Stepford goes to Church

For about the last, oh I don’t know, maybe 5 years, Wonderful Husband and I have been saying we are going to find a church.

While we both had very different experiences growing up in the church, his being loving and stable and picturesque, mine being weird and rocky and ending when I was around 10, we both agreed that we didn’t want to let God disappear from our lives.

He was raised a Lutheran. I was raised a, well, I’m not real sure, we traveled a lot and went to many different churches. Some danced in the aisles and spoke in tongues. Some didn’t even approve of clapping during music. We never really found anywhere that we fit and finally stopped going in the mid 2000’s. So when it came time to pick a church, we could never really decide on what we wanted to be.

I was confused by lutheran-ism (is that a word? I’m not even sure that’s a word), they had their own book they taught from and the pastor wore weird clothes and they didn’t even want to let my dad give me away at my wedding (I won that argument, in case you were wondering). I wanted a fun church where we could be free to express our love of God, but I needed some structure because I had basically forgotten everything except basic bible stories. After a few debates about it, and realizing that in a ghetto crack town there are two options of churches- stuffy white people or crazy black people- we sort of let it slide.

When Little Darling came along I was determined that we would find a church. I called on a few local pastors. I drove past a few churches. I was reminded, again, that if we wanted anything with substance (not substance abuse) we would need to travel a ways. And at that point Wonderful Husband was traveling all the time, and the thought of entering a new place alone with a baby gave me anxiety, let alone keeping said baby quiet for an hour during a sermon. Nope. Couldn’t do it.

So, last year, I came to the decision that as soon as we were set up in West Virginia, we WOULD find a church. And we would attend said church. Regularly. We may even go to bible school. We needed a church family and a support system since we would be so far away from our own families. I didn’t care if we had to become Catholics, my kids would know God and bible stories, and have some friends who knew about such things too.

Then we moved to West Virginia and I got scared all over again and every Sunday would squeak by and I would make excuses. Wonderful Husband is away. Wonderful Husband is home, but has been away and we should enjoy our time. We shouldn’t pick a church until we know where we will be living permanently. We don’t even know the service times. We may not pick a good one. I don’t wanna go.

Last week, in the middle of the day, a little blue car pulled up my driveway and out popped a ridiculously cheerful lady. She introduced herself and explained that she, her mother, and her sister are all our neighbors! They had seen we were new to the area and wanted to introduce themselves, they brought me a little gift of homemade apple butter and a magnet from their church. They attend a Methodist church that is 3 miles down the road. She didn’t make a big fuss about it, just let me know that the service times were on the magnet and they’d love to have us.

Now, there are plenty of things in my life that I can’t take a hint about. When I ask if I should eat that last donut and my love handles jiggle back “for the love of God, please stop eating”, you better believe, I am gonna eat that donut. When I am pleasantly polluted and feeling fine and think- should I have another glass of wine before bed? I am gonna have another glass, even as WH is reminding me what happened last time I had one too many.

However, something about this random stranger dropping in to meet me, say hello, squeeze my babies cheeks, and drop a line about a church, rang with me. As if God was like “hey Bitch, get your ass to church and quit putting it off” (ok, maybe not in those words, but probably close because it has been YEARS of me saying I was going to go and then not doing it). So I stuck the magnet on the fridge, and kept the thought in the back of my head that if Wonderful Husband was home next Sunday, we just may take a trip down the road.

What do ya know. Wonderful Husband got today off. So I woke up early, made pancakes, and declared that we would be attending church this morning.

Service started at 11am, and at 10:42 we were sitting in the parking lot coming up with a game plan on how to escape if it all went to hell. The church looked ok on the outside, a small, old building with stained glass windows and a steeple. There were, however, two old men standing in the parking lot glaring at us.

We tentatively got out and started to walk up to the front door, one of the grumpy old men stopped us and said we could go in the basement, there were cookies and coffee. We politely declined and headed to the steps when an old lady slammed the door open with a boisterous “HELLO! Come on in! We have SNACKS!!” and we found ourselves being herded into a small, stuffy basement with about 15 old women who were about to pee themselves with excitement.

The conversations were hectic and overwhelming. They all pushed in at us clamoring about how great it was to have new comers, could they get us some coffee, can Little Darling have a cookie, how old is Little Littles, Oh They just LOVE Children.

We made our way to the back and collapsed into folding chairs. A lady brought Wonderful Husband a coffee, another lady brought Little Darling a baggie of goldfish, there was a little boy running around and Little Darling ditched the goldfish to make a new friend. They hurriedly explained that it’s not normally so calm and laid back, however, they always give their pastor the 5th Sunday of the month off, so he and his family were away and they were just going to do a short and easy service (in all honesty I do not believe there was going to be any service until we showed up). At 11am, we all herded upstairs to the tiny sanctuary with pews going in every direction to make them all fit in. With a congregation totaling no more than 25 and only 3 of those being men (including WH) We sang hymns, we took prayer requests, a lady from the congregation gave a short sermon, they laid hands on an older lady who was having health issues, we sang a closing song, we were done.

At every break in the service, after a song, after a prayer, at least one person in the congregation would turn around and tell us how happy they were to see us. The neighbors who had stopped down were over joyed, gave me their phone numbers, and told me I could call them if I ever needed anything. They exclaimed that they hoped they hadn’t scared us off being it was so laid back and informal. We were recognized from the pulpit that it was so great to have newcomers and they just loved having children in the congregation. We were invited to VBS in June, and bible school every Sunday at 9:30am, and reminded that on normal Sundays when Pastor is there they do a children’s message.

We got out to the car and breathed a sigh of relief. We did it. We survived. And not only was it not painful, it was enjoyable! The entire time we were there, I felt at home. I didn’t feel like anyone was judging me, I didn’t feel like I was a stranger in someone else’s church. I felt comfortable, like I had just spent an hour with 15 of my closest grandmas.

I have already decided that we will go again. I’d like to see what it’s like when the pastor is there and does a sermon. I may even like to see what bible school is all about. I don’t feel any anxiety about returning if Wonderful Husband is away working.

I feel like we are on to something, even if we go a few times and decide this isn’t the place for us. We have passed that hurtle of making ourselves go and putting ourselves out there. We are on back on the path, and it feels good.

The Bitch Is Back

Hello Hello Hello!!

Man, Oh day have I been missing my blog. It has been one year, one month, and 4 days since I last posted. What the what!!? How does that even happen!?

Lets see, last time we talked, Wonderful Husband and I were struggling to make ends meet, I was keeping a HUGE secret from EVERYONE, and I had just started my Pure Romance business.

So what exactly has happened in the past year? Lets talk turkey.

Not actual turkey though, I’ve never made a turkey. And, I kind of hope to keep it that way because those things are huge and intimidating and you only make them on special occasions where you can’t mess up- which ultimately means it would mess up and I’d be stuck explaining why the bird was burnt, or raw, or something. But seriously though, I can’t wait to tell you all about my past year!

My big secret?

I was PREGNANT!

After six months of trying, wondering if we even wanted another baby, and basically only having sex in order to procreate, we did it! I found out the day Wonderful Husband left for his two weeks of annual training for the Army. Literally about 4 hours after he left the house I took a test. So then I was tasked with keeping this huge secret for two weeks until he got home. And then we both were tasked with keeping the secret until my first ultrasound at 12 weeks, where we saw a beautiful little babe in my expanding belly.

It was exciting to create a new life and know that in 9 short months we would have a new child, Little Darling would have a new sibling, and our lives would be forever changed a second time. However, it was also terrifying, because we still weren’t real sure Wonderful Husband was even going to have a job come April, let alone come September when Little Littles was going to be making his/her debut.

Time passed and several more exciting things happened!

We found out that Little Littles was a Little GIRL. Little Darling would have a sister, I would have another daughter, and Wonderful Husband was already dreaming of baby number three in hopes of a boy. I spent almost my entire pregnancy sick as a dog. I lost weight, I couldn’t sleep, I regularly barfed.

April came and went, and Wonderful Husband didn’t lose his job. In fact, it seemed like the big bosses really liked him and invited him to start making the trip to Bridgeport WV to see the headquarters down there and meet some of the other employees. Work still wasn’t very consistent, but at least it was existent, so we couldn’t complain.

I did Pure Romance all summer, with many successful parties, and was able to keep food on our table, gas in my car, and even got a few extras. I ended up giving it up when Little Littles was born. At that point there was just too much going on for me to juggle a toddler, a newborn, a business, and the newest exciting opportunity in our lives.

What was the exciting opportunity, you may ask.

Well, after a few months of making the daily 2 hour trip to and from Bridgeport to work, Wonderful Husband’s employer made him the offer to move down there! They agreed to put us up in a “man camp” (a fancy name for a trailer) right in the parking lot of the shop until we were able to sell our house in PA and find a new house in WV. Within hours of getting the offer we had made our decision, and within two weeks we had packed and moved. We put the majority of our items in MIL and FILs garage, a handful of boxes with clothes and important items came with us, a large portion of our life stayed with our old house.

It took us three months to sell our house. We had to drop the price a few times, but in the end we got enough to pay the mortgage. Then it was time to find a house in WV.

About this time, Little Littles was born! 7lbs of chub. She had beautiful blue eyes, pale skin, and never, ever freaking slept. She cried constantly. About everything. For everything. I was exhausted. The last thing I wanted to do after giving birth, and then never sleeping again, was start house hunting. But it was either that, or live in a tiny trailer where our living room, dining room, and kitchen were all smooshed into a 12×12 room for the rest of my life. And so, the hunt began.

We looked, we searched, we traveled. The fact of the matter was our $200k budget with hopes of land, privacy, and turn key availability was laughable in this area. Most houses were $300k or more, and that didn’t include any land, or it didn’t include a livable house. Everything came with compromises. We were confused, annoyed, and getting worried.

At last, after several months, we found what seemed to be our dream house. It was huge, close to Wonderful Husbands work, had no neighbors except an empty business, and came with a tidy 2 acres of land. There was a small run off pond in the back, two porches, two patios, and the basement had already been made into an in law suite with its own kitchen, bedrooms, and baths. It even had a fireplace.

For me, it was love at first sight. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was slightly out of budget, but nothing we couldn’t handle. I loved everything about it, I had everyone’s rooms planned out and was secretly designing where furniture would go in the 25×21 great room. We would definitely need a large farmhouse dining room table.

We made the offer.

We got scared and backed out.

The house was taken off the market.

I was devastated.

Here I was, living in a 400 sq ft trailer with a 2 month old who never slept, a toddler who was a ball of energy all day, a husband who was preoccupied with work, and it seemed like things were going downhill. The holidays came and went, there were no more houses to go see. We were out of possibilities.

At the end of January, we decided to have our realtor reach out to the owner of The Dream House. She did. It wasn’t available. It was rented until November.

Damn.

Within a couple days though, our realtor got a call back from the owner. His renters were willing to leave and we could have the house by the end of February.

Oh Happy Days.

We wrote up the offer and submitted it.

He denied it. Apparently, the renters were now refusing to leave. They wanted to stay until June so their kids could finish the school year. We wrote up the offer and resigned ourselves to six more months in our tiny man camp.

Then the worst happened.

We got notice from Wonderful Husbands employer on February 7 that we had to be out of the man camp by the end of the month. They needed it. Since Trump had won the election, business was picking up. They had men in the field who needed places to stay. We were no longer welcome there.

After a short fling with the idea of renting an apartment or even buying a different house. We made the decision that me and the kids would move in with FIL and MIL. Wonderful Husband would move in with my dad who only lives about 40 min from WH’s work. We would spend the next six months in separate states living with each others parents.

I felt broken. After 8 months of trying to think positive, trying to tell myself it could only get better, things had continually gotten worse.

On my last day in Bridgeport, I was trying to put my stuff in the storage unit, to no avail because I am too small to open or close the unit door. I am not sure that you can get more pitiful than laying in the gravel parking lot of a storage company, in the rain, pleading with God to let you get the God Damn door shut.

I sat in my car and cried. I texted Wonderful Husband and told him he had to come after work and lock the unit because I can’t do it. I hope nobody steals our stuff in the next few hours.

I stuffed the kids, the dog, and the cat into the Honda and made the long two hour trip to MIL and FILs house where they welcomed me with open arms, as usual, and helped me get settled into what would be my home for the next five months.

We had been there for about two weeks, when Wonderful Husband called and made an announcement. The renters were done for! The house would be available March 31, and we would be closing April 3. Everything was in order and we would be back together much sooner than we had thought.

The next six weeks were a blur. I spent the day trying to stay busy, cleaning and cooking. On rare occasions the sun would come out and I could take the girls for a walk or play in the back yard. Typical winter in South West PA. Wonderful Husband was busily getting the mortgage finished, I was trying to make lists of everything we would need and spent an exorbitant amount of time online shopping for rugs and furniture.

We had a few hiccups- the renters left the place a mess, a window needed replaced, the seller was out of town. But finally, on April 4, we signed the papers and moved in.

I sit here, on my new rug, in my new house, thinking of everything I can be thankful for. Things got pretty low, and I felt pretty low. But sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better, and I can say with certainty that I have learned a valuable lesson (or two) in the past year.

Little Littles still doesn’t sleep, but ever since we started solid food and quit nursing she is at least happy and smiling during the day. Little Darling has adjusted to every situation flawlessly. She is almost potty trained, sleeps great, talks in full sentences, and even has chores she does around the house every day. Wonderful Husband is back in full swing at work, we may not see him as often as we would like, but we definitely see him more often than we ever used to. His day always starts and ends at the shop, which is 2.4 miles down the road. Some days he even swings by for lunch.

I am well on my way to feeling myself again. I was sick for 9 months, and homeless for 8. I moved three times in 6 weeks all while 7 months pregnant. I have two beautiful kids, an amazing husband, and a life most people wish for.

So, I hope you are ready to be back on this wild ride of Stepford living…

Because, the bitch is back.

Socially Awkward Stepford

I have never been an exceptionally social person. When I was I growing up, besides my brother, there weren’t many constants when it came to friends or acquaintances. We were home schooled for a few years in elementary school so I lost my friends from Kindergarten. Then in middle school my best friend up and moved to Texas. When I got a boyfriend, I pretty much ditched all my girlfriends to be with him. My parents held a very strict one night out a week rule and I stupidly wasted every week on him. When we broke up, I had almost no one.

By the time my senior year rolled around, I had a small group of very close girlfriends and a much older boyfriend in college. I thought that when I graduated and went to college it would be my opportunity to reinvent myself. No one would know me, I could be exactly who I wanted to be and act how I wanted to act. I would be the fun outgoing girl that everyone would want to hang out with. I would attend parties, maybe even fraternity parties, and drink alcohol and stay out past 11pm.

I had big plans.

Then the first day of class I experienced my first panic attack. At the time, I had no idea what it was, all I knew was that walking across campus made me feel like I was dying. My heart was pounding, I couldn’t see straight. My breath was ragged and short, and I was having trouble staying upright. I became convinced I had contracted meningitis and would obviously drop dead before the day was over. When I didn’t die, I shrugged it off that I must have been hot, or something.

College progressed and I came out with exactly 2 friends. Every day was sheer horror, I would enter class silently, sit in the front row and stare straight ahead at the board the entire time. Then as the clock ticked closer to the end, I would begin to get panicky and terrified. I don’t even know what I was terrified about, I would have my books packed and ready at 5 til and the minute the professor said “see you tomorrow” I bolted for the door. The only reason I ended up with the two friends I got was because one lived next door to me and I had to sheepishly ask for help when I couldn’t hook up my tv, and the other one was in two of my classes and inserted herself into my life by talking to me every day.

I couldn’t imagine doing things on my own, I never had done anything on my own. I spent most days with my peers at school and then came home with my brother and spent the evening with him and my parents. Even when I got my license, I went to work and home. I never stepped outside of my comfort zone. When college came around and I was free to roam I was confused and scared. I once went two weeks washing my hair with bar soap because I was too scared to walk to Rite Aid by myself for shampoo (my friend next door finally went with me). I couldn’t walk into the cafeteria on campus because I became consumed by the thought that everyone inside would be staring at me and judging every food I put on my plate. What if I chewed weird? What if I got something stuck in my teeth? What if I had to sit alone? What if other people wanted to sit with me?

My life became a series of questions and concerns that I couldn’t bring myself to answer. I decided that if I never tried anything new, then I would never fail. Problem solved. I got a job, I went to class, that was that.

As a Psychology major, it wasn’t long before I self diagnosed myself as anxious and went off to a doctor to get checked out. Anxiety issues do tend to run in my family and I matched every bullet point for the disease. The doctor put me on Xanax and told me to take one any time I began to feel anxious. The next two years were just weird. I would take the Xanax anytime I was forced into something that made me feel anxious, but I still didn’t feel comfortable putting myself into new situations. I skirted along the edge of life. Graduated college, got an office job, my own cubicle, and a small close circle of friends.

It wasn’t under Wonderful Husband came around that he really opened my eyes to how much I was missing. He was a huge party boy at college and boasted about his fun weekends, staying up until dawn, meeting new people, and doing all sorts of things that sounded fun. He encouraged me to get out and experience life, I balked, He poked and prodded and made fun of me until I finally came out of my shell a little. He got me off the Xanax, and helped me understand that anxiety is a natural part of life, but you don’t have to let it consume you. Most of the time, when you think someone is judging you, they are, but it doesn’t really matter. You have to be comfortable with who are you and realize that, within reason, what other people think of you doesn’t matter.

I still have a hard time in social situations. I tend to over take the entire conversation, not letting anyone else get a word in. I still can’t walk into a new place by myself, and I can’t initiate a get together. I have a hard time with confrontation, I hate to make people upset or sad, I get sick to my stomach before almost every public outing. I talk very fast, and very loud, and need reminded to calm down.

I can however: go to the grocery store alone, walk into a new place where someone is waiting for me, go get a hair cut, initiate a phone call, and take criticism without feeling like my world has ended. I can “deep breathe” my way through almost any anxiety attack, and have gotten much better at telling people what is happening instead of just leaving. I can also go through a buffet line and take whatever food I want to eat.

I think extra anxiety will always be a part of my life, but I refuse to let it own me. My child is watching, and I want her to learn to experience life. For the most part, I try to convert my nervous energy into constructive things, like house projects or reaching out to old friends, instead of sitting on the couch wallowing in self misery. I spent some of the best years of my life hiding in the shadows, I don’t want to do that anymore. I may be socially awkward and have a hard time in group situations, but I promise I am a normal human being once you get to know me.

Hopefully this post has touched a few of you. However, I am not a doctor, or a licenses psychologist and cannot diagnosis any diseases. If you feel that you may have anxiety or panic attacks, I encourage you to reach out to your doctor for help.