Thursday, May 30, 2013

hey, ashton kutcher--come out, come out, wherever you are...

i used to dream about it.  pray for it.  bang my head against a wall, silently and desperately begging for it.

i don't know if i've entered some sort of alternate universe, or if ashton kutcher is going to jump out from the inside of one of my cupboards with his trucker hat perched precariously on his head while he and his entire staff of 'punk'd' laugh in my face,

but we have our first week of summer almost down, and these two:

have been



now i don't mean getting along in the way that they just sit and watch television in silence together, which is what i used to consider the definition of that term.  the 30 minutes of a show seemed to be the only thing that would stop the bickering and arguing and yelling.

no, i'm talking about creating games and wrestling {and not with the intent to inflict pain upon each other}, laughing, telling jokes and making forts.  in the summer, the kids get to each pick a t.v. show to watch while they're still fuzzy from sleep and before we get going on life.  well this morning, i heard some commotion going on while i was brushing my teeth so i walked out to see who was attempting sibling homicide this time, but the family room was empty with "curious george" playing to a lonely-looking couch.

i heard their voices coming from their bedroom and found them working together to create some sort of imaginary game with powers and avatars and things i knew nothing about.  i didn't dare let them see me--why would i take a chance disturbing the force?

i'm no idiot.

i finished brushing my teeth and moved to washing my face, my ears perked to hear the sounds of the likely impending war cries.  june waddled in and pulled herself up on the stool next to me for a chat while i continued getting myself ready.  as i did, i realized that not once have either of them asked for a friend to come over this week---unheard of.  caleb hasn't been begging to play video games, leah hasn't been tugging on my legs to continue our never-ending game of ponies in equestria.

normally they have bursts of times like this, 5 minutes in between a whole lot of trauma and drama.  but i'm coming up on days of realizing i haven't had to re-vamp my motivation and kindness charts like i usually do every fall, spring and summer break.  they finish their chores and then just figure out what to do.

could it be possible that they might actually be starting to --gulp--like each other??

i hope all of you are knocking on some sort of wood for me right now, because my knuckles are raw from doing it myself.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

the thread of love {mother's day 2013}

it was Mother's Day, 2010 and i was blow drying my hair, getting ready for church, while my husband lay in bed with one of the worst ear infections i have ever seen on a human--adult or child.   he had just returned from a week-long, all-male vacation to the beach and went straight to bed.

i wanted to feel badly for him, really i did.  but as the blasting air from the blow dryer heated my hair, i could feel the indignation heating my emotions, sending them spinning from one entitled and ungrateful thought to the next.

last year he worked graveyard shift and came home to sleep while i went to church alone with the kids, only to wake up to eat the dinner i made, then showered and left for his next overnight shift.  i spent the whole day with a colicky newborn and a whiny, overly-tired toddler on my own.  no gifts, no card, nothing!  and now here i am again.  on my own, getting myself and two kids ready for 9 a.m. church, alone.  and i will be left with all of the responsibilities, meals, care-taking.  this is supposed to be my day, when i'm celebrated for carrying our two children for over 9 months, relinquishing my body to stretching and aching--

wah, wah, wah.  spiral, spiral, spiral.  you get the idea.  i don't often think these things, but i'm embarrassed to say i did that day.

then, something happened.

i turned off the blow dryer, and felt the heat dissipate inside and outside.  i looked in the mirror at my flushed cheeks and saw into my own eyes.

this is not you.  regardless of circumstances, you have a choice.  those two beautiful kids you adore are and who are waiting for you to feed and dress them, they love you and look to you as their example.  you love that good man who is laying in bed in pain, yet you're thinking some awful things about him.  what is Truth?  and how can you spend this day?  you are blessed beyond measure to have the privilege of kissing these three faces every day.  and your ability to honor them shows in not only your actions, but in your thoughts.  in your heart.  and if this is how your heart really feels, then you do not deserve them.  so.  what is Truth?

i washed my flushed cheeks with cold water and came to my senses.

i made a choice to rotate my thinking and my heart, and chose to live Mother's Day consciously.  the rest of the day i spent in the detail of every moment, big and large.  i was in caleb's pure, clear, voice belting out the words of the Mother's Day song in the chapel like it was his own solo.  i was in leah's soft hands on my face, and her golden curls as she fell asleep on my shoulder.  i was in lunchtime and book reading and calling our home teachers to administer a blessing for ben who was too weak to even sit up as they prayed.  i was in making soup and bringing medicine.  i was in bath time bubbles and giggles and squeals.  i was in lullabies sang under the soft glow of the night light.  i was in "i love you's" and "i can't wait until you wake up so we can play together again," then cleaning up toys and dishes, and quiet.

in honoring my children as their mother, that day i also honored Truth and the beauty in my life.  it was a day i will never forget as life-changing because of what i was taught while blowdrying my hair.  there is power in attitude and thought, and there is always a choice.

THIS was the picture i took that day.  caleb was feeding leah green beans, and she pointed at him to say something, right as he turned his face into hers.  her finger landed in his nostril and i laughed for 5 minutes to realize i had captured the moment.  i still love this picture, and the memories of that day.

now every year i remember {and tell each of them, if they want to hear it--caleb always does, and asks me streams of questions along the way.  leah tells me one day she will give birth to a baby dolphin.  june interrupts me a million times with "mom! momma! mom! mommy!  wook at dis!"} the details of when i was blessed to bring a child into the earth and the stories remind me of God's presence still in my life, feeling it as distinctly as i did those three separate times in a small hospital room-- acutely aware of Him and my connection with Him.  my children are tied to me with this same unbreakable, eternal thread.  the thread that was made with unbreakable, eternal love.

this year, the girls in the family were all hit with the stomach flu for the weekend, and by sunday we were mostly feeling better. ben was amazing--cleaning the entire house--literally, and doing all of the laundry as i would try to join in here and there, but mainly helped the sick girls and tried to rest.

i was able to sleep in, and when i woke up, i was greeted with homemade cards--my favorite.  ben had made a really sweet slideshow for me, and the kids gave me small presents they had chosen.  leah's was a pony--what else?  i loved that she buys me these things because she believes i love them and playing them with her as much as she does.  melts my heart.

june still wasn't feeling great and was extra clingy and whiny, but i focused on her little arms and legs wrapped tightly around me every chance she got, and how lucky i was to be the one to comfort her.

caleb, leah and i went to church.  i led the kids in singing for the first time in front of the ward and was terrified, but they did great.  after church we took the mother's day pictures which ended quickly after june arched her head in defiance right into my lower lip.

i spent time with each kid one on one.....playing legos and talking with caleb, playing ponies and imagining with leah, and laying in my bed under the covers snuggling june.  the day wasn't without the usual fights and whines, but it didn't matter to me.

i know in the grand scheme of things, i'm still young in motherhood and that each new phase brings rewards as well as trials, but i could not be more grateful for these three beautiful, bright, hilarious little people, and the thread of love that will connect us forever.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

swinging and bending, part 4: the breaking.

{image found here.}

Read the first part of this story, 

and the second part,

and the third part,

Round and around and around we go...
The reason I hold on
'Cause I need this hole gone.

Funny, you're the broken one,
But I'm the only one who needed


i was 24 years old when caleb was born.

we brought him home, and i remember immediately feeling protective.  at 4 lbs, 9 oz, he could only eat from a syringe with a small tube hanging from it, guided into his mouth by either mine or ben's pinky finger.  he struggled in almost every area--sleeping, eating, pooping, gaining weight, and mostly, in being content.

his screaming began at around 10 days old and was followed quickly by his seizures.  with his screaming, something inside of me broke--the dream of having the happy, fat, cooing child.  idealistic hope was gone and replaced with desperation.  i quickly turned into the mother i had previously judged and scorned; ignoring all of the books i had read, i resorted to doing whatever it took to silence his cries.

when the seizures were finally diagnosed at 2 1/2 months, another piece inside of me broke.  the piece that knew what faith meant.  i became a mother full of fear, and without knowing it, began to believe that i was singlehandedly keeping this tiny, sick boy alive.

ben was an amazing father and i knew he loved caleb deeply, but seemed to have a more casual attitude toward the instructions we were repeatedly given about his care by specialists.  his mantra of "oh, he'll be fine" terrified me, because it meant i was out in this scary world alone with a special-needs baby.  his actions deepened the fear.  we would talk about how we were going to handle big family situations with caleb, and i was in sync with what the doctors were telling us, to be extremely cautious.  ben would say he felt the same, then change his mind when we actually got in the situation.  i couldn't understand what was going on, and internalized it as somehow my fault.  that he thought i was too crazy, or overprotective, but didn't want to tell me.  so i tried to stuff down the confusion and distrust, not realizing it manifested itself as more fear.  even though there were others around supporting me...i felt i was the only one truly bearing this burden.  i became a control freak, fueled by anxiety and "what if's" that would run through my head all hours of the day and night.

ben and i have talked about this point in our lives many times, and how it was a crossroads for us.  up until then, we had been a strong team, weathering the outside storms between extended family together.  now the rain began to pour inside of our safe place, the winds carrying me to one side and ben to the opposite.

"i felt like i lost my wife,"  he has said.

"i felt like the carefree, worry-free, easily happy person i was--died.  and, i felt like i could no longer trust you to be honest with me, because you didn't want to hurt me,"  i have said.

so, there was that.

we had hoped that having caleb would help bring about a merger to the sides of family who were still contending, and maybe he did.  but it seemed like more of a cold war began, where no one really spoke to each other at family events, just passing icy smiles and nervous glances.  i was so focused on dealing with caleb, that i stopped noticing.

we lived in the basement apartment of my parents' home until caleb was 10 months old.  they had a marriage that had been full of ups and downs.  when things were good between them, they were great.  but during the time we were living there, signs pointed toward them taking a turn for the worse.

i had been witness to this for many years and had grown somewhat of a callous skin to it, but after living in a peaceful, virtually contention-free marriage for 2 years, the understanding of just how unhealthy things were became glaringly acute.  i grew up only knowing this as my only perspective on marriage, and thought it was normal.  i now knew it was not.

this was ben's first time to have a front row seat to some difficult moments.  because he loved them both, and he could not change or help their situation, this began to take its toll on him.  i could see him beginning to separate from them, requesting more space and a clarity on boundaries to define "our own family time." i could understand his desire, but because i had slipped back into my family role as buffer and peacemaker, i didn't see these new boundaries as necessary.  i felt needed, and worth more when i played this role.  boundaries and separation took that from me.  i wavered when it came to upholding them, continually giving excuses for this justification or that. but the truth is, i didn't know how to say no without feeling guilty, and i didn't know how to feel good about myself unless i was acting the part of the "good girl" that i had played for so long.

however, i did have my eyes opened as an adult viewing my parents as an adult.  even though i was still young in married life and motherhood, i began to see them as equals.

during the year we were there, i saw a cycle in their relationship that scared me, because it resonated inside as patterns of my own. enabling one's anger by allowing mistreatment, at the sake of "doing whatever it took" to make another happy.  then, because of fearing the anger or huge emotional reaction, becoming passive aggressive and covertive, using small twists of reality to portray a situation so it would be easier for another to accept.  using self-lies to justify these twists, that the intent behind doing it is to really "help another."  then the lies would be caught, and the reaction was so harsh and forceful that it caused it all to begin again.  i wasn't doing this in my own marriage, but could see glimpses of where i had done it in other relationships, past and present.

i distinctly remember having one specific conversation in that basement.

"why are you allowing this?"  i asked.

"because, when the time comes for me to die, i want to be able to look my Father in Heaven in the eyes and tell him i did everything i could.  that even if it meant taking the aftermath of the anger i didn't deserve, and staying and loving and trying, never giving up--no matter what--that He will tell me i did a good job."

"but," i replied, "i feel like you're just the pillow, catching another's fall.  which is great for the one falling, to have something soft to land on.  but what happens to the pillow?  it's flattened, with all of its feathers slammed out of it.  misshapen and crunched.  why would God want you to sacrifice yourself for another, at the risk of your own demise?  i understand selflessness in a relationship, but not to this extent.  why are they worth better treatment than you're worth?  that just doesn't sit right with me.  what is Jesus for, then?  what is His sacrifice for?  He took this, so that we wouldn't have to.  He is the pillow, not you.  He is the Savior, not you.  but if you continually put yourself in His place, then the one falling will never have to learn to rely on Him to catch their fall, if they can always rely on you.  meanwhile, you're breaking apart here.  i can see it.  i have seen it, for years.  and when you say 'no matter what,' do you really mean that? do you know what you're saying?  what if things get worse?  do you have any limits, any boundaries?  will there be anything that will cause you to say to yourself 'I deserve better' and demand for it to stop?"

that night, somewhere deep down, i was also speaking to myself.  

i could see the damage they had caused each other through the years.  i could also see myself in these things, through them.  the problems in my past relationships became obvious, recognizing the enabling and savior role i had accepted either to change the other or in an attempt to feel some sort of self worth.

in my marriage it was still difficult to detect because both of us had the same unhealthy piece of wanting to be the pleaser, instead of one extreme and another.  when we talk about it now, we can see it inside of the situations surrounding caleb.  neither ben nor myself had been completely honest, stuffing down uncomfortable emotions so we wouldn't have to have uncomfortable conversations.  our dishonesty, though small and unintentional,  caused a resentment to form that took years to understand and undo.

what was finally clear during that year in the basement apartment, was where i had learned and formed this unhealthy, codependent, enabling part.  i had been watching it unfold in front of me for my entire life.

luckily, ben and i still loved being together.  we both pushed our uncomfortable feelings aside, and tried our best to enjoy what we could of being a young family under stressful situations.  we celebrated the milestones caleb would make, breathed an enormous breath of fresh air as his continual crying finally began to cease when he was around 5 months old, and found our new normal creating happiness within the reality of life with our difficult, but miraculous baby.  in many ways, our love strengthened during that time.

ben was hired at a new job about 2 hours south, and we decided to take it.  by this point, we were waist-deep into appointments with specialists and physical therapists and developmental pediatricians for caleb.  my life was consumed with him.  and because of the fear that had taken on full force, i rarely trusted him with anyone besides myself and ben.  when i was around, sure.  but leaving him?  no way.  i had told myself i wouldn't be able to forgive myself if something happened to him, and since no one really knew how to take care of him the way i did, if something happened when i left him to--heaven forbid--go on a date with my husband, that would also be unforgivable.

as the breaking inside continued, i clung more tightly to the only thing that was becoming familiar to me:


Saturday, May 18, 2013

hold me closer, tiny dancer.

today was leah's first ballet recital and i somehow grew to love her even more.  she's only been taking ballet for a little over a month and a half, and she's lucky enough to be studying under my visiting teacher robbin, who is a renowned and talented ballerina.  leah absolutely loves ballet--the music, the movement, the costumes.  it's all right up her alley.

i wasn't in the best position for taking pictures--holding june & trying to entertain her before she went nuts and poor ben had to take her outside.  but we did what we could, and got some priceless video.

i love this last one with miss robbin.  leah kept shoving her rose in her face to smell it and she made this awesome expression.

and now, for the videos:

again, not great quality and yes you can hear caleb and i cracking up.  caleb laughed so hard at the little girl who kept showing the audience her rear end that he almost wet his pants.  and during the second video, with leah and her partner marching together....well, we were both laughing by this point.  so adorable.

leah has kept her rose in a sacred place so it won't be touched by anyone and i'm happy to abide by her wishes.  ben and i can't wait for the rest of this little girl's life filled with beautiful costumes and adorable, hilarious moments.

"Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she's in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

waiting for movement.

it was right around this time, on a sunday night eight years ago, that i tried not to panic.  i voiced my concerns only to ben--because i didn't want to worry anyone else.

my parents joined us in the downstairs of their home, where we were living, to watch the movie 'hotel rwanda' and i knew that the intensity of the movie would help take my mind off of the worry.  while we watched, i slowly sipped on a 2 liter bottle of sprite.  by the end of the movie, i had forced myself to drink almost the entire bottle.  the amount of sugar and carbonation made me nauseous, but i continued drinking.

no movement.

we said goodnight to my parents, and i did everything the book told me to.  lay on the correct side, look at the clock, counting down another hour.

still no movement.

as the hour ended, i closed my eyes tightly, trying to think back throughout my day.  going through my memory as thoroughly as i could, hoping to find what i was looking for.  a shift?  a bump?  a hiccup?

i couldn't remember movement.

my eyes opened and locked with ben's.

"i'm not sure.  i'm trying to remember, but i'm not one hundred percent sure," i said.

"one more hour?"  he asked.  "we wait one more hour, and then we go in."  i nodded in agreement.  "let's say a prayer first."  we knelt together and asked God for guidance.

ben got in the shower to get ready, just in case.  i lay back down and scoured through the book once more, searching now for someone to just tell me what to do.

i had been through this once already, last week.  i lay there, waiting and watching for two hours as the tiny little lines on the screen stayed low, not jumping and spiking the way i knew they were supposed to.

"he must just be taking a nap,"  she said, but her eyebrows were furrowed.  "let me have you shift over here."  so i did as i was told, and another 45 minutes went by.

finally, a movement.  small, but enough to cause the thin line on the screen to move upward.

"see?"  her eyebrows relaxed.  "just asleep, like i said.  remember, they get so squished in there, movement slows.  but if you're ever worried about this again, go to the hospital."

and here i was, worried about it again.  being new at this, i didn't have a lot of certainty in my instincts.  it was almost 1 o'clock in the morning, and this was going to be a big hassle for possibly no reason.

the shower water stopped and a few minutes later ben joined me.  the tick-tick-tick'ing of the clock was the only sound that was made.

1:00.  the hour ended.  no movement.  and this time, i just knew.

"something is wrong," i whispered. "it's just been too long."  

"let's get ready to go,"  ben replied, determination in his voice showing his worry. i swung my legs over the side of the bed and slowly sat up.

suddenly, there was something.  not movement, but

"i think i'm having a contraction,"  i said with surprise.  it rolled through me, starting in my lower abdomen, stretching its way around my lower back.  tightening the muscle and skin so quickly that it made my face heat up and the air feel thinner, like there had somehow been a change in altitude.  i felt my round stomach and it was so hard that if i hadn't known better, i would have guessed i had just swallowed a basketball.  "that was weird.  and intense,"  i said as my muscles and the pain finally began to ease.

i walked around, getting ready.  then, the muscle tightening began again.  my back was aching and i moved to find relief.  i realized without intentionally doing so, i was slowly exhaling the deep breath i had inhaled as it had begun.

"woooah.  wait, what time does the clock say?"  i called to ben in the other room.

"1:05.  why?  did you just have another one?"  he called back.

"yes.  and it was even more intense than the first one.  but i don't know, maybe these are those braxton hicks ones the book always talks about?  the doctor said i wasn't even ready--the baby hasn't dropped, i'm not effaced at all.  should we start timing them?"

so we did.  and they kept coming, one right after another.  i read that book--what had been as close to my bible for the past 10 months--and did everything i was supposed to in order to prove that this was, in fact, real labor.  but those contractions wouldn't stop, and the pain was so acute that i was leaning over during them, my hands in tight fists shoved into my lower back, and laying down after them to try and find some relief until the next one.  i showered, and ben sat outside with his watch, timing the in-between and length.  they began to time closer together.

2:00 in the morning.

"okay, i think this is legit.  now we REALLY need to go in."  i had been diagnosed with stroke-level high blood pressure two weeks before, and had been put on bedrest, informed that i should not go into labor on my own because it could elevate it even more.  the induction had been scheduled for tuesday, with an instruction to have an immediate epidural before the inducing actually began so my body stayed calm and my blood pressure remained as low as possible.

we got in the car, waking my parents as we called to let them know where we were going.  their sleepy voices on the other end of the phone told us good luck and to keep them posted.

at the hospital, i slipped on the white gown with light blue geometric shapes.  the cold, clear jelly squirted across my stomach and i looked over at the monitor.  this time, it was full of peaks and spikes.

a mere three hours later, i threw up the entire 2 liter of Sprite i had consumed while watching the movie.  my body trembled and shook, my face turned a shade between peach and grey.

five hours after that, i was told to wait for the doctor who had been called repeatedly when the labor began progressing so quickly it was like someone had grabbed the remote control and pushed the fast-forward button.  there was a fetal probe sticking on my soon-to-be son's head because his heart rate would drop to a fearfully low rate during contractions.  i was moved to this side and that, trying to find a position that would take my baby out of distress, but he continued to struggle.

my epidural had run out of battery 45 minutes earlier, and the nurse who had left to find a new battery pack had yet to return.  i was starting to feel.  everywhere.

"ummmm,"  my voice was shaky.  "i think he's going to come out.  i can feel it.  i really really think he's coming out now,"  i spoke to the nurse who was up by my head, staring into her computer screen.

"mm-hmm," she absentmindedly answered.  "well, hon, don't worry.  all first-time moms think that.  but we'll just be patient and wait for your doctor, i'm sure she'll be here any minute.  just hold on, he's not going anywhere."  she didn't look at me as she spoke.

i gave a look to ben who was sitting in a chair a few feet away from the bed, wondering if i was crazy or if she was?  his leg was crossed with an arm propped on it, his chin resting in his hand.  he raised his eyebrows and one side of his mouth in an i don't know what's going on sort of way.

another contraction began, i braced myself for the pain that accompanied the new un-numbness of my lower abdomen and back.


and then,

he did.

i felt his slippery little body slide out without my guiding him at all.  and then i felt the small shift of weight on the bed as he fell onto the mattress, in between my feet.  i could not see him.

the air was still.

the world swirled around me like everything was in slow motion.  i watched ben rise to his feet and rush to the bed with his mouth partially open, his eyes wide.  i looked at the nurse, as she let out an audible gasp, jump and join ben at the end of the bed furthest fro me.  then i watched her turn and run to the hallway.


then she went to the small rolling table and began to put gloves on and prepare tools i could not see.  i heard the wheels of the table squeak.  i heard metal clink together. i heard paper rustle.

but in that time, i could not hear the one thing my spirit and heart were searching for.

other than those noises, there was only silence.

and i held my breath, waiting.

but at the time i ached for it most, there was no movement.

for the rest of this story, go here.


writing this story now, my heart still pounds with the fear that consumed it 8 years ago.  but it calms quickly, to know that the movement of my beautiful son is now very much a part of my life.  running, jumping, kicking, leaping, dancing.  his excitement and competitiveness, his laughter and insecurities.

caleb made me a mother, one who had to learn how to trust her instincts and listen to the sounds of the spirit and heart.  i'm still learning how to do those things, but my confidence continues to build as i practice, breathing through the ebbs and flows of motherhood.  it's a constant process and one i'm grateful i've been given the ability to work my way through with the overwhelming love that accompanies it.

happy birthday my sweet, amazing caleb.

we sure love you.

Friday, May 3, 2013

swinging and bending, part 3: the carrying.

{can't find the link to this picture--found on google images}

Read the first part of this story, 

and the second part,

as luck would have it, once ben finished school we found ourselves moving back to utah.  we were jobless, penniless, and insurance-less.  i was 5 months pregnant with our first child, a boy who was going to be called caleb.  we moved into the basement apartment of my parents' home, with ben's family home just a couple of streets away.

we decided to try our luck with a new path: finding a career.

placing all of our eggs into the basket of luck was tricky, and we returned back to the drawing board empty-handed time and again. ben was severely discouraged--this fresh college graduate, who had set out to change the world with his dreams, wound up working for $7.50 an hour taking care of adults with autism.  as hard as it was for him to feel like he was continually failing in the world's definition of "provider," he was surprisingly fulfilled in this job.  he knew when he clocked out at night that he had helped someone who was unable to help themselves, and this meant more to him than any amount of money deposited in our bank account on payday.  it's in the seed that was planted during this time that i can see God's plan for him, for us.  this was the beginning of his journey in the mental health field.

with a baby on the way and the intent to live in our own space, he moved on to a new job, working 2 days on, 1 day off at a lock down facility for troubled youth.  i spent most of my time at home, growing a baby, grateful for a break from being the full-time provider.

living in the basement with my parents was somewhat surreal, in the way that i vacillated between who i had been and who i was becoming.  i didn't know how to navigate the extraction from my previous family role while living in the environment that bred it, and found myself slipping easily back into who i had been before married life.  i took on the role of pleaser, buffer and rescuer without even realizing it.

the storms between our loved ones continued, and it became increasingly difficult to navigate between them.  we tried to declare our little space as neutral ground, offering peace and switzerland to whoever entered it.  but because of hard feelings between others, our neutral territory didn't last long and the boundaries we asked to be upheld were continually crossed. i was fearful of the possibility of contention to bring it up when it happened, so i stayed quiet and accepted what i believed i could not stop, instead going behind the scenes to do damage control.

i began again to carry what others gave me; their anger, their fear, their insecurities, their guilt, their shame.  i told myself i could take it, because i was the "good girl," the obedient one who would be there "no matter what."  subconsciously i stood with my arms outstretched, letting the toxicity of my loved ones pile on, until my back ached and my arms and legs began to bend under the weight of their load i accepted to bear.

ben sensed the change in me as i reverted, but didn't know enough yet to put his finger on it and say it out loud.  as grateful as he was for the comfortable surroundings we were quickly and graciously provided when we needed it, he told me he felt an urgency for us to move out--he was feeling suffocated.  i could see glimpses of the unhealthy dynamics going on, but only with the part he was playing in his family instead of my own.  it was easy for me to recognize his aching back, the arms and legs bending under the weight of his own role returning.

as turbulent as this time sounds, there were really a lot of good memories during the year we spent in the basement apartment.  but this was an integral point in our lives, where i can now see the carrying and bending that eventually led to the breaking years down the road.

while we were still living there, caleb was born.