Apr 30, 2005

My makeover

Ok, well I just posted a recent pic of me here and I don't want to be toooooo conceited, LOL, although I know it somewhat is to post pics of yourself. BUT...I've had such a low self esteem for much of my life despite being loved by many and being told I was beautiful...I think recently I just started to believe it:)

But anyway, here's a photo of me last night after my makeover (JUST makeup...Estée Lauder). It doesn't look nearly as cool in the photograph, because the makeup artist from New York did this dramatic smoky eye effect that totally brought out the almond shape in my eyes..something I never really saw before. I was psyched to get to Milwaukee and spend the night out with Jess and Laurie, but the makeover took too long and I didn't get out of there until 8:30!! (2 hours!!) But the woman who just moved here and works for Estée Lauder has taken a big liking to me, and says she knows no one here and would love to hang out and shop and all that:) So that's cool...making a new friend always is!

Anyway - Click here to view the photo.

Apr 25, 2005

A quote

La duda en el amor acaba por hacer dudar de todo.

--- Henri Frédéric Amiel

For those of you who do not know Spanish, this means:

Doubt in love only ends in making one doubt everything.

Sad, but oh so very true. Does this remind you of a recent example in my life??

Yeah, me too.


Sometimes I think I just may be. Well back in 96 my psychiatrist told me I was slightly borderline, but I exibited so much common sense and such a clear understanding of what motivates me, why I react the way I do, my personal psychological and biological make-up -- well he just couldn't push me over that line:) The reason I was borderline, he said, was simply because of the extremes my emotions go to, whether they be happy, sad, angry, frustrated, etc.. Well, this was before I started the Zoloft. I still go to the extremes more than a "normal" person, if you can actually define anyone as normal -- but then again, anyone who really thinks they are "normal" are just proving my point. But we're human, and we need some sort of measurement system for EVERYTHING in order to function on this earth without going mad :) So using a biological average, this is how it was determined that I was borderline.

Of course, my life IS truly a rollercoaster. I can never complain that it is boring! Things are happening all the time, although it seems at least 70% of these occurrences usually are what I would consider negative. But I try to see the positive of every situation even when I'm in the middle of it. It helps me to get through it, and realize that usually these trials are for my own good, and even making stupid mistakes will in the end prove fruitful if I am truly humble enough to learn from them and forgive myself for them.

But...why am I droning on about this?? Because my emotions have been so stretched this past week. Right now, for instance, I'm sad...I'm sad because I'm losing and might potentially lose even more people that I love so much. My Uncle Mike is going through surgery today...and it's not the bypass surgery he probably needs. But his heart is too weak to do that so they are putting a pacemaker in for now, and that surgery in itself can cause too much stress and cause him to have a stroke. I worry, and I pray, because I love him sooooo much. He is everything to me, he truly is.

Also, Tara is moving out this weekend, and I truly have enjoyed rooming with her. Things seemed to have changed since the last time we lived together..not that it was bad, mind you, but I think the two of us have more in common now than we did at that time. In less than a month, Laurie will be leaving. As it is, the vast majority of my weekends until June 1st will be spent alone...well I mean I'll be the only person in the duplex!! Me, Beau and Vader (oh and Nemo!). Sometimes I love having the house all to myself, but it soon grows lonesome. I guess I'm just going to have to use my new assertiveness to my advantage and really try to make new friends as well as go out with my old and trusted ones.

But I woke up this morning and suddenly realized how it is all about to change...and I'm depressed because I was so hoping to get that job at UNR and finally get out of Madison and the slump I'm in. I have a good job here, and it's a beautiful city, but like I've mentioned so many times before, I just don't belong here anymore...I need to move on. I need to start a new career. But I still have no idea how to do this, especially since what seemed to be the perfect solution dematerialized on me.

Then there's the way I keep changing my mind about going out with this guy who I (kinda) know. It would totally be non-commital, and at this point in my life that is what I want..what I need...because frankly, there is no one around here (Madison) with whom I could even start a serious relationship with...and on top of that, I'm still hurting over my previous one. While I got to the point where I feel like I don't care (and I still don't hate Jeremy)...I think it's more a protection or wall I've built rather than actually being the truth. It's funny and yet sad at the same time how we as humans can not only lie to others, but lie to ourselves so much that we start to actually believe the lie and are wholly convinced that the real truth is in fact the distorted reality. Why do we do this? Usually fear or self-preservation, or sometimes, we do it to protect others from ourselves. But I've never been able to do this to such a scale that I've been able to convince myself that true was false and false was true, or that good was evil and evil was good. I can pretend for quite a long time, but I can never deny the nagging in the back of my mind of what I know is true. I'm too self-aware, as my psychiatrist said. I'm too self-aware and too in tune with the Spirit to have that happen. But this doesn't mean that I don't try, LOL.

But anyway, I want to go out with him. He's hot, he's smart, and he's an amazingly talented artist and graphic designer. But we come from completely different worlds, have completely different belief systems, and I think we are both looking at this potential whatever-you-want-to-call-it (friendship with benefits???) quite differently, even though the goal is the same. I just know I want to do the right thing, but I'm soooo tired of being so strong and courageous...I'm sooo tired of feeling so utterly alone simply because I actually stick to my beliefs and knowledge of what I know is true...and I'm so tired of thinking every Friday night "I'm too attractive and too nice to be stuck here at home!!" Yet I really don't like parties, I hate bars, I don't smoke or drink, I don't believe in premarital sex...I mean...I'm so drastically different from the majority of people in my age bracket (and HEY, I'm not saying I'm better....I'm just different) that I just don't know where I fit in. Yes, I feel quite more comfortable with other Mormons, but even they tend to be so different from me...in the opposite direction that many non-members are. So what is a girl like me to do??? I guess make a damn decision and just go with it! I really don't know the consequences of such an action, all I know is I don't want to do the wrong thing, but I can't live my life being afraid of always doing the wrong thing (but at the same time, I can't live my life just blindingly jumping into decisions and opportunities without thinking about them and making a correct judgment call on whether they are good for me or not!).

I guess I'm just tired of thinking about it. I just want to enjoy myself, I just want to be happy, and I just want to have more people in my life. I'm tired of being shy and inhibited, meek and quiet. I'm tired of spending so much time at home. I'm tired of even the activities and hobbies that I have and enjoy, because they are solitary in nature.

I'm just tired of a lot of things, and I know I need to make changes. But for the first time in my life, I do not know how.

Apr 23, 2005

It's about damn time!

I think I've finally realized life is about enjoying it, and not being hung up on the past. I will admit that while I've been a little out of character these past few weeks (well ok...A LOT, extremely flirtatious and suddenly a LOT more social)...well, I will admit that I think this is definitely not a bad thing! :D After talking to my sister in regards to her moving plans, her engagement, and all that, and being a little...or should I say WAY TOO upset with her, I realized that I'm just being a fool. Sure, I've always known about free agency and I would fight to the death to defend the freedoms and liberties of all people on this earth, I guess I still got hung up on people making what I consider bad decisions. Well, it's not my life..and I shouldn't care. Besides, I have to deal with making my own good and bad decisions, n'est pas? That's enough to worry about :)

So I recently discovered the persuasive power of pigtails. Hmmm, what do you think??

So I'm at this point where I am not actively seeking a serious relationship. I just want to date a LOT and have fun, for once in my life:) Life is too short to be so serious and opinionated. There are so many fantastic people out there who are just waiting to be met, to be talked to, and to perhaps become great friends :)

Anyhoo, I offered my services to Jaime, to help him find a great paying job so he can drive around in a black ferarri and buy me one as well :D He's almost done with school and will have a master's (from France) in Telecommunications Engineering with a business degree in marketing theory for telecommunications services. While for some odd reason Spain won't accept his French degree and is asking him to complete his Spanish master's, I was telling him how ridiculous that was, and while I don't blame him for wanting to stay in Valencia (hell, I love that city and wish I could return myself!!) he'd make a LOT more money here in the U.S. Besides, with his unique combination of education, experience, and his ability to speak 5 languages (is it up to 6 now?? I don't know but I know he was studying Japanese), he could well be making 6 figures -- especially if he starts looking on the west coast.

So I said I'd help, and I'd translate his curriculum vitae into an American-formatted resumé. I love being able to help out my friends and family...and it helps me forget about being so damn self-involved:)

Well, I have nothing to do today and it is pure bliss!! I do want to start sorting through all my clothes and shoes, and the rest of my junk so that I can get ready to have a garage sale and get rid of the stuff I don't need. I want to get this place in tip-top shape before Gilly moves in.

Well, not much else to say, so I'll close for now. Be back later....:)

Apr 20, 2005

C.S. Lewis - a genius

Never have I NOT liked something that C.S. Lewis has said in his many fiction and non-fiction books and writings. One of my favorite quotes by him is:

Jesus Christ is the only complete Realist.

It makes you think, doesn't it? But I came across yet another quote in a longer talk about obedience, namely asking the question "if we obey only for a promise of reward, does that make obedience to the gospel a mercenary affair?" Reward is certainly a better motive to obey than fear...but does it make it mercenary??

I guess it's just like the age-old question: is charity a selfish act -- because we feel good when we help each other, that being our "reward"??

C. S. Lewis says this regarding the natural, consummating reward for obedience to the commandments of God:

"There are different kinds of rewards. There is the reward which has no natural connection with the things you do to earn it and is quite foreign to the desires that ought to accompany those things. Money is not the natural reward of love; that is why we call a man mercenary if he marries a woman for the sake of her money. But marriage is the proper reward for a real love, and he is not mercenary for desiring it. A general who fights well in order to get a peerage is mercenary; a general who fights for victory is not, victory being the proper reward of battle as marriage is the proper reward of love. The proper rewards are not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in consummation. There is also a third case, which is more complicated. An enjoyment of Greek poetry is certainly a proper, and not a mercenary, reward for learning Greek; but only those who have reached the stage of enjoying Greek poetry can tell from their own experience that this is so. The schoolboy beginning Greek grammar cannot look forward to his adult enjoyment of Sophocles as a lover looks forward to marriage or a general to victory. He has to begin by working for marks, or to escape punishment, or to please his parents, or, at best, in the hope of a future good which he cannot at present imagine or desire. His position, therefore, bears a certain resemblance to that of the mercenary; the reward he is going to get will, in actual fact, be a natural or proper reward, but he will not know that till he has got it. Of course, he gets it gradually; enjoyment creeps in upon the mere drudgery, and nobody could point to a day or an hour when the one ceased and the other began. But it is just insofar as he approaches the reward that he becomes able to desire it for its own sake; indeed, the power of so desiring it is itself a preliminary reward. The Christian, in relation to heaven, is in much the same position as this schoolboy. Those who have attained everlasting life in the vision of God doubtless know very well that it is no mere bribe, but the very consummation of their earthly discipleship; but we who have not yet attained it cannot know this in the same way, and cannot even begin to know it at all except by continuing to obey and finding the first reward of our obedience in our increasing power to desire the ultimate reward. Just in proportion as the desire grows, our fear least it should be a mercenary desire will die away and finally be recognized as an absurdity. But probably this will not, for most of us, happen in a day; poetry replaces grammar, gospel replaces law, longing transforms obedience, as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship."

Apr 18, 2005

And I thought it couldn't get any worse

1) My uncle is in critical condition at the Mayo clinic. He has two completely clogged arteries and they won't do bypass surgery on him. All they will do is give him a pacemaker so that he can live out the remainder of his life.

My uncle is the only man in my life that worthily holds the priesthood, the only man who was truly a father to me. He is the only man who has been a righteous example to my family, with love unfeigning, the only man who truly understands the universal truths that exist. And he is going to be taken from us.

2) I found out some other very distressing information. I know the person involved doesn't understand why his/her actions have such a profound effect upon me, but it is quite simple, really. I love this person with my entire being. And whether we like it or not, our life's choices affect those around us, especially those who love us and are concerned for us, namely for our happiness and our welfare. And we may not want to be examples to others, but frankly, we do not have a choice in the matter. We are constantly being watched by everyone we meet. The influence we have on others is striking, and so much deeper than we would like to believe. But it is true, and because this is human nature, we have to constantly remind ourselves how we affect others.

3) I have no idea how I am going to find an extra $200 for rent.

4) I am stuck in Madison for who knows how long.

But it still can be worse.

Apr 14, 2005

Startling realization

I just realized the answers to some of the questions I posed in my 2nd to last blog. Ironically, I found them when I came across a talk I had prepared a few years ago concerning the divine role of a woman in today's society.

To help another human being reach one’s celestial potential is part of the divine mission of woman. As mother, teacher, or nurturing saint, she molds living clay to the shape of her hopes. In partnership with God, her divine mission is to help spirits live and souls be lifted. This is the measure of her creation. It is ennobling, edifying, and exalting.

Apr 12, 2005

I can't sleep. I decided to go back a few years and start re-reading my blog, to see how much I've changed. I came across this paragraph from December 2003, and the tears immediately started rushing down my cheeks. How very naive and very little did I realize that the pain was only beginning.

"How could I have possibly guessed that Heavenly Father allowed me to suffer so much pain and heartache over the past several years only to find someone who surpassed all my expectations? Sometimes I feel so unworthy of him and his love, but I know that we are meant to be together. He has reminded me that I am desirable, that I am beautiful, that I am a special daughter of God...one who God loves very much...he loves me so much, with all of his soul..and I never thought I'd ever find that. And most importantly, his love to follow the Lord is the greatest blessing I can imagine. He fasted for two days to receive the answer that we were to be married. He is so honest and so forthright...and I love the way he flirts and makes me feel like I am truly a woman. He is such a beautiful man, inside and out, and I am just flabbergasted that the Lord has been so mindful of me."

I've have become so calloused in the past few weeks, and I look at myself in the mirror and don't recognize the woman staring back. I have barely eaten anything, and while yes I keep losing weight, this is not what I'm talking about. Suddenly when I look at myself, I see the woman I could become if I continue to yield to temptation. Suddenly it's all very real; the weak, lost, miserable soul that could be me if I'm not careful. I find myself pleading and begging God to help me find the strength to overcome. I am grateful that each week I find strength and testimony in preparing my lessons. I'm grateful that each month I get up to bear my testimony even when I tell myself I WILL ABSOLUTELY NOT do it this month. I'm grateful that when I do yield to temptation, especially when I don't even feel sorry for it, I immediately recognize this as the Devil's doing; convincing me that my carnal nature is "who I am" and "natural" and that this is why "I don't feel remorse." I'm grateful that when this happens I immediately turn to my scriptures, or the conference talks of our Prophets, seers and revelators, or to my journal where my memories of blessings, of personal revelation, and of hope remind me of what I am working towards and who I am. I'm grateful that so far, even though I keep falling...falling...and feeling so disgusting and unworthy, that I still know God loves me, and that He believes my soul to be worth saving. I am grateful to see His hand in my life, and the miracles of how He is probably doing more than he usually would to protect me from my greatest weaknesses and from getting into situations that would only end in heartache and utter sorrow. I do see His Hand in the many failed attempts I've made to get together for a completely non-commital relationship with someone who I barely know. I don't know why suddenly all these men are in my life -- ranging from upstanding gentlement to the more vulgar and selfish. But suddenly, I am this desirable woman, this etheral beauty, this angel of innocence that screams for release...I don't know why or how this has happened, but it's getting old very quickly. Suddenly I find myself with this amazing power and control over men and especially over their appetites and desires. At first I found this immensely satisfying, but as time goes by the more I realize how base and vulgar it really is. That's not what I'm about! It is beneath who I am, yet I continue following these temptations. What on earth is wrong with me?? I keep pleading for strength. I know that I cannot overcome my weaknesses alone. I know that I must rely on the Savior. But it keeps getting harder and harder and I am so weary and so tired of being so alert and so in control that I just want release from it all. Yet I know this is something I must not do. Not only for my sake, but yes....for the sake of my unborn children.

Well, I will leave with a poem I have shared on numerous occasions. It's entitled "Love's Risk". I think it's entirely appropriate considering what I've been reading of my own writing, how I've been feeling, and of course, in dedication to my sister's official engagement to a certain Mr. Aaron Ault, who himself brought tears to my eyes as I watched his video of his proposal to my little sister at a lovely restaurant in Italy, the presentation of an absolutely stunning diamond ring, and then the intensely sincere and beautifully written words he expressed in his proposal love letter to her. While yes, I am jealous beyond belief, I am soooo happy for both of them and I am soooo happy that she has found a true gem. They both risked love, and they both now know that yes, it really is the only risk worth taking.

Love's Risk

There is a risk involved in everything
Every time you share a smile
Every time you shed a tear
You are opening yourself up to hurt.

Some people tread slowly through life,
Avoiding the closeness risk brings,
Side-stepping the things they can't understand
Turning away from those who care too much-
Those who care too long,
Those who hold too tightly.

There is never an easy way to love
You can not approach it cautiously
It will not wait for you to arm yourself.
It does not care if you turn away
It is everywhere, it is everything.

Love is the greatest of all risks.
It is not reliable, it is not cautious,
It is not sympathetic
It is unprejudiced and merciliess.
It strikes the strongest of mind,
And brings them to their knees in one blow.

Even in the best of times, love hurts.
It hurts to need, it hurts to belong,
It hurts to be the other part of someone else,
Without either of your consent.
But, from the moment it overtakes you,
It hurts worse to be all alone.

The risk of love never depletes;
It grows stronger and more dangerous with time.
But, it's in the total surrender of all defense,
That we, no matter weak or strong,
No matter willing or captive,
No matter what, we truly experience love.

Despite the many things love is not,
Outweighing it all are the things that love is.
Love is surrender without a loss.
It is a gift without the cost.
It consumes your every thought & desire,
Every breath you take.
It is the fire that fuels you
To do more than pass through life;
It urges you, instead, to live.

No matter the outcome, having felt love,
You will never be the same.
It may scar your heart & soul
And Leave you only memories of forever.
Or, it may cause every day of your life
To feel like there is no need for tomorrow.
But, love is worth it. It is worth the risk...
For in all of life,
Love is truly the only risk worth taking.

Apr 6, 2005

I just want to give up....

I can't seem to fight off the despair. I do not know what to do with myself or my life. And I hate it, because I know how blessed I am and how lucky I am to have the life I have, to have the family I have, and to have the knowledge that I have. Yet, while I despair about my physical infirmities and about my lack of direction and guidance, most of it is about things that have little or nothing to do with me. I just cannot understand why Jeremy has been given the life he has. It has been so difficult and so incomprehensible...I do not believe I could have made it through as far as he has and in as good of shape. I know he's not in good shape at all, but at least he's surviving. I do not know how he does it, either.

I have to fight off the sadness and anger that rises in my throat at the thought of the people who have hurt him so much over the years. I know it's not my problem, but I cannot help it. While I am moving on as best as I can, and will not contact him again, I still despair for him. I keep asking God why he would allow such calamities to enter into the life of one of His sons. Why? And why did He ask me to love this young man who had very little hope of success?? Why would God want me to care so much about Jeremy? Why would He grant me the gift of forgiveness and unconditional love towards a man who has hurt me more than everyone in the past who has ever hurt me -- COMBINED? Why would God give me insight into the little known facts of Jeremy's past and present, when there is NOTHING I CAN DO??? I made a promise to Jeremy and I'm not going to break it. Jeremy only wants to destroy me. I know he hates me because of my faith and because of my strength. I know he sees me as "holier than thou" and resents the fact that I keep trying to lead a good life. I know he doesn't believe I could understand or empathize with him one bit because I HAVE been so blessed in the ways he has suffered needlessly, for instance, in the wonderful family that I have. I know he has convinced himself that I cling to my religion because it is "what I know", but what he doesn't realize is that my religion is "what I know" only because I have made it to be just that! If I lived my life being "who I am", I would be a sex-addicted alcoholic always on the verge of suicide, incapable of controlling my anger and other intense emotions and instead choosing to drown out my problems in meaningless relationships and in booze. THAT IS WHO I AM!!!! At my very carnal core, that is the woman that I am. I am weak, I have a sex drive that no one would even believe a woman was capable of posessing and such a craving for love that I know I would fall erroneously into the idea that sex WAS love, and I have such an intense emotional nature that the only way I could possibly escape it would be by getting drunk -- and not socially, mind you -- I would be the kind that would do it alone in my own home.

I just don't understand, though. I don't understand why I am in such a despairing state. I have such rich blessings in my life, and the gospel has only helped me to rise above my carnal nature and develop the true part of who I am, namely, my spiritual being. THIS is the part of me that stands forth and faces the world, even though every now and then my carnal nature gets the best of me (especially lately). But the gospel of Jesus Christ has been such a redeeming factor in my life and has saved me from the hell that my life would have otherwise become. How can I know this without ever having abandoned the gospel? I know through inspiration, through study, through prayer, and through an honest, raw look at myself and finally an acceptance of all that I am. THIS IS HOW I KNOW. Yet I still find myself willing and contemplating succombing to carnal desires as I sit here and despair over a young man who hates me and wants to destroy me. Yet I cannot hate him; it's impossible for me to do so. I just pray for him and plead with Heavenly Father to give him mercy -- to give him rest, before it is too late.

Yet during one of my prayers, an unsettling thought came to me. Heavenly Father HAS given Jeremy a means of escape. And He's probably done it more than a few dozen times. But one of those was me. In turn, Jeremy was to help ME overcome my own personal problems and provide for me what I too had been begging Heavenly Father to grant me. Jeremy prayed for a helpmeet and for love, for a woman who would love him no matter what -- unconditionally, who would know all about him and his life's challenges and his weaknesses and would love him all the more for them and because of his desire to escape his own carnal nature. He specifically asked for this, and he was given it. But he still rejected that gift. So what more can I plead for God to give this young man? He has had so many opportunities; he has had such utter despair in his life and so many experiences that have compelled him to be humble and realize the Hand of God in his life, and to realize the truth. Yet despite all of this, he has still chosen to rebel against God and against the very people who love him so much. He has abandoned the only real family he has, only because his "mother" acted as any mother would. Parents do this; and we get angry with them. But they do it because they love us, not because they want to destroy us. Heck, my own aunt called the cops ON ME several years ago after I had a nervous breakdown and started a fist fight with my own mother! I thought I would never be able to forgive her; especially considering how the people at church knew all about it too, because several of them saw me enter the hospital accompanied by two policemen. Yet I did forgive her, because I knew she loved me. Yeah maybe part of it was a sense of power or a sense of disgust at what I had become, but she still loved me, and it is that knowledge that enabled me to forgive her.

I sit here on my bed, in my third day missing from work, my body completely falling apart, contemplating the mistakes I have made over the past few weeks and even having to still push down the temptations that arise within me and beg for release. How much easier it would be to deny the truth and to just succomb. I have on a few occasions already, as mentioned previously...but there is something...something that still buoys me up; there is still a glimmer of hope that encourages me to not give up and tells me that my life has a purpose and meaning, and that someday I will understand why I was meant to go through all of this, and especially to go through the heart-wrenching process of loving a young man who would in the end only turn on me and consider me one of his number one enemies. I do not understand, but I know I must continue on and not give up on myself or my life...or my purpose and mission. I have no idea what the future holds for me and I am scared out of my mind, but that hope is still there. That faith is still there, even if it is surrounded by doubts and uncertainty. And it's there because of my Redeemer and Savior -- because He, too, refuses to give up on me. I may feel completely alone and abandoned, and the only thing I want to do right now is cry myself to sleep in the arms of a man who will finally love me, but at this point, I know that while I still have to wait for a young man who is strong enough and willing enough to work for me, as I have for him, I do know that I am not alone, and that I can and am held in the arms of my Savior and Elder Brother, and that He has always loved me and always will. And the temporal and eternal blessing of a husband and family will someday be mine if I only continue to obey and have faith.

Apr 5, 2005

Continuing with the stupid theme

Yeah well, I won't write much because I am so utterly sick right now. It started last Wednesday on the way to New York, and now it's worse than ever. While I WAS miraculously healed of all my other ailments (I finally went to the NYC temple last Friday, after much deliberation, and a few phone calls -- and was surprised to learn that the stake center is attached to the temple and there were two brethren who offered me a blessing for the sick -- and I was healed of every infirmity except my ears). But yes, my sinus/ear pressure problem is back in full force, and is making me miserable. Being in the car or in the rain makes matters even worse. It feels like there are these big air pockets in my inner ear, and no popping or blowing can get rid of them. It's cyclic; sometimes it's ok, sometimes it's worse in the left ear, sometimes it's worse in the right. But no matter what, there are no doctors or specialists who seem to be able to help me. I have been pleading and praying to find a good ENT specialist who could finally cure me of this mysterious unknown chronic illness. I have been promised in three blessings over the past three years that through my faith and through the help from professionals, I would be healed. Yet I guess the time is not yet, because my recent blessings have told me to be patient, and that my trials and afflictions are for my good. And man, this is just the icing on the bitter cake. Everything that has happened this month has just culminated to this point, and I have done some pretty amazingly stupid things and made really stupid choices.

Somehow Jeremy's denial of God and the church has had such an influence on me. Like I said in an earlier post, I went through a period of doubt and questioning of my own; I felt that literal darkness fall upon me and cast its shadow of despair and doom. Yet I prevailed; I went to the temple, received an amazing witness (again of which I will not get into because of its sacredness) and continued along the path I was meant for.

Yet despite all this, I still ended up succombing to temptations that I had previously believed I had overcome. I also did a few things I never thought I would ever do, and yes, this is despite the amazing testimony and zeal to share the truth that I have recently found within myself. Satan is working so hard on me and trying to get me to falter wherever he can. While what I did last week was by no means giant in nature, it was just a simple thing, with what I thought was a very good reason/excuse...

Well ok I will admit it because I am human. I was so desperate to relax my body and to relieve it from the stress that had overcome it (a delayed reaction to the month's events) that I was literally trying everything I could. I took one and a half of my anti-depressant (don't worry folks, I have a prescription for that amount), I tried aromatherapy, a massager on my neck..a hot shower, lots of sleep...but all to no avail. The muscles in my neck and head were pounding and my feet were screaming in pain. What could I do?

So I went to Planet Hollywood for lunch and I ordered a mixed drink. I will admit that even the first sip had a profound effect on me. Suddenly my tummy was warm and fuzzy. But unlike that nice kind of warm and fuzzy you feel when you are in the arms of a loved one, or holding a child close to your heart as you rock him, or listening to the gentle purr of your favorite feline as you pet him or her...this was different. Yet it was completely my decision to try to use alcohol for medicinal purposes. For this reason I knew it wasn't a grave sin, yet after it all I still realized how ridiculous it was. Drinking the alcohol in and of itself wasn't what was ridiculous -- it was the fact that I thought it would actually help me; that breaking a covenant, however small it may be, in a desperate attempt to relax -- why did I actually think it would work?? All it did was get me tipsy. Sure it relaxed my mind...but my body still hurt. And on top of the hurt was this uncomfortable warmth that spread throughout my body and this fuzziness of mind. After I realized that it hadn't worked at all, I felt too unworthy to go to the temple as I had previously planned. After all, I had just drank down a glass of alcohol.

But luckily for me, Jess and I had a big argument and I stormed out of the store after cussing at her. Why do I say this was lucky? Because if it hadn't happened, I don't think I would have been so determined to fix what was broken within me. I know she too says she learned something about herself and for that reason was grateful for the fight...but I realized that I did, too. While I was perfectly comfortable being on my own in New York City, and was more than willing to pay for a one-way ticket back to Madison, I realized after storming 10 blocks in high heels that would be stolen only hours later, that my ridiculous ideas that the things of the world, whether they be a man's desire for me, that physical attraction and lust that results from flirting, or simply a glass of alcohol -- I realized this ideas that I had so easily succombed to were only making me more miserable. While I felt completely unworthy to enter that holy temple, I realized I needed to then more than ever. I realized that I had lost touch with God, and had lost my grasp of reality -- I had forgotten who I was and in turn I had forgotten Him and His love for me. I had forgotten what the Atonement was about. But by gads, as I rode in that taxi the 20 blocks it took me to the Manhattan temple, I was determined to find what I had lost. I knew I had just barely lost it; and that my rebellion and belligerence weren't horrendous in nature...I also knew that if I continued down that road, however, that those "small" rebellions would turn into things that were greater. For once I was grateful for the fact that I was alone, with no male companion, and I was grateful for the infirmities that had come over me. Maybe this gratitude didn't last a long time, but it lasted long enough to get me to where I needed to go.

And as soon as I entered that temple, peace literally bound up my broken, confused and contrite heart. Sure, I could still hear the subway rumbling below its floors, and I knew the big city was just outside its doors, ready to swallow me up if I let it; but here I found myself in a sanctuary. I realized that my spirit craved that peace more than my body craved for the rest and relaxation that I wasn't able to give it. My spirit needed healing before I could heal my body and before I could heal it from some of its renewed or newly found genetic addictions. While I did not have my temple recommend with me, I was able to speak with the temple president who found two brethren in the stake center who offered to help. Tears of gratitude cascaded down my cheeks as they warmly embraced my hands and called me "sister". While yes, there are plenty of people in the church who have made my life and the lives of people I know and love literally hell, it still means so much to know that wherever I am, be it in Spain, in Wisconsin, in Utah, or in New York City, I could find family -- I could find people who would love me without knowing me, and who would help me in any way they could. What peace it brought upon my heart to know that I can call upon that great priesthood no matter where I am, and seek its healing powers for both my spirit and my body. How grateful and at peace I was to remember that I belonged to the only church on this earth that had the full authority to hold that sacred priesthood; to know that this church was based upon the primitive church that Christ established here on the earth around 2000 years ago. All my fears were wiped away as those hands were placed on my head and I was told that I would be healed enough to do what I needed to do, and to accomplish what I needed to accomplish, but only through my faith and the obedience to the commandments of God. I knew then that the minute I stood up, the chafing would disappear and my feet would feel light once more. I remember thanking the brethren tearfully and then slowly leaving that beautiful sanctuary to enter back into the world outside. What a difference I felt! Yet I knew I had to get on with my life, and I had to be strong. A family was leaving a taxi cab at the curb so I jumped in it and had the young man drive me back to 42nd and 8th. I realized that what I had been told in my blessing was true. When I got out of the cab, I found that my infirmities were no longer with me. I called Jess and told her I was healed, and then we met up and apologized to each other. The chafing and the aching feet didn't return. My ear pressure did, but it was minute enough to prevent me from major complaint throughout the trip home and I was able to drive a few hours more than I was on the way to New York.

Upon my return home, however, it flared up. I figured this would happen, considering the amount of stress that I felt and also knowing that it's been a few years since the last flare up. During a blessing tonight I was reminded that I may have to deal with this for awhile more but to be patient. I was also, ironically, reminded three times to keep the Word of Wisdom. I found this odd, considering I have never had a problem with it before, and the fact that I have been following it more closely in terms of increasing my wheat intake, decreasing my meat intake, and drinking more water and eating more veggies...well, the only thing I could think of was that it was referring to my recent transgression against it and any future temptations that I might be faced with. And I'm grateful for this counsel, because just today I was considering for whatever reason that I should go and get something to take as "medicine" that would help me relax. But speaking with my father on the phone today, and even he admitting to me that alcohol is the most dangerous drug there is (and he would know....being an on again/off again alcoholic himself and coming from that kind of family situation as did my mother) -- well, that, and the fact that he informed me for the first time that he was proud of me and respected me for not drinking, well, I realized that I didn't want to head down that road that he had and that so many of my ancestors have before him. I told him about NYC and it shocked him, yet this is when he told me how proud he was of me and my decision to not drink. I love my father, and I'm grateful for his phone call. I'm grateful that he stands as a reminder to me to not allow it to even become a temptation.

It's funny that it even has and that I had to be counseled against it, because I have never in my life had a problem with it. Peer pressure was something I dismissed with scorn. Yet I never thought about how my own body and psychology might someday be the cause or reason for succombing.

Well, I have learned another lesson -- about myself AND about God's love for me. How grateful I am that His love is stubborn and unmoving, and that He will do all He can to protect me and to encourage me down the right paths, and when I choose the wrong ones, He will do whatever He can to push me again towards that iron rod. I can now see even more clearly how Satan has cleverly tried to again lead me away, and while I have fallen several times, more so in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years, in all honesty...I know that I'm a survivor. And I know that I love God, and that I love His church. I'm grateful even more so for commandments; especially those which I still have problems keeping. They enable me to progress and to keep learning more and more each day.