Thursday, November 1, 2012

Doors and Windows

There's a well-known saying that whenever God closes a door, He opens a window.

A few years ago, my husband and I weren't sleeping very well; we'd go to bed tired and wake up tired, and the whole cycle would get worse and worse until we would "crash" and have what Jim Davis (the cartoonist) called a "nap attack."  After doing some thinking, we figured out that the reason we weren't sleeping well was because the cats would come into the room at 3 in the morning (or some other such unholy hour) and demand attention. Our Internet search showed us that closing the bedroom door would help us get the sleep we needed, once the animals figured out that we weren't coming to open the door. 

It worked, but quite frequently we awoke with headaches from sleeping in a room with less and less oxygen in it throughout the night; putting a fan only circulated the "bad air."

So we opened our bedroom window. It was literally a breath of fresh air. And ... problem solved.

There've been quite a few doors and windows in my life lately. One of them has been the closure of the first ever Codependents Anonymous group in our province, for which I was the contact person for a year and a half. Through that group, God opened a window for fellowship with a dear friend with whom I had virtually lost touch. Once we re-established contact, He just let the group - such as it was (with an attendance of no more than six people and usually only two) - die a natural death. I believe it served its purpose, and its passing doesn't prevent another group from starting up, as soon as there are enough people to make a serious go of it. 

It was actually a relief to let that go, because I'd been feeling so responsible for keeping it going, frustrated that it wasn't going anywhere, and burnt out from all the energy I was pouring into it with no results. 

It dawned on me - finally, through the help of that same friend - that I was being codependent about Codependents Anonymous! Once I released my hold on the group and "stepped back," I could enjoy freedom from stress and an extra two nights a month of freedom in which to do whatever was needed: from napping, to putting in an extra hour at work, to visiting with friends. 
An open window can also let in some
fresh air - picture source

Another door/window combination has been the loss of ties with my birth family. I'll not bore you with the gory details, but let's just say that it became necessary for me to make a clean break. 

For a while, there was a gaping hole in me, with very raw edges - feelings of hurt and betrayal mostly - but as I shared my vulnerability with a couple of people I trusted, I found a whole network of these individuals who were supportive, understanding, and encouraging. Friends, I think they're called. Friends to me ... of all people. Who knew? They helped give me the strength to let go of the past and to move on with my life.

Sometimes, when God starts closing a door for my own good, I fight tooth and nail to keep it open ... such as in the case of our family finances. With my husband in retirement, our family income took a major hit in the fall of 2009, and our personal line of credit began to grow larger and larger. I tried to stay ahead of it, but it grew faster than I could pay, and it became a monster. There just wasn't enough month left over at the end of the money: major expenses like college for one child, and dental expenses for another (ones which weren't covered by insurance!) all conspired against me.  I keenly felt the weight of responsibility; for the first time in my life, I was the primary bread-winner! I was spending a tremendous amount per month - more than some people make in a month - on paying the debt from the line of credit, the credit cards, and the car loan. We were desperately casting around for ways to save on expenses and to make extra money, even to the point of my husband considering rejoining the work force; nothing I tried to do worked. Everything backfired or fizzled.

My account manager at my bank saw this happening when she did my annual financial checkup (gotta love programs like that!) and she pointed to the line of credit as the chief culprit. It had become a crutch for our family, and she helped me see that this door needed to close; having it open - having that safety net there - only served to overwhelm me because it was too easy to fall back on it. She suggested a drastic move: closing the line of credit, and restructuring the debt into something that was manageable, shutting down the credit cards that were costing me more money and limiting our credit limit on the cards we agreed were just for emergencies. Over a series of about four meetings, we were able to do just that, and reduce my monthly debt payments by two thirds. The debt payment reduction was the hidden window in that slammed-shut door. That oppressive heavy feeling in the air was gone, and I found that I could breathe freely again.

Suddenly I realized that my efforts to "make extra money" had been just the frantic flailings of someone who was drowning - and panicking. She threw a life-raft out to me, pulled me to shore, and as sure as the door closed on our unmanageable situation, I felt the cool breeze of that opened window ... ever so faintly.

Even now I can feel the remnants of that last closing door. All my desperate efforts to make money, to start my own business, have resulted in nothing. I've come to realize that people in the local area don't need proofreading services in the traditional sense anymore. They can get a software program to do it for them, so why pay someone? As this realization dawned on me, it was hard to 'unhook' from my beautifully laid out "Plan A" and admit defeat - but it seemed the only viable course of action. As I'm letting go of that, as that door is closing, I see another window opening on the horizon. 

However, I think I'll keep that one a secret. For now.

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