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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Finding Connection





This past week has been so full of ups and downs; some rich, full, and happy experiences - and other experiences that fill my heart with sorrow.  I woke up this morning feeling restless. I thought that maybe by writing out some of it, I could sort through it.

I spent last Thursday through Saturday on a Sister's Retreat with six of Joseph's sisters and my mother-in-law.  We usually have some sort of retreat together once a year. This year we rented a house in Salt Lake. We went out to dinner, we hiked, we played games, and had a really cool sharing night where we Skyped with Joseph's other sister, Ann. The sharing night to me is really like a church testimony meeting. We each come prepared to share a "life-lesson" with each other and they almost always involve some lesson that has helped us grow closer to our Father in Heaven and to our loved ones.


I think of the family support I was blessed with from marrying Joseph, blessed with seven beautiful sisters who fill my heart and give me a sense of being anchored in something stable. I'm filled with gratitude and pride for the choice I made to become a Rawlins.

All of my sisters-in-law are very aware of Joseph's battle with depression his whole life. They are aware of the more severe trenches he's pulled through... and they're aware that he's in a pretty deep one right now. They shared with me their same feelings of being at a loss of what to do. As one solution, we did come up with working out some sort of annual Brother's Retreat for Joseph and Jason.

Joseph needs support in this new neighborhood too. He's not connecting with any of his ecclesiastical leaders and hasn't made any friends. He has never been one to have lots of deep relationships though. He is much more introverted and really shows little interest in making close friends. He has one friend, Ryan, he met at BYU that he bonds with really well, but Ryan lives in Oregon now -At least the two of them call and write each other every week. I'm so glad Joseph has that support.

It just feels like it's been a while, a couple years maybe since Joseph has been depressed for this long. When he gets like this, he isolates himself, closes off emotionally and physically. It gets a little lonely because he's here... but he's not here... it's almost like living with a ghost - we pass each other and I walk right through him.

I've been very concerned. Through the years, I've learned it doesn't help to ask him to express what's on his mind, it only makes him more frustrated. A couple days ago, I had to pry him open though, just barely enough to make sure he wasn't feeling suicidal at all, to know he wasn't in the red zone again. It took him a while to answer but he finally said that he wasn't suicidal, he just didn't want to live a long life. I hope he lives a long life for my sake. I need him. I can't imagine spending the last twenty years of my life alone!

I had a glimmer of hope for him yesterday. He seemed happier than usual, at least happier than he's been in a long time. I think seeing family and old friends helped perked him up. We spent the evening with my best friend, Suzanne's family and our other old neighbors, the Prices. It was good for him. I want to find ways to get him out more - maybe he needs a trip for a week with his best friend, Ryan?

Speaking of old friends, I had a wonderful time Monday night going to our old neighborhood's block party. I brought my niece Alexa, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend's family. There must have been over 400 people at the party! I loved seeing so many faces of people who had also moved away from our old neighborhood. It was so good to see them again: We played. We hugged. We talked. We danced -It was the highlight of my year so far. Do you ever wish you had the power to stop time? There are some moments in life I never want to end. Moments like these spent connecting and re-connecting with people I love, even if they don't come that often, make me want to live a very long life.

But time moves on... and you try to make the most of the dull parts in-between. Maybe that's it. I think I woke up this morning just feeling a little sad. There are so many people I miss. So many at the party I didn't get a chance to talk with, to connect to.

I love what Herman Melville said about human connection,“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”

I'm grateful for my new calling in the church. I know it is a blessing in disguise because it will help me create the connections I so desperately need to make in this new ward - connections that will help me heal from or even forget my own heartaches. I have felt the blessings pour into my life already from reaching out to my sisters in this ward. I'm realizing that there are a whole lot of hearts quietly hurting, so many hearts who need to be nurtured and noticed. I'm anxious to pull them into my own... and grow together.

“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.”
― BrenĂ© Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

-Alicia






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