Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Settling In

Breaking radio silence. Yes, hello again. I know, I've been absent after dropping the big engagement news. But you must agree that getting married, traveling through 6 states, moving to New York, and all those adjustments have kept me pretty busy. It's been a whirlwind 3 months, but part of my New Years goals includes regularly blogging here. Partly because I find myself in a new phase of life- newlywed and starting my own home/family. Partly because I'm starting this next stage in an exciting new place- the Big Apple herself,  New York City. And lastly, because as I start these new adventures I find myself far from most of my friends and family and I want to stay connected.

Speaking of staying connected, as a young college student there was a joke amongst my friends about our friends that got married. We jokingly said that when they started dating it was like they got sick- we saw them less frequently. When they got engaged it was as if they had slipped into a coma- completely unresponsive to friends and prior activities. And upon marriage, they died and we mourned their loss in our lives. Depending on the person, about a year later they were resurrected and we rejoiced at the opportunity to enjoy that friendship again.  A little harsh I suppose, but on the other side it absolutely felt like that. I will apologize right now if I have made any of my friends feel like this. Right now is a time of lots of transitions and adjustments for me personally, but I so dearly cherish my connections and friendships.

As I mourned the loss of friends after their marriages, I suppose I assumed that part of their disconnection was that they were wrapped up in newlywed bliss and well, the bedroom. Well, that may be a consideration, now I can add a bit more depth. There is a definite adjustment within a relationship and what you can share with other people about your relationship. What is appropriate to share? It doesn't feel right to tell your best friends or you mom about something your husband did that bothers you or even made you mad. There is a distinct difference between telling the friends all about those crazy bad dates you endured and about sharing details of your marriage. A sacred trust and confidence comes with marriage, one that includes a lot of vulnerability and emotional intimacy between husband and wife. And as you seek to communicate, it should really only be between the couple and the Lord. I'm not saying that you shouldn't speak up if something is wrong or that you can never talk about your marriage with the appropriate people. I just want to share that insight for someone who maybe thought what I did after my friends got married. I'm still here, but I can't share all the details of this new part of my life because it's not just mine to share. It's ours.

Friends keep asking if I'm settled in yet. And I keep making a crazy face when they ask because I think to myself, "Settled in? What is that? What do you mean? Do you mean, that after three months of marriage, moving to New York City, finding a job, and searching for an apartment, is everything all normal and routine?" Because my answer is still- not quite (or not at all if I'm being really honest). I live in a city that refuses to settle. My husband always says that this is a city of opportunities, where if you don't like your job you can always find something better. And you see that a lot. People moving from job to job, apartment to apartment in search of what they want. Sure, I have met people who have lived in the same apartment for 25 years, or had the same job for a long time, but there is an attitude in this city of refusing to settle on your dreams. If you want something, you need to search for it and grab it with two hands. I admire that attitude about New Yorkers and the city. Whereas my small town girl heart does want to be a little more settled, I know that will come as I adjust. But I hope to learn from this city to never settle on those things that matter most.

Throughout this year, I will be doing a series of "I live in a city that..." posts to document my experience in the Big Apple. I hope to share some insights that are different from the stereotypes and bring me great joy within the city.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Two Stories For Two Months To Go

In two months I get to marry German!!!!!! And there was much rejoicing. So, in honor of this countdown milestone (and because I need a break from wedding planning, job applications for New York, and figuring out how to move my stuff,) I've decided to share a few cute moments of our journey together.

I've told the story of knowing that I was going to marry him after the first phone call. I sat there wondering if it was the Spirit or wishful thinking. There was nothing that suggested it would be in this timetable or anything so I just kept going, talking to him, getting to know each other. A week after we met I had planned to go to the Grand Canyon with some friends on the 4th of July and to watch the sunrise. Something that has been on my bucket list for several years. We left in the middle of the night to drive up and be there for sunrise. We were the first people to arrive at the vista and waited about 30 minutes before the sun started peeking out. It is hard to describe how profound that experience was for me. Not just the beauty of the canyon, or how the light illuminated and changed the canyon with every passing minute. It was the spiritual parallel that really touched my soul- waiting for the light, every single person eagerly waiting for and facing the sun, and the transforming effect that light had upon the people as well as the canyon. Okay, I digress a bit. So as I'm watching this and having lots of profound thoughts suddenly I think, "I wish German was here so I could share this with him." And following right behind that thought was "I want to go on adventures with him. Maybe forever." I can honestly say I've never quite had those sentiments about another relationship that quickly. I called him from the Grand Canyon and sent pictures and a postcard (which he never got, but that's another story). That really set the stage for my next story.

The second story I want to share happened just a week after that. I had a horrible day at work- the kind where you almost quit before lunch- and typically I like to be alone after those kind of days. But after a bit of time by myself, I realized I just wanted to talk to him. So as I was talking to him I drove to the Gilbert Temple and sat outside in my car while we talked, read scriptures together, and prayed. And in the course of that conversation, he said some things that echoed my patriarchal blessing and dreams that I've had. So, of course, I'm sitting there with tears streaming down my face but trying not to let him know I was crying ( don't worry, I told him later). And the Spirit whispered punched me and said "Do you get the hint yet?" And suddenly, everything I'd ever wanted and have prepared and waited for was right in front of me and it was not the butterfly and rainbow feeling. It was a clutch in my stomach and an ache in my chest. If I had been falling for him before, I hit the ground full force in that moment. It was scary and real and ready-or-not-here-we-go. I called my mom and best friend in a crying-laughing way to try to explain what just happened and how everything changed for me in that moment.

I hope you enjoyed hearing some of our journey and I can't wait to celebrate with all of you in just two months!!!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Unapologetically In Love

So I'm engaged!!! 

For readers of this blog, that might come as a surprise. Last time I wrote on here I was still healing from a devastating relationship and falling in love with myself and life again. As the new relationship developed, I was hesitant to share details too soon as I have done that before only to regret it later. I had just bled all over ( literally and figuratively) and I thought the last thing I need is to put my fragile heart back out there. But the Lord had another plan for me and, when I least expected it, put someone absolutely incredible in my life.

Let me be clear about something first though. In the difficulty of the past year or so and losing myself a bit, I vowed I was going to really love myself and really love life. I made goals that I have actively pursued since January like traveling, taking piano lessons, being involved in more service, getting healthy again, etc. It was a very active and deliberate course of faith to love who I am and everything around me including opportunities, places, and little moments. I truly believe that because I moved in that direction despite the pain and depression that haunted me, I have been blessed to find the relationship I have with my fiance, German.

It has been a whirlwind relationship as we met this summer and both were serious about a relationship from the beginning. We met on a dating app and I remember that after I talked to him on the phone for the first time, I sat in my car and thought, "Wow, I'm going to marry him." I just knew. I know you hear stories about that from other people, but it never is going to happen to you, right? But it did and I am so grateful. Five days after I met him I bought a ticket to visit him in New York, recognizing that a turning point in my life was coming. Rarely do I think we can see those coming, so I have done my best to prepare (long before this and as it was happening). For both of us it has been a profoundly romantic and spiritual journey as we have sought guidance and counsel through prayer, studying the scriptures, fasting, and attending the temple. And we are moving forward in faith, though from the outside the timing and circumstances of the relationship may not be conventional or even rational.

I expected the questions and concerns from family and friends- they love me and want this to be a good thing. I did not expect, however, the push back, negative responses, and criticisms. You may be wondering why I am even giving any thought to those who are less than supportive, especially when I do have a lot of love and support coming in. But I will say something because I've been on the other side. I have watched dozens of friends get married, then have babies, etc. And though I tried never to vocalize my jealousy or display bitterness, at times it was a struggle. Though I never missed a bridal shower or reception because of how I felt, there were a few times I left someone else's sealing or reception and cried, wondering if that would ever be me. So if you are reading this today and are fighting between being happy for me and miserable about your situation today, that is completely okay. If this is a trigger for you, I get that and I'm sorry. If it is battle for you to see all my wedding planning posts and cutesy pictures with German, I will support you if you hide my posts for the next few months. I have done it to friends before just to preserve my own sanity. However you need to deal with this change in my life (if it effects you at all), I will support you and try to understand how you feel. I will not allow you to shadow the joy and peace I feel, but I will give you space to deal with your shadows. You never have to tell me if this is you, but if you want I will talk to you about it. I will not apologize for how excited I am for this new stage and adventure in my life, but I will cry with you if your heart is breaking.

I look forward to writing more again, to keeping you all updated about wedding plans and plans to move to New York. Check out my wedding website here and give me your address to get a wedding invitation here.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Other End of the Tunnel

Nearly six months have passed since I broke my heart (again) over a good man. In the weeks immediately following I was alright, looking for the positive and assuring myself that it wasn't the end. I didn't even realize I was falling until I hit the ground. And my goodness, it broke almost everything in me. The next four months would be some of the darkest moments in my 26 years of life. It was as if I was dropped into a deep tunnel and left to navigate the impenetrable darkness alone. Emotional and mental anguish soon became physical health issues like internal bleeding, anemia, insomnia, lack of appetite and memory loss. Debilitating depression alternately caused excruciating pain and dangerous numbness. Seeking help, I got put on hold when I called the Suicide Prevention Hotline. I took some days one hour at a time, picking just one thing to hold onto, to look forward to, or commit to.

Today I came out the other end of the tunnel.

For me, it was the peace and hope offered through General Conference that pulled me out of the abyss. For you, it will probably be something different. I'm writing today not simply to document my saga or keep my friends updated, but because this crucible has taught me some lessons so I pray that in being vulnerable I can reach and help others still down in their own tunnels. I'm going to stick with my tunnel metaphor as opposed to the normal obstacle course that is life to emphasize the heavy darkness that accompanied this particular journey.

I didn't panic right off- after all, I've been in dark places and tight spots before. I had a go-to list of what I needed to do: talk with my friends, let myself cry, pray, study the scriptures, go to the temple, volunteer, listen to conference talks, magnify my calling, keep a gratitude journal, do family history and indexing, seek medical and professional help as needed, etc. And I set to the task of pressing forward with faith. Maybe the tunnel was longer than any previous trial I'd endured or the smothering weight of the darkness heavier than I was prepared for, but after a few months the insidious doubts set in. Perhaps I wasn't being faithful enough, or maybe I had unresolved sin or pride that was preventing me from feeling the peace and hope that I know the gospel brings. My dear friends, whatever you are going through, don't stop acting in faith regardless of the feelings that may or may not come. I specifically remember pleading to the Lord while in the temple just to feel His love and no reassurance was forthcoming. I know, I know, with my whole soul that there is no darkness that the light of the Savior cannot penetrate, but I couldn't find it. Build your testimony and conversion on the confirmation the Spirit has whispered to your soul time and time again, but do not hang your faith on always feeling those feelings. Keep connecting to the the Lord through prayer, scripture study, and faithful Sabbath day worship, but don't do it for what you hope to get in return- instead hold onto your testimony that it is the commandment of the Lord. Trials do not always come due to lack of faith and they do not always depart with increased faithfulness.

During this ordeal, there were a few flashes of light as some friends attempted to illuminate my path. Instead of helping, these flashes were blinding and disorienting. Whatever wisdom or assurance they offered, while well-meaning and loving, it would send me on wild goose chases down dead ends. I would  throw myself into correcting something they suggested in the vain attempt to dig my way out while I had a flash of light. But when the flash was gone, the darkness would be worse than before and cripple my morale. Hopefully you will have friends who will love you through your darkest tunnels, but keep in mind that how they love you might not solve the problem or even ease the ache. Don't be mad at them if they don't quite understand. One of the worst aspects of any heartbreaking experience is that you will feel alone and misunderstood and the adversary will prey off that pain. Every force will combine to isolate you and cause you to withdraw from those who love you most. Some people need to talk through their tunnel, others need...not to talk. Communicate as well as you can to your friends and family that though the darkness may choke you, you love and need them.

To some degree I knew this next one, but I've gained a new depth and perspective on allowing myself to feel and experience every stage of the journey. This personal tunnel of mine was not like a train tunnel, rather a rabbit hole and a long twisted jungle. Some days were angry, some were sad, others hopeless and still others were numb. I was so hard on myself, frustrated that I couldn't just acknowledge all these feelings, give them to God, and move on. I tried, I really did. Sometimes the Lord does not lighten a load because He is teaching you what you can carry. The saying goes that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but sometimes it just kills off a portion- your hope, your perspective, your vision. The pain and darkness are going to change you, but sometimes you can consciously decide what to let go of. Pride, control, anger. My heart-wrenching experience became the vehicle for refining my soul and humbling me before the Lord and I cannot begin to express my joy and excitement when I realized that I had finally emerged. But if you are reading this in the midst of your own tunnel no matter if it's six months or six years, press forward in faith, be kind to yourself, and hold onto the lifeline that you are not alone.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Black Holes and Broken Hearts

I have this theory. Today when I went to the Science Center, I saw the incredible planetarium show which ended with the host showing us a funny music video about black holes. Just a random clip at the end of a beautiful astronomy lesson. But I came up with a theory which is that all the black holes are women's broken hearts. 

NASA says that "A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying. Because no light can get out, people can't see black holes. They are invisible." Sound familiar?

At the center of every black hole, there is a time space singularity- the moment of impact, the breaking point when everything stopped as it all crumbled. The gravity of that singlarity and it's implications affects the very fabric of life. Not even your light can get out of the prison walls that once was your heart. Everything that mattered is squeezed into a tiny space, that space between no one notices and no one cares. This can happen when a woman is dying. Because her light can't get out, people can't see her. They are invisible. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Celebrate A New Year

Leading up to New Year's, I thought a lot about how I needed to improve and redirect. Those thoughts, as per usual, included my lovely Relief Society sisters. This was the email I felt inspired to write and send to my girls on New Year's Eve. And even ten days into 2017, I know this message is still relevant so I'm sharing it again:

Dear sisters, ladies, women whom I count as dear friends, 

I have been thinking about all of you a lot this week. I hope you all had a very merry Christmas and were able to enjoy time with loved ones and took time to express gratitude and love for the Savior. I know He is the reason for the season! My thoughts have turned towards the new year, both ones of eager anticipation and disappointment. Disappointment because there were things I worked towards this past year that just didn't work out, goals I made that I fell short of, and expectations of myself that could have been better. And if you are anything like me, I'm sure you can reflect on where you could have improved this last year. That reflection is only useful if we will use it to propel us forward, to inspire us to change and to be a little better. Which is where the eager anticipation comes in. We have a whole new year- 365 fresh starts and new beginnings. As Anne Shirley once said, "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it." I hope you will take a minute today or in this next week to let go of some of the things you are carrying around that don't need to ring in the new year with you. Things like disgust or shame, feeling not good enough, bitterness or a grudge. Let go of anything that doesn't serve you, that isn't teaching you, and that doesn't draw you closer to the Lord. Be aware that feelings of guilt or sadness can sometimes be tools in our process of repentance or healing and are not necessarily your enemy unless you choose to ignore them.

With the space you make in your life with all the things you are going to let go ( I know, yes you can sing the song if it helps :), my dearest wish is that you will fill it with things of beauty and power. We often talk of making resolutions to celebrate a New Year- the word resolution meaning "the firm decision to do or not do something; the action of solving a problem". After a few days or weeks the jokes start about how we've already broken our resolutions, forgetting already that every day is a new chance to try again. Sisters, I encourage you instead to set goals and make plans to accomplish them. Set goals that you can measure, that you can break down into steps. If the goal is a rather large one, set several smaller ones to specifically identify how you will accomplish it. Write them down and post them where you see them often. Hold yourself accountable and find someone else who will do the same. A friend, a roommate, a family member, or your Relief Society president if needed. Believe in yourself. Believe that you can really do what you are striving for. I believe in each of you and the incredible wonderful women that you are. You are divine daughters of a infinite Father- nurture those seeds of your divine nature. Elder Richard G. Scott once said, "Our Heavenly Father did not put us on this earth to fail, but to succeed gloriously." As you are setting these goals I pray you will be fearless, that you will set goals that honor yourself, ones that push you just beyond your comfort zones, ones that serve others, ones that draw you closer to the gospel and to our Savior. Please pray about your goals- our loving Father in heaven is interested in your lives and not just the spiritual aspect. He cares about your job and your education, about your relationships and your health. And as you push forward, know that sometimes you will slip, sometimes you will fall down or back a little. Every day is a new day. And if you need help to get back up, well, that's why I'm here, why we are together as sisters in Relief Society. None of us can do it alone, but we can do it. Wishing you a wonderful New Year's Eve and all the fantastic, incredible things we can create in 2017!

All my love, 
Kristi Koerner

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Not Okay

Last night I was sitting at the kitchen table eating stew with my roommate when suddenly I couldn't put the spoon in my mouth and take the bite I had so casually scooped up. The tears were flowing too thick and I was choking on all these words that I keep trying to say but never seem to fully express. I'm not okay. At various times you could call it broken, heartbroken, depressed, sad, angry, whatever. But for right now I'll just stick with the fact that I'm not okay. I have this feeling that I might not be okay for awhile. And I'm trying to be alright with that and not make apologies and not get mad at people who are trying to be helpful and supportive or throw blame where it doesn't belong, but I might do all of those right here because it's all mixed in.

It always comes down to relationships, doesn't it? Nothing else matters, or hurts, as much.

I didn't plan on this.

I never thought I would get the miracle of love three times, but I did and each and every time it has changed me. Irrevocably, inexplicably, and forever. That's how I knew it was the real deal- everything shifted, everything changed. I changed. As Gerry in P.S. I Love You said, "Watch out for that signal, when life as you know it ends."

We were friends. Solid good friends. And over the last two years I have been more vulnerable and open and raw with him than anyone else, maybe ever. Even I was surprised when I realized that my feelings for him had bypassed desire, skipped through affection, ran over caring, and were speeding out of control into love. So when I told him that my heart had transferred possession, I did so willingly and openly, as a gift. And he said no thank you. Ok, that's alright. But then I go back to repair any damage done internally and find that I had given away all my pieces to him somehow. Not all at once, but gradually through those 3am conversations and laughter and all the unspoken things transferred in glances and shared smiles. I found I didn't have a reserve for this kind of heartbreak. I thought after loving and being shattered, after loving again and becoming numb, that I was strong enough to love without being destroyed- that I could love as a gift without expectations. Maybe a part of me could and did, but now that part is swept away with the other ashes of my heart. My heart broke and I bled. Literally. For nine days I hemorrhaged blood until I thought I would die from loss of blood, until I wanted to because it seemed like a peaceful way to go. Believe what you will, but I know my body didn't know how else to handle the excruciating pain my heart and soul were/are experiencing.

Loving after love is both harder and easier. Easier because if you can love like that- like gravity depends on you, in a love that soothes the mind and awakens the soul, in a way that makes you both strong and brave- then I believe you are far more likely to be able to love like that again. Differently, but again. But it's also harder. No matter how much you learn and grow and heal from a heartbreak, it becomes part of you, part of the very fabric you now weave your dreams with and the lens through which you see the world. And to consciously choose to bare your soul, to expose all the brokenness you've survived and the times it killed a piece of you, is perhaps the bravest kind of love there is. But brave or not, it's still agony. I know I've been spilling little bits of this pain out in various ways over the last two months, but I have more. More thoughts, more pain, more tears. Somewhere too there is more hope and light and love waiting for their turn on center stage, waiting for me to call for the end of the act, but maybe I can't do that until I can fully verbalize the former ones.

He made me feel so worthless. So incredibly, humiliatingly worthless. Here I am- an independent 25 year old teacher and healer and business owner, who allowed myself to feel utterly worthless because of his feelings or lack thereof. But to give myself the benefit of the doubt, I had just bared my entire soul to this man, revealed all kinds of scars and triumphs, and he didn't even bother to hand back my heart- he threw it out the window while the car was going 70 mph. They say "follow your heart" but if your heart is in a million pieces which piece do you follow?

I want to be fair and tell you that he's a good man. Because he is. He is honest and decent and hard-working and funny and thoughtful. It's true. Just because someone breaks your heart doesn't make them a terrible person, perhaps short-sighted or blind or whatever it is that keeps them from seeing your incredibleness, but not terrible. As good of a man as he is, he broke me so damn much that the cracks in my heart are visible through my eyes.

It's not the kind of sadness where you cry all the time, but more of the sadness that overwhelms your entire body and leaves your heart aching and your stomach empty, making you feel weak and tired and yet you can't even sleep because the sadness is in your dreams too. It's almost a sadness you can't escape.

I have this nagging fear that I'm never going to be able to move on or forget him. The way his brown eyes light up or his silly smile that always made my heart beat ten times faster. And what hurts the most is that he was never mine to begin with. But I fell so hopelessly in love and even now, after everything, I wake up in the middle of the night and I think of him. And it makes me sick to my stomach and I can't breathe because I don't want to love him anymore. I don't want this struggle for air every time I hear his name or when he walks in the room. I'm working on having good moments but before I know it I'm curled up in my bed with tears pouring down my face and my mind screaming at me to forget him.

One day he'll be a story I'll tell my teenage daughter when she's sobbing over the shards of her broken heart. When she can't get out of bed and all she drinks are tears, I'll pull her into my lap and brush him out of her hair. And I'll tell her this story of a man who was my friend, my confidante, and who destroyed me almost beyond recognition. Who hurt me so badly my body detached from the pain and bled, if not from every pore, then at least from almost every orifice. I'll tell her that he broke me on every level and every way possible, that I had to rearrange my body, my mind, and my heart in a twisted jigsaw puzzle game. And how I put up the Great Wall of China up around my heart to keep out any possible future sharpshooters. Then I'll tell her how it got better. How it stopped bleeding and how the pain slowly faded. How I was able to smile again and crawl out of bed. I'll tell her that eventually I could laugh and hope and dream again. But I might wait just a while after before I tell her that even now I wake up from nightmares, and how I'm sometimes seized with a panic when I see someone who looks like him. Sometimes words can describe a journey, but not the painful daily details.

It doesn't just go away- this love that I have for you. Sure it's combined now with pain and the wishing for you to be happy, and I know one day it will shift and not be the blinding terror it is now, but it doesn't go away. It doesn't hurt that you choose her. She's beautiful and sexy, she's smart and kind, she's not broken like me. Her laugh is like your favorite song on the radio, her eyes the depth of the forest you want to get lost in, and her smile is bright like the sun. She's your favorite book and I'm just a footnote in it. She's really the obvious choice. I'm happy for you, honestly. I've seen the way you look at her like she's your reason for breathing and the way you smile at her when she's not paying attention like you're thanking God for allowing you to be near her. I'm glad you found love. No, it doesn't hurt that you choose her, but you want to know what does hurt? Having all this love inside me for you and wanting you to be so happy while I have to sit back and watch her not love you the way you deserve.  It hurts having all this love bottled up inside with seemingly no place to put it. It hurts knowing that I will cry and grieve over your struggles and heartaches for years to come, but that you will forget my name the moment you look in her direction.

Romantic atheism is the easy way out- to just stop believing in love and the power of relationships. But I just don't have that in my chemical makeup. Every cell in me screams to keep hoping, keep wishing, to keep loving as hard and deep and profound as ever. And I will. I promise myself that I will. Just not right now. I may be broken but I won't stay here. I am devastated but I will keep moving. I'm not okay but I pray and hope that one day, someday, I will be.