Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ups, Downs and So Much Stronger

While I had high hopes for 2012 being a better year, it has basically been a continuation of the previous year. Since the very first day, this year has been challenging but also a wonderful learning experience. I feel incredibly grateful for the growth I have made in this year and even in the past few months. I have become stronger because of everything I have experienced. I will admit, I have had my fair share of anxiety and moments where all I could was try to cling to the present. I've learned that just because you have weakness doesn't mean you aren't capable of being strong. Your strength is known when you have no other choice but to be that way. On a daily basis it is easy to struggle but when you are put to the test that is when all is revealed. Maybe you've always been powerful -- you just didn't know it.

I don't think that finding ones strength has to necessarily come from the cost of a hardship on another. I think it these times just force us to find that deeply embedded inner courage. Further, as I believe: for every bad circumstance or heartache there is always something good.

[ I really hope I don't sound arrogant or melodramatic. I'm not trying to exaggerate either. I'm simply writing from my stream of subconscious and my heart. Trying to gather all the events that have happened in one place is like herding 10 cats! I have all of these different directions I can go and ways to organize my thoughts, so this is just how it is all coming out on here.... ]

So, back to what I was saying: yes, there have been quite a few downs this year but I have also experienced much joy. I feel a sense of peace with my friendships/relationships and particularly the romantic one I am in. While I feel mixed in saying so, it has been good to see the true colors and reality of other relationships/people. The goodness in that comes from knowing I have solid friendships/relationships in my life. I have also made several new friends that add happiness to my life. Cliche - maybe but oh so true: when one door closes, another one opens. I'd like to think it's the window that opens though.

As best I can, I will describe recent events that have led me to this point. My guess is I'll need to do a part 2 post. ;-)

Down/Mixed: After Mother's Day my boyfriend learned that his mom had pancreatic and liver cancer. We ended up going to Spokane to visit her 4 times throughout the summer -- we went every two weeks. Through this time I learned how to use my voice and to advocate for myself. Ironically, from all of this, my relationship with my mother started to heal and grow. While I wish the circumstances could have been different I am grateful for this change, as it has also helped me to be more confident in my commitment.

I experienced many emotions during this time. Frankly, it was quite overwhelming and hard to process what I felt. I had the anxiety of meeting Brian's family and friends for the first time, and all that came with watching someone decline by the day.

I'll never forget meeting Brian's mom -- I felt humbled and in awe. Each time I saw his mom (and each visit after the first she was worse off; I met her first in her apartment and then the last few visits were in a nursing home), I felt a deep sense of calm from her presence. She was such a peaceful, gentle, sweet, sincere and quick witted woman. Even on the last visit, I felt extremely calm and just couldn't take my eyes off of her. She was absolutely beautiful even in suffering. It's almost hard to describe how it felt to see her on that last visit but she was graceful even in her last breathing days on earth.

My relationship with Brian really was molded even further during this heart wrenching time.We grew together  as this time further intertwined our lives.

As part of our relationship becoming more solid, I learned a lot about Brian. I got to see how he managed his emotions and learn just how close he was to his family. Basically, I got to see him in context. I saw him vulnerable, strong, gentle, compassionate and resilient. I learned more about who he was in context of the people he loves and that have been a part of his life for years. I got to see some of his old stomping grounds -- his roots. I got to see the shades of his personality: the boy and the man. In his eyes, I saw the boy who looked up to his mom and needed her. However, I also saw the man who gave his mom so much peace and joy.

What I'll remember for years to come was simply the fact that I got to meet the woman who loved my man for the very first time.

She passed away on July 20th. The memorial service was on August 5th at the church she had been attending. The pastor summed up her life sweetly (almost these words): "Jan's life was a reflection. A reflection causes you to look at something. She looked at Jesus for guidance and strength.... because she looked towards Jesus her life mirrored Him." Oh so true. What a beautiful woman.

I'm so thankful I had the opportunity to spend so much time with Brian's family. We stayed with his brother and sister-in-law each time we visited. They were so generous in letting us stay in their home and were great to be around. In the evenings we would BBQ, sit outside and enjoy the night. It was fun when his sister was there too (she lives in the same area as us) because her 2 year old son would chase the cat around the yard and provide us with a lot of entertainment. I consider Brian's family my new friends -- they are people I admire and love. I loved seeing how they put meaning into the word family. While I did see them work together in a hard time, I could tell that they had a great love for each other that had been there for years. I felt incredibly touched to be able to observe them and to participate in everything.

Those weekends were difficult mentally, emotionally and physically. I was worn out during these times and it was totally worth it. This quote stuck with me during this time, "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I needed to be."

I could talk at length about everything but I will let this be the conclusion of this 'event.' I'll do another blog post for the other ups and downs of this summer. On to Part II....


Journey Authentically said...

AJ--Your sentiments here are beautifully put--made my heart fill a bit. So glad you had the opportunity to meet B's mom and that you've come to feel so settled in the relationship. Sending lots of love to you!

Angela said...

Elizabeth - thank you for the comment and glad it was uplifting. I am so thankful too, I'll carry those memories with me forever. Lots of love to you too!