I did NOT think that there would be this much stuff to do right before the wedding.

I purposefully and intentionally planned my projects so that I would have little to nothing going on right before... but with doctor's appointments and last minute meetings and details, there is more going on than I'd like.

Today would have worked out so perfectly, had I not had a flat tire on my car and had to deal with getting that fixed all throughout the day. Also, the limited mobility issues meant that I was dependent upon others to get me places... which didn't work out badly. It was just draining, taking several spoons that I can't spare right now.

I'm so tired... deep to the core exhausted in a way I can't really describe. Sure, I'm looking forward to the wedding, but I'm pretty much "done". I can't wait for the day to arrive so I don't have to put any more work into it. I just want to look pretty and eat cake. Is that too much to ask for??

But I still have a couple of days' worth of work ahead of me...

I'm glad I took the time to rest while I could. I needed a nap so badly today, but never got one. I never even got a rest. Bad girl. I didn't eat very well today either, ingesting hardly anything substantial the whole day. I feel like I didn't hydrate very well, but I drank my liter of water and then some, so I guess I did okay.

The new walking staff C got me at the Ren Faire has been invaluable. My walker doesn't fit in the trunk of Mom's rental car, but I definitely needed some walking support today. But really... when don't I, these days?

Even the thought of making cupcakes is daunting. I feel... overwhelmed. But I think that's just the fatigue talking. I need to get some sleep... and some cuddles.

On the plus side, R came with me to my acupuncture appointment today, and got to hear all about what we're doing, why, and why she needs to see me so often. It was important to me that he hear that, because the treatments are expensive, and while I know he trusts me with the money that he gives me I do want him to know where his money is going and why I must ask for so much. We had a good talk while I rested with the needles in me, but I got soooo sleepy. The treatments break the sympathetic nervous system cycle that my body typically functions in, and it allows the parasympathetic responses to get in there, resulting in a flood of endorphins and other stuff... relaxing me.

Speaking of relaxing, I've got a massage tomorrow. I'm SO looking forward to that. Then we'll all go swimming at Mom and R's hotel pool. I'll need to rest after that, and then S will be coming over for me to do his hair. Maybe I can talk J into making cupcakes for me? She knows how to bake with allergy restrictions... and they can help me put together the favors. So can Mom.

I need to realize that I have helpers here now that I can call upon. I do not have to do it all myself, and I know that I shouldn't be trying! C has been invaluable, now that he is home all day. I'm used to doing everything myself because he's at work all day! :) He is so patient with me, so kind, and he compensates for what I'm unable to do. (Sometimes I feel like he's trying to do too much for me, but I'm not that disabled! I can still do things for myself. We're striking a good balance, though.)

I am going to ask someone to scrub out the bathtub for me, too. It's dirty again, but I need soaks pretty frequently these days, so...

I'm not stressed in a bad way, as many people ask. "Are you stressed?" Nope. But the good stress of this impending life change, with all the business and moving parts and stuff to get done before hand, is really wiping me out.

It's nice, battling good stress for a change!

And with that I'm (hopefully) off to the land of peaceful, sleeping bliss. I've slept pretty hard the past few nights, and I'm looking forward to another night of imitating a log.
Today is usually my busiest day of the week to begin with, so I'm a little apprehensive as to whether I'll make it through in decent form...

Yesterday was an open day-- work canceled, nothing else planned but group-- yet I was flat on my back with pain, fatigue, and nausea by 7:30. I had to leave group early, and the pain was so bad throughout the evening that by bedtime that I was afraid I wouldn't be able to sleep. I slept like a log, though, thank goodness!

Yesterday was a tough pain day. I took more pain killers than usual, and was contemplating taking more at bedtime when the pain was so bad.

But today... today we're meeting with the mortgage company to discuss our options for buying the house (since all that went to hell in a handbasket rather quickly, through no fault of ours), I've got two classes and work today, and then... and then...

My family arrives tonight!!!

Yes, that I'm excited about :D I love my family dearly, so it's been hard to only see them once a year.

When they arrive, they'll be heading over to BJ and F's house to see them before they leave early tomorrow morning for M.

Yes, today is going to be a loooooong day... but so worth it.

Tomorrow, I've got my 2nd acupunture appointment, C and I meet with the officiant, and I'll definitely be hanging out with the family. Oh, and did I mention that the girls and H roll in tomorrow? Yeah! So exciting!

Friday, we'll all be hanging out and swimming at Mom and R's hotel pool, I'm sure. Cupcakes need to be made, H and I need to put our heads together and make sure we're solid for the big day, but other than that, "girls just wanna have fun." Oh, yeah, and my pre-wedding massage is set for Friday, too. I'm SO looking forward to that! (My yoga teacher is the practitioner, and she's pretty much freakin' amazing.)

Saturday, the girls want to go to church and I do not, so while they're at church I'm going to go get my manicure and pedicure. We need to decorate the cupcakes and write on my chalkboard signs, but that's all the wedding prep that needs to happen, except for maybe steaming my dress. Mom and I need to run through my hair and makeup sometime before the wedding, but I don't know what day that's going to happen. We've got the rehearsal Saturday afternoon, and then we're free to do as we like.

I've been debating whether or not to spend the night before the wedding with C, but I dunno... I really want to spend a night with the girls, but it totally doesn't have to be the night before the wedding! As a matter of fact, because of my cold feet and C's remarkable ability to calm me down (and also because all of my meds/food/fibro fighting gear is already at home), it might be best if I spent the night before at home, with C. I can spend Thursday or Friday night over at the place where the girls are staying. I think that's what I'll do.

Sunday, it all breaks loose. My photographer suggested that, because it's Easter, we set up suuuuuper early so that no churches have a chance to horn in on our flat, grassy spot. I was thinking 9 am to begin setup and decorating, she was thinking 7 am. So, happy compromise? Get up at 7, set up some chairs with signs on them that say "Reserved for J-R Wedding" and go back to bed!! lol

Wow. So soon. I somehow felt that I'd have more days with my family and the girls before the wedding, but it's really only a couple. The girls have to leave the day after, with the exception of J, who is flying out right after the ceremony to catch school the next day, but my family is staying an extra couple of days. I'm looking forward to that. Post wedding chilling with my beloved family, and the bonus is that the week after the wedding is my spring break! No classes! Sweeeeeeet.

And it is now time to wake C up and begin the very, very long day that I hope I'll get through alright. I hope I get through all of them alright! I've been a very good girl, so I hope that this hard work pays off. Even if it doesn't... my support system is amazing, and they all understand :) I love that.

Also, with all the stuff going on, and all the people that I love so much around me, I'm almost certainly going to be totally AWOL from the blog world, unless I have something particularly pressing to get off of my chest.

See you on the other side. I'll be Mrs. R. What will you be? ;)
I'm getting that question a lot lately. It makes sense, really, because we're only 5 days away from the wedding.

But the answer is not a simple, "Yes." I don't really know what to say when people ask me that, so I just go with the simple, "Yeah, I'm super stoked!" so I don't have to explain myself.

I mean, it's not that I'm not excited, it just... kinda comes in bursts.

Now, going to the Ren Faire? That was exciting. I was really, really looking forward to that one in the jiggling-in-my-seat-tingling-in-my-stomach way, and I could hardly wait for the day to come. Maybe that's what I'm expecting "excited" to feel like for the wedding, but it's just not there.

I'm looking forward to the reception, because it will be beautiful.

I'm nervous yet happily anticipatory about the song I'm going to surprise C with.

I'm elated to see my family and friends again!

And I am definitely calm and satisfied with the prospect of saying my vows and exchanging rings with the man that I love so dearly, becoming his wife.

But I don't have butterflies, and I'm not jiggling in my seat.

Maybe it's because I planned this. It's like planning a birthday party for yourself. It's really not that exciting. Pleasant, sure. Fun? No doubt. But exciting? Not so much. Exciting is planning a surprise for someone else. Exciting is taking a trip to the Ren Faire and just letting the day happen without having it all planned out to the minute, like the wedding is planned. Exciting is anticipating the faces of my grandparents when they see Peanut for the first time.

So am I excited? Um, sure. Really, though, I'm just going to be relieved once it's over and I'm a wife.

It'll be a fun party, but there are too many moving parts for me to get really, really excited about it. I'm more excited about the wedding night... ;)

(Because of the place my health is at this week, I'm postponing my surprise for C until the official honeymoon weekend. I will, however, still have a lovely surprise for him... and that I'm excited about.)
We got our marriage license today. Now it's starting to feel official! It's hanging on our fridge, just waiting for the big day to come...

I tell you, it still bemuses me a bit how this man can look at me and see past the pain, past the limitations, past the coping mechanisms I've shrouded myself with, right to the core of me... and want to link himself to that for the rest of his life.

We're only nine days out, and I've got cold feet.

Not about marrying C, not at all! It's the thought of "forever" that freaks me out. The thought of, "I can never ever just pick up and leave again."

But then again, there are other, bigger thoughts that crowd those out... like the thought of, "This man has supported me through my lowest lows, has seen me sobbing and disheveled, has borne the brunt of my impatience and insecurity... everything. He's taken everything I and my crazy life/past have thrown at him, and he's still just here. Patient. Unendingly loving and wise. Not going anywhere."

And that's enough to quell the panic that rises inside me. Sure, maybe I'm voluntarily turning myself into a caged bird, but it's that very cage that will hold me up when I fall off my perch, dizzy with fatigue and shaking with pain.

You know, an interesting though struck me the other day... See, I've only just started to identify with the "chronic illness community" because of the fibro, and the disruption in my life makes me crave community and support. I realized, though, that I've had chronic illnesses for quite some time. I mean, the food allergies? Totally a chronic illness. The hypothyroid? Yep. Adrenal insufficiency? For sure.

They limited me in many ways, especially the food allergies. The fatigue was a big problem I had to contend with, but it was nothing like it is now. I just never considered myself as much less than normal, because I could still keep up with the big dogs if I pushed myself enough.

There's really no point to that observation, it was just a small "aha!" moment of mine. No moral to the story, sorry.

Mom and I talked for a good 3 hours the other day! It was really nice to connect with her again... she and I have both been busy, kind of overwhelmed with the stuff going on in our lives... She's got a ton going on, and I believe she's struggling with depression still, and definitely with fatigue. She has discovered that working out consistently and changing some of her eating habits is helping her with that, though, and I'm very glad to hear it.

I told her what happened with BJ, just an overview, but I did mention what was brought up about my having fibro because I left God, allegedly. She thought that I said "because I love God", and she was like, "Oh, I totally agree!"

I was shocked, because I thought she was agreeing with what I said, not what she heard. Rather than just shrug it off, I addressed it, saying, "Ouch, Mom! That is a hurtful statement. Do you really feel that way?"

Of course, she was confused, which led to clarification of what I had actually said, which led to her vehemently opposing the idea. She believes that, basically, I'm being attacked by Satan because I'm a threat. From there, she went on to give me this really, really affirming talk about how she's always felt that I am meant for something great, like I have a big destiny, that I was meant to live a big life.

She felt for a while that, in marrying and settling down with C here in this little town, I was basically settling. Now, though, she really feels that it is the best thing I could be doing, because it gives me the stability and support that I need to really flourish and blossom. She said that no matter where I go or what I do, I'm going to influence people and make an impact, and live a big life. She also pointed out that the fibro has only slowed me down, not stopped me. She said that nothing has or can stop me. Basically, she told me that I was an amazing person who has this incredible power to inspire others, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, and that the bad things that have happened to me really only serve to inspire others more, because they just can't get me down! It was, as I said before, very affirming. Very filling. Incredibly encouraging. I was happy. (Still am!)

When I told C about what Mom said, especially the part where she said that marrying C is the best thing I could be doing with my life, I could tell that it really pleased and affirmed him, too.

I shared with Mom how my perspective on my chronic illnesses is changing. It's much like how my perspective on being abused has shifted over the years. At first, when I was first coming to terms with it, it was devastating. I still have a tough time with it on some days, because the state of illness that I'm in has fundamentally altered my life in many ways. I didn't exactly want my life fundamentally altered, thankyouverymuch! As I've come to grips with it, though, I am starting to view it more through the lens of optimism.

Sure, it's been tough. Very tough. This last flare did not make me happy at all. Living life in constant, intense pain is wearing. I don't like it, and I wouldn't choose it. The sheer exhaustion that comes after doing basic daily tasks that I used to take for granted (even with the fatigue that I experienced previously limiting some activities) is incredibly frustrating, and I would only wish it upon my enemies.

That being said, I have gained so, so much from this experience. I have connected with communities of chronic illness survivors and made some really incredible new friends. We are developing a rich connection that wouldn't be possible if we didn't share something so intimate and difficult as chronic pain and frustrating health conditions. It's like the ladies in my support group-- we are all there for similar reasons, and we can bond because of our pain and our shared will to survive and conquer.

My relationship with C has been strengthened, I think. I know now beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will never waver in his commitment to me. His character and loyalty have been very much tested, and he has proven to be solid gold.

My desire to live an intentional, authentic life has been honed and sharpened. I only have so much energy, so where am I going to put it? What is important to me? My priorities have been refined.

This woman, Stacey Kramer, sums it up beautifully. She survived something incredible (no spoilers here! ^_^), but she can now see it as a gift. That's kind of how I see this debilitating, chronic illness now. It's a gift. A terrible, wonderful gift.

I may have days when I totally don't feel that way, and that's okay, because in the big, grand scheme of things, I really am grateful for the life that I'm living. I am blessed. I love my life, and I am very content. I can say in all honesty that I am the happiest, healthiest (yes, really!) and most authentic that I've ever been.

I talked about that today when I spoke at a domestic violence prevention training. I've survived a ton of crap, but I'm such an awesome person now... how can I not see it as a terrible, wonderful gift? Would I rather not have had to go through it? Hell yes! I would rather NOT have been abused, molested, neglected, and rejected. I would really prefer to live my life without pain hounding my every footstep. (Or foot-shuffle, as the case may be...)

But would I be the person that I am right now if I skipped all those things? Probably not. And I love who I am. I love the life I'm living.

So I choose acceptance. And I choose gratitude. And I choose to accept the gift and make the most of it, in all its terrible, wonderful complexity.

I want to write... I've got thoughts swirling around in my head, sloshing through my veins, and dribbling out my fingertips.

Unfortunately, I've got a bad case of writer's block, brought on by utter exhaustion.

Maybe later tonight... (that's what I keep saying. It's never later.)

Eventually, it'll happen. Until then... *yawn* ...I'm going to go rest some more.
A warm spring night in the desert smells exactly like the taste of a perfect cup of jasmine green tea.
This is a "journal entry" I wrote today on a bride website I'm part of. I kinda want to blog, but I don't have the energy or the thought wherewithal, so... cupcakes it is.

"Is there such a thing as a bad cupcake?

I really didn't think so, until today.
I mean, it's not like they're bad bad, they're just... not great. Not what I had envisioned.
The cupcakes themselves aren't that much of a surprise. I'm not that great of a baker (I do better with the stovetop than the oven, truly), and allergy-friendly baking is challenging for even accomplished bakers. I'm trying to make cupcakes without gluten, soy, most dairy, eggs, citrus, or potatoes, but I found a mix that looked promising.
After substituting the necessary ingredients and hoping for the best, the smell wafting from the kitchen stirred up my optimism. I was hoping that I would defy the odds and pull moist, finely crumbed morsels of tenderness from the oven, just like the cupcakes of my fantasies. (Because, really, all I've done about cupcakes in the last 7 years is fantasize...)
So the cupcakes themselves aren't bad. They're not finely crumbed, but they're pretty tender... but they began to fall in on themselves while cooling, and they're short. Stubby. No muffin-top here. Most barely clear the top of the liner, and some don't even make it that far. (I'm thinking the whole "1/3 of the muffin liner" thing doesn't apply here...)
Okay. I can deal with that. Piled high with white, fluffy frosting, it'll still look okay, right?
The surprise was the frosting. I opened the tub of "safe" frosting that I'd managed to find, and gave it a vigorous stir, only to find that it's not fluffy and pile-able. It's pretty tasty, no doubt, but it's more of a sheer, sticky spread than anything else. But that was okay. Maybe the Celtic knot cupcake stencils and silver cake spray could still turn these things into a semblance of the glorious cupcakes of my daydreams.
Long story short? No. Not happening. After the silver spray totally ignored the boundaries of the stencil, I thought that maybe cocoa powder would work and look attractive against the now silver frosting. I really should invest in a powdered sugar shaker or sifter of some sort before I try that again... but the cocoa made it extra delicious.
And really, at least they taste good. I'll just tell my photographer to ignore them, I think. It makes me think of what we here at the Tribe say about the wedding day itself: it may turn out crazy, things may go wrong, and it may not be what you envisioned at all. At the end of the day, though, what matters is that you and your partner are married. And at the end of the day, is the purpose of a cupcake not to be delicious?
Note: This was just the test run. Hopefully the real deal-- the chocolate ones-- turn out better! Also, there are no pictures... for a reason. And I tagged this as Tough Times because, though the entry is lighthearted, I'm genuinely very disappointed and distressed about this. My fiance thinks that I ought to storm a bakery, give them ingredients, and demand that they make me something delicious and pretty, or ELSE! I just laughed... because cross-contamination and that's never gonna happen.
Also, please, no baking advice unless you have the same allergies as I do and have done well baking around them. Chia seed for egg, rice milk with a little vinegar (I'm thinking coconut milk next time?) for buttermilk, and thank GOD that I'm allowed a little dairy now or I'd have to figure something out for butter, too."
C and I, up at 6 this morning.

I know why I'm up-- pain. But he has been waking up super early the past few days, and I don't know why. I think he's got something eatin' at him. He's even said once or twice after coming home from work this week that he's got something on his mind, but he doesn't know what it is. I'd imagine it's this house thing.

He had it all planned out, he's done his best, but... it may not work out the way he had planned. And that's okay. That's life, you know? But I just wonder if he doesn't feel the burden of the provider, the man soon to be married that wants to set up a homestead, and maybe he feels like he's failing some. I don't know. I can't presume to know his thoughts.

So here we sit, watching a movie... and it's not even 8 a.m. yet.
And then I said "to hell with it" and cleaned the bathtub anyway. Ouch. Ouchouchouch.

I'm heating water on the stove in every pot that I own, and a few that I don't (because a couple of them are C's, technically lol).

I WILL have my hot bath, and I will have it tonight!

Especially because after eating my tummy is all, "I'm going to cramp up and do some squiggles inside you, and then I'm going to burrow through your spine and come out the other side Alien-style, mmm-kay?"

So I'm all, "Sure stomach, do what you want. I'm going to medicate myself stupid, take a hot bath, and seriously contemplate drinking the wine that S left behind."

Without the medicated part, of course... because I still can't get over the guilt of taking painkillers.

Ah, hello, Should Monster. It's been far too long.

Right. Anyway, back to watching Audrey Hepburn while I wait for my water to boil...

(Did anyone else know that the original Sabrina was so morbid?!)
Damnit! Blast it all to hades!

I'm so frustrated...

I was so GOOD today, taking it easy and resting up... the only things I did were dishes and take care of the dogs, watch a movie (or two-- I'm watching another one now), hang out on facebook... but still. A ridiculous flare. Even with painkillers in my system, my pain is spiking at like, a 7... I'm tired. Achy. Headache. In pain. Fogged out.

I can't even take a bath, because our stupid bathtub that magnetizes foot-dirt is all foot-dirted up, and in order to take a bath I have to clean the tub first, but I haven't had the energy to clean the tub in a couple of weeks, and I sure as heck don't have it in me right now to clean the tub, so no hot bath for me... 'cause I'm not going to soak in foot-dirt. Gross. (I have to clean the thing once a week or else it's not fit to soak in.) Not that it matters... the hot water heater doesn't hold enough to fill up the tub, anyway...

I just don't understand. There is no winning with this damn disease/illness/syndrome/whatever the hell you call it.

I just don't understand.

I'm sure there's good days a'comin', but right now, I'm just frustrated and in pain and I don't understand what's going on with my darn body. It's like, even when I try my best... it's just not good enough.

And I still want cupcakes.

Okay, okay, I had to come back and add a few things... couldn't just leave it all grumpy and sad like I did. There are positives, always.

1. I am doing my best. That's a positive right there.
2. Even if I am sick on my wedding day, which I'm trying desperately to avoid (hence being so "good"- I've got a goal in mind besides just "getting better"!), I have this amazing support network that will be around me and carry me through the day... even if they have to do it literally.
3. I actually asked for help. My friend C, the one who gets me the free massages, was insistent that if I ever need help with housework or something that I ought to call on her. Well... I finally did. As much as I want to be able to clean the house myself, I'm only able to do basic upkeep. I can't dig in and really clean, I can only maintain the level of clean that is currently... there.
4. I did what I was supposed to do and rested today, even if it didn't have the desired results. So there. I can do it!

See? Positives. Always.

Oh, yeah, and I'm still breathing... and getting married to a wonderful man in 14 days. There is always that. :)
As the famous philosophical quote goes, "Know thyself," and... I definitely know myself.

I can't sit still. Even when I'm feeling crappy. So I vacuumed the house, and I put away my laundry, and I'm (finally) going to take that shower and then head off to play with the dogs I'm babysitting. I'll do a couple of loads of towels, now that S has unearthed all the towels from his room while moving.

I ordered this book a month or so ago, and I just picked it up to read while I was making lunch. It's called "The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability". I did the sneak preview thing that Amazon offers, and what intrigued me was the discussion of self-esteem and disability early on in the book. (Anyone that I'm really comfortable with will know that I need no help in the sex department!) Anyway, I found this little gem that I'm going to be mulling over for a while... especially since I've been seriously considering applying for disability, or at least a handicap parking placard.

The epiphany I had while reading this was that, though I may have to identify as disabled at this point in my life, that doesn't mean that I'll always be disabled. (And I know there are people, like my friend BJ, who would vehemently protest my identifying as "disabled" in the first place, but... I know what I know. I qualify for the label, at least right now, so why bother denying reality if accepting it will help me?) I think that was the major fear that's been holding me back... if I accept this, then it will always be a part of who I am. But that's not true. I may always have chronic illnesses, but I won't necessarily always be disabled.

A good distinction to realize.

Anyway, here's the section that jumped out at me today.

"Coming out to ourselves as disabled can be an important step. The term 'coming out' is usually reserved for people who are disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, one might 'come out' to family, friends, or coworkers as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual/transgendered, or intersexed.

The coming-out process is ordinarily something that happens after much reflection, soul searching, and personal exploration. It isn't the end of a journey but rather a point where you are finally accepting a particular identity for yourself and taking the risk of sharing that identity with the important people in your world. You are boldly stating, 'This is who I am, here and now, and it's not worth it for me to pretend or 'pass' anymore.'

The ways that mainstream heterosexual society forces people to pass (that is, pretend to be heterosexual in public) are similar to the ways in which nondisabled society marginalizes the rest of us. Mainstream, nondisabled society has very specific rules for living with a disability.

'After my accident my friends rallied around and visited me in the hospital, sent flowers, all that stuff. After a while, though, I think they just wanted me to get on with things; it was like the disability was yesterday's news. I had done the disabled thing, now I could just stop being boring and drop it. It wasn't like I talked about it all the time, or ignored their needs, but they just wanted it to be a total nonissue, which it could not be, mainly because of access issues and stuff.'

Coming out to others about your disability is, in part, about holding onto your right to take care of your own body and maintain a close connection to it. Knowing when you get tired, realizing your limits, sensing when you're aroused by even the slightest physical cue--all are things that come with practice and are gifts that many others don't have. It's often assumed that disability creates a split between a person and their body because of the things they 'lost.' While this may happen to some, for many of us it's more true that learning to live with our disabilities brings us closer to our bodies." (The Ultimate Guide To Sex and Disability, pg. 22)
It's the weekend! Hurrah!

Honestly... weekends really aren't that different than the rest of the week for me lol. They kind of blur together with the other days.

This one feels a little special, though. Maybe it's the great weather. Maybe it's the counting-down-to-the-wedding. Maybe it's that I've altered my schedule and now get up much earlier than I used to.

Whatever it is, it's a day full of possibilities... if only I could convince my body of that! (I'm trying to work up the motivation/energy to shower. It's not working.) I told C last night that I wish I didn't have to sleep. I work all day on managing my pain and fatigue, and by the time bedtime rolls around I've usually got it under decent control... but I know that when I wake up I'll be achy, limping, and exhausted again. Do not like. :(

So, on that note, I need a little somethin'-somethin' to cheer me up and get my butt in gear. I'm sure others will benefit from this as well. (You can thank me later.)

And, for the piece de resistance...

(I literally LOL'd.)
I called my dad, T, today.

He broke the initial ice by calling me while I was visiting the S's, so I guess it was my turn to make a move.

Just kidding. I don't think of it that way at all, "turns" and such. That implies debt, which is so not a part of this friendship/relationship/whatever it is we're calling it.

Anyway, I'd just been thinking of calling him off and on for the past few weeks, and today when the thought came randomly ambling through my head, I grabbed my phone and made good on the impulse before I could lose my nerve.

Lose my nerve? Why would I have a nerve to lose about this?

Well... you know me and imposing on people. I hate asking favors. (I ended up asking him for money! Gaaaack! How did THAT happen?!?! He says that I must have meant to, or else I wouldn't have brought it up, but I was just telling stories about what's going on in my life and how the house thingy was going... I thought. Maybe I did want to ask him for money without realizing it... Stop it! Stop overthinking this, woman!!) I want to be as unobtrusive as possible, and I was worried that I'd be calling him at a bad time, or that he would feel pressured to talk to me or something... but he was genuinely happy to hear from me! That was reassuring. :)

Anyway, we had a nice chat. His people showed up part-way through the convo and started picking on him, which was hilarious, but he actually barricaded himself in the bathroom to talk to me.

See, now I know that he actually wants to talk to me, that he wants to hear from me. Ahh, reassurance. ('Cause one phone conversation doesn't necessarily mean that someone wants you to be part of their life, you know?)

Oh, and when I mentioned that C and I are planning to come out and visit him and his wife in about a year, he got all excited. It was so cute! Made me happy :) I'm genuinely looking forward to meeting him and my step-mom. (Oddly enough, she's only 5 years older than I am. I don't think it'll be weird, but kinda cool, actually... we'll be much more able to relate to one another, I think.)

One thing he said was kinda funny. He mentioned that he reads my blog (hi, dad! lol), and basically that I think too much and need to learn to shut my brain off.

So as revenge for that comment, I'm picking apart our conversation on my blog. How do you like them apples?

Juuuuuust kidding. I just like to have these thoughts here, because I lose them otherwise. I'm able to hit the archives and see where I was at a certain phase in my life with no rose-colored glasses, no denial, and no justification. I can look back and see what I thought, how I felt, and why. As time goes on and I change, I tend to dismiss where I was before as though it never happened... especially if I'm embarrassed by it in some way. This way I have an undeniable record.

And, also, there is the corked and shaken bottle effect that he mentioned. I gotta get it out somehow so I don't explode!

But still... I think he has a point. I have a hard time just... being. Just stopping. Not "go-go-go"ing, not thinking about things and analyzing them and feeling so many feels about them...

So he asked me if I even know how to just shut my brain off and not care. Answer? Nope. But I'm a heck of a lot better at it than I used to be. I'm getting there...

But for today? I really don't care. I am feeling crappy, because I pushed really hard a couple of days in a row (that's what I get for working and going to school lol), and now I'm reaping the effects. So I stayed in bed all morning, and I don't care. I have a plan or two for this weekend that may or may not happen, but you know what? I don't care if it works out or not. More likely than not I'm going to end up at the house I'm housesitting, laying on the couch and watching movies all weekend. Actually... that sounds like a brilliant idea!

Or maybe I'll use the opportunity of S moving out to actually clean the house.


Anyway, I talked to my dad today even though I was a little scared to call him, and... the more I talk to him, the more I like him. I'm really looking forward to visiting him. (Especially because phone conversations are more challenging than face-to-face conversations-- I have difficulty hearing the voices, and there are no lips to read. Frustration!) He says he'll probably call me next week. I'm looking forward to that.

Little things like that... are enough to put a little smile on your face for the rest of the day. :)
So here it is, folks. Another post about God.

More specifically, a post about God and why his peeps sometimes annoy me.

Okay, I'm going to start this out with an earth-shattering confession...

I don't wanna be a Christian. I don't want to serve God. I don't want to wait breathlessly on his plan for my life. I inwardly cringe when I catch mention of the phrase "God's will" (for your life, for this or that, etc.). I try to avoid talking about religion or God with anyone I don't emphatically know is either a heathen, a pagan, or an atheist/agnostic. (There are, of course, a few exceptions... but they're pretty few and far between.)

Why, you ask?

Because Christians have been given the gospel. And the gospel is all about telling people about God, and going forth, and all that jazz... so when you're having a conversation about God, the near-inevitable outcome is that the gospel rises within them and they go forth to your brain and your opinions and your worldview and proceed to try to get you around to their way of thinking, somehow.

I was there once. I know how this game is played. And now that I'm on the other side of the net? I wish I'd never done that to people.

Seriously. I have so. much. regret. about my canvassing days and the post-SOULS years. So much guilt and embarrassment. Why, oh why, did I do those things to people?

Well, I didn't know any better. I was trained to do that. And I desperately wanted acceptance, approval, and a spot in the world. Oh, and I wanted God to like me.

E says my understanding of Christianity is warped. I say fine. Then I don't feel so bad laying it down and trying to figure out what's real.

I'm not trying to justify my choices at all. I fully acknowledge that a great many people who are or have at one time been invested in my life to a high degree would be disappointed, crushed, heartbroken, or any combination of negative adjectives upon hearing this. But it's not about other people, is it? No, not at all.

It's not just that I have anger issues with God. I fully acknowledge that one, as well. It's more than that, though...

A friend told me not to terribly long ago that I'm a very accepting person, very open, and it's true. As black and white as my thinking tends to be, I have a hard time seeing the world around me in strictly blacks and whites. The claim of exclusive truth always felt off to me, and I resent the implications that exclusive truth brings. (Namely, that everyone else is wrong!)

I was walking and praying, probably about this time last year, and puzzling over church, God, my involvement with the two... my heart... my brain... my questions... and then I walked under this tree. And I had an epiphany of sorts.

What if God is a tree? I mean, what if God is the trunk, and all those branches are the different religions or worldviews or whatever? (Keep in mind that I'd just been learning about learning styles in a class of mine.) What if each soul has a particular "learning style", and they gravitate toward the branch that will teach them who God is most clearly? For some, that may be Adventism. For others, that may be Islam. For yet others, that may be Wicca. But each soul learns about who God really is, just through different means.

It made a lot of sense to me. Despite my rigid adherence to SDAism for so many years, I naturally gravitate towards the faiths that find their understanding more in the natural world, through rituals, and through the world around them.

Don't get me wrong-- I totally believe in Intelligent Design. I believe in a Creator. I just realize that I don't know diddly squat about him, and the God that I've been interacting with all these years could very well be a figment of my imagination because he's not like how I've imagined him to be at all and I've just been projecting things onto him... which means that the God I know could be, for all intents and purposes, all in my head.

Do I believe that God inspired the writing of the Bible? Assuredly. Do I believe that it's inerrant? In intent, yes. There are contradictions within the pages of the Bible, both in details and in more philosophical aspects (like God's split personality, for one), and anyone who denies this is really, really living in la-la-land. Even the ABC has books about reconciling the "apparent" contradictions in the Bible. They're there.

Do I believe that the Bible is the only literature God ever inspired? No. I do not.

See, I've had questions for a long time... questions that I've never fully articulated or examined, because I knew that my faith wasn't up to the test. One of the reasons I hated going door to door was that I couldn't stand pushing stuff on people that I didn't fully or really believe myself. I ran across two quotations that really challenged me, though, and disturbed my placid pool of Christianity deeply.

The first is by Epicurus, and is pretty famous. (They're both pretty famous, actually.) It goes like this:
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

That pretty well sums up why I'm so angry and yes, even somewhat bitter, with God. He could have stopped my molestation and abuse. But he didn't. Didn't he want to? Did he just not see what was happening? Did he not care?

I've gotten the standard Adventist answer about the Great Controversy more times than I can count, and I've handed it out more times than I can count. I've even tried really hard to believe it, and I do sometimes. But it just doesn't satisfy my deep need for a God that cares. Yes, I know. Jesus. Right. Please, I went to Bible college, I've got this down. But that's God caring about humanity. Where's the God that cares about the toddler that was placed in a hot oven that seared her back? Where's the God that cares about the same toddler, locked in a cold bath with ice cubes until her lips were blue and laughed at by her mom's jealous, abusive boyfriend? Where's the God that cares about the skinny child with large bloody bruises across her buttocks and legs from being beat with a leather belt because she interrupted her step-dad's video game? Where's the God that cares about that child as she slept on blankets in the hallway to avoid being alone in her room at night, only to have her abuser join her in plain sight and work his hand between her legs, or spill his semen all over her blankets?

Where's the God that's going to do anything about all that shit? I'm just getting started on the tragic experiences, you know.

Where's the God that listened to the cries and prayers of that girl who believed in him so fervently, who believed all that talk about just asking Jesus and he'd come make everything better? (It's a bunch of b.s., by the way. Just praying to Jesus doesn't make anything better, despite what you hear in Sabbath school. He may be there with you, but he's a pretty passive bystander.)

And shoot, that's just my story. What about the little girl in H who was being raped by her dad and brothers, who prayed and prayed for God to help her, and even made sure to describe how to get to her house after time had passed and he hadn't stopped them? What about the story in Angels Among Us where God sends an angel to keep that little girl from being molested? WTF, God? Really? You're gonna jump in for her, but not for me, or for my girls in group, or for the other countless children that are being beaten, starved, or molested?

I'm sorry, but I'm not content to sit around accept this absent father God anymore.

Did you know that I realized I'm a quasi-Buddhist recently? I stumbled across this Q&A about Buddhism that was really, really well written, and I realized while going through it that I believed a lot of the same things they do. In this last year of searching and thinking and praying, I've developed a lot of beliefs and come to a lot of conclusions that Buddhism has been espousing for thousands of years. Funny, huh? The big, huge difference is that Buddhists do not believe that gods exist, whereas I do. So I can't be entirely Buddhist, but I definitely embrace most of their philosophies. That's pretty much the path I'm taking at this point.

Here's the other quote that shook me up so deeply. This one is from Marcus Aurelius.
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

That's kind of where I'm at at this point.

I'm tired. I'm tired of performing. Tired of trying to make it work. Tired of trying to be "right"... Should being right be this hard? I mean, if it's right... should it not be at least a little self-evident?

And the thing is... I really can't tell any of this to Christians, because it's appalling to them. It's abhorrent. Especially because I was once one of the elite, a shining star, an example to the other youth and an encouragement to the older generations.

How the mighty have fallen. Heh.

Again, it's not about other people. It's really not. It's about me doing what I perceive to be the best and most right thing... right now.

I am in no way claiming that this is not all subject to change, because it totally is. I could change my mind tomorrow! But that's the beauty of free will, and religious freedom. I have the choice to change my mind.

I just wish that people would accept that, stop trying to change my mind, stop being all disappointed and pouty when the realize I don't believe as they do anymore, stop being threatened by my choices... and just let me be. 

Please. Just let me be. Let me make my own choices. Stop trying to change my mind. I'm not doing this purposely to screw with you, you know. I'm trying to find my way through life, just like everyone else... Except that I don't derive my power to be happy, optimistic, productive, or even functional from God. It's inside me, where it's always been. It was only after realizing that I'm the one that's been doing all the work that I felt free. It's been me that's worked on myself, me that has healed, me that has taken risks and accepted challenges and made mistakes and been a good person. (Granted, a lot of times I was a good person out of fear of what would happen if I wasn't, but it was still me.)

Maybe God uses the strength I have inside myself to get stuff done. Maybe God uses the people around me to lift me up and speak words of life that encourage and inspire me. But I'm done with the image that he's camped out in a tent somewhere inside me with an assortment of factories that he uses to produce various things like goodness, strength, etc.

Anyway, I've probably gone on enough of a bitter diatribe here to last for a good, long time.

But before I quit, I do want to address one more thing that really, really bothers me. 

I am marrying an atheist. It's true.

However, please refrain from the following sentence when you talk about him:

"He's a really good guy, but..."

Yes, the "but" refers to his atheism. It's like all the virtues, all the good qualities, all the responsible behaviors and solid choices and the moral nature are all canceled out by the fact that he doesn't believe in God. That he had questions that were never satisfactorily answered by religion or the Bible. That he saw contradictions and hypocrisy and wanted nothing to do with it. That he was burned by Christians themselves, judged and dismissed because they knew one thing about him that they didn't agree with. 

And I've gotten the "but", too, in regards to my choices.

You're a good person, but you can't actually be considered a good person, because of this. I'm sorry. You fail the morality test. Sure, you got every other question right, but those actually don't count for anything. It's this one that determines whether you pass or fail. (Because really... if a Christian is a bad person or makes a bad choice, well, God can forgive anything, right? And they probably weren't really a Christian to begin with. But if an atheist or some other religion is a bad person or makes a bad choice, well, see? Those amoral hooligans just can't do anything else. They've given in to the carnal nature, and the carnal nature is emnity against God. Yep. It just stands to reason.)

No more "but"s.

I'm a good person. I have been a good person. And I will continue to be a good person.

Whether that's as a Christian, as a quasi-Buddhist, as a Wiccan, or as an atheist, I will still be a good person. Who I am is not what God I believe in, or how I choose to worship him.

So no more "but"s, okay? And I promise to try to be more tolerant of Christians and not roll my eyes so much.

Deal? :)
I dreamed about cupcakes last night.

See, when I picked J up for group, I knew that it was going to be her last night, since she's moving to T tomorrow and all. I expected there to be some sort of to-do, so when we pulled in and I saw people frantically running into the meeting room, I thought, "Oh! They're going to surprise J! Sweeeeeeet."

When we got to the door, I held back so that J could go first, since they were going to surprise her. Makes sense, right? So you can imagine my confusion when E, who was holding the door open, insisted that I go first. I walked into the darkened room and the lights flipped on, with everyone shouting, "Surpriiiiiiise!"

It was a surprise wedding shower! Complete with food, gifts, and cupcakes :) It was also a goodbye party for J, so it was bittersweet. I got a pic with all my girls, and the ladies shared marriage advice with me. (Some of it was applicable, some of it wasn't. C and I are a lot healthier than I think they give us credit for... or, should I say, we communicate a lot better than most people think a couple would.)

I watched with envy as J ate her strawberry cupcake loaded with sickly sweet frosting. She has a unique way of eating cupcakes, actually-- she pops the top off, inverts it, and eats it like a sandwich, with the frosting in the middle. It makes perfect sense!

I guess I envied the cupcake-eaters more than I thought, because I dreamed about cupcakes last night, but mine were chocolate. Moist, delicious, springy, just a little warm, and spread with just the right amount of frosting.

Good grief, I miss baked goods.

In other news, we've been doing running around allll morning (and getting the runaround from certain places *cough* Best Buy *cough*), dealing with stuff regarding the loan for our house. Some stuff went down that was completely out of our control, $800,000 dollars mysteriously vanished from the grant funds that we were going to take advantage of, reducing the available funds to $0, we may or may not be able to get into the "new" program they're introducing, and now we're facing the possibility of having to come up with several thousand dollars of our own to pay for closing costs. Fortunately, the money can be "gifts", as there's no way we can come up with that much that quickly (give us a span of time, and we could definitely do it, but 4 weeks?!).

It's not like this is because of bad credit or anything. On the grading sheet, C is a +7, whereas most people who go for the loans are a 0. In other words? He's solid. Real solid. Just getting kinda screwed over, which is annoying.

C is still sure that we can pull this off, one way or another.

We also got news this morning that not only are we getting a free dryer (and possibly large sectional couch), we're also getting a free washer, and a dresser set for the bedroom. So there's always good mixed in with the not so good.

I'll be going to the bakery with D tomorrow to work on our wedding cake, as the original design we wanted is beyond their scope of expertise.

I'm going to get my hair cut either tomorrow or Friday. Nothing major, just an "extreme trim", with some shaping and movement worked into it. Shoulder-skimming, I think, or maybe a little shorter. It's just below my shoulders now in the back.

I'm sorry if this is all very random, but I'm flaring today (thanks to yesterday's exertions), and I've been wandering in a fibro fog for the past few days. I used to be kind of skeptical about fibro fog, thinking that it was kind of an excuse that was overused, but now I totally get it. It's like I do my best to think and remember things, and I think I'm doing perfectly fine, but then I realize I've forgotten things or not thought through them very thoroughly when others point it out to me.
I find it extremely fascinating and equally annoying how obsessed the human mind is with pinning things down. People cannot stand transitions. They have to know what goes where, who is what, and what name to give everything. The reason we have molds is so that we can fill them, because an unmolded being is just a blob, and who likes a blob? No one.

Take illness, for example. Something in your mind just relaxes when you have a name to go with the beast. If I develop mysterious symptoms, it's away to webmd I go! And, of course, that's when I learn that I have blood spiders, space aids, or a cancer involving a mix of the two. Yep. Definitely bloody space cancer. (The runny nose gives it away every time.)

Really, though, once I had a name for my fibromyalgia, it suddenly seemed possible to fight. I could deal with this. I could overcome this... if only because my enemy now had a face.

But what do you do when you're a person in transition? Especially something as tricky as spiritual transition? People hate that, you know. They're threatened by it. I mean, how can you not know what you believe? Just pick something, already, so I can breathe a sigh of relief and know how to relate to you! (Oh, but make sure that it's what I believe because, you know, I'm right.)

I could go on, but I'd probably just end up being redundant and sarcastic, so I'll stop here...

Yesterday was a seriously confusing set of emotions for me. Very complex, very intertwined, and very pervasive. It left me feeling both invested in and totally invalidated, which is a strange and repulsive mixture. I don't recommend that you try it anytime soon.

Remember how I was all excited that BJ and I were doing lunch and shopping? Well, we did. We also had a lot of time to talk while doing those things, and it was during lunch (our first activity) that things started going downhill for me.

I have come to the conclusion that BJ is not actually a safe person.

This is hard for me to come to grips with, because I have always assumed that she was. Indeed, for a long time she has seemed to be, especially given the largely dysfunctional and toxic people that I was surrounded with. She has been a safe person for me for so long that to have that status shifted is, well... very unsettling. It's almost like an identity crisis of sorts.

I suppose I should clarify what I mean by "safe person", just to be on the safe side. (Heh.) A safe person is someone whom we can have a safe relationship with, versus someone who is toxic and unsafe. According to authors/Drs. Cloud and Townsend, this is how you can identify a safe person:

"So, what are safe relationships? A safe relationship is one that does three things:

  1. Draws us closer to God. (Matthew 22:37-38)
  2. Draws us closer to others. (Matthew 22:39)
  3. Helps us become the real person God created us to be. (Ephesians 2:10)
When John (Townsend) and I asked people to describe a “safe person” to us, they gave us these descriptions:
  • A person who accepts me just like I am.
  • A person who loves me no matter how I am being or what I do.
  • A person whose influence develops my ability to love and be responsible.
  • Someone who creates love and good works within me.
  • Someone who gives me an opportunity to grow.
  • Someone who increases love within me.
  • Someone I can be myself around.
  • Someone who allows me to be on the outside what I am on the inside.
  • Someone who helps me to deny myself for others and God.
  • Someone who allows me to become the “me” that God intended.
  • Someone who helps me become the “me” God sees in me.
  • Someone whose life touches mine and leaves me better for it.
  • Someone who touches my life and draws me closer to who God created me to be.
  • Someone who helps me be like Christ.
  • Someone who helps me love others more."
Okay, clearly these guys are Christians, and maybe I'm not looking for someone to blatantly Bible me into being a better person, but you get the idea.

You see, BJ's house was always a haven of refuge for me from my crazy home life. Even when I was "drifting into the world" as a teenager, I always felt unconditionally loved and accepted by her and her family. When I went away to SOULS, she expressed some concerns that I wasn't learning the whys and wherefores of things, but that I was conforming to peer pressure, and she was somewhat right. (She reminded me of this during our talk.)

In recent years (or year), however, it feels like... I dunno. It feels like I'm responsible for her emotional happiness and stability in some ways, though the cues are so subtle that I'd be hard pressed to put it into words. Honestly, I'm hard pressed to put any of this into words! I know, I know, me without words. Hard to believe, right? *sigh*

There are two driving issues here: one is my health, and the other is my spirituality/life choices.

BJ is a nurse, and somehow it feels like we always end up talking about my sicknesses, especially now that fibromyalgia has reared its ugly head. She can't seem to wrap her mind around why I'm so sick, and I keep getting those cliche phrases that I hate so much, such as "You're too young to be sick like this!" Today she mentioned multiple times that she doesn't understand why I got so ill so suddenly, why my health suddenly took such a nose dive. Heck, I don't understand it, either! It just happened. But I always, always get this creeping feeling like somehow it's my fault... like I did something or am not doing something right... but yesterday, she was so bold as to say that she thinks I got fibromyalgia because I left God. Wow. Really? Really? That's harsh, man.

The thing is, when I feel even subtly attacked, I find myself falling over myself to explain myself more and open up further depths of my soul to her, as if sharing more truth will somehow help her to understand and accept and stop blaming me and bringing out the guilt. (I wonder if her kids go through this, too?) It doesn't. It just complicates things further.

We were talking about my future as a massage therapist, and how C takes care of me so well, and I mentioned that there is a possibility that I may end up bedridden from fibromyalgia, as I know people in that boat. She immediately and vehemently protested this, insisting that I shouldn't focus on that, that I shouldn't even be considering or contemplating it. No matter how much I explained myself or insisted that I'm not choosing this outcome, but that it is indeed a reality that I must face and accept, she maintained her position that even acknowledging it is the same as choosing it, and I shouldn't even allow myself to think about that, and that I'm going to get better and that I'm underestimating what God can do... (as if he would heal me anyway, 'cause it's not like I haven't asked him a billion times before, back when we were on good terms, but I digress...) Basically, she completely dismissed my illness and insisted that I'm going to get over it. At least, that was my interpretation of the situation. As there are two sides to every story, I fully admit that I could have been completely misreading her.

I explained it like this-- if you have cancer, you have to face the fact that a possible outcome is death. That doesn't mean you're choosing it, or even that it's highly likely, but it's still a part of reality. She came back with a fiery and intense rebuttal of, "Only if you have terminal cancer is that the case. Any other kind of cancer, you have other options."

Look, it's not like I want to be this damn sick all the time. I miss hiking, and I miss cleaning my house. I miss doing more than two or three "things" in a day. (I struggled with fatigue already, but that was small potatoes compared to my life these days.) But I really, really resist the attempts to whitewash my reality and my future and exclude reality from my plans and my thoughts. She told me that I was spending too much time researching fibro online, basically saying that I was focusing on the negative aspects of my illness too much. Um, no. I get down in the mouth from time to time, but I'd like to think that I'm actually rather optimistic about being in severe pain every waking moment. I just felt so... dismissed. Invalidated. Disrespected, I guess. Like she was saying, "No, your interpretation of reality isn't correct. It's too pessimistic. Here, let me replace it with my own. This is the right one. Now, don't go back to your way of thinking! It'll only hurt you." I felt as though she was implying that, if I get sicker (or because I've gotten this sick in the first place, and because it came on so suddenly), that somehow it's my fault and that I was probably focusing too much on the negative and not wanting to get better well enough or something like that.

On that note, check out this funny cartoon! (One of my friends, M, showed it to me when I came home all distraught over my encounter with BJ, after I had explained the whole thing to them... or vented, more like.)

The second issue is my spirituality/life choices. I already mentioned how she thinks that I'm sick because I'm drifting from God, or at least that the two timings coincide quite suspiciously. (Because I got sick so suddenly, remember... because it's not like there are any illnesses out there with sudden onsets. Lord forbid I not be able to pinpoint the exact second I got ill and link it to a specific incident. Okay, sorry, sorry... sorry for the sarcasm.)

Basically, I'm not making choices with my life that she approves of, because I've left the path that she deems to be the path of life. She insists it's not about church, but that it's about God, but... I feel that the two are too synonymous in most people's minds to really make a difference. She's devastated because I'm living with my fiance before we're married, but the Bible doesn't say anything about that. The church does. I'm sure EGW probably does somewhere. But God doesn't. Sex before marriage? Yeah, there's stuff in there about that. I know that one, and I'm not going to go into my reasons for why I'm okay with it in certain situations right now. That's not what I need to talk about here. (Besides, there are other things that I'm okay with that God demands people be stoned for, so God and I... we have our differences above and beyond my anger issues with him.)

She told me that I broke her heart, just like her kids have broken her heart, because she/they (she and her husband) gave us everything, hoping that we'd learn to love the Lord and follow him but we've all walked away and she feels like a failure, and... also that I can never again break her heart or hurt her like I already have, because her heart is already broken so badly.

First of all, I resent being "gifted" with the ability to devastate someone like that with the choices that I'm making with my life. Do my choices affect others? Most definitely. Am I responsible for that? Partially yes, and partially no. Others (we're talking mature, responsible adults here, not dependents) also have a choice in how they will respond to my actions, whether they will let themselves be devastated by my choices or simply sad, maybe disappointed. I told her very clearly that I am not making rash decisions, that they are well thought out and wrestled with, and that I have total and complete peace within my own mind about the path that I'm pursuing. She hates that I'm marrying into atheism; I don't mind it. She says that it's going to affect me; I openly acknowledge that it already has, and I quietly acknowledge that I'm grateful for the dose of realism and cynicism. I stated that I am striving to live as authentic of a life as possible, and I am not interested in hiding who I am, where I am, and even why I am.

I just feel that, if I am not making the decisions she feels to be the right ones, then I'm a profound disappointment and I've crushed her soul. No one likes feeling that way, because it's not about my choices, it's about me and my self-worth. I am a disappointment, not my choices. I never, ever feel this way with my mom, with R, or with the S's. They have somehow mastered the art of loving, accepting, and enjoying me, even if they disagree with or are disappointed in the choices that I'm making. BJ has yet to learn this, and I begin to understand why I have felt this strange sense of alienation between her and her youngest son throughout the years. I didn't get why he had this strange, subtle resistance to his parents, especially his mom... but now I do. I feel it, too. You can't thrive in that kind of environment. It's stifling. Her mind is so closed that she can't comprehend that someone else's path might lie along a different track than the one she's taken. She found salvation such-and-such a way and in such-and-such a place; how could you possibly find it elsewhere? It doesn't exist. And if you are outside her understanding of "right", then you will break her heart. *sigh* I'm tired just thinking about it.

The thing is, as long as we kept things light and fluffy, we were fine. We enjoyed ourselves, and had a grand time. It's when things get beyond surface level that trouble brews. I realized last night that I have to draw some boundaries... I just can't let her in to the deeper parts of my life anymore.

I discussed this with C last night, and he told me that he was proud of me, and that I handled it well. I stood up for myself (I didn't go into all the details here, because they're not really important, but I did outline pretty much the whole conversation for him.), whereas a while back I would have quailed beneath her disapproval and cowtowed to her wishes. He pointed out that I'm much stronger than I used to be, even if I don't see it all the time.

Honestly, I am pretty proud of myself, too. I am a little daunted, though, by the task before me of setting boundaries with someone that I've been so open with for so long... but I have to. For both our sakes, I think.

Best part? In days past, I would have been so affected by her words that I would have doubted the decisions that I've made and begun the familiar dance of vacillation. This time, however... I never wavered. I know in my heart that I'm making the right decision for me, regardless of what anyone else thinks, and I'm going to go through with it.

That's not to say that our conversation didn't affect me, because it did. I went to the bathroom and cried. There were "a lot of feels", as my friends would put it. So many feels. Though I managed to tuck it away deep inside me for the duration of our day together, I was swirling in a muddle of torment that evening when I got home. I was able to talk about it with a couple of buddies and with C, so that made processing it a bit easier, and the emotions eased up as I realized what was really going on. I seem to always make the jump to assuming that I'm in the wrong. Always. If something's going on, it's probably my fault.

But the guys helped me to see that such is not always the case. As M pointed out, it seems that the situation was all about her-- her broken heart, her disappointment, the fact that she gave everything and I "betrayed her", so to speak... her confusion about my illness...

Everyone else agrees with me about the whole "facing reality and all the potential outcomes of my illness" situation, by the way. They feel that she is trying to avoid or alter reality... but really, do you blame her? Someone that she's loved and nurtured for over twenty years is suddenly super sick, and talking about how they may end up bedridden someday from this sickness. Wouldn't you panic, too? I mean, who wants that for anyone that they love? I can see why she would deny that possibility and insist that I focus only on the potential for healing. I can see that. I just don't think it's appropriate or helpful.

While I could see her concern and care for me and her sympathy for my pain in her actions throughout the day (not letting me lift things, being considerate of walking distances and having me wait at the front of stores so she could pick me up in the car),  I still don't feel that same support from her that I do from J, or from C, or from my mom, R, and the kids... or even from the guys, for that matter. I don't know what it is, but I just can't consider her to be a part of my support system. She supports me with her actions, but she tears me apart with her words. There is no verbal expression of sympathy or concern for my pain or illnesses, just sighs of sadness and, "Oh, C..." (which, of course, totally mimics disappointment and makes me feel like I've done something wrong in being sick...).

Okay. I'm done. I've waded through this enough. I love the woman, but she's not safe for me anymore. I have to close off that harbor and not anchor there any longer. I can sail through and visit, but I can't unload on the docks.

This is either going to be much, much harder than I think, or much easier than I'm anticipating. We'll see how it goes.