Tuesday, March 4, 2014

what matters most.

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again
--"The Cave"
Mumford & Sons

i feel like i closed my eyes to blink, and opened them to realize february has come and gone.

i can finally write freely about the past few months with ben's school, because it is over.  we both did the best we could, and gave it everything we had.

ben's ability to match and leave on internship by this summer has been denied, the process of all of it hitting every angle it possibly could;  mental, physical, emotional and even--maybe especially?-- spiritual.  the hits have not all been delivered negatively however, there has been so much good we have seen and felt, and will not deny that.

we are here another year in arizona, and though there was disappointment about not being where we had hoped when it came to this already-lengthy process of school, prolonging the finish line even further, i was surprised at the amount of peace i felt when the decision was finally made for us.

i have learned many lessons during the past 5 years of ben's doctoral program....but i think the most important lesson for me has come in this last trial of our life in limbo for months, decisions made out of our control, then denial of our hopes, and it is this:

stop waiting for happiness.

i've felt many times through grad school as if i've been enduring some sort of punishment, waiting for it to end so i can finally begin---but begin what?  this is the question i've been asking myself, trying to shift the paradigm that the rest of living my life has to be put on hold.  having babies, traveling, my return to school, taking up yoga, becoming more social--these were all things i've been terrified of or avoided because i was waiting for this period of our lives to be over.  i was waiting for help during dinner and bath times, waiting for someone to sit next to me at monthly boy scout meetings, waiting for date nights, waiting for someone to pack up the picnic i had prepared for the day trip with the kids, waiting for someone to laugh with over late movies under blankets on saturday nights.

to be honest, i've been waiting to get my husband back.

a couple of years ago i realized how lost i felt without ben.  it was at this same time i realized how lost ben was in school.  being an introvert and marrying an extrovert had perks i hadn't understood until they were taken from me and i was left to my own devices.  suddenly i found myself a shy homebody who felt trapped in her own life, sweating in the heat of arizona, caring for two kids with an unexpected third on the way, mostly flying solo in parenting, socializing, taking care of the home, and other areas.

i blamed what i could for this entrapment--the stifling heat, the advisors who viewed ben having children and a wife as a liability, the full-time overnight jobs he worked, being without a car, having no family close by, our extremely limited budget, having friends who had their own lives and didn't need to be bothered....the list went on.

but i learned {the hard way} that i was the cause of my own suffocating.

there are always options.

i just continually chose not to see them.  it has only been the past couple of years when i began to start viewing life differently, realizing i could be whoever i want to be, living however i want to live.  even with these options before me, i purposefully chose this life, with these circumstances.  there is so much good here, so much love, and so much ability to be happy that i hadn't even tapped into.  this was when i started choosing happiness within this life, and stopped waiting.

i stepped out of my comfort zone to a job that has been financially helpful, i started reaching out to others for social things regardless of whether or not ben would be there with me, i got to know a lot of babysitters in the neighborhood so i could set aside a few hours in the week--even if all i did was go grocery shopping on my own.  i began more proactive and intentional parenting, and proactive and intentional time as a couple with ben.  and when i felt myself emotionally carrying more than i could handle, i signed back up into group therapy for an automatic safe place to emotionally release when i needed to without unleashing my often-overwhelmed self on the three innocent little people i adore who didn't deserve it.

i have no idea how long school is going to take for us to be finished with it.  i have no idea if, once it's over, ben will be able to find a normal 8am-5pm job, or will have to take what's offered.  and heaven forbid, what if the time away from his family is even more demanding than school has been??  what then?  i need to know i'm going to be okay, regardless.  not just okay, but happy.

and the good news is, i actually am happy--more so than i have been in my life, ever.  and more fulfilled as a mom and a wife because i'm more fulfilled as an individual.  i'm not waiting anymore.  

so the internship not happening this year, was it disappointing?  sure, it wasn't ideally what i had hoped for.  i'd really love for ben to just be done with school.  but was it devastating?  not even close.  we have a really good life inside the walls of the Pink House, even in the often stifling heat.  what matters most is here.  the rest of it--whether it's a doctoral certificate or all of the other outer layer things that can feel so important sometimes, those are the distractions to take my focus off-kilter.

we find ourselves readjusting, once again.  and although it's our third extra year of graduate school, and the finish line feels further from our reach, this time we're readjusting with smiles on our faces, looking forward to what this extra year has to offer us.


Meghan said...

best post ever. Great perspective. Great outlook. Thank you for sharing. I'm anxious to see where things go...but I am happy to know you are comfortable in your own shoes, right now. Love ya girl! I have loved reading your journey. You are so REAL.

Charlotte said...

For the record, that "heaven forbid" situation happened to us. We waited for so long to be done with school so we could "have our lives back" only to have it get much, much harder. And that blow, those unfulfilled expectations, were almost the end of us.

I'm so glad you are wiser than I was. I love your beautiful perspective.

Deanna said...

I love you and I don't even know you. Thank you for this insight. I've been in VERY similar shoes....it can get so frustrating....but I love this perspective. Only WE can decide how we feel....despite everything whirring by and around us.

Looking back, I remember thinking "I got this, I know this" and with experiences and growing older, we become more wise.

You are wise to choose to be happy in the NOW. Happiness rarely finds us all on its own. ;)

Rachel Chick said...

I love you, Lynsey Louise. Bless you. I mean it. Bless you and your family. You bless my life over and over again and I'm so thankful to call you my friend. Thank you for writing.