Saturday, January 4, 2014


The times when, maybe I should be blogging the most, I seem to disappear.
I have too many words, and I just can't put them all down. My brain spends all day putting emotions into thoughts and, by the time I find a moment to type, it's exhausted. I can only stare at the screen and feel blank.

It's not that things are bad.
 Things are just different.

We spent a quiet Christmas at home--just the two of us--then had dinner with friends.  It was lovely, really, very sweet and quiet. 
I spent New Years Even in the hospital then at home. You see, I FINALLY had that dermoid cyst taken off my ovary.  HUZZAH!!! As I type this, I'm recovering in bed with a movie marathon and my two orange furries snuggled next to me. It's a minor surgery with a quick recovery. I hope to be back to my old self in a week, two tops.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from us! Whoot!

A week and a half before Christmas, we were in Florida for seven days.
I don't know if it's home, any more. I call it "home" out of habit, but it's slowly just becoming, "Florida." We visited the family we loved, and I even had a chance to see my old students and friends from my school and catch up with one of my oldest, dearest friends over brunch.  We had a lovely time. I loved the time with my family and missed them the moment we boarded the plane to fly back home. "Home," you see, is becoming the little townhouse in California, with our little church and our little town and our furballs and our friends. It's so odd how things change.

Florida is a place that is bizarrely familiar and foreign all at once. We step off the plane, and I can smell the humidity, the moisture, the damp, sickly-sweet smell of green in too much wet. My elbow has an odd, reminiscent itch, and I find a mosquito bite. I haven't had one of those in nearly a year, but they found me. The little blood suckers found me.  I recognize the faces, the voices, the conversations. I miss them. I miss them dearly.
But it feels more like traveling and less like a homecoming.
It has nothing to do with the people--they all make us feel welcomed and loved and we hate to leave them.  I think it's the fact that we are settling in, becoming our own people in our own place with our own routine.

Annual Christmas picture with my family! Whoo!
Catherine, me, Chris, Matt, Ellie, Davie, Mom and Dad
Going back--even just for a visit--came with its own uncertainties. I seem to always find things to worry about, to over-think.

I was afraid of meeting Chris's nephew. Isn't that silly?
I was afraid because I'm not really a baby person. I always seem to hold them in the breast-feeding position which frustrates them and me. They cry, and I find myself near panic.
I was afraid because I knew how much Chris's clan has begged for a grandchild and, now that he's here, he is the star of the show. No, really, he is the STAR OF THE SHOW. I suppose that's normal, but I don't know.
I wasn't close to my extended family. I don't remember how they reacted when my baby sister was born seventeen years ago. I don't fully remember how they reacted when we brought Davie home ten years ago or Ellie seven years ago.  I didn't know what would happen if I didn't go berserk over him. If I would offend or hurt people. It's not him--he's adorable--it's me. It's my own issues, it's my own uncertainties around miniature, newly processed humans.
 I think I did all right. I held him, talked to him, talked about him. I don't think anyone knew I was freaking out internally.
But, yeah, he was almost in the breastfeeding position. That was awkward.

Photo courtesy of my sis-in-law
Eric--Mel's fiance as of Thanksgiving--Melanie, Chris and his nephew, Reilly, me, and Julie in front of Chris's parents' GINORMOUS Christmas tree.
Seriously, that sucker is like ten-feet-tall. 

Then there was The Issue.
The thing I wasn't sure if I was allowed to talk about, the thing that had been rolling around ceaselessly in my mind for a month. The thing weighing heavy on my heart. I just couldn't process it. There weren't enough answers, enough anything. I felt so in the dark and confused and frightened. And that was just me. I can't begin to imagine what they were feeling.
Chris's sister and brother-in-law have always presented themselves as perfectly happy, in their own way.  Every couple has their own version of happiness.  They seemed to have found theirs. I had come to terms years that their brand of happiness simply did not look like mine. And that was fine.   If there was trouble in paradise, none of us knew, even though Julie would tell the world she counts me as one of her closest friends.  The truth is that they were always very private people. 

Then, a month before we left for Florida, Chris received an emotional phone call from his mother.
His brother-in-law had requested a divorce and left his wife and three-month-old son one day shy of their fifth anniversary.

We were floored. Shocked. The entire clan was baffled.
Things began to surface, then.  My mother-in-law suddenly admitted that there were signs, that she knew things--had known them for years.  Then Julie's younger sister pipes in that she had an idea because Julie tells her more than she tells anybody. But, even then, it took them by surprise.  The rest of us were in the dark. We saw only the Facebook pictures and the pleasant, casual chatter at family dinners. 

The trouble with these things is that so often you only hear one side of the story, one point of view.  An entire continent is missing from your view of the world.  So Chris met with his brother-in-law, not to beat him up, not to chastise him or destroy him. To listen.  He heard, and our heart ache for them both.  There are wounds on both sides--deep, aching, infected wounds.  She claims she's ready to move on--to date again--while he says he wants mending. She says he's lying. Maybe he is. We don't know.
Maybe we never will.We only pray and hope for them. That things heal.

It weighed heavy on the holidays. We tried not to let it, they tried not to show it--we joked, laughed, exchanged gifts, and hung out as normal. But there's an elephant in the room.
I hate those kinds of elephants. The kind you inch around.  I can be very quiet and seem to deal with it fine in the moment, but I'm eying it suspiciously the entire time. The second I'm free, I explode. I can't handle it, really. I bottle well but only for so long.

It wasn't a silent issue, though.
It seemed everyone was talking about it.
Even at the school where I used to work--where Julie currently works--everyone was buzzing about it, some even asked me my thoughts, my feelings, if I had any idea, and wasn't he a complete and total jerk? Wasn't she doing so well, looking happier than ever? Wasn't she so brave, to be eager to date again? Wasn't it dreadful? Wasn't it? Wasn't it?
And I stammer out an answer even though I don't know what to say.

Annual Bocchino Christmas photo courtesy of my sis-in-law
Eric, Melanie, Steve, Julie and Reilly, Lisa, me and Chris
It aches. All of it. It aches, and I can't find the sweetness. I suppose I should. I suppose I should cheer them on or something, the way everyone else is. Doesn't she seem happier, they say to me. And that's so good. Melanie was ready to take down their wedding portraits and replace them with Julie's bridal shots.  But it sits in my heart like a stone I can't swallow.
I suppose that's because it's not happening to me. Divorce stirs something in me, some frightened, confused creature that scrambles round and round asking, "Howhowhowhowhowhowhow? Whywhywhy?" It's not so simple as all that, as marking the villain and signing a paper. It's not painless. It's hard and it's painful.
It's not that it can't be a good thing. That there are those better apart than together, that sometimes you don't realize that until after the vows are said and rings are worn.
But it's still hard. To tear it asunder.

Are there some cases where, perhaps, if they had waited it out, had fought and worked and battled FOR the marriage, that it could come out better in the end? That you come out of that deep, dark valley into the light and say, "I love you. I'm better because of you, for you. And I love you, more than before the darkness. I love you. I'm so glad I stayed."
I know not all cases have that happy ending. But I know some who do. Who were very strong and very brave and very honest, and they battled and they worked, and they say, "Yes, it was so hard, but it made something good. I'm so glad we didn't part."

I don't want to sound arrogant. I don't say any of this in arrogance. Really, I don't.
I say this as much to myself as to anyone. No couple is exempt. There's no magically effortless form of matrimony. It's two different human beings living together, under one roof, for the rest of their lives. That's hard work. Good work, but hard.  I say this and I lock it away, over and over again. Reminding myself so many times, when I find myself in the midst of such pain that I want to run away, that my marriage is worth fighting for.

But maybe we reach a place where one of us is tired of the battle, of trying to make it work. Then what? Marriage can't function if only one person is willing to work, to sacrifice. You need the cooperation of both. I know that there are times when one heart is willing and the other is too scarred to care.
Maybe there's abuse. Verbal, emotional, physical, but abuse. Abuse that won't stop.
Then run. Run fast, run hard, and get out. Staying helps no one and hurts everyone. Run.

But if there's not abuse, there's not constant, unrepentant infidelity . . . do you still run?
I don't know.  I'd like to say that, if both are willing, things can mend. I've seen them mend--I seen relationships on the brink of destruction come around into light, into good, beautiful marriages with stories of such forgiveness and love that everyone around is filled with hope.
It can work.

But there are wounds.
Sometimes we are so wounded we are desperate for healing.
Then again, sometimes we refuse to acknowledge the wounds. We put on bandaid after bandaid, shrugging it aside, while the thing reeks and festers. Maybe no one else sees it, but it's there.
And other times we are so wounded we can't imagine the other side. So we run.

Maybe it's for the best.

Maybe it's a quick solution that becomes a long-term problem, one that effects you and everyone around you for the rest of their lives. My relatives still wear the scars of my aunt's divorce.  His pictures have been ripped from the walls, his name is a cursed, and he's been replaced by oddly positioned palm trees in clan portraits.  We don't speak of the great tearing. It's taboo.  I've seen it in other families, as well. These deep scars they wear, these forced silences or curses. Perhaps it was for the best, but it is never quite so simple.

Maybe it's a kind of salvation.

I'm not there yet, so I can't say.

But I hope there's a fight. A glorious, bloody battle to save something that could be so beautiful.
I hope that, one day, when I'm there, beaten and broken and aching, that I remember a phoenix is only born of ashes. My god, I want to make it to ashes before I declare it dead. That I coax every ember into burning, blazing life before I let it turn cold. That I look back and say, "He truly loved me once. I truly loved him. Maybe we can again."
And, oh, I pray that we can. I pray and I pray from the deepest part of my heart.  I work and I watch and I love.  I try to be honest, to be open.
These battles can't be fought alone. If I need to call the cavalry, by golly, I will scream for it. I see no shame in needing reinforcements, needing someone older and wiser, an unbiased third party, someone who can see with eyes unclouded.
Maybe they will tell me to fight, tell me how to fight. And tell Chris, too. Challenge us both.
Or maybe they will say "Run, there's no saving this."

I don't know.
I'm not there yet.
I don't know if every couple reaches that point, the peak of shattering. It seems we all come very, very close. Some sooner than later. Some much, much later. I don't know. 

I only pray we fight.
Because wouldn't a phoenix be a glorious, beautiful thing? Oh, to have almost seen a phoenix born, but to cool the ashes far too soon. But a phoenix, wings blazing in the sunrise.
It will take your breath away.


  1. I hope you are able to recover quickly! And I pray you have a lovely start to the new year :)

  2. Oh that's so sad. My elder sister is divorced. It was a really hard thing to go through, especially for her--she had a young son. Now, three years later, she is happily married to another man and has a young daughter! I've really seen her grow, and me as well. I think its really awful when things fall apart. Sometimes I'm terrified that it will happen to me. But like you, I pray. I just keep praying.

  3. life is short and people should try to be happy. if that means a divorce then that is what they should do. its not the end of the world and it opens up endless possiblities, good and bad. glad you got your surgery done!
    your little, tam@

  4. Thank you so much! So far, so good! The weirdest is having so little energy. I'm slowly gaining it back,, and I'm starting to get cabin fever in the meantime ;] Hopefully I'm back to normal in another week or two. Thanks again!

  5. Divorce is so hard, but I'm glad your sister has found some new happiness. I suppose sometimes it can be for the best, but it is still so sad in the midst of it. And yes, we just keep praying, working, and loving ;]

  6. I do think that people should be happy, and that sometimes divorce can bring a kind of salvation in truly terrible relationships.
    It's just that, in many relationships, I've seen that the short term unhappiness of hard work is worth the long term happiness of a stronger, healthier relationships. Sometimes, divorce seems like a quick fix to a long term problem--it those cases, it doesn't seem to remove the pain, only change its shape.
    But maybe they will be happier. I don't know. The whole situation, currently, is just very, very sad.
    And thanks for your well wishes! I'm very happy to have it out of the way, and I seem to be recovering pretty well. Thank you!

  7. You brought tears to my eyes. It's true that such news reminds you that every couple is vulnerable, no one is completely exempt. And it's scary. No one in my family has been divorced. Not to say that there aren't unhappy, strained marriages, there are, but they've been the kind mostly where the two decide it's worth sticking it out. I'm more like you--yes, it would be a fight, and a bloody one, but worth fighting for. There are definitely situations where divorce is the only solution left...but that's a very sad thing. It's sad and sinful that people lie to and hurt the ones they vowed to love and bless for the rest of their lives.
    Angel is one who really talks to his family, and everyone in my family tends to be really open, too. So I hope we would never be shocked, that we would be permitted to be love and support and a punch of truth and wisdom once in a while.

  8. so many things. this story seriously made me cry. one of my friends is going through a divorce right now and i just want to shake her and be like YOU MADE VOWS. what are you thinking?! but i don't know the whole story and i know that it's really none of my business. so. i just love what you said about the phoenix rising from everything. when i think about divorce, which has been at the front of my mind due to my friend, i think about how i never could do that. how i have a history with evan and even though we fight and he makes me madder than heck sometimes, i fight through it because i love him more than i could ever love someone else. and i think about how i would have to start all over with another person and another family and i just get sick to my stomach thinking about it. i hate divorce. i HATE it. i'm sorry your sister-in-law is going through this and that you're struggling with it, too. i feel your pain, sister. we are both empathizers. which may or may not be spelled correctly.

    i'm so glad you're surgery is completed and i'm praying for good health for you from here on out! xoxo

  9. oh, also. your nephew is ADORABLE. that look he's giving in that first picture?! SO CUTE! but i totally know what you mean about being awkward around babies. when i was like 19 or so, someone plopped a baby in my lap at one of those jewelry party things and i was like "ah! what do i do" hahaha and yes, babies HATE that nursing position. especially when you're not the mom. one of my guys friends always holds maddox like that and i'm like, "are you going to feed him? if not, sit him up." hahaha

  10. Exactly. Yes, yes, and yes.
    I think hurt is inevitable in any relationships because, let's face it, we're all humans who are selfish and bound to screw up. I don't think marriage makes this better or worse. We're human. We screw up. Are we willing to forgive when we are hurt? Are we willing to admit our own wrongs, seek forgiveness, and pursue improvement?
    I do think it's so sad when one or both partners give up (though I'm sure they have plenty of reason). Most divorce stories I've encountered are pretty legitimate--there was repetitive cheating, abuse, or just an unwillingness to change for the better--but that doesn't make it less sad. I feel like society downplays divorce. Yes, it's common, yes people recover, yes, sometimes they're even better for it, BUT that doesn't make the initial separation and negation any less difficult (unless, again, you're in an abusive relationship).
    My own marriage hasn't been at the brink of divorce ( I hope it never is, but, as I said, no couple is really excempt), but I have, on several occasions, seen people around me in those situations, and, not once, has it been easy or less than heart-breaking. The ones who choose to stay don't have it easy, either, but they work through it into something truly good. Into a different, deeper kind of happiness.
    I'm young, and I've only been married four years--I don't know a lot. But I do try to keep all of this in mind.

    I'm glad you and Angel are connected and open! That's so very, very important! Whoo! :]

  11. I'm sorry I made you cry! Oh no!
    I think the not knowing the whole story is part of what's killing me--I know it's not my business, so I've stayed out of it, directly, but I feel like getting both sides of the story is so so SO important, for those in the midst of and witnessing the development. There, so rarely, is a clear-cut victim and villain (unless it's an abusive relationship or one with unrepentant, repeated cheating).
    I'm so sorry about your friend! Ugh, it is so hard!
    And, yes, like you, whenever I hear about a hurting relationship, it puts my own in my mind constantly. How did it happen? How can it not happen? What can I do in ME to help work away from that? Not because everyone else was careless or hard-hearted or anything like that -- because it HAPPENS. I mean, not like you magically happen to fall into it, but, if you're not consciously cultivating your relationship, it's so easy to fall out of love.
    And I'm so with you! I can't imagine starting over! Even in the times, like you said, husbands are infuriating. That's starting from zero. Maybe, in some extreme cases, that's a good thing, but gosh, I would bring so much baggage . . . could another man even DEAL with my baggage??? Because we're talking cargo-loads.

    Thank you so much for your sympathies! Really! I feel an odd mixture of guilt and relief that I'm not closer physically to them. Chris feels terrible that he can't be there through this, but he has done a wonderful job keeping in touch with both his sister and his brother-in-law. I've kept communications open, but I'm not really in a position to openly pursue either. I think my sister-in-law is just exhausted by everything, and, really, trying to talk about it wouldn't be helpful. The whole thing breaks my heart for them both. It really does.

    And thank you for your well-wishes! I'm feeling almost back to my old self already (it's been one week! Whoot!) and go back to my check-up tomorrow. Other than being more easily exhausted, we're doing pretty well. Excited and a bit nervous about moving on with our lives, but it's good. Moving forward is good :] Love ya and have missed ya on blog land!

  12. He is so cute! And just a sweet, happy baby.
    Okay, you're going to laugh, but I didn't know you could hold little babies sitting up. I mean, it's been YEARS since I've been around little babies--when we adopted my baby sisters, they were nine and eleven months. Reilly's just NOW five months old. So here I am trying to hold him like an infant, and, um, NO, he's too big for that nonsense unless have I the goods to deliver.
    And I don't.
    Luckily Chris was there to take the little fellow before he started crying.
    I did, however, hold him in that fashion in front of the ENTIRE IN-:LAW CLAN so that even my FATHER-IN-LAW, for the split second that child was in my arms, was all "Whoa, don't hold him there!" I held him in the proper sitting position later that evening and was great, but, oh my gosh. The embarrassment. -_-


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