"Through trials and tears, through death and pain, hope must endure...to fight the rain."
"Oh, life is bigger. It's bigger than you. And you are not me." -R.E.M.
Once, when I was younger, I was called into my bishops office to be given a new leadership position among the young women in my congregation. As we sat in his office, he leaned across his desk and looked me straight in the eyes.
"You're the only one who can fix your family, Misty. Your dad's not going to do it. Your mother certainly isn't going to do it. It has to be you."
Over the course of the next year my parents would divorce. I would drop out of school in order to work full-time to support both me and a mother who I knew was incapable of so much as even taking care of herself. I'd live in 9 different places, from hotels to efficiency apartments to spare bedrooms. I'd even move in with a boyfriend for a while, simply because I had no where else to go. Eventually I would be dragged across 3 states, kicking and screaming, by police escort. I'd spend the next year under such stringent restrictions that I wasn't even allowed to know my own phone number.
I was 15 years old.
"You want to know why I'm so crazy? I want to know how the hell I"m still sane."
I step into my house on a Sunday afternoon 16 years later, after another one of my physically and emotionally exhausting hour-long walks. It's the third one that day because, yet again, I'm behind and I have to make up time. My incredible husband has already managed to start and fold a load of laundry, direct and stay on top of our 11 year old to take a shower and dress, bathe our 7 year old, feed everyone, and do a million other things that I couldn't. I admire and appreciate his support and patience. It's something he's had to give quite a bit of lately as a direct result of my inadequacies.
I wipe away yet another tear at the thought of it.
I think back to when we were first together, at the conscious decision that I had made 14 years ago. If my father could leave my mother after 18 years of marriage due, in part, to a lack of her maternal and domestic abilities, then I wasn't going to let that happen to me. I was going to do everything in my power to live up to my obligations as a mother and wife. I was going to be different.
I would not fail my family.
"Is there anything I can do for you?" my husband asks me as I try to load dishes into the dishwasher. "I'm sorry I haven't gotten to them yet. I was just about to."
I choke back a sob. "No, it's ok. I was really just trying to be productive while I waited for the shower." As much as I love his willingness, I can't help but think about how much it hurts to have to have the help in the first place. To no longer be able to "keep up." After all, this was the life I had chosen. This was my job. It wasn't fair to him to spend forty-five hours a week at work, do hours of college course work and classes to further his ability to provide for us, and then have to come home and do what I invariably saw as my obligations. My "part" of the partnership. It just simply wasn't fair. Sure, I got that other women did it, and that was totally fine. But I was different. I was Super Woman. I was capable of anything. I was the strongest and most resiliently "kept together" person I knew.
And then one day, I just wasn't.
"That's me in the corner. That's me in the spotlight, loosing my religion."
"Congratulations on being knocked off your pedestal," someone said to me during one of my recent "sessions"--all part of my "treatment plan" to resolve the ailment I had suddenly been stricken with.
Thanks, I think to myself and roll my eyes. That helps a lot.
Unfortunately, she was right. And I really, REALLY hate it when other people are right. So I'm not Super Woman. At least, not anymore. Though I'm not so sure I ever was.
I take a good, long hard look around before heading to the shower. At the clutter in the dining room. The homeschool calendar board that still says December. The unfinished phonics chart. The "Mom-Board" dated for March. The novel that's been a "work in progress" for the last three years. The kids' bedrooms that look like a tornado tore through a Toys R Us. The baskets of unfolded laundry. The distinct "funk" of a sink full of dishes. The unpainted chair railing in the office. The yet-again over budget bank account.
And the blog and Facebook posts I once used to announce my achievements to the world.
"Sometimes you have to stop beating yourself up for wanting to throw a chair through a window and start patting yourself on the back for not actually throwing a chair through a window."
Ok, so I get it already. I'm not perfect. And perhaps I never was. But the important part is that I'm still trying, right? That despite the 30 lbs I have yet to loose, I've lost 15 so far this year. That despite the fact my 7 year old doesn't even know his ABCs, he no longer hates learning. That despite the many, MANY times I've massively messed up over the last year and a half since my body went completely haywire, my husband and children somehow still love me and my friends haven't totally abandoned me. That despite my never-ending list of flaws, somewhere deep down inside me I'm still the strongest person I know. And that despite how completely hopeless things may seem at the moment, eventually, this too shall pass.
And maybe, just maybe, it will all be ok.
Why I Left the Church
The Importance of Friendship
Secrets to Staying Sane
Fighting the Rain