Forever is Stronger

Have you ever had an experience where the darkness seems so much stronger than the light?

I have had this thought on my mind quite a bit lately.

candleThis post is a hard one for me to write. It is one of those posts where I have the thoughts and feelings rolling around in my head for a very long time. And for whatever reason, I then decide that it is okay for me to pour out my soul to whatever human decides to stumble upon my internet space.

When I write these posts, there is usually one thought that ends up pulling it all together. One thing that brings it home and helps me make sense of it all. And maybe that’s the real point of posts like these. That I somehow make sense of it all.

When I was fifteen years old, my older sister Jamie had her first baby boy: Barrett. He wasn’t the first grandchild, and so obviously being an aunt wasn’t new to me. But for some reason, it was different. Maybe it was because it was my sister’s baby this time instead of my brothers’. I’m not really sure. But from the moment he came into the world my nephew Barrett has been one of my best friends. He used to call me when I was in my first year of college and say things like, “Hey, Jordan. Where’s you at?” or, “When you coming to see me?”

But today I remembered something that I had forgotten about. A memory with Barrett that was actually one of the most precious moments in my life.

One day, only a few months after Barrett was born, I got to rock him to sleep. I was sitting in a chair in my bedroom. It was slightly cloudy outside, a light rain falling against the window. I remember looking down at him: so tiny, and so completely perfect. And I suddenly felt the most overwhelming peace and love. A feeling unlike anything I’d ever felt in my life. And I was struck with the powerful realization that this baby, this little life, was the most sacred, precious thing in the world.

It didn’t take long for tears to start streaming down my face. door

I wish I could say that this moment turned a dark night into a bright day. That it changed everything and that nothing was ever the same again. But this wasn’t the case. It was, however, a moment that lit a candle in a dark room and gave me hope for the day when the drapes would be cast aside to let the sunlight stream in.

Let me explain: for as long as I can remember, physical touch has been very hard for me. I’ve never been an overly touchy person. It takes me quite a while to be comfortable with touching people, even just hugs. Even with my family, many of whom are very touchy, I sometimes have to put up some physical barriers. What is hard about this quirk of mine is that as far as love languages go, physical touch is probably my first language for both giving and receiving love. So you see the paradox I’ve lived in my whole life.

It was never really an issue until I got older, and started thinking about boys and relationships. I had a lot of guy friends, but when it came to the thought of anything romantic I never felt good about it. Not with anyone. To make a long story short, I eventually had to face the reality that the thought of holding hands with somebody or kissing somebody actually made me physically ill. It made me shaky and scared. I couldn’t do it.

What followed all of this was an extremely long process that took years.

All spelled out like this, it really isn’t surprising that it was eventually revealed that I experienced sexual abuse in my past. I say “revealed” because it wasn’t something that I remembered. It took some extensive therapy and a lot of really hard moments. And believe me, coming to the discovery wasn’t easy. You see, it happened when I was very young. Probably about the age of 6, which is why I don’t really remember anything.

What makes this hard is that I still had to live with the consequences of the experience. That years later I was still haunted by it. That it kept me from living my life and doing things that normal people are excited to do.

tunnelAnd it wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t fair that as a child I experienced something that horrific. And it wasn’t fair that it made something that’s supposed to be exciting and good horrible and terrifying. When I came home from my very first date I went into my room and cried. And the worst part is that it was a lovely date with one of my best friends. He was a perfect gentleman the entire time. Nothing bad happened at all. But the very thought that I’d been on a date, that I’d been in a setting where romance could’ve been possible completely sent me over the edge.

And that wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t fair that I was stuck with these fears. It wasn’t fair that I had had this thing happen to me and I couldn’t change it. I couldn’t have protected myself. I couldn’t have stopped it. I was the victim of something absolutely horrendous. And not even just as a child, but for the rest of my life after that.

That wasn’t fair.

And it was so overwhelming, so horrific, so terrible, that for years I just convinced myself that I was better off alone. That I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t ever even try to be in a relationship. I wasn’t capable of breaking down walls that dark. And for years I was content with that understanding. I simply accepted the fact that this was my lot in life. It wasn’t fair, but it was the way it had to be. Because I couldn’t be anything else.

Obviously, this is no longer how I feel. And there is an even longer story mountainwrapped up in that. I can’t say that I’m 100% cured of every fear and insecurity that comes with having this in my life. To this day, there are moments that it overwhelms me. Where it brings me to tears. Where I am struck once again with just how horrible it is. And that it isn’t fair.

But back to this moment with my nephew Barrett: it was the beginning of the healing process for me. Because I was able to see, for the first time, how a physical relationship between two people created the most precious thing in the world. And I understood, even just a little, how sacred it is that a man and a woman can love each other that much. That they can literally create life. The beauty in that is indescribable.

It also taught me the incredible nature of the human soul. I looked down at that baby and knew how precious he was. I looked at him and knew how amazing he was. That he was going to move mountains.

It was a moment that taught me that even though I was surrounded in darkness about the most important things in life, love and a family of my own, that one day it wouldn’t be that way.

There are moments in life so dark that light is nothing but a vague concept.

sunThere are moments when darkness is so, so much stronger than light.

But they are just that: moments. Brief shadows.

But that experience with my nephew, that moment, was a glimpse into eternity. A perspective so much wider than the darkness I was facing in the moment. A promise that my forever was so much stronger than the horrible things that I had experienced in a brief shadow.

So I guess the point is this:

Forever is stronger.

 

 

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Don’t Look Back

For those of you who may not have been able to pick this up yet by reading my blog, I’ll just make your day and tell you. I am the type of person who often looks back.

new not going that wayWhat can I say? I study history FOR FUN. Of course I’m obsessed with looking back. It’s just what I do. While most of the time this is great and I get a very strange amount of joy from learning about the past, it can also be a great weakness, and something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently.

Looking back, like I said, can be a good thing. Without a past, who are we? But honestly, I think a lot of the time looking back is a very negative activity. We start overthinking and we wonder what we could’ve done differently in our lives or a host of other things.

The reason that I bring this up tonight is because, like I mentioned, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Mostly because of my brother. I have a brother just older than me who has been my best friend my whole life. We are so close in age that we were inseparable growing up. Whether we were dressed in everything camouflage ever made and playing army, or pretending we were spies and making gadgets with the random things my mom found in the drier, or sitting on the couch together watching movies, we were always together.

Inevitably, this closeness disappeared as we got older. My brother, though I love him with my whole heart, began making some really poor choices as we advanced into our teenage years. And as a result, I lost him. I’m not trying to get all hardcore and emotional over here, not this time, but I really did lose him.past hasn't changed

Even though we were still living in the same house, still siblings, still seeing each other all the time, he was gone. And to be honest, it has only been in about the last year that I, or my whole family for that matter, has really gotten him back. He was there the whole time, sure, but he wasn’t. It was as if he disappeared inside himself and he was just walking around as somebody else.

Things will never be the way they were, that’s just kind of how life goes. But my brother is back. He’s now doing great things, moving mountains, he’s dating an incredible girl he’s absolutely crazy about, and most of all, he’s happy. He’s back. And though we live far from each other and don’t see each other often, or talk as often as we should, he’s finally back.

better aheadAnd when it comes to the years that he was gone – horrible, hard years that were terrible for everybody and probably most terrible for him – we don’t look back. We’re not going that way, and there’s no need to. It isn’t that we don’t look back on them or talk about those years because it’s taboo or anything. There is just a feeling of wholeness, an it’s-okay-now feeling. There’s no need to look back. There is only looking forward.

While I’ve spent this post applying the “don’t look back” idea to negative times, I think it goes for positive ones as well. I am literally the queen of being THE WORST at making decisions. Seriously. Give me a life-altering decision and I’ll take some time getting back to you. In fact, it can get so insane that God usually starts preparing me weeks or even months (usually months) in advance so that when the time comes I’ve had a ridiculous though sufficient amount of time to think everything through.

I’m not kidding. (Though to be honest I usually end up going with the choice that scares me the most. The one I knew all along I’d go for.)

But decision making can also be great breeding ground for negative looking back. What are afraid ofwe going to do, we’re human. We just look back and wonder. But because this post is already a bit long, even for my Sunday night thoughts, I’m just going to do something I’m rather fond of and tell it to you straight:

Just don’t look back, okay?

Make the decision you know is right in the moment and stick with it. You won’t be sorry. You’ll just be really happy. Truth.

Don’t dwell on things that don’t matter anymore. Forgive and move on. It has worked for my family.

And that is all for this time everyone.

Don’t look back.

 

Tapestry Memories

“Which good memories are better – the recent and vivid ones, or those that times has covered in a sweet haze?”

Today’s Daily Prompt is interesting. I don’t really know how to respond to it, yet I know that I want to. It’s strange how these prompts always seem to be asking questions about the things that I’ve been recently thinking over.

f7f5953e733dab4e0661935936f75959Memories are a very interesting thing. They are a blessing, really. What would life be if we couldn’t remember those brilliant moments in time? Life wouldn’t exist. It would have no meaning without memories. Without memories, what are we, really? And if that is the case, then I don’t think that memories can really be classified. Some are bad and some are good, yes, but they are the stuff of our lives. Some are more vivid and some are glazed in a sweet haze of times gone by.

If you were to try and say which ones are the best, I don’t know if you really could because they are all so different. The ones of long ago that are seemingly glazed over, they are sweet and special, dear to our hearts on such a different level. The ones that are more recent and vivid, they seemed sharpened in some sort of photo shop way, heightened to a different form. Yes, there are many memories that we would rather think about than others, but each of them are equally important and have a special place in the fabric of our lives.

Our memories seem to each be a different strand in the tapestry of our life, if that metaphor makes more sense. One strand by itself may not do much, but together they make something wonderful and therefore have vital importance individually.

I Don’t Remember My 12th Birthday

So yesterday as I was pondering over responding to the Daily Prompt, I had this extremely horrifying realization. Terribly horrifying.

I don’t remember my 12th birthday. Seriously, though. In fact, that is one of my only birthdays that I don’t remember. I remember my 11th and 13th birthdays. I remember my best friend’s 12th birthday that was three days after mine. But I do not remember my 12th birthday. For some reason, this really bothered me for a moment. (I mean, not really, but a little bit.) And it got me thinking about the things that we do remember and why we remember them.

What is it that actually defines what we remember, that defines what is important enough to take up space in our brains? I’m pretty sure that we all have those memories that we wish with all our soul we could wipe away, but then there are those other things that we don’t remember and wish we did.

In doing some historical research lately, I came across the idea proposed by somebody that as people, we decide what is and is not significant about the past. I really like this idea and completely agree with it. We have to decide what is significant and why it is important to us, I suppose, for it to have any place in our lives. Just because something is terrible and we’d rather not remember it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t value in our memory cache.

Anyway, I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to get at here. But there’s food for though (I think?….) and here’s a fox:

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Wishing Kaleidoscope

7c0ad4984e0ed98ac305536889cb1f35It’s like a kaleidoscope. Every time I think of it I get chills, my eyes sort of go out of focus and for a split second in time, I feel like maybe, just maybe, it might be 6fd38a6a9c2f3a65ac7400550605460fhappening. Perhaps if I closed my eyes a little tighter or imagined it just a little bit better, I’d be there.

As a student of history, I have to resign myself to the fact that I’ll probably always be a little bit more present in the past than the present. Probably the biggest issue that I have to deal with is the fact that I’m here and not there. But then again, if I were to choose to go back, I’d never be able to make the decision of just where I’d land. But, then again, I don’t know that that is exactly true. There are a million places I’d love to be. But whenever I find myself whirling into that kaleidoscope of images and emotions, it is always of the same place and time.

I suddenly find myself wearing a skirt, bobby socks, and red lipstick and going swing dancing. I see myself in what I personally call “The Era”.  That span of time in history when lipstick was a must, big band music was the music, and where there was something about life that was infinitely more classy and chivalrous. The Era. If I had to say specific years, I suppose this “Era” I’ve made up with span about 30-40 years. Basically from the 1920’s to the 1950’s-60’s. I could see myself in finger waves doing the Charleston or being caught up in the war effort.

Why is it that when we look back on these times, they seem so much better? They weren’t perfect, no they weren’t. No time in history was ever perfect. Horrible things happen everyday, history is written because things weren’t perfect. But somehow when I 38fda346fafc2c27cb46e62980af17b9look back on those times, I feel fdea4447371e36da464d8371f952d845suddenly like I got a little cheated. They had awesome cars and, of course, my favorite person ever, dear Frank. We have skinny jeans and YOLO. I’m telling you, this isn’t cool at all. I find myself asking things like,”What am I doing here in this time? Why am I not there?” I suppose the answer to the question is that everything just works out the way that it is supposed to. I don’t know that the people living in those times knew how wonderful they were. Those in the 20’s didn’t think of them as the ‘Roaring Twenties’ or anything like that. I suppose that I’m lucky being a student of history, because I get to see everything in front of me at once. Every era, every span of time I love learning about I can look at all at once.

But every now and again, I feel myself falling into that kaleidoscope and wishing.