Saturday, August 5, 2017


As I write this, I'm seriously contemplating DNS’ing (did not start) tonight's 60k race. It's not just that I've been sick all week, for which I just started on antibiotics yesterday. It is that, to an extent, but also that I'm in a mental/emotional funk that leaves me with no desire to do things I once found fun -- like racing, or even running. My runs this week, for instance, have been slogs of four or five miles, involving many glances at my watch and self-talk to the tune of, “Okay, that's half a mile. Just fifteen more minutes and I can turn around.”  That doesn't inspire much confidence in my ability to run an ultra, much less the 200-miler I'm signed up for next month.

The deal is that Joe and I want to get married -- in the Catholic Church. As soon as possible. We want to start our lives together, and celebrate our love with friends and family. But the annulment process, which began last October, has stretched out far beyond the “three months” we were quoted by the archdiocese. We got engaged in January, and thought surely we'd get news of the annulment being granted by spring, and we could plan to get married in the summer. When we got a letter saying the file was moving to the bond defender at the end of February, we counted that as good news. When Joe called at the beginning of May, and was told the file hadn't made any progress -- it was still with the bond defender -- I broke down and cried. That turned out to be the first of many, many cries.  At the beginning of June -- the file was still with the bond defender. “But you should hear by mid-July, if not sooner,” Joe was told. In mid-July, first “I can't find your file,” and then, “I found your file. It's with the bond defender.”  In the last four months, essentially, it has not moved.

Why does this cause me so much grief? Because I'm not willing to get married outside the Catholic Church. If we did, the Church would view Joe as an adulterer. We would not be viewed as married by the Church. We couldn't receive the sacraments, which we both value so much. I would feel like I were turning my back on my family and the faith that kept my beloved relatives going through the decades, despite the deaths of children, the Great Depression, wars, and other heartaches and losses. So the stress of not knowing whether Joe and I can get married -- whether we can share our lives and grow old together with the person who completes us -- as we wait for this piece of paper that tells us, effectively, yes or no -- is overwhelming.

I want to assure you that I'm trying to keep this in perspective. I have a friend, M, whose husband has had a relapse of cancer that is not responding to chemotherapy and whose mother just passed away after battling Alzheimer's. She and I talked recently about how both of us are finding it hard to trust in God's plan for us at this time, despite our desire to do so. My issues are absolutely nothing compared to the issues she and her family are dealing with. And yet, if emotional trauma is defined as anything that occurs to you that exceeds your ability to cope with it, then what I am feeling is decidedly trauma of a sort. For awhile now, it is seemed beyond my ability to cope with, and beyond my ability to let go and trust in God. Though I keep praying and trying, for sure.

In an effort to make ourselves feel better, at the beginning of June, we decided to do a couple things in preparation, so that when the annulment is granted -- as please God it will be -- we have fewer things on our checklist. We went to the jeweler and Joe bought his wedding band; I had my grandmother’s ring resized and polished. And I bought a wedding dress. Now these things are starting to haunt me. How presumptuous of me to buy a wedding dress when I don't even know whether I'll be able to wear it. Every time I think about this beautiful dress now, it makes me cry. Yep, crying right now. *Deep breath.*

That's one of a few things that should be happy, but makes me incredibly sad. Another is our wonderful friends, who promised us they will throw us a couples shower once we have our wedding date set. And my parents, who are so excited to come down to Texas to attend the shower and celebrate with us. It makes me so sad to not be able to celebrate our love with our friends and family. You know, like normal engaged couples would be able to do. Another thing is the girls, Joe's girls. They were so excited when we told them back in January that we were going to get married. Joe's oldest calls me her “almost stepmother.”  It's that “almost” that breaks my heart. Anytime she talks about that, and how I'll be a Schmal, I think about how much I want that to be true, but how it's also possible that that will never happen. That instead of being part of their family, the Church might decide that we can't get married. And what would that mean? I don't know that I could hang around and just be friends with Joe. And watch as he eventually moves on and finds someone else. And this is where I have to stop thinking about the chain of events. It's just too damn sad.

Maybe we'll find out tomorrow that the annulment has been granted. Then maybe it will seem like all this worrying was for naught. That's what I told myself back in March, then April, then May, then June, then July.  Right now, it seems like it's never going to come. Joe checks the mailbox every day. Every day it's empty, or filled with junk mail.

I want to feel the happiness of someone who is engaged to be married, and gets to set a date, celebrate with friends and family, and make plans. Buy a house where we can live together after the wedding. Instead I'm telling my apartment complex I need to extend my lease on a month-to-month basis. And I don't feel like I could lace up my shoes and go for a five mile run right now, much less a 60k. I hate myself for wallowing in my sorrows. But that just makes me even more depressed.

This is to to say that, for the second time this summer, I might DNS a race that I count as one of my favorites.  I don't know that I can do tonight's race because of a number of things -- physical, mental, and emotional.  But I'll just blame the antibiotics.