time he ever saw me cry that reminded me that I needed to care for myself so I can care for him. Its a prayer said for me that I didn’t even know about, a smile, a hug.

If you have ever had a child and you know the hormone roller coaster I speak of, God bless your heart. If it’s lasted until your child was 6 months or older I’d love to hear how you dealt with it.

Life is good. My hormones suck. But, most importantly, I still see this moment’s blessings.

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TMB: A Baby…

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That’s right. This moment’s blessing is that Brian and I have been blessed with a healthy pregnancy that is in its 15th week. And we couldn’t be more thrilled! And scared, and giggly, and hopeful. So, no, I didn’t abandon my blog completely – just until I could gather my wits about me enough to muster up something to write here.  So, since this moment’s blessing is about our baby, I thought I would write to him/her and officially welcome them with a letter from my heart.

Dear Wee lil’ Wiese,

We found out you were a part of our life on January 20th – the night we were packing our bags to go on a ski trip to see your Uncles David and Stephen and your Aunt Danielle. I left your dad in the bathroom with the pregnancy test because I couldn’t stand to see the words “not pregnant” come up again. I sat on the bed in our bedroom waiting… and waiting… and waiting. Slowly, your dad walked out of the bathroom, stick in hand, then slowly and softly told me the most beautiful two words I had ever heard, “We’re pregnant!” What a glorious moment we shared crying, laughing, sharing looks of joy and fear and happiness and elation. Then more crying because we so desperately wanted you to be a part of our life for such a long time. God is good – you learn that quickly and never forget that, you hear? God is so good and His timing is always better than ours.

When we found out about you we were just 4 weeks and 3 days along in our pregnancy. Now, as I write, you are a healthy little one of 14 weeks and 2 days. Or, as I like to say, 15 weeks. Sounds much better. Nevertheless, you are little and no one can even notice you in my belly just yet – except daddy and me. But, despite your small size, you have already made a major impact on my life. I was never that nauseous but man have I been tired and needing sleep much more than before. Daily afternoon naps are a must!

We’ve had 2 doctor appointments already. The first was on February 25th with Dr. Druhan. We got to see you on an ultrasound! Yes, I cried! I stared at that picture all day, and the next. I couldn’t believe you were real. We spent the rest of the day calling your grandparents and aunts and uncles to tell them you were strong and healthy. Then we went baby furniture shopping. Our second appointment was on March 25th and this time we got to hear your heart beat. Oh, how I needed to hear it! But, just as the doctor found your little beating heart, mommy laughed and you hid somewhere in my belly that we couldn’t hear you again for a minute. Then, you reappeared and let us hear you again – until I started laughing.

I feel as if I have already met you and have fallen in love with you. I talk to you everyday and sing to you. I learn all I can about what you’re doing in my belly – so amazing. And I pray for you daily without fail. Mommy and Daddy are even taking a class on how to teach you about God. You are much-loved by so many already, little one.