Thursday, October 25, 2012

Quiet

I've been quiet (blog-wise) for several days now, but I'm still here, still getting up and doing life every day, and mostly enjoying it.  A few weeks ago, my head was an ugly place to be, so I've spent this time searching out other places, others' words.  Through Sarah Bessey, I discovered the treasure that is Addie Zierman, and it's just plain weird how her words just fit me, like she knows, and her quiet words whisper strength and solidarity and understanding to me.

And then Tony Jones decided to feature my submission in his series, Questions that Haunt Christianity, so I have been staying engaged in that conversation, and it has been rewarding, in a quiet, internal kind of way.

Going back to work has been good, but it has been hard, too.  I work evening hours, so that means Greg is home with the kids while I am working.  Our church family has been praying for us and checking in on us, and Greg and the kids get along fine in my absence, but that doesn't make it hurt any less to have to be absent.  I hate it.  And every child's voice in the mall makes me turn my head, catch my breath, because in one little instant, I think That's my baby and That isn't my baby and I miss my baby and I wish I was home.  And so, once or thrice during each shift, my eyes well with quiet tears.


This (all of this, all of everything, really) is for a season.  And experiencing all of this against the backdrop of my least-loved season change has been informative.  Addie Zierman wrote, at the beginning of October, some words that keep coming back to me: 

Every year around this time, the sun feels a little farther away, a little more reluctant to appear. The nights get longer, the days get shorter.

I wish I had seen it before, this metaphor. I wish I had understood that God is not farther away just because I feel him less. It’s about orbit, about an angle that is always changing, about the normal rhythms of life.


Earlier this week, I raked the leaves in our backyard, and the kids played for hours in the massive leaf pile.  As I was raking, I stopped to snap this photo.

Everything around this flower is falling, fading, dying.  Her efforts to feel the sun shine on her petals is rewarded with pale, watery October sunlight.  The frosts have started, and this little flower surely won't last long against hard freezes and Nebraska wind.

But the flower isn't worried about any of that.  She's just growing, blooming, because she can and she must.  There is no waiting for the right time to be beautiful, for the optimal season for growth.  She's growing now, because she can't stop the rhythms of life.

I've said both too much and not enough.  I'm going to go back to the quiet now, and try to feel the rhythm.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Seven thoughts

There's a lot going on in my head.  It feels so crowded in there that I can't grab onto a single thought and follow it to a conclusion.  

I love that, and I hate it.  I love it because much of the stuff bouncing around in there is good stuff, but I hate it because it feels... unproductive. Unsettled.  Elusive.

So here are some things I'm thinking about lately.

1) I am enjoying getting to go to work.  It's amazing how much easier leaving the house is when you're not worried about strapping down two little people, remembering their stuffed babies and blankies and an extra set of clothes just in case, and a drink and a snack, and do I need the stroller??.....  When it's time for work, I just get in the car and go.  I'd forgotten what that's like.

2) Joel is struggling in my absence.  I hate that.  I hate it for him, for Sophie, for Greg.  I know they'll make it through, but I wish it didn't have to be as hard as it is.

3) Rachel Held Evans said last week that she loves the Bible, and I'm not sure I do.  I value it, and I respect it, and I know beyond any doubt that we need it... I'm just not sure I can call that "love."  The Bible confuses me.  I see people using it as a blunt instrument to subdue those with whom they disagree, see it used as a source for prooftexting this-or-that opinion or position, and it just makes me shrink away.  And then there's the whole "inerrency" thing, and people rejecting science and anti-intellectualism in favor of a 9,000 year old planet and the death penalty for disrepsectful children, and I'm just so tired, I don't even know where to begin to get my bearings again.

4) I paid the bills this morning, and felt again like a less-inspiring Corrie Ten Boom, because it seems like that money should have run out but it didn't, at least, not today.  Some times are like that; it seems like God must be playing fast and loose with our laws of mathematics in order for everything to work out.

5) Joel got a haircut last Friday.  His hair was light blonde, silky smooth and curly.  Now it is dark blonde, coarse and straight.  I knew it would be different, but I didn't know it would change every trait of his hair.  He even smells a little bit different--or maybe I am losing my grip. Maybe both.  I know it's normal to catch your breath a little when they change so suddenly.


6) Sophie is her own self.  She's funny and sweet, she loves dancing, she loves her brother and her family.  She loves to make art (which is actually starting to look like real, discernable things) and tell stories.  (Right now she's out on the deck, where she's been for an hour, talking the entire time.) And sometimes I have to remind myself, sternly, that she is not me.  She is not a sad, lonely little girl growing up too fast in the midst of violence and fear and addiction.  She is not insecure, she does not need to be afraid.  

Sometimes I look at her being all normal and four-year-old-ish, and I think, This is how it should have been for me, for my mom. But she isn't me, and I'm not (totally) my mom, and maybe someday that will sink in.  I want to believe that she's me, being redeemed, but then in the next thought, I don't want her to be saddled with that, with anything.  I want her to be whole and her own.

7) I'm going grocery shopping later.  (Hey, they can't all be winners.)


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Down-day

This spring, I posted about having an up-day.

Today is not an up-day.

Today, everything is hard.  Reading is hard.  Carrying laundry downstairs is hard.  Making, eating, and cleaning up lunch is hard.

On a down-day, every good thing is hard.

These days are the ones I hide.  I don't write about this, about how I knew during breakfast that I'd be yelling before lunch, about how every single thing is a frustration and an interruption.

It's worse than it used to be.  Back in high school, college, even when I was teaching, I had these days, but it was easy to find reasons.  I was still recovering from my traumatizing first 16 years.  I was processing, I was healing.  I didn't like teaching.  There were lots of reasons to feel angry or frustrated, to sit alone and read, or think, or space out.

I take these days harder now, because I can't deal with them alone.  I can't lock myself in my room and listen to Alice in Chains and Pink Floyd until it passes.  I have a preschooler and a toddler, and they seem even more needy than usual on these days, probably because I have so much less to give.  Wiping noses, retrieving toys, making snacks, it is all hard.  And I hate that it is, and I'm just sick of myself sometimes, you know?

Today hasn't been the worst.  Lots of "Grace, please, Jesus," prayers, and we made beaded bracelets before lunch. Now it's naptime, so I'm trying to decide what is more pressing: reading my training manual for work, or taking a nap myself.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Not Sleeping Through This

The first time I called the police, I was seven years old.  I woke up in the middle of the night to see my mother's boyfriend choking the life out of her next to my bed.  I ran across the street, beat on the neighbors' door, and asked them to summon help.

That kind of violence wasn't new to me.  In fact, it was a constant for the first half of my life to date.  But that night was the first time I'd acted to call outside help.  What do "normal" kids do when they're seven?  I wouldn't know.

I've been called a lot of things: success story, miracle, overcomer. 
Resilient child. 
Survivor.  
Cycle-breaker.

People hear my story and say things like, "Wow, you're more normal than you ought to be!"  And it's true.  Physical and psychological abuse, drug abuse, and dysfunctionality take tolls on people, so for me to have come through my first 16 years a (mostly) functional person is no small feat.  Some people don't fare so well.  

But I didn't escape unscathed, and the older I get, the more I can't ignore that fact.

In college, my friends used to talk about me "sleeping through October."  Greg asked me the other day if that was really a thing I did, and he was surprised to hear that it was.  I always started the term strong, excited, and then the weather would change, October would blow in, and I would shut down.  I skipped classes, missed work, refused to study.  

Back then, I reasoned that so many bad things had happened to me in Octobers past, I just subconsciously protected myself this way.  Now I see it differently.

There were times, before we had our kids, that I "slept through" weeks and months like they were one long October to avoid.  Especially while I was teaching, I rode a horrible roller coaster through mountains and valleys of depression, fear, and doubt, about myself, God, everything.

Since Sophie was born, I have been less able to "sleep through" anything.  Children demand your attention, your energy, your heart.  Being present for them has lessened the severity of my emotional cycle, but it hasn't leveled it out completely.

You know that saying about the swan looking all graceful and grand above the water, but underneath the surface, her feet are paddling like mad things?  That's what my mental state is like.  Because I am strong, because I have learned to cope with horrible realities, I can usually appear to have myself together, to be functioning, to be "normal," but underneath, that is often not the case.

And that is why I'm writing these posts.  I'm trying to be honest.  I'm trying to be real.  Falling into depression, for me, feels like falling into a pit.  I can actually feel myself falling, sinking, being swallowed.  And lately, I have been falling, watching the leaves outside fall and knowing I'd follow them soon.

But I don't want to fall too far, to get to the "sleep through" part, the part where I shut down and curl in on myself.  And so I'm sending out these words as anchor lines, tethering me to reality, to friends, to Life.  

I'd like to write something here about how John uses the Word, Light, and Life, but I don't want to muss it up.  Grace, Jesus, for all of us who need your Light.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Roots of Fear, Unrooted

So many thoughts, so few spots to grab on and start attaching words...

Barring something unexpected, I will be starting training for a new job this week.  I will be working for a watch repair shop in the mall, doing sales and service during the evening hours while Greg is home with the kids.

I don't want to go back to work, but basic arithmetic doesn't lie.  We need the money, if we want to continue to do things like put gas in our cars and food in our kids.

Last night, I read an inspiring post from Sorta Crunchy, wherein she talks about fear, and she said something that struck me: She said she had to look at her fear and follow it down to its roots.  And that's what I'm trying to do, to find the roots of this fear that steals my breath and clenches my fists.  Because even though I know I must do this, it scares the shit out of me.