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Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Own Contribution: 'Dare to Share'

It is time for me to share something in this space. Something real. Something raw. Something that is on my heart, and has been for some time. Something that new widows face. Something that is hard. Apart from the words woven together on this screen, I have been quietly dealing with families; with mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. Apart from the faithful followers of my blog I have addressed this issue within my church walls; with my pastor, my elders, and my friends. I have bled this thing dry, and then stood up dusted myself off and continued on down the same path I was on. Why? Because I feel this is a provision God has blessed me with in the aftermath of Matt's death. More pointedly, it is one of the most cherished provisions God has provided.

In my last post when I was speaking of reprocessing events I came across something disturbing. I discovered that there were many things I kept 'secret' from Matt. Not because I didn't want to tell him, but because I think if I had it would have been a further place of hurt for me. Back then this seemed acceptable, it seemed right. It doesn't anymore. I can't place blame for this fact on either of us. I was anxious and had no self worth. Saying he was a poor communicator misses the mark by a long shot, but it will do. Overall, we weren't good in the arguing arena. If I shared these 'secrets', even the lies, they would have been brought back up in an unattractive way, at an inappropriate time. And the feelings they brought to the surface in both of us would have been shoved down inside.

It was in my therapist's office that I stumbled across this fact. She asked me what the top five worst things I had ever faced were, and as I began to tell her I became flushed. My whole body heated up. I felt like I had scarlet fever. My head became light. My stomach turned . . . I had never told anyone this before. See - there were others involved so I assumed in some fashion I guess I had shared it - because I had "shared" it with them. It was in that dizzying moment I became acutely aware that forgiveness from God is not to be mistaken as an alternative for human to human confession. Sitting there in that chair I opened a rusty, dark, and murky cage that sat in the deepest corner of my heart. I reached into that cage, took one of those ratty old stories, and I threw it across the room. As it spilled from me I could almost see it; the story that consumed me from within for years like a monster. It was now darting over the carpet, small as a mouse, looking for a hiding place. I had rid my heart of something dark. It had gone out, and although I knew that event happened, it's ability to control me was changing.

Let's be honest though, our therapist's offices are the easy way out, right? I fought going to therapy up until a couple weeks ago because, 'Therapy never does anything for me'. I now realize that I have yet to have a therapist that I've told everything too. I even have anxiety about them thinking I am 'less than' . . . sad, really.

I will not be sharing with you my dark and ugly story, because it doesn't define who I am. Because I am not healed from those wounds yet. Because that is not what God is calling me to do. If at some point He does calls me to share those dark moments in my past in order to help others then I will. But for now? I'm going to share who I shared this story with. His name is Brad. And he's my boyfriend (I feel a little '12 stepish' right now . . . Hi. My name is Stephanie. I am a widow. And I'm dating.). Our story will come later. Now is not the time. Now is simply the time for me to breath into the universe the one secret I was still holding from those kind enough to have continued traveling this grief journey with me by reading what God has written on my heart.

Since I made the decision to start dating there have been presumptions about my state of grief. Unsureness about my readiness. I've received questions about my motives. I've been tested on whether this can be a Biblical blessed relationship (I believe it can, and is). And not just me, but Brad as well. He has stood by me, and my two kids, through Hell on Earth. Loved me despite - for one of the first time in his life - his character and motives being questioned. None of these questions, tests, or presumptions were meant to hurt us -- for the most part it is for opposite reasons. We are loved by many, and those who love us are trying very hard to protect our hearts. We recognize this, respect this, and wouldn't ask for it to be any other way. It doesn't make it easier to decide, as a new widow, to let someone into your messy life. It doesn't make it easier, but as I said before despite the questions, comments, and concerns we are doing our best to travel this road with gentleness, thought, and care. We are being as careful as we can, while still trying to praise God in the face of this amazing relationship He has given us.

So there it is. Honestly, I have fear over this post. I fear your judgment. I fear inflicting pain on those who love Matt. I fear people thinking that this somehow takes away from my love of Matt (it doesn't). I fear the 'what if' statements. I fear the assumptions that I can not grieve while in a new relationship (but I can and I am). I fear all these things, but at the same time, I also want to honor a God who has blessed me beyond belief. I want to honor Him by sharing with the world just one more amazing gift He has given me during this long and very difficult year. So thank you . . . thank you for letting me share something with you.

4 comments:

Xaris said...

Great step forward - both in the sharing and in the willingness to have a relationship. Both are healthy steps, good steps, and in the long run will prove to be useful steps.

Sandy said...

I couldn't be happier for you! Everyone has their own grief timeline and their own time to start dating again. I will be 46 next month and in October it will be 2 years since losing TJ, I do date, but I am not interested in a relationship. But, that is my personal choice. You do what is right for you! You are young and have a right to share your life with someone special should you choose. I will caution, by saying it is early in your grief process so please be careful. I surely don't want to see you hurt again. Congratulations!

Wendy said...

Thank you for sharing. I can identify with a lot of this, including the fear to even open up wholly to a therapist. Learning to open up takes practice, and is hard, but good, so thank you for sharing. And I wish you and your boyfriend the best -- as my boyfriend and I could tell you (though you clearly know), you can be grieving and feel love at the same time. It's not like the heart can only handle one emotion at any given phase of your life -- goodness, we all feel myriad emotions on a daily basis, even those who aren't widowed! While finding someone to share your life with again doesn't erase the pain by any means, it certainly is nice to have a hand to hold and someone who will walk alongside you on this path. All the best.

Michelle said...

Hey babe...well how do I feel so close to you yet so far away..you are one of my best friends and I think about you daily.. I know life is super busy, and well if this is the only way I can chat with then so be it...I am so happy to hear you are shareing some happiness with a boyfriend.. Very sad i didnt hear it from you, that just shows how much contact we have had lately..boo hoo Im sure it's been a tring experience for you and others...remember no one else knows what your going thru follow your heart and do only what's right for steph not everyone else...it makes me smile to know someone is by your side...I miss you sooooo much and wish our lives could bring us closer together. Keep a smile and I love you issac and evi...xoxoxoxoxoxoxo