It’s hard when you start a Monday with nothing. Nothing to offer. Little to no energy. Feeling beat up and worn down. And knowing the week has barely even begun. And honestly I’m just tired of fighting.
Saturday night I wrote a post for the first time in a while. It felt nice to be able to get my thoughts down again and have them form something that could make sense to other humans.
Pretty soon after that though things just fell apart. I felt the darkness settling. And this time it came pretty quickly. Now looking back I can recognize that it actually had been sneaking up the whole day. And then something happened that was the last straw. Words that were spoken that weren’t meant to harm me. But they were enough for me to do the damage to myself.
I’m learning that certain things set me off. And one of the big ones is thinking (or knowing) someone is mad at me. I probably ask Greg a dozen times a day if he’s mad at me. I understand that it’s certainly not the healthiest thing, but I’m a work in progress, okay. And if I know (or think) someone is mad at me, it’s just too much. I don’t handle anger well. Emotions are still a new territory for me.
I’m learning more and more about how to experience sadness. There have been multiple nights where I’ve been able to ball my eyes out. I’ve experienced the “ugly cry” where my face is leaking all kinds of tears and snot and mess. And that in itself is HUGE for me. I went years without so much as a tear. My heart was hard. My walls were high. And numbing-shut-down-mode was my defense mechanism/survival tactic of choice.
But anger is still a tricky one for me. I still see anger as bad. And if someone I love is mad at me (or I THINK they are mad), I freak out. And I lose all sense of who I am. And then I beat myself up. Which is then followed by severe depression. The debilitating kind where I’m no longer a functioning human, let alone adult with responsibilities. And it’s this awful cycle that takes me out for a bit. And that paired with a rough night of bad dreams and anxiety, is most certainly a recipe for another level of misery.
So that was basically my weekend.
When the alarm went off Sunday morning at 5:45am for church, I just couldn’t do it. I sent Greg off to church and I stayed in bed. Until 3:30pm. Yeah. Depression sucks. I spent the whole day huddled under covers reminding myself at times I had to breathe even though the weight was too much. Eating didn’t feel necessary or even like an option.
Greg got home and somehow I made it through the rest of the day. That night felt weird. I felt so out of it. Our house didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like myself. And I couldn’t get it back. I couldn't regain the peace and safety. Waves of anxiety would hit me. I tried to hide it, because I hate always bothering Greg. Constant lies about how I was an awful wife kept threatening me. Lies of about everything really. No comfort at all. Not eating had caught up with me. I had a splitting headache. I felt shaky. Physically spent. Emotionally spent. Spiritually spent.
Finally I found enough of something to speak. I looked at my husband and told him I didn’t feel like I was going to make it. He turned to me and held my hand. I told him I was just tired of fighting and tired of days like this. So he prayed.
As I laid there with my eyes closed I remembered how I used to have to do this alone. I had suffered through countless nights by myself. I had resolved that in those moments alone in the darkness that Jesus was enough. I know that’s something cliché and said so often. But I had learned this out of necessity. Out of experience. In the valley of the shadow of death there’s a certain desperation to fix things. No one wants to walk through it. But I was never able to fix it. My methods of coping and controlling and managing the pain stopped working. I even tried new ones. But they couldn’t save me.
I couldn’t take the darkness away. I couldn’t make the depression go away. I wanted to. I got tired of fighting. Of trying to make it on my own.
And so I gave up.
And yet I am still here. I still struggle. But I’m also happier than I’ve ever been. Some days are too hard for words. But some days hold more joy that I ever thought possible.
I didn’t save myself. I make bad decisions. I feel weak and tired. I make messes. I give up.
“He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me, because he delighted in me.” –Psalm 18:17-19
This is my story. Parts of me still resist the last part. “He rescued me, because he delighted in me.” I see my flaws. I see my brokenness. Can my Father really delight in me? Am I really worthy?
Greg whispered to me last night, “He really does love you.” I know it, but I don’t always feel it. Maybe that’s why the depression still overtakes me. I don’t fully understand. I allow my shortcomings to drown out everything. My eyes are on the wrong thing.
But it’s so hard. When the lies are so believable and the darkness is so thick.
“But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.” -Micah 7:7-8
Truth has to be truth, even when it doesn’t feel like it. I know I feel things that are wrong. I feel like I am the most awful person in the whole world. I have been told that is not the case.
When things were at their worst I was meeting with my first “counselor” for lack of a better word. He was a man at church that would meet with me every week, sometimes multiple times. We would talk about the challenges of the week. Sometimes he would pray. But a big chunk of the time he would have his Bible open and just read scripture to me. He had a way of reading that made me experience what he was saying. He showed me things I had never taken the time to look at before. He taught me about poetry in both the word and in life.
I remember one time I was telling him about my weekend. Back when I was single and living on my own. An old friend had moved in with me briefly as she had just moved back in town. I was stuck in bed. My door was closed and I heard a knock on the door. She came in stood in the doorway. Just told me something simple; I believe some furniture was being delivered or something. And then she was sitting on the floor next to my bed. I was a mess. I hadn’t showered in I don’t even know how long. I don’t even think I had my glasses on.
But I needed her presence. I didn’t want it necessarily, but I needed it. And as she sat there I felt my need for it. And we just talked. About how hard life was. And she understood me. I wasn’t too much for her. She told me pieces of her story. She shared deep parts of who she was. And it comforted me. Both of us just in the corner of my room. Both feeling so much pain and so aware of our weakness. But in that moment we had each other.
And I remember him pointing out how poetic that moment was. Even now typing this out, I still feel a deep emotion tied to that memory. A deep sweetness. Something bigger than those moments even. Poetry. It goes deeper than the surface.
I love that the Bible has Psalms like Psalm 88. Eighteen verses of misery. Of crying out to God. And how does it end? “You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.”
That’s poetry. And that’s real life, man. I’ve been there. This book is full of poetry. It’s full of real life. Because from my experience you’ve got to have the darkness to appreciate the light. When I thought I was managing my own life, I was okay. I was busy. I was making it. I didn’t have time to waste time doing stupid stuff. Like painting or sitting outside or reading. It didn’t seem necessary. I had work to do.
Wasn’t being a Christian all about killing your desires and doing a bunch of work? I had learned a whole long list of things I couldn’t do. And frankly I liked the rules. I preferred to focus on the rules. Because rules felt black or white. It gave me a way to continue to have control. I could judge how I was doing based on how I was following the rules. And when I messed up, it gave me a reason to beat myself up.
Unfortunately I had missed grace. I missed freedom. I missed that I was important. That my desires and thoughts meant something. That I had gifts and passions. That there was work to do, but that wasn’t the overall goal.
I had to lose everything to find grace. I have to experience the darkness to remember that I need the source of light. I can’t rely just on myself.
And so today I had a day full of conducting job interviews. I realized my schedule wasn’t as full as it felt. My first appointment was at 11:30am. I was up at 6:15am to see Greg off to work. And so I had hours to rest a bit. To catch my breath. To text a dear friend and ask for prayer. To read her reminders that His grace is sufficient – his strength is made perfect in our weakness. And to read that she loves me so much in both the darkness and the sunshine. To listen to music. To worship. To write. To read.
I went in. I met new people. I made it. I had a headache most of the day. Anxiety would hit in random times. But I made it.
Tonight things feel like they are getting back on track. Barely, but it’s the right direction. The lies are still there. There are still misunderstandings and frustrations. But I’m able to fight again. I’m able to look out the window and see the changing leaves. I’m able to tell my husband that I love him.
Today a couple at church gave us a Christmas tree. A seven foot tree. They thought as a newly married couple we could use it. What a wonderful thing. To walk into work full of anxiety and see a giant Christmas tree sitting on the counter. Waiting for me. A tiny reminder. Poetry.