Forbidden

It bothers me.
It bothers me that it bothers me.
It bothers me that the expectation is that it shouldn’t bother me… That I should be unfazed… That bothers me.

I’m bothered.
I’m bothered that I’m bothered.
I’m bothered that I want to talk about it, but I can’t.
I want to say something, but I shouldn’t.
I want to cry! Shout! Scream! But I mustn’t… That bothers me.

I’m upset that I’m upset. Sad that I’m sad. Broken that I’m broken. Grieved that I’ve lost… the freedom to fall apart… the liberty to escape… even right to be bothered… That bothers me.

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A Love That Sets a Heart on Fire

I never thought I would write this. I always imagined my blog – though a blog about everything and nothing in particular – was a blog of… substance… maturity dabbled with quirky humor. A blog intelligent people could enjoy. But seeing as it is my blog about “life in no particular order”, it is my prerogative to blog about what’s going on in my life. And at the present, my heart beats with love stronger than ever before. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have a crush on Peeta Mellark.

While women were swooning over Gale Hawthorne, pining for his first kiss with Katniss Everdeen, I was nail biting at the edge of my seat secretly pleading for Peeta to be the victor. While they were rolling their eyes and sighing in exasperation at his puppy dog eyes, I was huddled with my stomach in knots over his wounded heart. And that first kiss with the handsome Mr. Hawthorne was an agonizing knife I had to suffer quietly while others rejoiced.

Now before you all start sending me hate mail, please understand that I like Gale. I would never denounce his rugged good looks. He clearly cares for Katniss, they have a number of things in common, and they are good friends. He’s a provider and a fighter. I have nothing against him.

I also have nothing against Katniss. She is caught between two worlds – loving Gale but having to be with Peeta. And to complicate the issue, she is slowly realizing that people are more complex than she previously assumed and that loving one does not equal hating the other.

But for me, while Katniss is the action heroine of the film, Petta is the embodiment of heroic and sacrificial love. From the first installment, every move, every alliance, every promise made or broken was done in an effort to protect Katniss – often at the expense of himself. He is not a good fighter. He does not know squat about hunting and seems like a lost lamb in the woods. In fact he is often wounded and usually at the point of death. But what skills he does have; (interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence to start with) he uses to promote or protect her.

In The Hunger Games, while she made it clear she disliked him, while she was only worried about staying alive, he formed an alliance with the enemies in order to distract them from her trail. He had no way of benefiting from that and only got wounded and left for dead. In Catching Fire, we find that he is the one caring for Hamish. Knowing she does not love him, he is willing to play out his part in order to protect her family. And even more so, he volunteers, having been through that hell and knowing his chances of survival are slim so that he can increase her chances of surviving. Again, at absolutely no benefit to himself. How can you possibly fault me for wanting a love like that… A love that sets a heart on fire?

**If you have not seen part two yet, I will try not to completely spoil it for you.**

There is a scene in the movie where Katniss finally comes face to face with the reality of how devastating it would be for her to lose Peeta. Much like the rest of the movie, the scene focuses on Katniss’ emotions without giving much attention to how much more love must have been pumping through Peeta’s heart all this time. While watching the scene, President Snow’s young granddaughter comments, “someday I want to love a boy that much”. My simple reply to her is, “me too”.

Couple Therapy

There is a scene in Bridget Jones’ Diary where she is at a dinner party, the single girl amongst several couples. These couples proceed to provide commentary on Bridget’s relationship status, and in typical Bridget fashion, she has a mental catharsis where she imagines herself taking a verbal diarrhea on her assailants. Except rather than the audience simply getting a humorous glimpse into Bridget’s thoughts, she actually blurts out everything she is thinking. Needless to say, the party gets a bit awkward after that.

I have always loved that scene. I imagined myself trading my restrained diplomatic sense for freeing foolish candor. I fancied delivering my masterfully constructed lines with such composed eloquence, my performance would only rival a Shakespearean master. The words would roll off my tongue in such a confident and calm manner that my antagonist would be left speechless. Dumbfounded. In fact, like Bridget, no situation brings me to that rehearsal more than when I have to sit through my own session of couple therapy.

Couple therapy: an unfortunate event in which a couple or a member of a couple provides therapy (usually in the form of unsolicited opinion or advice) to a single person about how said person can and should end the perceived malaise known as singleness. Forms of therapy usually include recommended doses of “losing some weight”, “getting involved”, and “joining” eharmony, Match, Christian Mingle, etc.

Having endured many such sessions, I would like to offer a little therapy of my own in the form of “dos and don’ts”. But first, a couple disclaimers:
1. Obviously the doubles in life care about the singles. That is understood and appreciated.
2. I’m not sure how much any of this applies to the male sex, but in the interest of fairness, I will be as inclusive as possible.

Don’t assume that every single person wants to talk about being single every single time s/he sees you.

If you are prone to assumptions, Do assume that when in a group setting where the single person is the minority, it is not appropriate to bring up that person’s relationship status. Single people are aware that they are single and don’t need you to remind them and everyone else of the fact.

Don’t look at single people at weddings and tell them, “you’re next”. You don’t actually know that information and it’s not helpful.

Do offer a single coworker/cousin/friend/you get the idea as a date so that single person doesn’t have to spend the evening dancing with the bride’s 10 year old niece/nephew.

Don’t suggest dating sites. Chances are the person has already considered it or tried a number of them and you can’t even begin to fathom how painfully disappointing they can be.

If you are so concerned about how many meals your friend enjoys alone, Do invite him/her over for dinner, and with the person’s permission, a single coworker/cousin/friend/you get the idea.

Don’t tell single people how lucky they are to be single because of all this freedom and limited responsibility they have.

Do realize that doing so: 1) reveals how ignorant marital bliss has made you of the stress of being solely responsible for every responsibility. 2) implies that at some deep level you believe marriage is some suffocating noose around your neck. 3) if number two is incorrect, then you are not being entirely truthful about the initial comment, so just stop saying it.

Don’t forget your single friends have other genuine needs besides getting a date.

Those of you with children, your single friends are more than happy to help you with your responsibilities (need I say free babysitting?) Therefore, Do offer to help them hang up curtains, or change a tire, or trim a tree every once in a while.

And this last one is more of a rant: please, please Stop asking people why they are still single! How on earth do you expect someone to answer that question!? “Well some say it’s because I quit eharmony, but others think it’s a weight issue.” Awkward silence. Now you are back-peddling and talking about what a godly young woman/man the person is. Seriously, that comment is insensitive at best and insulting at worst. And no matter how much your Christian friend believes the canned spiritual “the Lord withholds no good gifts from his children”, believe me, in that moment s/he is thinking “a man of understanding keeps silent”. So Do.

Thank you for joining me in this brief therapy session. I hope it was as therapeutic (or at least humorous) for you as it was for me. See you at the next dinner party.

Me and Mr. Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

I, like many other girls before me, had expectations for my husband. I dreamed I would lovingly provide a warm and inviting environment for him to come home to. It would be beautiful with feminine touches and strong masculine furniture. Nothing too dainty so he would never feel out-of-place. And he, would fix stuff. He would be responsible for all the “manly” things I have no interest in being bothered with: unclogging the toilet; mowing the lawn; making sure the AC filters are cleaned regularly; hanging the curtain rods, the picture frames, the fixtures; assembling, re-assembling, and repositioning furniture; installing shelving units; taking care of the cars; cleaning out the garage; getting rid of bugs and critters… You know, all the stuff you imagine the men at Home Depot are confidently going to do at home.

I had expectations. And early Sunday morning – dressed in my pajamas, rain jacket, and gardening gloves, wielding a newly purchased tree trimmer – I pruned my own trees in preparation for tropical storm Isaac. Not exactly what I had dreamed my role would be at 32 and three-quarters. As a single woman, I have had to “be bothered with” all of the above and then some. Tree-trimming in the rain was a cold and wet reminder that my expectations of my “role” have slowly disintegrated with each new task, taking an unfulfilled dream to its ashes.

So Mr. Hughes, “What, indeed, does happen to a dream deferred?”

I have had my share of dreams deferred. Halted. Squashed. Postponed. Laid aside for a better day, a better time, a better economic climate. Some, to my relief; others to my chagrin. Usually I find solace in knowing there are better plans, greater opportunities, more deserving people than what I had foolishly hoped for in my limited wisdom. If that is not an option, I chalk it up to the lesson in the experience. I consider where I veered off course, lost sight of my goals, vow to learn from that and move on. Then, my broken dream will at least have purpose. But what happens when all was going well? What happens when there were no foolish expectations? When the goal was in sight and the prize within reach? What happens when the only lesson is that dreams are sometimes deferred and the pain is just that, painful? Mr. Hughes wondered the same thing.

“…Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?”

Something else happened on Sunday, beside my tree-trimming epiphany; my heart was deeply broken. A dream was… snuffed out…

But there is no one to blame. No unkept promise to grieve. No sore to fester and nothing to explode at. It was only a dream. God is sovereign. It was simply not His will for me. I accept that. And yet the pain is still, painful. It still sags like a heavy load and each jagged breath feels like dying. I want to scream it out, like Mr. Hughes! I want somebody to tell me – what do you do with it? I want somebody to know – this hurts! But I don’t know what to say, or who to say it to. So I find myself singing.

A Gift, Simple and Sweet

It was only a gift.
Simple and sweet.
An uninterrupted moment to be enjoyed.
An unexpected present to be appreciated.
A gracious reminder from the Father.
Be still my little heart.
Do not seek more than you have been given.
Stay calm my eager heart.
Do not hold captive what was freely given.
It was only a gift.
Simple and sweet.
Simply for the moment.