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This is for you, my ❤

A whole lot can change in a year! On this day in 2017, I was trying to get through to Bryan’s (my husband), neurosurgeon’s office. After watching his decline for the past several months, but especially over the pre-Christmas weekend, I decided we were going to see his doctor that day, the day after Christmas, instead of waiting for the scheduled appointment in two weeks. He needed an adjustment to the shunt inserted in his brain in 2016. I had been telling the physician’s assistant and doctor about his symptoms for months, but his lab results kept coming back “normal”. They didn’t listen to me and suggested he see a neurologist for the memory loss.

On 12/26/17, no one answered the office phone and there was no answering service. Plan B was to take Bryan to the emergency room, but I didn’t know if I would be able to convince him to go. A slight panic was developing inside of me, but I am calm under pressure. He had been very lethargic the whole weekend and complained he was tired when I said something. I knew we were up against the clock after I had done some additional research on his symptoms on Christmas day. Thankfully, he agreed to go to the emergency room, but another problem ensued. He couldn’t get out of the bed. I noticed his eyes were glassy. He tried over and over again to get out of the bed, but I could see that his nerves wouldn’t allow his body to do the simple action. I called to our son, Caleb, to help and nothing. Thirty minutes later, I moved to Plan C which was a call the paramedics. He couldn’t walk. He wasn’t oriented to time. He thought it was July 2008.

Seventeen days later, Bryan returned from the hospital. He was released from the intensive care unit after the second day, received a shunt adjustment, and was eventually moved to the rehabilitation center within the hospital where he had cognitive, speech, and physical therapy. Following his hospital admission, he had another four months of cognitive, speech, and physical therapy.

Whew!!! Typing this post is stirring up all the emotions I experienced at the time. Our lives were totally disrupted again. You can read my previous blog posts to learn more about our journey. Somehow (update and more precisely…by God’s doing), I managed to get a promotion through this latest ordeal, which I needed because Bryan was not able to work. I managed to get my kids through it and keep our family’s day to day schedule going. However, this blog post is not about me, but of the sheer strength, will, and resilience of my husband.

We’ve been married for twenty one years so it goes without saying I love my husband, but I’ve gotten a whole new appreciation for this guy. His life was totally disrupted. He suffered a great deal. This is a college-educated man, who embodies being a provider for his family, and is faced with the prospect of never working in his profession again. For most of 2018, he’s been recovering while battling depression and coping with his disorder. Yet, what I’ve seen from him in these last few months has been amazing.

He started feeling better later in the summer while embarking on our long walks around Austin. I could tell he was better because he started planning and getting back involved with the kids’ schools. He’s always been the school and homework guy. If there’s a problem with the administration and/or treatment of my kids in their respective schools, then I’m the tough person they will answer to. I don’t play around. In November 2018, against my advice, Bryan applied for some seasonal work. It was all physical and what I witnessed was an improvement in his overall cognitive function and mood.

For us, Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birth and being grateful for our blessings and family. Due to Bryan’s efforts, we were able to have a Christmas with gifts. I get paid well, but enough to cover our living expenses. Living in Austin is not cheap. He even surprised me with my gifts. In fact, for the first time ever, Bryan did almost all of the Christmas shopping. Granted, I work long hours, but he said it was the least he could do since I was doing everything. I don’t see it that way. Working isn’t the only way to contribute in a marriage/family, but I’m married to a manly guy, so his esteem is rooted in providing for his family. I’m working on having him see it differently. Whatever the case, he came through in a big way and when you’ve been married as long as we have, you don’t keep score. There have been times where he’s carried me. Our job is to carry each other when needed. And for the record, I don’t really see myself as carrying him. I’m grateful I’m able to support my family.

At the beginning of 2018, I was hesitant about creating new goals because I wasn’t sure what life would throw at me. Heck, he didn’t get released from the hospital until 1/12/18. My main goal at the time was to get him out of the hospital. Between my health and his, we’ve been on a roller coaster ride since 2016. Upon witnessing Bryan’s healing, I’m inspired. I’ve prayed a lot for his healing and so have others. We still don’t know what’s in store for his future, but we’re in it together and can overcome anything.

All this to say, I had a FABULOUS Christmas and am looking forward to 2019 thanks to my ❤.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Have you ever had the experience of minding your business, scrolling through your social media, and then witnessing something so absolutely shocking that it consumes you for like two to three hours? That happened to me recently. Friday night, after a very long day at work (7:20am-8:15pm), I needed to get home to some mind numbing activity. When I got home, I immediately undressed and paraded around my bedroom naked for a few minutes because nakedness is soothing to me. I didn’t bother to eat dinner although I was hungry. I eventually took a shower, got in the bed, with my phone in hand, and proceeded to scroll through my facebook feed hoping to temporarily erase my mind of the day’s events. My logic was flawed at the start because in the hopes of forgetting my day, I was scrolling through the feeds of other people’s baggage. Light lesson #1: Dont replace your baggage with someone else’s baggage. It’s still baggage.

I came across a post that had only been posted for a few minutes, but in it, the poster accused a fiance of not responding to her in a month….really… like A MONTH? My “drama” senses suggested I read the comments and explore further. What soon unfolded was a barrage of posts with inflammatory accusations and insults from each party, with other people chiming in. This went on for a while. It was vile, but I felt compelled to continue to read. It was certainly more interesting than my day. Hours later, the posts subsided, but only after both parties totally demeaned each other on a public, social media platform…for all to see.

I’m sensitive to the fact that this is the life of two people despite myself and other people tuning in as if we were watching a television drama. Someone even posted a meme of Michael Jackson eating popcorn from the music video “Thriller” to illustrate the sentiment. The social worker in me kept asking what breakdown caused this type of communication. I don’t want to be on a high horse, but I have thought about unfriending this “friend” on my feed before because I don’t agree with her tactics of telling all her relationship business on social media and sharing negative information. She’s done this to another boyfriend. I don’t want that energy on my feed. Whatever the case, she was still on my feed, I never deleted her, and here was another case.

I felt empathy for her because it sounds like she was being mistreated, but she seems to have contributed a great deal to her own situation. Sharing on social media only compounds the problem. She probably thought she was seeking help and sympathy on this very public platform, but in my opinion, she got slaughtered. Light lesson #2: don’t share intimate details of your relationship on social media. One day, I may devote a post to the phenomenon of social media and its affect on people and relationships.

The debacle made me think about my “soon to be” twenty one year marriage to my husband, Bryan, and why is it that in our many arguements and disagreements over the years, we’ve never resorted to name calling and sharing our business with everyone else. Last week, I made note of some ingedients that have been essential to my marriage (read it here). I also wrote a post last year on marriage intimacy, which you can read about here.

The bottom line is RESPECT. Light lesson #3: Have some self-respect and Light lesson #4: Respect your partner. No one asked me, but my assessment is both parties have self-esteem issues and could benefit from doing the work to unpack their own baggage, getting clear on what they expect in a relationship, and setting some foundational ground rules for their relationship and sticking to them.

The “friend” seems to have removed herself from facebook, which I think is a promising step.

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What makes my marriage work

Next month, my husband, Bryan, and I will have been married for 21 years. We often marvel at how much time has passed and discuss how it doesn’t feel as long as it has been. I usually don’t talk about my marriage to others because I learned a long time ago that marriage is a sacred relationship between two people and you don’t want others in your business…family or otherwise, with the exception of a marriage counselor or pastor, if you so choose. I’m sharing some gems now because I believe that 21 years is no small feat, especially considering the high divorce rate.

One thing that makes my marriage to my husband work is that I fiercely protect it and I protect my husband. I remember years ago when I was dating someone, who was not Bryan, and he did a hurtful thing to me. I told my friends. Big MISTAKE! One friend, in particular, wouldn’t let me, or him, live it down, even after I had gotten over it and forgave him. You can’t do this in marriage. I respect Bryan immensely and that respect causes me to want to manage things with him only. I also want him to be seen in a positive light. For one thing, your friends and family may want to fiercely protect you too, so you have to monitor what you tell them. You learn that in marriage there is a constant extension of grace, mercy, and forgiveness because you will hurt each other, unintentionally and otherwise. Some people in your circle may not be as forgiving in their own lives. Some people in your circle want to be right more than anything. Some people in your circle make things about themselves. Some people in your circle don’t understand marriage.

If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been faced with several challenges in the last few years and they’ve all put my marriage to the test. One significant issue is my husband’s health, which has caused him to have problems with long and short-term memory. We’ve gotten even closer because he’s in a vulnerable place and we realize how important our relationship is to each other. Don’t get me wrong, prior to this health condition, I’ve complained about feeling like I’ve been taken for granted at times and other things couples face, after having been married for so long. However, I communicate that to him and we work on it. I also pray constantly for our marriage and for him.

Last week, we were watching, with our 17-year old son, a television show about revamping failing family restaurants. The wife said that when she reached out to touch her husband, he moved his hand away to reject her touch. My assessment was that he was too consumed with feeling like a failure. He felt alone and like he wasn’t worthy of love because he couldn’t figure out how to fix their problem. He tried to handle things alone instead of reaching for his partner. You could feel the hurt she expressed and see the hurt in his eyes. Bryan and I instinctively made eye contact and grabbed each other’s hand tightly. We each have our own wounds, but we don’t ever want to be in that place. I’m glad our son witnessed our exchange.

A few ingredients that make our marriage work for us are:

  1. Love demonstrated by our actions
  2. Mutual respect
  3. Constant, intentional communication
  4. Being best friends
  5. Constant extension of grace, mercy, and forgiveness
  6. Patience and empathy
  7. Unselfishness, compromise, constant self-evaluation, and editing
  8. Treating our relationship as sacred
  9. Discussing our problems with each other
  10. Enjoying each other’s company
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Intimate moments

This doesn’t apply to everyone, but something weird happens when you’ve been married to someone for almost 20 years like myself. The details of life can wear you down, flip the script and highlight all of the negative things about your beloved spouse whereas in the beginning years, you focused only on the beautiful things.

Recently, a memory flashed in my mind of when I was recovering from giving birth to my daughter. I was heavily sedated in the hospital due to extreme pain after the anesthesia wore off from the c-section and I remembered my husband whispering a message in my ear a few times, “Get better…our babies need you.” One might argue he said that for selfish reasons, but I know he was encouraging me to get better so I could take care of OUR babies. They all needed me including him. I also have memories of him kissing me on my forehead from time to time as I was sleeping. If he still does it, I wouldn’t know because I sleep like a brick nowadays. Whatever the case, when I think about very intimate memories like those, I get a warm feeling inside and am reminded of the unmistakable love my husband has for me. Hold on to memories like that. Use those reminders to fuel the flame and draw closer…not farther away.