Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Facing the Realities

A few years ago, the inspirational football movie Facing the Giants came out. It had that pretty typical but oh so true message of faith and believing helping you overcome obstacles that seem too great and insurmountable. Well today, I've been thinking about the "giants" in my life, but I realized that these giants are more like daily realities than big milestone obstacles.

I'm by myself this week while Justin is counseling/teaching at a church camp for senior high students. I have a hard time sleeping when Justin is gone. In fact, last night, I woke up at 3 a.m. and never went back to sleep. But, I realized that one of the realities I have to live with is that even when Justin is here, I'm the protector of our home. Last night I was completely freaking out every time I heard a noise because the noises worried me, and in the midst of that, I went wait a minute! I'm the one who would have to protect us anyway, whether Justin's here or not. Still didn't help me sleep much, but it was one of those realities I had to face and acknowledge as true and real. So now, I'm struggling with what the implications of that are. I'm the protector, something I never planned on being in my marriage; something I don't feel very equipped to handle. Plus, I'm a woman who desires to be rescued and taken care of. Nothing about being the protector in our relationship makes those desires in my heart feel fulfilled. I gotta be honest, I don't know what to do with that, but there it is. The realities I have to face.

Along those same lines, I'm struggling with questions of authority in our marriage. There are many things I have to do that I never expected to do when I got married, like being the protector. So, what's my place in our marriage? This is the question I have to ask myself. I think that when I have to do more things than most wives expect to be doing, it's harder to figure out the lines of authority. I mean, I always see Justin as the head of the household. But at the same time, I have to be so independent in our relationship and be such an integral part of the "manly" chores and duties, it makes for some interesting thought processes.

As in most instances, I feel like I have few answers, but better questions all the time...and so I continue down this road...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


My mom has been working on cleaning out her parents'/my grandparents' house this last week. Her parents died several years ago, but her sister-in-law lived in the house after they died so there were several things she hadn't found before that she discovered, including a box of pictures/papers/postcards from my Pawpaw's days in the army during WWII. As she's been telling me about these discoveries, I've found myself missing my Pawpaw more and more. I was his only granddaughter and we had a very special relationship. He also had a stroke when I was 7. I can remember a few things about him before that time, like how tall he was, how much he liked to cuddle with me, the two of us taking walks together. I remember seeing him for the first time after his stroke. I was so young, but I had to be a big girl. We were in a hospital room with him and he had so many tube and machines running in and out of him. I tried not to cry in front of him, and it was hard. I could tell he didn't want me to see him like that. Momma and I made a lot of trips to Midland after that. My Memaw even came to live with us for a year before we were able to move Pawpaw back to their house. I remember avoiding the nurses at the facility Pawpaw was in for part of that year and climbing up in his hospital bed when they weren't looking so I could cuddle with him. That's what he always called me--his cuddle buddy. Pawpaw lived for almost 5 years after his stroke. We went to see him and Memaw a lot, and even when I got too big to do it, I still climbed into his hospital bed to be close to him. Robby and I would also play catch with him. We had a purple nerf soccer ball that we used. Even when he was bedridden those last couple years, Pawpaw's upper body remained strong. When he had a new nurse, they were always surprised that he had such a good grip. He was always great at catching and throwing the ball to us. And we would watch Penn State football games together. Pawpaw was a big Penn State fan. He had a Penn State baseball cap that someone got him, it might have been us, to wear during the games. We teased him that Penn State and Joe Pa weren't going to win if he didn't have that hat on. For a while, Pawpaw would type some things on the computer to talk to us, but he got to where he couldn't do that any more, I think because of his eye sight. His only way of showing us emotion was to cry. He would cry when he was happy and he would cry when he was sad. But somehow, I would know when he was happy crying and when he was sad crying. I was glad to have him for those almost-5 years, even though he couldn't talk to us or communicate very well with us, but the older I've gotten, the more I've realized how much I missed not being able to communicate with him very well. It was amazing that we were emotionally able to communicate with each other, but I wish I had been able to hear more of his stories, to know more of his character and wisdom. I know he was a godly man. At his funeral, the pastor told a story about him that I had never heard. Before he had his stroke, Pawpaw was outside listening to the radio as the stars were coming out and the song "How Great Thou Art" came on the radio, and my Pawpaw sat there and sang to stars

"O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder;
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!"
Someday I will see Pawpaw again. He has left me a wonderful legacy to carry in my heart. To any who have read this, thanks for listening to/reading my ramblings. I have cried while writing this blog, but it's been incredibly therapeutic.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wrinkly on the Inside

Sometimes I feel like I'm much too young to feel so old. Not necessarily physically old, but emotionally and mentally old. I look in the mirror and start wondering why there is nothing on my face that speaks to the difficult experiences of my heart.

I have struggled with many things in my marriage the last few days that I cannot really go into here, but they make me feel old and weary. I will say this: I heard about Sandra Bullock's speech at an award's show this weekend where she said, "And whoever established the high road and how high it should be should be fired." I must say I thoroughly agree with this. Taking the high road when you have been hurt may be the one of the hardest things to do, especially when the person who hurt you is your spouse. I think up there with taking the high road, and really part of taking the high road, is learning to legitimately experience the pain without turning it into bitterness and vinditiveness. To be honest, I'm really working on that lesson. I was doing really well with lots of things, including improved self-esteem and coming to terms with liking who I am and where I'm at in life. And then...well let's suffice it to say that somethings my husband did crushed me and it will take me a while to recover from the pain. But I still love him and I don't want to become bitter and closed off emotionally...so really, I guess part of taking the high road is as much about protecting yourself as it is about treating the other person well, despite their actions.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cerebral Palsy vs. Transvestites

No, my husband has not become a transvestite, nor do I think I would ever be ok with that. BUT last night Justin and I were watching a video of a show put on by Eddie Izzard from 1994, and Eddie Izzard is a self-proclaimed transvestite. Now he has a huge following, and people have become more comfortable with he calls the "executive transvestite" look. But back in the 90's, the reception for "blokes in a dress" was not so friendly. As we were watching him do a bit on being a transvestite and all that comes with that, I stopped it at one point, turned to Justin and said, "So, how much of this are you legitimately relating to right now?" and he said, "A LOT!" So, I've decided to make a list of all the things that being a couple with one person in a wheelchair (we'll call them wheelchair couples) and being a transvestite have in common.

1. All the weird looks. Believe it or not, a man walking down the street wearing a dress gets very strange looks. Similarly, being a wheelchair couple, you get strange looks, too, and you know that as you kiss in public, people are thinking "Isn't she hurting that poor kid in the wheelchair?!"

2. The need to stand tall and confident in your status, lest you fall down. Transvestites have to stand tall and walk confidently lest they trip over those heels they're wearing. As the walking person in a wheelchair couple, I have to stand tall and walk confidently lest I get my toes run over by a powerchair.

3. Being seen as a novelty. Eddie Izzard has made millions being a funny guy who dresses like a woman--thus, he is a novelty. Justin and I are sometimes seen, especially by those who don't really know us, as this amazing example of what love can do and isn't it just so special that Justin is so successful despite his disability. I'm not at all saying that some of this isn't true, but I'd prefer it these semi-acquaintances didn't always feel the need to point it out.

4. The things people say in response to you. As Izzard puts it, transvestites have people all the time going up to them and saying (like they didn't know), "Hey! You're a bloke in a dress!!" As part of a wheelchair couple, I've had people ask me if Justin is able to have sex. Yeah...

5. And finally, doing your best to put aside all fears to face the fact that society sees you as odd. In fact, trying your best to embrace the oddity!!! Eddie talked about how in facing his fears and owning up to who he is, he's actually been able to look those who make fun of him in the face and say, "Why yes! I am a transvestite!" Well, I think that's where I'm headed--to where I can say, "Why yes! I am the ambulatory half of a wheelchair couple! So what's it to ya?"