Scar Tissue

I was prepared to take some time and heal after my engagement ended in April. I was prepared to face and endure the stages of grief. I took note of how angry I felt, how embarrassed I felt, and I set out to deal with those emotions. I did whatever I could to allow myself to experience the grief. I cried, I drew, I talked to friends, I talked to my family, I prayed, I hit the heavy bag, I went for walks and shouted to no one.

I knew I was emerging from the grief when I finally wanted to sleep. Every night for a year, I ended each day talking to him. And the absence of that experience, apparently left a scar. So much so, I stayed awake for the next eight months until I physically couldn’t stay awake any longer. Often drinking a bottle of wine to knock me out. Or just sit on my couch until exhaustion overpowered me. And then, begrudgingly, I’d collapse in my bed.

I knew I was emerging from the grief when I didn’t feel angry anymore. If I thought of him, my blood pressure didn’t rise. I didn’t feel anxious. I didn’t want to shout or hit anything. I didn’t have to tell myself I had been angry long enough. One day, I simply noticed it wasn’t there like the way it was the day before.

But I wasn’t prepared for the scar tissue to manifesting itself when I started dating again. Like the moments when I experience situations that used to give me anxiety. That used to lead to a fight…That used to make me afraid. Things like missing a call, wanting to meet friends for dinner, or having a meeting with a male coworker. All of it seems marginal now, but it wasn’t before. Each one was a conversation, and each one was the groundwork for a potential fight, or a potential line of questioning that led to me feeling inadequate or unworthy of trust. But when I experience these conversations now, they seem so light, so casual, and so…rational. Each time I brace for impact, and each time instead of belly slapping concrete, I land softly onto a foam mattress.

This is going to take some getting used to. And it’s going to take someone, possibly with their own scar tissue, to help me properly open my heart again. So far, it seems like I found a good one…


Reflections – Lily Melendez

If you don’t think life can look drastically different in the matter of a year, think again. Some people think that life proceeds in one, progressive direction: Singleness, dating, marriage, family, life, and then death. What I have learned between last year and this year, is that progress does not run in only a single direction.

This time last year, I was with him, in person, for the last time. I remember fingering the ring on my left hand as I set out to visit him with only two goals in mind: to make him feel loved and to avoid fighting. In a matter of hours, I had failed on both accounts. This time last year, I remember my chest tightening as I faced his confrontation. I remember my heart sinking as I saw the annoyance on his face. I remember feeling lost as I felt his disappointment. I remember wanting to speak, being asked to speak, being told to speak louder, and feeling as though producing any sound from my throat was impossible. I remember shaking. I remember tears meaning nothing. The effort to love feeling empty. And the future seemingly dark. Not alone, but lonely.

Then, a line in the sand was drawn. A door closed. The bolt turned. And healing followed.

This year, as I reflect on my present and my future, I’m filled with a sense of peace – and above all – hope. This year, I dined with warm hearts. I laughed until tears flowed with friends. And I spoke and heard love both near and afar. Alone, but not at all lonely.

If you think life is spiraling; if your heart feels heavy; do not despair. Change your direction.

With my last breath

“I can’t help but think that if I saw his face again, felt his anger again, and bore the weight of his stoic pejoratives, that I would quietly move to the ledge and step off,” she told me.

“I feel insignificant and invisible most of the time. I was okay with that. But when she left me, it was like she solidified it. Meeting her was like breathing for the first time. Now I am just grasping for air because I feel like I’m drowning. I feel lost and alone,” she shared.

In the beginning they felt safe, they felt known – even accepted for the first time, and deeply loved. And then it all went very, very dark.

The thing that I’ve been thinking about more and more is this sense of needing to and getting closer to letting go of what I want my life to look like. All the crushing blows of attempting to share love with someone are pushing me to believe that this kind life isn’t possible. The more I close my eyes and try to envision it now, the more all I see is darkness.

But there’s this small little light that’s coming from far away and it’s getting bigger. It doesn’t have any form to it, but it’s moving closer to me. I’m beginning to think that little light is God’s will.

I don’t know what that will is yet, but I do know that when I ask myself the question what do I want more than anything for people say at the end of my life, it is that I made them feel loved, valued, and protected. This is reassuring in a way. I know I am able to do each of those things without a partner who loves me back.

I want a partner, badly. But I’m still able to do what’s most important to me.

I keep thinking my cross to bear might be singleness. I’ve always been fearful that it was going to be this way, and people keep telling me not to give up hope. That I should keep believing and that if God gave me the desire for marriage, he will give it to me. I nod, but deep down I don’t really trust that it’s true.

There’s a sad and grieving group of us that can only understand what living this way feels like. Like we’re out in a dark ocean and waves keep crashing over us. Like we’re fighting just to breathe let alone hang on to hope. And then I ask myself, “Who is going to be there for the other people who are feeling exactly this way? Who is going to be there to hold their hand and empathize? Who is going to be there to keep them from stepping off the ledge?”

I don’t want this to be my calling, whether it’s forever or for a season. It’s painful, and it feels unfair. But then I look around and see the truth in other people’s lives. Hardly anything is fair!

So, I turn back toward the little light, and I think only one thing. If I’m called to love, value and protect others, I would rather live life giving that away than die taking away another’s chance at hope.

The scars on her hands

Every now and then she looks down. Every now and then she runs a finger gently over the raised skin. The flesh has formed back together, but the raised ridges remind her what had been.

Hanging onto the edge of the rope trying desperately to cling to hope. Hope, she thought, was leaning over the edge hanging onto the other end. Hope, she thought, wanted her to succeed.

“What must I do?” she pled.

“Stop telling lies,” he answered.

Lies? There were no lies. “What must I do?” she cried again, beads of sweat dripping down her body, her arms beginning to shake under the weight of trying to hold herself up.

“Stop. Telling. Lies,” he again answered. His eyes fixed on hers searching, disbelieving.

“He doesn’t see me,” she thought, and then, with sickening realization and building fear, “did he ever?”

The fibers of the rope were now sinking into her flesh. Dark, red streams ran down her arms.

“He’s not trying to save me,” she realized, “He’s not trying to save us.” For the first time she looked down. Darkness was all she could see below. No bottom. No hint as to what lied below.

With her last bit of strength, she looked up. He stood above her. Only his head visible beyond the ledge. He did not move.

The unknown? Or the known?

Her desire to hang on lessened. Looking down into the darkness also felt like looking up into the dark sky. It was peaceful.

And like slipping into a dream, she released her grip. Her body, as though floating and growing smaller and dimmer, finally disappeared into the darkness.

He stood there watching. Then, he dropped the rope and turned away. A few paces away from the ledge a stranger, who had been watching, approached him, “You couldn’t get to her?” he asked.

“She gave up,” he replied.

I’m way too good at goodbyes

Grateful to have a place to put down thoughts that have streamed through my head over the last few months. Most recently, it’s been a song: “Too good at goodbyes,” by Sam Smith.

Nathaniel didn’t share many songs with me, but when he did they had a meaning and a purpose. This was the last song he shared with me, the night I ended our engagement.

And it’s the song that’s been sung in my head over the last several months, especially now as I prepare to return home. This deployment has been long and hard. Lots of sleepless nights, late night walks, and gazing up at the night sky. Hearing the call to prayer off in the distance.

I ended the engagement. It’s easy to then assume that I walked away from the relationship unscathed. But the more I reflect on the past, the more hurt and anger surfaces.

I’m not good at goodbyes. I hate them in fact. They are not easy. I’d rather disappear into the night than say goodbye. For some though, it’s easy. Good for you I guess. After listening to a song that continuously reminds me that it was easy for the one I loved the most to let go of me, when I felt as though I had held on until my last bit of strength was left, I can say this:

I’m okay with goodbyes being hard.

“The pain of a hard good-bye is the heart’s tribute to the privilege to love.” – Beth Moore

And so she went…

He said, “So respectfully and in a civil manner, I’ll recommend that you move on if you haven’t already. I have. And doing so has proved to be healthier. Good luck to you.”

And so she went. Not on to someone else or to something. She simply and quietly closed the door and walked out into the night. Underneath the night sky, the same sky she had walked under during countless, sleepless nights. She found a clear spot to sit and gaze up. Fetching patterns in the sky; then staring directly at the moon. She exhaled. Deep and slowly. Letting pain and unaccepted love leave her chest. She exhaled again. Releasing desperation and fear. Once more. Exhaling the desire to be known.

She closed her eyes. Darkness covered her like a blanket. Loneliness, like an old friend, came and sat next to her. She leaned her head on his shoulder and he put his arm around her. Kissing her forehead, he then whispered, “you don’t need to fear me anymore. I never meant to harm you. With me you are safe and you are free. Now you can love with abandon and follow bravely the path God has set for you.”

She clutched Loneliness’ hand and said, “I am not afraid anymore. I am ready.”

One Thing I will Not Do…


Look at the one I love and feel afraid.

Have my responses timed.

Trust that I’m safe.

Feel guilty about what I’m willing to do.

Feel guilty about the jobs I’m willing to take.

Feel guilty for getting online.

Believe that I’m safe.

Tell someone my entire past.

Tell someone exactly what I’m thinking.

Tell someone that home is not okay.

Ask if I am safe.

Read books on how to communicate better.

Read books on how to love better.

Read books on how to meet a person’s needs.

Close my eyes and dream that I am safe.

I ask you, as a Christian, as a woman, as an officer, as an American…and as a cop

“What are your solutions? How would they fix things such that Ahmaud’s death would be the last tragedy? Please be specific as generalities are the cesspool in which good ideas rot into ineffectiveness…I don’t see said camp offering up any actionable solutions that will effect substantive change.

In short, I’m asking this:

As a leader, if you had all the power in the world to change everything, how would you solve this problem?”

As I read this post on my facebook page, I couldn’t help but marvel at the intent of the author.  This person is asking for solutions!

At the same time though, I could sense his exasperation.  I could sense his impatience with all the emotion spilled out on social media.  Where were these solutions?  Where was the change?  I want to see it with my own eyes.

How greatly do I empathize with those feelings.

The author of this post asked me several questions from several different perspectives.  I knew immediately, that a short reply to his post would be insufficient.  So, I moved my response over to my blog in hopes of having a better avenue of sharing my thoughts and reaching a wider audience.

Starting in reverse order, he asked me, “As a leader, if you had all the power in the world to change everything, how would you solve this problem?”  This question struck me at the onset.  It made me think of my ex-fiancé, and how he used to tell me that my words mattered.  It’s so true.  To summarize everything from the perspective that if I was a “leader” and had all the “power in the world,” suggests several things.  It suggests that the author of this question is looking for a political solution.  It suggests that the author of this question is looking for a single reference point to look toward and say, “this is what made it happen.”  It also bottlenecks me into a single way of answering what I think is the solution, when my first, second, and third solutions would not have begun with, “if I had the power.”  In short, I’m sorry friend, I cannot answer this question.

I next want to address the statement, “I don’t see said camp offering up any actionable solutions that will effect substantive change.”  To that statement, I have several questions.  But, I think my primary questions is, “Where are you looking for the substantive change?”  It seems like the desire is to see things righted overnight.  How I wish that could be achieved!  To say, “I don’t see said camp offering up any actionable solutions,” is an understandable statement, but is nevertheless only a perspective.  I would offer a different perspective.  I see the same camp signing petitions both for the arrest of the murderers and the dismissal of the district attorney who denied their arrests back in February.  I see the same camp raising awareness across the globe, telling and retelling Ahmaud’s story.  I see the same camp forcing a massive audience to watch the horrific death of this young man – compelling a population to accept that racism is not dead in our nation.  I also see the camp growing!  Martin Luther King Jr. said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal,” and “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” as well as, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  In short, I see the camp not so much offering solutions as they are being the solution.  They are speaking.  They are sharing.  And they are encouraging others to do the same.  Like a ripple effect, one person sharing a video, one person sharing the victim’s name, and within the same week, the murderers were arrested.

Justice would be substantive change.

A movement, across demographics, is substantive change.

You just have to open your aperture enough to see it.

Lastly, I will address the compounded question that came with passionate and sincere cadence, “I ask you, as a Christian, as a woman, as an officer, and as an American what are your solutions?”

For this question, my thoughts immediately went to my Lord and Savior.  During his lifetime, the vast majority of Jews wanted political and economic salvation from the Roman rule.  As they prayed and reflected on the prophesies of Isaiah, their eyes were searching for a leader – perhaps a warrior – who would overthrow their oppressors and free them from their enslavement.  He was God after all…and He had all the power in the world.

And yet…

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.

Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name above all names that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:5-11.

To answer this question then, As a Christian, I will continue to pursue being like Christ.

It just so happens that I’m over halfway finished listening to audio version of Michelle Obama’s book Becoming.  And it just so happens that on the same day I’m asked, “what would Lyndsey do,” I hear the most truthful words, “I’ve learned it’s harder to hate close up.”  It just so happens, that I don’t think that any of this was happenstance!

Knowing that my own ignorance and discriminatory thoughts took years of revision, I know that my own mindset toward other races and nationalities changed when I got up close to them.  When I listened to their stories, I heard their humanity.  And I realized the absolute wrongfulness of stereotypes.  From sitting in the home of a patriotic, Hispanic Navy Captain, born from illegal immigrants to sharing tea and dates with a Shia Muslim as we discussed ways to eradicate and free people from the fearful grip of terrorism, I found myself thinking the exact same thing, “how is it possible to hate these people?”

My dear friend, I offer you many solutions, but none of them are immediate.  Just as Christ’s work took the world one individual at a time, so must our work.  It starts with speaking.  It then moves to consistently repeating our testimony – our message – that there is only one acceptable way to live – like Christ.  Bold.  Humble.  Serving.  Loving.  Active.  We must then take that message “to all nations” and to all generations.

As a Christian, as a woman, as an officer in the Air Force, as an American, and as a cop this has been my message, and this is what I will continue to share.

“It’s easier this time”

“It’s easier this time.”

Written in a text, yet these words ring through my ears every, single day.  Questions berate my mind at random.  Easier this time how?  Easier from all the other times we’d both reached a point to calling it quits, only to come back to each other hours later? Or easier compared to the other relationships he’d walked away from?

I’m so angry.  I don’t know what it is that is making me so angry lately, but I know I can hardly handle it when well-intentioned people tell me what I deserve.  It makes me angry, and I don’t know how to respond, when people tell me that I’m full of talent and a force to be reckoned with.

In part, I feel a temptation to step toward their comments and believe them.  And then, like a wet blanket, the reality of life snuffs out that little spark of belief.  Then, like a wave, experience smacks me in the face.

If I am so wonderful, then why in the hell is it possible for two men in my lifetime to ask me to marry them only to make walking away from me “easy” to do? One didn’t even say goodbye.  He just slipped away without a word, and left me there to make sense of the pieces.  Then this time, just before sliding off the ring, never to place it on my hand again, I read the words, “it’s easier this time.”

Angry, warm, tears fill my eyes and spill out over my pillow, my desk, my gosh darn toilet paper.  Why in the hell did I read the books, listen to the sermons, and pour my heart and soul – even at the cost of my own mental strength – into not only showing someone my whole self, but to also make every effort to be what they needed as well?

I don’t know, but I do know is this much.  I’ve thrown away the books.  I’m done with the self-help.  I can’t listen to the sermons.  I can barely mutter words when I bow my head.

Anyone can call me that I am strong, assertive, or brave for standing up for myself.  Most of the time though, all I feel is angry.

Someone, please tell me, why it was so easy.

Do Me a Favor

“When you least expect it, God will bring Him to you.”

“God is preparing someone for you.”

“God is just helping you to see what you don’t want in a marriage.”

Do me a favor, don’t ever tell someone who has just let go of the love of their life these words.  Just.  Don’t.

And don’t try to get people like me excited about the next relationship.  Just.  Don’t.  Let me be okay with not wanting a “next.”  Let me grieve.  Let me be angry.  Let me pray.  Let me be quiet.  Let me be embarrassed.  Let me lose sleep.  Let me get drunk.  Let me laugh and then immediately cry.

Those shallow phrases only serve to tell people like me that you have no idea what this grief is like.  All that tells me is that you’ve never walked this path before.  So, do people like me a favor and just don’t say anything.

And don’t minimize God’s plan to a magical formula.  There is no biblical support for the concept that the moment one is content with singleness, He brings someone into your world to love and cherish you for the rest of your life.  “When you least expect it, he will come.”  God is the author of love and miracles that give him glory.  He’s NOT the fairy god mother.

Despite what you think, I don’t exist for marriage.  I don’t exist to birth children.  That is not the pinnacle, nor has it ever been, for my life.  So, do me a favor and before assuming anything, ask someone like me what they value most in life.  You might be shocked by the answer.

Were you to ask me, my answer would’ve been that I thrive off of loving, serving, and protecting others.  That’s it.  That need not fit a particular mold.  That need not be isolated in just one thing.  But that had, for a year, at least fit into a single picture I was creating with someone.

And the reality might actually be that for just one year, I got as close as I am ever going to get to marriage.  Maybe not all of us are cut out for 50 years and 4.5 children.  Some of us simply were not designed for that life, and I have, for a very long time, suspected that I was not fitting into that particular, domesticated mold.

But it is as though some refuse to let that be okay.  It has made me feel so divided and confused, to the point that I feel like I don’t really know what I want…or what I should want.  Except that I do know!

Ultimately, I chose to take the risk.  I had the desire to love, the desire to serve, and the desire to create a safe space for someone to be vulnerable with me.  For a time, I was able to also be fully vulnerable and fully safe with someone.  I reached depths of trust and self exposure, moments so great that I not only doubt, I am content, not to reach those limits again with another person.  A broken relationship does not devalue the accomplishments that unfolded during that time.  If you smash a vase, the shards still indicate there was some beauty there.

But I broke the vase.  When I no longer felt safe in the space we had created, I chose to protect myself from the pain and hurt.  But with that same swing that sent the pieces flying, I also broke my promise of commitment.  I broke his reality that he was safe.  You cannot, cannot, just stand there looking down at the mess you made and walk away comforted by those three empty phrases.