Friday, February 26, 2010

A gentle request

To all my dear readers:

Thank you all for your good thoughts, wishes and prayers. I truly appreciate them all.

Just a gentle request here—

I know that all my readers mean well but there is one little thing I must ask for the sake of my sanity. We are praying and trusting God to take care of us in the midst of all this, however.... Please know that we are fully aware of God’s ability to heal GR of this cancer, however, GR and I had a horrible experience in a “faith” church 12 years ago when our then 7yodd was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Sure we wanted her healed, what parent would not, but the thing that dragged us down and laid so much guilt on us was the constant insistence from everyone in this church that God WAS GOING TO HEAL OUR DD.... that if we prayed enough, believed enough, thought enough, spoke enough of God’s healing power.... well, by golly He would be obligated to heal her and it was all up to us.

With our dd's disease, weeks went into months, months went into years and here we are 12 years later. Could God have healed our dd? Absolutely! Did he have to heal her? No, because God is sovereign and only He decides who is healed and who is not. Did He choose to heal her? Obviously not as she is still an insulin-dependent diabetic who now wears an insulin pump. Did our lack of faith prevent her healing? Absolutely not but the whole time we were in that church GR and I were filled with guilt because we felt we were not doing enough or we were doing too much of one thing or another and God was sitting on His throne looking down on us and saying, “If you play your cards right I will heal your dd. (ie, If she is not healed, it will be your own fault.)

I understand the “faith teaching” and if any of you believe it, by all means, pray that way for us but please do not put that burden on us where if anything goes wrong and GR is not healed, God forbid, then we have to live in guilt. I cannot go through that again like we did when dd was diagnosed. For now, my emotional strength and energy needs to be used for better purposes.

Now for the good news---

I met with our FP today for my pre-op appointment. Dr. R is a wonderful man. We are so blessed in that all our doctors are not only excellent in their field of medicine but they are all of fine character. Dr. R, like several of our doctors, is a Christian. He took time today to talk with me not only about my upcoming surgery but also about GR's. On the Patient Instruction form we were sent home with yesterday, the colon doc wrote: "Small tumor in your ceeum (sp?). Looks like an early cancer which will require surgical removal." Dr. R told me today that it is common for colon cancer to form in the ceeum and it is usually fairly easy to treat.... as easy as surgery or surgery and chemo can be... so that the patients go on to live cancer-free. Our hopes and prayers are for this cancer to be treatable.

We told the girls as soon as they walked in the door yesterday evening. The problem with both of us needing surgery now--- 23yodd drives, 19yodd does not and they attend different colleges and have different school/work schedules. I am usually the one to tote 19yo back and forth. Besides that, because of 19yo's health issues we cannot at this time leave her home alone so if GR and I are at the hospital and 23yo is at school, we will have to arrange for 19yo to be with someone. I am sure we will be able to work everything out with help from 23yo and from our nearby friends.

The girls are really good about pitching in at home. They both know how to clean, do laundry and cook. Well, our 19yo is the natural cook while our 23yo is the one who prefers to bake. So I am not worried about keeping things up around here. What needs to be done, will be done. We see GR's surgeon Tuesday and will probably schedule his surgery that day or shortly after. I will update as we learn more. Again thank you all so much.

Oh, an add on---

Today I was cleared health-wise for surgery. Everything looked good. My A1c was 5.something. (Can't remember exact number.) My average blood glucose has been 100. Currently I am only doing 12 units insulin/day and regularly decreasing it as my BG keeps going down with weight loss. Doc expects I will be getting completely off insulin shortly after surgery is behind me. Both my surgeons are free to operate on March 15. Now if we can only get the hospital to shake a leg. So far they have not committed to reserve a spot for me.

Cancer diagnosis- Is there a doctor in the house?

Today I have a heavy heart. A month ago when GR had labs done with his surgery we discovered that he was slightly anemic. Our FP ordered a colonoscopy which was done yesterday. This is his second one, having had one a few years ago. The results-- GR has a small tumor at the very end of his colon, on the bottom of his right side. Doc says and I quote: "looks like an early cancer which will require surgical removal". GR is seeing the surgeon Tuesday... same surgeon who did his hernia repair a month ago.... same surgeon who will be doing my hernia repair within the month. He is an excellent doctor. The plan now is to operate on GR AGAIN asap. If the cancer is still local, that will be the end of that. If not, some chemo will be required after surgery.

GR regularly donates blood. The colon doc said-- it is likely that giving blood tipped things in our favor to make the anemia more noticeable, thus easier to see the red flag. Thank God for small favors. BTW- GR's mom developed colon cancer in her 80's so we already knew it was in the genes. Now I am trying to get my surgery on the calendar within the next month while GR needs surgery as well. We have to stagger them. Both of us cannot be having surgery simultaneously. We have to take care of each other during each of our surgeries as well as taking care of our kids in the midst of all this. Obviously, GR's surgery takes priority since it is the most life-threatening.

The colon doc seemed optimistic but I am assuming that that is his job.... to report the findings in the most optimistic way possible. We need to learn all we can about the state of GR's health. Can anyone lend some advice? I prefer to know the worse case scenario and then the probable outcome which I am sure is better, just so I can realistically deal with this and so we can keep our kids informed along the way. I am sure the surgeon will completely fill us in on Tuesday so I am just searching for answers until then.

Folks, I cannot end this without saying two things here.

1) Do not avoid checkups and doc appointments when you think or know that something is not right. GR waited 2 months before telling me he knew he had a hernia. We could have been doing all this 2 months ago. And yes, I confess that after we got home yesterday I fussed at him a bit before I told him, "I love you." I made him promise--- No more secrets about health issues. When we even suspect that something is not right, we need to bring it up immediately.

2) This is exactly why you always hear me say, "In your marriage bed and in your marriage in general, each day treat your spouse as if it will be your last day together because we are not promised our tomorrows."

As always prayers are appreciated, my friends. Thank you all!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Our life keeps spinning and spinning and spinning...

I must sound like a broken record when I repeatedly comment on how a good marriage bed takes effort and commitment. GR just had his surgery so we took some time to get him back on his feet. Then as life would have it he got sick with a virus or something, totally apart from the surgery. He is rarely sick but he felt so poorly that he had to stay home on one of his work days. He seems to be back in rare form but... now we are gearing up for my surgery. His was "out-patient" so his recuperation period was simple and quick. Mine will be major surgery, orchestrated by two surgeons so naturally my recuperation period will be more extensive.

In the meantime, GR and I are getting in as much sex as we possibly can leading up to my surgery date which seems like it will be either on March 15th or April 12th. It is always wonderful when we are free to enjoy a good romp both mornings and nights like we are able to do now. Often I wake during the night; GR does too. When we do wake up we make a habit of caressing each other. Sometimes it leads to sex, other times it just keeps us physically connected until the next time we do have sex because we both love to be touched.

Enjoy your moments together. Sleep nude if you can. Snuggle when you are not having sex and have sex when you are not snuggling. It just breaks my heart when I hear spouses say, "It is too hard to have frequent sex. We have so many commitments." Do not allow the busyness of life to cut into your times of intimacy. Treasure each day in your marriage bed as if it is your last after all, we are not promised our tomorrows. None of us know when our last day will be so assume it is today and make every moment count.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Glimpse Into My Past

One of my readers recently asked me to elaborate on how my past as a promiscuous single affected my marriage, both during my refusing years and also since I have been totally healed. I took the liberty of posting this reader’s questions here along with my response.

The reader asked:
“Do you think the beautifully sexual relationship you two now share has more than "made up" for those painful 25 years? Even if you haven't, I'm sure both of you will continue to pursue "making up" for it, as often as possible.”

Well, that is certainly an interesting way of putting it but to be honest--- If we were trying to make up for the painful past… I mean, how can you make up for it? What could we possibly do today and tomorrow which would erase the yesterdays? The idea of pursuing a great marriage bed now in order to make up for the past is not even remotely in our thinking.... so I do not even "go there". It would be a depressing, self-defeating thought. We live today and tomorrow to make our present and future the best it can be… period!

Then the reader said:
“I'd like to see if you can go into a bit more detail over how your promiscuity hurt your married sex life in a later entry. It's a common stereotype that a promiscuous woman in a relationship will be as "generous" after the vows are exchanged, so maybe a little more detail on your story there could help derail that silly notion.”

I believe I have talked about this a number of times both on a marriage forum and on my blog but I will touch on it again here. First of all, it is no longer a stereotype that a promiscuous woman will instantly and forever be a sexually generous wife. That is just an old myth as far as I am concerned. Contrary to that myth, too many times I have read about women who slept around a lot as a single. Then they married and vowed to remain true to their spouse but before they knew it, they were refusing sex because of the guilt that they carried around with them. That common scenario is the more typical stereotype. So yes, the idea that “promiscuous women turn into sexually generous wives” is a totally untrue notion.

While single I lived as a whore for a number of years. It did not matter to me if I flirted and slept with single men or those who were married. I enjoyed them all, falsely believing that the married ones were wrecking their marriages all on their own… that if they were not sleeping with me, they would be sleeping with someone else other than their wives. That was my reasoning, my excuse to continue the lifestyle until just before meeting my soon-to-be-husband.

GR and I both grew up as Roman Catholics. In a time period of less than a year-- we met, married and began attending a Protestant Church together. As soon as we started going to church and "got saved” in Protestant fashion our marriage bed began to fall apart. Ironic--- Here we were thinking our souls were being saved for the first time while simultaneously our marriage bed was slowly spiraling downward in destruction.

As we began that Christian walk, reading our bibles and hearing the Word taught and preached, the whole idea of having sex, quickly became dirty and sinful to me. In my mind I could not separate sex as I used it in my single days from having sex with my husband. It all blended together as I disassociated myself from being a sexual being in a foolish attempt to avoid the guilty thoughts.

Marital sex was never mentioned in our churches back then so of course going to the pastor for help was the furthest thing from my mind. Remember- Sex was dirty to me so I felt that to reveal my whorish past and my present sexual refusal, would have caused the pastor to see me as a dirty, sinful person.

The cultish churches we were in back then did not help our situation. Yes, looking back we now know that they were, indeed, cults. Three years into our marriage GR and I were being “groomed” for church leadership. This was the way they "hooked" people in and got them to stay. By the time we were married for 4-5 years we were involved in a number of leadership ministries. To admit that I had a serious problem with my marriage bed was a sure way of getting booted out of leadership and I was not going to let that happen if I could help it. I had an image to keep up. Yes, “pride” was my guiding force; pride was my god.

Any time a person turns from a sinful life there is a process of emotional healing which must take place in order for them to become healthy, whole and free from guilt. If you try to “stuff it” it will only come back later with a vengeance to bite you. This is part of where my thinking got screwed up. When we "got saved” we were constantly being reminded, “Your past is forgiven. God will never bring it up again so do not look back anymore; only look ahead.” What they neglected to tell us and what I was too young and dumb to know is that we do not instantly forgive ourselves, the baggage does not just disappear when God forgives us. We have to be proactive to work through it.

Incidentally, this is a big part of why GR and I no longer subscribe to the doctrine of instantaneous salvation. In Protestant circles people say, “I got saved on October 10, 1989,” as if on that single day they went from being an emotionally crippled heathen to becoming a perfectly healthy Christian. But the point in my life when I began to heal was actually much later on when I learned to view Christianity as a journey which would take my entire life to complete. In the year 2000 when I realized that I had “not arrived” as a wife it gave me new understanding-- I had to change in a huge way before I could even begin to be the wife GR needed. Sure I could say, “I got saved in the year 2000," ...the year we became Orthodox Christians, the year I began to heal, but that year only marked the beginning of a slow healing process.

Here is something I learned on my journey and it may be common sense to some of you or perhaps you do not believe this the way GR and I do. Getting saved or, in my case-- becoming an Orthodox Christian, makes us a "new creature" but what exactly does that mean? It DOES NOT mean that we instantly become healthy and whole or that we become better than those who do not trust in God. If it is a "genuine" conversion it only means that from now on God will make us more aware of our short-comings and make us more accountable than we have ever been. If it is a genuine conversion we allow the Holy Spirit to sweep in every dirty room and in every dark corner of our life. Sin and pride can no longer take residence in our life when we become a new creature in Christ. That is not to say that we stop sinning but we no longer LIVE in sin. There is a difference.

We cannot ignore our emotional baggage or ignore current or future emotional issues, going on the false assumption that we get saved, God snaps his fingers and BAM… we are instantly healed of everything, that we have no reason to seek help. Those who do ignore their issues only prolong their healing.

So this guilt I was carrying set the stage for an emotionally and sexually crippling marriage. It went on for about 20 years while we were in churches which repeatedly preached the message—“… cleansed by the blood, by His stripes you ARE healed”. Those who dared to say, “But I still need help,” or “I need to see a professional,” were told that they lacked faith to believe that God had already healed them. The rule was--- If you had faith, you did not need outside help so you suffered silently. If you needed help, you lacked faith to fully trust God and was labeled as an immature Christian (ie, one of the signs of a cult).

Those were the most difficult, painful years of our Christian walk and hence, in our marriage bed. I compare those years to folks who say, "I would NEVER want to go back to my painful teenage years." There were other factors which also contributed to my refusing. Most of them are listed in the right side bar in the article entitled “About Me” so you can see them there.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy anniversary to us, happy anniversary to us! (sung to birthday song)

Yes folks, today is our 29th wedding anniversary. We have been sort of celebrating it all weekend, iykwim. Then last night we went on a date. GR and I had dinner at a local, family owned Italian restaurant. We made a quick pit stop at Bed, Bath & Beyond to pick up an item. From there we hit the theater to see "Crazy Heart" starring Maggie Gyllenhaal who played Lee in the film "Secretary", Jeff Bridges and James Keane. All in all it was a great evening except.... We found good seats on the top row 30 minutes before the movie started and everything was looking good as folks slowly filed in, however, before we knew it the place was packed. It ended up being a full house and we had people jammed below us and on both sides. Privacy went out the window :-( but the movie was great, we loved the music in it and we were still able to cop a few discreet feels despite the crowd ;-).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Math: 1 plus 2/3 equals 2???

Realizing that this does occur in some marriages, do we frequently hear or read about a spouse openly withholding emotional love? ...or even verbalizing it by saying, "I want to stay married to you but do not expect me to meet your emotional needs as a spouse. It is just not in me and it is not important to our relationship. If your emotional needs are more than I can fulfill, you can get a dog."

How often does a spouse who is a professing Christian say, "I do not think that God minds if I am rarely in the mood to be spiritually united with you so we can just not be concerned about it. God will not mind because I am a generally good person. Do you need more spirituality than what we have? Just go pray more or lower your spiritual expectations. Don't ask me to raise mine.”

How common is it to hear about a married person entering the marriage with no intention of being sexually generous? Or at some point in the marriage they become sexually selfish and think or say, “No biggie. It is just sex. I will decide when and how the gate opens and you can just adjust to what I decide. This works for me! Look at how well I do all these other things. You can let me slide on this one thing.”

Sometimes in my head I compare this to an employee who in their work place has maybe 6 responsibilities given to them by their employer. But the employee takes it upon himself to pick and choose which responsibilities he will carry out and which he will ignore. His boss then asks him, “What is up with that? I really like you. You seem to be a good person but I gave you 6 duties to regularly carry out and you have only been doing 2 of them. For our working relationship to be successful I need for you to do all 6. And the employee tells him, “I am doing 2 of the 6. I stay busy. It is not like I am not doing anything. Look at the excellent work I give you with these 2 duties. I do not see why you are dissatisfied with my work. Why are you complaining? Perhaps your expectations are too high.”

If you were the employer how would that attitude fly by you? On a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being “poor rating” and 10 being “excellent” how would you evaluate this employee? If they refused to comply with your requests would you keep them on and hope that they change or would you send them on their way?

Do we too often separate the components of a healthy marriage relationship? And if we do, which one or ones typically get left out and why? How do we justify offering two-thirds or even half of ourselves to the marriage table? Can you think of any other relationship where this would be acceptable or even tolerated? Sure, none of us are perfect but should we not be rigorously working on all areas of our marriage and working on them throughout our entire marriage? Was there anything in your wedding vows which allows for us to be partial spouses rather than whole ones? Is there ever a time when “1 plus 2/3's can equal 2”?