Don’t Panic


Ever go to the beach and see that dreaded yellow flag with the black dot on it?  Riptide.  Riptides are really dangerous cause they pull you out to sea and don’t let you back in no matter how hard you swim.  The rule is if you find yourself in one you are to ride it out.  Let it take you out to sea, the current will move you along the shore and eventually deposit you further down the shoreline where you will be able to swim to safety.  The trick is to not panic.

I say this like I’m giving sage advice from someone who knows…and well, I do because I was rescued once by a lifeguard when I was caught in a riptide with my best friend from childhood.  As I got weaker and weaker, she said, “Livvy, climb on my back!”  or at least that’s what I heard.  She really said, “Get on your back.”  Only I was panicking.  So after climbing on her back not once but twice (I thought we just got it wrong the first time) that was enough for the lifeguard and he rescued us both.

Right now I am feeling a little bit like I’m caught in a riptide.  My life is moving forward with the divorce and all but it’s in this really odd holding pattern with Martin.  No matter what I do it won’t make him moving out here come any quicker so I am talking to myself often, and telling myself to ride it out.  Don’t panic.

I had lunch with two of my sisters today and my youngest sister said, “I was surprised by your reaction when Martin said he wasn’t coming…in fact I said you were eerily calm.”  and my other sister remarked, “Yeah I thought, okay here we go again…she’s going to be devastated.  This is really bad timing.”  She admitted that when she first heard she thought this was it and Martin was bailing.  It all seemed too good to be true for them anyway.  A fairytale and everyone knows fairytales don’t come true.  My mother said, “I thought he was a goner.”  And I’m having to explain to them that he just didn’t call because he was upset.  But they don’t get it.

To them having a relationship with someone who lives 6,000 miles away and is from another culture is already crazy.  But they just don’t see how not calling for almost two days was anything but a bad sign for our future.  They listen to me defend him, and eventually they’ve let it go and just say…”Ok, you know better than us, we are just worried about you and we don’t want you to get hurt…again.”

I don’t want to get hurt again either!  And I’m working overtime lately, kicking myself for telling them that he wasn’t calling in the first place.  Cause they are judging him for that.  And it makes me mad.  I try to get them to put themselves in his position, having always dealt with issues like this by himself his entire life, but their response is…”So?  It seems really disrespectful for him not to contact you and tell you what was going on.”  And then I just kind of throw up my hands and say, “Well he said he was sorry and he’d never do it again.”

They haven’t heard all the reassuring words Martin has said over the past 9 months.  They don’t know that the week I met Martin he had just sold the house he’d shared with his family and on return to England he would be sifting and sorting through 20 years of memories.  That these past 9 months for him have been life altering in many, many ways.  He has made a commitment to the Lord and is growing in his faith (which is a rewarding but difficult task all by itself).  He has met a woman (me) who is passionate in every way.  I have ups and I have downs.  And he’s said many times that he’s had boring and he does not want boring…but, I know I’m a lot to handle.  I know my energy and my determination are hard to match and even if I wasn’t a challenge…I’m still a new person he’s let into his quiet and rather predictable life and I’ve turned it upside down.  Boldy,  he tells his bosses that he wants to move and asked for support which he got initially but things have not been a complete cake walk at work.  It’s got increasingly challenging with his coworkers.  Personally, he’s had to endure ridicule from some of his friends for deciding to move away from his daughters, ridicule from some for becoming a Christian.  That is a lot of change.

And so I can only imagine if I’m feeling a little tossed about..how much more he’s feeling it..  And if you ask me, he is doing remarkably well.  You can only prepare for something so much.  I know he has.  He’s thought everything through.  But the real thing…walking through it is tougher than anyone can imagine.

I remember when I was in Hawaii, I had a friend give me and my family a surf lesson.  He had the board on the sand and he walked us through the steps of what to do.  Paddle like this, pull your knees up underneath you, steady yourself with your arms on the edge of the board, position your feet and slowly come up.  We practiced right there on the beach a few times to get a sense of what it would be like.  But to be actually on the water, riding a wave was a completely different experience.  I LOVED IT!  But it was hard.  Harder than I thought.  I was so tired at the end of just a few waves.  I couldn’t believe how wimpy I was.

So I don’t care if my family doesn’t understand.  I have faith in Martin.  I’m not even worried.  I  know he’s the man he says he is.  I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary.  I just see a man who is maxed out.  And the blow of not getting the job was like getting knocked off your board and falling into a big foamy wave.  It takes a lot out of you.  He’ll be okay.

I only hope that he manages himself well through this.  That he gets enough sleep, eats right, and is kind and good to himself through this process.  I’m not sure that is the case at this point.  He seems very tired, and very stressed.   I don’t want him to panic during this riptide.  All his energy will just go to waste.  He needs to reserve it for when it counts.  I don’t want to put any added pressure on him.  Moving here to be with me is more than I would EVER have asked.  It amazes me.  It’s all his deal really.  All I can do is be supportive.  And I intend to.

And just like everyone else, my sisters and my mom will see one day that Martin is not getting out the water…he’s going back in for another try and doing his very best.  And I’m proud of him.

4 responses to “Don’t Panic

  1. Glad to hear you are so happy, and that you aren’t letting their opinions get to you too much. YOU know yourself and Martin, and that’s all that matters!

  2. It’s hard sometimes to manage your family’s perceptions in a complex situation like this. I sometimes find myself telling them nothing, rather than have them build an inaccurate and worrying picture from the incomplete details that I do pass on. And again and again I find that these two cultures are a lot more different than anyone would imagine!

    • thanks for that. I do say less and less to family and more to chosen close friends who understand the whole story and have the patience to listen to it. I have a feeling Martin is in for more of a culture shock than he anticipates. He keeps saying, people are people. But we’ll see. His new interview is next Thursday in Chicago! Yeah!

  3. Hey Livvy … am paraphrasing a WONDERFUL line from Laura Munson’s book but it is so true “sometimes it’s ok to be misunderstood” – those closest to you (family) want to protect you, which includes being negative about what you know to be truly good. Trying to explain is like trying to hold back a wave.

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