Lessons from the cocoon

I like the title of this entry, for I am writing from my bed with the covers tucked in around me, subconsciously trying to protect myself from the pains of the world, hoping that after this season of intense growth (aka: mortality) I may one day emerge with bright and beautiful wings.

In my real life, I am fairly open about the struggles my family has faced—at least when talking with interested parties. Because of that, I have been asked a handful of times how I will do things differently in my life and future family. My academic background has provoked many thoughtful moments regarding this question as well. One of the principles of Narrative Therapy that I have loved is the notion that much of our lives are taken for granted—not given any conscious thought. As easy as it can be to float about, I desperately want to learn how to live my life as an active participant.

Each of these lessons could honestly be a book on their own, but for the sake of the blog (and I know I can be long-winded) I am presenting the reader’s digest version.

1. Don’t leave the choice about marriage up to chance. I want a celestial marriage (For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory. D&C 88:22). Celestial marriage isn’t just any kind of union. It isn’t even any temple marriage, but one that is ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise. This kind of marriage cannot come to be per chance or happenstance. It is thoughtful and purposeful, initiated with intelligence and faith, grown with love and commitment, founded on principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What I am doing now: I’ve already written about how I have a very descriptive “list” for the kind of relationship I want to have, the kind of qualities I am looking for. I am very conscientious about this—what makes me feel important, loved, protected. I have found that the more specific I am, the easier it is to recognize the qualities I am looking for. If you don’t know what you want, how will you know when you’ve found it?

Nine more to go...

2. Establish patterns of open communication NOW. This is not an easy one for me. My parents weren’t the best examples of good communication, nor was it always safe to express my true feelings. A bad decision I made as a child is that it’s better to just keep it to yourself. This breeds passive-aggressiveness, which is not a relationship builder. It has taken years for me to unwind my vocal cords and I’m still working on it. When I get in a romantic relationship there is an almost instantaneous change in my personality. The sass and spunk that come so easily in friendship slip into some nether regions as the placator takes over. Ah the joys of less than ideal modeling.

What I am doing now: uh…I feel like this one will take one of God’s miracles. But, this year as I’m trying to do things differently, the only thing I can think to do is not get into a relationship so quickly, but try to keep things at the cusp—that point before my real self slips away, experimenting with ways to keep her in charge. It’s not ideal, but life isn’t always.

3. Learn my natural soothing techniques—decide which ones are healthy and which ones I need to let go of. I think this is important to know for now—so I don’t make some mistakes I have in the past, and for the future—so in my marriage when life happens I don’t make those same mistakes. For example, spending. We have a joke between my siblings that if we ever need to feel loved, we go shopping. Retail therapy is vain—empty, fleeting, bad! Here’s another thought—learn to distinguish between what are MY soothing techniques and what are OTHERS’. Picking up other people’s baggage, especially that of our parents, is one of the easiest obstacles to stumble over in this life.

What I am doing now: I’m not shopping, that’s for sure. After I get a job, this might need a little more attention! Being conscientious about what makes ME feel better—reading, but not all day; crafty projects that don’t cost a lot of $; organizing; writing; spending quality time with good friends; not waiting until the afternoon to get ready, even if I’m doing something messy in the morning…uh, not staying in bed all day. Yeah, that’s a good one too.

4. Find loving relationships to study and replace my blueprint with. Jack Christianson is one of my heroes. Last week in institute, his wife filled in for him for the first half of class and he came in to finish up. She had him come up and stand next to her as she was bearing her testimony and transition over to him. I watched them interact in awe. My mom was sitting next to me. Two thoughts ran through my mind and brought me to tears. 1) I wish my mom to have that kind of companionship someday and mourn that she hasn’t yet. 2) I want desperately to hold on to the hope that I can have that kind of relationship.

What I am doing now: trying to not be resentful of my parent’s example. Trusting that God has a purpose and that I chose all of this on some level—that we all chose this. Express gratitude for those who have done the work to establish healthy, loving relationships so I can piece together new blueprints for what I want.

5. Trust my gut even when I don’t want to. I have been blessed/cursed with sometimes very quick realizations that I don’t need to date certain people. I can choose whether I see this as a blessing or a curse. I trust that my spirit knows more and is more sensitive to the big picture, where my mortal mind is often all about instant gratification.

What I am doing now: Choose to see it as a blessing and trust it. Live worthy of the Spirit so I can trust it with confidence.

6. Fill my life with good things and good people. I have received heavenly counsel to continue my associations with good, clean living young men and young women. I have, in the past, been drawn to the “bad boys.” I am now aware of it…my rescuer complex…and can let it go. I am becoming more and more aware of the importance of a track record. While, I have full faith and confidence in the Atonement and the power of repentance—and know that I will need to find someone who will be able to look at my faults and past mistakes with one eye closed—nothing can replace a solid track record. This doesn’t mean years of piety, just humble commitment. I think I’ll know what that looks like. At least, I hope that I’ll recognize it.

What I am doing now: My intention is to no longer attract guys who have certain kinds of baggage. No more dating the bad boys. Play on you playas. Don’t come knocking on my door.

7. It’s too late to settle for anything but the best. I would rather be single for the rest of my life than married and miserable. BUT, I don’t think I’m going to have to wait until the resurrection to turn in my “get out of hell free” card and find a mate. I do have full confidence that he is out there and praying for me just as fervently as I am for him.

Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks; Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted. Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord. D&C 98:1-4

What I am doing now: Prayer is powerful and in the meantime, I love being single. I love most everything about my life. I am living it up--trying to not love it so much that I get stuck.

8. Commit to each other to do things differently. This is related to #2 and communication. I look to my little sister as an example for this. She and her husband have made the conscious decision to wait until they have learned what each other's buttons are and how to not push them before they have babies. Because of their decision and commitment to each other's happiness, their kids will have more than a fighting chance at security in knowing their parents love each other.

What I am doing now: I am committed to doing things differently NOW. Relinquishing old habits and patterns, letting go of past resentment so that I can have a clean slate moving forward, always. Deciding now what I want to do differently in the future.

9. Put my marriage above my kids. I know that once I am married, I will not want to wait very long before I have kids. BUT I know that it is more important to establish a great husband-wife relationship before we bring little munchkins into the world. Many wise people have said the the best thing a father can do for his children is love their mother (click here for an awesome reference). I know this is true. People have asked me how I’m doing with the whole divorce thing. All I can say is that there are worse things a kid can go through.

It goes both ways. I want to have the kind of relationship that makes my kids roll their eyes, but secretly they love it cause they never doubt that their parents are madly in love with each other.

I’d like to start a revolutionary movement where parents start striving to be their kid’s heroes. You don’t have to be a superhero…just a plain hero will do.

What I am doing now: freezing my eggs.

Just kidding.

10. Be a covenant keeper NOW. Study the marriage covenant. Know exactly what I am saying “yes” to. What are the “rites,” ordinances, and laws pertaining to a celestial marriage? Explore where others have gone wrong. Commit to learning from their mistakes.

What I am doing now: Regular temple worship and gospel study. Hang out with covenant keepers.


chloe said...

So, in terms of #2, I think what you are doing, in keeping this blog is really a great way to help this one. You have a place where you are you all the time. Not that you necessarily would share this with every guy as soon as you start dating, but it's still there, in black and white (and lovely colored pictures), a record of who you are, good and bad, sassy and serious.

Honestly, the impetus for starting to blog (for me) was the fact that I'd completely lost myself in a relationship and I didn't want that to happen ever again. I still have those moments, but the "public record" thing sure helps me keep that in check.

Anyway, another fabulous post that's given me lots to think about.

Tracie said...


You are FULL of wisdom and love. Any guy worth his salt would/will be lucky to have you.

Your old high school friend,