Saturday, September 21, 2013

Howling in the Wild

“Watch the ones whose only option left is to lean into the questions. The ones who are uninhibited by the unknown because they’ve jumped into that gaping hole and found themselves, by grace, unswallowable. Watch the ones who willingly stand with Feist and say, “I feel it all” even when it scares the shit out of them. It’s not brave to have answers.”
      — Mandy Steward, Spiritual Wanderings
I am tired.

I am tired.

I don't know what else to say, but -- I am so, so tired.

It's why I haven't been writing here.  I am so tired that the words I know I need to voice will not materialize on my lips, will not take shape in the soft and incubatory depths of my brain.

I am tired of fighting for joy, for hope.  I am tired of fighting to keep the faith that seems to be running out of my hands like water.  When will my faith fight for me?  When will I feel God do some of the heavy lifting with me?

Part of me trembles that I would write such a thing, share it for all to see and judge.  

But another part of me is tired of putting on a good face, of rattling off the right answers.  Because my right answers aren't helping much at the moment, and haven't for a long while.  I've been waiting, clasping these right answers close and hoping that they will somehow resuscitate my flagging spirit -- but they don't.  They haven't.  

Did I mention that I'm tired?

What it feels like is dying.  An invisible, daily, internal death.  I feel like my soul is dying.  Can a soul die before the body?  

And again, I tremble to write this, because I have so much to be grateful for.  Things that I am immensely, unspeakably grateful for.  And yet my soul feels like it continues to dwindle away.  

Much-loved ones in my life, they told me that they were sad that my husband did not share with them his spiritual flailings until after he'd already committed to atheism.  But I am trying to let them in on my own flailings, on my expiring soul, on how profoundly tired I am, and no one seems to hear me.  Perhaps they are unable to, or this is a burden that they cannot bear.  

But I feel alone.  I feel alone when I am vulnerable, when I share my questions, and the response is that I already know the truth, that I already know what I have to do or believe or [insert your own fix here] to get through this.  They don't hear that the doing or believing or knowing that I have done, that I am already doing, is killing me to do because how little it helps hurts.  

I hurt.  I hurt.  I hurt.  

This is my prayer to God.  The God that I feel nauseous when I try to read of in the Bible, the book that I used to see as a love story to a wandering people and now I can't help but see as an dysfunctional, abusive, look-what-you-made-Me-do "love" story.  I don't want to see these things.  I go to the Word looking for Love, and my chest tightens with panic when I find codependency instead.  I hope and hope that this is because the Bible is the perfect, whole, healthy God's story written down by imperfect, broken, and unhealthy men.  

But that doesn't make it any easier.

My chest is tight as I write this, too, and I wonder if I dare click "publish" when I've finished.  What will the cost of these words be, in my church, in my family, in my online community, in my self?  

But I've been realizing something that has brought me to my knees lately, something that necessitates the pouring out of these thoughts.  

And this is it -- I don't trust myself.  

Not even a little.

I don't trust my decisions, large or small.  I need exterior confirmation on every one.  I am terrified of picking "wrong" (even though if it was a friend who was sharing these fears, I would tell her that there often isn't really a "wrong" or a "right" in many of these choices, just "different").  I don't trust my intuition, my inner feelings, either.  And because I do not trust myself (my self), I don't know myself.

I don't know who I am.  

And then it hit me -- if I don't know who I am, how can I possibly know who God is?  The God who makes my sticky insides a home.  No, not just a home -- a temple.  A sacred space for Himself, for He and I, for all of us together.

I don't know if it's possible to know Him, to love or trust Him, when I have not taken the time to study and know and love His artistic creation -- me.

I am tired of sublimating myself in the name of religion or God, of others' expectations or comfort, of my own fear.  I'm tired of living as a quivering shell begging others to tell her how to fill up and come out whole.

I am tired.  I am tired of being afraid of what I think, of what I desire, of what brings me happiness.  I am tired of feeling so profoundly broken.  I am tired of the unspoken but clear messages from every corner that I am responsible for the salvation for both my husband and my child.  I am tired of giving the right answers when those answers cut into my heart like glass shards.  

I'm finished.  Finished hating my God-made self, tired of ducking my head and saying what I'm expected to say.

I'm trekking out into the wilds.  I am on a quest for a new way that will not keep on leading me back to brokenness and despair.  I hope I will find my God there in the wildlands, and the pieces of me that others convinced me to leave behind.  I pray He will surprise me with His grace and freedom, and maybe a bit of how He's also a She, of how He made woman in His image, too.

I'm tired, yes.  And I'm not giving up the fight yet.  But I need another way to battle for hope, because when I look down I realize that the sword I thought I'd been using for vanquishing has been cutting deep into my own flesh all these years instead.

I'm tired of having my own blood on my hands.  

If you want me, you'll find me in the wilds, howling grief and hope and freedom and healing.  And, if you're brave and hurting, too, I wouldn't mind some company there.  Just don't expect me to speak only in polite, right-answer whispers any longer.  

Friday, September 6, 2013

When I Ask For Help

this feels very vulnerable. #365days #365daysof31 (less than a week in + I've already missed two days. oops.)

I'm not sure how to write this.  Because I hate where I've been this summer, emotionally,  and fear that it makes me sound like a dramarama queen.  

But the plain truth is that I've been struggling with depression.  Like, a lot.  

I suppose you already knew this, sort of.  But the difference between now and the last time I wrote  about my recent depression struggles is that it's stopped being a good thing.  It's stopped being a wake-up call, a signpost, a message.  

It's just been hell.

You might know that I've been seeing my therapist again, this time at the recommendation of my regular doctor, for anxiety.  It's not that I've been without professional support.

But then she went away for a little while at the beginning of August.  Just for a few weeks.  The day after my last appointment with her pre-vacation, I found myself thinking, "I don't think I can make it to my next appointment in three weeks."

And that scared me.  Profoundly.  I didn't have a clearly formed idea of what not being able to make it might look like, but I knew that it wasn't good.  

Friends, this depression has been terrible.   I did make it to my next therapy appointment and beyond, but it's been so hard.  I've started taking an antidepressant for the first time in three years, but I don't know if drugs will help.  They didn't last time.  And now, with our sweet, not-so-babyish boy in the picture, the stakes feel vastly higher.  I don't want him to grow up with a broken-down mother who cries all the time and passes in and out of profoundly deep darkness with alarming unpredictability.  I can't afford to mess around with my mental health now that he's here.

I hate depression.  I hate how I have so much to be grateful for, so much that should (and does) bring me joy . . . and still this depression remains, and remains debilitating, excruciating, and inescapable.  It leaves me feeling constantly overwhelmed, and it shreds the tattered remains of my faith that I am trying so desperately to stitch back into wholeness. 

And yet, even though my relationship with God feels tenuous and prayer is near impossible for me when I fall yet again into the blackness of depression -- I believe in the power of prayer, in the hope of Heaven.  In the fiery intensity of God's love, even though all that I can feel is depression's cold pallor.

This week has been particularly bad.  I felt more and more isolated and despairing, until at the last I let a couple of women who I am inclined to see as amazonian prayer warrioresses in on things (this may have involved a bit of word vomit).  They said they would pray, and I sort of rolled my eyes, but said thank you regardless.  When had prayer ever broken my depression in the last (hint: never).

Today, I woke with the darkness within.  I muddled through as I usually do, until about midday.  It felt as if I blinked and then --  internal storm was gone.  Absolutely gone.  I have no explanation.  I like to think it's God throwing me a lifeline through my warrioress friends' prayers. 

This is why I am writing to you.  Would you pray, please?  Because it is not just me who is and has been enduring this same intense depression and doubt (not to mention other trials) this summer.  It's some of the other teachers of Made, and the students of Made.  I feel that there may be some kind of spiritual resistance to Made -- and I am usually the last one to point to spiritual warfare as a possibility, to please know that when I suggest this I do not do so lightly or easily.  

At the risk of sounding grandiose, I feel a bit like Moses, who needed to hold his hands high in the air to held the Israelites defeat the Amalek army in battle, but found that he could not do it alone: 

"Joshua did what Moses ordered in order to fight Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. It turned out that whenever Moses raised his hands, Israel was winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek was winning. But Moses’ hands got tired. So they got a stone and set it under him. He sat on it and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side. So his hands remained steady until the sun went down. Joshua defeated Amalek and its army in battle."

I need some help.  I need some kind folks who are willing to join with me in prayer for Made, and for all involved.  My own prayers and desperate stabs at keeping the faith are not cutting it.  My arms are tired, and I would very much love it if you could help me hold them up for a while.  

Would you pray, and keep praying, please?  And if you would like to have a place to come together as pray-ers, there is a space all set up for you at the new Epiphany Art Studio & School online community.  It is free and open to whoever might like to join, and has some fun things to explore.  You can find the dedicated prayer group here (it needs some action!).  

Regardless of if you join the community . . . I am so grateful for your prayers.  There is a lot of hurt and hardship and depression among the Made community, and we are in need of a prayer covering.  

And if you are in need of prayer, please do add your request either to the Epiphany Art community's prayer group, or share it in the comments below.  We all need help sometimes (or a lot of times), and it's okay to ask for and receive it.  

I am so grateful for you.