What I Know

I think boundaries are bullshit.

The woman at the crisis hotline agreed with me.

She said boundaries have a place, but often people use them as a wall to keep others out, rather than as a way to love someone better.

I don’t believe it’s love if it’s not willing to “drop everything”.

It’s not family if it’s not “you’re welcome any time”, “call at 2 a.m.”.

It’s not enabling to answer the phone or show up or open your front door. We are MEANT to need each other.

And really, what are we here to do but be Jesus to each other?

If Jesus can’t physically hug us, aren’t we to do that for each other?

Yes.

Yes, we are.

So I close my eyes. And I scream for the Jesus that can’t hug me.

And it’s just me and my own pounding heart.

It’s just me.

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Rooms and Stars

I felt alive today for thirty minutes.

I was on the phone with my client. Loving her. Listening to her. Being a therapist. Being a friend. And for those thirty minutes, I almost felt like myself. I felt a spark of life- something human, where inside of me is usually only a physical pain in my heart and darkness.

But not darkness like the blackness you’d experience when trying to feel your way through a cave. Something emptier than that. More like the indescribable black-ish color you “see” when you close your eyes.

Pain and blackness.

And.

A light.

Just a flicker.

Distant and unreachable, like a star. And it’s flickering and faint and I have to squint sometimes to clarify to my mind whether or not it’s something I’m actually seeing or if I’m just imagining it. And my eyes and brain get tired of staring so hard at the flicker and trying to determine if it’s real. But I know it is.

Just a tiny light. But it’s there.

And it isn’t hope or love or joy or any of those big, buoyant words that we think of as being important to sustaining life. But it’s somehow bigger and more important than even those-

Jesus.

And not Jesus in the “roaring Lion”, “trumpet blast” way. Not the Jesus that “comes in power.” Not the Jesus who is GOD, although I know that to be true too.

Rather, the flicker I see is the Jesus who was Man. The Jesus who was wounded for me. The Jesus who came as an infant. Jesus as a man, laughing and playing with children. Jesus on the cross. Jesus with nail-scarred hands.

Jesus as a quiet, quiet promise.

*

My head is like a room right now. And I can see myself in there, in that room, and I’m looking desperately for a door or window or tiny hole that I can punch and kick until it grows, allowing me to escape and see sunlight and breathe in fresh air. But I can’t find the door or the window or the tiny hole. I know there’s got to be a way out, but I can’t see it.

It’s all darkness and a flicker so faint it almost doesn’t seem real.

And so all I can do is try to breathe and wait on God.

And I beg Him to have a plan. I know He does, obviously, but I mean a plan for today. Rescue. A miracle. Not a plan for “someday”. Not an “it will all be okay someday.” I need a way for it to be okay today. Right now.

And I’ve tried so hard to achieve that on my own. And I’ve tried to achieve it with help.

And the longer I’m here, in this room, waiting and screaming for help and looking for a way out, the more I see that there is no rescue apart from Him. There is no help for me apart from Him.

Every time I see a therapist, I feel worse. And I know there’s no way to say this without sounding arrogant, but I think it’s because I’m smart. It just is what it is, the way God designed me. (And honestly, sort of a miracle given that my father’s DNA certainly didn’t do me any favors in that area.) I’m a lot of negative things too, but I’m smart. And because of that, I think I’m harder to help.

I’ve already done everything every single therapist I’ve seen is able to suggest I do. I have done it all. I have powered through on sunsets and the occasional hug and a Jesus who is near, and I’ve practiced coping skills and thought monitoring and radical acceptance, and I’ve exercised and been social and practiced gratitude. I’ve done that for months. Years maybe.

And people think the problem is me. They think I need to learn a new way to exist in this world, because if I just knew better I’d certainly not feel this way. Because what is wrong with a person who feels this way? Clearly there must be something. Because it’s not normal. Right?

But I don’t think that’s true. Thank God it’s not normal in the sense that it’s “typical” for people to get to such a dark place, but I also don’t think it’s indicative of some sort of “sickness”. I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with me.  I think the problem is the world I live in and the life I’ve had and how it has impacted my heart. And depression contributes, I’m sure. And trauma. And aching for a Jesus who can hold me. But I think those are the least important factors in why I am where I am right now.

I don’t feel crazy. I feel sane. And when I talk to people, I know I sound sane. And no one knows what to do with that. When they can’t find flaws in my thinking or coping skills or logic, they don’t know what else to do for me.

And I don’t know either.

I’m beyond feeling like I will feel better if x, y, or z happens or changes. Because why stake my happiness on something that will probably never be?

It’s like wishing for windows or doors to appear.

What I need is a miracle.

*

And I wonder… why? And I don’t ask that because I want an answer, but because I know there has to be an answer. There’s a difference. I don’t need an explanation. I just know that where I am right now, today, isn’t an accident. It isn’t the product of some sort of mental illness or character flaw or sin or lack of faith.

I feel like this is where I am for a reason. Which isn’t to say that God orchestrated it, but that it all makes sense to Him. Why has this been my life? Why is this my personality? Why do I have the job I do and the IQ I do and the brokenness I do? How does it all fit together?

And you know what I DON’T hear? I don’t hear Him telling me I need help. He isn’t saying, “Whoa, sister. This is not okay. Something in your brain is not okay. Please get help.”

I think He’s telling me that He knows, He sees, and I think He’s validating me, reassuring me that how I feel right now makes perfect sense. And it’s not because I battle depression, and it’s not because I’m doing anything wrong. He is saying it hurts because it’s painful. It hurts because it SHOULD hurt. And He is whispering to me, with sad eyes, that I’m right- this isn’t the way it should’ve been. This isn’t His plan for me.

But He’ll use it.

Somehow.

Somehow, it all fits together- this place I’m in and the big, beautiful future He has for me.

*

Lord, help me surrender and trust the process. I can’t fix me. And I don’t think anyone else can either.

I don’t see any hope, Lord. None. None apart from You and Your promises.

I spread my arms open and I’m empty before you. I have nothing to offer. I have nowhere to turn. There is nothing but this room and its cement walls and time that just keeps going forward and what can I do? What can I do?

You’ve seen, Lord. You’ve seen how I’ve clung and fought and battled my way through this. And You know, Lord, that I just don’t have it in me anymore. Help me surrender to that truth without surrendering to despair. Help me believe You’re strong, no matter how weak I am.

Please don’t let me give up on my miracle.

The Next Step

I feel like I am being pushed out of my life.

I can’t beg people to want to spend time with me.

And I feel like an idiot for all the times I used love as comfort to get me through.

And my job doesn’t want me anymore either.

So where do I turn? What do I have? Is there any way this is God speaking to me, telling me this isn’t what He has for me? Should I move? Where can I go?

I have visions of bare knees on red dirt, worn Converse and worn Bibles. Make-up-less face and wild, curly, product-free hair. A day spent seeking Him, seeking His Spirit, living in His presence, doing His work. Feeling Him nearer than my breath.

I don’t want to leave.
I don’t want to stay.

I don’t want work pants and desks, and going home to no one, and trying to tell myself I’m loved and I matter when it’s such bullshit.

Where can I run, where can I go that won’t be even more painful and lonely?

I don’t know.

I just want to stay in His shadow. Because there’s nothing else for me. I just want to move closer and closer to Love Himself. I want my heart to pursue Love, not love. And I want to feel like my pursuit of Love isn’t futile and pointless because this is all there is and He can’t hug me and I NEED TO FIND SOMEONE HERE, SOMEONE WHO CAN HUG ME AND WANT ME AND CHOOSE ME AND MISS ME WHEN I’M NOT AROUND AND CALL ME THEIRS.

Is there any way, if He doesn’t make mistakes, that He is speaking to me in this? If no one—no man, no family—wants me, but He does, then how do I throw myself 100% at Him and stop waiting for anything else to change? How do I let myself live for Him completely and not have to spend eight hours a day at a desk, waiting for my boss to disapprove of something I do? Waiting to be fired? Never being listened to when I try to stand up for what’s right? Always being made to feel like I’m the problem, like I’m crazy and can’t see things clearly, when I already know I can’t see things clearly, but neither can anyone else because we’re human, and isn’t the Holy Spirit inside of me enough of a reason to at least listen to what I have to say and stop discounting everything that comes out of my mouth?

Every time I perceive something as wrong, EVERY TIME, it gets turned back around on me and I’m left thinking I’M wrong. Me, as a person, is broken and cannot have valid thoughts or opinions and everything about me is hard to love and I should just stay quiet if I even want a shot at not repelling people or keeping my job.

What if my depression isn’t the problem?

What if the problem is that this life I’m being expected to live is excruciating?

And if God doesn’t make mistakes, I need to know what I’m supposed to be getting from this. I need to hear from Him.

This season, from the time Mom got sick to now, the never-ending sorrow and loss and grief and loss and heartache and loss and depression and loss, I’m done taking blame for it. It’s NOT MY FAULT.

And I reject all of the opinions of people who would say that it’s my thoughts about things that’s the problem here. Or that I’m dwelling and ruminating on the negatives. Or that the problem is that I won’t let go of my ideals and just be grateful for what I DO have.

Only the Lord knows how untrue that is.

I am not the problem.

This is too coincidental, too insanely much, to be “just life”. Is it an attack? Something God’s trying to use to direct me somewhere else? I don’t know.

I was calling Group Health and begging to get in to see someone when I witnessed the shooting Monday.

I got home from the movie tonight, sobbing, thought how grateful I was that my pets love me at least, and then Arlow bit my face and made me bleed.

It’s not me overreacting. It’s not me being overly sensitive. It’s not “just because I’m depressed.” It’s too much. Something is wrong with this and I need to understand how I am supposed to respond.

Not in despair. Not by surrendering to a life of loss and hopelessness and being unloved and never really feeling like He’s enough for me. That can’t be what He wants me to take away from this.

There has to be something else.

I reject despair.
And I reject self-condemnation.
And I reject the lie that I am unlovable
and that there’s nothing more
and that there’s nowhere to run
and no way to make any of it better
and I’m going to hurt like this forever.

I reject that.

And I SCREAM: “Lord, help me hear You!!!”

Help me understand what to do next. I don’t need to know the whole, big picture. I just need the next step. I don’t want to chase after lies and empty promises. I want to chase after You. And I want to know You as better than anything else I could’ve ever asked for and dreamed of.

I believe there’s more for me than this.

I believe there’s more of You than quiet moments alone with my Bible and an occasional warm feeling in worship and clinging to You in faith and using that as a reason to endure a life that feels unendurable.

This cannot be the big, beautiful plan You had for me when You shaped me in my mother’s womb.

I don’t have anything but You, Lord. Not really.

So help me give it all to You–my whole life.

Help me know You as More Than Enough.

Be my 100%-

100% of my love,
my joy,
my family,
my belonging.

And anything else You give is just extra- blessing and grace and an overflow of how You love me. But help me find all that I need in You.

Emotional Stability Isn’t My Strong Suit

My [lying, cold-hearted, going to give me a heart attack] boss’ new rules, which require that I sit at a desk for four full days a week, even when there are no patients to be seen, is making my current emotional state a lot worse because I don’t have the option of staying busy. My productivity is plummeting. But at least this way she knows where I am every second of the day, which apparently is the most important thing to her. Arrrrgh. But I digress.

I just went out to my car and called the person I have an appointment with tomorrow. I was grateful she didn’t answer. I didn’t want to talk, I just wanted to be heard.

I told her how I can’t breathe, how everything I eat makes me feel like I’m going to throw up, how my heart physically hurts. I told her how I’m trying so hard to love life, and it’s not working, and what if it never gets better? And I told her I’m sitting at my desk trying to just breathe. “Don’t grab your stuff. Don’t run out,” I remind myself.

But the next sentence that inevitably wants to follow those two, the one I try to shove out of my mind before it takes shape? “There’s nowhere to run.”

I was praying yesterday and talking through surrender and depression with God. I told Him I do choose His plan for my life. I do lay down all that I hope for a dream for in exchange for the “better” He has for me. I do. In my mind, I do. Deliberately and consciously I do. But my body is betraying me and my heart is screaming its pain and even though I trust Him, it’s excruciating. But even still, I’ll choose excruciating over veering away from His plan for my life. I choose excruciating.

And I told Him I know I don’t actually know what I want or need. There’s freedom in that, too. I told Him, “You know what my deepest longings are, Lord, but I don’t even ask for those things anymore. I’m not holding on to them as the solution to how I hurt. I am just telling You I hurt. And I am begging You to fix it. However You see fit.”

*

At the counselor Tuesday, I wanted to just stop talking, stop trying to make her understand, stop hoping she’d say something actually helpful. I wanted to just tip over, curl up on my side, and sleep.

I could’ve too. I felt so disconnected from my body that I could’ve just laid there, eyes closed, and not responded to anything she said or did in response. I could’ve slept through it and not cared at all how insane I looked or how uncomfortable I was making her. I was so tired. I am so tired.

*

When people say things like, “Accept it and move on,” it makes me want to punch them in the nose. Because what do they think I’ve been trying to do!? I am not choosing this! I am begging God for happiness- or at least for joy, a desire to live.

And also I want to punch them because they’re right. What can I do but accept it and move on?

And that thought scares the crap out of me. It makes breathing even harder.

Because I’ve been trying that so hard, for so long, and I am not okay and what if this is forever? What if this constant pain in my chest lands me in the hospital for some sort of medical reason and I die without ever again getting to experience life as a gift?

This can’t be forever. I can’t feel like this–shaky and cold and like all that’s within me could combust and I explode right along with it–forever.

*

I am having such a hard time seeing a reason to push through.

I just know that I have no other choice. The alternatives are worse than what I’m currently experiencing. (Again, that thought, the “no way out” thought, makes it harder to breathe.)

I am enduring. I am enduring and hoping. Because I know God’s giving me this breath for a reason.

And I pray on the other side of this, (because I fiercely pray that there will come a day when I am, in fact, on the other side of this), I’ll be changed.

I’ll be able to stand atop the rubble of my life and not despair.

I’ll be able to suffer alone without losing my desire to live.

And when those I love are not okay, I’ll show up with a movie and dinner and I’ll sit beside them, and I won’t try to fix them or take on their pain, but I will sit there and love them steadily and reliably and unconditionally. And that’s all we need sometimes, I think. Just to know that we’re not alone.

*

And there is good. Amidst it all. It not enough good to make me want to do life, but it still matters. The good is like little reminders sprinkled throughout the day that my Father loves me and sees my pain and is in control.

Sunny days beside the creek, alone except for Arlow.

Sharing my cereal with Theo. One bite for me, one bite for him.

Watching kids blow bubbles.

French braiding Olivia’s hair.

When someone–pet or person–unknowingly moves closer to you in their sleep.

When someone loves you enough to ask, “Have you eaten?”

When you wake up in the morning to let your dog outside, and you’re cranky about not still being asleep, but then you realize the sky is pink, and it’s beautiful, and suddenly you’re so glad you didn’t miss it.

*

All of my days are written in His book. This isn’t a surprise to Him. Nor is it something I’ve chosen. So I will ride it out, believing that it’s all part of the story He’s writing.

*

I’m not in control.

I am not okay and I can’t force myself to be okay and time keeps going and what if I lose my job or my depression gets worse? And remember last summer?

And I’m gripped by horror and trauma and I want to run away from the memories and emotions and I CAN’T run because they’re inside of me.

And I’m terrified. Terrified of not being okay, terrified of needing help, terrified of no one helping or being able to help, terrified of things getting worse, terrified of people blaming me and leaving me because I’m too much work.

I’m scared.

I have no control and I’m scared.

But He’s always gotten me through everything before. I’ve kicked and screamed and made it harder on myself, but He’s still stood by and held my hand and guided me along in this story He’s scripting.

And He’ll get me through this too. This Breakdown Part II. This surfacing of all that’s unresolved, and not better than it was when I first laid it down at the cross in exchange for unfailing hope in the goodness of the Lord.

And I’ll believe that someday I won’t have to “get through” my life. I’ll be able to LIVE it.

And maybe I’ll never get married or have kids. And maybe no one will ever embrace me as daughter or sister. And I don’t know how to be okay with that.

But I do know what God has for me is only the best. He is good and wants good for me, not suffering.

So Lord, help me trust the process.

Help me not fault myself.

And please, help me not be alone. However that looks, Lord. Even if it’s just You and I. Help me go to bed at night feeling safe and held and loved and not alone.

Worship

I believe in beauty. I believe in beauty in the midst of sorrow, and beauty overriding sorrow, and beauty coming at us endlessly from the God who says, “This suffering is necessary for where I’m taking you, but I am here. I am here. I am here.”

And even when He doesn’t take away what we want Him to, or give what we want Him to, He floods our lives with beauty. If only we have the eyes to see.

I believe that.

Where’s the beauty in fighting for life? Real life. Fullness of life. The life abundant promised to us, as opposed to emptiness and aching and simply powering through because there’s no other option.

Maybe it’s in refusing to accept that this is all there is. Maybe it’s in saying, “It hurts because there’s a massive gap between what I’m living and what I know the Lord has for me. And it’s supposed to hurt. It’s supposed to hurt because it’s NOT RIGHT.”

And maybe it’s in giving up.

I can’t make myself be excited about life.
I can’t make my job treat me with fairness.
I can’t ensure I won’t get fired.
I can’t make myself be important to people.
I can’t even put on a brave face all the time.

And that has to be okay.

Yesterday I left work fifteen minutes into it and I called the doctor and said, “I need to see someone today. I don’t care who. Anyone.”

And then I sat in the hallway, waiting two hours for my appointment- shaking, freezing, curled into a ball, my chest tight and my heart physically aching. And my eyelids grew heavier each minute. My body wasn’t my own. I had no control over any of it. Everything in me was screaming: “It’s too much!” My body was done, choosing sleep as a way of preserving itself.

But I didn’t fall asleep. Because I had an appointment to make. Instead, I sat there. I wrapped my coat around myself and stared at the carpet for two hours. And people walked by. And I know I looked crazy. But I didn’t care. I couldn’t care.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay to be a mess. It’s okay to sit on the floor in public and shake. It’s okay because I can’t control it, I’m not choosing this, and I am still here. That’s all that He asks of us, right? Don’t abandon the truth. Stand firm. Stay alive.

He doesn’t ask us to pull it together or move on or suck it up or to present ourselves only in ways that our appearance-oriented society will deem appropriate.

He asks us to stand. To cling.

And so I do. I stand (or sit) and I wait on the Lord.

And I don’t know if it will ever get better. It’s hard to believe it will. But I’m not giving up on life. I’m still here and I am saying, even when my body and mind feel like not my own and I don’t know how to be okay, “I love You. I love You. I love You.”

I can’t control what people think of me.
I can’t make people validate my pain or understand or not blame me.

I can’t make counselors be helpful.

I can’t take in their advice about “coping skills” and “acceptance” and not want to punch them because I’ve been doing that. I’ve done that and I’m still here at this place where I am waking up and trying to love the simple things in my day and I’m doing my best to keep on going, believing in a better tomorrow, but I am not okay. And no amount of fresh air or positive thinking of furbaby cuddles is the solution. It’s not enough.

I’ve done that–acceptance, gratitude, trusting the Lord, embracing the good in today–for so long, but I feel like one by one, things crumble. They walk out of my life by choice or become rubble around me, and I don’t know when this pattern will end. Nothing ever gets rebuilt. Things just keep falling apart.

And at what point is it okay for me to accept that everything around me is rubble and there’s not a single corner of my life that feels safe and secure and stable and reliable?

At what point can I say, “I AM NOT OKAY! And I don’t care that the rubble–the lack in my life–makes it easier to watch the sun set. I don’t care that there are birds and flowers and sunny days. It’s not enough. It’s not enough! And I know You are God and I know You love me and I trust You, I do, but I am NOT OKAY and I need something more. More You. More love. More medication. SOMETHING. This life isn’t sustainable. I can’t keep going on with rubble under my feet and my hands grasping at a God I can’t touch. HELP ME.”

Not being okay doesn’t make me weak. It doesn’t indicate a lack of trust.

My being here, my going on in spite of the fact that I don’t want to, that’s trust.

In fact, it’s worship.

And I believe that He smiles. Even while I’m barely human as I speak to a counselor, and I can’t stop shaking, and refuse to make eye contact because I’m pissed off and done trying to pretend like she is helping just to avoid hurting her feelings, and I just want to lay down while she’s talking at me and fall asleep. Even then, even while He hurts for me, I believe He smiles. Because it’s worship. It’s trust.

And it’s not beautiful by typical standards. It’s not newborn baby, warm embrace, tulips in bloom, beautiful. It’s bloody and raw and tear-stained.

And it’s worship.

And it’s not weakness. It’s not something I’m choosing by dwelling or refusing to embrace the God of hope.

It’s not shameful.

Let me say it again: DEPRESSION IS NOT WEAKNESS. IT IS NOT SIN.

It’s the opposite! Going forward when everything in you is tired beyond what sleep can cure? That’s strength! Knowing He’s good, even while you’re not sure when, if ever, it’s going to get better? That is worship.

You can accept and surrender and trust and be grateful… and still not be okay.

You can believe God is good and only has the best for you, and you can still weep because it hurts.

I believe that too.