Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Reframing Michael and Christine

Sharing life on the Internet is risky business. … Choosing how vulnerable you want to be is tricky. People assume that they know everything there is to know if they simply read a blog or follow a Twitter feed.  As if sharing one deeply personal thing means all writers share all the things going on in their lives.” - Tara Livesay

A note from Michael and Christine:

That internet thing is great, as a window. A window with curtains that can be open and shut as we please. We share some things about our kids, but not all things.  They are not all ours to share and they are not for all of you to know.  We share some things about our marriage.  And again - they are not all ours to share and they are not for all of you to know.  In our home, we give one another that courtesy because we are all awesome and we are all horrible - depending on what hour of what day.  For years we have held each other safely and carefully in our words that we speak, because we know one another at our very best and our very worst.  We are that safe place for one another and will continue to be that safe place - because we are both being and doing awesome, while also sucking and just doing the very best we can.

The two of us want to honor the fact that most of you will be utterly shocked by things we are about to share. It would be easy to say, “It’s really none of your business.”  Well, we have made parts of our lives your business, whether it has been through church ministry or speaking/teaching or online.  We have shared, always in the hopes of being a help in some way. Living parts of it out loud in case it moves someone along in the same way. So this news - this information - can now be something you may know. Now is the right time for that.

We also realize this might be very confusing for most of you.  Big shocker - it doesn’t look like how most people do it.

For a long while now we have been sharing our lives in a way that some might call a “separation.”  Except, we still live together.  Our situation has looked like this for quite a few years now. After several years of living our lives in this way, we have legally ended our marriage. We are letting a wider circle know about something that has long since transpired.

We still love each other (although, as many of you know, the process involved many days/hours/weeks of very much not liking each other).  We still run a business together.  We are still a family day in and day out.  Yet, we have separated, slowly and very intentionally, certain aspects of our life and relationship.  It has happened through the guidance of trained professionals who affirmed that we love and respect each other very much, but certain parts of our relationship were not functioning in a healthy way.  We found more peace and joy in our home once we addressed those things and made changes.  Together.  

One particular therapist was very affirming that we do this in a way that works for us.  No one should tell us how it needs to be.  That is exactly what we have done.

So, this is the confusing part, we assume, for a lot of people.  We are not mad at each other, even though parts of this have included much pain and hurt and sorrow (we are grieving this change and relationships don’t end because they are awesome!).  We genuinely like one another and want to support the other as we keep figuring out how to be a family through this. We get along and work together better than most couples we know, even as our marriage has ended.  For now, we are still going to live together the vast majority of the time.  It works for us. Any other relationships that have been in our lives or that might move into our lives, have been and will always be consensual and encouraged. Celebrated. While we still share a home much of the time and a large chunk of our lives.

There is no way to explain how perfectly matched we were, twenty years ago, to share and live out so much of our lives in the way we both wanted.  We have always viewed our marriage as a gift.  We have done big things, fun things, passionate things and changed the world, together, just in the way we have lived on this planet as a couple.  We are grateful for all we have shared.  Zero regrets.

Beyond what we are sharing?  Thank you for honoring the fact that this much is all you are invited to know.  You see, just like everyone else, our lives are complicated.  It’s not one thing, but many.  And not “bad” things.  Just different.  Complicated. We are not bad people.  We are simply allowing ourselves to flourish in what works, and give space to what doesn’t. Just like so many of you who are already friends and encouragers of your ex-spouses once you both had space and time, we have simply worked through the more challenging part before most people became aware of our struggles. Both of us are supportive of one another moving forward in relationship and life. We have nothing negative to share about the other.

Do any of you have any idea where we spent our honeymoon twenty years ago?  Nope.  Not one of you.  Not one single solitary person on this planet knows, nor will they ever know.  We are both taking that to the grave with us.  That is how we started.  Sharing things that are only ours.  Valuing it and holding it sacred.  This, too.  We have our people and our very, very tight circle of friends who are holding us up in this.  We’re covered.  We’re good.  Thank you for letting us … have this as ours.  This process.  This grief and pain. This shared love and life.  How we are choosing to live it.

Thank you for not writing us individually to ask us if we’ve tried everything or if we’ve really thought this through.  You see, that is all we have done and that is what we are still doing.  Years of therapy. Literally thousands of dollars. Intense effort. We are simply now letting you know, because at this point it has been a normal way of life for us for quite a long time.  We are not letting you know to ask you to speak into our lives.  There are trusted friends who have earned that space by investing in us over the years.  Again - we’re covered.  We’re good. Whatever it is that you want to share, we know it, we’ve read it, we’ve done it in therapy, we’ve taught it in a Bible study. If you truly know us, you know what our marriage means to us. So, you already know how much we have invested in all of this before making these decisions.

In the same way and reason we have shared other parts of our lives, it is our hope that this will actually give you all a great encouragement in love and marriage.  Just because some very significant things are no longer healthy or shared in our marriage, does not change our love and respect for one another. Also, this is not easy.  This is hard.  Still sharing parts of our lives while giving each other space in other areas … it is hard.  We are doing this because we love each other and our children so very much. We are working through the hard parts due to our love.  

Please be kind to yourself if this is bringing you some big feelings. We all have personal reasons for responding to the news of a divorce. It is based on your own experiences, history and beliefs, and you need to give yourself plenty of room to feel this. It’s okay to grieve the end of how you’ve always known “Michael & Christine.” Do that. Take time to realize your own feelings and what might be driving them. Dare to address your fears. Even though our lives are separate from you and do not dictate how things should be for everyone else, your feelings are still valid and need to be felt. Worked through. Also, thank you for not asking prodding questions to help yourself feel better or receive some closure. If you wouldn’t ask it in front of our children, then the question is more about how you are feeling and not true, genuine support for the seven of us. Thank you for thinking that through and and honoring our requests.

Be sad. Be heartbroken, even. Be disgusted or disappointed. But we also ask that you be thoughtful.
We cannot give the energy to help you feel better about our divorce. We are much too busy doing this well and making our home and family a priority. Some of you will feel it absolutely necessary to tell us point blank that you disagree with our decision or that you feel there is always a way around this (so surely we did not try everything). We cannot stop you, but we hope you will do a self-check on that need to shame before saying or writing anything. The two of us have been practicing more self-control when our feelings are really big and uncomfortable. We ask that you join us in that.

It is a big thing. A big change. Something to be felt. Don’t deny yourself that. If you can encourage us both, and encourage our family of seven and all that we want it to be, we welcome that. If you are struggling to do that, thank you for finding a way to quietly keep some distance for as long as you need. We understand. We have been in your shoes. We will honor what you need while you are doing the same for us.

We celebrate our love and our family while grieving the change and the separation.

There is no beginning and no end to the love that [we] share … it is an infinite string tied between our hearts. May that string become a violin that sings love songs throughout eternity. May the elaborate connection we share be not belittled by our separation, but admired for its acceptance of truth and necessity. May we live in respect, and cherish all that has been created because of this love.” - Ciara Blossom

Friday, January 16, 2015

Recapping a decade of my life

(photo by Alyza Moore for the "Bodies Born to Rise" project)
I have spent the last several months going through every last inch of this blog. Reorganizing. Cleaning up old labels. Making it easier to find things. I'm not done and still have many hours of work ahead of me.

In March it will be ten years of blogging.

It's a weird thing to be able to look at a decade of your life. Not all of it. Just the parts I let others see, of course. But that is its own interesting experience.

It's not news that I have been writing less and less. I have stared at it to find exactly what/when/how this has happened. I figured there would be a pattern of some sort. I cross-analyzed it with Facebook (because this was a very serious scientific inquiry, don't ya' know?). I compared it with life events.

And that's when I saw it. It wasn't one thing. It has been many.

a major shift in homeschooling and my time here at my kitchen table after one of our kids entered public school 
new in-real-life community that I began to be very deliberate about maintaining 
running, then running more and training more and running some more 
more of my children joining social media and joining with them there 
coaching other parents online and reading/researching regularly to have more resources at my fingertips 
respecting the privacy of my kids as they age - even deleting and changing wording on things I write to honor their healing and personal space 
a huge dip happening after going to two burns in four months - practicing being present and cutting all online connection for large chunks of time (you see a very deliberate drop in posts after I acquired my ticket to Burning Man one March and began preparing ... that made me smile, remembering that spring and summer ... so many amazing experiences) 
having teenagers - my life looks completely different now 
perimenopausal brain fog making writing much more tedious and exhausting

This was once my therapy. My self-love. This place has carried me for years. It was where I could pour things out, process my own experiences and grow out loud just a little bit. It did its job beautifully. I have grown in ways I never expected. My ease into this new phase of life and parenthood has been gradual. I am finding my self-expression in other ways these days. I am challenging myself with smaller groups of people. I have the freedom to leave this table much more than I ever have.

As a part of what I have called my "blog cleanse," I am reposting all of my most helpful therapeutic parenting posts on my coaching site. There is already a full year set to post throughout 2015 to refresh and encourage you: Christine's Parent Coaching Blog

For years, my blog was a way to keep family current on stuff and to connect with other homeschoolers. It stayed that way for quite a while. Until we became therapeutic parents. And as many of you remember, that was when readership spiked. We were a bit like a car crash and people couldn't help but rubber-neck. Others who were having similar struggles found us and started to hold our hands virtually over the years.

The reason I help other parents now is because, like all of us, I wish I had known everything I know now when I started learning and practicing "therapeutic parenting." Yet, I'm still learning. More and more. Because kids continue to hurt and experience trauma. More professionals are taking an interest and working tirelessly to find more answers.

I learned what it meant when they said things like, "The best therapy happens at home." Yet I also experienced how that meant a bunch of us normal people with our own histories/traumas were supposed to be the magic, not even realizing just how much our kids' trauma was constantly triggering our own issues and buttons. We didn't have years of schooling. We didn't have professors insisting we have our own therapy before daring to provide therapeutic interventions to others.

We've been pioneers. Yet, it doesn't feel like that to us. It feels more like "floundering and grasping at straws."

I believe this is changing. I believe it will continue to change. And this has been how I have contributed. We all have in some way. I am very proud of our family's floundering and our willingness to share it with others. I am also proud of the others who have understood we only share a portion of it and maintain some privacy.

I thank each of you for the way you are contributing in your floundering. Through message groups, social media posts, advocating and daring to question therapists who don't seem to "get it." We are all changing the face of early childhood trauma.

That is why I'm reposting the meat of all of that in a separate space. I already have a year of posts ready to go. One per week. We want it to continue to help people along the way.

That's a big part of what this blog became. The other is my own personal unfolding. I had no idea when I started this that I would be where I am today. At a little RV park in south Texas. No longer wearing the hat of "pastor's wife." Spending days not finding myself, but allowing all that has existed within me to finally have a space on the outside. Some of you have walked that with me. So, I leave this here for that reason. I'm proud of it. Embarrassed by some of it. Uncomfortable reading back through other parts. But I know that being vulnerable brings me strength. And it brings you strength. I'm glad to do that, even when I hate it.

In the meantime, remember that we are about to hit February.


Now, hasn't that been a ride? Last year I ended my part and I've turned it over to you. I will be leaving all of these posts for your yearly inspiration: Sexperiment, Sexuary and the Infamous Post on Butt Sex

I take a holistic approach to myself, which is why I've always talked about so many things. All the things. There are many important pieces to life that dribble over and affect the others. So, I proudly leave you with the years of my own sexuary experiences. The good, the bad ... and the butt.

To whomever you are, thank you for holding my coat as I dive into my own figuring-it-out. I will keep holding this space for myself as I need it. And I'll hold it for you, too. Whatever it has been for you along the way. If anything I have ever written has helped just one person in a struggle or life-shift, it has been so very worth doing this in a public way.

I'll see you around.

Monday, January 05, 2015


Last night in the car one of the kids was talking about an idea they heard in their student group for the new year. Make a jar that you can place in a prominent-enough location that you won't forget about it. Write down the good things that happen to you. Take a moment in the evenings to do it. On your bad days, you can randomly read about and be reminded of the good in your life.


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Therapeutic Parenting Resources

I have been working very hard the last few weeks to reorganize the things I have learned over the past six years, when it comes to parenting. My goal has always been to share. However I can.

As you would suspect, as my life has been pretty messy, my sharing has been pretty messy. Scattered. So, I have been putting a very deliberate effort into organizing and re-presenting it in a way that can be more easily searched and utilized.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Open up that October door!

(photo by Kate Northern; used
with permission)

It's the most wonderful time of the year in my house.

Halloween ... and National Coming Out Day!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Summer time, when the living is ... *deep breath*

I am experiencing something right now that so many of you do every year. However, it is brand new to me. I have a child attending public school, so this is my first "have them home all summer" thing.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Immediacy and Impermanence

This week I participated in beautiful and ridiculously lengthy Facebook thread, birthed by burners. It was full of snark and brilliance. Within minutes I had fallen madly in love with people I have never met, and wanted them all at my party.

Also, I wanted to plan a party.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

There is no magic pill, right?

If you are like me, you are an animal when it comes to seeking out help for your kids.  From struggles with learning, to finding clothes that fit right as their bodies grow and change, to learning about all the therapy options for mental and emotional health issues ... we advocate for the little and the big.

(photo by Tibor Fazakas; used with permission)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Six years

(November 2010 - Elizabeth Knox Photography)

Six years ago today we became a family of seven.