Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Bench

Something kind of awesome happened to me Friday night. 
And since I use this blog as a journal of sorts, 
I wanted to put it here.
For safe keeping.
And maybe so I can look back on it one day,
when skies are stormy,
and clouds are gray,
and life is hard and heavy.

Friday evening, I dropped Camden off at football practice,
dropped off the girls to my mother in law,
and headed to the Mesa temple.
A temple I have not been to in 5 years.
For a brief moment,
I considered going to the Gilbert temple,
but I was in a hurry.
And it was farther.

I pulled into the parking lot at 4:16.
If I hurried, I could still make the 4:30 session.
Practically running, I bolted through the front doors and handed the temple worker my recommend.
As soon as I rounded the corner into the lobby,
images flooded my memory.
And my gait slowed.
Almost 10 years ago, 
I was here.
In this exact foyer.
Walking with my mom,
anticipating tonight's endowments,
and tomorrow's wedding. 
I brushed the lingering thoughts away.
 I still needed to hurry.

I walked to the dressing room and quickly changed my clothes,
it was 4:23.
I was going to make it.

When I finally sat down in the chapel,
it was just me and my thoughts.
The memories flooded my mind once again.
It all started here.
Right here in this temple.
Starting on the path that would lead to the lowest of lows,
crushing heartbreak,
sleepless nights,
and an uncountable number of tears.

As we left the chapel,
and headed for the stairs,
a bench caught my eye.
I knew that bench.
It was the same bench I sat on almost ten years ago.
A twenty year old, 
hand in hand with a man who was about to become her husband.
The memory so vivid,
it was as if the decade of time passed had not faded it at all.
I smiled to myself.
So young.
So eager.
And so in love.

I finished the session,
walked through the celestial room almost without stopping,
and made my way down the staircase.
I headed down the ramp back to the women's dressing room,
the same ramp,
the sealer asked the new Mr. and Mrs. Patterson to walk down together.
At the end of the hallway,
I saw myself in the giant mirror.
The same mirror,
the sealer asked us to stop in front of and see the eternal family we had just created.

This time though, 
I walked down that ramp alone.
And about halfway down,
looking at myself in the mirror,
an intensely overwhelming love filled my entire soul.
My Heavenly Father's love.
He was proud of me.
The girl I was as a new bride that day,
was not the same girl I was looking at Friday night.
The words, 
as clear as if someone had spoken it,
filled my ears,
"Look how far you've come."

So maybe the marriage that started here ended.
And maybe I didn't have the life I imagined having as I sat on that bench as a young bride.
And maybe those years spent in the trenches were the darkest times of my life.
Maybe so.
But here I am now,
faithfully putting one foot in front of the other,
doing my best to deserve the life I've been given,
and feeling so much gratitude for the path I have taken.

I would not be me,
without that dream-filled bride,
 sitting on a bench.

Friday, May 19, 2017

One year down

Can you believe it?
We made it.
Is my hair grayer?
Is my face wrinklier?
Am I sassier?
Did I learn a heck of a lot about myself?
Double check.
Am I glad it's over?
Triple check.

I've heard the first year is the hardest.
I'm hoping that's true.
I was talking to a fellow med school wife and celebrating our accomplishment of making it through.
I tried to tell her WHY it was so hard.
And I honestly could not even narrow it down into actual emotions or words.
Failed expectations maybe?
I'm not sure.
Missing our old life?
Seeing changes in Jason that I wasn't ready for?
I think so.
But it's over,
and I'm done trying to figure out why I'm so relieved about that.
I'm closing the book on it.
And moving on.
And letting it go.

This year wasn't hard as a mom.
Or a friend.
Or a daughter.
It was hard as a wife.

My misery,
I am certain,
was of my own making.

I laid in bed the other night,
reflecting on the last 11 months,
and the the thought came to me:
"I wouldn't want to be married to me."
Maybe before school,
but definitely not now.
I was embarrassed at the wife I had been to my husband. 
In looking forward to year two starting in just 6 weeks,
I'm focusing my attention on making it better.
How can I be a better wife?
How can I be more supportive?
How can I make myself happier and meet my own needs better?

Here are the goals I have set for myself,
to hopefully answer those questions. 

1. Drop all expectations except he be there for me to love.
What causes my happiness,
is not about him.
It's about me.
My feelings,
My thoughts.
It's the only thing that could make me feel happy.
All of it.
It's an inside job.
The only thing I expect of him is that he let me love him,
and he doesn't even have to do that.
There's no letting.
I'm just going to.
No matter what.
His only job is just to be there for me to love him.
And he doesn't even have to be here,
in my physical presence.
He just has to be.
I'm going to love him.

2. Brainstorm love everyday.
How can I love him?
What do I love about him?
Look for something to love,
then increase my love about it.
Start at the top of his head,
and look for everything I love.
Brainstorm love about his physical appearance.
About the little things he does.
About the funny things he does.
The story you tell,
the thought you think about that thing,
will determine how you feel about that thing.
That thing,
for year 2,
 is Jason.
So I'm going to tell myself a good story,
and then make it even better.

3. Be the wife I want to be.
I want to do so many more things than I'm doing.
I want to say so many more things than I'm saying.
Be kinder.
More loving.
More giving.
More forgiving.
Who do I want to be as a wife?
Then be it.

4. Let it go.
Pick no battles.
You know the saying,
"Pick your battles"?
What if I picked no battles?
What if I just let it go?
I mean,
who really cares about that thing?
Does it really matter in the big picture the stupid things I get angry about?
The things I miss an opportunity to love about?

5. Make my own happiness and meet my own needs.
Hello, adulthood.
My happiness is my responsibility.
You know the mentality that you're supposed to tell your spouse what your needs are,
then expect them to meet those needs?
Yeah, that's not really fair is it?
To us, 
or to them.
The expectation that we put on our spouses is ridiculous.
do you want to get married and take responsibility for every feeling I have,
for the rest of my life?
That would be great."
And then we're having a hard time we tell them,
"I'm having a hard time being happy myself.
It would be great if you would just make me happy.
I can't do it.
But if you could just do it,
 that would be great.
I'll stop being mad at you as soon as you make me happy."
And all of the sudden,
if I have to meet my own needs,
I notice I have a lot less of them.

6. Stop complaining.
Whenever I say this,
I hear my Dad's voice.
Complaining gets nothing done.
It doesn't serve me.
Or my relationships.

7. Remember he could die today.
I know.
But I do think about this a lot actually.
Because really,
if he did die today,
would any of this matter?
What would go unsaid?
Did I give him a hug and kiss goodbye as he walked out the door?
What would I miss?
All the little things,
that make up the big thing.
Celebrate his greatness.
Celebrate his greatness 
for him,
and with him.

I have so much growing to do.
And maybe that's why I am set on this challenge of med-school wife.
It's not for the faint of heart.
It has stretched me.
And tried me.
And pulled me in so many different emotional directions that are hard to describe.
I am still learning.
But aren't we all?
We are given a challenge,
and the hope is,
in spite of it all,
we rise.

Year two will be better. 
Not because our circumstances will change,
because well,
they won't.
But because I will make it better.

Hello, adulthood.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Showing up to the curriculum

6 months.
It's been 6 months since I last posted.
If I keep this up, I only need to post 7 more times before Jason's done with medical school!
Life has been, well,
Too busy for a while.
But now, after family picture season has ended and the holidays are over,
it's back to a manageable busy.
Every week I think,
okay NEXT week will be relaxing,
NEXT week I'll get to the things I've been putting off,
NEXT week I'll go get that gym membership I've wanted since October.
Next week.

But next week comes and things get scheduled,
and it's ever as busy as the week before.
But with 3 kids,
a husband in medical school,
two part times jobs,
a church calling,
and a house to keep up with,
I don't think my hoped for "NEXT week"
will ever come.
And that's okay.

The ebbs and flows of this medical school journey have been...
Maybe that's not the right word.
Maybe... Unexpected?
I wrote before how I was struggling to find my new normal in our new life.
I thought, 
once I can get myself to an emotional space where I've accepted this life,
and even find happiness in it,
then I'll be okay and we can all move forward together.
And for a while,
I thought I was there.
Things were better.
I was happier.

But then a hard week of school would come,
or expectations wouldn't be met,
or schedules would change last minute and leave me scrambling.
And I'd have to re-adjust.
Then re-adjust again.

And so it goes.
Some weeks are great,
some weeks are hard.
The hard weeks are where self-pity starts to creep in.
And most of the time, I don't notice it lingering in my thoughts.
But it's there.
Festering and growing.
Usually, until things look up and life feels more positive. 
And it quiets down for a time. 

Recently, I started listening to podcasts.
And have found a few that I really like and listen to weekly.
There's one that's been especially helpful to me. 
The host is Brooke Castillo.
She's relatable and honest. 
Last week, her podcast was titled "Self-Pity"
Just what I needed.

The definition of self-pity is excessive self absorbed unhappiness over one’s own troubles.
Self-pity is one of those emotions that is not useful to spend any time feeling. 
It robs me of my accomplishment of taking action. 
It thrives on claimed helplessness.  
It whines and complains. 

Sometimes I hear myself whining (mostly in my head) and I feel sorry myself, 
thinking I’m entitled to more, 
yet I don’t want to take the action to get more. 
But I can’t feel sorry for myself and indulge in self pity 
and also take effective action at the same time. 
I’m either doing one or the other.    

Brooke Castillo said, “Instead of thinking that someone or something should give you more, you have to start owning that everything you have is your own creation. No matter what happens in the world, it’s supposed to be happening. When I tell myself, ‘These things shouldn’t be happening in the world, or these things shouldn’t be happening in my life, or these things shouldn’t be happening in my business’, then I all of the sudden feel powerless and feel sorry for myself. But when I understand ‘No, it’s all happening for me, this is part of the deal. This is all part of our curriculum in the world’, then I show up in a very different way.”

If I signed up for a class at Yale or Harvard University, she says,
I probably wouldn’t expect that class to be a breeze. 
Probably not an “Easy A”. 
I’d probably plan on going to work. 
Showing up, 
paying attention, 
using my own mind, 
being creative, 
applying it. 
I’d plan on it being challenging. 
And then when it was, I could think, 
Bring it
I want to earn my degree. 
I want earn my A in this class. 
The harder it is, the harder I’m going to work. 

I could choose to indulge in the opposite side of this scenario. 
The harder it is, the more I want to quit, 
the more I want to go to a different school, 
the more I want to stop going to school all together. 
So, am I believing that I’ve signed up for this medical life and that the harder it is, 
the more I can grow, 
the stronger I can become, 
the more I can evolve? 
The harder this journey is, the more I’m going to learn and apply myself?  

And sometimes I think, 
"Well can’t I just have an easy life?” 
And that would be great, except I don’t think our lives should be easy-
 I don’t think that’s the point. 
So, I can either feel sorry for myself that my class at Yale is so difficult, 
or I could think, 
Of course my class at Yale is difficult! 
That’s what I signed up for. 
I’m ready! 
I’m capable of this.
 I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t capable of it.

Instead of thinking of all the things I don’t have, 
or things that should be different, 
or thinking I’m the victim in it all, 
I can think 
“No, no- this is exactly what I should have, 
based on who I am 
and how I’m showing up in the world.” 
And then I feel more complete which in turns helps me create more abundance. 
I can love owning what I’ve created for myself. 
And that includes all of the abundance that I’ve created for myself, 
and all the things that aren’t as good as I want them to be. 
But if I’ve created them, I can create more. 
There’s nothing to feel sorry about. 
What’s meant to happen, does. 
So instead of thinking, 
“This shouldn’t be happening!” 
I think, “Of course this is happening. 
This is my assignment today. 
This is what my ‘professor’ of my life has assigned.
 I’m in. 
Let’s do this. 
Look at what a good student I am. 
Look at what I’ll create. 
Look at how much I will learn. 

While taking my class at Yale, 
I could sit and complain about how hard it is, 
“There’s SO much work, it’s SO ridiculous, what we’re expected to do is unreasonable!”

Or I could say 
Bring. It. On.
Things are supposed to be hard and challenging. 
There’s supposed to be discord. 
That’s what the world is about. 
That’s why we come here. 
There’s supposed to be contrast. 
There’s supposed to be conflict. 
There’s supposed to be suffering in the world. 
How do I know there’s supposed to be suffering in the world? 
Because there IS suffering in the world. 
I can either suffer about the suffering, 
or I can focus my energy on creating more contrast to the suffering. 
When I feel sorry for myself, 
when I victimize myself in my own mind, 
I contribute to the suffering instead of the opposite.

There's no use for self-pity. 
There’s no reason for me to feel sorry for myself. 
I don’t need to compare, 
I don’t need to exaggerate, 
or create drama, 
I don’t need to think I’m less than. 
Instead, what I need to do is go and get mine. 
Prove it to myself. 
Show up to the curriculum that is my life today and even if it’s hard, get it. 
At the end of this journey,
 this 10 year journey if he decides he wants to become a surgeon, 
if people say, 
“Whoa that must’ve been hard” 
I can say, “Uh, yeah it was hard! Heck yeah it was hard!” 
Because it was supposed to be hard.
Because I was supposed to learn grit.
And how to get through the hard stuff.
And how to handle a challenge. 
And to feel accomplished at the end of it. 

And in the future if something unexpected comes, 
I won’t freak out because my life’s been easy my whole life, 
I’ll be able to say, 
“This is a crazy thing that’s happening, 
but I can handle it. 
Because I’ve practiced handling hard things”

We are only eight months in to this crazy long road.
We just barely started up the mountain.
Harder times are inevitably around the corner.
But as I self reflect,
and self correct,
and stay in tune with my Heavenly Father,
I am becoming more of who I want to be.
One very very small step at a time.