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the death of a computer

Hey everyone,

Sorry I haven’t been posting. My computer died. I have limited internet access on another computer, (it’s SUPER expensive over here) so I can’t really keep up with posting. I’ll have a lot of catching up to do when I get back home. I am so bummed about my computer “chucking a wobbly”. The trip has been great so far. I’ll upload as soon as I can, but it may be after I get home. Sorry.

Ash

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nighttime

I know I might sounds crazy, but it’s 3:15 in the morning and I am going to go photograph. I can’t sleep, partly because I am setting my sleep cycle for Australia, and partly because I have things on my mind. It’s too quiet in the house since everyone is asleep. I feel like a failure at photography. I don’t feel like I make very good photographs anymore. Sometimes when I look at other people’s work, it’s like watching someone who can do a killer workout without even making it look hard. Sometimes I wonder if I’m loosing my edge, if I ever had one to begin with. I’ve made a few cool photographs lately, but I don’t feel like I am doing anything worthwhile. I feel like I should be accomplishing something. It’s hard to even make myself go photograph. That’s literally what I have to do. I have to force myself to make a photograph. I love taking pictures. I love the end result when I get something good. I know that I am capable of making good images. I need some moral support or something. I just feel like this is sad. I am venting about creative stress and inactivity to whoever. I don’t even know if anyone reads any of this. I guess if the only thing it ever gets used for is for me to write down my thoughts, then OK. I’m gonna go make myself go take some pictures. Pray that I don’t chicken out. Or give up.
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my story – a broken, open heart – part V

I prayed and cried and read my way through the next week. I have never cried so hard, and for so long in my life. I can’t ever recall sobbing in front of my parents  up until this point. I didn’t care what anyone thought, I just wanted to let all of the sadness out. By the end of the week, my burning eyes didn’t have any more tears to cry. I had written down my thoughts and prepared myself to tell Heath the decision I had made. I called him on Saturday on my way to work and asked if we could talk that afternoon. We set a time and place to meet. When we got there, we found a place to sit on a picnic blanket. 

Before I could say anything of what I was prepared to say, Heath told me that his week had been filled with talking to and listening to the Lord. He said that it had been hard being apart and not hearing from me. He also said that the Lord had told him that he needed to give me up to Him. He said that if I needed to postpone the wedding, or even call it off, that he had to be OK with that and give it to the Lord. I couldn’t believe my ears. I had been expecting to hear that I was needed desperately and that he couldn’t live without me. Carefully and reluctantly I began to share my feelings with Heath. It was so hard, and the only way I got through it was the Lord carrying me in His arms. I told Heath that I couldn’t get married. It was so painful. I didn’t want to cause him any pain, but I knew that if I didn’t say no now, it would be too late later. I couldn’t go into a marriage unhappy and fearful. That wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

I drove home through tears that evening. I didn’t really know what I felt. It wasn’t a feeling I had ever had before. It was a mixed collection of emotions. I felt empty yet like a hole had been filled, resigned yet strong, sad but not devastated, and somehow hopeful. That night, I feel asleep void of tears. I didn’t cry any more after that day. Not for a while at least. I got in the car with my mom a few days later and embarked on a road trip that was the beginning of a journey to find my heart and my true love. It was the start of hearing God speak to me as I had never heard Him speak before and feeling His love like I had never been loved before.
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my story – yes, God yells – part VI

We got engaged the day after Thanksgiving. It was an evening hike to a beautiful spot in the mountains. We had actually started hiking back when he proposed in the middle of the trail under a full moon. I was excited. My dream was finally going to come true! It wouldn’t be too long before I would be married too, just like my younger sister. I was jealous of her being younger and achieving married status before me. It hadn’t been my plan for it to work out that way. I told myself I felt happy, but I wasn’t content. I felt like a big rock had been laid on my back. We started making frantic wedding plans. We ordered invitations and I picked out my colors. I had already found a dress. We set the date for 2/20/2010. My parents had been pretty quiet about the whole thing. They didn’t say much to me about our relationship anymore. I tried to seem joyful and make it look like I was the happiest I had ever been. I wanted that glow that people get when they are so in love they could almost fly. I didn’t feel like I could fly at all. I felt like I was drowning. Deep down I knew that something wasn’t right, but I still didn’t want to listen to what the Lord was saying. I knew He was trying to speak to me through the people around me and even in my own heart. The more I ignored Him, the quieter He became. I didn’t want to mess up my dream. Or my typographically beautiful wedding date.

Some close family friends came to visit at Christmas and stayed with us for three days. Every day, Heath would come up and hang out all day with all of us. We’d all play the Wii and eat and talk. I had to work some while they were there, but whenever I was home, Heath was there too. I wanted him to be there, but I couldn’t help but feel like he was being overprotective. I didn’t feel like I could joke around with the guys who were visiting or he’d be jealous. I also felt like I’d have to give an account for every conversation I had.I made myself play with the younger kids to take my mind off of how awkward everything was. I felt trapped. I felt like I was being overseen all of the time. Monitored. I tried to act like a loving fiancee and dote on him and show him affection like I was supposed to. I thought I was doing alright, and know I know that everyone saw right through it. The weight on my shoulders had gotten heavier. I was so scared, but I didn’t want to make anyone unhappy. Then, the Lord moved a mountain range and did some yelling.

The morning our friends were going to leave, their mom asked if she could talk to me before I left for work that morning. I said yes. I knew what she was going to say before we even sat down to talk. I knew that I needed her to say it. I was dreading it and longing to hear it simultaneously. She said she hadn’t been able to sleep the night before and said that the Lord had really pressed on her heart to share some things with me. She sat down next to me and said everything that I was feeling (unbeknownst to her), and it was as if I had been given permission to acknowledge my fears and feelings and to consider what I really wanted. After she had shared her thoughts and experiences through tears, she left my room. I knew at the moment she began talking that I couldn’t get married. I knew that it wasn’t right and that I wasn’t ready to be married. I had known, but I did not want to give up my plans for making me and everyone else “happy”. Her sharing her heart had been exactly what I needed to hear. I knew that I couldn’t make anyone happy no matter what I did or how hard I tried. I couldn’t make this work. I found her, tearful, on the back porch. I told her that I couldn’t get married. She seemed shocked that I had come to talk to her again, and that I was telling her that I didn’t want to get married. I told my parents how I felt before I left for work. I just knew that it wasn’t right for us to get married, and I didn’t want to risk keeping the best of what God had for Heath or for me from either of us.
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my story – jealousy and my own plans – part III

This new guy didn’t try to hit on me. He was a good looking guy and was nice. We started talking. Soon, he was coming to a small group at our house on Sundays and participating in the study we were going through. He and Amy and I began going on Sunday hikes. Not too long after that, we found that we liked each other more than just friends hiking every Sunday. He asked Mom and Dad if we could begin a courtship. I know that sounds antiquated, and I don’t particularly like the word either. The whole point is to get to know the other person’s strengths and flaws in developing your friendship, but also protecting that person’s heart at the same time. The relationship began wonderfully. Once again I felt beautiful and intriguing. But it was all a facade. Underneath it all, I was still trying to find my significance in the relationship I was in. I was still so insecure. It tuns out that we both were looking to each other for our significance and meaning.

After we had been together for just over a year, some big issues came up and I told Heath that I needed a break from the relationship. We didn’t talk for over a month. Then we began to write letters to each other. I knew that something was different in Heath. There was also a difference in me too. The Lord had shown me things that I had been either ignorant of or had ignored before. Eventually we got back together and I thought that everything was going to be all right. I still had my “significant other” to make me feel significant. We did things together a lot more since Amy had moved away to work at a camp full-time and our outdoorsy friends had moved away too. Most of the time, it was just us hanging out. I went to work for part of the summer at the camp where my sister was working. She had just gotten engaged and I was feeling very jealous. I didn’t want to admit that it was jealousy, but it was. She had been in a relationship for a short time compared to mine and was already getting engaged. She had the seal of approval from our parents and everyone was excited for her. I silently wished it were me. I had never expected her to get married before me. I tried to be happy with my relationship, but I wasn’t.

I got back from camp and Heath and I got a lot more serious in our relationship. I began thinking of how we should be meant to be together even though there were things that weren’t right. I tried to push aside things that bothered me about us. I tried to forget about things that worried me and that could (and probably would) cause problems if we got married. We started talking about getting married. My parents had told me some things before that they had noticed that were concerns to them, but I didn’t want to listen. If I did, I would have to admit that something wasn’t working. I’d have to admit that something was wrong. It would throw my plans off. I didn’t want to loose control of this relationship like I had the last one. I definitely didn’t want that. I convinced myself that I wanted to be married to Heath and that any dreams that I had previously had for my life before that, were not dreams that I had now. I spent so much energy trying to make everyone happy. I was giving up so much that I was passionate about. I have never felt so drained in my life. I didn’t even have the energy to have fun anymore. I still felt strangely empty and alone. But, this was what I “wanted” and if I just got engaged and then got married everyone would be happy for us. I would be happy… I thought.
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my story – high school years – part II

Then, I met James. He was a nice guy who was a cowboy type. He tutored me in math that first fall and then asked my parents if we could go out. We began a relationship that would last a year and a half. I had never had someone be so interested in me before. I loved it! Someone payed attention to the things that made me feel special and sought to be around me. Still, I was so naive and trusting. I looked to James for my significance and to tell me who I was. I was beautiful and interesting when I was with him. I felt stronger when I was with him. I liked being accepted by more people at school and treated like a cool person. The girls didn’t frown on me so much. He and I were a couple and we recognized as such. What I didn’t see was how false it all was. The people who liked me were his friends, not mine. They treated me well while we were dating. I never really knew any of them in depth. Our relationship was never one that was set to succeed. I didn’t realize how manipulative he was and how dependent I was on him for affection and meaning until after our relationship ended. We broke up shortly after he graduated. It was a very painful breakup and I never really had closure to the relationship with the particular way that it ended. The “friends” that had come with the relationship were gone and loneliness overtook my “self-guided” heart again.

Fast forward through leaving the college prep school and finishing high-school at a local community college. I still had Amy as my constant, unwavering friend and companion. She and I grew closer as we got older. I still didn’t have any consistent friends besides her. I met some people at the school I was going to, but they didn’t ever develop into friendships. The same was true at church. I had outgrown the youth group and just floated through an awkward stage of not fitting into any one particular place there. 

Eventually, a college/career group started at our church and I made some friends there. I had fun. I got to know the people there a bit and we met on Fridays to hang out and play games and eat dinner. I was the life of the party. Being a social butterfly with my peers was something I had never been before. People were excited to see me. I cracked jokes and they laughed. I was silly and they got a kick out of it. The last time I had been in a group of friends like that was as a kid before we had moved. From the time I began coming to the college/career group and going to the college, I had had guys hitting on me. At school, it was mostly weird/mental/odd types of guys. I even had some guys at the church group hitting on me. I liked the attention, but I had no idea how dangerous it was. So I flirted. One Friday at a Halloween party, a new guy showed up with one of the guys who I had been trying to avoid. That’s the night I met Heath. 
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my story – the beginning – part I

Sometimes I feel aimless. A wandering soul that can’t settle down to land on one place for long, or sometimes can’t even decide where to land at all. My only redemption and strength has been Jesus. The Holy Spirit is my ultimate comfort now. I am not saying that I don’t feel lonely anymore or that I don’t have fears, but I can rest in Him now.

My journey has been a strange path of loneliness in the midst of people. As a child I quietly struggled with anxiety and quietly dealt with it. I am not sure why or how it was onset. I moved with my family to Arizona when I was 12. My sister and I were the best and only friends we had for a while after moving here. Soon though, we began to have classes with other kids our age through co-ops and did things like go ice skating and have pool parties. We found a church family to be a part of and have remained part of that family for about nine years now. I remember being the new kid. I wore cowboy boots and jeans and my hat until I began to realize that the kids around me saw it as a bit odd. I was around “city kids” now. No more wrangling things around outside and getting a little dirty now and then. These kids were always dressed in style with clothes with well-known labels and they had cute haircuts. This was especially true in my youth group. Most of them went to the same Christian school and had common friends. There were lots of inside jokes that I didn’t understand and there was gossip about teachers who I didn’t know. I would literally stand on the outside of their circle and listen and wish that I could be a part of the conversation. Sometimes I’d get that stiff feeling of anxiety and fear in the middle of my stomach. I was desperate for community with someone. There was one time in particular where I tried to “break into” this circle of people and when I did, I said something that made no sense at all. Now I don’t kid around when I say it made no sense. I really said something as dumb/weird/odd as “the chickens flew through a castle”. They all looked at me in silence. And then I left.

It was a major moment in my life. I have had recurring dreams of this same scene played over and over again. I was so ashamed. I felt so inadequate and so out of place. I felt like I was not good enough to know how to communicate and survive in a place with peers my own age who were part of the normal, average, school kids crowd. There were things that were so common to them that I had never heard of. They talked about songs they liked, movies they had seen, and stuff on YouTube. It was all just stupid stuff that you yak about with your friends. On one hand, I didn’t want to be like everyone else. I knew that some things that they watched or did were below the standards I had set for myself. On the other hand, I felt like they looked at me like I was from a different species. I guess I was in a sense. I wanted to be a part of a group and I wanted to belong. But, I began to believe the lie that I was an outsider and always would be.

A few years later, my parents and I decided that I should try a college prep school close to where we live. I had been home-schooled up until this point in my life. I was just shy of 16. My “first day of school” was as a Sophomore. I spent a year and a half exceeding at my studies and going with the social flow. I wasn’t a social butterfly with my peers at all. I got along better with my teachers. I enjoyed talking to them and hearing what they had to say. Because I respected them and payed attention, I got called a kiss-ass on more than one occasion. I was so naive and so ignorant of the dog-eat-dog, catty mess of school cliques and politics. I was so trusting and just wanted to be approved of. I thought that if I did my best, I would be. I’d soon painfully find that that wasn’t true.


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