Friday, March 19, 2010

Why St. Joseph is so important to me . . . Episode 1

Happy St. Joseph's Feast Day!

In October, I will be marrying the man that God created for me. We started our journey together six years ago as seniors in high school. We met when we both visited the same college (now my Alma Mater). He was from the city, I was from the country. We kept in touch and months later began to date.

Anyone who knows our story or has walked through our journey with us can tell you that our relationship has not been an easy one. We've been through our share of ups and downs.

I studied abroad in Italy the fall semester in 2006. It was during that trip that for the first time, God confirmed to me that this really was the man I was meant to marry. And it wasn't until that moment that I started to say "when we get married" instead of "if we get married".

I came home from studying abroad and shared my experience with my boyfriend. That Christmas break we looked at rings for the first time. We consecrated our relationship to St. Joesph (basically just officially asking the patron of purity and marriage, to pray for us). We began to move forward from dating to preparing for engagement. After a while, he began telling his friends (and a few of mine) that he was planning on "popping the question" and some of them knew his plans.

Long story, short (or just short-er), he didn't propose as he has planned. And shortly after the date of his planned proposal passed, he ended our relationship. I was devastated. I had never, and have never, felt my heart break before like this, but I really truly felt it. I sobbed for hours, and when Monday rolled around and I got up for classes, I just couldn't do it. I was somewhat well-known for always having a smile and being cheerful. I couldn't bring myself to pull it together and left that morning, driving the 4.5 hours home.

I spent a few days dealing with everything (and crying . . . a lot . . .) and really felt God was calling me not to give up on us quite yet. So, I asked if I could make the 2 hour detour on my way back to school to come talk to him. When I arrived, it was so clear that he wasn't thinking clearly. It was not until many months later that I learned he was going through some deep depression. All he kept saying was that he just wasn't happy anymore. I tried desperately to understand how he'd given up on 3 years for a two week rocky patch. In the end, I just couldn't reach him. He had already made his decision. I made it clear that if he wanted to turn around right now, and work back to where we were, that we could. If, however, I walked out that door in the same situation as I walked in, that this would be it. That this was not a break, that this was over. After many tears on both ends, and hitting the brick wall over and over, I accepted his decision and left.

I still hadn't quite given up on us yet. That next weekend, we both had school dances, and had planned on going to one of them together. Needless to say, I did not attend my dance. But, on Sunday, due to our dear friend "facebook", I learned quickly that he had gone to his dance, and he hadn't gone alone. I was completely devastated. After talking to him and verifying what I already knew to be true, I made it very clear that I never wanted to see him again. I told him . . . what I thought of him . . . that I couldn't believe he could do this and hurt me so badly, and that I never wanted to hear from him again. "I hate you. Never call or contact me again. You've lost me, forever. Get out of my life."

Years later, I can still remember saying these words. And in all of the mess, this is the only thing I regret: telling him I hated him. It was a lie. I didn't hate him. I was angry, deeply hurt, and shocked, but I never once hated him. And, that was it. I purged my life of him that week, throwing away everything that I had of our relationship. I deleted pictures, threw away gifts, and ended up deleting my facebook profile (many of his friends were my "friends" and also had pictures I just couldn't handle seeing). And when I finally did open my facebook again, I deleted him, and just about all of his friends, from my "friends".

I went through a few weeks of being unable to eat and throwing up every morning when I woke up to the real life nightmare (the one positive, I lost 10 lbs! haha). I fell into Jesus' arms, and just laid there . . . for days . . . letting him hold me as I sobbed in his arms. Slowly, though, I began to get up from this terrible fall. I began to attend mass every day, and clung to the Eucharist for strength to stand. Music was a huge source of strength for me (to this day, I still have my "break-up" playlist). I started to eat again, and then began to run. I would just run and run everyday. Thinking back, I think it was the only way I felt like I was moving forward. Running was my escape. I wanted so desperately for this man that knew everything about me not to know me anymore. And since I couldn't move or change my life, I began to change my body. I began to pray for him everyday. Each morning, it was a simple 2 sentence prayer: "Lord, please send him someone to get him back on the right track. St. Joseph, please pray for him, protect him, and guide him." I couldn't keep myself from praying for him, even when I wasn't sure it was good for me to keep thinking about him. Everyday, for 9 months, I prayed this prayer.

The only time I contacted the man that broke my heart was in an email a week later, to tell him I was sorry for saying I hated him. The only time he contacted me was a month later to let me know (by demand of a mutual friend, and my now maid-of-honor) that he was now dating the girl from the photographs I'd seen, and wanted me to hear from him. For 9 months, we had no contact. Due to mutual friends, I heard about him once in a while. I knew he had turned down the wrong path, away from God. I knew his relationship was not a good one. 7 months after we split, I heard about the depression. With that information, many of the things he had said the last time I saw him finally made sense.

So, why am I telling you all about the horrible break-up? Well, it's probably more for me than for you. Every time I re-tell the story, I re-live it, and heal a little bit more. But, the reason I began to tell you about all of this is so you can truly see the beauty of how God worked next . . .

I will post the conclusion of the story on a new post . . . this one has ended up being much longer than planned!

stay tuned for the next episode of "Days of Amanda's Life". haha.


Unknown said...

Amanda, I had a break up like this, too. Well, it was similiar in that I reacted in grief just like you did and my heart was completely broken. It is different in that he and I are not married and are in fact married to different people. It is so trite when people tell you that you go through hard times that you will one day appreciate, I know you get that. But now its 8 years later, and I do appreciate that hard time because my life's path is what God wanted for me, not what Bethany wanted for herself.

I am glad that this resolved itself in such a positive way.

Thank you for sharing, it made me say a prayer of thanksgiving!

TheCatholicCradle said...

Yes, I would never say that what happened was God's will, because I firmly believe it was not God's will. However, God works with the crud we give him, and he worked to heal my heart and make me stronger. It makes it comforting to know that no matter how much we mess up, he can, and will, always work with it. He can always make a rainbow out of our rain! :D