My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Sunday, November 23, 2008

hello, my name is Heather

At heart I will always be a good Baptist girl. For many years I was out of church and there was this really deep wound in my heart... this hunger for fellowship that desperately needed to be filled. I still get emotional about going to church because it is such a huge relief to my soul to have a place where I can go and belong.

I guess it's sort of like an alcholic finding a good 12 step program, "Hello, my name is Heather and I'm a Southern Baptist". Or a fat girl finding the right diet program. There's something about finding a place where you feel you belong that changes your perspective of everything. It makes you ten feet tall and bullet proof.

Think about it... what is the thing /group/person that most clearly defines you? When you have to introduce yourself to a stranger, what do you say? I believe that the things that come up quickest in an introduction are the things that are nearest to your heart.

While I was married to Michael, most of the people I met were people who were associated with his business... so I would introduce myself as, "I'm Heather - Michael's wife" and most would already know because he had a few pictures posted in his office of me.

Here in the mountains, at church especially, I introduce myself as Jim's sister... or Angie's sister in law. Or if I'm meeting someone at work I'll say, "Hi! I'm Heather. I'm new to this office but I've been with our company for over six years". Because they need to know I'm not a rookie and am capable of handling their issue.

At the school I introduce myself as Austin's mother. Some times I'd rather not. It never takes long for the school administrators to know me as Austin's mom.

Do you notice a pattern in these introductions? In every situation I try to give my association/relationship first. I don't tell them that I'm left handed or that I'm a Christian or that I don't drink or that I prefer my eggs fried medium. I don't tell them that I have a blog that I write in every day. I don't tell them that I have four brothers and three sons and that I'm separated from my husband or that I recently tried to kill myself. I don't tell them that I first lived in Atlanta but then moved to Jacksonville and now live in the mountains... I give the relationship.

My last boss, Kathy, once remarked that I had the uncanny ability to find something in common with everyone that came into our office. Empathy is very important in sales... they don't care what you know until they know that you care. If there's ONE thing I do well, it's identify with people.

Over the course of conversation it's not hard to find out some pretty consistent things about me: I eat too much, I want to lose weight, I'm always tired, I'm happy to be here, I'm grieving the loss of my marriage, I drive a Nissan Sentra, I pray a lot, I read the bible a lot, I'm a bit of a sports fan, I read a lot, I spend a lot of time on the internet, I'm never late and if I am, I feel tons of guilt, I have an underlying layer of guilt that pretty much helps hold my skin on - not sure how it got there, but it's an intrinsic part of myself. Some of the best relationships in my life have been with gay men, I make friends easily and hold onto them forever, I am nosy, I am noisy, I like to go to bed early, I suck at keeping secrets, I'm not the most enthusiastic housekeeper, I am not a great cook, I love shopping, I love theatre, I love to sing but don't sing that well, I love sharpie markers, I hope to one day find true love...

If you talk to me long enough, you find out all of these things. What I'm concerned with is the first line... what is the first thing I say about myself to help others understand me? I relate to a relationship. I'm a Who's Who. I'm six degrees of separation. I have to identify with SOMEBODY. I don't know how to introduce myself by saying,

I'm Heather. I just moved here and I'm still learning my way around.
I'm Heather and I make really good cornbread.
I'm Heather and I bite my fingernails.
I'm Heather and I hope to lose 50 pounds in 2009.
I'm Heather and I'm proud of who I am.

The point of this (for me, at least) is that I keep trying to identify myself with people... and people will always let you down. When you allow your identity to be tied in with someone else's... you're destined for failure. How much more successful would we FEEL if we felt proud enough of our successes to make them part of our introduction?

We make certain assumptions about what people want to know about us. I tend to be the Queen of TMI... at least blogwise. I'm a little more reserved in person, but not much more reserved. I am noticing that I have a tendency lately (since moving here and the escape from Egypt and all that) I have a tendency to listen more carefully to what people are saying and not be as quick to jump in with a solution. I'm trying to not be so much of a know-it-all. But I'm also listening to be able to share heartfelt truths and hardlearned life lessons where I can. I'm working off of 40 years worth of screwups that I've had to fix, surely there's something to be gained in that, right?

I keep finding myself in the path of lonely people, people who are going through breakups and divorces and other hurts. I keep finding myself in the path of people who are discouraged and disbelieving and downtrodden. I keep finding myself somewhere between joyful and honest... not that it's ever a lie to be happy, but I do have to say in all honesty that sometimes this whole process just sucks. It sucks when I talk to Michael and he's a jerk to me. It sucks when I talk to him and he's kind to me - as he was on Friday when he found out I was sick. It sucks when I don't talk to him at all because I know he's talking to someone and that someone isn't me and I'm so jealous I could bite nails in half.... not because there is anything he could ever do or say to right what was wrong between us... just because I'm lonely, therefore he should be lonely too.

Hello, I'm Heather and I'm lonely.

It's not that I mind being alone. I love the peace and quiet and solitude. I love that I had the luxury of being able to perch in my happy little nest and rest this weekend (although I feel a ton of Hellfire and Brimstone guilt about missing church). God is good. All the time. His ways are always perfect. My pain, my illness, my loneliness are all part of a bigger plan, a broader picutre that leads to a whole new layer of strength in me. I am excited for the Heather ten years from now because she is going to be SOOOO wise! And she is going to be able to love on a level she never imagined.

I'm 40. By 45 I could very well be an empty nester. Depending on what plans God has for my life, I could very well live the second half of my life completely alone. That both excites me and frightens me to death. But what it shows me more than anything is that I have to be everything I need all in this one little overweight but soon to be smaller package. I have to be able to take all the hurts that ever came my way, all the betrayal, the infidelities, the disappointments, the injustices... they all have to come together to form a strong and capable woman. I have to be able to introduce myself as
I'm Heather... and I'm enough.


Big Mark 243 said...

Whoa ... I have to digest this a bit ... quite a bit of information to just comment on without some consideration.

You have the best relationships with gay men ... funny, 'ha, ha' not 'funny, faux pas!'

Being an empty nester without finding a partner to be one with ... there is a lot of that going around. I look and notice there are a lot of older, single men walking around. What caused them to be single? What do they do for company? Do they miss having someone to be with, to interact with?

As far as the physical intimacy, you want to think that it is a matter of course for a man, but NOT ME.

You identify with a relationship. Not gonna Lucy Van Pelt you with anything. Turn your strength of being able to feel empathy for others into a personal strength and feel empathy for yourself.

I think that your relationship was one that you tried to hold on to, and there is nothing wrong with that. But don't let yourself get caught up in the swell of emotions when you have to enteract with him. Tie yourself down to something good and positive that is working in your life RIGHT NOW, so you don't get swept away when you have to deal with Michael.

Tell yourself it is okay to still love him, but it is more okay to love yourself. What you owe him doesn't outweigh what you ow yourself, and that is someone that loves you.

Why do you want to lose 50 lbs.? Think about losing 10% of what the scale says every two weeks and you can get there. Drop one treat that you are indulging in, and stay away from it, and it will become easier to do other foods likewise.

KEEP EXERCISING. Four days of some sort of physical fitness/muscle building with two to three sessions of 30 mins. of cardio. That is my suggestion. I'd walk with you!!

I liked that you said, "I'm Heather and I am proud of myself." That is soooo important to say to yourself, say it until you REALLY believe it and it begins to sprout in your life.

You be well, and thanks a bunch for sharing!! Don't worry too much about the internet thing. You could be out in a meth lab!! (that, is a joke ... smile!!)

Oh, and I am proud of you too. It is hard to have to let go of something that you wanted so badly. Believe that it is going to happen, and it will.

Remo said...

"I tend to be the Queen of TMI... at least blogwise."


Seriously, it's just human nature to have the desire to impart something of yourself to strangers. It shows a kind heart and fellowship and it puts people at ease. Don't see it as a fault.

I guess I'd have to say: Hi! I'm Remo and I don't know what I want to do when I grow up.

Sage Ravenwood said...

First sorry to hear you haven't been feeling well lately.

Second you said everything that needed to be said in that last line. I'm Heather and that's enough. It is in so many ways.

There isn't another you anywhere out there. Your unique, your entire physical make-up and personality is all yours.

Don't give someone else the credit, for who you are. Your in my thoughts dear one. (Hugs)Indigo

Lainey Laine said...

Yes I agree with Indigo you said it all in the last line. You are Heather and a wonderful person. You dont need to explain who you are to anyone as you are you hun and a wonderful you. Laine xxxx

Beth said...

Start with, "Hi, I'm Heather" and go from there. There's no need to define yourself as anything other than that. That can come later, if you get to know that person better. Don't over-analyze or try to define yourself with one phrase or one relationship. We are all much more than that!

Hugs, Beth

Anonymous said...

I completely understand where you are coming from. I always was someones mom, or someones wife. I understand all too well about your feelings about your Michael. My Michael who I have written to you about often, took me on a cruise and promptly came home to tell me, we were through(but didn't we go out with a bang)ughh why can't men censor what they say. I am lost hopeless and devestated. I am trying just to take each breath to survive a day. My heart is with you