Sunday, August 9, 2015

Finding the Magic again.


In the early hours of tomorrow morning, Ben will leave for field training.  For the next 3 weeks he will be gone Monday-Friday, jumping out of helicopters, crawling through trenches, getting tear gassed, shooting guns, and other exciting and really tough things, and will come home Saturday's and Sunday's.

We're all feeling a little sad because not only will we miss him, but this is the first year he won't be there for the kids' first day of school.  That may not be a big deal for some, but it is for us--we recognize we're still living in the years our kids WANT us to be there with them their first day, and we know this won't last forever.  


A Gift:

Our daughter Leah was born with the Gift of Making Everything Magic.  From the time she was a baby,  she could entertain herself with the most simple things like a piece of paper, or a rubber band, or her own fingers because she would see them with eyes that turned them into butterflies, fairies and dolphins.  This is what I love most about her, yet some days I worry.  I know too well the world can be a harsh place for those who see things not as they are, but as what they can become. 

I know, because I was born with this Gift too.   


An Ugly side of me:  

As a young girl, I was an optimist.  I remember feeling happy almost all of the time.  I loved easily, sang and danced my way through my days, was surrounded by friends, lost myself inside of a book, laughed a lot, and lived in my imagination.  I believed the world was full of Good and Beauty, and I believed I was going to become someone amazing when I grew up.  

Little by little, I began to change.  Vividly traumatic moments, cruel words, lies, hypocrisy, anger, and volatile tempers taught me to bury this Gift, replacing it with Fear into my world. I tried to hold on and trust in the Good, but with each passing year, as the circumstances remained and continually broke pieces of my optimistic heart, this became more and more difficult.  

I became an anxious, insecure, and wary version of myself, but kept these things hidden.  I could no longer sing or dance in front of others on my own, I had to have the safety of a group.  I hated the spotlight being on me, I was too insecure to stand in it.  The friends I had I believed deserved better than me, so I worked to become someone who could make them laugh, so at least I could contribute something.  

My anxiety and low self worth exhibited itself as not setting goals I felt I was not good enough to achieve.  I felt comfortable in allowing myself to sit in the path of least resistance when it came to academics, dating, jobs, and plans for college.  I no longer dreamed big dreams for myself.

I longed for affection, but was taught and grew to believe that anyone who showed me attention only did because they wanted something from me, and would take advantage of my easily trusting heart. So, I trained myself to stop searching for love built from respect, and allowed myself to fit this role, to be used for another's purposes. 

I formed an outer shell called Prepare For The Worst.  This became my protection from pain, contention, and the Dark parts of the world I had come to understand too closely.  This shell served as the way I separated from the Darkness and did not allow it to drown me.  If I was prepared for it, it could not hurt, or disappoint me.  This is what I told myself.

Then, I met Ben.  

Well, I re-met him, after we had grown up and out of high school and all of the shallow facades we live in during that time.  I re-met him during a time we were both Searching.  For ourselves, for something real, for some way to be who we had been born to be--who we had protected inside for so long with the Shells we created to survive.  I came to realize he had seen even more Darkness than me, and was shocked at this knowledge because for me, he was Sunshine.  He had a Light that had somehow survived all he had been through, and when I was with him, it was contagious.  

It took time, but eventually my Prepare For The Worst shell began to crack, as time and again through our dating and married life, I've found that Light can not only survive Darkness, it can overcome, and shine through it.  

So, I have worked to find myself again.  Habits are hard to break though, and I have stumbled and fallen backwards in my climb.  But I have found my footing, and not stopped climbing.  

It has been tricky at times.  The shell that once protected me was no longer needed, but I knew there was no going back to my naive childhood.  I had to find a balance of a thicker skin while keeping a soft heart, of seeing through the broken pieces of others, while still being wise to not let their broken pieces take me down with them.  And lately I've been really working on a balance of using common sense and knowledge of the World and its Dark and Ugly, combined with an adult-sized Faith and optimism that regardless of any circumstances, God and I make a great team.  

As a wife and mother and individual, I am still working.  Right now I really want that optimism back, that Gift I pushed down and buried so long ago in order to protect it.  

I've been thinking about this, as I've been preparing for Ben to be gone.  I feel like emotionally that protective shell is trying to return, out of fear.  New situations always add a piece of overwhelming for me, and since everything right now falls into that category in my life (finding doctors, babysitters, registering for new schools, meeting new neighbors, making new friends, finding my way/getting lost basically everywhere), I can feel the need to protect, to pre-stress, to worry, and to walk myself through the worst case scenarios while he's away sitting on the edges of my thoughts.

Protect, protect, protect. 

Some form of protection is good, healthy, and necessary.  My form though, causes me to isolate and build walls.  To not let people in, to not emotionally connect.  To not be my best real, vulnerable self.  

I don't want this.  Not for me, not for my kids, not for Ben, not for our lives.  I may never be the carefree child I used to be, but I still have that Gift--I still believe in the Magic.  I'm surrounded by it every day, when I'm out of my shell and looking for it, I always find it.

And so, for the next 3 weeks while he is gone, I will be looking for Magic and documenting it.  Even on the hard or overwhelming days--especially on those.  I don't want the time that I have with the family I've helped create and absolutely adore, to go to waste in the land of fear, guilt, stressing, and insecurity.  I've given too many of my good years over to those anyway, they don't deserve an extra three weeks.  

Because honestly, Life really is such a beautiful thing, isn't it?  

Here's to Finding the Magic.  

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