I hardly know how to write this. It's only been a couple of weeks since my last post, but it feels like far longer.
I have been feeling lost this summer.
It started with my husband declaring his atheism, I think, and was compounded by the exhilarating, terrifying, joyful challenge that is leading Made.
But there's also more than that at the root of this lost-ness. I've been hurting, more than I have in a long while.
And it's not just grief, which is what most people guess when I say my heart feels like it's bleeding into my chest.
Or maybe it's all grief, but grief unexpressed. Tears building up, unshed, moans of sorrow that have been swallowed, because grief is inconvenient and there's just no time to curl up in bed for the afternoon with tissues and my missing her.
I don't know.
All I know is that I hurt, that I feel abjectly broken. And I've been scared, so scared, because of it.
Because it's not just the grief kind of hurt, which makes sense. Living with "just grief" is a terrible thing. But it is also a logical thing, to grieve when you lose someone or something irreplaceable and beautiful and profound. Grief makes sense. It's not easy, but it makes sense.
Depression, on the other hand, does not. An eating disorder does not.
And that's where I've been living this summer. In depression. In that claustrophobic mental space where I could feel the claws of disordered eating beginning to hook into my self once again.
Oh, friends. It's been so very scary.
I don't want to go back to that place. Not ever. I'd rather experience Eve's stillbirth again and again and again and again for the rest of my life rather than be thrust back into the hell of mental unhealth.
And so when I felt the encroachment of my old nemesis, felt its sour-hot breath on my neck -- I ran. I ran and ran.
Or at least tried to, as much as one can run metaphorically from what is inside your very own head.
For me, that running translates as -- control control control and pick yourself up by your bootstraps and do more, be more. Or, in other words, self-flagellation. In other words, flailing and writhing to get away from the discomfort, like panicked animal throwing itself against the walls of its confines, willing to injure itself in order to escape perceived danger.
Of course that didn't work very well.
On top of my deep sadness and lethargy I began to get angry. Hadn't God freed me from these very same struggles over two years ago? Hadn't He snapped the chains of my bondage to disordered eating and hadn't I found myself striding in the most surprising, effortless freedom? Where was He now? And for that matter, where was He when my husband was looking for Him and, when he couldn't find Him, walked away?
But then, somewhere in the last handful of days, I started hearing things. Again and again, sister-friends spoke to me of fruit and pruning. Of how God prunes those He loves.
Let's be real here -- no one wants to be pruned. It hurts. A lot.
And then I realized, like dawn breaking after the disconsolately dark night -- pruning hurts a lot.
I have been hurting a lot.
And suddenly my depression looked a whole lot different.
It looked like a wake up call. Like God trying to get my attention. Because (and it's hard to admit this) I listen the best when I'm at my weakest.
I felt like God was seeing all that was happening in and around me, and seeing how I started to run around like a chicken with its head cut off (that visual has never felt more visceral or appropriate), and He held me down. Not rudely or roughly, and not in a crushing sort of way. But instead it was like I held the children in the specialty classroom I used to teach in. A student would lose himself and begin to harm himself or others, and one of us teachers would go to him and wrap her arms gently but firmly around him until his breathing slowed and he stopped trying to slam his head against the desk or hurl books and desks and sharpened pencils or make himself bleed.
I feel them now, God's arms pinning down my own so I won't make myself bleed. Because I would. Oh, I would, trying to fix all that is wrong in my world.
He's holding me now, and while my breath still shudders, my pulse is slowing and my teeth begin to unclench and I can look around and look around to see what He's doing here in the uncertain places. The places where I want to have total control; the places where it is impossible for me to have total control.
I'm giving up.
But with Him . . . to give everything is to gain everything. Everything that matters.
I am letting Him hold me down, and somehow I feel freer down here in the dirt with God than I ever, ever have.
|a page-in-progress for the #iamTAJ traveling art journal project|