Words are so powerful and you cling onto them even when you do not realize it. In dealing with the aftermath of divorce and losing my kids I tried so hard to be strong, but my strength was masked with hidden emotions. Every time I would hear, “Lauren, you are handling all of this so much better than expected” or “your strength during this is admirable” or “I expected you to fall apart but you are doing so well”… I would add another lock to the door that was holding in my emotions. No one meant anything bad by it, I mean lets face it, I am an emotional woman and have fallen apart over a lot less. This time, though, was different because my emotions were far too great for me to handle and it would have overtaken me. I know that locking away my emotions was not the most efficient way of working through all that happened but it was the best solution I could come up with at the time. Each day I could feel the pressure of the emotions inside of me just bursting at the seams to come out, but I continued to lock it away tighter and tighter.
I spent most of the summer of 2017 just floating through time and pretending that I was just fine. I engulfed myself into spending time with friends and family and keeping a smile on my face. When my emotions would try to come out I would do something else to turn them off like drinking alcohol. I remember in July of 2017 I had received some unfortunate news that my kids were being moved to another home again. I felt so responsible because they had stability with me and then had to move and what was supposed to have been their second forever home ended up not working out and they were going to be moved again. The heaviness of that news was too much for me and my emotions were beginning to burst out. But, I did the only thing I knew to do to survive those moments…I turned them off, locked them away, and got drunk. The inside of me was screaming for help from my own tortuous emotions that wanted out so badly, but I just could not do it.
During this time I began going to a small group at church for young adults and it was there where I met the unexpected…Tyler. Tyler was a bit of a lost soul and was experiencing his own struggles in his life. He was distancing himself from everyone and seemed to want no one around so I began reaching out to him. Tyler was handsome and covered in tattoos, which I found so attractive. However, a love interest is not what I was going for here. I have always hated to see people go through hardships and feel alone so my intentions were purely to invest my time into helping someone out by just being a friend. One night when he missed our weekly group meeting, I reached out and he invited me to come to the Riverwalk with him to just talk. I met up with him that night and we walked up and down the river side for hours just talking. I learned a lot about his life and he learned a lot about mine. Over the next few weeks we spent several nights together just talking by the river. One night, we were out as usual and the unthinkable happened…he KISSED me. It was at that moment that the first key was used to open up a lock that was blocking all of my emotions. I was a sobbing mess when I got home. I had not kissed another man in 8 years!!!
We continued to meet up for the next few weeks and he continued to kiss me. I started feeling emotions for this guy and I had no idea what to do because feeling emotions for him meant the other emotions that I had locked away for so long also had to be felt, and I was not ready to deal with all of my baggage just yet. As I look back on it now, I am not sure why he stuck around for as long as he did because I was so mean to him. No lie…I was a jerk. Being a jerk was just how i attempted to keep myself from feeling anything. I did not know Tyler prior to my divorce so he did not know anything about my life. His curiosity in just getting to know me were just more keys being used to unlock my emotions. Over the course of the next few months all of the doors that hid my emotions were officially broken. Tyler would listen so patiently as I cried uncontrollably to the point that I could not breathe or speak. He just had a way about him that was so comforting. He did not see me as damaged goods as I saw myself, he saw me as a woman that he grew to love. I felt so worth it to him.
I know most people call the first post-break-up relationship a “rebound”, but Tyler was so much more than that. I did not use him to distract me from my emotions, but instead, he caused me to face my emotions and truly deal with them. He did all of it without complaint or getting tired of hearing about my ex-husband and all that had happened in my life. I honestly have never felt so loved and cherished by another man in the way that Tyler loved and cherished me during that time. He was just what I needed when I had no idea that I needed it. While our relationship was not met with celebration from almost anyone for reasons beyond my understanding, I finally felt whole again. I gave into my internal fight of not wanting to be with him because I had finally had dealt with my emotions from my divorce and was no longer scared to let someone into my life again. The emotions of losing my children will likely never leave, but Tyler taught me how to handle those emotions differently than drinking or shutting them off completely. He continued to make me talk about how I was feeling and would always check in with me to see how I was processing everything. He was always so attentive to me and his support was such a treasure.
The story of Tyler and I has been quite the journey full of some of my happiest moments and some super hard moments. Our story has left me with a few questions. Can two broken people work together? Are people only meant to be in your life for a season to heal? Can forever really happen when you are so different from one another? When do you know that God is closing a door in your life? There is more left to be told and questions to be answered, but again, that is a story for another day. In the meantime, I want to shift gears for a bit and walk you through a much different road in my life and where I am at now…stay tuned!
Thank you for the impact you have had on my life. You have helped me in ways beyond your own recognition and I am forever thankful to you. Your love for me has never for a second gone unnoticed or not felt. While our life story is left open and unfinished, always know that you were the unexpected treasure that I never knew I needed. I believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself and I know that the Lord has a great plan for your life. Trust in Him and continue to seek out His plan for your life because I promise you that He has one and it is amazing. You are greater than your past and it is only a part of your story that the Lord will use to help other men who have experienced what you have experienced.