Last week, Craig and I had a "thing". Rarely do we disagree, and this wasn't so much a disagreement, or a fight - this was him saying something that hurt my feelings.
And bless this man; he is marrying one of the most sensitive women of all time ever, ever, ever.
He hurt my feelings.
And I cried because that's what I like to do.
And then, he apologized. Clearly. Candidly. Without any kind of "but" afterwards. Just a heartfelt apology, and he was forgiven.
I tell you that not to out Craig for a misstep - Lord knows I make them, too. I tell you that because I want you to know that we are not perfect.
I highlight a lot of our good here and on Facebook. I tell you guys a lot of what we're doing right. I talk about how much I love him. I talk about how well he loves me. I talk about how we're not sure how to walk through this life, but we've promised to work at it every day ... together.
Years ago, we were both on the couch. We both had lived through particularly difficult weeks, and he had just gotten to my house. We sat together, my head on his shoulder. It was dark - I hadn't bothered to turn lights on after the sun went down. And it was blessedly quiet.
Awhile ago, I read something --
"Talk about your past so that your future knows how to love you better."
That's what we did that night. Our voices low, caressing over the broken pieces of our hearts.
There are two things that I believe - down deep in my chest - that have made Craig and I successful at this Love Even After The Fire business.
1) Talking in the dark.
2) Patience for the words.
When you shut the lights off, and when you wait for the other person to work through their thoughts - some kind of magical bridge builds.
I told him that night that I needed someone capable. Someone that could make a decision. Someone that could lead a family. Someone that could call me out on my bullshit, but still cheer louder than anyone else for me. And ... I need someone to not yell when we fight (a definite non-negotiable).
Quietly, I whispered to him what I needed in order for us to stick together. The words felt clunky and hard and rusty. Never in my life had I whispered something so urgent and important to someone else.
Lowly, his lips next to my ear, he whispered what he needed. The words felt clunky and hard and rusty. Never in his life had he whispered something so urgent and important to someone else.
This is not rocket science.
This is an autopsy. This is an exhumation. This is looking desperately at what went wrong in The Before in order to live more freely and fully in The After.
It takes a fair amount of courage because you're admitting defeat and fault and failure to someone else. You're giving someone else some kind of intimate gift.
Months ago, someone I don't know very well took aim at me and Craig.
[Aside: What a weird thing to get bent out of shape about, right? How weird is it to get worked up over someone else's relationship?]
Anyway. Someone picked up their pointy finger and shoved it right at us.
YOU AREN'T PERFECT, they shouted. YOU'RE LEADING PEOPLE ON, they continued. YOU'RE NOT BEING HONEST, they accused.
And I was stunned.
Maybe they're right.
I'm not perfect. And it is SO MUCH EASIER to talk about how Craig smiles when he makes breakfast for us, or how he picks up my bobby pins and puts them away, or how he looks at me when we dance in the kitchen (also, just that he dances in the kitchen to begin with). It's SO MUCH EASIER to talk about how it feels to know someone is standing behind you pushing, and pushing, and pushing you to step into the person you've always been. It's SO MUCH EASIER to talk about his patience or his faith in us.
You know what isn't easy?
What isn't easy is talking about how Craig calls on his way home after going out with his friends. "Babe," he says, "Are you still awake?" No. I'm normally not. "Okay, I'm just letting you know I'm on my way home. I love you." It's a habit that started in the beginning. It's a habit that started in the beginning when we sat down in the dark one night, and he had patience with me as I tried to talk about the heavy.
It's not easy to talk about how he calls because he knows that I'm inherently uneasy. He knows how quickly it will sneak up on me, how quickly my uncertainty comes back. It's not easy to talk about his friends that are women, and it's not easy to talk about how The Before rushes back in a second.
I suppose that - deep down - I'd rather talk about the light. I'd rather talk about how we have walked through the damn fire. I'd rather talk about how good the other side feels. I'd rather talk about how warm his hands are. I'd rather talk about the bucket list in my heart that is labeled Five Years, Ten Years, Twenty Years From Now. I'd rather talk about how good the sunshine feels on my face when he takes me for an afternoon drive.
No - I don't like spending time talking about the hard.
I lived it.
I was there.
I saw it.
I survived the long days and the unending nights.
I mean ... I guess I could tell you about the time I ordered Craig to pick up the towels off of the bathroom floor, and I could talk about how well that went over (it didn't).
But I'd rather talk about how I've complained about planter fasciitis for months now, so Craig bought me new shoes for my birthday.
I'd rather talk about how he gave me my favorite sharpies with his last name taped on each one with a sticker.
I'd rather talk about how I found out my cousin died on a Sunday, and I'd rather talk about how his palm was warm in my hand ... about how his reassurance was unwavering. I'd rather talk about how he was a pillar.
I'd rather talk about the other side.
I'd rather talk about the hope.
I've learned a lot in the last five years. One of the biggest things? I'm not about to apologize for the person I've become.
Not for the tears I cry when my feelings are hurt.
Not for the rose-colored glasses permanently on my face.
Not for the way I love Craig, or for the way he loves me.
Not for the way I write about the light.
Not for one single damn thing.
Hi friends! Today, I'm going to link up a few of my favorite things. This is a weekly round up of the best things I've found on the Internet for me and my fam.
Just a small reminder: Some of these links are affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting me and my tiny corner of the world!
1. Cropped Camo Pants - They're under $20 and they are so. dang. cute. I ordered them in muted camo black. The sizes go up to 3X.
2. Black Leopard Print Monogram Crew Sweatshirt - Anything ... and I do mean anything with my monogram on it, I'm just a sucker for. Mine ships on March 13. I'm so excited to wear it! Bonus: It's under $20, too!
3. I live in Sam Edelman sandals in the summer. These are inexpensive, and they come in a TON of colors. They're also super good quality + trendy.
4. Ever thought about buying a Spider Man snuggie for your kids? I picked this one up for Tucker for Valentine's Day, and it was a huge hit. He's six, and it's still a little big, but I like that he can grow into it.
5. This was an awesome Valentine's Day hit, as well. These sticker pictures are easy for my six-year-old to handle while I cook dinner + they're super cool/mosaic looking when they're finished. Bonus: It can be easily used instead of a tablet during a lengthy road trip. I also love that it's not a huge mess. Double Bonus: It's less than $6.
6. This selfie ring light has to be one of the most requested links from people. I use this sucker all the time for the most. random. things. It doesn't plug into a regular outlet, though, so be mindful of that. It has to plug into a USB port. It comes with a remote though, so you can go full on Glamor Shots in your house. [I recommend shutting the blinds first.]
7. We LOVE this quick pizza game. You can only play with two players, so grab two sets if you've got a family with more than that. The object of the game is to fill your pizza cards first with dice rolling. It's also a quick game we play while I'm making dinner.
8. We love this new kind of beanbag game! It's set up in our house right now, and it's super fun. It's challenging for both me and Tuck, and it'll be great this summer in the backyard. It shrinks down to fit in that carry bag. If you're a family that camps in the summer - this would be so fun to have!
9. I bought this leopard print belt before Christmas. It is so. freaking. cute. If loving leopard is wrong, I'll never be right. It comes in a ton of different sizes, and I love that little knock-off look of the Gucci belts. This is probs as close to Gucci as I'll ever get. :)
10. I saved the best for last. This science wizard kit is ahhhhmazing. Tucker loves it, and I get a kick out of it, too. It comes with all the things you need for some pretty great experiments. There are many you can do, and several you can do more than once. I feel like the cost to experiment ratio is pretty great, too.
"You're just not good at it." He shrugged his shoulders in a way that made me think the whole world probably agreed with him.
Ages ago, it fell out of his mouth. He laughed. "You never have been."
And I agreed because I suppose he's right. I was young and it was summer and isn't it awful to have people you love acknowledge your weaknesses? Expose them? Expound upon them? Elaborate and enumerate and every other word that means show them off.
Over and over while holding my hand, his voice full of condescension, he would laugh it off. "It's okay, Becky. Not everyone can be good at it." He'd hug me, rub a little love on a gaping, wanting wound, and that didn't make it better.
Those moments were a symptom of a much larger problem, and sometimes, I would find my 20-year-old self so angry that my teeth felt like they would break because my jaw was so clenched.
It's a tally mark, you see? Over and over, he carved into me his opinion. And over and over again, I handed him the stake. Willingly, I listened. Agreed. Took notes on how to play a part better.
So many times, I wanted to call out to him, "I might not be the best ... but I'm not terrible."
I'm not terrible.
Loves, today I just want to remind you of something very, very important:
If you have to argue for your love?
If you have to make closing statements?
If you have to try to convince someone to stay?
That you're worthy?
That you're important?
That you're enough?
That you're smart?
That you're funny?
That you're pretty?
That you're brighter than the damn sun?
Then you need to move on. Take your big, beautiful light, and shine it down on someone that deserves it. Take your gift and your heart and your passion and your joy and your love, and you give it to someone that has earned it.
Don't you dare walk down a sidewalk with someone that thinks that you are ever -
I'll remind you until the very end.
I pray on the way to school every day. There are these crazy people that actually get up earlier in their day to study scripture and think about Jesus and pray. I don't have that kind of discipline, so I listen to a bible study in my car and then I pray afterwards.
Talking to Jesus Time: 6:45 a.m. every morning.
I was thinking this morning about who to pray for, what to pray for ... how to pray for it. [Talking out loud about your innnnnnnnnner, biggggggggest, deeeeeeeeeepest dreams is tough. Don't you judge me.] I decided that praying is just ... hard.
It is not hard to think of the people in my life and to pray for their specific needs. People that are sick. People that are so very clearly struggling. People that have lost their way. People that have confused the good with the not-so-good. Those? Those I can rattle off.
It's the part where I ask for "self-help" that I struggle. So I force myself to say out loud the things that I want for my own life. Sometimes it's one thing. Sometimes it's five. But I'm a list maker - I think about the things before I speak them out loud. Ruminate over them.
And today, that struck me as kinda funny.
Talking to Jesus about my dreams.
Because His dreams for me are much wilder than I can ever even fathom. So. This is what they mean when they say so succinctly - "Let go, and let God." Today, I kinda shrugged my shoulders, looked around my car like I was going to actually see the Holy Ghost, and sorta just ... asked Him to take over.
Which leads my to my point.
What have you dreamed about today?
This weekend, The Boyfriend and I sat on two barstools and he talked of a Big, Giant Dream. One of those dreams that sort of made my armpits sweat a little and I had all kinds of questions. He pulled out his phone and did some math that was kind of hazy because the numbers were all so big and crazy.
And again, I just sort of smiled and shrugged my shoulders. If anyone can do it ... my money is on me with him in my corner.
My dad is almost sixty. One week this year, he was in a helicopter simulator that spins and then dunks him in water. He has to get out in seven seconds. He travels to big, giant boats by helicopter, so he needs to figure out how to get out when they crash. In seven seconds. And when he was telling me about it, he was giggling and excited and happy and I thought, Yes, yes, yes. This.
My momma went back to school at 40. My brother designs lasers, or something so top secret and I'm still not even quite sure he's not some secret James Bond man.
Dreams don't have to be quiet, friends. They can be lived out loud, and you can ask for help. I started a business this year with some of my closest friends (and it's actually doing so well!), and I quit my job to pursue something entirely different. I'm going to be 37 in a few weeks.
This is the ONLY life we get.
And forever, every single day, until the end of time amen - I'll be asking myself if I'm running on FIRE towards what I want, or if I'm lolly-gagging around waiting for something to come to me.
Here's to that today: Here's to learning to ask for help. Here's to dreaming big, holy, terrifying dreams that rattle your teeth and push you forward.
On Thursday, January 2nd, I found myself in the parking lot of the Urgent Care. Conveniently, it's attached the the ER. I walked in, and it was swamped. Crying babies. Frustrated parents. Sick teenagers.
I walked up to the desk. "What's the problem?" The woman asked. A man next to the desk raised his eyebrows as he awaited my answer.
I looked around at all of the people looking at me. "Abdominal pain," I said.
She blinked back at me. "We don't handle that here. Follow those double doors back to the ER, please."
I laughed. Of course. OF COURSE this is my life, I thought. To the ER I went.
In August, we had an in-service. Before the lunch started, I went home. What I thought was ovarian pain, or ovulation pain had me doubled over. I took a nap and felt better. I came back after lunch and continued to work.
In September, I spent a Friday night with a heating pad on my back, praying for relief. If I can just sleep it off, I thought. I'll feel so much better.
October rolled around. I called in sick. "I think it's ... digestive issues? I don't know," I told my principal. I prayed it would end before we flew to San Antonio to surprise my grandparents.
Thanksgiving came. I didn't feel right. I decided to track it with my "life tracker" on my phone. Was it always the right side?
And then, New Years Eve. Craig and I went out for a late dinner and were home and in bed before ten. I didn't feel well, and he had a huge work weekend that weekend. I was tired of feeling like crap once a month. I went home the next night, cleaned up the rest of the Christmas mess, and convinced myself to go to Urgent Care.
"It's REALLY not that big of a deal," I told the nurse in the ER. "Seriously."
It's fine, I texted Craig. I can't call you because I'll cry. I'm in the ER.
Seven p.m. turned in to 8. Eight p.m. turned into 9. I looked at my hospital bracelet. Should I call my boss? I had to work the next day.
The PA came in after my CT scan and pressed on my appendix. I nearly crawled through the roof.
"I've called in the surgical team," she said. Her white coat sleeves were too long for her arms. "They're on their way in. That appendix needs to come out."
There are few things that would've shocked me more.
I just told Craig to stay home.
I hadn't even called my parents.
"Are you SERIOUS?" I started to cry. And by "cry", I do not mean some kind of delicate cry. I mean full on sobs. I did NOT have time for this ... again. [Long-time readers my recall that my gallbladder had to come out, too.]
"Well, doctors in Europe are finding IV antibiotics work in some cases. But not for you." She washed her hands and I sat stunned.
I texted my best friend, Betsy. She responded with researched, valuable questions to ask the doctor. Because that's what friends do for you. They show up.
I texted my boss a picture of my hospital band. "Won't be at work tomorrow," I said. I figured she'd believe me if I had proof that I was actually sick. And then she got in her car and came to my room in the ER. She sat with me. She walked with me to surgery. She made jokes and talked to the nurses and told me it was going to be okay. Because that's what friends do for you. They show up.
Craig wasn't going to make it in time for surgery, but he was on his way. My boss wore my engagement ring until he showed up. I clutched the bed rails and tried to quit crying.
It was just an appendix, right?
My surgeon came in to talk over the procedure. "If I was your wife, what would you do?" I asked him. Kleenex were scattered around me like confetti.
"If you were my wife, you'd already be on the operating table." He didn't blink back when he looked at me. He didn't fidget. Confidence rolled off of his shoulders.
I signed the consent forms.
In pre-op, I tried to remember everyone's name. Bridget. Lisa. I think. I swore up and down that I was going to remember each of them. I was so sure that I would never forget their faces. But now, all I can remember is that they were so compassionate.
In my head, I kept repeating kind and brave, which is the mantra at my house. I tried to remember to say thank you.
(Even when the anesthesiologist said she'd have to put two tubes down my throat - one to help me breathe, and the other to suck out the Mexican food I had eaten for dinner. So gross. I know.)
I shivered and they layered on blanket after blanket. They transferred me to the operating table, and when they put the mask over my mouth, when they told me to count backwards from ten, all I could think of was kind and brave, kind and brave.
They wheeled me into my recovery room and my boss was still there. It had to be like one in the morning by that time, but she was still there. Craig stood next to her and he had on his glasses. I was so confused about time - I thought it was the middle of the day. I wondered why he had on his glasses when he only really wears them at night.
Time was fluid. Was it day? Was it night? There was ice on my abdomen and I had to pee, and Craig was snoring. The nurse was in and out and her hand was in my hair and I cried. I watched the clock and it went hazy - the hands looked like waves.
I called on my people. And my people showed up. Over and over again, I was amazed at how people just. showed. up. for me. I was humbled over and over again by their grace and their love and their prayers and their patience.
The surgeon came in and handed me a picture of my appendix. I looked at it and didn't think it looked like the pictures I had googled the night before.
"Are you sure that's appendicitis?" I asked.
"Your appendix was sick," he said. "It needed to come out."
Eventually, my mom showed up. [She flew back to California on a Tuesday, and then back to Nebraska on a Thursday.]
Eventually, I sat up, walked around, and
eventually, they discharged me.
I recovered all week long. Upstairs. Downstairs. Trying to not pick up Tucker.
Kind and brave.
I went into my doctor's appointment expecting to get cleared to go back to work. I sat up on the table, I told my surgeon that my side still hurt a little, and we joked about having an extended Christmas break.
He told me it wasn't appendicitis casually, like it wasn't a big deal whatsoever.
Instead, he told me it was cancer.
I needed to come back the next week, he said.
I nodded dumbly, carried my paperwork to the desk, and scheduled another appointment.
That afternoon, I got into my car and drove. Somehow, I wound up in the parking lot at Target in the next town over. I didn't get out of my car. My dad researched appendix cancer and sent me a plan of attack. My sister-in-law sent me intelligent, important questions to ask at my next appointment. I took deep, deep breaths.
At my next appointment, the surgeon told me the abdominal biopsies he had taken in surgery were okay, and that I'd need a colonoscopy in six weeks to be doubly sure that it was all gone.
And so we waited. All of us waited. We made jokes about appendix cancer. We went out with friends. We laughed at lunch together. I loved on Tucker. My parents checked in.
"But what if it's everywhere," I would ask Craig.
"It won't be," he would respond. "And if it is, we'll deal with it then."
My colonoscopy was today. Craig's mom drove me to the hospital in the dark. It rained last night, and everything was damp. Bridget - the same girl that checked me in for my emergency appendectomy - was there to check me in today. She remembered me, and as much as I swore I would remember every single person that helped me during those cloudy two days - I just didn't.
I told the anesthesiologist that I get a little panicky before I get taken back, and the last thing I remember thinking was that my face was felt prickly and that I needed to be ...
I didn't even get to kind and brave.
I woke up and the surgeon was standing in front of the curtain with the light shining behind him. And listen - I don't remember getting McDonald's for breakfast this morning, or really even walking to the car, but I don't think I'll forget his words for the rest of my life:
"Her colon is good! It's all good."
And then I cried. all. the. tears. of relief.
I need you to listen to me for a second. My mom had breast cancer at 30. My step-mom had breast cancer. My grandma had breast cancer. My cousin Heather is fighting cancer right now. I am 36, and I have my Master's Degree. I am young, and smart, and I know better.
I know better.
My body was a hot mess for five months. I was sick for five months, and I didn't go to the doctor. So before we put this to bed for good, and before we move on to something new - I want you to hear this hard:
Go to the damn doctor.
Schedule your annual exams. Get your physical done. If you don't feel well, go to the doctor.
I don't even want to think about what would've happened if my appendix would've ruptured. Because it would've, eventually. And that hot mess of "cancer sludge" (as the doctor so eloquently put it) would've just been ... everywhere.
So go. Go to the doctor.
Okay. I'm getting off my soap box now, and I am taking the biggest 2020 deep breath I can because finally - I can focus on something else. I feel like I just took off a 1,000 pound jacket and put it away for good.
As my very good friend Jodie says -
PS - I am so thankful for every single person that showed up for me in the last 8 weeks. You have no idea how loved I have felt, and how lifted I have felt. You guys are the best, best, best. <3
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences. And if you need an awesome virtual assistant, who is full of personality and really good jokes? Email me. I'm your girl.
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He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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