Thursday, April 21, 2005

Trusting Joy

I've changed a lot in the last couple years.

Two years ago at this time I was a super-fit optimist. Two years ago I believed that God (or some higher power) held me in the palm of his hand. People would look at me and shake their heads at how on the go I was... and you couldn't tell me I wasn't cute!

I mean, I'm not a total physical wreck now but the days of hard physical labor, choosing to jump rope on breaks, taking dogs at the shelter for walks in spare moments durimg the day, bike riding and walking my own dogs in the evening, and the elliptical on rainy days - those days are a memory.

What changed? I lost faith in myself and lost the belief that there was a safety net. I had a dream that I wanted more than anything and I could reach out and touch the tip of this dream - and then I stumbled.

I had my dream house picked out - it was not a mansion, but it was where I wanted it to be, and I had a notebook with careful notes of just how I would decorate it. I knew that all my hard work, my dreaming, my faith - all of this was being repaid. This was the reward. It seemed so right that it had to be meant to be. I didn't believe that God would allow me to have a dream, get me right to the edge of that dream, and then have it all be taken from me.

Then there were the setbacks. And the dream was put on hold. The house fell through and my faith left me -- I changed. Not instantly, but just a little more each passing day until I didn't recognize myself.

My husband made promises I couldn't believe. He meant well, but I trusted no one and nothing. It was a good thing - because those promises were broken. I remember sobbing in my therapists office because my husband told me it would be another 8 months before the move would happen. That was 20 months ago.

And not to sound like a religious freak, but I prayed every day. All I wanted was a sign that I was heard. I wanted a sign that my prayers were not just me talking to nobody. At first I thought that I only wanted to believe if it was real -- I didn't want to delude myself. At some point that changed -- I thought, if it's a delusion, okay, just make it not hurt anymore. I will force myself to believe. Couldn't do it. I still can't.

So now quite possibly our house is sold, and we can move, and ... I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don't want to be a sucker. I don't want to slip on the banana peel with a stupid grin on my face, I don't want the pie to hit me in my face out of no where.

So instead of being happy I'm scared, depressed, angry ... everything but happy. As each step goes right I'm more filled with trepidation because the stakes are higher. If two years ago I would be standing in the center of a house which I believed to be mine, in the town I most wanted to live in, close to the relative I loved the most, and have the carpet ripped out from under me, then why should I believe any of it now?

The best way I can explain it is with another story. I had a dog named Paddington -- a sheltie -- and he died. A few weeks later I took another one of my dogs to the shelter to be seen at the clinic. Someone thought it would be really funny to tell me Rottweilers had attacked my dog. It wasn't funny, because it was too soon after Paddington had died and I was too raw -- and most importantly, when you suffer a loss it's a reminder that we are all vulnerable, so you believe for a while that bad things are waiting to happen. In the moment he told me my dog was attacked I believed it because my grief was there to tell me that my loved ones were not safe.

In the normal couse of things you bounce back - you rely on your spouse, friends, a belief in God; after the disappointment, I never got back to that place of trust. I got stuck in a place of inertia and depression. I love my husband, but I don't trust his promises at all. My friends cannot make this right. And God, as much as I hate it, is still an enigma to me -- I'm not ready to let go of my belief, but it sure is tough to hang on some days.

But the thing is: I sure miss the me I used to be, and I sure mourn the last couple years that I can never relive, and I sure do want to believe in something or someone. And it makes me angry beyond words that I can't take joy in what could be a happy time in my life. I'm so sick of my first reaction to good news being, "Don't get your hopes up!" I want to get my hopes up! I want to be happy! I want to be calling everyone I know and telling them the house sold! I want to call my grandmother and tell her I'll be seeing her soon! I want to think we are going to find a place to rent there, and find an affordable house in short order. It's just not the easy anymore.

I want my life back. I want my joy back. I want my trust back. I just plain want ME back.
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