my journey with truth

If I’m completely honest, I should say that sometimes I wonder if I’m going to end up alone.  And sometimes I wonder if the only way I won’t end up alone is to settle for not being alone as opposed to being with someone who truly delights me.  I’ve been thinking of these things especially since moving to Smithville.  At times it seems like the balance for loving this little town is that I have to give up finding someone while I live here, and so the more I long to stay here in this appointment for a longer duration, the more I feel like I am giving up some piece of my hope for a partner in this life.  Because we all know that you can’t have everything, that nothing is perfect.

Then I met my friend Tina and her husband Andy.  They are lovely.  I mean, Tina is my friend and all, so of course I like her.  And you’d think whoever she’s married to would have to be great.  But no, really.  They, together, are lovely and wonderful.  And their love story is delightful.  And everything about their story actually sounds like a sweet, sweet story you couldn’t write better, and Tina has said that everything she wanted in a partner she has in Andy – so they seriously are like the closest thing to perfect for each other.

One night, I confessed a little to Tina that there are times I feel like I should give up dreaming of some “perfect-for-me” guy.  And that at times the dreaming I do sort of feels like that scene towards the beginning of Practical Magic where Sally makes up characteristics about a man who is to be her true love, but all the characteristics are too much or too silly for one person to actually exist with them all.  So that even if I kept dreaming, what good would it do?  What man could fulfill 26 years of dreaming?  It’s not just unfair to me, it’s unfair to men, right?  So sometimes I think I should give up dreaming up with whom I want to share my life.

That’s when Tina was all “Bullshit.  Keep dreaming.”  And I thought of her and Andy.  And so I confessed to her that I actually had written a letter to Santa a little over a year ago, sort of as a catharsis as writing exercises often tend to be (hello, blog).  I said I should probably tell her the list because she’s obviously got good man mojo (and she actually kind of has generally good mojo for getting things done or bringing good to her when she’s made up her mind about something).  So here’s the letter for you all.  Judge me all you want.  Or find me this man:

Dear Santa,
All I want for Christmas is a man to share my life with.  He doesn’t need to want to get married right away, but I do not want a man who does not want me for the long-term.  It would be great if he could have as many of the following characteristics as possible:

  • wears a good cologne
  • calls me ‘sugar’ or any variation of ‘sugar’
  • perceives me as sassy and/or feisty and likes that about me
  • frequently be found to be wearing a dress shirt and tie, a dress shirt with a sweater over it, a dress shirt and sweater vest
  • have played football or soccer when younger, maybe baseball
  • be a really good kisser
  • doesn’t back down and is passionate about what he believes and loves
  • preferably not an only child
  • knows how to tease me about stupid stuff
  • holds my hand
  • has a dog, but not a crusty small kind (not required, but doesn’t like animals is a deal-breaker)
  • has a little bit of a fix-it gene of some sort, even if it is computer-related
  • gets me flowers every now and then
  • is Methodist? that may be asking too much.  Could you find one that understands my vocation and still loves me?
  • likes to dance
  • loves his family
  • likes to go out and be with friends
  • pushes me to be more outdoorsy
  • cares about broken things in the world
  • likes to travel and explore new places
  • cooks and likes to cook together, preferably with loud music in the background
  • lets me sit in his lap to do the crossword together
  • tells me lots of stories from when he was younger
  • likes to argue a little bit

I know this is a lot to ask, and I plan to keep thinking about it.  Of course, it’s probably too late for this Christmas, but maybe you could try by next year?

Lots of love and I’m trying to be a very good girl,
Lizzie

Note: there is a fire blazing less than 4 miles from where I live right now.  I have evacuated (not mandatory), driven with a cat in my lap (he spilled water in his carrier and while I tried to wangle cleaning it up while driving, he got out and nestled in my lap), returned, gone to volunteer only to be turned away til later tonight, and can’t get much or any cell phone reception so I’ve texted the people most interested in my whereabouts.

What did I turn to do next?  Oh that’s right – like many days of my life, when not sure what to do now, I started googling old boyfriends.  By boyfriends, I don’t mean boyfriends.  And by that I don’t mean friends that are boys either.  A startling truth I’m not really quite willing to fully spell out here just now is that I’ve never had a real boyfriend, but I’ve been in several long- and short-term relationships.  That being said, let’s just say they are ex-boyfriends or at least ex-interests for the sake of a simpler post (I promise calling them that is not really an un-truth).

So yes, you read correctly.  I just spent 30 minutes looking up the current whereabouts and jobs and pictures of an old flame.  I have no idea why that was my inclination just now.  The bigger picture here being I don’t really understand why that’s ever my inclination.  Especially when I confess to you that this person in particular is always a painful recollection.  Ok wait.  As I typed that, this little part of my brain said in my head “yeah, but he was also a particularly wonderful moment albeit a blip on the radar.”  Which is true.  I mean, when I think of this guy, I have such funny stories to tell, all of them vividly – how we met, what he said at dinner that night, what I was wearing, where we were and which table we were sitting at in the Green Leafe when he first brushed my hand with his hand and then took it, the voicemail he left the night of the 2006 midterm elections asking me if I wanted to come over to eat spaghetti and then all that happened when he came over to Meg and my election party.

But the point is I also remember watching him walk out the door of the Leafe many months later with a married woman (though I don’t know what happened next but I know she was throwing herself at him while wasted the week I met him), and I remember him walking into sorority court to watch the queen’s visit with a brunette, and I remember him never calling me back after winter break, and before winter break I remember the night we got dinner at Ukrop’s and went by his apartment to pick something up and when he tried to kiss me I pulled away because I’d had a cold and didn’t want to give it to him before finals and I’ve spent way too many hours wishing I’d gone ahead and let him kiss me then because I loved all the other kisses so much and was that why he stopped calling?  Did he think I was playing games?  I also remember how I found out he was married (which is actually a pretty ironic story).  And I remember how during homecoming a couple years ago I had to stop and catch my breath with Charlotte when some of the guys said they’d just run into him and his wife and did we want to meet up and part of that was the messed up fact that I knew I was in the same place as him basically.  He was the kind of guy and the kind of fall that made it hard to breathe when he walked into the Rec Center I was so nervous and excited and hopeful we’d have another date.

How can a person who was in my life for only weeks, who yes, shared a lot in common and was incredibly charismatic by nature but was on the complete COMPLETE opposite side of the political sphere – well, wait.  That’s not true.  He was passionate.  And engaged.  And that’s not the opposite of me, and I know I am much more attracted to a person who is passionate about what they believe in and advocate than someone who technically shares my beliefs and is apathetic or inarticulate.  Point being, how can a person who was in my life for only weeks have such a hold on me in this way?  I saw his picture and broke out into a huge grin.  I saw his picture and my heart rate sped up ever so slightly.  And then I thought “He probably has children now” as though that is what makes this so messed up.  What?

It’s almost as though I open and reopen the wounds from old boyfriends or whateverfriends because if I don’t leave them alone then I won’t get scars.  Why else would I drudge all of this up at random?  What is the point of reminiscing on this?  I mean, part of me thinks it’s worse to act like none of the good, none of the whatever it is that still sort of makes my heart speed up, can be good anymore because of the bad or the hurtful or the left undone.  I don’t want to become the bitter version of this where when I bump up against a memory of this I can’t even think of it fondly but act as though whole chunks of time were lost or wasted.  But part of me thinks it’s INCREDIBLY disturbing that I waste time on things and thoughts like this and him and us.  And don’t even get me started on the time wasted on what I’d say or do if I ran into him at the airport, at homecoming, at random anywhere.

So, how does one heal from love wounds?  By keeping reminiscing (without generating new stuff by way of the magical interwebs) until the heart just keeps on beating and you can laugh about the funny part without wanting to tell people the story?  How do you embrace scars without becoming scarred in the embittered sense?

P.S. I’m hoping this post will help keep me accountable to never googling or searching him again.  Or at least for like 10 years.

I forgot to say that my favorite Yogi stand-bys are (of course) Calming, Healthy Fasting, Echinacea Immunity Support, and Green Tea Energy.  I have been intrigued by but yet to buy Woman’s Moon Cycle but after seeing “No Strings Attached” and the famous Period Mix CD scene which includes the hilarious line about “Tea for your ‘gina,” I might just treat myself.  I’m also thinking of giving some of the spicy blends a whirl and maybe the berry one that is supposed to be good for your liver.  Dr. Gillian McKeith, who hosts BBC America’s “You Are What You Eat” and wrote a book of the same title suggests teas for your liver and kidneys.  And she’s a badass.  There are also lots of green tea blends (I’ll bet I’d like Yogi’s Chai Green better than Stash’s blend, plus Yogi seems to use a little higher quality stuff in their bags, though it’s still not whole leaf… don’t even get me started on the wonder of whole leaf teas), and if you don’t already know about the awesome properties of green tea, google it.  I seriously think I have held off getting seriously sick over the past year through immuni-tea care.  Lord knows I don’t ever sleep.
What are your favorite teas?  Are you new to tea?  Are you only acquainted with Sweet Tea?  What’s your tea-ruth?

In my class on World Christianity last semester we discussed at one point how other cultures, other cultural histories, and how other culture’s wisdoms do and do not get integrated into theology/cultural theologies.  The question of whether Native American theology is just theology or is inherently Native American in a way that other people will not, cannot, or (as some unfortunately argue) should not accept or study is similar to the arguments for (really, against) feminist or liberation theology.  Anyway, I digress.  We got on the topic of authority, I think, and one of my friends said something about how she felt moved by our readings but at the same time felt caught – not just anything gives us spiritual direction.  And then, she said something like “I mean, I can like what my tea bags say but I don’t worship my tea bags nor do I believe their wisdom is derived from themselves.  I don’t follow my tea bags’ tags.”

I laughed internally because I figured she was talking about Yogi brand tea and because I’d been collecting tea bag tags for weeks, only throwing out the repeats.  Have you ever had Yogi tea?  It’s a really great organic brand with lots of wisdom poured into each type of tea.  There’s a yoga pose of some sort to help aid in whatever ends you are drinking the tea for in the first place – a stress-relieving breathing method for the various calming teas (in fact, I prefer “Calming” to “Bedtime” and “Stress Relief” – it’s got a better blend and balance of lavender and chamomile and is more commonly referred to by me as “Night-night Tea”).  They have an awesome ingredient glossary on their website.  And the purposes of their teas range from digestive aids and dieting support to women’s health and immunity to stress relief and relaxation and rejuvenation and more.

Anyway, each tea bag has a tag and that tag has some little snippet of… ahem, wisdom (not that the wisdom is the tea itself).  Perhaps we could even call it truth.  I secretly love finding out what my tea has to say to me each time I brew a cup.  And I’m not going to lie – I find something good and theologically sound in acknowledging that something I put in my body and something upon which my mind ruminates will have some affect on my spirit.  My body, my mind, and my spirit have a relationship with one another that started with my creation.  Our bodies were deemed very good, not just our souls and both testaments of the bible are chock full of acknowledgment of our bodies.  If you’ve ever been tricked into thinking bodies are bad, or if you’ve ever been tricked into thinking you’re just a spirit trapped in this body til death sets you free, you’re been tricked and not told the truth.  So, I think Yogi teas do something good.  I don’t worship them.  But I like how they make me think.

Here are some of my favorite Tea-ruths:

We are here to love each other, serve each other, and uplift each other.
Be proud of who you are.
You can run after satisfaction, but satisfaction must come from within.
If you see good, learn something.  If you see bad, learn what not to be.
The art of longing and the art of belonging must be experienced in life.
There is beauty in your presence.  Show who you are.
Always be pure, simple, and honest.
The art of happiness is to serve all.
Your greatness is measured by your gifts, not by what you have.
Without realizing who you are, happiness cannot come to you.
Life is a gift.  If you do not value our gift, nobody else will.
You only give when you love.
Have wisdom in your actions and faith in your merits.
Experience your own body, your own mind, and your own soul.

Truth is everlasting.

Dear Beatrice,
How are you?  I [sic] just gonna jumble everything together.  I miss Comfort so much.  I miss Kota and Jesse and Don and Susan and Andrew and Casey and Lois and David and Brittney and the football field and the church and the 4th of July parade.  I miss fireflies and jumping on the trampoline.  I miss life being perfect.  I miss the time of my life when boys and girls were friends.  I want a boyfriend.  I want someone to like me.  It’s not fair.  I miss Pawpee and Mimi.  David and Lance were in a car wreck today.  We only have 2 more days of school left.  Tomorrow I’m going to Celebration Station.  I just want to give Jesse and Kota a big hug.  I’m scared to grow up.  I feel like 6th grade has flown by all too quickly.  I made 1st chair for 7th grade honor band.  I also tried out for advanced choir.  Miss Altrogge said I made a perfect score.  I was confirmed on Sunday.  I want a boyfriend so badly!  Next year I’m going to knock ’em dead!  I also like ____ ______.  He seems really nice but once again I choose to like someone that I have no chance for.  He’s in 9th grade.  Today in P.E. I jammed my middle finger on my right hand.  It’s bruised but I think I’ll be OK.  I gotta go take a shower.  Maybe I’ll write again later tonight or tomorrow.

:`) [my attempt at a smiley face with tears?]
Lizzie

Well, guess what.  I still want a boyfriend.  And I can’t believe I used the phrase “I’m going to knock ’em dead!”  Like, I actually wrote out an apostrophe-em.

Most telling to me in this entry is the deep truth that growing up is chaotic.  I don’t think I’m alone in that.  And I don’t have any illusions that my experience of growing up represents either an extreme or a “normal” (I hate that word) version of it.  It was my own.  That’s all I can know about it.  And yet, as I have loved children all my life (including while being one) and have worked with children and youth through college, seminary, and the real world, I think that it has a universal element.  The chaos of growing up, that is.  And in the midst of that chaos, we humans will grab at anything that resonates with order, simplicity, and comfort.  It just so happens my version of order, simplicity, and comfort includes capital “C” Comfort, Texas.

I assume I felt really crummy that day.  I’m bad at consistent journaling (uh, hello blog) and always have been, so usually if there’s an entry it either means I’m in a crisis mode of some sort and am trying to sort through things by writing it out… or it’s about a boy.  Whatever brought me to the low point of that day, it’s interesting that in the very middle of it (seriously, sentence 16 of 30) I say “I’m scared to grow up.”  Oh, sweet little 6th grade Lizzie “Holden Caulfield” Wright.  You have no idea what growing up is in one way, and yet I know you are hurting so right then over the growing up you’d already done by then.  Part of me wants to say “Get back to me when you truly can’t keep straight what day it is” or “Get back to me when you’ve said ‘I love you’ to someone and they say back ‘OK'” or “Get back to me when you’ve had a friend betray you for a job promotion” or “Get back to me when you have to swallow everyone telling you how you’re too young to really understand and yet you’re the one with the masters degree between the two of you”.

But I also remember what it felt like to ache for Comfort, TX.  It was life before any of that stuff (or any of the stuff that feels like it can never be named, never have that truth sounded out for fear of what might come of it) happened.  For one thing, it was probably life before you knew what days of the week even were.  But then isn’t it all the more strange in a sense that Comfort ends up getting translated by my psyche into order, simplicity and comfort?  So much so that the “jumbling” I do in this journal entry moves from missing a former hometown to self-worth defined through boyfriend (not that I declare that in the entry, but I kind of have an ‘in’ on what was going on there…) and then to the grief of lost grandparents to the danger of potentially losing friends (the car crash).  The chaos of growing up gets lumped in with deep grief, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

Well, I guess to be fair, little just-finished-sixth-grade Lizzie could turn right back around and tell me to snap out of it, too.  She could say “Friend, you may have dealt with some deep grief and deeper grief, some anxiety and some depression, some low self-esteem and some terrible terrible life decisions made out of it, but you have also created some order (I said some), sought out simplicity, and given comfort.”  And she might remind me it’s ok to cry.  Some things change over time, sometimes we learn from ourselves, sometimes these “sometimes” take a long time.  And some things never change – like I need to go take a shower.

Sometimes I think bad things about people. Today is one of those days.

I think one person is self-centered.  I think another person is condescending and totally enjoys power trips.  I think another person doesn’t ever do their job.  I think 3 people did something really stupid and inappropriate today and am super miffed about it.  I think boys in general are stupid for not wanting to bombard me with affection all the time, much less today.  I think another person thinks everything is on their time.  I think I get tired of certain people whining.  I think that other person can’t see the forest for the trees and is making me feel bad about it.  And then this ONE person… don’t get me started.

Part of me wants to go up to each person and say exactly what I think each is doing and why it is crummy and makes other people feel crummy.  But mostly I just feel crummy for thinking bad things about people.  Because mostly I really like people.  And want them to like me, too, just for being a person.  And I want to be what Ellen Davis considers wise, which has little to do with knowledge or book-learning and probably doesn’t feel this crummy.

“I will be wise when my greed is gone… I will be wise when my compassion is pure.  When a piece of gossip dies of neglect in my mind and no word of searing criticism springs to my lips; when I earnestly desire the healing of my persecutor, not her humiliation; when I feel pure joy at the blessing another enjoys… I will be wise when my love is constant… I will be wise when I hunger and thirst for righteousness, when I truly see my talents, energies, and resources as God sees them: as means not to secure my own position but to strengthen the weak, comfort the downcast, empower those whose lives mine touches.  When what I desire in all and above all else is the company of God, the coming of Christ, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, then I will be wise,” (Ellen F. Davis, Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament, p. 151).

Sorry for thinking bad things about people.

So my friend Megan has had several personal victories lately, a couple while she was home over Thanksgiving break, and I really like that things have been going her way.  Because she’s awesome.  Boom.

But I really like when things go my way, and while I was home over the weekend, I had a HUGE personal victory of sorts, though I’m not sure I’m really categorizing this correctly.  For one thing, I should probably just go ahead and count this as a confession, because it’s actually pretty terrible that I’m so happy about the following story (but I am).

Over the weekend, while I was obsessively checking facebook Friday night, I got a courtesy message from facebook notifying me that this girl from my 5th grade class sent me a friend invite.  Here’s the thing, I wish the button didn’t say “not now.”  I wouldn’t even be satisfied with “reject” like back in the stone age facebook days.  Maybe if it said “Aw Heywul Noe” with a sassy pointed finger it might get close to how I feel, but perhaps the more polite but still truthful button would be “Are you kidding me?”  I just thought, this is going to feel SO GOOD when she feels my interwebs RE-JEC-TION!

But to be honest, I’m struggling.  I kind of secretly really want to write her a message in response.  It would go a little something like this:

Dear ________,
I was really surprised to see your facebook friend invite when I signed into my account tonight.  We haven’t really spoken or even really seen each other at all since 5th grade, having gone to different middle and high schools and all.  And to be honest, I was really grateful that we parted ways after only one year of schooling together.  Maybe you don’t remember, or maybe you’re looking for more facebook friends, or maybe you think I’m really funny and wish you had full access to my statuses (stati?  I’m not sure…) and pictures.  See, the problem I have, and the reason I don’t really understand if this is supposed to be a joke or not or if I should feel some sort of strange pressure to accept a facebook friendship, is that we weren’t friends.  This isn’t a long-lost high school thing 30 years after graduation.  This isn’t because we didn’t know each other.  We knew each other.  And you were mean to me.  Pointedly.  Every day.  I was the new kid having just moved from Austin, and vulnerable in every way; you were long-established in a class that had kept the same students together since kindergarten and in the popular clique, the queen bee so-to-speak.  You told me how ugly my clothes were and where I should shop, only that I wouldn’t be able to shop there because they didn’t carry my size.  When I tried to run for student council and concluded by saying not to vote based on popularity but because y’all should know I’d do a good job, you told me I basically just admitted to how unpopular I was.  We were 10.  We were 10 and you made me feel bad every day.  I got in trouble with my mom for shaving my legs for the first time without asking, and the only reason I did it was because I knew that you weren’t allowed to at all yet and I just wanted something that I could almost consider demeaning of you to hold onto inside.

That’s how twisted you made my 5th grade experience.

What world do you live in that you think I’m excited to see your face or care to have anything about your life pop up in a newsfeed?

Sorry, that was mean.  I can forgive you.  I shave my legs for a different reason now. My favorite jeans are from Walmart, and I still wear the same size I did in 5th grade only I’ve grown about 6 inches since then (though I still wish I could wear a 5, a 7, or a 9).  I won the election for student council vice-president in high school and was recognized the year after I graduated by a random sophomore girl at a party, and I won even though I wasn’t really popular in high school either.  I can forgive you.  But I’m sitting here crying as I write this because when I think of you, I think of how at least a whole year of my life was wasted on horrible days because of the way you made me feel.  I was 10 years old and felt so bad about my life, hated where I lived, felt anxious about school most days, and continued a vicious cycle of eating to console myself for feeling so fat.  I can forgive you, but we are not friends.  And I’m sorry if that’s mean.

For some reason, it’s been 4 days and I still haven’t pressed the “not now” button.  But I really can forgive her, and that’s a different kind of personal victory.


  • None
  • myjourneywithtruth: i had it in my office at my internship in Corpus Christi two summers ago. ellen davis is brilliant and glows with an aura of holy.
  • amy h: i love this quote. i think i may need it hanging on my wall where i'll see it daily. perhaps in front of the toilet? by the door? bedside table? i'll
  • chaz: That post made me really sad too. Mostly because I want to take young Lizzie by the shoulders and shake her (gently?) into sublime realization that sh

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