Tagged: boundaries

Standing on a Cliff Waiting to Fall

I want to document my experience of pregnancy from the very start, but that’s going to have to wait. What’s on my heart right now is this sense of waiting and impending doom, and I feel like maybe that’s more common in pregnant ladies than we might think.

I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which means my thyroid doesn’t work well. It’s given me a host of issues to deal with over the past few years, but what weighs on me right now is that it increases your risk of miscarriage. When I was first confirmed pregnant, my TSH was 12. In the two times we’ve tested since then it’s dropped to 6 and stayed at 6, which are both bad, high numbers. Everyone wants it to drop under 2.

I’m also low-progesterone (possibly a complication of HT). That means I get a big shot of hormone in my butt cheek twice per week, and I’m also taking daily suppositories. It’s hard not to feel like a science experiment or a medical emergency that might end in heartache any day now.

Spoiler alert: I’m still pregnant right now.

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But. The fear that this isn’t going to work out, that I am now 10 weeks and “it’s going to happen or not in the next 2 weeks,” or “it could happen at any time after that” is unbearable sometimes. It makes it hard to “glow,” or to share the news without wanting to cry and give tons of disclaimers. Or do anything much but stare at things and try to reason this out with God.

It’s also become a spiritual thing that I hope someone can help me with:

  • I know God works all things for good
  • But the “good” is really, really painful sometimes
  • I’m afraid of the “good” that would come from a miscarriage

That’s what’s on my mind when I’m crying on the couch each evening, and what I’m asking the trees and clouds when I amble outside and pretend to get a little sunshine in the morning. When I can’t work, that’s what’s on my mind, too.

(Don’t get me started on work. The freelancer mid-life crisis is in full swing.)

So, yes, another life experience is on its way, fraught with opportunities to “let go and let God,” try to give up control, try to accept that I’m not in control of anything, try to accept that everything that happens will be good. But I feel a little like a traitor or a fake to be terrified of that good and anxious of when it’s going to strike.

What do you think?

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Things To Remember When You Find Out Your 15-Year Old Niece Is Having Sex

My husband is on the phone with his sister right now, trying to convince her that she has the right to tell her two daughters “No.”

In this case, it’s about the mother finding prescription drugs and a pipe in 17-year-old Kid A’s purse (“No, you cannot work at that bar anymore.”) and finding out that 15-year-old Kid B is having sex with her older boyfriend (“No, you cannot see that boy anymore”).

I want to give my sister-in-law some credit; she is an alcoholic and we suspect that she was sexually molested as a child. She is also married to an alcoholic who is dying of liver failure, but who won’t stop drinking. She has a household full of challenges, and I am sure it is easier to feel powerless than it is to feel powerful when she faces what she faces every day.

This time, my husband’s weird family dynamics hit me right where it hurts.

If you’re following along with my own drama, you know that I engaged in a sexual relationship with an older guy at 15 and it’s lead to countless problems in my current (married and Catholic) love life.

Because of the growing drama over the last few years, we haven’t seen the nieces much. The last I really remember hanging out with them we played a care-free game of basketball. And now we’re watching — what feels like helplessly — as they both grow up in all the wrong ways.

I know it’s not all about me, but learning that my 15-year-old niece in law is having sex with her older boyfriend (and that her older sister was given condoms by her mother) activates a lot of anxiety for me.

It’s hard to describe the feelings that come up from this perspective, watching the cycle repeat itself with someone we watched grow up.

This struggle is only unfolding now, but here are some things to keep in mind to lower your blood pressure if you ever find yourself in a situation like this one:

1. You could say everything right, and this still might be meant to be.

My husband and I both want to be life-changers. But even if we gave a 100 percent, primo, amazing speech about Catholicism and premarital sex and anti-drug use…. it still might be out of our hands. You have to do everything you reasonably can, but then you HAVE to let go and let God.

2. Stress is thinking you’re in control; peace is knowing God’s in control.

Thanks to Scott Hahn’s Facebook feed for this one:

Screenshot 2016-01-29 at 8.47.17 PM

But honestly, I really struggle with this because I know what the consequences of my niece’s sexual activity could be. I want to save her from all of this pain and what’s to come, but I have to accept that it’s not my right to do that. God will find a lesson in here for her, and he will make this right because that’s what he does. The rest is up to her and God.

3. Boundaries protect you from yourself.

The impulse to help is powerful, and sometimes we can’t control it when it comes to our families. Thankfully, my husband and I are well-versed in the Boundaries book and we know to evaluate our behavior from a biblical perspective.

In this situation, we’ve tried to reach out to our nieces several times and they don’t respond or engage (to the extent that one of them blocked me on Twitter several years ago).

We can try to stay in touch and let them know we’re here for them if they ever want to talk about things, but we can’t drive over to their house, pick them up, and take them to a convent. It’s out of our hands, and God made it that way so that we all would have free will to choose him. My husband and I need to find peace with that.

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I’m sure there’s more to learn from this situation, but I’m exhausted and stressed out about the whole thing (especially considering I was in counseling for my own sexual relationship as a 15-year-old this afternoon!!).

What would you do in this situation? Have you dealt with a similar experience?

What It Feels Like When Your Boyfriend Looks At Porn

When I was 15, I dated a guy who was into some really weird stuff.

The first time he introduced the concept that he was into porn was kind of neutral. I didn’t know what to think. This was a guy I really liked. Was  porn a big deal? Isn’t that what the world told me was true, anyway? So really this was just confirming that he was normal.

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Oh, that word. Normal. As if I wanted to date a normal guy. Or be a normal girl in a relationship with a normal guy. 

Anyway, the less I thought about it, the more okay with it I was, so I stuffed it down. He still liked me, right? He wanted me AND these anonymous women. Besides, the women were fictional. And this is just his thing. How could something as individual or singular as me possibly be enough for a man?

Of course, that made me a little less neutral and a little more sad.

 

Dawsonsad

And that’s the moment it started. The thought process that encouraged me to continue my bad behavior in all of the rest of my relationships and into the psychological infertility of my 30s:

I could never be “enough” for a man. I’m one of many “things” he needs to be satisfied. That is my role in a relationship.

Note: I am responsible for my own behavior. I don’t mean to say this thought process or this person’s actions caused my own. Only that this thought process encouraged me to make bad decision after bad decision. 

Which lead to the final emotional stage of dating a guy who is into pornography:

sad

It didn’t help that this particular first boyfriend had sexual issues of his own. He couldn’t “finish” with me, that part was solo. It was also often “solo” in an abusive way toward me (more on that in the future maybe).

When I asked him what he thought about when we had sex, he said “It’s probably better if I don’t tell you.” The affection between us was more like a science experiment than not (maybe to see if he had feelings? Which he didn’t). And for some strange reason that would never fly now, I let it continue.

The Argument Begins

This scenario inspires my most basic argument against premarital sex, especially for young adults. God designed sex to be giving. Life-giving. Love-giving. Intimacy-giving. But how many teenagers do you know are capable of giving life, love, or intimacy to anyone, let alone a member of the opposite sex that they find attractive?

As a former sexually active teenager and later-in-life middle school teacher, I can confidently say “Nope, nope, nope.”

Teenagers are confused. Teenagers are experimental. Teenagers are not in a giving state (and if they are, it’s a self-sacrificing, unhealthy, “give you all of me so you can rescue me” kind of giving).

When you have sex with someone because you’re excited, you’re lonely, or you’re curious, you aren’t taking  into account that person’s humanity. You’re only factoring in how a person (who quickly becomes a resource to you rather than a person) can help you meet your needs. The feelings of love are closer to feelings of obsession. The things you do are out of obsession and extreme desire…. not love.

In my case as an overweight young person in elementary school and middle school, my newly attractive 9th grader self was primed for being grateful for male attention. Any kind of attention. And so when it finally came (in the form of a screwed up but funny and attractive guy), there was little that I wouldn’t put up with.

Later Effects In Life

Can porn really do all this damage? Not alone. Clearly a lot of my issues come from being tied up with this person for several years and creative formative relationship habits with a person who did not have my best interests in mind.

But porn is a serious threat to having a reciprocal relationship between a man and a woman and it does a lot of damage on its own. It made me question my worth in a relationship, and it made me feel that even though “real sex” was pretty okay, it’s not quite as good or as attractive as pornographic sex.

For more scientific reasoning, I’ll point you to Fight the New Drug, a wonderful organization that helps promote the truth about pornography in relationships and in society.

My Message

Wives, sisters, girlfriends: speak up. Porn is not okay. Porn is not acceptable. A porn addiction is to be treated like any other addition, with compassion and intolerance. It’s not “a little something” or “his thing.” It’s a destructive force in your relationship and it’s got to go. Porn creates unresponsive and unreciprocal relationships, and the continued use leads to even more unresponsiveness and unreciprocity. Stop the pattern.

Husbands, brothers, boyfriends: you’re here to love and protect the women in your life from emotional, physical, and psychological harm. Who is protecting the women in pornography? Who is protecting your wife, girlfriend, or sister from guys like this? Which side do you want to be on?

My heart goes out to any man who was exposed to pornography at a young age and developed an attraction to it. That’s got to be impossibly hard to face up to. But at some point it’s up to you to evaluate your habits, decide if they’re healthy for you and your loved ones, and make an effort to change. Please consider changing. Please be one more guy on this planet who will try to avoid letting what happened to me (a 15 year old girl with several older brothers and a loving father) happen to a woman in your life that you love.

Where are all the #Thanksgiving posts about family dysfunction?

This article was originally posted in 2014. 

Seriously, I can’t be the only one with insane in-laws and drama-filled holidays. But somehow everything I’m reading is about being thankful for your family, cooking amazing food, and relaxing with loved ones over the holiday.

What if instead of expressing thankfulness for your family, you’re trying to set boundaries and say “No,” to your family? What if instead of settling in for a fun holiday with laughs and good times, you’re crying with your spouse about how mean his family is, and yet how strongly he feels he wants to see them and be a part of their lives?

For us, that means dealing with my husband’s tendency to respond to abusive behavior to make everyone happy: No one has called to make plans? Well maybe they think we don’t want to talk to them, so we need to be nicer! Short-notice plans 3 hours away? Of course we should go, it’s cold not to!

One big happy family? Nah.

One big happy family? Nah.

This is more like it.

Translation: I’m stuck respecting his desire to have a relationship with his family of origin and battening down the hatches to protect him from their manipulative behavior. Oh yes, a holly jolly holiday for us.

Just once, I’d love to see a headline on The Huffington Post that reads “How to Deal With Dysfunctional In-Laws,” or “What to Do When Your Spouse Wants to See His Abusive Family.”

No, no sir. The media does not talk openly about dysfunctional family holidays. After all, that writer would have to put her name on the article and that would lead to a dysfunctional holiday indeed.

How about you: are you anticipating a typical happy holiday, or lots of stress and tears like us?