I tell myself to suck it up. I tell myself it’s not that big of a deal. I tell myself to choose hope, to remember who God is. I reach over and rub my hand down the length of Arlow’s silky ear and I remind myself that giving up isn’t an option.
And then I just can’t do it. Because everything in me is SO heavy. And so I put my head in my hands and I give myself permission to just FEEL.
And I weep. And I tell God how badly I hurt. How I feel like I’ve ruined my life. How I’ve lost so, so much- jobs I love, a better income, my body, my family, a second family, the ability to have a future that is just Arlow and I…
And I cry because it HURTS. A baby that I don’t want is on the way. And I’m terrified of doing it alone. I’m terrified of finances and how Arlow’s life will change. I’m terrified of not loving the baby and I’m terrified that I’ll love it so much that letting a daycare raise it will break my heart. I am terrified I will fail the baby, that I will fail Arlow, and that I won’t ever again be effortlessly glad to be alive.
I cry because people love me, but also I’m doing my life alone. I cry because there’s no point in hanging stockings, and there’s no one who will be here to teach me how to be a mom, and there’s no dinner table that I belong at. I cry because I have friends, people I can call and text, people who will meet me for coffee or a movie or point me back to Jesus when I get lost on this journey, but there’s no one I’m doing life WITH. I cry because not having a family is excruciating.
And I used to have those things. I think back to when I was twenty and how much brighter my life and future looked. I knew sadness, but I also woke up each morning glad to have another day to live.
I remember what it was like to belong somewhere, to be held in hearts and arms, to know that if the worst happened, people would be there. No matter what. And maybe they’d be cranky and misunderstand me and maybe we’d fight and maybe I’d cry, but they’d show up, and they’d do so sacrificially, ready to help, because that’s what family does. I remember the comfort of knowing I had a safety net.
I never had to wonder if my birthday would go uncelebrated or if I’d spend an entire weekend alone. I could feel warmth and excitement during the holidays because it meant family and baking and taking pictures at Christmas tree farms and wrapping presents and signing them “From: Auntie Tamara” or “Your Sister.”
And I lost all of that.
And so I weep. Because it’s unfair and it hurts and HOW DO I KEEP CHOOSING TO LIVE THIS LIFE!?! And I weep because most of it is my own damn fault. It was the depression and the giving up and the chasing after things that my heart thought it needed to be okay because I tried to chase after God and that didn’t work.
I remember sitting on the floor in a hallway outside my doctor’s office. Nothing felt real. My body felt like lead and I knew I looked peculiar sitting there, but I didn’t care. Peculiar or not, it didn’t matter because I couldn’t have moved or blinked or spoken a coherent sentence even if I tried. I remember trying to think but my brain was filled with cotton. How was I going to get up off the floor? How was I going to get in my car and go home? How was I going to be in my empty house and survive the night? How was I going to do it all over again tomorrow? And so I sat. And my brain stopped formulating questions or the ability to look at my life as a linear, time-shaped thing. It was only the moment I was in, and even that didn’t feel real.
I remember long days where I spent most of my mental energy debating when and how and if I could/should hurt myself again. And it didn’t feel scary or wrong or bad because it felt like the only option. I was living this cotton-headed, lead-body, nothing-is-real existence and I couldn’t fathom continuing to do it indefinitely.
And so it was my fault, how I ruined my life, because the depression turned me into someone who alternated between doing whatever I could just to stay alive and doing whatever I could to die.
And I’m mad. I’m mad that my sickness, which is what depression is, has had such lasting and permanent consequences. I’m mad that I’ve fought so hard to live and now I have to live amidst the rubble of what has crumbled and broken and been destroyed during my effort to survive.
It doesn’t feel fair. But it is the reality of my life right now. And how did I get to this place??! How did I become this person?!?
And so I cry.
I weep long and hard into my hands and I pour my heart out to God in a way that feels like I am turning myself inside out.
And then, when I have no tears left, I sit my heart down and I parent it. I tell it to remember that ultimately I have two options- life or death. And with everything I do and think, I am choosing one or the other.
And death isn’t an option. Not because it isn’t an option for me, because I still haven’t gotten to a place where my life feels worth the fight, but it isn’t an option because of Arlow and the baby. Death isn’t an option. So, by default, I have to choose life.
And so I do. I go back to trust. I go back to leaving it all in His hands. I go back to choosing to see the future with hope.
And I don’t want to.
I want to tell God it’s not fair, that what’s the point of over and over and over again giving Him all this pain inside of me when it doesn’t ever go away?!
I want to yell about how hard it is to every day hold back this river of wrongness–all the loss and grief and disappointment and fear–to not look it in the eye, but to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, to have my arms straining against the weight of holding it back, while I scream my gratitude and praises at the sky. I’ve given it to Him, so I’m not carrying it anymore, but my hands are still on it in an effort to keep it away from me, to keep it from crashing down over top of me. And my arms are tired.
I want to tell Him I’m effing exhausted and will it ever get easier and if not what’s the freaking point??!
I want to scream at him about all that is wrong, all the vast, expansive, seemingly all-consuming ways my life is not worth living.
And I don’t understand. I am angry and none of this makes sense and HOW and WHY and WHEN?!
But I know what scripture says.
I know it says our lives are directly impacted by our thoughts, so to choose our thoughts well.
I know it says to remember who God is and how He loves us and how NOTHING is too hard for Him.
I know it says our mistakes are covered by His grace and that redemption is real, that nothing is ever “ruined” when we invite Him in and surrender to Him.
I know that, even if my life looks wrong in so many big ways, each day is filled with His presence and blessing. I know I have so much to be grateful for.
And I know He is working, that my life isn’t a stagnant, permanent fixture, but that is it a fluid thing, constantly being shaped by His will and His love.
And it doesn’t make the pain any less real, and it doesn’t make any of the loss or grief feel okay in even the tiniest measure,
but I have two options.
Life or death.
And so I have to choose. I can live from the place of “it’s not fair” and “I can’t do it,” or I can take it a day a time and trust God with everything unresolved inside of me.
And that is what I choose to do.
Guys, after talking to some of my friends who read my blog, I feel like I need to say this: I’m not sad 24/7.
My blog is not an accurate representation of how I feel moment-to-moment throughout my day because this is where I come when my emotions are big.
Yes, everything I said above is true- I hurt.
BUT that’s not the only thing that’s true.
In addition to my sorrow and struggle, there are also moments, hours, sometimes even whole days where it doesn’t feel so hard. And more than I sit around feeling sad or dreading my future, I rub my belly and pray over the life growing inside of me,
I thank God for Arlow, who I love so much that just thinking about him makes me cry,
I laugh and engage with coworkers,
I smile warmly at clients and ask them how they’re doing,
I make mental lists of things I want to do and even feel mildly excited about the thought of doing them,
And I pray for my friends and meet them for coffee and go home at night feeling loved.
It’s not all sorrow and sadness. My list of things to be grateful for is long.
I hurt, yes.
But God has not, and will not, let me down. And it’s from THAT place more than the sadness that I try to live.
Eyes to see.