Saturday, July 12, 2008

I have a thousand thoughts to share at this moment. In the time it has taken to turn on my computer, I thought out much of what I wanted to write. Thoughts come so quickly and I can only type 60 wpm... It's like I'm holding out my hand in a rainstorm, trying to catch ALL of the rain so that I can share it with you later. I've lost most of it already. I hope what I've managed to catch makes sense.

My roommate and I love to gab for hours on end, mostly girl talk, lots of gospel chatter, and a little making fun of the way I walk and talk in my sleep. We have had opposite schedules this week, and played catch-up tonight until 2AM. towards the end of our conversation, I mentioned that work will be dull tomorrow, and Lori offered to loan me a book. I chose "No One Can Take Your Place" by Sheri Dew. The title screamed "READ ME, LAURA", and I was very anxious to begin. More thoughts on that later.

I took the book and thanked her. I asked her how the dance was (Single Adult dance last night. I had to work). She suddenly sat up straight and said "Oh, I saw Nick there tonight.... eeeeewww...." She shuddered and rolled her eyes.
For those of you who don't know about my lovely two year spat with this guy, I was involved with someone for a while who was somewhat abusive. Emotionally, physically, sexually, it was bad. It's a very long, very complicated story that I have wasted far too much of my life talking and thinking about, and I don't really feel like reliving details here online for all to see. I do, however, feel a strong urge to share some thoughts on my progression since this time in my life. Doing so will require some details, my thoughts and feelings on the past, and some of it is not entirely pleasant. But it has a happy ending. Read it if you like. You are all my beloved family and I feel no shame in sharing any of this with you.

The thing that gets me most about what happened is that, even now (though I like to pretend I'm completely over it), I still wonder how much of it was abuse on his part and how much was abuse on my part. Was it my fault? He sure made me feel like it was. How much of it was my fault? Am I a bad person? I spent two years listening to him "tell it like it is". Many times he told me what a wonderful person I am, and that I have the potential to become a great woman of God. Many more times than that (especially when things didn't go his way, in retrospect), he told me that I am trash; a thankless, soulless being who will be miserable the rest of my days (to sum it up). When I recall the stories the way he tells them, I see the worst sides of me and believe that it was all my fault from the very start. Other times I see him as a complete monster who twisted me up inside and out and left me for dead. I want to blame him for everything, but I can't. I want to blame myself for everything, but I need to forgive myself and move on, and sometimes the easy way of doing that is to blame him. It's a complete catch 22 that I still fumble over in my head from time to time.

The relationship began as any other. It was innocent. I was innocent. He was a nice guy who stood out to me because of his charismatic presence. I disliked him at first, but he won me over and eased his way into my heart over a few months until I trusted him. Then things became odd....
For the most part, I lean on the Lord and try to tell myself that I learned from the experience and now I can move on. I don't know why I had to go through those years, but they made me question everything in life, and I do mean everything. From the way I hold myself when I enter a room to my relationship with my family to the type of toothpaste I use. I'm serious. I became consumed with self-reflection, and soon I saw nothing else. I compared myself to everyone and everything EXCEPT that which my Heavenly Father would desire of me. That has been some of the lasting damage. That storm is still in the process of settling within me. A little of his pride and arrogance rubbed off on me. I found those qualities so attractive in him, a man full of confidence and charisma.

I digress. I always do when I talk about him. One thought leads to another tangent and another question and soon my head is spinning and I change my mind ten times in one minute.

My roommate and I have had enough gab time that some of the general details of that relationship have been discussed. When she said his name, everything froze. She immediately apologized, and I didn't really know what to say. I was obsessed with him and the mess that came with him for some time, demanding that I was so in love with him. Gag.
But last I heard, he was married and living in L.A., so to hear that he was at a Young Single Adult dance last night bothered me slightly... More than I had expected it to. He was probably just there to help the DJ, James Wong, his closest friend in Fresno. James is an Autistic, Manic Depressive young man whom Nick has "taken under his wing"... He has trained him to do whatever he says whenever he says to do it. To this day, when James sees me coming, he will break eye contact and RUN in the opposite direction.

I know that Nick is a big old weirdo creep. But this is the first time I have heard news of him in almost a year, and it bothered me. Lori saw that my visage had changed (we had been talking about preparing for the temple just prior to the talk of books and the mention of his name), and she asked if I was going to be ok. I wasn't sad. I wasn't angry or upset or anything definitive. I don't know how to describe it. I get this feeling sometimes when I think about that whole time period, like I'm watching a really terrible movie in which a good little girl changes into a bad little girl through the influence of some very nasty friends, and due to her weak spirit, her short comings, her imperfections, she becomes the villain. I need to remember to fast-forward that little movie in my mind to the part in the sequel when she becomes the hero, or finds THE hero, or whatever. The point is, I sometimes momentarily forget that MY story comes with a happy ending and I get a little sick.
What bugs me more is just wondering if this will bug me for the rest of my life! And is that ok if it does? I'm over Nick, I don't care for him in any way or want him back or any of that stupid junk. I am quite ecstatic over my current relationship with one of my very best friends and the greatest guy I know who isn't an immediate member of my family or (ahem..) in the Godhead. I wouldn't trade Scott for the world, and I do mean that.
I love you, Scott. Please note that this reflection is not about romantic feelings or anything of that nature. You're my guy. This reflection is strictly of a spiritual nature.

I've been told that I have experienced "battered-wife syndrome".
"It's not his fault. I made him do it. He really loves me. He does it because he loves me. I just made him so angry.... I can change him", etc. I thought quite a lot about suicide through most of this time period, but suicide meant physical death, and I was already experiencing spiritual death. Death was not what I sought. I wanted to cease my existence completely. I wanted to never have been. Not just to never have been born or to start over, but to never have existed, ever. I was so confused, so wound up, and so deep in despair that I didn't even want God to know who I was. No matter how I tried, I wasn't the person I wanted to be, and I just wanted to give up.

Thanks to loving parents who diligently shared the truths of the gospel with me throughout my life, I knew that giving up wasn't an option. I knew suicide wouldn't do me any good, because I would only become more miserable in the post-mortal existence I would be entering. I clearly remember many nights on which I would lay awake, curled in the fetal position on my bed, tears and sweat covering my face and pillow as I struggled within myself to decide what to do. Frustration overwhelmed me constantly as I made what I knew were futile attempts to contradict the truth and to escape the life I had chosen. I would talk to Heavenly Father constantly (I knew Him only as 'God' then, as I had boycotted all familial references to His name), daring to argue my case of "injustice" with Him. I was angry because I knew there was no easy way out. The nights were long and full of my tears and screams of anger and hatred, of exhaustion and frustration and humiliation. I played the "I QUIT" game several times. But in the morning, the sun would always rise and I knew that I was wrong, and that Father had sat with me all night long and listened to me cry. He even heard the words I wasn't saying. And more than that, He understood me. He loved me. I believe He cried with me. I felt Him near me many times, and I know that He sent His angels to hold me through the night when I couldn't hold on by myself. He even sent them on nights I didn't feel that I deserved them. Maybe that all sounds a bit cheesey, even cliche, but that's what happened.

I knew that the only solution was to "endure to the end", but I was on a miserable circular track of pride, greed, insecurities, self-loathing, fear, and hate. I was getting nowhere. My wise and loving parents, my bishop, and my wonderful sister, Kelli, all counciled me to cut ties with Nick, but I simply couldn't do it. He had me convinced that he was someone special and that I needed to remain loyal to him over all. His talk of "powers" comparable to that of Christ's made me uncomfortable, but I still wouldn't leave. He spread hate and anger everywhere he went, but I wouldn't abandon him. I began to see that I was miserable with him and I hated him more than I loved him, but I wouldn't budge. When the hitting began and I still wouldn't stop calling or hanging around him, I wondered if I was still sane. A sane person would have left, right? He had to leave me. After a few more months, he hated himself and I suppose he decided to make a change. He stopped talking to me. It took a long time, but I began to see that it was for the best. It took about a year for me to talk it out. I'd talk to anyone who would listen, except for the therapists that my school and church assigned me to. I suppose I was afraid of the labels they might assign. I've never been comfortable with the idea of therapy. Counsel, yes. Psychiatry, no.

As it turns out, the comfort I needed was all within my family. My parents worked so hard to help me in any way they could. Kelli and Adam kept their doors lovingly open to me, even when I brought a negative wind. Watching them raise Karly and seeing her grow into the amazing little girl she is now has been one of my greatest joys of my life. I don't think they know that, but their family is so extremely precious to me. Carin comforted me and advised me carefully. I felt that she empathized with me, judgement-free, and though we had not always been very close, I grew to love her so much more after that. Jason and Denise live far from me, and we rarely get to talk. But I hear about their progress in life, the way they live, and they have been shining examples for me. The addition in my life, these past ten months, of Scott Green has been so very wonderful. He is obedient to the Lord, endlessly patient, ambitious but humble, and happy. I love every second I spend with him. He fits me perfectly, he is my best friend, he calms me, he encourages me. I love him very much.

Mom. Dad.
What fantastic names. MOM & DAD. We have the very best parents. I'll stand by that statement forever. They are two very grand spirits, without whom I would be nowhere. Words just don't cut it. I could write all day and never say what I feel when I think of the two of you. Mom. My beautiful, wonderful, powerful mother. I love you forever. Daddy. My special daddy. I love you so much.
At the head of this beautiful family is a Father in Heaven who loves us so very much. He loves me enough to sit with me and listen, even when I am blind with anger and foolish as can be. I know He heard me on those dark nights. I know He hears me still. He watches us and knows our joys and our pains. He celebrates wtih us and mourns with us. He waits for us. He is waiting for us now. Right now. He is waiting for us to come home and recognize Him and our family there. He has given us the tools to find our way back. I know that someday I will be there with all of you.

I am curious to know what ocurred when families were being selected and assigned. How is it that I ended up with such wonderful people? Did I win a bet? (oh, right, probably no gambling in heaven...) :) I've looked around a bit, and from what I can tell, I have the very best family around. :)

And that's when it happened. Healing. My heart began to heal when I started resetting my focus on my family. I had nothing else. I had ruined all else in my life. All friendships, all plans, all associations. I was a dark and bleak person, miserable to be near. The only people that would stay in the room when I walked in were members of my family. And WHO CARES whose fault that is. The only thing that mattered at that point was what I did to change it. So for the past couple of years, I've been working on reconciliations on all fronts; with myself, with the Lord, with friends and family. For the most part, I feel renewed. I have felt forgivness. I have felt the weight being lifted and my heart swell two sizes too large for concerns and worries of my past.
I am excited for the future now, with plans for a family and a career of touching students' lives through a study that I am passionate about. I am ever eager for tomorrow. I look forward to having all of you in all of my tomorrows. I love you, my family. All of you.

So a few hours ago, as Lori and I tried to tuck ourselves into our beds after the unpleasant encounter with Nick's name, I found that I couldn't sleep. I kept running through ugly memories and unanswered questions from the past. That was the LAST thing I wanted, so I grabbed the book that Lori has loaned me (which looks fantastic!), ran downstairs and, after a brief battle with a HUGE cockroach (EW, EW, EW!!!!!!!!) which I won by placing a large mug upside down over him (I hope nobody picks it up. Maybe I should write a big note!), I sat down to read something uplifting. I only got to the second page before I had the overwhelming desire to write everything I was thinking.

I would quote page four, paragraph five of the book here, but it's too long and I need to take a shower and go to work soon. So you have homework! (Those of you who have actually made it all the way through this post!) Go read it yourself.

If you did make it through this, thank you for caring. If you didn't, it's ok. I don't think I would have, if I weren't me. :)

I love you!!!!!!


Carin said...

To personal -- go check your email

Carin said...

To personal -- go check your email

NLBlack said...

What happened to my comment??? It is gone! Laura, I saw this on Saturday and cried. (Good tears). I hope you saw the comments.

Hugs to you!!

Kelli said...

Love you, Laura.