Wednesday, December 26, 2012
I’ve been thinking about this since Sunday morning, when I logged on to a dating site I keep an open profile on, clicked on “who’s viewed me” and saw his face.
He looked at my profile.
He sent me no smiles or flirts or messages, but he looked at my profile.
Now, I know there are a million explanations for this--errant thumb hits link accidentally, dog paws on the keyboard, possibly forgotten he even knew me--but I’ve been thinking ever since I saw his face again if it was intentional.
And what might that mean?
And should I do anything about it?
I usually subscribe to the philosophy of “If he wants to be with you, he’ll find a way to be with you.”
But at the same time, I subscribe to the philosophy “Act as if everything depended on you, pray as if everything depended on God.”
I’ve spent many hours on my knees about this one, from the day we met, especially in the week that followed our breakup, and occasionally in the past year or so when I missed him so much I thought for sure I’d rather just feel nothing, have some “eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” procedure so I could forget how he made me feel.
I wanted to forget him.
And then this quote, "20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you something great will come out of it."
And then today, this blog post, about a girl who refused to give up.
And I wonder--in all honesty--what is the harm of saying hello, happy holidays, hope you are well?
What is the worst that could happen? My heart is already broken, though stitched together with seasonal hope, so the worst is that he never reads the email, never responds, and a stitch or two pops open but heals back up in a day.
20 seconds of insane courage. It takes less than 20 seconds to send an email.
So I only need one.
Because honestly, at this point in my life, why not? I turn 40 in seven months. I’ve reconciled completely and peacefully with not having children. I’m truly okay with it. And most days, I’m completely and peacefully okay with not having a spouse. I love my career, I love my colleagues, I love my space that I can keep as neat-freakish or as slovenly as I wish, depending on my mood.
One second of insane courage. It’s something. An offering at the end of a year that can only be described as utterly hopeless.
So if anyone has one second of insane courage to lend me (or wants to talk me out of sending a two-sentence email), speak up. I'm not sure I can do this on my own.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
I had a normal childhood growing up. I was born and raised in the LDS church, and from a very young age, was taught that marriage, eternal marriage in particular, should be one of the top priorities in your life. My parents have a fantastic marriage, one that I aspire to have someday.
I knew from a very young age that I did not want to be a full-time stay at home mother. I’ve had the same career aspirations since the age of five, and I’ve never wavered in knowing what I’ve wanted to do with my life. Go to college, get married sometime in college, go to graduate school, have children, have a successful career, live happily ever after, etc… I’m one of those people that love to have everything planned. I had a perfect plan of how my life would end up.
However, sometimes life does not go according to plan. Sure, I went to college. I finished with my Bachelor’s degree still single but loving life. I’m now in graduate school, currently living on an island in the Caribbean. Sounds idyllic, right? It is, most of the time. It has done nothing for my dating life though.
The church on the island is a small branch of about sixty people. It’s small but strong and growing. For the first few years, I was the only single LDS person to be found on the island. I would return home to Utah every four months to see family and friends, who would take it upon themselves to set me up as much as possible in the few weeks that I was home.
Then things took a turn for the interesting. One Sunday morning after shooing out the local goats from eating and destroying our supply of mangoes in the church’s garden, I hurried into sacrament meeting. I was hot. I was humid. I was crabby from having to chase out the obstinate goats. So I sat in the back of our small chapel, and what do I behold, an LDS man who looked to be around my age. To top it all off, I also learned that he was single.
Now, most people would say that I was drawn to him just because he was the only man that I should date because he was my same faith, and I would have to say that’s false. Something intangible drew me to him from the moment I met him. Almost like a string was attached to my heart from the very beginning, and he held that string. He started at the same graduate school that I was attending, and we began to spend quite a bit of time together. Heck, we even went grocery shopping together. He had all the qualities that I was looking for in a future spouse, yet he came in a completely different package than I had always pictured. He had a beard and looked unkept most of the time. He had these sandals that were so old they were practically falling off his feet.
Yet I was falling fast and dangerously hard for this boy. We never defined our relationship and where it was going, and in the beginning, I loved being with him so much that I was fine with that. But, as girls tend to do, I started to analyze things. Where was this relationship going? How did he feel about me? Where did he see this relationship going? All the typical questions we start fearing in new relationships.
Months went by and these questions still were not getting answered. I didn’t ask them out loud, but I thought they would come up in our conversations. They never did. So finally I’d had enough. I’d had enough of the mind games and endless analyzing. I had to know how he felt about me.
You know those moments, the ones that mark your life? Those moments where you feel like nothing will ever be the same after it? The night that I decided to tell him exactly how I felt was one of those moments. I remember standing outside his house, willing my shaking body to knock on his door. Never in all my life had I felt such anxiety and fear yet also felt so much hope. I had my whole life in front of me, and here I was taking risks to achieve what I really wanted! Because honestly, all I wanted was him.
So I knocked on his door. He was confused to see me at such a late hour, but he looked pleased to see me. I told him how I felt about him, how I wanted us to be together. I told him everything that was in my heart. He told me he didn’t feel the same way. He said maybe he could feel that way in the future, but now at this point in his life, he said he couldn’t. I left his house that night, heartbroken and forever changed.
Isn’t that what life is about though? Going through trials, heartbreaks, and tribulation so that we can be changed? It alters our life so that we can progress to where we are supposed to be. I’m not going to tell you that I wish he hadn’t felt differently. Of course I wanted him to kiss me that night and, just like the movies have all taught us, we live happily ever after. But that’s life for you. Sometimes we do not get what we want at the time we think we deserve it. Our timetable for our life does not match our Heavenly Father’s timetable for our life sometimes.
I was devastated by this man’s response. I felt like I was not good enough for him. A few days after this transpired, I read a quote from President Uchtdorf that said “No matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you.” Don’t you love how you receive inspiration from the scriptures or from our beloved church leaders just when you need it? No matter what we are going through in our lives, whether it is big or small, our Heavenly Father is ALWAYS there to comfort us when we are in need of comfort. He gives us these trials not because He does not love us, but to strengthen us.
I don’t know if my story is done with this man. Part of me feels like it’s not over between us, like something else will transpire. Either way, I know in the time since we parted ways, I have felt my Savior’s love more acutely than ever before. I think that when life or people break our hearts, break them completely open to where you feel like you can’t withstand the pain, that is when the Savior rushes in. He fills your heart with such love that, in time, it begins to mend itself back together. That’s what gives me the undying hope that I will love again.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
And then a couple of months later, without warning (and trust me--I know how to spot red flags after my sordid past) he broke up with me. The days that followed were pretty dark, yet I felt peace and comfort and was able to carry on without falling apart.
It hasn't always been easy, this past year. I've missed him horribly, and my prayers have run the gamut of the stages of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, sadness...but never quite arriving at acceptance. Because throughout all of my failed relationships, I always want to know WHY. Why not me? Why someone else? I never get an answer to that question. And I'll be honest, I don't want to accept that it's completely over because I want to keep my heart open in case he happens to come back.
A couple of weeks ago, I was the pianist at my niece's baptism. I spent the entirety at the piano, away from my family, and as I sat secluded from the rest of the people in attendance, I prayed. I prayed about the angst I feel about never having children, about dying alone, about all the traveling I keep putting off because I want to go places with someone dear to me. (And I do travel quite a bit alone, so don't think that I'm just sitting at home, staring out my window.)
It's difficult to articulate how I felt at the end of that prayer, but I will try. I felt as if I was being physically supported by God. As if I was floating, or as I described to my sister--like going tubing on the most peaceful river. And the message was clear: "Just. Hang. On."
And then, this week, various bits of information have come to light that made it clear to me this past year, I was better off without him. Not because he's not who I thought he was, but because he needed time to himself. I apologize for the ambiguity, but suffice it to say, I was protected. My year was stressful enough, and though I would have gladly helped shoulder his burdens, God thought better of it.
I teach Gospel Doctrine at church, and I'm always harping on the importance of the basics--pray daily, read scriptures daily, serve, love, etc. Because it's only when we are entrenched in the basics that we are able to feel that physical support from God, or be open to the inspiration that tells us He knows us and loves us. He is not a vengeful God, punishing my litany of sins with a lifetime of being single.
I still do not feel like the chapter of this particular boy is finished. But if it is, at least now I know why. That's no small gift, and I can't begin to express how grateful I am to just know.
Friday, June 1, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
- I live in the middle of nowhere.
- Still struggling with memories of the boy. Just the other night he popped into my dream, and as I started to wake up and realize it was a dream and not reality, I willed myself back to sleep so I wouldn’t have to remember what it felt like not talking to him. Grrr.
- I am back in the online dating world, which for me means the only men expressing interest in me are 13-18 years older than me.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Things I did right:
- Take the opportunities to explore every dream, every idea, every opportunity. Once you marry those singular choices come to a screeching halt. I will forever be grateful that I took the opportunities I was given to finish my education, travel the world, and make mistakes that no one but me knows about.
- Be faithful. I know the only thing that has kept me sane, and happy (even when I felt miserable) was the gospel. Cling to it. Make it your best friend. You are NOT alone.
- When you fall down, get back up. Let your mistakes go and make tomorrow better.
- Never regret the people that you've loved. Even if they've broken your heart, turned their back on you, or treated you poorly - never regret the love and kindness you gave them.
- Have good friends. Wherever you can find them. When your family doesn't understand, when you feel alone in your ward, when you just need a shoulder to lean on - I know that unequivocally the friends that I have made (though they were all married, stay at home mom's and I thought they could never understand) have been my greatest champions, my greatest supports, and are now my biggest cheering section.
- I wish that I had found a way not to be so angry. Anger is a wasted emotion but it was part of my process I suppose. Feeling anger that deep makes my joy that much bigger but it made my sorrow that much darker.
- I wish I had found a way to let myself dream. I worked so hard at convincing myself that this would never happen that even as I stare at the ring on my finger I struggle to believe.
- Not worried so much. I couldn't rush today anymore then I could pick up a car and throw it. My faith wasn't strong enough to let this worry go but things would have been a lot easier if it had been.
- Paid attention to red flags in relationships instead of trying to rationalize them away. Heavenly Father will guide us if we will just listen.
- Trust Heavenly Father. Trust Him. Trust Him. Trust Him.
Thank you to the original Talking Walls girls - you have blessed more of us then you know.
Thank you Heavenly Father for not melting me down for parts years ago.
In closing I would like to say:
Monday, April 2, 2012
Friday, March 16, 2012
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
And there it was. In one short, well intentioned sentence I was yanked back to every break up I've ever experienced where a man had told me he wanted to marry me but because I am so wonderful (which I am) and they are so unworthy (which they were) they just couldn't in good conscience make that type of commitment. In one confused blink of his eyes, mine filled with tears and we looked at each other as only a man and woman can. Both completely baffled as to what the other is confused about. She feeling hurt to her core questioning how she could love such an unfeeling brute, he wondering what in the world he had said that had landed him on the on-ramp for one of those discussions.
Being the independent, hates being vulnerable, swore to the heavens that she would never put herself in this position again kind of girl that I am I had to fight back my initial impulse to get up and run. I did a little self therapy, told myself to brave and then...clammed up.
My sweetheart, being the sensitive male that he is will do anything in his power to make me happy. It kills him when I have a problem he can't fix, and as far as I can tell he means it when he says that he wants me to share everything with him. I have to admit, that is new for me. I'm much more accustomed to something like the following: "I love you with all my heart! I would do anything for you! Of course, this is contingent on the requirements that you don't come to me with any problems, never confront me about something that is bothering you, and whatever you do never suggest that I am not 100% perfect."
After some gentle snuggles and a head rub (I'll do anything for a head rub) I was finally cajoled to connect the dots for him. Of course, I had to first figure it out myself and why I had such a primal, immediate reaction. What I realized (and what I finally shared) was that I had heard something very different then what he had said. While he was making a statement about our future life together I heard:
"Someday (a long, long time from now) when you're married (fat chance sister, it's never going to happen) you're going to love being a wife (because finally someone will have chosen you back you sad, sad thing. But don't hold your breath. By the way, I'm telling you this so that you'll read between the lines and know that I'm not interested in marrying you even though I've told you that I am. I just like watching you fight back all that hope and even giggle when I see you trying to resist the urge to pick out paint colors for this living room you're never going to live in. I secretly wonder how long you'll let me string you along, but I'm going to milk it for as long as I can. Cue evil chuckle...hehehe...")
That's quite a journey those few words took from my ears to whatever part of the brain stores memory and emotion. But that's the path I took and it happened so fast I didn't even realize it until the tears were falling down my face. That's the traumatized part of me I suppose - flashbacks and triggers to my most painful experiences. In an instant I was alone again and the freshness of those feelings was powerful.
I think of the times that I have let myself believe and opened up that protected part of my heart that I have (unfortunately) learned to guard with Xena Warrior Princess fierceness. By allowing myself to be vulnerable I have experienced those moments most of us would do anything to avoid but which I've started to wonder just might be important to our eternal development. Most of us have never been asked to cross frozen plains without food or shelter or deal with tyrannical leaders, or watch our families starve to death. We have been asked to deal with loneliness, hopelessness and depression and just like those faithful pioneers have been encouraged to be cheerful and keep going believing that our promised land is real and will soon be in front of us.
I just have to ask - why is that so hard to do even when all the signs around you say This Is The Place?
Saturday, March 3, 2012
***Really hoping this post doesn’t completely reveal my identity***
I teach at a public high school, and every so often I’m asked to help out with playing the piano. I should have said no this year, as the demands of my teaching and grading load are so great that some days I wonder how I’m managing to get out of bed in the morning. But I said yes, mostly because my friend is the pit conductor, and because I love performing, and because any chance to sharpen my piano skills is something good for me.
But I wish we were doing a different musical.
We’re doing “Once On This Island,” the tale of a girl who prays to the gods to show her what her life should be like. And when a storm causes a cute boy to crash his car right outside the young girl’s village, she takes it as a sign that she is to be his keeper, protector, and lover.
What she doesn’t realize is that love (but really, it's more like obsession--think Ariel/Eric from The Little Mermaid) doesn’t really get her all that far, as the cute boy is engaged to a suitable girl within his social class. He invites the protagonist to remain his mistress, but he cannot marry her. She cannot abide his offer, thinking that her love for him will eventually overcome the social pressures.
I’m not going to spoil it, but it doesn’t end well.
As we’ve been in tech rehearsals all week and I’ve had to play the show several times, I’m often reminded of my own struggles. I’m no closer to any solutions for my concerns. But hearing lines like “Some girls you marry, some you love” over and over is wreaking a little bit of havoc on my self-esteem, my emotional well-being, and my faith.
I’m trying to have faith, trying to believe, trying to live a good life, all the while hoping that one day I will be blessed with a spouse. But does there ever come a point where hope becomes desperation? Where hope becomes pathetic? I honestly don’t know--or is my constant hope just a manifestation of my faith that even if I have to wait until I am 60, I will meet a sweet, funny, loving man who will forgive all my faults and physical shortcomings and love me?
(Though at 60, I’m hoping the men are a little less picky about height, weight, and overall beauty.)
I don’t know what the answer is.
But I’ve learned one thing from this year’s musical: if I’m asked to play again, I’ll wait to say yes until I’ve read the show.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Am I allowed to say crap in this blog? Oh well, like I said I'm boiling with indignation, and I'll add this to the list of things I repent of tonight...
Are you over it yet? Man or woman are you fed up with the talks and the articles and the books and the advice columns? Are you over the analysis and the minute detailing of experiences to try to find the reasons why? When are we going to call it like it is? When are we going to stomp our feet and say enough is enough? Enough selfishness! Enough fear! Enough putting happiness off in the misguided notion that there's something bigger/better/less scary out there?
I propose we stand together and just like an AA meeting say together:
I'm (chosen name here) and I'm single. I hate it. I have no idea why this has happened to me. I can't get over this and I wonder if I ever will. I hate the desperation I feel but as the years go on the more hopeless I am.
I'm (chosen name here.) I'm single. I want to be single. I don't want the responsibility of a spouse, children, home, etc. I want to have fun and do what I want to do. I don't care what the Prophets say. I date with the intent to have fun, not to find a marriage partner.
I'm (chosen name here too.) I expect my future spouse to fulfill a list of requirements that is unreasonable and will ensure that I will stay single until I die or become senile - whatever comes first. He/She must be rich, good looking, spiritual....this list is really my way of saying I don't want/or I'm afraid/or I have much too high an opinion of myself to tie myself to another imperfect person.
Or if you're like me...
I'm Stella. I'm single. For years I've been an active participant with my peers complaining and whining about what the opposite sex is/isn't doing. For years I've wondered what's wrong with me? Well, I'm sick of it. From now on, I want us to say it how it is. If you don't want to get married say so. If you're questioning your sexual preference say so. If you're afraid say so. Stop hurting innocent people who are trying to find their forever family.
As of today I pledge to never again read another random article on how to not be single. To those who continue to hold to their fears, their selfishness, their refusal to follow the Prophet's counsel and guidance I add:
Friday, February 3, 2012
One part of being single and childless that people might not realize is that I don't get a lot of physical attention. Even my sisters, who have happy marriages but have had spells of single-mothering due to their husbands' jobs, still have little ones climbing in laps, raining hugs and kisses (and sure, an inadvertent elbow or two to the kidneys).
I tend to shy away from physical contact—hugs, hands on shoulders and the like—because if I don't get used to feeling people touch me, then I won't miss it when it doesn't happen daily.
There's one exception.
A friend, a former colleague who is one of the touchy-feeliest people I know (and happens to be rather attractive) showed up at the same venue I was at last night. It had been six months since I last saw him. He greeted me with one of his signature enveloping hugs, and he sat next to me. We chatted while we listened to live bands, and every time he wanted to turn my attention from the music, he put his hand on my arm, on my back, on my knee. He would lean in close to talk to me, his stubble brushing my cheek.
And when the last band said good night, I turned to my friend, and he wrapped his arms around me and squeezed me oh so tight. He kissed my cheek and stroked my hair, and we promised, for the millionth time since we stopped working together, that we'd stay in touch better this time.
If I wanted to, I probably could have wrangled a little more than just a hug from him...but he isn't LDS, and I just can't walk through that door yet. Yes, my Nana did, and yes, plenty of other women do. And maybe I will too one day.
But for now, it was just nice to be hugged repeatedly by a freshly laundered man who called me “baby” and adored me for an evening.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Noticing that several of the original contributors to the blog are now married I decided to do a little research into their final blog posts and see what words of wisdom I could find about this feeling that has been driving me crazy. I found one by Kris titled My Issues. At this point Kris was starting to figure out that her sweetheart just might be THE ONE and was surprised to find herself freaking out. She so perfectly wrote all of my fears including the misguided notion that Heavenly Father must not want her to be married - (why else would He have made her wait so long?) Another post even discussed the guilt one feels when looking at other single friends who hadn't yet met their sweethearts - survivors guilt as it were. Something tells me that might be a future blog post so I'll leave it alone for now.
Through her post I found words to feelings that I hadn't found a way to express quite yet. There it is - "Fearless" Stella who has always prided herself in jumping into life with both feet is finding herself exactly where Kris did over 3 years ago. No announcements to make yet but realizing that the fear of the unknown needs to be acknowledged. Calm down Stella, Heavenly Father loves you, His perfect plans will be realized in His time and it's okay to be a little scared.
I've never met Kris - but if you still read this blog thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing those thoughts so long ago. Your words were a much needed life saver for me, a validation of my experience, and the perfect reminder that just because I've had to wait longer then many doesn't mean that wasn't the perfect plan all along.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
After the last relationship debacle with the Boy of Summer, I swore off online sites. That system is just not for me. If it wasn't going to work out with him, it wasn't gonna work out with anyone.
So I settled into my school routine, and still missed him every day.
Then last Sunday my visiting teachers came and offered the obligatory “do you need anything?”
And I mustered all the humility I could and said, “Well, a husband. More specifically, prayers for one.”
We shared a lighthearted laugh, but I explained that if my own pathetic prayers aren't doing the trick, I might as well enlist the help of people with more faith than I have. One of my visiting teachers asked if I was opposed to being set up, even if they didn't live in town.
“Why not?” I said.
So here I sit, 10 days later, and an email arrives from a friend of that visiting teacher. In normal circumstances, I would feel a combination of fear and excitement. This time, I felt a combination of fear and sadness. Because engaging in communication with this person feels like I've closed the door on the Boy of Summer, a realization that clearly I was not prepared for.
I had left that door half open, hoping every single day that he would change his mind. He's clearly not, but at the same time, I'm not sure I'm ready for a rebound.
Even so, I mustered all the humility I could and wrote an email back. It might not go anywhere (let's be honest, I don't have a whole lot of faith in my track record), but I'm jumping back in. Opening my heart, making a friend, and trying to not hold the past against the future.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
I've been thinking a lot lately about the trials and sufferings we experience during our mortal journeys. How different our struggles are. How tailor made they are for our strengths and weaknesses, personalities and fears. How your trials would have little effect on me and mine would seem simple to you.
Have you ever wondered why you have the lot you have? Why you struggle so hard with a particular hardship while others don't seem to have a care in the world? Over the years that I've read and participated in this blog I have often felt anger boil up in me at some of the comments that have been left to various posts. Until one day it hit me - that most of those comments were not meant to be cruel or unkind. Most were simply made of ignorant bewilderment. How in the world could this experience of single-hood in this day and age be a source of such great pain that you actually formed a support group and write about it?
Single hood is not a death sentence. It is not even close to the very worst thing that could happen to a person however if this is your trial then you know the ache that lives in your heart on a daily basis. If this is your particular cross to bear then you know how bleak and dark the future can look and how desperately hard it sometimes can be to focus on just today. If this is your mountain to climb then you know what it feels like to be able to almost see those who are missing from your life. To see the children your arms ache to hold, to see the spouse you desperately wish you could talk about your day to, to almost be able to taste the family dinners that go uneaten night after night. If this is your trial then you get it and I don't need to explain further.
If this isn't your trial then I ask you to think about the thing that keeps you up at night. Maybe it's a health issue, employment or the lack thereof, your children's happiness, financial security, personal safety, sins or regrets you would undo in a second if you had the power to. Maybe it's wondering if you will ever have the opportunities you've worked so hard for or having the secret dreams of your heart realized. Maybe it's feeling like you have no worth or value or doubt where you fit into the world. This thing I know - we all have them.
I had a pastor once give the following analogy: Imagine that your individual struggle is a cross that you wear on your shoulders all day. Now imagine that we are all given the opportunity to put that cross down in a room. We leave the room and re-enter to choose a cross more to our liking. We would all pick up the cross we had sat down in the first place. Interesting thought isn't it? I have no doubt that it is true - there are things that others go through that I wouldn't want to deal with for even a moment and if I'm truthful there are things that others deal with that are so inconsequential to me I wouldn't be challenged in the slightest.
I understand on some level why this is my trial. I need people more then I need air. I need love and others to love. I need relationships and connections and am motivated to change only when I know it will benefit someone else. That makes me sound more altruistic then I am but to say that I'm people orientated is an understatement.
What better trial to give me then the withholding of the most important relationships? The most important connections? To prove and try my faith, my belief, my strength? To see if I will endure all things the Lord sees fit to put upon me and stay true to Him? If I had to design a cross just for me I can't imagine one better fit to my weaknesses or one that will better push me into becoming a queen in my Father's kingdom.
In closing I guess what I'm saying that if you've come here to visit and what we say doesn't seem so important to you it's okay. Your struggles are different, your needs are different and your plan is tailor made just for you. I hope there is a blog out there for your particular need because for me on the tough days, this is my haven. My Cheers (alcohol free of course), and one of the few places I know I'll always find a kindred spirit or two.