Day 483

These next few months in New York became the time when some of my girlfriends saved me in more ways than they will ever know. Without the half marathon to focus on anymore, I became a zombie going through my days. The holidays were coming up, which was our busiest season at work, and that definitely helped keep me moving; but if I’m being honest, it was the support of my good friends Tiffany, Brittany, and Cheyenne that kept me from going completely crazy. Their willingness to join me on the front lines and help me fight for my sanity is an act of friendship I will never forget.

I wish I could say what I would have done if I had been in their place. I wish I could say for certain that I would have actively loved as well as they did. I don’t even know how they did it. It was like a sudden call to arms. They planned weekend outings for me, they checked on me during work, they would go out of their way to meet me for dinner. They knew what I loved about the holidays and made sure I got to have those experiences. They listened to the same terrible stories over and over again. I never seemed to be an inconvenience for them, even though I’m sure I was. You’ll hear about them a lot in this blog, especially in the upcoming months, because they were there. They were present. They lived this awful experience with me. And most importantly, they kept space for me.

It is rare to find those friends who truly keep space for you. Friends who accept your situation, are strong enough to stand with you, and expect nothing in return. Friends who aren’t hurt when you can’t be all that you want to be for them. Friends who understand that if they are patient, you will return to them. When you are healed. When you pull yourself together. When time has allowed your wounds to become scars so that you can finally feel like yourself again. These were my girlfriends. Space keepers. Givers. The strongest women I know.

The weekend after I returned from Florida, Tiffany and Brittany had planned our first official holiday gathering. Tickets to see the Rockettes followed by brunch. Excellent. Something to look forward to. The relief that I wouldn’t be alone. A reason for joy. Christmas in New York was beautiful and we were starting it out on the right foot. A whole day where I got to forget my life was in the crapper. I got up early and actually felt excited. I put a festive bow in my hair (I love bows. I am 33. I am not ashamed by my bow love). On my way out the door my husband stopped me. “I don’t think you should spend all day with them. If we are going to work this thing out, we need to spend time together. You need to come home.” I told him I had already committed to the show and brunch. It would be rude to cancel, but I would be straight home after that. He wanted me to come home!! This was shaping up to be a great day.

It was a lovely morning. Sitting among friends and enjoying one of those special New York “touristy” experiences. They didn’t pry. They didn’t offer up opinions on my current situation. They just let me be happy. For one morning. For a few hours. They let me be me. After brunch, I explained that I needed to leave. My husband wanted to spend time with me. This was wonderful. This was what I had been waiting for. This was a step in the right direction. They seemed happy for me and wished me well as I headed home. I felt a tinge of regret that I wouldn’t spend the rest of the day window shopping with them. Looking at the Christmas decorations. Partaking in fun holiday drinks. But this was more important.

When I got home, he was watching football. I asked what he wanted to do. Did he want to talk? Go for a walk? Grab coffee? No. He just wanted to watch football. I didn’t understand. Why had he made me leave if he didn’t want to actively be with me? Was he trying to take away every last bit of joy I had left in my life? Was it a control issue? Was he trying to remind me that he was still the man of the house? I felt aggravated. The ole bait and switch. What could I do? I loved him. At least he wasn’t pushing me away. Shouldn’t I just be content with being in his presence? Doing something a normal married couple would do together? Maybe I could count this as a small victory. I changed clothes, took out my bow, and sat down beside him; in silence, while he watched football.

James 1:23-25 “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law of Liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

Day 479

Re-writing the story of my life and working to find my new happiness is an interesting journey. I’ve changed directions many times, desperately searching for God’s will and divine purpose; all the while clinging desperately to the parts of my life that make me happy. Happiness is one of those arbitrary attributes that everyone seems to think they deserve. An invisible “feeling bubble” that is supposed to encompass us because we breathe in and breathe out. Happiness has become a demand. An entitlement. Something we create out of thin air and post on social media to convince ourselves that we are, indeed, happy. I look at the world and see so many, like myself, searching high and low for “happy.”

I was on a train bound for this magical place called “happy” when the train veered off course, crashed and burned, and sent me spiraling as far from the tracks as possible. After licking my wounds and wandering around aimlessly for awhile, I started working towards pasteing myself back together and uncovering the ever elusive, “happy.” Armed with the word of God, the stubbornness of my mother, and the persistence of my father; I set out on a solo journey towards happiness.

And so far, you know what I have discovered? A long list of things that DON’T make me happy. Frankly, I’m disgruntled that a hard working gal, such as myself, is having such difficulties securing “happy.” Dating seems like a ridiculous notion, finding a place to call “home” is proving to be much harder than I thought, and my work is the most inconsistently consistent thing about my life. I DON’T like the ambiguity. I DON’T like being a misplaced person. I DON’T like the constant rejection of it all. These are just a few of the things that DON’T make me happy.

I also DON’T like feeling like I’m not being heard. I DON’T like feeling under-valued. I DON’T like feeling that I have to constantly defend my choices. Heck, I DON’T like feeling so deeply. I’m sick of all the feelings. Every. Last. Feeling. I’m over myself. I’m sick of hearing, “So, what are you going to do now?” You wanna know what I’m gonna do now? Eat a taco. Tacos are something I like. I can get behind a taco. That’s about as far ahead as I can count on life to work out…dinner plans.

Where is this crazy happiness that you all seem to have figured out? Seriously. I’m open to suggestions. But let me tell you something else I DON’T like…manufactured happy. I DON’T want filtered, watered down, had to sell my soul for this fake smile “happy.” I DON’T want the emptiness that comes with living a life my Savior wouldn’t be proud of. I DON’T want to lose the best parts of me, the parts I love the most. The bow-wearing, cheese loving, southern slang saying, card writing parts of me that may not add up to happy, but they add up to Katherine.

Wouldn’t that be the tragedy? In the search for universal happy, we lose the unique threads that make up our souls. I wish I was thinner. I wish I had my own little family. I wish I had acting contracts lined up for years to come. I wish I had a place to call my own. If I had all those things, would I be happy? Would my faith still be strong? Would my relationship with Christ still be the center of my life? Would I wake up every day hoping others saw God’s love in me? Or would that take a backseat to my earthly idea of “happy?” And when you put it that way, haven’t I been happy all along?

So, maybe this is an opportunity to take a rain check on the worldly “happy party.” Let others race around on the “happy” scavenger hunt. I’ll be eating a taco.

John 1:10 “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.”

Day 475

One of my favorite things about writing this blog is that it has made me delve into God’s word much more than I ever have before. Today I was reading the “love chapter.” I tend to shy away from this chapter because it depresses me and reminds me of the love that I have lost. But today I was feeling brave, so I went ahead and started reading and what stuck out to me was the part about love not keeping a record of wrongs. I know I talk about love a lot. All different types of love interest me and learning about how to love people better and show them not only my love, but God’s love, is high on my priority list. I am constantly working on being better at loving others the way they need to be loved, and a lot of prayer goes into that…which is why I think I was led to this verse. Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Wow. No record? None at all? Well, that’s what it says, so it must be true. So, now I find myself making a mental list of any grudges I might be holding or any ugliness in my heart that I need to confront and I came to the stunning realization that love truly doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. Of course, there are plenty of situations that annoy me and I have a few choice words for the way certain aspects of my life have gone, but when I sat down and thought about all the people that I love I was filled with an overwhelming amount of joy.

My birthday was last week and I was beyond humbled by the love I felt. Going through a list of friends and family in my head and I am brought to tears by their selflessness. Their willingness to pick up the slack of what a husband would have done for his wife. The giving of their time, their energy, their utter generosity had me beside myself. I have been incredibly difficult to love at times during this chapter in my life. But no one seemed to remember those moments. They just loved. They didn’t keep a record of my wrongs.

But how? How could so many forgive my faults? There are times when I have disappeared as a friend. Months when no one would hear from me. I have missed birthdays, weddings, births, deaths, you name it. I have told the same stories time and time again. I have become possessive and downright crazy of some friendships. I have cried. I have yelled. I have given the silent treatment. I am sure I have tried the patience of many. I have been stingy and required others to be charitable. I have judged and judged and judged. I have made others take care of me emotionally, mentally, and physically. I have taken and taken and not given back accordingly. The list of my flaws could take up several blog posts. But, I had the opportunity this past week to take stock, and all I saw was love.

Praise God. Praise God that the wonderful people he has put into my life are able to love me in a Godly fashion. Praise God they don’t have a notepad somewhere with all the times I have failed them. Praise God they have chosen to look past my list of wrongs and see the tiny heart that kept going. Praise God they believed I would come out of this someday and thought it was worth it to stick with me.

Our earthy love isn’t perfect like God’s love. And it’s often easy to get discouraged with ourselves and with others who aren’t loving us the way we think they should. But, as Christians, we are called to try our best to love the way God taught us…and that includes not keeping a list of wrongs. Maybe if we all tried to meet each other with a pure love and accept each other’s circumstances as something that doesn’t define who we are, but rather what we are battling; we could get that much closer to the love God is trying to teach us to show one another.

I’m humbled that so many have forgiven my “record of wrongs.” I’m overwhelmed by the Godly love I have been so freely given. My prayer is that God uses the love of others to help me honor him by loving better. The gratitude I feel for the love that surrounds me is an emotion that I can’t describe. There are no words. There is only God and his amazing grace. Thank you.

1 Corinthians 13:5 “Love is not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.”

Day 471

The morning after the half marathon, my husband left and flew back to New York. I wasn’t scheduled to leave until a day later, which meant 30 year old Katherine and her parents got to spend the day together at the Magic Kingdom. In my dreams, he changed his plane ticket and the four of us spent the day frolicking together through the park, riding Dumbo, and eating Mickey Mouse ice cream bars. But that didn’t happen. His loss. Because if you want to go to Disney World and experience all it has to offer, you go with my father.

I wasn’t as depressed as I thought I’d be. I was still on my “Look at me, I ran ALL the miles and I’m the strongest girl in the world high.” I trotted over to my parents hotel room, still wearing my medal, and we set off for our day of fun. I have two younger sisters and had spent my entire adult life living in New York, so one on one time with my parents had been hard to come by since I was two and a half. We had a great day. Around 10pm I started feeling the effects of my run the night before, and even though my dad still had all the energy left in the world, I had to throw in the towel. My legs were starting to feel ridiculously sore and I needed to get off of my feet ASAP.

The next morning we re-visited some of our old haunts from when I was a kid, we talked, we explored, and then we left for the airport. This time leaving them was agonizing. Going back to my “real life” filled me with fear. There I was, a 30 year old woman saying goodbye to her parents in the Orlando airport and I felt my eyes well up with tears. They left. I boarded my plane bound for New York. I had to fly home.

I thought I was being brave. Heading back, once more, to fight the good fight. Never retreat! Never give up! Hold fast! And maybe, in a way, I was brave. Since I’ve started writing this blog I have heard so many stories of women who tried to save their marriages. Some are still married, some are not. I think they are all brave. But, I think there is a time when you have to look around and realize you are fighting alone. Who is trying to save you? Who has your back in this fight? Where is your partner, your teammate, your spouse? If they aren’t on the front lines with you, then it’s time to re-evaluate.

A person far wiser than I once told me, “You don’t marry the person you want to be with in the good times, you marry a person you want to be with in the bad times. You marry the person you want to be next to you in the trenches.” You marry a fighter. When it comes time to fight or flee, you marry the one who you know will fight beside you. Not just fight for your marriage, but who will fight for you as a person. Who will fight for your dreams, your goals, your future. You marry the person who understands that this life with you is worth any fight or battle or war.

And if all that fails. If one day you look around, like so many, and realize you are in this ditch alone; you have a question to ask yourself. Are you a fighter? And you hear a tiny voice inside answer you, “yes.” And then you grit your teeth and you save yourself.

Jeremiah 20:11 “But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.”

Day 466

I had never run a half marathon before. I had never run any kind of race before. I didn’t even consider myself a runner. But here I was about to run a 5k with my parents and then a half marathon later that day. The day of these runs also happened to be my husband’s 31st birthday. If you are reading this blog, and you know me, then you know how I am about birthdays. If you are reading this and you don’t know me, then thank you for reading, but also…my need to make people feel loved on their birthday is a big deal, so you can only imagine how important this birthday was to me. My husband, who didn’t love me, was turning 31; and my hopeful little heart saw this as an opportunity to show him how much his wife truly loved him. Challenge accepted.

I got up early and decorated our little hotel room in birthday décor. I laid out the wrapped gifts and cards I had brought along with me. I got dressed quietly and then left to meet my parents. Our 5k was super early. We were running through Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We were not going to miss a moment of the magic. We arrived early, took pictures, and lined up to run. And it was fun. My father ran ahead of us and took pictures of my mom and me running. We stopped for every character. We had a blast. It was freeing to let go and enjoy myself. I laughed. My body wasn’t tense anymore. For just a moment I was able to breathe. I didn’t feel like the world was crashing in around me. It’s still a feeling I can’t put words to-I was escaping my fear of my life.

After the joy of the 5k, my parents went back to their hotel room. I had arranged a birthday brunch for my husband. I don’t really know what I was trying to do. Pretend that everything was ok? Prove that I was wife of the year? Show him how thoughtful I was? A fancy brunch at Disney World, where I acted like we were a normal married couple and he remained ungrateful. That’s what it was. I felt my insides tightening up again. It became harder to breathe. I hung on his every word. Was this good enough? Was he happy with me? Was he proud? Was the conversation interesting? Was I pretty? Looking back, I’m disgusted with myself; but it was what it was…not much I can do about it now.

Brunch ended, and I felt like it was as much of a success as it could have been. He wanted to go back and nap before our run later that evening. We napped, he opened his gifts, we had a small meal, then it was time to get ready for our half marathon. My parents had bought special spectator tickets for our race. They got to go into EPCOT and enjoy The Food and Wine Festival while we ran, then they would meet us at the finish line. The park would stay open until 4am for the runners and those with the special spectator tickets. My parents don’t half-way do anything. They were in this thing for the long haul.

When my husband and I arrived at the starting line, I was nervous. It didn’t occur to me until right then, that maybe I couldn’t do this. I mean, I had trained, but I hadn’t done anything like this before. What if I didn’t have the stamina or I tripped or passed out? What if I didn’t finish? 13.1 miles felt like a lot. I knew I had over two hours of running ahead of me. What if I failed?
But I didn’t fail. I killed it. I two hours and seventeen minutes killed it. Ok, not the best time in the world, but not embarrassing either…especially for a first timer. Yes, it was hard. Yes, there were times when I wanted to stop. Yes, I doubted myself most of the way. But then I reached the point where I knew I was going to complete this thing. When I knew, no matter what, it was going to be ok. I was going to cross that finish line and someone was going to give me a medal and even Mickey Mouse himself would be there. And then I did it, and I cried, and my parents were there, and it was the biggest feeling of accomplishment I had had in a long time.

I was so proud of myself. I was so proud that my parents were proud. We jumped up and down and hugged each other and the celebration kept going into the wee hours of the morning. My father literally thinks I’m the best thing since sliced bread, he kept beaming with pride as he told complete strangers what I had just done. My mother fussed over me like I was a little girl again. She kept trying to feed and water me. I was hooked on this feeling. They call it a “runner’s high.” But it was so much more to me. It was being alive.

This moment was pivotal in my journey because I was reminded that I was capable. I could accomplish something huge on my own. This is the moment when I stopped questioning whether I could finish the race. I didn’t know how it was going to end, but I knew God was going to see me through to the finish line.

Hebrews 12: 1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

Day 462

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I love that there is a day where we all change our Facebook profile pictures, conjure up a special Instagram, and post funny anecdotes all in honor of the special women who birthed us or raised us or loved us. It’s a lovely reminder of the sacrifices that have been made for me and my sisters by my mother so that we could be the women we are today. I hope my mother knows how loved and appreciated she is every day of the year, not just on this specific Sunday in the month of May.

Mother’s Day has always been a time of celebration in our home. My mom rocks, so it has always been easy to have a day out of the year where we are able to say loud and proud how great she is. It’s fun, it’s joyful, it’s warranted. But, since this is a blog where I’m honest about how I really feel, I have to say that now Mother’s Day has a twinge of sadness attached to it. You see, as I’ve written before, I’m not a mother and I desperately want to be one. Now Mother’s Day has become the day where I look at my friends, colleagues, even my sister, with jealousy…because they are mothers and I am not. It’s not even the “not being a mother” thing. It’s the “never being a mother” thing. I’m almost 33, and although some claim that that is still young, I am fast approaching the “not safe to be a mother” age. I’m not married, I’m not dating, so the reality of motherhood drifts further and further away every day.

Of course, you don’t have to be married to be a mother. I could certainly do it on my own, I suppose. It’s definitely more expensive than the old fashioned way, but it can be done. It’s still a possibility. There is also adoption, which I haven’t ruled out; and if that is what God has planned for me, then I am sure there is a child out there that I am meant to mother. And then, of course, there are my beautiful friends who let me love their children the best way I know how. I love my nephew more than I ever thought I could love a human and my dear friend, Whitney, let’s me love on her children to my heart’s content. They are precious blessings in my life and my heart overflows with love for them. But anyone who is a mother can tell you, it’s not the same thing as having your own child.

I’m truly not writing this so I can have my own personal “non-mother” pity party, I’m writing it because I know I’m not alone. I know there are many other women out there, in similar or different situations than myself who desperately want to be a mother and feel a void because they don’t have a child. I’m also writing because I think it’s super grown up of me to be able to communicate how I’m feeling. One year ago, this was not the case.

Last year, on Mother’s Day, I had the gift of being able to spend it with my mother. We went to church together, then I had a show. That evening, there was a surprise birthday party for our musical director, which I was obviously going to attend. But, before the party and after the show, something happened to me. I started crying uncontrollably. I’m talking ugly, snotty, can’t stop or breathe crying. Every time I thought I had a handle on it, I started crying all over again. I text my friend, Jake, who was going to pick me up for the party to let him know I couldn’t make it. Who wants a crazy, crying girl at their birthday party? Jake, as usual, was concerned and in typical Jake fashion tried his best to fix the situation. But the thing was, I couldn’t even explain why I was so sad. I didn’t have the answers to his questions. I couldn’t give a time commitment on when this sadness would pass. He was ridiculously patient and said we would leave when I felt ready, and he didn’t push it. Some day I will have to ask him why on earth he remained my friend during these crazy emotional times in my life. Anyone else would have and should have left my crazy self alone.

Looking back, I know my sadness came from confronting my new reality. My divorce had recently become finalized and I was starting to feel all the new truths in my life. One of the biggest truths being the loss of something I wanted and craved so desperately. Motherhood. This year, I didn’t cry uncontrollably. I’m gonna pat myself on the back for that growth. But, there was still the sadness, still the void, still the jealousy (ugly, but honest). This year I was able to sit myself down and have a little talk with God. Yes, I want to be a mother…but I also want to follow God’s will for my life. If his plan is that I am not meant to have a child, then I prayed that he would take that desire from me. The pain is still hard to deal with and I’d love to have it gone from my life.

During my conversation with God, I was also reminded of others who hurt on Mother’s Day. Those who have lost a mother, those who never truly had one to begin with, those who used to be a mother, but have lost a child. All these are much greater sadnesses than any I have ever had to deal with. I may not be a mother…I may never be a mother, but I have been blessed with a beautiful mother. A selfless woman full of integrity and grace. A warrior for her children and for Christ. A teacher. An inspiration. My inspiration. The reason I want to be a mother.

To her, and to every woman who has mothered me along the way….Happy Mother’s Day.

Ruth 1:16-17 “For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

Day 459

The morning after we arrived at Disney brought all sorts of anxiety.  The day had come. My husband was going to have to face my parents. We had to go to the runner’s expo to pick up our bibs for the race, and who should we see waiting in line for the bus before us? My mother and father. We hadn’t planned it this way. I’m sure my father wanted to go early and make sure he got his bib first, take a look around and survey the area, then head back to the hotel before the crowds showed up. What he didn’t count on was the fact that he had raised me and I had the very same plan. So, there we were…the four of us…on a bus together. God, I love my parents. They truly are gems. They were polite, realized this wasn’t the place to make a scene, and then carried on trying to make this experience as positive and joyful as possible for me.

We arrived at the expo and in true Hill Family fashion, we stopped for every photo op. We were one of the first in line, we checked out the course, we made a strategic game plan for the race. My parents had signed up to run a 5k with me the next morning, then my husband and I would do the half marathon later that evening. I’m a beast that way. After we had taken care of business, my parents left the expo and my husband and I finished getting things settled for the half marathon. Of course, I’m the kind of wife that thought, “We need to take pictures of this experience together. Once we work through this blip in our marriage, we’ll wish we had documented this momentous occasion.” So now I have dozens of photos of us pretending to be happy in the happiest place on earth…se la vie.

We returned to our hotel room and soon after heard a knock on our door. My mother had arrived to speak her mind. I wish I remembered everything she said. She has a knack for words. I do remember sitting on the bed next to my husband while my mother pleaded, “Help me understand your thought process. Tell me where you’re at in your head.” How difficult it must be for a parent to listen to their child’s spouse say the things my husband said about me. I am telling you that it is only through the Grace of God that my parents were able to not completely destroy my husband. The lack of respect my husband showed me, my parents, and our marriage…and he is still standing today. That’s Grace. I remember my mother praying with us. I remember her wise words about marriage, about commitment, and most importantly I remember her explaining that life isn’t supposed to be perfect and happy and easy all of the time. Marriage is hard, and how you handle the hard is what truly defines who you are.

She left, knowing she hadn’t truly been heard. Pillar of strength that she is, she wasn’t going to quit. That evening we each had separate dinner reservations. I figured this was best for all involved. My husband and I ate dinner and walked around the shops in the Downtown Disney area and once again ran into my parents, who were browsing in the same store. Looking back, this should not have been a surprise to me. I grew up going to Disney and my father and I enjoy all the same “Disney-esque” experiences. Of course we would both be in the same shop. My father, whom I adore and admire beyond, went up to my husband and said everything he needed to say in one sentence: “I just need to know, are you in…or are you out?”

My husband couldn’t answer him, which was all the answer my father needed. We went back to our hotel room to get to sleep early and my husband complained that he had been treated unfairly by my parents. My inner voice was saying “You’re still alive, so if I were you I’d be thanking my lucky stars.” Too exhausted to fight, I fell asleep without allowing him to provoke me and feeling thankful that I had such strong warriors looking out for me.

My father’s question to my husband was simple enough, and I think about it often. Are you in, or are you out? It can apply to so many aspects of life. Because if you’re “out”- you need to admit that to yourself and act accordingly, but if you’re “in”…you better be “in” with everything you have. You better be “in” with your entire being. You better eat, breathe, sweat “in.” The “in” is where our passions lie, where our heart lies, and where we come alive. My prayer is that I answer all of God’s callings to my life by being “in.”

John 10:10 “The thief cometh not but to steal and to kill and to destroy.  I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”