Savior Complex

This is me.

The attitude, not the physique.

Obviously.

Dumb, right? So wonderfully, sweetly, blindly, stupidly idealistic.

I need a sidekick like this, who will verbally slap me in the face and tell me like it is. Oh wait. I do. That would be my mother.  (Thanks, Mom!)

Unfortunately for my dear mother’s nerves, like Oliver, I tend to learn many of life’s lessons the hard way.

Actually, a lot of times, I apparently don’t learn them at all, so I get to repeat the same fun, educational, heartbreaking, soul crushing experiences over and over again. *Sigh

Authentically Aurora

Advertisements

Problematic Dreams – Part III

Swing dancing

On my way to pick Cory up from med school, I got updates from a few others that they weren’t going to make it out to dancing. It was just going to be Cory, Noelle and me (the makings of a love triangle if I ever saw one).

I pulled my BMW up to the fountain Cory had indicated in the center of campus and waited for him to emerge from the lecture hall. As his tall silhouette strode toward me, a book tucked under one arm, I was struck by the oddity of the situation. As much as Cory and I had messaged back and forth over the prior week, I felt like I knew him well, but in truth, I’d only ever spent five minutes physically in his presence.

“Sweet ride,” he commented as he approached before giving me a quick hug. “Thanks for picking me up.” I studied him as he slid onto my passenger seat. What an unusual life I lead.

I felt like a mom (or a wife?) asking Cory about his day as I drove him home. He told me briefly about that evening’s lecture, pausing temporarily to exclaim, “God, I love your car!” as I zipped onto the freeway.

Once at his complex – an older set of buildings probably built in the ’60s – Cory ushered me into the second floor apartment he shares with (surprise!) the guy who played bagpipes at the talent show. “I helped him tune them last night,” Cory mentioned as an aside just before I was pummeled by a blur of black fur.

“Stout! Stout, calm down,” Cory laughed as I was greeted by lots of wiggles and slobbery kisses from his two year old puppy.

I let Stout sniff my legs and lick my hands before I started to scratch him behind his ears. He laid down and rolled over for a belly rub. “Oooh, he loves you. He doesn’t normally trust people that fast,” Cory mused aloud before disappearing into what I assumed was his bedroom to change clothes while I tended to Stout.

Once Cory reappeared, we took Stout for a quick walk around the block, ensured he had food in his bowl; then returned to my car to go meet Noelle at the sweet shop that hosts swing dancing every Thursday night.

When Cory and I reached my BMW in the parking lot of his apartment complex, Cory walked past the passenger side of my car and started to accompany me toward the driver side. Confused, I subconsciously tilted my head to the side as I gestured, “This one is my car, right here.”

“Oh, I know,” he explained. “Don’t worry, I’m not driving. I’m just going to open your door for you.”

Shocked, I clicked my fob to unlock the door, and good as his word, Cory opened my driver door for me with a confident “M’lady” before escorting himself over to the passenger seat.

On the drive over to the sweet shop, Cory mentioned that he wouldn’t be able to dance because he’d just finished up his most recent tattoo the day before, and the skin was still healing was on his right foot. “I suppose I could be talked into sitting out a few dances to keep you company,” I teased him.

“How kind of you,” he drawled with a wink across to me. Man, but he could be charming.

I asked about the stories behind each of his tattoos and – after warning me that such a topic could get pretty serious and deep – Cory enthusiastically plunged into a twenty-minute exposition of his astrological sign intermingled with his dad’s, a couple logos from his favorite bands, the cross on his back to which he hoped to incorporate a few Buddhist symbols (this drew a raised eyebrow from me) and the most recent one, representing those who have struggled with mental illness. Only later would I discover the true depth and intimacy of each of these sentimental markings with which he had chosen to cover his body.

Cory finished up his explanation as we pulled up to the venue, and the two of us were just getting settled at a table beside the dance floor when Noelle skipped up to us. “Hey, guys!”

She looked adorable, as always, and I was just about to tell her so when I got pulled onto the dance floor. Cory had never seen me dance before, and I glanced over my partner’s shoulder a few times to catch him watching me from afar. I smiled to myself. I was in a swing dancing society in college and was glad to be able to showcase one of my strengths that night.

Stop it, I silently reprimanded myself. He’s just got the allure of the bad boy persona, but you heard him in the car! He says he’s a Christian, but he’s also adopting Buddhist principles into his beliefs. He clearly stated that he doesn’t believe Jesus is the only way to heaven. He’s a universalist and therefore not God’s best for you. You don’t need another “project.” Snap out of it!

By the time I’d finished my set, Noelle and Cory had just returned to our table with cups of ice cream. Cory wordlessly scooped a spoonful of his into my mouth as my eyebrows shot up in surprise.

“Mmm,” I approved his choice as I tasted chocolate ice cream accented by earthy almonds and tart cranberry pieces. Over the next several minutes of conversation, Cory occasionally scooted his cup of ice cream toward me, encouraging me to share with him. A few times, I thought I saw veiled hurt in Noelle’s eyes, and I felt badly. Cory was not overly subtle about his preference, and I knew it couldn’t sit well with her. After a time, I actually tried to deftly encourage some flirtation between the two of them, partially to keep Noelle from feeling left out and partially – selfishly – because I desperately needed those perceptive eyes of his to stop peering deep into me from across the table.

When Cory looked at me, I knew he didn’t just see my dark, expressive eyebrows and the freckle in the golden-brown iris of my left eye. His expressions told me he saw all the things I didn’t want him to. He has walked through enough darkness to be able to see into the hearts of people and, throughout the surface-level conversation casually going on over ice cream, I felt like Cory and I were engaged in another realm, having a nonverbal conversation all our own.

An hour or so into the evening, Cory mentioned one time he went dancing with an ex. I’d seen several photos of him on Facebook looking cozy with a blonde girl, so I asked if she was the dancer. Cory had been looking at Noelle in that moment, but at my question, his head snapped around to me, and his face registered both shock and pain before he shuttered his expression. “No…” was all he said.

“She’s another ex, isn’t she?” I asked gently. He just nodded, looking stoic. There was obviously more to the story, but as I resolved not to press it, Noelle got asked to dance. I watched her weave her way to the dance floor with her partner and turned back around to find Cory looking at me intently. “She’s my ex-fiance,” he said softly.

“What?”

“The blonde in my photos. We were engaged. She broke off the engagement in July.”

Without thinking, I reached across the table to cover Cory’s hands with my own. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know…”

“I know…” he shrugged, looking down at the table before looking up at me again. “It’s such an awful word isn’t it? ‘Ex-fiance.’ I hate saying it out loud.”

I paused, wondering how deep I wanted to go with him; then I ventured tentatively forward. “I was engaged once, too. He broke things off. Last July, actually. A year and a half ago.”

Cory looked surprised, and I went on, “We don’t have to talk about it, but if you ever want to process your thoughts and feelings with somebody who’s been through a broken engagement, I’m here for you. It will get better.”

My heart went out to him. It was still fresh for him. And, unbidden, another thought came into my mind: He is SO not available. We don’t share the same faith, don’t have the same world view, and he is only recently single after having his heart ripped out of his chest by an ex-fiance …So why does my heart feel full when I’m around him? Why am I so drawn to him? God, why is this my pattern, again and again? The bird with the broken wing is my personal Achilles’ heel. Heaven help me.

Authentically Aurora

 

It’s Been a Long Year

R engagementThe second time I experienced that supposed “once-in-a-lifetime” love was with my ex-fiance.

On the evening we met, R welcomed me with a hug and guided me into the Italian restaurant where we would share our first meal together. Once seated, we dove into conversation, quickly moving from lighthearted get-to-know-you topics to weightier stories and back again to laughter-filled teasing.

At one point, deep in conversation about his wartime experiences in Afghanistan, R’s eyes started twinkling, and he pushed back from the table and exclaimed – pleased, surprised, musing aloud – “This is great; we’re really getting into it!” We both acknowledged the immediate chemistry and personality compatibility that allowed us to navigate all levels of conversation with ease.

Even during that first date, we began picking up on one another’s idiosyncrasies. Normally very articulate, R’s occasional lapses into over-used colloquialisms were his tell of uncharacteristic nervousness. Similarly, there were a few times I’d be talking during our dinner conversation, telling a story, and I’d see the corner of R’s mouth lift just slightly like he was amused. I’d eventually ask him what was so funny, and he’d laugh lightly and say, “Oh, I’m just picking up on mannerisms,” telling me with a grin that my quirks were endearing.

R led us in prayer before the meal, and when he reached for my hand to pray, it felt natural. He had nice rough, calloused hands – a man’s hands. Overall, my first impression was of a strong, dominant leader; a smart, driven businessman; a confident, fun-loving rogue with acerbic humor; a thoughtful, reflective, godly man.

On our next date, R arrived after me, striding confidently toward me in comfortable jeans and a soft blue graphic tee. I stood as he approached, and he enthusiastically picked me up and spun me around as I laughed. Once we were seated next to each other at a square table, he reached under my chair and scooted me a few inches closer to him with a grin. I loved his playfulness.

The playfulness continued at the arcade where we played games after dinner, followed by a ropes course challenge and, finally, our first kiss in the parking lot, where – laughing – we got busted by a cop. After being told to “move along”, R and I started to say goodnight, and the atmosphere turned serious. As we gazed into one another’s eyes, I pulled our photo booth picture from my purse to give to him, but he pressed it back into my hands, saying softly, “You keep that safe for us.”

He was a a sentimental, hopeless romantic and a roguish military man with handfuls of confidence until his sudden and repeated emotional breakdowns in the months preceding what would have been our wedding day. He oscillated between telling me, with love in his eyes, that I was more than he ever dreamed was out there… and then, the next day, telling me that I was so Type A that I’d drive him to have an affair if we got married.

After months of heartache, I finally had to let him go completely. And the song I taught myself on the piano was one of many outlets that allowed me to begin processing the hurt and emotional turmoil of that season.

It’s been a long day, and all I’ve got to say is make it strong
It’s been a long day, and all I’ve got to say is I’ve been wrong

So take a leave of absence; tell me you’ll be gone
I don’t want to see your face
It’s been a long day, and I just want to hide away

It’s been a long week, and all the lines come down heavy on me
It’s been a long week; I’m finally feeling like it’s okay to break
Into a thousand pieces no one can replace
Only I can find my way
It’s been long day, and I just want to hide away

It’s been a long year, and everyone around me has disappeared
It’s been a long year, and all this mess around me has finally cleared
So can I have a moment just to say hello?
Can you let your anger go?
It’s been a long year, and I’m finally ready to be here

Authentically Aurora

The Soft Goodbye

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 6.22.04 PMYou know how people talk about that “once in a lifetime” kind of love? The kind most of us believe only happens in movies, until it actually happens to us? The kind where the spark is instantaneous, the chemistry is undeniable and, when you’re with that person, everything else fades into the background?

It’s the kind of love that feels like a soul-deep connection; where, after five minutes of meeting, you both feel as though you’ve been life-long friends. It’s indescribable and other-worldly, and although I’ve experienced it three times now, every time truly feels like a once in a lifetime love.

The first time I experienced it was nearly five years ago, in March of 2011. My company sent me to a week-long training program the week of my birthday, and on the very first day, I ended up seated next to a handsome Louisiana boy named James. The class was heavily discussion-based, so within five minutes of sitting down, James and I were asked to partner up to discuss our life milestones, which was a pretty weighty discussion topic for two colleagues who’d just met. But – both authentic, deep thinkers – James and I hit it off instantly.

We discovered that we had the same birthday one year apart, we’d been through similar difficult life experiences and we had a shared faith integral to our identities. James had a zeal for life that I found contagious. As an ENFJ, James had a larger-than-life magnetism about him. He loved to laugh and push boundaries and have adventures. He kept me giggling constantly, and we were inseparable the entire week.

We went out to dinners together after our full day conference sessions, and we played parlor games in the hotel lobby with other colleagues. One evening after a particularly hard-won foosball victory, James picked me up and twirled me around in the air as I threw my head back with laughter. Our coworkers just smiled and shook their heads at us. Our attraction was undeniable.

On Thursday night – the last evening of the conference session – James walked me back to my hotel room. He’d been somewhat reserved during our evening stroll outside, and I soon found out why. Just days before meeting me, James had proposed to his girlfriend, and she’d said yes.

He’d never experienced chemistry like we had; he acknowledged that there was outrageous attraction and compatibility. His soft brown eyes – intelligent and kind -pleaded with me to understand.

Standing outside of my hotel room, James leaned against my doorframe, face inches from mine. “I think we can both acknowledge we’ve had intense chemistry this week,” he said softly.

I nodded.

“And I think we agree that we could be really great together.”

I nodded again, a lump forming in my throat.

“But I think we both also understand the situation.”

Nothing more needed to be said. He was a man of honor, and I was a woman of integrity. Eyes filling with tears, we hugged each other and said goodbye. This week, James and his wife welcomed their second child into the world.

I had a Celtic Woman CD in my car at the time, and as I drove home, I played track number eight on repeat.

When the light begins to fade,
And shadows fall across the sea,
One bright star in the evening sky,
Your love’s light leads me on my way.

There’s a dream that will not sleep,
A burning hope that will not die.
So I must go now with the wind,
And leave you waiting on the tide.

Rain comes over the grey hills,
And on the air, a soft goodbye.
Hear the song that I sing to you,
When the time has come to fly.

When I leave and take the wing,
And find the land that fate will bring,
The brightest star in the evening sky,
Is your love waiting far for me.

Authentically Aurora

One Year Blogiversary

One year CupcakeDear Blogging Community,

Today I celebrate my One Year Anniversary of Blogging. It has been a long and arduous journey, but we have survived together – me, filtering every life experience to deem whether or not it is blog-worthy, and you, suffering through my bitter humor and bleeding-heart introspections.

Thanks for being a part of this journey with me – for oftentimes helping to carry my burdens with your loving words of encouragement… and also occasionally adding to my burdens with well-intended but unwelcome commentary (I’m looking at you, peanut gallery).

I am so grateful for the community I have found here in the blogosphere. You have collectively endured my emotional roller coaster ride of upbeat inspirations one day and bitter rants the next. You have lived life with me, and I with you. We are family. [cue Sister Sledge]

I’m a different woman now than I was a year ago. On August 21, 2014, I was a broken woman, having been rejected and abandoned just weeks earlier by the man who had promised me forever. In the wake of my broken engagement, I oscillated between despondency and anger; listlessness and panic. And I ultimately found solace in the pouring out of my emotions on the page: the bright, pixelated page of my computer screen.

Since then, I have been on 356284.1 dates – some humorous and some heartbreaking. I have learned a lot about men, and I have learned a lot about myself. And I have also learned a lot about you, dear readers.

I have discovered that your favorite posts to read are ones on controversial current events, be they political in nature or more aligned with pop culture. My most Viewed posts are about gay marriage, The Bachelor and the Christianity/Science debate. You also apparently really like it when the intensity of my emotions come out in my posts, like when I am most deeply wounded, unfathomably giddy, or absolutely infuriated.

You most Like when I share my creativity with you, either through my photography or poetry. You like when I express myself in short, humorous outtakes from life. Especially if those outtakes involve chocolate.  You also like to hear my personal reflections, most notably when I speak about my internal struggles and subsequent revelations as I continue the journey toward healing.

But I hear the most from you when I allow myself to be completely vulnerable and reveal the depths of my occasional depression. You are good encouragers when I feel misunderstood, and I am thankful for that. I also tend to get a lot of Comments from my fellow introverts when I post about introversion (don’t worry, I won’t ask you to raise your hands and draw attention to yourselves. You know who you are). And you like to comment on my bitterest of rants, like when I am confounded by the perkiest of girls and the most oblivious of men.

Altogether, it has been a lovely year of writing and reading, of loving and leaving, of grieving and growing; of receiving restoring. Here’s to another year together.

Authentically Aurora

TBT: Vulnerable & Strong

HSPI wrote this post last fall and never published it, although my feelings haven’t changed much since then. That said, I am slowly learning to be happy for people who haven’t yet experienced heartache… and thankful for those who have. #HSPproblems


I might be a petite, 5’4″, twenty-something woman, but I have the heart of a leader and the desire to impact change. I frequently find myself in situations where I sense that something needs to be communicated, and I end up “influencing up” – discretely influencing those senior to me (in age or rank) using something of an innocent’s Socratic method.

On a monthly basis, I attend a bible study luncheon in which guest speakers, usually very senior in their respective organizations, come and share their life experiences and what they have learned through those experiences. This week, the topic was “Listening to God: How Obstacles Can be Signs from God.” The guest speaker, a fifty-four year old CEO named Randy, detailed his entire career, which involved six layoffs over the course of thirty years (one of which involved the Enron fiasco). I kept waiting for Randy to get to the part where he talked about what he learned about himself or about God through all of the ups and downs of his tumultuous career, but in the end, all he really said was that he knows now that God was with him all along.

I was a bit disappointed that this elderly CEO spent 25 of his 30 minutes telling his “woe is me” story and, even in the last five minutes, didn’t say much other than, “God is faithful” (without any concrete, specific examples of God’s faithfulness), so I raised my hand to ask a question during the closing Q&A portion of the luncheon.

I already knew the answer I expected (and believed to be true), but for the sake of everyone else, I stood and projected, “Randy, this morning you gave us a lot of insight into God’s faithfulness even through the ups and downs of life. I recently experienced a broken engagement, so I can relate to the turmoil that comes with the unexpected. How would you advise us to navigate seasons of life where we know in our heads that God is good and sovereign, but our feelings don’t align with what our heads know to be true?

head heart

I was giving Randy the opportunity for a teaching moment; to close the gap in his speech; to get to the point of why he spent half an hour telling us all his sob story about six layoffs over thirty years. But instead of answering with any of the various appropriate responses, Randy – like so many before him – zeroed in on the phrase “broken engagement” and started publicly offering me cliches, like, “You’re going to get through this. God has better out there for you,” and “You just have to decide to stop feeling the sadness.”

Randy, I was not looking for condolences. I was trying to lead you to state things like, “Read the Bible. Know the Truths of Scripture. Use what you know to be true to battle the lies of your heart. It’s a tough dichotomy, but in Mark 9:24, we see that it is possible to believe but still in the midst of that, struggle with unbelief.”

Instead, he just trained another generation of bright-eyes kids that the appropriate response to depression, conflict between our heads & hearts, or really to any hardship in life is to tell people to just decide to stop feeling whatever it is that they feel.

Good thing I decided to be vulnerable and sacrifice myself for the sake of a teaching moment – a teaching moment that epically backfired. Next time I’ll go back to listening to my head and ignoring my heart.

“We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don’t get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won’t solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home.” -TWLOHA

Authentically Aurora

Wallowing

This was me yesterday:

Crying_icecream_eating

My poison of choice was Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream – always an excellent coping mechanism.

Ain’t no party like an Aurora party cuz an Aurora party involves eating an entire pint of ice cream while binge watching Netflix alone in my apartment while wearing a Grumpy Cat T-shirt.

7-ways-bollywood-taught-us-to-deal-with-a-heartbreak-1

I know, I know; you’re jealous you weren’t invited. It’s understandable. But don’t take it too personally. These Aurora parties happen in isolation, so no one was invited. Except Ben & Jerry.

050fb4e7fd08932028991ee2f5836af57340d2-wm

AA