Thursday, February 5, 2015

Paint Me a Picture

I fell in love.  He painted me a picture of who he was supposed to be.  I fell hard.  It was the first time in my life I felt that things made sense.  He would love me.  He would be loyal.  I looked into his eyes and they were so honest...so pure.  I could see the love in those eyes.  I could see the truth in the way he looked at me.  I fell in love.  I fell so hard.  I saw my future.  I had hope.  I opened my heart.   I let him in.  I gave him my everything.  All that I had.  I spoke my heart.  I revealed it all.  Then there was silence.  I panicked.  Desperation consumed me.  He was gone.  My mind started spinning.  What had I done?  It all became clear.  I had fallen in love with a picture.  It was painted with me in mind.  A deception.  A forgery.  I had been duped.  I have been played.  Who can I blame but myself for being so naive?  Who can I blame but him for being everything that I don't want.  I fell in love.  I fell in love with someone who was only make believe.

I am lonely.  I'm well aware of the state I'm in...fragile...vulnerable...naive...

Despite the fact that I was in a relationship where I was lied to and deceived for years...somehow I haven't become jaded.  I still find myself trusting too easily.  I am honest...brutally honest about myself.  I will tell you all of my flaws the first opportunity I get.  I am honest.  It makes me assume that other people will be as honest as I am.  Despite the fact that I have been lied to over and over again...I just can't find it in myself to assume that all people are that way.  I can't become jaded.  I can't allow myself to lose hope.  When will I learn my lesson?  Or is it a lesson worth learning?  I can close myself off...shut down...become jaded...not trust...assume people are all the same...untrustworthy...   Or I can continue on in my vulnerable state...my heart open...ready to trust...always believing...fragile...ready to love...  There's this internal conflict going on.  My mind tells me that I'm crazy.  The deepest part of my soul...who I am...me...I can't change it.  I don't want to change it.  I believe.  I trust.  I get my heart broken.  I am ashamed...and this shame comes from the fact that I know I am choosing to open my heart up even though it's most likely not wise.  This is who I am.  I think I would be more ashamed if I betrayed that.

Disclaimer:  I'm really okay.  I know I post these sad and desperate posts but that's because I only feel the need to write when I'm feeling strongly about something. Life has really been so much better. I feel an emotional freedom that I haven't felt in years....yet, I am still broken. I am learning to navigate a new life.  Mistakes will be made along the way. I can only hope that I learn from them.  This blog helps me. It's an outlet...my cathartic release.  I may seem like I'm falling apart but after I share my heart...I'm able to move on...to pick myself up and I feel restored after letting go of my emotions. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Running Away

Life is so much easier when I can find something to distract me.  Distractions have become a vital part of my life for the past couple of years.  Before cancer, when things were hard in my marriage it was reading.  I used to pick up a book and finish it within 24 hours.  Reading was my escape from reality.  While I was going through treatment I didn't have the energy to read.  I tried.  I just couldn't focus or keep my eyes open long enough to finish a book...and besides that...it took every ounce of energy I had to keep it together...to figure out how to function.  I just couldn't handle distractions.  After treatment was over I needed a new escape.  I started playing a game on my phone.  It is a social game where you play with other people.  I started making friends through the game.  It was perfect.  I started interacting with people through the game...people who knew nothing about me...people who I could choose what they knew about me.  They didn't know I had short hair because it was just growing back from being bald.  I got to start fresh and decide what they knew about me.  I needed to have interaction with people who didn't look at me with pity in their eyes...people who didn't know...  I craved conversation about the weather...small talk...people who learned to like me for my personality, without their opinions being tainted by what I have been through.  This game has been my escape for the past year.  The funny thing is that I have made some real friendships with people I have met.  There are two women I've met who I am positive are friends for life.

Sometimes there is just no escaping reality  No matter how hard I try to pull away...sometimes reality still just slaps me in the face.  Today is one of those days.  I am so overwhelmed with anxiety.  I can't breathe.  I can't think.  I can't feel.  I am numb.  I want to run away.  There is nowhere to run though.  I have made choices in my life and I am now suffering the consequences.  I married a man who destroyed me emotionally.  The odd thing about this situation is that I don't see myself as one of those women who typically ends up in my situation.  I always looked at women in my situation as weak...insecure...damaged.  I've never thought of myself as insecure.  I know my value.  I just didn't understand why my husband didn't see it.  I fought...I fought hard and I failed.  Now things are a mess.  I have four children who love their father.  Their father is a man I can't stand to be around...a man who I don't even want to think about.  It's a mess.  Sometimes I spend all day long receiving text messages from him...things I don't want to read...hurtful things...it's exhausting.   I am surrounded by people who love me...people who are concerned for me and my children.  I am so blessed but that blessing can also be such a curse at the same time.  I know how terrible that sounds but it's how I feel.  I am so exhausted from dealing with the soon to be ex-husband and then I show up at my nephew's basketball game...I sit down on the bleachers next to my mom and my sister and all the questions begin...did he really do that?...did he really say that?...how did the kids react?...are they okay?...are your lawyers taking care of this?...do you need me to have a talk with your lawyer?...  The weight bearing down on me is so heavy already.  I love that they care so much...that they love me...that they love my kids...but I can't breathe.  The air is thin.  I am suffocating.  Where can I run to?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Who Shares This Crap?

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to the pigs.  If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
                                                                                                                      Matthew 7:6

Sometimes I think to myself...why do I feel the need to share my deepest feelings, my darkest thoughts, my heart...?  There are times when I can feel the judgement from those around me.  Why?  Why do I choose to put my private life out there for the world to see?  The funny thing about this...I didn't start questioning this until I blogged about non-cancer related topics.  Why is it okay to blog about cancer but not about a failed marriage?  Why is truth and vulnerability only okay if it's about illness?  It's okay to blog about the fear of death brought on by cancer but not the fear of having my heart broken again after a failed marriage?  I am black and white.  Fear is fear and pain is pain.  I have nothing to hide.  I am imperfect.  That's old news.  I choose to continue on writing whatever is on my heart.  I no longer care what people think.  I guess walking around bald and with one boob...seeing strangers look at me with my four children noticing that I have no ring on my wedding finger...maybe these things have left me realizing that I just don't care anymore about the judgments of those around me.  And most importantly...I believe that truth is the best medicine for my soul.  I also believe that hiding the truth from my children will only do more harm than good.  

I have a friend who recently started dating again after her divorce.  She was telling me about this dating app she uses.  She told me I should try it.  I laughed.  That is so not me...but then I started thinking about it.  What I look like on paper...  
35 years old.  Four children.  One real breast (but don't worry...in the process of finishing reconstruction of a new breast).  Unemployed.  Has completed some college (just the classes I found worthy of showing up for the final).  Lives with parents.  
I actually thought about creating a profile just for the sake of being able to laugh at how terrible it would look.  

I guess I'm kinda hinting at the idea that putting my heart out there again is terrifying.  My heart has been broken so many times...repeatedly by the same man.  I'm afraid that I am damaged beyond repair.  I am worried that my wounds are too deep.  I am terrified that my scars are too hideous to allow me to be still lovable.  


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Too Honest (revised without the honesty)

Once again I didn't send out a Christmas card...so here it is.  I find these photos so fitting for my new family dynamic...selfie style...personalities are expressed perfectly.  Bubba (Ezekiel), on my hip...going with the flow and always smiling.  Ephraim, silly and always making the best of any situation.  Daphne, with her precious dimples, smiling, laughing, and finding a way to antagonize anyone in her presence.  Tobias...my mini me...stubborn...hates pictures...incapable of pretending to be something he's not...what you see is what you get...life is black and white...  This is our new family...me and my precious gifts from a failed marriage.  


Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Psalm 127:3 


I had posted about issues that I was unable to be honest about while I was still married.  I ended up removing it all because it was requested.  Several times I have had permission to post this truth, however, it turned into a big mess.  I was accused of posting untruths...but the truth was written and some people don't like to have the truth brought to light.  It's unfortunate.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

One Big Boob

Hey...guess what?  I have two boobs.  Seriously.  This isn't joke.  This is the real deal.  Rebecca Raymond finally has two boobs!

On August 6th, I went in to the hospital at 7:00am.  I drove myself, much to the dismay of my mother who said it just isn't right.  For me it is right.  I am stubborn and strong willed.  When I'm afraid or going through something difficult in my life, it's easier to keep it together if I'm alone.  When I'm alone, there is no one else around that I have to be vulnerable to.  Being vulnerable leaves me weak.  I must be strong...and my strength comes from deep within where I can be quiet and know that God is holding me steady and I can just breathe deeply.  The time before surgery starts is always easy as long as I'm taking those deep breaths.  It's the part where they wheel me into the cold sterile operating room...that's the part where I can feel my heart begin to race.  I feel alone.  The room is filled with people in masks.  There are no smiles.  There are no soft eyes looking into mine, reassuring me that everything is going to be okay.  I'm going into an 8 hour surgery with two surgeons.  They are going to cut into my stomach, dissect blood vessels from my abdominal muscles, remove skin and tissue, cut into my chest, reattach those blood vessels and create a breast.  EIGHT HOURS with TWO surgeons.  My entire adult life has been traumatic experience after another.  I was scared.  They wheeled me into that cold, sterile operating room.  They strapped my arms down to the table.  A nurse came up to the table, leaned against it so her hip was pressed against my side.  She laid her hand on my arm and rubbed my arm with her thumb.  She didn't say a word.  The warmth of her touch in that cold, sterile operating room is something I will never forget.

I met with the plastic surgeon 4 weeks before the surgery.  He told me that my homework was to do sit-ups every day.  He wanted me to send my abdominal muscles into a "state of shock".  Working them hard would get the blood flowing and open up the blood vessels.  This is important for this surgery because The fat, tissue and skin he was going to harvest from my stomach needs it's own blood supply so they take those blood vessels from the abdomen and then transplant them along with the tissue and skin to my breast.  They reattach the blood vessels and we pray that it all takes.  The normal number of blood vessels that are taken from the abdomen for this surgery is between 2 and 5.  My surgeon gave me homework and I did extra credit.  I was doing sit-ups, leg lifts, plank, and any other core exercises I could think of, trying to focus on my lower abs especially.  Dr. Watson is my new plastic surgeon.  He was proud of me and my work on my abs.  He only had to harvest one blood vessel.  The blood vessel was 4mm...which I guess is pretty impressive.

I woke up from surgery with a second boob and an incision from hip to hip across my stomach.  I was in the ICU for over two days.  This is because that new boob with that 4mm blood vessel supplying life to that newly transplanted tissue have to be monitored every hour.  The nurse would come in with a doppler and place it at the center of my new breast and every time I heard the woosh woosh of the blood flowing...it was music to my ears.  It brought a smile to my face...success.

I was released after 4 days in the hospital.  I came home and all I wanted was my kids.  I had missed them so much.  I spoke to them a few times on the phone while I was in the hospital but phone calls just aren't enough.  My babies bring me joy.  They are the greatest blessing.  I have a marriage that has failed but I received the four greatest gifts from that marriage.

Oh...one big boob...the title.  I almost forgot.  When Dr. Watson (the most amazing breast reconstruction surgeon) met with me for my follow up appointment, he told me that he made the new breast bigger than the old (saggy from breast feeding 3 children) boob because not all the tissue will be soft and supple.  Some of it will be hard and he will remove that tissue when he makes me a new nipple in three months.  I looked in the mirror...I thought it was just swelling but that new boob is HUGE!!  I was thinking...maybe he should just leave it and make my old boob just as big.  Just a thought...

I've mentioned several times that cancer is not the hardest thing I've had to endure.  It remains true.  Before it was my marriage that presented a greater challenge.  Now it's divorce.  Life has become a battlefield.  I'm realizing that it's a lot like that cold, sterile operating room right now.  I feel alone.  I need to breathe deeply and allow God to heal my heart that keeps getting broken over and over again...and the littlest touch...the smallest amount of warmth can impact my life so deeply.  I'm working on my deep breaths and every once in a while big tears.  Tonight those tears are extra big... with deep sobs.  These past few days I have been in mourning.  With the conflict between John and I...it's a lot.  Sometimes I just want to cry out...I want to search for that man who I thought loved me.  I want to say...don't you know how much I loved you?  Don't you know how much hope I had for our marriage?  Don't you know how much I saw the potential you had to be an amazing man...an amazing husband...an amazing father...just because the marriage is over...it doesn't mean that man needs to completely disappear.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Climbing a Mountain

Independence Day...my first time celebrating the 4th of July without my children.  John picked the kids up at 8am.  Every time John and I have any interaction there is quite a bit of conflict and tension so thick you could cut it with a knife.  Yesterday after he picked the kids up I felt myself brokenhearted.  I felt sick to my stomach that this is what all those years of work have turned into.  I needed to escape.  I needed to be on my own...to clear my head...to not speak...to just breathe.  I found myself longing to be out enjoying nature...alone.  I decided to head up to Ojai for a hike.  When I got home from the hike I was telling my aunt about my journey and the parallels with my life were just too ironic...so here you have my journey: the analogy... I'll make the analogy in the beginning obvious and then you can figure out the rest on your own.

The hike began on a smoothly paved road...a simple walk on sloping hills where my footing was firm and stable.  The path was easy to follow.  It was laid out for me...clear as day.  This was much like my childhood.  Raised by amazing parents who always made me feel safe and secure, who I knew were guiding me in the right direction.  

The paved road led me to a dirt trail.  I stepped onto the dirt trail and found my way on level ground for a while.  But then the trail started to get rocky and the climb up the mountain began.  This trail was new to me.  I'd never experienced it before.  Sometimes the trail forked and I wasn't sure which direction to take.  I found myself choosing the path closest to the creek.  Even though it was more rocky and a harder climb...it made me feel safe knowing that I had the creek to follow.  Several times I had to do a balancing act...finding my way on slippery rocks across to the other side of the creek.  I fought my way up this mountain...pushing myself hard.  This wasn't a leisurely stroll to enjoy nature.  This was me fighting to prove something to myself.  It was 101 degrees out.  I was dripping with sweat.  I heard the rattle snakes in the brush just off of the trail.  A snake even slithered across the trail just as I was about to pass.  There were places where there was no shade and I pushed myself even harder when the sun was beating down on me until I could get to that next shady place where I could stop for just long enough to get a drink of water and push on up the trail.  At one point the trail got extremely rocky and I couldn't tell where the trail was going.  I got lost.  I was no longer on the trail.  I no longer knew where I was going.  I looked at my phone.  I was three hours into my hike and had no cell reception.  My face and my arms were bright red despite having applied sunscreen three times.  My legs were dark brown from the dirt sticking to my sweaty legs.  I was dehydrated and exhausted.  I looked around to try to find the trail again and I couldn't find it.  I looked up the mountain and realized that I didn't want to do it anymore.  I couldn't do it anymore.  I couldn't find the trail to take me to the top of the mountain.  I couldn't continue searching for it and trying to fight my way to the top of the mountain when I was already so exhausted and the trail had been misleading me all along.  I decided I was done.  It was so hard for me to make this decision because I had committed to this hike.  I wanted to finish it.  I felt ashamed of myself for turning back so soon.

Heading down the mountain I had to find my way back to the creek and follow it until I came across the trail again.  Once I found the trail, it was so easy to follow this time.  Going up the trail, I couldn't see where it was leading me...but on the way down I knew exactly where I was headed.  The trail was easy to follow because I could see it.  I could see the coming obstacles.  I made it down the mountain in about 1/3 of the time it took me to climb up it.  By the time I reached that paved road that was so easy to walk on the way up, my legs were exhausted and that paved road seemed to go on and on forever.  I finally reached my car I realized what a wise decision I had made not to continue up the mountain.  I had called it quits at just the right time...while I still had enough energy to find my way back to the safety of my air conditioned car.  

The other day I picked the kids up from John's house and my daughter announced, "Dad has a girlfriend and we got to meet her."  My response..."Oh."  On the drive home, Ephraim asked, "Are you and Dad still married?"  My answer, "Yes."  Daphne said, "You haven't signed the paper that makes you divorced."

The path down the mountain may be clear to me now but there are still many obstacles...many rocky places where my footing isn't always firm.  While I know I made the right choice to not keep fighting my way up the mountain...I am exhausted and path down isn't as easy as it looks.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pick and Choose Your Battles

A quick update on my lung... I had a follow up scan a couple weeks ago. The spot on my lung is the same or possibly a little smaller. It's possibly just scarring from radiation. We still don't know for sure. The good news is that the doctor isn't very concerned at all. I will have another follow up scan in 6 months. 

The real update on my life begins here....

After thirteen and a half years of marriage I have decided that it's time for it come to an end.  The battle I fought for my marriage was by far the hardest thing I have ever done in all my life. Fighting cancer was a breeze compared to the battle for my marriage. Several years ago I left my husband. We were back together after only a month of separation. This time it's much different. Last time I left because I wanted him to change. I was acting out of a place of control. I was insecure and desperate. This time....this time it's different. I am a different person. I have looked at my life and stared immortality in the face. I have spent my entire adult life fighting....for marriage...for my life. I now choose to fight a different battle.  This new battle is for a healthy life. I might be a little melodramatic....but I feel beaten down. I've been beaten down by an unhealthy marriage...by cancer....by life. I now choose to take control of what I can. I choose to only allow people into my life who will build me up.  I choose to only allow people into my life who are worthy of my trust...who choose to be trustworthy...who are honest...who are loyal.  I have never in all my life been so certain that I am doing the right thing. I am terrified of the unknown but I feel completely at peace.