Thursday, February 4, 2016

Heart Broken Part One

While catching up on the current season of the tv show, NCIS, (10/27/15, "Viral"), the girlfriend of one of the main characters said: "Everyone's greatest fear is losing the one they love the most. "

I can't tell you when I started fearing losing George, but I can tell you that the sicker I became, the more hospitalizations and diagnoses...the more I was terrified of George passing away in an accident  or from a health issue. It became so wild that I could not let him leave the house without me saying two words to him: Drive Safely. If I didn't say it, I freaked out; I chased after him: sometimes down the driveway or frantically calling on the phone. I knew my words couldn't prevent anything but there was something inside me that felt those words had control.

George had become my foundation. He supported me financially and provided food, shelter & healthcare. He was my best friend. He knew me better than almost anyone else. He took me to every single healthcare appointment. I leaned into him heavily for emotional support and even would ask him what he thought: "Should I take the med now or wait til my symptoms get worse?" He physically helped me when my health was poor. He was great at listening and just sitting with me in silence during long hospital stays. He was there for me when others bailed. I trusted him more than I have ever trusted anyone in my life except my parents. I knew I had it good: a man who cared deeply about me, a man who I could trust with anything and everything, a man who was there for me. And everyone who saw him with me, saw him take excellent physical care of me. And if I had an anxiety or panic attack, he knew how to calm me. He was my rock.  He'd say: "I've got you. You are going to be okay." George struggled with demonstrating compassion, but I told myself what he gave me was enough. I needed him...or I thought I did. For Christmas, after our first full year and a half of marriage, I gave him a "Superman" outfit ornament. He was my Superman.

To understand my story, you'll want to know something of my faith, which is why I'm sharing a very basic version that is leaving a lot out, but hopefully will be sufficient for the purposes of discussing Heart Broken. Sin is an action that goes against God's law.  As humans, we sin pretty much every day of our lives and unforgiven sin keeps us from having a relationship with God. And God wants a relationship with us: to love us. My faith is Christianity and ultimately that means that Jesus came to reconcile us back to God as there is no way for us to do it on our own.  God sent his son, Jesus, to earth with a purpose. Jesus was fully human and fully God. He learned what the human experience is like firsthand. He needed time alone. He prayed. He was overwhelmed. He was tempted. He was angry. He loved. He hung out with anyone and everyone.  At age thirty, he started teaching. The plan was that Jesus was going to be the ultimate sacrifice by taking the punishment for every sin there ever was and ever would be and pay for that sin with his life so that we humans, if we so desire, can have a relationship with God. The punishment for sin is death and Jesus took my place so that I could have eternal life-more simply a relationship with God. And what do I get out of a relationship with God? Well-everything really: unconditional love, forgiveness, peace, confidence, hope, rest, promise for my future and among many other things no condemnation. Many think being a Christian is about "going to heaven" and yes, my relationship with God will continue after my physical body dies. But, ultimately, my faith is about a relationship with a triune God who loves me unconditionally.

By the time I met George, my faith had been the most important thing in my life for fifteen of my twenty-four years and once George and I were committed, I promised God that I would NEVER put George ahead of my relationship with him. And before we became engaged, my promise had been tested and I had proven I would put my relationship with God before my relationship with George. No one had nor ever would get between God and me.

I became severely ill ten days after George and I became engaged. I experienced physical pain and suffering during our engagement and especially during the first two hospital stays before our wedding that blew my mind.  Even though I was sicker as a child/young adult than the average individual, I hadn't been as sick/suffered like other children such as my husband had. I had eight sinus infections the second year I worked professionally as a speech language pathologist, But at twenty-five, I had never experienced the extreme level of physical suffering I was navigating. Naively, I thought that God allowed you to die once you hit a certain level of pain. I also naively thought what many think until they are in the situation themselves: that doctors have answers, that being hospitalized would heal me and that some day we would find a treatment that worked. We really thought I was going to get better-back to the healthy 25 year old I had been. I always thought at 36 I would be parenting. Early on I would be asked when I thought I'd be well enough to return to work or to volunteering and then I remember noticing those questions weren't being asked anymore.. When my journey in life took a path I hadn't expected, none of us (family, friends, co-workers) ever would've believed what was to come over the next ten plus years.

The pain and suffering and illnesses and hospitalizations and medications side effects and the loss of friends and the judgement of most every person I knew: from family to friends to people who didn't even know me made a huge dent in my relationship with God. I had been a determined, busy young superwoman who was very involved and active. If you know anything about the paternal side of my family, you know that we push ourselves to our limits and beyond: super achievers who say yes even when we should say no. And when my body said "STOP," the silence in my life was deafening. I had never heard it before. I am glad to know it now because there is so much life in the silence, but I hated it then. As often happens when someone experiences pain and suffering, God had gone silent. That had never happened to me before either. My pleas for mercy, my screams for healing as I lay alone on the cold kitchen floor, my efforts, my prayers, my dedication to getting better, going to church to be anointed with oil by a church elder, being prayed over by so many people... and the God I had always had access to just wasn't answering. Or perhaps I just didn't recognize him through the pain? Regardless, I was hurt at what I perceived as God's silence.. The song, The Silence of God, by Andrew Peterson put it better than I ever could;
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God, the aching may remain but the breaking does not. The aching remains; the breaking does not in the holy lonesome echo of the silence of God.
I was deeply heartbroken by God's silence because not only was he not healing me, but he wasn't responding to my unfathomable pain by at least making it tolerable. Each moment was a challenge where I felt I was physically pulling myself into the next moment. Where was the comfort God promised? The guidance? I felt lost. And I asked the inevitable question : WHY?!

God had seemingly taken a personal day. But George was there. I still had an active relationship with God, but he was number two. Promise broken and at first I didn't care. I needed someone & George was present. God was where? I leaned on and trusted George instead of God and ignored the danger signs and red flags. But God was silent. How much help is that? George was solid; my knight in shining armor and I was so thankful for how he cared for me and for how he had stayed.

Taking care of my health needs made me feel very loved as I had struggled through new diagnoses and surgery. I had leaned into George more than ever. Around five years in, in 2011, though George was a fabulous caregiver of my physical needs, in my experience, he has always struggled with giving compassion/empathy. Additionally, I could no longer ignore how neglectful of me he had been in our marriage. He had become distant and detached from me and life and later on I found others had felt that too. I felt ignored and only received his attention when my health was worse. I told him I didn't want to be the "sick one" I wanted to be a wife!  I value honesty above all and I speak my mind and ask straight forward questions, though in the last few years I've learned how to turn down the intensity and bluntness. I asked George about what was going on but he didn't really have any answers. Through the years George and God had flip-flopped as who was #1 and who was #2 on my priority scale. I spent an incredible amount of time with God-because I had time to do so-but when I was suffering, I called out to George- not God.

2012 hit us hard: Two weeks at Mayo Clinic; my beloved dog Knightley passed away suddenly in the worst way; George was laid off his job of 18 years & shortly after I had a very early miscarriage-both sets of parents knew we were pregnant so it was a loss as that would be the only grandchild for either to date. We went to our favorite vacation spots to try to find some happiness and joy: WDW and OBX. But shortly after we returned, George shocked us all by trying to kill himself. In a coma, seizing, and on life support because he couldn't breathe for himself. I had found him in time though we did not know it was an attempt until he came out of the coma and told me. Even after he came out of the coma he was medically fragile. The doctors say it was a miracle that he is alive and functioning as they don't understand how he survived. And I'm pretty sure it had nothing to do with me obsessively saying "Drive safely" every day for years.  I'm not trying to be funny or ironic. I had been an idiot.

**To Read the Conclusion: Heart Broken Part Two click here.**

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