Hard Stuff

So it was the calm before the storm.

You have to kind of laugh, because like we say around here, “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry”.

Which I did enough of already last week.

It was an emotionally difficult week, they come and go like this. Though I like it best when they go.

Damien and I cycled back around in our re-building process to some core issues and big questions about our identity as individuals and as a couple. These are the kind of discussions that feel like the rug is being pulled out from under my feet. My feelings do not define reality but they still must be acknowledged and worked through.

I sent out an email to the Kitchen Table last week and in there I said,

...there are places where healing is slow and there are some painfully tender spots in my life right now, specifically in my marriage. I am working my way to writing about those, in due course. It's easy to be discouraged about the pain I feel in those areas, never mind the heartbreak and sadness for the pain itself, but then I can look at the healing that has happened. The subtle shifts that over months have changed me in significant ways.
It's still a process and always will be. When I reach one marker, one healing milestone, I set my sights on another, and then another.

I've been writing down to the bones of our marriage since last fall. As we talk and dig together I need to write these new understandings. I need to frame things in a way that allows me to appreciate the gains (there have been many) among the losses, disappointments, and unmet expectations we've both experienced.

I plan to "go there" publicly someday, as far as I can, while maintaining my own dignity and the privacy and trust of our marriage.

This is not a tell-all blog. I don’t hang my family’s dirty secrets on the line but I am willing to tell some of mine. And I believe it’s important to do this. Even though part of me wants to shrink back from that telling for fear of shame, blame, and all those other nasties that like to lurk in dark corners.

So why do this?

Why blog about the hard stuff.

Because when people keep hard stuff hidden, especially those of us with a public voice, there's a tendency to believe I'm the only one. In my pain its so easy to believe the lie that I'm the only one experiencing this. And that's lonely. In your pain, you may feel likewise.

But you're not the only one.

Crisis, failures, and disappointments involving our children, marriage, finances, and health; you are never the only one experiencing the hurt, confusion, and sorrow that defines, in part, what it means to be human.

You're not the only one walking around with a box of tissues. You're not the only one feeling the sting of regret. You're not the only one wanting to take back words and actions. You're not the only one needing to forgive yourself. You're not the only one looking for the path in pea-soup fog.

We read about these trials, and often the triumphs that follow (dear God, we are holding out for triumph), in books and memoirs, all the time. At least I do. But less rarely do we read about it on "beautiful blogs".

I believe I have a beautiful life and my desire at FIMBY has always been to write about that life. Because that’s how I remember all that beauty, celebrate it, and mine it, like gold, from the less-than-beautiful aspects of the daily grind. It's how I be the change I want to see in the world, by spreading the beauty around.

But what do you do when you’re hurting?

Well, for me, I need to write about that too. Even though my greatest fear in doing so is to be misunderstood, to have people make assumptions and speculations. Or worse, for my loved ones to be misunderstood. And the ultimate insult on top of injury, to be offered unsolicited advice.

Of course the things I fear other people doing to me are probably the worse traits I see in myself, the things I do to others.

People who write blogs about beauty feel pain also. The carefully arranged furniture, the curated reading lists, the homey crafts, the happy homeschooled children, the stylist-created mail order wardrobes, the nature photography - whatever it is you read on those blogs you love - just know this: everybody goes through illness, disappointment, and heart break.

It’s just hard to get a beautiful photo of that so you probably won’t see it on many beautiful blogs. And when these hurts involve our loved ones, who are the most beautiful and treasured "things" in our lives, and whose privacy we must protect, well, you can see where it gets tricky.

This month's Kitchen Table essay is about how I'm facing perfectionism head-on with self-acceptance and mindfulness. It's also about practicing Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

There are stories in that essay of healing. And my steady, though slow, attempts to be more self-aware and proactive about my mental health.

But then there's this also, a week of new marital honesty and looking into dark corners I hadn't yet dared to go. Places we need sweep clean before moving on, but still, I'd rather these places didn't even exist (hence the tinges of reget).

Here's all I'm really trying to say, the point of this post: if you’re struggling, you're not alone.

I'm not going to ask you for details and I am not going to give you advice. I'm just going to offer my shared experience.

And this.

My Dad was reading East of Eden on one of his recent visits, Christmas I think, and he shared a quote with me from near the end of that book.

For everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be. Marcus Aurelius

The pain in your heart, the tears on your pillow, the hard conversations you wish there was no need for in the first place, all of it is the seed of new growth in strength, maturity, and wisdom. The seed of good things yet unknown.

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  • Maria Cordner

    Maria Cordner on May 25, 2015, 3:40 p.m.

    I understand this! For me there was some comfort in the scripture "Be still and know that I am the Lord". That had nothing with inaction but with finding purpose and direction within a very basic and compassionate way of deepen genuine deeper levels of my own self-awareness and spirituality. I came out of it changed and somewhat things and my marriage did too. It was hard and it was not sudden! Thanks for writing so genuinely about life, your life! Sending hope and strenght!


  • Constance

    Constance on May 26, 2015, 1:59 a.m.

    Thank you for being brave enough to share with us. And sending positive thoughts your way...



  • Nikki T

    Nikki T on May 27, 2015, 3:44 a.m.

    I'd like to echo the gratitude of all the other comments. I offer grace, love and acceptance to your brazen transparency. Your unique voice amongst so much illusion is very much appreciated. As you walk your path you are helping others to heal. Many, many thanks.


  • elana

    elana on May 31, 2015, 3:05 a.m.

    Dear Renee, 

    We are all so luck you chose to write a blog. You are one of a kind. I wish I could be your friend. You truely are amazing. Thank you for sharing so volunerably and so beautifully. Yes, I struggle (with my kid), a lot. And it does help to remember I'm not along on this journey. 


  • Nina thornton

    Nina thornton on May 31, 2015, 9:17 p.m.

    Thankyou such a selfless and caring act to share those deep raw emotions we all experience but are too scared to admit to ourselves and others for fear of realising we are not "perfect" . X


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