Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A weekend journey

Come with me on a journey up to Layton, to the Davis Conference Center, to the Families Supporting Adoption National Conference. This was a journey where I learned so much. I learned more about myself, my anxieties and my strenghts. I learned from others involved in the adoption process, and I discovered ways I can advocate for adoption, and where I stand on adoption reform.

My journey began Thursday evening, as I waited (and waited, and waited) for my husband to return from Provo/Moab/Monticello--a busy work day for him that had started after he drove up the evening before to sell the truck and purchase a new (used) car. We are in the process now of trying to simplify our lives, and provide some relief to our stressed out bank statements. He finally made it home about 5:30, and I finally left the house around 6:00 after I decided I would spare the mileage on our leased van, which is about to be turned back in. Instead, I would take the unlicensed little Honda Civic, which doesn't even have old plates on it.

What I learned from that drive? You notice absolutely every cop on the road when you are doing something you know you shouldn't be. Britt even called to check if it would be a problem for me to drive it, and the word was I would probably be better off if I did not get pulled over. I carried with me the bill of sale, so I could explain my story if needs be. But let me tell you, that was nerve-wracking to say the least. Nerve-wracking also to be tailed closely at night, between Green River and Price, wondering why the heck the guy didn't just pass me. Only to have him follow me into Walker's in Wellington. Traveling alone never freaked me out when I was single. I guess I know too much now. (Or I was just really tired and paranoid).

Friday morning, as I walked into the conference late and alone, I realized that I really wished I had made arrangements to meet with some of my friends from online adoption sites, so I would at least have someone to attend classes with. I was feeling shy and anxious. Worried a little that I was going to be stirring up old feelings that I had forgotten. Here I learned fear is a normal emotion, but it must be faced and is usually easily conquered. I tend to like to stay in the comfort of my home, to not expose myself too much to the unknown, to not take on too many responsibilities where I have the opportunity to fail. I see it is okay to acknowledge my anxiety, but I must not let it hold me back.

And as the day went on, I met dear friends. I ate lunch with some sweet ladies with whom I have only ever communicated in the virtual world. While I tend to be shy both online and in the real world, I realize I do crave that interaction with people who are passionate about the same things as me, people who have either had similar experiences as me, or who have witnessed those experiences with love and compassion. I am so glad I went.

Moving on, I traveled to the nearby mall and began shopping for school clothes for my kids. There I had an experience where I came to realize that my husband loves me and wants what is best for me, although he doesn't always realize how to give it to me (yeah, I know this. Just another reminder). I need to do a better job of communicating what I need. This was an example. I hadn't gotten up early enough to arrive in Layton in time for the first class, but I attended every other event that day, with the exception of the Awards Banquet in the evening. When I called Britt to ask him for some advice on the school clothes shopping I was doing, he reminded me that the reason I was up there was to shop for the kids' school clothes, and the conference was secondary. Um, no. I really needed to be there--at the conference--more than I had even known, and getting the kids some clothes for school while I was up there was just a bonus.

While I was there, I discovered mrs. r is just as beautiful in real life. And so generous. She was physically sick the first day of the conference, but she was still willing to take a minute to visit with me and some other ladies who knew her through the Adoption Voices site. (And hey, if you haven't checked that out yet, you should.) And for as busy as she is, she clearly does so much with adoption advocacy, not just online. She is an inspiration. She was still very concerned about my story, and eager to hear how everything goes with my pursuit to communicate with the family. Meeting her, attending a couple of her classes, just helped to remind me I need to do more. I CAN do more to spread the love for adoption.

This next part of my journey is where I wanted to include a picture of my sweet friend Angie Wager, who I recently found again through facebook. While I was up there, I sent her a message on facebook, saying I would love to meet up with her if she had time, while I was up there. She sent me back a message with her phone number, and I was able to arrange a time to meet. We ended up going out to dinner at the Chili's restaurant by the SouthTowne Mall, where I had been doing more shopping. What a treat that was! Angie still has that beautiful, contageous, thrilling energy. You just can't help but be happy being around her. How I have missed that! This part of my journey made me realize, I need to get out more often. I need to strengthen those relationships, those friendships with people who feed my soul. Oh, Angie, thank you so much for going out of your way to be there for me! (And sorry readers, the picture is just for her and me to share. Her blog is private, and she is single, so she would prefer not to be too exposed on the web.)

There is something else I learned that night at Chili's. For the last couple days I have been trying to figure out how to explain what this experience means in a sensible, non-offensive way. Maybe I read more into it than what it was, but I still feel like there was something for me to learn in what happened. Maybe that is the point more than anything.

I know my Heavenly Father knows me personally and loves me absolutely. I know this. Part of why I know this is because of where I am in my life today. Who I am. How I am. There was a time I didn't know if I could be the kind of person I am today, to be worthy of the blessings I receive daily. I was afraid because of my addictive personality and an addiction that, before my sweet husband, prevented me from having a stable, loving relationship.

You know I just said I don't get out much. So this experience was kind of unique for me. (This is the part where I am reading way too much into this, but bear with me). The waiter in Chili's was flirting with me pretty hard core. Angie was a little embarrassed for me. She said, "You know, it's not me he's flirting with." And I said, "Hush!" because he was standing right behind her at the time. And all the while I was thinking, surely he can see that honking wedding ring on my finger. Maybe he just wanted a good tip. He was laying it on pretty thick, though. Even asking where Blanding was and saying he wanted to go down to that area some day.

But Angie was watching out for me a little, I think, when she offered to pay the full tab. I don't think she wanted the guy to have my name (from my credit card). And she walked me back to my car and watched me drive away. She knew me when. Yeah, I was a little crazy in my college days. For my parents' sake, I won't go into too much description, but you all know a little bit about my adoption experience, so you have some hint of that. Let's just say, if a guy came on to me, and I was even the slightest bit attracted to him, I went for it. I ate up the attention, and I didn't have a lot of common sense when it came to that. Even when I had a boyfriend. Even when I didn't even know the guy. Now, I can see that was crazy, but back then I just couldn't help myself.

And I know, I know sometimes happily married woman are so happy to get that extra attention, they screw up. They make mistakes, huge mistakes because they might feel like they have fallen out of love, or are so attracted to someone and think they won't ever get caught. That woman could have been me.

But this is the part where Heavenly Father knowing and loving me comes in. That was never something I even considered. I didn't flirt back. I didn't covertly share personal information or do anything to pursue this guy. And when I say he was coming on strong, I am not making this up. Maybe he considers married women a more challenging conquest. My point is, this was never even an issue for me. Not at all. And there was a day, some 15 years ago when I couldn't imagine it not being an issue. I really did not know how to behave myself. And as much as I loved the Gospel, my addiction was more compelling than my religion. I feel so blessed to be able to say that is absolutely not true today.

Because I read my scriptures. I attend church and the temple. I serve in my church callings. I celebrate the Gospel in my life. I love my family. I live worthily to be subject to the Spirit. I know I need to do better on my personal prayers. And I need to do more in family, especially with Family Home Evening. But I am headed in the right direction. And that matters. It matters a lot.

I do hope that made some kind of sense. I love where I am so much. The family that I have. The beautiful man who married me and changed my life forever. And man is that they might have joy. And I do. I do.

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