The THING(s)

Wow.  It has been five and a half MONTHS since I have been here.  I couldn’t even remember my password as blog owner!  Hi there.

I need to write because I am LOSING MY MIND.

Matt and I have been squeezed through a wheat-sifter.  Our marriage, specifically.  It has been excruciating and we are a bloody mess emotionally.  I describe our current state as “we’re cleaning out all of the yuck in our wounds so that they can heal well.”  Delicious, no?

As it turns out, we are both overachievers at selfishness.  We are in counseling, we are in shred-apart-this-crap-and-find-the-valuable-hidden-parts mode, and we have decided to deal with some serious cracks in our relational foundation.  It is horrible.  I don’t want to describe how horrible… I’m going to let your imagination do that work for me.

But we are on a journey here.  There are things, amazing things, looming beyond us.  There is a something for the Olson Five to do, and we have to get these foundational cracks repaired (even if we have to dig up the entire structure and rebuild it, which it kind of seems like we are doing, but we’re so covered with sludge and the air is so thick with demolition dust that we don’t really see what we’re doing… we’re just DOING IT).  And we don’t know what the amazing things are that we headed toward, but we are committed to realistically dealing with our crap and moving in that direction.

We’re never going to get there.

It isn’t just a half-glass-empty doubt that punches me in the face in my weak moments.  We really are NEVER GOING TO GET THERE.  We’ll never have it together.  I thought we would by now.  I thought we’d be 10+ years into this marriage thing and have our issues all ironed out so that we can be available for everyone else’s issues.  Yeah, that’s not ever going to be true.  Our issues are immense.  We still CAN be available to others with their issues, but only because we know the deep and painful brokenness of ourselves.  We get you.  We hear what you’re saying.  We are piles of shards and we may never feel put together.  We should probably just snuggle in, razor edges and all, and let Jesus start building a beautiful picture out of our shared mosaic, because pulling back until we are smooth and soft is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.  We can’t get there.  We’re a broken mess, and we are painfully aware of it.  And we are healing and being restored, but we’ll never be all set.  We’ll always be a mess.  And there’s a beauty in that, although I have difficulty finding it most days.

So this thing… or things… or whatever God has for us.  It has cost us our blinders, our masks, and our pretty patina that we paint on over our crumbles and cracks.  It has cost us our self-satisfaction and our arrogance.  It has been crazy expensive already, because it is ripping out solid chunks of us that we preferred to keep, thank you very much!

We don’t know what it is.  But allow me to walk you through the insanity that is my dream world these days.

“God knows our hearts for vulnerable children… if He is preparing us for THIS thing, then we’ll need this many beds donated, we’ll need to rearrange these rooms… no these ones… you know, it might work best if we left the master bedroom and switched to the guest roo… WHAT???  This can’t cost us our ROOM!  That’s our room!  I need a break.  <generous mental break>  Okay, so we have OPTIONS for room rearrangements… We aren’t in a position yet to go after any specifics because we have plans this summer that require just the 5 of us, okay… so we have some time.  And then what?”  I can tell you what vehicle switches we’d have to beg a car dealership for, I can tell you what laundry changes will need to take place, I can detail for you exactly how much more cooking I will have to do.  Oh, you should know this – I do not like cooking.  I don’t HATE it… but it seems so pointless.  We eat, then we eat again.  I have trouble finding the glamour in working on something that disappears.  It’s part of my “everything I do needs to COUNT and be BIG!” personal issues.  Meals?  Ehh.  So THAT attitude would need to shift, among every other detail of my life!

I get stuck in places like, “Could I keep my job?  We’d need the money, but if the thing God wants us to do is THIS, then He’d need my time devoted to that…” and anytime the room rearrangements in my head circle back toward booting Matt and me from our own bedroom.

I don’t like not knowing where we are going, but I promise you:  I canNOT handle knowing where we are going.  I really cannot.  I’m going mad just imagining things… can you even fathom how insufferable I’d be if I actually had to make the plans and carry them out?

So we’re in this “we need to heal because we let ourselves get damaged/damage one another and that needs to STOP” phase of life.  And we’re approaching this “if we could be honest with ourselves and open with God about what we’re willing to do in His Kingdom, He might ask this or this or THIS!!!” phase of life that is totally exhilarating and murderously dangerous at the same time.  I think God’s goal is to kill our overinflated senses of self so that whenever we get to the THING(s), He just has to remind us to leave that corpse dead instead of kill it then.  But we experience it this way:  He is killing US.  My arrogance IS me.  It’s part of me!  I can’t be me without it!  Augh!!!  I’m dying.  It hurts and I whine at God incessantly.  For unknown reasons, He still calls me His child and is pleased with me despite my brattiness.  And Matt too.  Our self-importance is the worst kind of zombie; you think it’s finally dead and can’t hurt us anymore, and then it’s BACK!  And creepier than ever!

So… I took a lengthy break from blogging and then popped in to tell you all of this, and that’s literally all I have to say.  I’m a jerk.  But I think we’re all well-acquainted with THAT factoid!  If you want to pray for us, pray that the horrible parts of both Matt and I will just DIE and that we’ll leave them dead and stop trying to resurrect our own ridiculousness.  And you could pray for our marriage.  It sucks, but in the same way as climbing Mount Everest sucks.  “Why are we doing this?  What were we thinking?  This is the worst thing ever!  We’ll never survive!” and then”Whoa.  Look at all of THAT.  Worth it!”  And you could pray for whatever the THING(s) is/are that God intends for us/is preparing us to do.  Because it’s likely going to be so big and epic that we’ll die again.  And I have a pre-recorded whining session for what to say when that happens.  And it will be a place of brokenness and beauty, which is exactly how life is meant to be.  I think we’ll feel fully alive then more than we ever have… but only because we know the deep frailty of ourselves.  We’re in the process of learning that lesson now.

Hi!  I’ve missed you!  I’ve gone crazy without you, dear reader!  Sorry I left and sorry that I don’t know when I’ll be back.


Killing and Poisoning Love

I wish I could cite this amazing resource… but all I know is that our counselor had it and he’s not sure where he got it.

I wish this information wasn’t so incredibly useful… I could keep it to myself and not share this laundry list of exactly what’s wrong with the marriage Matt and me are building and rebuilding.

I wish that one or both of us didn’t fulfill every single item on this list in our marriage, but right now, we do.  That’s going to change.

I wish these things weren’t killing and poisoning your loves too.  Take heart.  We are there with you, and now you know that about us.

I wish these didn’t apply to all relationships – parenting, friendship, family, work, community.  But these poisons and killers can infiltrate anywhere.

I wish a lot of things.  Time to reflect, confess, and then act to make change.  Here’s the list and a summary of each one.  If someone knows the source, please share it in a comment!

Self-centeredness/Ego-centricity:  “Self-centeredness” is closest to a real description of a truly selfish person.  Self-centered means someone basically experiences life mostly in terms of him or herself.  When one is self-centered, he guarantees the failure of love, for love is an attachment between two people.  The self-centered person denies the reality of the other.  He only sees others as extensions of himself.  Others exists to make him happy, serve his needs, and regulate his feelings.  When others fail to do that by having an existence of their own, he has some sort of negative reaction, such as anger, withdrawal of love, controlling behavior, or rejection.  This orientation to another person being more of an object for self-gratification than a person makes a true attachment impossible; love requires two people, not one person and an “object.”

Lack of Observing Oneself:  Psalm 36 says the following:  “For in his own eyes, he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.”  I John says it a different way:  “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  The inability to see one’s own behavior, especially when one is wrong, is one of the most frustrating qualities that anyone can have in a relationship.  If you have ever had that experience, being in a relationship with someone who could not see when they were wrong, you know there is very little hope to get past any conflict that you might be having.  No relationship or person is perfect.  And any kind of conflict can be worked out, as along as both people involved are able and willing to look at their own behavior and own it.  Taking ownership of our wrongs makes moving past the conflict and getting to a deeper connection possible, and when someone cannot see their wrong, the relationship gets stuck.  The injured party feels helpless, and there is little chance for comforting them by the one who hurt them, because no apology is forthcoming.  The conflict cannot be solved without ownership.  This is why God is so committed to our confession.  It brings us to a better place.  Look to yourself first in any conflict to see where you might be wrong.  That will enable you to see the truth of the situation more clearly.

Inability to Validate Another’s Experience:  Being understood is one of our deepest needs.  We don’t need to know that we are right as much as we need to know that someone understands how we feel and what our reality is.  Making this connection in relationship is called empathy.  When we feel a certain way, we need to know that others validate our experience.  We need to be listened to and understood, not quickly negated for how we feel and what we think.  For instance, how do you feel when someone says, “Oh, come on, that didn’t hurt!” or “Oh, that wasn’t so bad.”?  We immediately go further away inside our hearts and feel a breach with the person.  On the other hand, when someone says something that shows their understanding, we are more open to input about our reality.  “Sounds like that was very difficult for you” is an example of an empathetic statement that draws people closer together.  Taking the time to understand how someone feels or thinks or how an experience was for them is something that builds bonds and connections between people.  The inability to do that destroys connection and alienates the parties.

Play Fair:  It seems that playing fair would be a good thing.  The problem is that fair is what the Bible calls the Law.  In other words, it means returning “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”  It means that we treat others as they treat us.  If they are kind, then we are kind.  If they hurt us, then we hurt them back.  But Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do that.  But to you, I say Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6).  It is easy for us to be good to those who earn it.  The problem is that no one earns it all the time, and every relationship has problem behavior.  This is why simple fairness cannot work, for then the worst behavior in the relationship becomes the common denominator.  To transcend this pattern, we cannot play fair and return evil for evil.  The only way for a relationship to overcome the imperfections is to return grace and truth instead of the injury.

Emotional Detachment:  To be emotionally detached is to be out of touch with one’s feelings and unable to be emotionally present in a relationship.  It can be a killer to intimacy, because it feels to the other party that they are alone, even though someone is there.  The Bible says that to love God involves the heart as well as the mind.  When we are out of touch with our feelings and cannot express them to one another, then intimacy is blocked and our experience is of the other person’s heart being far away.  To feel close, we need to be emotionally present.  Our needs, vulnerabilities, fears, pain, and tender feelings must be communicated and expressed.  Intimacy involves our hearts and our minds.  If someone is out of touch with their deep feelings and innermost parts, then shallow relationships follow.

Control and Denial of Separateness:  In Galatians 5:1, we find that freedom is so important that Jesus died for it.  We are not to be under slavery ever again.  But the reality is that many people do not honor freedom in their relationships.  They do not see the other person as a free person from them, able to make their own decisions and have their own desires.  Instead, they see the other as an extension of themselves, and make strong attempts to control the other’s freedom.  Love can only exist where there is freedom.  Our attempts to control what another person thinks, feels, wants, does, values, and believes are destined to drive them away and ultimately destroy love.  Love only exists as we see another person in their own right as a separate individual who is free to do what they want to with what is their own.  When someone says “no,” we are to respect it.  When they have choices and wishes that are different from ours, we are to respect that as well.

“I know Better” and other Parental Dynamics:  Adults in significant relationships are meant to be equals and share the reality of who they are in a spirit of mutuality.  Some people, however, do not want to be equals.  Instead, they one-up the other person and prefer more of a parent-child type of connection where they are in charge.  They have expectations for the other to be in subjection to them and are dominating in their style.  This blocks love in a horrible way, as the person who is subjugated feels belittled, controlled, dominated, and disrespected and the person who is dominating acts as a so-called “benevolent dictator.”  One person dominates with “you should’s” and freely tell the other how to think, live, be and do.  The other person becomes resentful and is driven to become independent from the dominating one.

Lack of Boundaries:  This is a person’s inability to take a stance of self-control and to have a proper relation to the word “no.”  Boundary problems usually show up as someone’s inability to say “no” or to hear “no” from others.  This disturbance either allows people to walk all over us in a way that destroys respect or we walk all over them and trespass against them.  Either way, love is destroyed.  True love respects each other’s boundaries, says “no” when needed, and respects “no” when it is heard.  Another aspect of boundaries involves requiring responsible behavior from each other in relationships and taking a stance against evil when it occurs.  True love cannot grow when evil is allowed to triumph.  When we have the boundaries to abhor what is evil and take a stance against it in our relationships, we preserve the good and help the relationship grow by solving problems.

Summary:  Love is not easy to accomplish.  It is particularly difficult because of our inclinations to do each of the behaviors on this list.  There is a part of all of us that tends to try to please ourselves instead of accomplish love, and in the process, we lose the love that we wanted in the first place.  Love does not just happen; it takes work.  And part of that work is avoiding these love killers and poisons.

Sweetie, I recently heard this song and thought of us.  We’re not broken, just bent, and we can learn to love again!

In or Out?

This blog is ultimately an archive for my children.  I haven’t known how much to say about Matt and I’s marriage lately because I haven’t wanted to document the difficulty.  I still don’t want to, but it isn’t going away, so I may as well publicly acknowledge it.

We are dangling by our fingernails.

That’s a precarious image anyway, but since I bit and ripped my nails off since childhood and have never experienced anything but stubby and crazy-looking nails, it feels especially precarious for me.

This morning in the shower where I do all of my best thinking, I saw an image of a wet/dry vac.  If you’ve done any sort of home remodeling, you’ve battled with one of those things.  They are heavy, they need constant filter changes, and they are used to suck up disgusting sludge and yuck to remove it from your living space.  And then you haul the entire thing – full, heavy, and gross – up or down a staircase (why don’t we ever need those things on the first floor of a structure???)  You dump out the yuck and bag it up and send it away with your friendly waste management professional at your earliest convenience.  Our comes on Mondays.  Repeat.

Wet/dry vacs have an in/out button.  You can suck things in like a normal vacuum, but you can also push “out” and have all of the disgusting yuck in the can blow out with impressive force.  I have not ever MEANT to push the out button… so you can imagine my response when the vacuum expels grossness all over a place I just cleaned.  Ugh.  More hauling, more filling and emptying, more stairs.  It is drudgery and hard and you are sore and cranky during and after.  But for a wet/dry mess, a wet/dry vac is your go-to tool.  Because the yuck must be removed.

That’s my marriage right now.  Matt and I have intentionally pushed the “out” button.  There is so much yuck contained in us, between us, and around us.  We want it out.  But now that it is coming out, it is EVERYWHERE!  And it’s gross and painful and hard and we fight the temptation to just suck it all back in and pretend it is contained and handled, stewing inside of us.  We don’t want it in or out!  We want it AWAY!

I don’t feel lovey today.  I don’t feel loved today.  I don’t feel much at all, except for revulsion at all of the yuck that we are surrounded by.  Somewhere in this sludge, the man I married is here and also experience revulsion at all of this.  We have that in common – we see the crap, some of it is being seen for the first time, and we hate it.

We recently sat our kids down for dinner and I said, “Guys, do you know what divorce is?”  The kids shook  their heads.  They didn’t.  I explained that it is when 2 married people want to stop being married to each other.  They pay some money and go to the courthouse and say, “we’re not married anymore.”  And then they live in different houses and don’t spend time together anymore.  Sometimes they have kids, and their kids live at one house or the other house, or they bounce between houses.  The twins nodded with recognition; they have friends who have two households.  I explained that the kids often think it is their fault, but it NEVER is.  They can’t make choices for the adults, and adults can be selfish just like everyone else.

Then I said, “Guys, we just want you to know that Mommy and Daddy are not going to get divorced.  Ever.”  And Matt chimed in, “Never.”  We pointed out what they already knew, that we have been fighting and talking about LOTS of hard things lately.  And that we are doing that because we love each other and we love them and we want to fix our family.  We know that they know about that, and we’re sorry that it is hard, but we have to work hard to deal with hurt feelings so that we can be strong in our love.  But we aren’t going to quit.  The kids smiled, nodded, and said, “Cool.”  Then we ate dinner.  And that was that.

It was scary to make that promise to my children.  Now my “out” is gone, and Matt’s “out” too!  But we already made that promise, the day we took our wedding vows.  There are reasons for divorce, good reasons, important reasons, necessary reasons.  But we don’t have those reasons.  We have two selfish people who are tired of all of the crap.  We have two broken people who come from messes and bring messes to this mess that we call our life together.  And we are both sick of the crap.

Instead of tossing one another, we’re expelling the crap.  Because THAT is the problem.  We’re getting it all out, and then we’re going to remove it instead of stew in it forever, and we’re going to get better.  And no, we don’t feel like getting better.  But we must.  Because we can’t live like this anymore.  And we can’t be apart.  We are both crafted specifically as mirrors for one another.  We see the real one another when we look at each other, and it hurts.

After hearing some particularly harrowing details of the pain we have inflicted on one another, our counselor recently asked us, “So… why are you still together?”  And we answered with the truth.  “Because we HAVE to make this work.  If I left this relationship, I’d just take my same crap to the next one.  And I’d likely pick someone with the same crap I’m dealing with here.  And Matt would do the same.  We aren’t going to find something better… there isn’t something better.  We’re the mess.  We need the help.  We need to be healed.”

And damn it, healing sucks!  Yay, let’s tear off the scar tissue, dig out the festering infections, and strew them around to look at and examine!  It sucks.  But I’ll tell you what, the alternative kills.  Because leaving all of that in there is going to kill us.  So we’re pulling it out and we’re dealing with it and we are utterly overwhelmed with our own depravity.  Truthfully, I think we are most overwhelmed with each other’s depravity!  But ours is there too.

So we’re “in.”  But our crap, the deeply rooted traumas and terrors and arrogance and selfishness that destroy us?  Those are OUT.  Well, they are in the process of coming out.  And our kids know that we’re in it to win it.  Not just slog through for decades so we can fakely claim we were “together.”  We want to win.  Which means we need to be shredded first, so all the yuck can be lifted out.  We hate it.  But this is what we have to do.  And Matt and I are NOTHING if not stubborn enough to stick it!

Endometrial WHAT?

This post is an educational lesson about menorrhagia, or Excessive Menstrual Bleeding.  If precursory details of my menstrual cycles are TOO MUCH INFORMATION for you, please do yourself a favor and discontinue reading this post.

I have had exorbitantly horrible menstrual cycles for my entire reproductive life.  My first period came at a volleyball game and my (male) coach made some comment about how I was a woman now.  Although I had never felt particularly comfortable around him, I was certain that he was creepy after that game.  Not long after, he threw a chair at a student during band practice and I believe that was the end of his interaction with middle school children.

In high school, my period settled into heavy bleeding for 7 days and an eighth day of “regular” bleeding.  This occurred every 5-6 weeks.  (Many women experience 3-5 days of “regular” bleeding, which may or may not be followed by a “light” bleeding day at the end, usually every 4 weeks.  Given the amount of variation among women and the interplay of hormones and other systemic factors, “normal” menstruation is not very well-understood or defined.  Since I had a longer but less frequent cycle, I averaged into the normal range.  However, I recently read that most women lose about 1/4 cup of blood during their period… so I am not anywhere CLOSE to “normal,” nor have I ever been!).  After I had my period for 3 weeks straight with a 3 day intermission at age 17, my mom and I went in for my first gynecological exam to find out what the hooty-hoo was going on… in my hoo-ha. 🙂  (Truth:  I didn’t learn the term “hoo-ha” until I watched the show Scrubs many years later).  The recommended treatment was birth control to manage the timing of my cycle.

I was 17.  I was not having sex.  I was a senior at a Christian high school where pregnancy was punished with expulsion, sexual activity was seriously frowned upon, and virginity was eulogized as the epitome of Christian holiness… among girls.  I perceived that birth control was for slutty girls and flat-out refused to go on it.  How could I tell my friends?  I was sure that people would just know by looking at me… and then I’d have to defend myself and say, “But I’m not having sex, I’m not!  This is for medical reasons!” and I didn’t want to have to say anything.  (Truth:  middle- and high-school students are convinced that everyone notices every uncomfortable thing about them.  In actuality, only the cruel people notice… everyone else is too busy trying to survive and avoid being noticed to notice anyone else!)

I only had that one “3 weeks from hell” continuous period incidence.  Throughout the rest of my senior year/college/grad school, it was actually rather nice to go up to 6 weeks without a period.  I didn’t mind the heavy 8 days, since it gave me such a huge amount of time off from the hassle!

I began taking birth control at age 25 when I was engaged.  Knowing that adjusting hormonal levels can be problematic, I wanted to get that all settled and working well before starting my marriage!  I was on birth control for several years and the predictable 7 day periods once a month were DIVINE.  I felt like a “normal” girl for the first time!  Getting married and having sex with Matt was also fabulous… so everything was exciting!  (Truth:  Matt and I had a “no babies for 2 years, God-pending!” handshake agreement that we established during our engagement.  It was one of our best ideas EVER!  When pesky women at church/people in our families/nosy strangers had questions about “So… when are you going to have kids?” we could whip out the “Let me tell you all about our handshake agreement!” conversation and shut them down.  We reconsidered on our 2 year anniversary and realized we still didn’t feel ready for kids, so we gave ourselves an extension… it ended up being a “no pregnancy for 2.5 years, God-pending!” handshake agreement.)

We discovered that I have polycystic ovaries.  Sometimes I launch an egg, sometimes I launch no egg, sometimes I launch multiple eggs!  I was off of birth control due to some issues with side effects, and my period was back to its previous formation.  But now knowing about my polycystic ovaries… no wonder my period is so crazy!  It made sense to me – I had always wondered if getting pregnant was a possibility for me since my reproductive system was such a mess.  Hmm, pun intended.

The most beautiful thing about pregnancy is that your period stops.  Like, you don’t have it!  (Some women still do… I’m so sorry about that!)  I loved my 7.5 months of pregnancy with the twins and I loved my 4.8 months of breastfeeding them for lots of reasons, but no period was one of them!  My 9 months of pregnancy with Nathaniel and my 9 months of breastfeeding him were also delightful for that reason.

And then my reproductive system went CRAZY.  When my period returned after Thanny-man was born, it returned with a vengeance.  (Truth:  I would NOT watch a Bruce Willis remake of this story, no matter how many gratuitous explosions were involved).  I continued having my heavy 8 days of menstruation, but they were even heavier than before.  And now, instead of every 35 days, I was having them every 28, then every 25, then every 24, and sometimes after only 21 days.

For the past 2.5 years, I have been bleeding excessively for 8 out of every 24 days on average.  That is one third, ONE THIRD, of my life!  On average, I am bleeding excessively for 1 out of every 3 days.  One out of every 3 hours… ONE THIRD.  I have just over a week of misery, then just over 2 weeks of a break, then I’m back to misery.  It is horrendous.  Last fall, when I became Zombie Jaime and was exhausted all the time and just fell over asleep in the middle of activities and was barely functioning?  Well, that was partially because I had sleep apnea and woke up gasping for breath every 3-5 minutes while sleeping.  We corrected that with my handy-dandy CPAP machine.  But my exhaustion, ESPECIALLY during a certain 8 days, continued.  I can barely function during my period – I’m so tired.  Not so much sleepy-tired, BONE-tired.  Everything is difficult and requires more effort than I can muster, for EIGHT DAYS.  Throw in 1 day of PMS beforehand and you have a miserable, mostly nonfunctional Jaime for 9 out of every 24 days.  Guess how much sex I get to have in those other 15 days?  Not enough.  Guess how much I can accomplish in those other 15 days?  Not enough to compensate for the time missed.  It sucks at every level.

So now we know that my iron levels are a disaster.  I am not anemic, but that is because I take iron supplements like it is my JOB.  My doctor and I are constantly checking my blood levels… I just can’t ingest/maintain iron fast enough to compensate for the amount I lose during my menorrhagic menstrual cycle.  And I can’t just take a ton of iron to compensate either… it is a delicate balance with disastrous effects at too low and too high.  I’m so tired of trying to get my health to a good place.  It is literally exhausting, and I want solutions that work!

After nearly a year of trying various things, both of my primary care doctors (family practice and OB/GYN) think that I would benefit GREATLY from an endometrial ablation.  An endometrial WHAT???

There are various ways to perform this procedure, but the main goal is to destroy the endometrium, the lining inside my uterus that sheds during each menstrual cycle.  My endometrium is an evil overlord trying to destroy me/my life, so the plan is to destroy it first!

My OB/GYN will first use a hysteroscope (yep, a telescope for the uterus) to look at what’s going on.  Then she will do a D + C (dilation and curettage) to get some sample tissue from my uterus lining.  The tissue will be biopsied and checked for symptoms of any current/future issues.  Then, and this is the crazy part, she will seal my cervix and spray hot saline water into my uterus to burn and cauterize the lining off.  (The seal is so that the burning hot saline doesn’t escape and burn anything else).  It is unlikely to grow back… which means that it is unlikely to shed… which means that IT IS UNLIKELY THAT I WILL CONTINUE LOSING ALL OF MY LIFE FORCE 8 OUT OF 24 DAYS OF MY LIFE!!!!!!

I admit it, I am EXCITED.  I am desperate to be functional.  I am desperate to not have blood rushing out of me at alarming rates that trigger fear inside the survival portions of my brain.  As my family practice doctor said with a smile, “Jaime, the fact that you are so relieved to have this procedure means that this is exactly the treatment we should give you!”  Seriously!  If I am excited to receive general anesthesia and get severe burns in my uterus at the hospital and need pain medication for the weeks following my procedure… if I am willing to be rendered nonfunctional by a procedure intended to help my body regain function… things must be pretty bad!  They are.  They ARE.  So bad.  And it is going to get better.  Forty percent of women who undergo endometrial ablation have no more periods.  CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE???  Forty percent of women have light-to-normal periods after ablation.  “Light-to-normal” sounds like a dream come true for me!  Normal was previously unattainable, so YES PLEASE!  That still counts as success.  And twenty percent of ablations are unsuccessful, and the lining grows back.  After that, the options are to let it be, go with a hystercetomy (remove the uterus), or get a total hysterectomy (remove the uterus and ovaries and tubing).

I choose to believe that I will be in the 80% of success stories.  No early menopause, no more warding off anemia, no more utter exhaustion.  (Truth:  I’ll still be exhausted.  But it will be JUST from chasing my kids now, not from sleep apnea and menorrhagia!  Squee!!!!)  I have a family history of endometriosis, where the endometrium cells bust out of their uterus confinement and start growing elsewhere in the abdomen – on other organs, on the peritoneum (abdominal lining), etc.  With endometriosis, the menstrual cycle causes shedding from all of that lining all over the abdomen and LOTS more blood is lost.  In case that is happening to me, my doctor will surgically remove all of that extra lining as well.  The goal is NO endometrium – not where it is supposed to be (my uterus) and definitely not where it is not supposed to be (anywhere else).

I need to address this last part for those of you who share our delight in the 3 Olson Tinies:  no more Olson Tinies will come out of me.  I have had plenty of time to accept that, as had Matt, but for those who are just now encountering this information, we understand that you might be disappointed.  If you are, that’s totally fine and we respect your response.  But if you tell us about your disappointment, I might want to punch you.  So be disappointed if you will, but please tell someone else. 🙂  Whenever people ask me if we hope to have more kids, I still plan to say “YES!”  I’m excited about opportunities to expand our family in the future!  That doesn’t change.  We lean more towards foster care or “intentional love heaped on children who need us within our circle of influence in the same way that people heaped intentional love on tiny me and accepted me into their families” than toward adoption, but we’ll see what God asks of us.

I am not grieved to close the pregnancy/birth chapter of my life.  I have loved it!  I’m am so grateful for THREE amazing children – I was never sure I could have any!  I don’t take that lightly – I know that so many people deeply desire that God would give them a child and for reasons we cannot understand, He has not provided.  I don’t have answers for them.  I still pray that He will hear the cries of their hearts and give them beyond what they hope for, just as He did for us with Zach, Rissa, and Nathaniel.  So we are thrilled with the gifts we have in our 3 children.  And we know there are plenty of other tinies out there already, so if God wants us to love some of them up, we’re happy to do that.

Now you know (some of) the details of my reproductive system.  More than you prefer to know perhaps, but not nearly all that I could have shared!  Be grateful for the details I didn’t describe! 🙂  My procedure is on Friday afternoon later this week.  And just in time… my last period was TEN days!  AUGH!  Never again!  Miss Kathie is handling the Tinies to give them a fun day on Friday and to allow Matt to be with me for my outpatient procedure and to drive me home.  Then he’ll babysit me for the weekend while I recover and I won’t be responsible for my children on my own until Monday, when I am well sedated with pain medication.  Hmm… that sounded better in my head than it looks on my screen.  Suffice it to say, my pain from the burns should be under control before I regain my Mommy roles!  I’m so ready to do this thing!

A Confession

Hey all — it’s me, Matt, taking over the blog for just one post. It’s public confession time. I should have done this long ago when my loving wife first began to show me my sin, but I’m a proud and stubborn person, and am very capable of lying to myself and convincing myself not to act.  Of course I tell myself that’s it’s not necessary, or that it won’t be appreciated, but it’s really just my cowardice at facing my own failures.  So here goes. Come along if you like.

I confess that I am an arrogant person. My introverted nature makes it very easy for me to hide this from most people, but those who know me well can attest to this, I’m sure. I may not be prone to public bragging, or showy acts of arrogance, but my heart is self-centered and proud. And though the years, I’ve lied to myself, convincing myself that I’m a humble person because I don’t appear proud like “those jerks” who talk themselves up or act like they’re God’s gift to mankind. Well, it needs to change, and although I know it will be a slow process of tearing down the false humility and focusing on others instead of myself, I hope that at least confessing this publicly can give me a head start to living in true humility.

It’s been a slow process of discovery, and I can’t claim any credit for it: that goes to my truest friend and companion, my beautiful wife, Jaime.  She loves me enough to point out the BS and show me my faults. And admittedly, sometimes I can’t stand her for that reason. She’s very good at zeroing in on the problems, and I would do well to listen often and listen sooner. But my pride often steps in and instead, and I get self-defensive or blow off what she’s telling me. Well, in this case, I want to talk about one particular area of pride for which I bear a huge burden of guilt.  This area of pride is a family sin that I want to lay before you today because of the damage it’s done to Jaime, and the damage it has done to my sister, Alana.  Earlier today, Alana posted this heart-wrenching post on Tumblr, and I realized that now would be a very good time to confess. Go read her story before we continue….

Okay, so I hope the connection is already becoming obvious, but let me spell this out clearly: I have spent my life judging the legitimacy of other people’s medical issues or suffering, and it is the height of misplaced pride and arrogance! I grew up in the Northern Minnesotan, Scandinavian culture of “toughing it out” and “dealing with it”, which generally means stuffing any discussion of feelings or pain, and carrying on without allowing anyone else to share the burden.  But as if that weren’t arrogant enough (believing that people shouldn’t bother others for support, or share their problems), I logically extended that into an attitude of constant judgment towards those who were suffering, trusting my “vast” intellect to tell me whether something was legitimately bad enough to complain about or not.

Well, as Jaime has pointed out to me before, and as Alana’s post reminded me today, I AM NOT OMNISCIENT! I am not inside another person, and I am not in any position to judge their experience! I don’t even have the legitimacy of some medical degree so that I can pretend to know what another person is experiencing medically, or the suffering they’re going through.  No, I am just an arrogant jerk who is perfectly happy to cast my judgment on my own sister, deciding for myself whether I believe the pain in her knees was as bad as she said, or whether the medical diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos was really the correct diagnosis.  Who do I think I am? What right do I have to decide whether someone’s pain is legit? Why the *BLEEP* is that even the place my arrogant brain goes when someone shares their hurt?!

And to make matters even worse, I’ve carried the same arrogance into my marriage, and made judgments about the severity of Jaime’s allergies. I know what allergies look like for me (runny nose and sneezing), and I know what triggers them, so somehow in my arrogant and foolish mind, that makes me the expert to judge whether Jaime really suffers the symptoms she tells me she suffers.  I am ashamed to admit that I arrogantly trusted my own “knowledge” about allergies over that of my wife and the medical professionals she’s worked with to manage them!  This is the depraved level my own pride and arrogance is capable of reaching. I am horrified that I am so self-centered that I didn’t take Jaime at her word when she shared how awful her allergies are: even while on daily allergy meds, Jaime still has horrible upper respiratory problems when allergens are present that make it hard to breathe or sleep or even think, and even short exposure often turns to a sinus infection. But rather than taking the truth to heart and acting accordingly to make our home a safe oasis for her (avoid dogs and cats, shower ASAP when we’ve been exposed, get clothes straight into the washer to avoid spreading allergens in our house), I selfishly whine about the extra work required. We’ve been married for 9 years, and together for 11, and yet still, in all that time, I haven’t once set myself aside and just chosen to believe Jaime when she tells me what needs to be done, with no complaining or rationalizing.  And I haven’t once prioritized making our home a safe haven for Jaime over making my life easier.

So, this is about to get personal: If you can’t take that, turn away now.

Alana, thank you for sharing such a painful and convicting post.  I confess that in my pride and arrogance and judgmental attitude, I have failed you as a brother for so many years. I confess that I wrote you off as a hypochondriac, and didn’t believe the pain you were experiencing. And I confess that my disbelief of you was unloving and prideful. It invalidated you as a person, and in that way, I directly contributed to the psychological pain you’ve experienced throughout the years as you’ve tried to reconcile the pain you’ve experienced with the message of disbelief you received. I confess that I arrogantly blamed your health problems on your weight, and that I judged you for not “trying harder” to improve. No matter what I told myself over the years, this was not “caring for you and wanting the best for you” — this was arrogance.  And although I didn’t directly comment to you about your weight, I apologize for judging you in my heart in this way. You are a beautiful child of God, and you’ve endured immense suffering that I will never know until I choose to listen to you. So I do choose to listen, and I love you. I’m so sorry.

Jaime, thank you for confronting me on my arrogance and pride — you are strong and courageous, and you are gracious towards me when I certainly don’t deserve it. I confess that in my arrogance and pride, I didn’t trust what you told me about your allergies. I have been arrogant and judgmental, trusting my own experience above yours. This self-centeredness is disrespectful, arrogant, and unloving towards you, the person I promised to love and cherish.  I confess that I have been defensive about my failures in this area, and have blown off just how damaging my treatment of you was.  I have been invalidating of your suffering, and there is no excuse for it. I confess that I often place my own comfort or convenience above your needs in this area, and I whine about the extra “burden” it puts on me instead of empathizing with the burden you bear and setting you and your safety higher than myself.  I apologize for being such a self-absorbed, whiny, arrogant, and judgmental jerk to you. I’m sorry that in all our time together, I still haven’t believed you fully, to the point where I take you at your word with no complaints and take the initiative to care for you and make our home safe.  You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me, even (and especially) when I don’t see it.  Thank you for being patient with me all these years that it’s taken me to finally understand and take your message to heart.  You’re a beautiful child of God, and I love you. And although I often fail, I choose to listen to you.  I love you, and I’m so sorry.