Sacrifice for Gain

16 04 2007

I just finished reading a post from A Girl and a Boy. She talks about how in life we often think of each step as a step up, bigger apartment, more amenities, better paying job, etc. She offers instead the idea of life as a web on which we can move in all directions. She also talks about how each time we make changes in our life, we often sacrifice in order to gain.

This is actually something I’ve been thinking alot about since finding out that Mike’s going to be in Chicago next spring. I’m ecstatic about the fact that I’ll see him more. I’ve always disliked the fact that we have trouble knowing some of the more mundain elements of each other’s lives because when we are together it’s a bit like being in a bubble. We alter our normal routines, and spend alot of concentrated time together often just the two of us.

I’m also relieved that I know longer have to deal with the black hole of uncertainty that existed because we had no real concept of when we would be in the same place. A year, two years, three? Could I wait that long? Was he worth waiting for? I fought that battle recently, and came through with a resounding “yes, for now I chose this path”. I want to see this relationship to the end, whatever end that might be. But it was still really hard not to be scared. Especially because there are parts of my subconscious that are still afraid that I’m destined to be continually rejected by the men I fall for. Discarded for a better model because they didn’t truly love me, I just tricked them into thinking they did by loving them as hard as I could.

But now it’s a solid, tangible 10 months. Still a while, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll stay in Chicago after he graduates, but at least I have this three months to look forward to and hold onto when I get impatient with the long distance.

But what am I giving up? There are always sacrifices to be made even if we don’t see them till much later. The one that I’ve been thinking about is the dynamic I have with my roommates. I’ve already had to make sacrifices with my time with them because of my relationship with Mike, but that’s going to intensify when he’s living within visiting distance. I will have to be more conscious of how I use my time, and how my relationship with Mike is affecting my relationships with the girls, and apartment dynamics as a whole. If Mike and I work out, I’ll have years to spend with him, but I will only be living with these girls for two years, and most likely we’ll all move in different directions and spread out across the country and quite possibly the world in the coming years. Being in community with them is a luxury I try very hard not to take for granted. Hopefully there will be no regrets.


Hello, young lovers where ever you are. I hope your troubles are few.

12 04 2007

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!  Mike has changed his plans for next spring!!!!!

Instead of living all the way across the country, he’ll be living all the way across town.  I’ll get to see him more than a few days a month.  And chances of him wanting to stick around greatly increase if his internship turns into a job.  Could I be happier?  Only if I wasn’t scared that it’s somehow life’s way of tricking me into being happy before ripping out my heart and stomping on it.  I’m a little scared to believe that it’s actually going to happen, because it would be hard to get used to another idea after becoming comfortable with such a wonderful thought.   God, our relationship is a rollercoaster, even I’m having trouble keeping up.


One year later

8 04 2007

I went to Goshen this weekend for Easter, and to celebrate our one year anniversary with Mike.

I had a fabulous weekend. But I’m going to regret not getting home till 11:30. More later.

The one that got away

2 04 2007

My first serious relationship lasted a year and a few months, coincidentally about the same amount of time I was with my ex-fiance. He was almost 3 years younger than me. I seem to have a thing for younger men. We meet during my senior year and started dating soon after I graduated. Then next year while I was out of school he and his family became my life. If I wasn’t at work I was at his house. We worked well together in so many ways, but we were so young. And totally unprepared for the temptations both physical and emotional. I moved to college and suddenly my horizons broadened. There were other men more my age. I fell for someone else. I broke his heart. I tried to remain friends with him, but understandably, he eventually had to break ties. We reconnected last summer for an afternoon of honesty and forgiveness. We had both changed so much in those 4 years. We no longer fit so well, but I’ve often wondered who I would be if I had stayed with him. He has grown into a handsome, mature young man, but hasn’t had a serious relationship since me. I found out tonight that he’s dating. I’m very happy for him. Sometimes I miss his sweetness and the way he loved me so fully. Best of luck my dear.

Word gets around

29 03 2007

My relationship with my family is quite complicated. I don’t actually know most of my family very well, but we’re not what you would call a “dysfunctional” family. I just haven’t lived with them for alot of my formative years. I am the baby of the family. My siblings are 13, 11, and 9 years older than I. I have fond memories of all of them from my childhood, but I never learned to really know them as people. I had my first dorming experience at 10, and although it only lasted for a few months, I think I really started to disconnect from my parents then. I went to boarding school for high school, and became pretty distant from both of them. I had always been a pretty independent child anyway, and I don’t remember having a strong connection with either of them after coming back from Africa. I remember feeling as a middle and high schooler that my mom was tired of raising children and that I was her last chance to “do it right’ and that I was failing her.

So now that I’m an adult, I deal with this dicatomy of feeling distant and disconnected from my family while also having alot of history with them that makes it feel like I should know them better.  I’ve been learning more about my parents and sisters in the past few years, but slowly and at times akwardly.  I realize alot of this is my fault, because they are right there.  I could talk to them basically whenever I wanted, but I don’t take the time.  I envy my roommates who seem comfortable and close to their families.  I love my family very much, and think they are all amazing people.  And I know they love me.  I hope that I can find ways to bridge this gap in years to come.

Last weekend I found out that we are not as disconnected as I sometimes think.  I was in Goshen that weekend, and Mike and I were dealing with some strong questions about the wisdom of continuing our relationship despite the fact that he is going to be gone alot of the next year, we have no clear idea of when we can actually be in the same place, and he’s feeling insecure about what he wants for his future and how I fit into that.  He’s afraid of hurting me and that the separation is going to be too hard on me and he’ll feel guilty about that.  A trial separation was discussed, a more permanent breakup seemed imminent at on point, but at the end of the weekend we chose to stay together and continue as planned.  But on Saturday we thought we were going to take a break over the summer, and possibly next fall, and when I stopped by my sister’s house I told her about it.  I didn’t think she would say anything to any of the other family (I’m not exactly sure why I was under this impression), so imagine my surprise when I received a call on Monday from my mom saying “I heard from your brother that you and your boyfriend split up!”  So new actually travels faster in my family than I realized.  Except I’m always the last to hear.  I remember one time my nephew broke his arm and I found out a month later.  They were still living in PA at the time.

On a random note, in a recent conversation with Abby about the weekend’s drama, she called me a “serial monogamist”.  How’s that for creating new vocabulary.

To the person who found me by searching “how to heal from a broken engagement”

13 03 2007

You’re long gone, but your search got me thinking. What would I tell someone if they asked me that question? I know I’m young, and I’m sure every person’s experience is different, but here’s a bit of my experience and what I’ve learned.

An engagement is a plan. It’s a plan that ties your life integrally with another’s. When my engagement was ended so was my chosen path. It was cut off sharp at about 9 months down the road. I had no plans after May that made any sense without Jesse. I am someone who thrives on looking down the road. I’m constantly mapping out the next 50 steps. The way many people use family or home as security in life, I use plans. I had never felt as secure as I did when I was engaged. I belonged. And suddenly that was gone. The plans, the belonging, the security. I felt like the rug of my life had been pulled out from under me and I was left lying flat on my back staring up at a blank ceiling. Alone. I started to piece together a future again but it was difficult. I had changed my major since the relationship had turned serious, and honestly, it was partly because I was going to get married. I didn’t need an occupation as involved as interpreting if I had a family. I had started to make plans to move to the city with my girlfriends before I got engaged, but they had moved on with the planning without me (naturally), and I no longer fit. I had the feeling that nothing in my life made sense anymore.

A large part of that feeling was because I valued myself based on how Jesse valued me. I remember writing that it felt like only the fringes of my heart were left because I’d filled up the bulk of it with my love for him, leaving only a fringe for where I loved my family and friends. The part where I loved myself was tied up with the part that loved him, and I wasn’t allowed to love him anymore. I had to relearn to value myself as an individual.

Letting go of the now defunct future was probably one of the hardest parts. First of all there was the wedding. I had it all planned. I was going to be in China and then have a more then full course load plus try to hold down 3 part time jobs, so I planned the wedding the summer before as much as I could. I have a dress. My bride’s maids have dresses. I had asked a friend to do the cake and we had found some beautiful cake stands. I had asked another friend to do the photos. I had ask someone to do the music. And the flowers. We had talked about vows and pre-marital councling and hymns. Then there was the life. We had a boy’s and girl’s name picked out. I was already thinking about possible apartment locations. We had combined our monetary resources (don’t do this, it’s a very bad idea) I was going to be a part of his family (he has a really cool family) I was going to be a wife. Something that I’ve come to grips with in the past couple years is that despite how much society might look down on my for it, the most important things in the world to me are finding a partner and creating a family. My dreams were coming true.

And then they weren’t.

In no specific order because it’s late and my mind is scattered, here are some things that helped me through:

  • I drew on the support of my friends. and drew and drew. We are closer for it.
  • I spent time alone, but I made sure that I didn’t alienate myself.
  • I allowed myself to grieve.
  • I allowed myself to be angry.
  • I worked really hard at not being bitter.
  • I did things that made me feel good about myself. Dancing was a key element.
  • I went to counciling. I wish I had started regular sessions sooner.
  • I asked him to go to a counciling session with me.
  • I forced myself to deal with what I was feeling
  • I monitored my methods of escape so that nothing got out of hand.
  • I made a new plan for my life.
  • I made strong commitments to myself about maintaining my self worth and independence.
  • I learned to value experiences I had and people I had gotten to know while with him despite the pain that is now attached.
  • I got rid of e-mails, letters and pictures. I’m an obsessive reminiscer, so this was an important step for me. I only kept my diaries.
  • I wrote poetry.
  • I opened myself up to another relationship when the time felt right.
  • I forgave him and tried to see things from his perspective.
  • I looked for ways in which I was responsible.
  • I didn’t allow myself to take all the responsibility.
  • I celebrated in way I had grown and matured because of the experience.
  • I didn’t set a time limit for when I should be over it.

    That last one is still really important because (is it obvious?) I’m not completely over it. I’ve come a long way, and in alot of ways time is the only thing left that can get me to a place of feeling more at peace. There are still random strangers that make my heart jump a little. Dark curly hair. Certain body types. The way a certain guy walks. Sometimes you just have to let time heal.And to the person who found me by searching for “if you had to rename of mice an” I’d rename it “should have finished the last chapter before going to class so that the ending wasn’t completely ruined”

Thinking back and feeling old hurts

21 02 2007

Music: Bring me to life by Evanescence

Mike recently put this song on a mix for me. The ironic thing? Jesse had put it on the mix he made me while I was still in Oregon. Both of them told me I “brought them out” in different ways. Humm…

Jesse and Suzi are getting married on Saturday. I knew this was coming, althought I didn’t know the date until today.

Honestly? It’s still hard. Yes, I’ve moved on with Mike. I’ve done a whole hell of a lot of healing in the last year and a half. Close girlfriends, a new relationship and the hope and healing that brings, and a summer of counciling have brought me a long way. (although the later hasn’t helped my credit card balance) So why do I still feel the hurt so viserally at times? When does that go away? When do I get to be completely whole again.

I feel so many things about this wedding. I don’t think I’ve had so many mixed emotions about an event before. But I will be far away in Seattle having fun with my girlfriends.

A kick to the heart

20 02 2007

The last couple weeks I’ve been obsessing. About the future, about money, about my relationship with Mike and where it’s going when. I’m so tired of my brain running overtime. I have alot of time to think with my job because alot of the things I do with the babies don’t require me to be as mentally engaged. If I’m feeding them a bottle, or helping Liz bounce herself to sleep, or taking them on a walk, I have nothing occupying my mind, so I think. I think about all the possibilities that my life holds, and sometimes that’s a really joyful thing, but sometimes that’s just intimidating and overwhelming and scary. Yesterday some of the old pain from my broken engagement that had kind of settled into the recesses of my consciousness was kicked up. I spent the evening feeling bitter, but felt better today. But it did have the affect of making me think a fair amount today about where I could be right now (for the umpteenth time) if things had gone differently. It’s quite scary how close I came to making a huge mistake. It also got me to take a step back and wonder why I’m in such a hurry when it comes to Mike. Why do I feel like I have to know now where we’re going to be in a year, in two years. Why do I want so badly to have decided. Sometimes I just get so exhausted by all the questioning and guarding my heart that I just want to let go and say “this is it, this is who I chose”. Why am I afraid so much?

So how do I find a good place. One where I’m still open to the relationship not working out, but also not petrified of making the wrong decision. How do I let it be ok that we could be apart for the next 2 1/2 years? How do I let it be ok that maybe we’ll be just a little risky and “rush things” Whatever that is.

When do you know you love someone enough and they love you enough to make the challenge of marriage doable? When do you know enough about a person to know that you won’t be unhappy with them? Do you ever know? Probably not. A little while ago my mom gave me an article from the NY times, “the things all couples should talk about before they get married”. Mike and I looked at it together. We had already talked about most of them. Then we talked about the rest. What does that say? We’re both flexible people. We’re both looking to settle down in the next few years. We’re really good at finding the common ground, being open, and making a compromise that’s cool with both of us. We both value a relationship/family above career, location, and personal goals. Not that the other things are un-important, but if it really came down to a choice, our priorities lie with the relationship. But I thought all those things about Jesse. Maybe not as strongly with the compromising thing, or the flexibility, and I have my eyes alot more open now, but still. If I could be that blind then, then I could still be blind to things. I have an amazing ability to convince myself of things to get what I want. I can self-deceive to an amazing degree. So where does that leave me? With the strong conviction that Mike and I can make each other very happy, but with the petrifying knowledge that my strong convictions can be hugely misguided. Sigh.

An e-mail to a close friend

5 02 2007

Music: Homebird by Foy Vance

(I think this e-mail sums up recent events pretty well)

Well, let’s see. Things with work are good. Sometimes I can’t wait for the girls to get a little older so that they are quite as dependent on me. I don’t mind the dependency, or take care of them, it’s only a problem when they both want my attention right now. Liz especially can be fussy and want to be held simply because she’s tired, which makes it hard to give Rose the time she deserves. Especially now because I’ve been working with her on learning to sit up and it sucks when I have to lay Rose down during some of the short time when she’s awake and not being fed or changed or tired and falling asleep. So there are times that I get a bit frustrated that I can’t give each of the girls the attention I want to, but as they get older that will get better.
I went back to Goshen this weekend. It was a good trip, but way too fast. I got to see all my family that lives in the area, except Matt (Karis’ husband) because he was working, and my oldest nephew because he was on a church retreat. I wish I could have spent more time with them, but I also spent a good portion of the weekend catching up with friends. I’m beginning to realize how much I miss having a strong, varied, and extensive community. I love the town of Evanston, but I don’t feel close to people here except for my roommates. I miss so many people from Goshen. It was wonderful to see Mike because I’d had an emotionally draining week for various reasons- two very stressful, disturbing dreams, and having a talk with a close friend about something I did in the past that was very hurtful to her that she didn’t know about. She’s really angry at me, understandably, but it’s really hard because it’s something I’m not proud of and it makes me feel small and pathetic. But I’m also a different person than I was when it happened and I hope she can see that and forgive me.
The more time I spend with Mike the more I realize how well we respond to each other. He has a real calming affect on my life. We are able to be completely open with one another even when it’s hard. I trust him, which is important given the distance. He’s someone who I can talk to when I’m dealing with real issues of life and faith, and he processes them with me. I never feel like he’s judging me, which is something I have struggled with when it comes to alot of people I’m close to. But he also helps me own up to my own faults and issues. I’m still scared of opening myself up to potentially getting very hurt again. I’m not sure how to get away from the fear, but so far I’ve been able to keep it from disabling me in the relationship. Sometimes it’s so hard for me to talk myself down from giving up because it takes so much time and emotional energy to keep up the long distance relationship. I’m hopeful for it though.

Living at night

18 07 2005

Today my mom asked me why I live my life at night and then sleep during the day. It’s something I’ve struggled with since middle school. I’m a night owl, no question there, but I do tend to enjoy life better when I’m going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. I wonder why that is. This morning I got up around 10 and went down to mow my sister’s lawn. It takes about 50 minutes to get there, and tragically my mom had failed to tell me that she didn’t have a key and that I was supposed to bring the one Lenora had given me. So we turned around and came back. Then I felt pretty deflated and read some and then took a nap. In the afternoon I cleaned my bathroom and worked a bit on the downstairs that still has some cleaning up to do. After a bit Jesse came over and set up the wireless internet access on my parents computer that I’m now using sitting in bed and chatting with Nathan and Derek on IM…… I love the internet. Went back to Jesse’s and just kind of relaxed together. He’s working long hard hours, and doesn’t have a whole lot of energy at the end of the day, so we’ve been doing that alot. And now back here for some interneting.
Abby’s recent blog about China made me think about my own feelings and how I too am concerned about not dealing with it well. I’m so amazingly excited! But I’m also terrified. I mean what if I can’t talk to my cooking family at all. I feel like the only Chinese I have a grasp on is hello and goodbye, and even that I don’t remember the tones for. I did so poorly in Chinese class…. 😦 But I’m trying to let the excitement be the dominate emotion. I’ll miss Jesse…..
I’ve been thinking some for the past little while about how I’m changing my name when I get married. I won’t be Stephanie H******** anymore…. I’ll be Stephanie S*************. I’ll be giving up a piece of my identity. I mean I’ve been Stephanie H******** all my life. There’s not much more basic about our identity than our names. No matter what I’ve been, done, where I’ve lived, etc. I’ve always been Stephanie H********. In less than a year I won’t be. I’ll have to remember to tell people the right name… learn a new signature. I’ve always thought that I’d change my name. I really didn’t mind the tradition, but now that it comes down to it, it seems like a much bigger deal to be changing my name. I wish there was a more equal way of doing it, but even the middle name thing doesn’t really work for us, because Jesse’s middle name is Jesse and John, his first name, is a family tradition that I wouldn’t want him to give up. Hyphenation doesn’t really work…. can you imagine me having to sign “Stephanie H********-S*************” no way! so what can Jesse do to some how tip the balance a little more equally. I mean….. I don’t know, I just feel that it would be nice if there was something that he was doing to token his changing of identity as we unite as well. Something saying “I’m hers just as much as she’s mine”. Tis a puzzlement (name that tune). In other news, our wedding bands are done and will be on their way to the the US by monday!!!! (with Thushan) I’m excited to see them. Thushan’s father is a jeweler and his company is making them for us. Well night all. Pleasant dreams.