Taking off the stranger shirt

So much to say and yet no idea how to get it out so that it makes some sort of sense.  I can’t promise that it will in the end but I know deep in my heart that those of you who read this and know me like the back of your hand ~ and you know who you are ~ will understand it.

A lot of waves crashing on me over the past months creating a crushing crescendo of noise in my head and life and I simply couldn’t figure out which direction the next hit was going to come from.

Much I can’t talk about and to be perfectly honest I don’t want to talk about.

Spending time on myself with the help of a few professionals led me to make decisions that were best for my family although so very difficult to make.  Ending some relationships that can’t be fixed, letting others figure out their own path instead of me putting my energy into pushing, and still I heard noise.

Noise of my heart heavy with worry, grief, and trying so very hard to stop the frustrating and unattainable task of controlling things I simply cannot.

Hard for this woman to admit and yet when I took the time necessary to adjust to my new attitude I find that I am happier with realizing I can only change me.  Instead of being reactive I am purposeful in being proactive.  I am purposeful in how I spend my time and energy.  I am purposeful which is now easier because I remembered that I only answer to the face in the mirror and God.

This is where the hard stuff comes in because I don’t think I can do justice to the Epiphany I had after a birthday party that I took Larkin to this weekend.

I am different not her.  I am the one who has changed through crisis, adaptation, and though at times it was kicking and screaming, I finally feel like I am coming out on the other side of things.

I am the one who has often felt like a stranger.  I am the one who is uncomfortable because my invisible wounds are still healing and people who are not a part of regular daily life can’t grasp the crescendo of noise.   Looking at my old calendars it’s been over 5 years since I have been able to pull my shoulders down around my neck and embrace health.  I started to pick my head up and pay attention to a little bit more than I could previously and that is saying a lot considering how much I have on my plate.

Then I had twins.

Then I had a teenager.

Guess which one of those things is harder and you are probably wrong.

Larkin was invited to a birthday party on Sunday and I decided to try and take her and see how it would go because it is often in these settings where I feel most like a stranger, which is my own issue.  She attended one a few weeks ago for a classmate and since it was at a venue that she is familiar with and is somewhat safe, I took her but she cried the majority of the time and wouldn’t play.

The venue for this party was unfamiliar but life is moving on and she is doing so much better that I realized I have to step out into it and at least try because it just might be a great experience.  I also enjoy the group of people because they feel like home to me.  My girlfriend Laura’s parents live in Chicago but we see them often when they come to visit and in the summers especially I am able to sit with them and visit.  They come to our girls birthday parties because I consider them an extension of family ~ I adopted them a few years ago because they make me feel so warm inside and I love being with them.

The families that were there also felt like home.  Laura’s girlfriends make me laugh, we have great conversations, and the room was alive with movement, which scared me at first, but slowly I relaxed.  Laura tells me I should be in risk management for a living because with a quick sweep of the room I can quickly spot obvious dangers not only for Larkin but also frankly for any child.  There was a boom box with a broken antenna that was extended up in the air by the stairs where all the children were running.  I headed for that first and put it down and remained by her side for a while as she joined in the fun running across the stage and then we painted a pig as our take home gift.

Gradually I settled in and the room/party became manageable and I picked my head up, took a breath, tried to cool off (any parent of a child with special needs will know the sweat we are always drenched in during these times) and looked at faces of the people at the party for the first time.

Conversations flowed, laughs, concern, hugs, advice, experiences, travels, religion, and politics.  The women I have met through Laura have the most interesting careers and lives and listening to them always brings something new to discuss.  They are passionate about their children, lives, and most of all about their faith.  Most of the families are Jewish and I will let you in on a little secret here ~ the Jewish people are warm, inviting, loving beyond words, and they want to take care of you if you let them.  I watched as families moved about the room and tenderness flooded into me.

Laura’s mom came over to me and put her arm around my shoulders and said how proud she was of Larkin and that it brings tears to her eyes to see how far Larkin has come from when she first met her.   Jenny who is also our caregiver, but more a member of our family, and I were talking earlier in the week about how we just move through daily life and we forget that others have gone through this with us vicariously.  Family, friends, my online and blog community, have watched this little one fight and our family struggle to get her healthy.

The prayers and cheers have been the life force that keeps us putting one foot in front of the other.  Faith has kept our heads above water, hope & love pushing breath into our hearts when we thought we couldn’t take another blow.

I left the party and felt the best I have in a long time and slowly began to realize it was because of all the reasons I stated above.  I didn’t feel like a stranger on the outside looking in and I suppose some of that is because Larkin is doing so well now, I feel like we have a quality of life we never thought attainable.  I have slept now that the twins are sleeping.  Fifteen is being fifteen and I am doing the very best I can with him.

I am different and my invisible wounds will always be in a state of healing because that is just life.  Every one of us has something we are dealing with that can make getting through the moment/hour/day/month/year difficult.

What stuck with me the most is how as a Christian I would do well to take a page from the Jewish people.  I talked to Laura afterwards and shared with her how amazing it felt to be there and that it was truly a tribute to her faith and people how welcoming everyone is.  She shared something with me and it is so beautifully written and I will share a few pieces of it here but you can read it in entirety HERE.

Abraham lived a world that was not very welcoming.  Twice Abraham and Sarah found themselves in foreign lands where they were so unwelcome that if they did not conceal the fact that they were married, Abraham most likely would have been murdered by lecherous rulers.  Yet, even so, Abraham decided that his world was going to be different.  His home would be a place in which strangers would feel welcomed rather than afraid.

Therefore, as Abraham’s home was welcoming to strangers, so should every Jewish home be welcoming to strangers.

If we do not like being the stranger – if we do not like being treated that way; as somehow less than others – then from our unpleasant experiences we should learn to do better and to be better when we find the tables reversed; when we are the hosts and others are the strangers.  If we do not like to be made to feel unwelcome, then it is incumbent upon us to go out of our way to welcome others.  For in the end, as different as we may be, they, like us, are still God’s children and should be treated accordingly.

I felt welcome and embraced by people who truly practice their faith and the stranger shirt I have been putting on every time I go into these situations came off with ease.  I felt comfortable in my skin and realized that I am the one who needs to change my attitude about how to step out into the world with this ever-evolving life of 4 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 1 amazing husband.

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4 Responses to Taking off the stranger shirt

  1. We are blessed to know you and your family. You have impacted us in ways you could never imagine.

  2. Laura says:

    Words cannot express how wonderful this post was. I so love to see that you are finding a place where you finally feel comfortable. So many other things I could say, but I have a feeling you know what they are. So I’ll leave with how blessed I feel to have been able to get to know you and have a kindred spirit.

  3. Another Amy says:

    What a beautiful post and story. Thanks for sharing it. May you and the entire family go from strength to strength.

    Another Amy

  4. Jen says:

    beautiful Aim

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