Broken Parts

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Several years ago I took up running for the first time.  I’ve given it up and taken it up again three times since then.  But my first attempt at running was thwarted by a pretty serious injury, a stress fracture of my knee.  And even though I’ve had surgery to repair it, it still gives me trouble to this day.

The other day, (that one day of spring that we had here in Michigan), when the sun came out,  I was so anxious to get outside and run.  I can’t even believe I’m saying that because most days I hate running.  But anyhow, I couldn’t wait to get out and so off I went.  Now, mind you, I haven’t really ran much at all since my marathon last October.   Six full months ago.  But being that the last time I ran I finished 26.2 miles, I was feeling pretty ambitious. So I got out my earbuds, put on my (now too tight) running clothes and took off.  I was feeling pretty good for a mile and even the second mile wasn’t awful.  But my knee started bugging me and I was smart enough to turn around then.  Mile three was tolerable but that fourth mile, well that one was no fun at all.  My knee was killing me.  That injury from almost twelve stupid years ago showed up to haunt me, and I hate it.

As I hobbled my way homeward, cursing my knee and the stupid reminder of something broken so long ago, I had this weird thought.  (Ok, it’s a stretch but just track with me for a minute, I think this might make sense in the end.)

I was wondering how an injury from practically ages ago, that I thought had been dealt with, could still show up in my life now and then.  Unwelcome, uninvited…but it shows up nonetheless.  And that led me to wonder if the same thing isn’t true about broken relationships.  Are all of the things that hurt me, all the broken parts, going to show up for my whole life?  Following me around and haunting me at inopportune moments?  Am I gonna be constantly limping my way through every relationship in my future?  Because I can’t even imagine how terrible that would be.

I sometimes use my old injury as an excuse to not run.  “Hey do you wanna meet up and do three miles?” “Oh, I’d love to, but ya know…my knee.  I just can’t.” And I can totally see myself using old injuries in my relationships to keep people away if I’m not careful. I’ve never really been one to be guarded. I’ve always been open about pretty much everything with just about everyone. But I’ve noticed changes in myself recently that I don’t like, I’ve been a little more reserved with people.  Giving short answers and not sharing things that I normally would.  I have not isolated myself at all, but I’ve certainly disengaged a little bit with some people that I love.  I don’t want to live my life like that. I’ll have to figure out how to fix that broken part.

One thing that I really hate is when people excuse away their own bad behavior.  “I can’t help it that I’m always accusing you of doing things…but you know I have trust issues from my last boyfriend.” Or “You know I get defensive easily, I can’t help it. My ex-husband was always pointing out my flaws.” Whatever.  If I become like that, somebody please punch me.  I don’t EVER want to use my past hurts to excuse my future bad behavior.  I’ll have to figure out how to fix that broken part too.

It’s frustrating to think that a bad relationship can have such an effect on future relationships.  How can I expect to ever have a healthy relationship if I have all of these broken parts that are likely to start hurting if they get triggered by the slightest thing?

My hope is that this early self-diagnosis is going to be healthy for me.  My doctor gave me a bunch of exercises and stretches to do to help out with my knee.  He told me that it would never be 100% but that if I really work on it, it could be close.  I’m hoping that a knee and a heart aren’t really all that different.

 

 

 

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My 39

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picture-of-birthday-cake-on-fire

I just had a birthday which officially launched me into the last year of my 30’s.  It’s only been a week, so I think I’m still adjusting to this reality.  I’m not happy about it, but not quite sad either…just can’t decide if I should celebrate or mourn the impending death of my third decade in this crazy world.

To be perfectly honest the 30’s didn’t treat me all that well, with the last year being especially unkind.  I don’t intend to take up space here in my new cyber home with negative junk, but a brief synopsis of the last six months may be in order.  Let’s see, my marriage hit a big ol’ Michigan pothole that tore the tires right off of it and sent my husband and I in opposite directions.  A few weeks after he left, I got a late night call telling me that my sister had been arrested and I was asked  “do you want to come pick up her baby or should we give him to the state?”  Off I headed for my first ever encounter with the police to pick up my one year old nephew.  As I drove home with a scared little B in my backseat, I laughed and cried at the irony of that day.  It was my oldest son’s 19th birthday and I had just been thinking about how my days of child rearing were nearing an end.  God sure has a funny sense of humor.

So, here I am.  39.  Divorced.  Now working full-time.  Mother of 6 (including 3 teens, 2 still fairly well-behaved younger kids and my newly acquired 1  year old.)

I don’t like the feeling of my life spiraling out of control.  Not one bit.  So after about a week of feeling sorry for myself and my crappy situation,  I decided that if my life was going to spiral, it was not going to go downwards.  Nope.  I will not become the bitter-middle-aged woman that hates men and life and everything in general.    I just don’t have the time or energy for that.

Some might argue that it’s harder to spiral upward, and with that I would agree.  My life is not about to get easier any time soon.  I have kids in elementary, middle and high school and now I drop a toddler off at day care before heading in to my own full day of work.  My days start earlier now and end later and I have more laundry to do than probably all of my neighbors combined.  I have the upcoming expenses of a high school graduation, a party and senior pictures and the cost of child care on my sole income (which is not nearly enough to cover those).  These things are my new reality.  So, I can either lay down and cry about it or stand up and persevere.  I’ve decided to do the latter.

The first thing that I had to do was simple.  I had to stop thinking about those things.  I am not trying to make it sound simplistic.  I know that it’s hard not to think about crap when you’re in the midst of chaos.  But I’m finding that the more time I spend not thinking about that stuff, the more time I have to think about things that are not those things.  Duh.

I spend a lot of time now thinking about how fortunate I am.  I have great kids…I mean, like REALLY GREAT kids.  They are funny and thoughtful, smart and helpful, kind and compassionate and a hundred other really awesome adjectives.  And I have not one or two, but SIX of these incredible people in my house! (Yes, I’m counting little B, who I’m sure will become these things too:)  How blessed am I?!

I have a job that I LOVE.  Seriously, it might be the best job in the world…and it’s mine!  I don’t wake up thinking “ugh, I have to go to work today”.  Sure, sometimes I’m tired in the morning, but it is an honor for me to get to do what I do and get paid for it.  And when I really spend time thinking about my job, sometimes I am honestly moved to tears because I love it so much.

My friends.  The best group of people you can imagine…yep, they’re in my life, up close and personal.  I can call them anytime and they are willing to listen, to talk, to set me straight and call me out when I’m being stupid.  Everyone needs some friends like mine.

So, yeah it’s been a rough few months.  But in the big scheme of things, it’s just that: a rough few months.  I have so much to be thankful for and I am certain that the future holds much more for me than my human mind could even begin to imagine.  In the mean time, I am going to stay focused on this reminder from Romans 5:2-5  “Christ has also introduced us to God’s undeserved kindness on which we take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God.  But that’s not all! We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure.  And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love.”

So as I move forward towards 40, I’m sure that I will mourn the loss of some things that I once held dear.  But more often this year, I will celebrate the things that I still have, the things that I have yet to receive and the promise that in the end I will have developed character by enduring through my sufferings.  And I will spend my 39 in an upward spiral.