Tag Archive | hope

Counting Down the Days

Ben and I filed our I-130 petition with the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) back in late May, 2012.  The average waiting time on an approval allowing us to move forward to the next step is 5 months.  We’re looking at somewhere around the end of October.

The time has both flown by, yet also dragged on sooo slow!  If patience is a virtue, then I am VERY virtuous!  We’ve been at this waiting game for almost 3 years.  Our anniversay is October 1st. There are days I can’t believe it’s already been 3 years and others when I can’t remember what it was like before we came into each other’s lives.

We are in the process of planning another trip for me to go see him next month.  I’m saving every penny possible so that I can buy my ticket by the end of this month.  There are moments when it’s a choice between Starbucks and a week with my husband.  Will one cup of coffee make a difference?  Not one, but one every day will!

I can hardly think about anything besides buying my ticket and having a set date to look forward to.  KNOWING that I can hold my husband again soon.  A week or two isn’t long, but it’s enough to tide us over until his interview to come live Stateside.  God willing that will go smoothly and quickly once we get that approval in October!  No more hold ups, I say! 

How does one live in today when what they hold dearest is in the future?  We have a great relationship full of love, tenderness, laughter, companionship…. with 10,000 miles and the Atlantic ocean between us.  The future of being physically together brings all of our hopes for children, a home, daily laughter, bickering, making love, paying bills, starting a business together to a reality.  They cannot happen with us on different continents.

We both spend a lot of time talking and planning our life together.  It’s hard to stay in today and what makes this very moment wonderful when there is so much tied up in tomorrow.  I enjoy each and every moment we spend together… whether it’s online, on the phone, or face-to-face.  Despite enjoying every moment in any form, I still find myself constantly missing him and dreaming of the future when this distance has been obliterated. 

I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times I tell him “I miss you”.  I do miss him, but I tell him even when we are spending time together.  How do I get into the moment and be happy with here and now when what I long for is in the future?  This feels like such a connundrum!  I’m sure it’s actually quite simple, yet it feels extremely difficult!

We spent an hour or so chatting when I got home from work this morning.  I told him I could sleep well this morning now that I’ve seen his face, heard his voice, and spent some time laughing and playing with him.  Enjoy the simplest of moments until we can be together in the future without longing for that future.  This is the key.

I will leave you with a quote I love which I saw many years ago.  I don’t recall who said these words, perhaps they were anonymous?  I don’t intend to plagiarize.

“He who forever seeks a brighter future and doesn’t live for today has missed the meaning of life somewhere along the way.”

True words to live by.  Good night.

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An Attitude of Gratitude

So, I’m feeling extremely crabby today and I am CHOOSING to change how I feel and how I focus my time and energy.  Why don’t I start with a gratitude list and see where it goes from there?

1.  I’m alive!

2.  I had a healthy breakfast today and am starting to plan my lunch and dinner.

3.  I’m American… I have rights!

4.  I have a husband who absolutely adores me exactly how I am.

5.  Immigration is processing CR-1 cases from the California service center faster than usual.

6.  My family is coming to celebrate birthdays tonight.  I’m cooking dinner.

7.  I just registered in classes last night.  Things which excite me and can potentially change my life.

8.  It’s not so hot today that my vegetable plants are being scorched by the sun.

9.  I got the schedule I wanted at work and started last week.

10. I have a car again.  I’m not stranded at home.

 

OK, so 10 things isn’t very many in the grand scheme of things, right?  In this case, it really is quality over quantity.  There are 10 very special things on that list.  Pretty much every area of my life is covered, more or less.  I have to say that just this simple little 10 minute process has changed my mood.  Am I jumping for joy?  No.  But how often are we really happy enough to jump for joy?  If it were everyday, it wouldn’t be special.

I mentioned the immigration process.  I got a call from a friend about 2 weeks ago telling me to get on the ball and get things together for our initial approval.  We have a truck load of things to get done before that approval comes.  I will get a text and an email as soon as it’s granted.  I’ve managed to stay out of overwhelm and actually plug away at getting things done.  I have mostly everything collected now.  It’s a matter of assembling the data and getting ready for the fees and such.  The deadlines will come fast!

I am grateful on multiple levels here.  I’m grateful my friend called and shook me up.  I’m grateful I’m not so overwhelmed I can’t do anything.  (This is usually my norm with huge undertakings.)  I’m grateful I have time to get everything done.  And that I have a job which will allow me to afford the fees.  Most importantly, I’m grateful the process is moving swiftly!!!

My Honey has been in another country for nearly 3 years.  It gets hard day after day to be apart with no date in sight of when we will be living in the same home, not to mention on the same continent!  It will be soon.  I’m not hoping for Christmas.  Instead, I am saying that this is a reasonable timeframe and saying he will be here by then.  You’ve all heard of “The Secret” and the power of attraction?  Well, I am attracting positive things and what I want by spending my time and energy and thoughts on them.  He WILL be here!  🙂

It’s funny how the time has flown by.  It was almost 3 years ago that we first met and were going through the getting-to-know-you phase of our relationship.  Fun, exciting, stressful, romantic.  And here we are married.  I wanted a love, a partner for so long before I met Ben.  I don’t have his body here, but I know he is present.  I can feel his presence here with me all the time.  There is a certain routine we have fallen into, even with the distance.  Things we both count on.  I can almost predict what he will say to me in response to some things verbatim.

There is a sweetness to a longer relationship which you don’t get in the excitement of a new love.  He is not “old hat” and I certainly don’t take him for granted!  There is no longer that newness and excitement of falling in love with someone new, though.  So many people chase that feeling.  When things start to settle they leave in search of the rush of new love.  There is a comfort there which I have never experienced before.  A comfort and safety I had only heard of in relationships.  A total and unconditional acceptance and love exists between the two of us which I feel so fortunate to have!

I miss Ben terribly today.  I long to sit beside him watching the news and tease him about watching too much.  Holding his hand, rubbing his head.  The little things.  Being in the kitchen cooking and knowing he is waiting for me to come out with some wonderful new creation he’s never had before.  Napping together in front of the window mid-afternoon to escape the heat.  I would love to be irritated with him right this moment for taking longer to come home than expeected!  That would mean that I am there waiting for him and could see him and hold him upon his return.

My gratitude in missing my husband is that I love him enough to miss him.  That our relationship is strong enough to withstand this distance and stress.  That we have learned to say “I miss you” instead of arguing and bringing greater distance.

Perhaps missing Ben is why I am so crabby and ill content today?  Makes sense.  Hopefully he will be available soon and I can look into his smiling face and tell him I love him…. and how very much I miss him today.

Holding onto hope

I haven’t seen my honey since September 2010.  Sometimes it just gets so hard to be apart and not know when we will hold each other again!  It’s funny the things you take for granted when you see your partner each and every day.  Right now, I say that I will never take the little things for granted when we are finally together long term.  Realistically, I will.  Eventually the day will come that I will not feel the sting of the long months and years we spent apart.  I will be able to be angry with him over the small stuff and blame him when my days goes badly.  Right now, I don’t have the luxury of doing these things.

For the past 2 1/2 years we have spent an average of 2 hours a day together either on the phone or over the internet doing IM and video chats.  There is an awful lot of life which just doesn’t get shared when 22 hours of the day are apart.  Conversely, there are many things we talk about and share on a regular basis which don’t usually get talked about in an all day every day relationship.  I’d honestly have to say that within the first six months of our relationship, he knew me better than pretty much anyone else ever has.  There is nothing to do except talk.  I mean, we  can’t watch TV, go to concerts or clubs, play sports or other games together, or even just lie in bed all day making love.  If we don’t talk there is no relationship.

At this point, there aren’t many things he doesn’t know about me.  Sure, some of the minor details of my life, but overall, he knows me.  There isn’t a lot let for us to talk about and explore which is new and exciting.  We have reached the maintenance level of our relationship.  Not always exciting for either of us, but for me, I find great comfort in it.  I cherish the routine of our relationship.  Knowing more or less what we’ll talk about and what happened in his day.  I can usually predict pretty well the exact words he’ll use to respond to things I tell him.  I love this!  The predictability has become a game in and of itself for me.

In the routine, though, sometimes we forget to talk about the important things.  Being in a long distance relationship and going through the immigration process are phenominal stressors!  Perhaps it is not always “forgetting” as it is a choice.  With only a couple hours a day to share our life right now, who wants to bring in the stress and hardships, right?  I’m learning that these are the glue of our relationship.  The sweet romantic things and the normal day-to-day things are important, but in the end, without the glue of sharing our hurts and stresses there will be no romance and mundane stuff.  There will be no “us.”

I bring this up, because in the past 6 months, things have been immensely difficult and stressful for each of us independently and even more so together, as we share each other’s pain, stress, and fear.  Sure, we can talk to our friends or family about the stressors and get some relief, but in reality, no one truly understands the inner workings of our relationship and the actual stress of being apart more than the two of us do.  Makes the most sense to share with each other first and foremost.

Benneth and I went a little too long without having a good talk about our stress and anxiety.  He tends to go into sollution mode and just get things done.  I tend to go into more of a needy place.  I need more of his time and attention than normal… and have trouble getting a lot done.  This doesn’t work so well systemicly.  If he’s mainly action and little emotion and I’m emotionally needy and little action there is bound to be a big  disconnect in getting our needs me.

I found myself getting irritable the other day and feeling like there was no emotional connection between us.  I was asking myself, “Why bother?  I can’t hardly remember right this moment why we’re fighting to hard to make this work.”  I found it quite effective to ask directly for what I needed.  “I need your time to talk about us… and not the sollution for bringing us together.”  We were able to both validate the need the other has for sollution and emotional connection.  We were able to come to an agreement on a sollution which works to meet both needs and build our relationship even stronger.  The beautiful thing in this conversation was that we each heard that we both are feeling the same thing… just expressing it differently so we didn’t hear the other “saying” the feeling.

It’s looking like the time will be coming within the next couple of months, God willing, that I will be able to go over there and marry him.  I cannot begin to express the joy this brings to my heart!  Knowing that I will soon see him again and start the process of making our life together permanent and physically close is just about mind blowing!!  The immigration process is still lengthy and difficult.  We’ll be looking at a good 6-9 months before he has another interview to come here.  At least knowing that there is an end in sight makes it more doable.  Waiting for something when you have no idea when it will happen is nearly unbearable!

I have a couple of friends telling me I should write a book about our immigration experience and living for a few years totally in love and trapped on different continents due to governmental red tape and money stressors.  Where does one start with such an undertaking?  How do you tell your story of love, hope and faith through the filter of hurt, anger and frustrations with things totally out of your control?  Food for thought.  As Alma says, it might help someone else going through this situation to navigate it a little easier than we are.  I would like to think it might bring them a touch of hope when things are bleek and look impossible.  Where do we turn for hope when there seems to be nothing to hold onto?

I’m grateful today to have held on for that hope.  My ticket isn’t bought yet, so there is still the uncertainty… but I tell you there is definitely light at the end of this tunnel!

Hope

Giving thanks.  Isn’t that really what the holidays are supposed to be all about?  Thanksgiving for what we do have.  Time to be with the people we love.  Making time for self care and doing what feels good to  each of us.  This is what the holidays have come to mean to me.

I have so much to be thankful  for this year.  I have friends who love me and wanted to spend the day with me.  Friends who invited me to their home to be with them.  I wasn’t able to attend due to my own plans.  I had friends who chose to come spend time in my home with me throughout the day.  Jo came in the morning.  Annie spent all day.  Kate stopped by in the afternoon.  My phone rang throughout the day.

I am thankful my brother is on the mend.  Slowly he is getting more stable from a massive pulmonary embolism which had him in ICU for about two days. Lots of love and prayers going out to him and my family from friends all around the world.

What I am grateful for above and beyond all else is a  nice man I met by chance on Wednesday.  I was so angry with my phone company that I went to yell at the office.  I wasn’t able to do that, so I took a walk.  Along the way, I wandered into a little optomety store near my home.  I began talking to this man working there.  Soon I came to find out that he is the owner.  He immigrated from Kenya 7 years ago.  Amazing the things you find out about people in only a moment.  I walked away from Felix  with such a renewed sense of hope and inspiration for Benneth’s arrival and positive immigration.  He told us to keep up a good fight and be persistent.  He assured me that Benneth will be able to find work here upon arrival.  That a mixed marriage isn’t such a difficult thing in Sonoma County like it was years past.  I walked away from this man, Felix, telling him he was my Thanksgiving Gift.

The stress of the distance and many months apart have put such a strain on Benneth & me.  It seems that we have argued more in the past two months than we have in the past two years.  Not just seems… we have!  Even the faith which has held us together has been tested and grounds for argument.  How can people who love each other so much fight over everything just because they miss one another so much?  The need to be together is the only reason Ben & I ever argue.

How do  we solve this need to be together?  Where does the time off come from to allow me to be there?  Where does the money come from to get me there?  Where does the money come from to pay for the attorney fees  to have a successful case?

The need for my Benneth at the holidays is killing me.  It’s so hard to be apart.  Being here with my friends and family…  but not having HIM is utterly painful and disheartening.  Smelling  the scents and spending hours cooking for everyone except him.  Wrapping gifts for everyone but him.  Singing Christmas carrolls with everyone except for Ben.  The need to with him and hold him… tell him I love him.  Talking on the phone and video chatting just isn’t the same as holding him in my arms!

Felix gave me hope again.  The ability to stand strong and keep up the good  fight.  If one of us loses faith in the fight,we  both might as well walk away.  I hadn’t lost my faith…. just a temporary inability to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

SOON…. very soon… I will be with my Benneth!

Touchstone

Over the years I have had many feelings and opinions which I have kept to myself. By and large, in my family I was taught not to have feelings… and if I do certainly not to talk about them! Constantly being told not to feel that way, that my expression takes too long or better yet told how to better phrase my own feelings, that I’ve been talking too much, being punished and judged for having and expressing feelings, or simply diverted completely from even entering into a conversation about feelings with the all famous saying “Let’s not go there tonight, Jodie.”

In my family, I am the IP (identified patient). I’m the one who has gotten psychiatric help, therapy, and actually learned how to live a very functional, happy life with meaningful relationships. Yet I am the one who is always pointed to as the weak one. Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 25 after making some bad life choices and realizing things were going badly has kind of labeled my entire existence to a degree. Today, I identify with the diagnosis, but it is not who I am anymore. I will be the first one to admit that I had a lot of trouble managing my life, behavior, and choices for a while. Once I asked for help and got on the right meds, my life pretty much straightened out. It’s been nearly 10 years since I’ve really had big issues. I still cycle and have some minor mood abnormalities, but for the most part they are only a day or two in duration and easily controlled before creating any damage in my life. I have excellent insight into my symptoms and coping skills for keeping things on track. It irks me to no end that my brother still finds it necessary from time to time to comment on the fact that I’ve been doing well for “a while now” and remind me that I have some limitations and not to pressure myself too much or take on too much.

Let’s go back to the start here and talk a little more about not having feelings. There has been all sorts of crap in my family starting with the initial parental neglect and hurts. For my older siblings,they were physically neglected. As for me, I was emotionally neglected by my mom and abandoned by my dad. All of this pretty much spells a recipe for disaster! Then you bring in the dynamics between us kids and whatever hurts there have been between us. No where in any of this do we ever talk about our feelings, acknowledge our own hurts, or validate that we may have hurt someone else. The one time I did try to talk to one of my brothers about something he said which really hurt me I was criticized and then judged for having tears around my hurt and disappointment. The statement which followed will haunt me forever. He hit me below the belt for expressing emotion and being honest about how hard things were for me at that time. He told me he didn’t trust me to be alone with his children. He was afraid I would say or do something which might hurt them and he needed to always be present to protect them. Now there was no need to speak these words…unless the iintent was directly aimed at hurtnig me!

There are things brewing in my life outside of my biological family which triggered some of these feelings to come back up for me again.

The first is around work. I work with mentally ill adults. I’ve done this type of work for 10 years now. I have a lot of experience both professionally and personally. After learning not to speak up and express myself, I have tons of resentments around my co-workers which are at the breaking point for me. There are things ranging from personality differences to actual treatment of the clients. I would be willing to admit that most of these things are hitting me personally around not feeling respected, listened to, along with a need to protect those who can’t stand up for themselves (since no one ever stood up for me). I’m seeing that despite my personal feelings around these issues, they are troublesome and inappropriate nonetheless. Today I stood up for a decision I made which was countermanded by a fellow staff member. When I took the 2nd stand, my intent was to actually bring peace and understanding to all of us, so that there would be no question as to expectations from all involved and erradicate any possible disputes or hurt feelings. The end result of this situation was my boss taking a stand (quietly) for my position and shutting down the arguments of the other staff person. My first response was to feel self righteous about “winning.” The the guilt set in about how upset my co-worker appeared. Now that it’s been hours since the incident, I am feeling relieved and at peace with myself for taking a position. Whether it was right or wrong, I took a stand for something and followed through with asking for what I wanted and needed. The fact that the result was positive was just an added kudo.

The second areas lies in my relationship with Benneth. I know I talked yesterday about not asking for what I wanted and feeling left of center. The only times I’ve ever gotten angry with him are when I’ve felt distanced or unloved in some way. Asking for what I want and need instead of being angry would be so much more effective in rectifying that situation, don’tcha think?! lol I want you to love me, so I push you away. Benneth is the first relationship I’ve had since I got all of my meds totally straightened out and my life in order with no baggage… at least tangible! The strides I’ve made with him around communication, trust, expectations, forgiveness, etc. have been immense! In the process of being in this relationship, I have come up against a number of challenging things within myself. How do I tell the man I love I’ve been in a psychiatric hospital? That I have to take medication every day for the rest of my life to stay “normal” or my life gets out of control fast? How do I explain to him what “out of control” looks like? How can I ever be honest about all the things I’ve done in my past which will impact some areas of our future together? Over the years the answers have come to me. Not all at once. They seemed to come on God’s time…. when I was ready for the next level of trust and honesty. Just a week or so ago I finally told Benneth the last thing hanging over my head to deal with. I was soo afraid to even broach the subject! Once I told him there was silence for a minute (felt like 5!) and then he came back with the most loving response. It was outside my realm of imagination get a response like that! He came from the perspective of marriage, partnership, teamwork, respect, and helping each other with those things the other has a weakness in. The reality is that for the first time in my whole entire life….. I am loved, supported, and accepted EXACTLY AS I AM! What an amazing feeling! I had an awakening tonight where I realized that I trust him completely. I don’t mean that figuratively. I mean, there is absolutely no area of my life that I am afraid to share with him. Learning to talk about feelings easier will come in time with more practice.

There are so very many reasons for which I have regailed this epic tale to you. Most important to me in this moment is to support anyone in my boat who is afraid to speak up and express your feelings and opinions for whatever reason.

The reinforcement I got Monday was phenominal, to say the least! I went to my supervisor and asked to talk with him. Two hours later, I left with a sense of honor and validation. Not only did he see importance in my insights and view points, but he was willing to assist me with sharing them with everyone else.

He has been looking for my spirit name for the past four years. (He is a gestalt therapist… this speaks volumes to anyone who knows what gestalt is.) He found it Monday.

Touchstone: The one who centers the group and speaks out to what is right.
(Even if I’m terrified to do it!)

I am happy. Content. Filled with love. And so honored to be considered a touchstone!