Hark! What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks?

I’ve been wanting to update this thing for a while, but haven’t wanted to update it with the depressing shit that’s going through my brain. I even chose not to share at check-in on Friday in our therapeutic writing class, which I always view as a bit of a cop-out. But we had to share a short poem we had written (according to a certain form), and this one wasn’t really suitable for a classroom setting. I’m pretty sure if I’d shared it, my prof (who I’ve already talked to about having a rough semester and needing a bit of leeway on assignments) would have walked me across the street to the counseling center.

scattered / worrying endlessly / white hot pain / what to let go? / retreat

And then another!

stuck / shame spiraling / deeper darker black / where is the light? / gone

So….yeah. It hasn’t been a good semester so far. I was demoted to meeting with my dietitian every week again. I was nearly demoted to meeting with my therapist every other week. I self-harmed for the first time in months. I lost/left my job because I was too damned depressed to move.

Then Jesus decided to throw me a bone. A friend invited me to an improvisational music weekend at a gorgeous retreat center this past weekend. And she paid for the whole thing for me. (At nearly $250, this was not something that was even in the realm of possibility otherwise.)

So we drove to the retreat center on Friday afternoon and chatted the whole way there. She loves God and she is not shy about it. She prayed constantly (out loud), often thanking God for getting us where we were going or the sunset or the lifting of the fog (which really was miraculously timed.) Sadly, we got there so late that we couldn’t get seats together at dinner, so I sat awkwardly amongst strangers, then left after a “reasonable” (?) amount of time.

As I walked back to my dorm, I noticed a friend in her car, chatting out the window with one of the retreat facilitators. Weird. I wave and she finds a place to park and hops out to give me a hug. She lives about thirty minutes away and we had talked about perhaps getting together for a walk before dinner, but the aforementioned late arrival meant we had to cancel that plan.

So instead, she decided to stop by and drop off a little care package for me (and my roommate). What?! A thermos, some tea bags, some fruit, and dark chocolate. Oh, and some delightful lavender soap. Totally unexpected. The next hour spent with her and her daughter were also delightful and her daughter took to my ukulele quite naturally.

To say that I needed this weekend might be a bit of an understatement. Just the first two hour session on Friday night did my heart well. It was an event organized by Music for People, which believes everyone is musical and should get the chance to express it. And it opens wide the gates for things considered music. Honestly, I had no idea that a choir of eight BUNDT PANS could sound so gorgeous.

There are no wrong notes. No wrong sounds. No pressure. I met some awesome musicians who love to just play and it reignited that love for me. All I want to do now is improv!

At any rate, throughout the weekend, my roommate (the friend who brought me) kept giving me little gifts. She brought me some lovely soap and some teas as well. She was clearing out some of her old clothes and brought me sweaters and such to try out before she dropped the rest at goodwill. She offered up a bunch of her old clothes from her practicum because she “doesn’t like to wear black” now and I’m hurting for professional dress.

What the hell? It feels a bit like I have a fairy godmother.

I feel completely unworthy of it all, especially after the past month and a half.

I can’t say I’m totally on the “Yayyyyyyy life! Yay recovery!” train again, but I’m taking this weekend for what it was: Respite. And a reminder that Jesus really, really loves me.

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Hold the Line

I struggle sometimes to decide whether or not to leave a post up if I am embarrassed by what I’ve said or no longer feel that way because the situation has changed. Ultimately, I choose to leave them because they were – at that moment in time – my reality.

On one hand, some things I mentioned in my last post were cleared up within an hour of writing it. I had not realized that the friend I mentioned in the first half of the post actually subscribes to my blog and thus, she was greeted with an e-mail of my blog which understandably seemed very passive aggressive. The lack of invitation to the baby shower was, of course, an oversight and I took it entirely too personally and, as I am wont to do, jumped to the worst possible conclusion. (My apologies again to this friend – who has never been anything but loving and gracious. Also – and this is for everyone – if I ever do that sort of passive-agressive bitchy move you are allowed to chew me out and/or slap me.)

On the other hand, even though things were sorted with that particular friend, it did not change the hurt and grief I felt over the other friendships. The immediate situation with the first friend triggered all sorts of feelings that I am not entirely equipped to handle. My coping skills have grown leaps and bounds even in the past two months (no self-harm, what what!!), but sometimes I am still at a loss for what to do with my emotions. My emotions seem to have two options: on full-blast or off.

Spring break in Florida was positively delightful, but I didn’t really deal with any sort of feelings aside from “Yay Disney! Yay friends! Yay camping and hiking!” I very intentionally left my homework/reading for therapy buried in my bag because I just did not want to open that can of worms. I noticed in therapy last Monday that this was a way for me to close myself off to any emotion. So when I prayed for openness to emotion….well, the damn broke. I was a weepy mess for most of Monday night.

Y’all, I just feel raw. The slightest touch hurts. I had to walk out of my Tuesday night class because the activity hit (oh so tangentially) an area I’ve been working on in therapy and I could not handle it. I stuck it out as long as it could, but the class and situation just continued to feel more and more unsafe. I bolted after class. A classmate told me when I saw her later in the week that she had been praying for me and that my professor was really concerned. So now I have that awkward situation to walk into this Tuesday night.

I texted my therapist when I got home. I had taken a detour to EarthFare, hoping that picking up a couple of things would be enough to reset my brain. It wasn’t, so I asked my therapist how I was supposed to shut off these stupid emotions so I could get my schoolwork done. “Because beer is currently looking like my best option,” I said.

“Hold the line,” she said. “Your healing is way way way more important than homework. It will stop. You will catch up. Keep going until…it is finished.  Jesus did.”  A brief exchange occurred, wherein I realized just how human I am and my therapist stated that she was extremely glad that I was in touch with that humanness.

I know that this is what I am supposed to be doing, how I am supposed to be feeling. I know that the nights when I am so sure I’m just flat-out going to die from THE FEELZ are progress. I am feeling. I am allowing myself to be broken. I am trusting my family and friends to hold me while my Saviour binds the wounds.

But first – I have to take off the crude bandages I spent so long putting together and feel the pain that was always there.

You Want to Believe…

…that there’s one relationship in life that’s beyond betrayal. A relationship that is beyond that kind of hurt. And there isn’t.  –Caleb Carr

There is a feeling of betrayal sitting deep in my gut.  Which is strange because, in the strictest of terms, I was not the one betrayed.  But when a spiritual leader is the one who is in the spot of betrayer, there is some sort of trickle down to the rest of us who believed so deeply in him.  It is hard not to see everything you have been taught over the long course of the betrayal as tainted.

Basically, crazy stuff is going on at my home church — no, not crazy stuff.  Human stuff. The stuff we all struggle with, but might not have exposed to public forums because we don’t hold positions that carry that weight.

I think, perhaps, this is hitting me so deeply because it exposes just how shallow my roots are.  This information does not lead me to believe in God any less, but it shows me how disconnected I have been.  How I let roots that had been holding me steady wither away over the past year.  It reiterates how my “home church” hasn’t felt like home in over a year.

And yet, that idea of my church being “home” was the only thing really tethering me to a relationship with God.  I pray – sometimes.  I worship – on Sunday mornings. I read my Bible – when there’s nothing else around.  So the recent revelations feel less like headlines scrolling across the bottom of the screen and more like earthquakes, shaking my already unsteady foundation.

In his address to our church, our pastor said that if we find ourselves turning to Jesus in this, that is “good and right.”

And really, I’ve got nowhere else to go.  Every human relationship will experience betrayal eventually.

If you’re not the betrayed, you’re the betrayer. I have betrayed others many, many times.  It is the only reason that I can look at this situation without judgment, knowing that it could have just as easily been me.

And perhaps because I have been the betrayer so often, it hurts on more levels than one to be betrayed.

In Which I Mention Jesus for the First Time in Months

If you’re new to reading this blog, you probably don’t even know that I love Jesus.  I do, really.  I just do a piss-poor job of it most of the time.  

I’ve spent the last six or seven months completely isolated from my loving, radical, amazing church community.  Part of this is due to the fact that I worked in the woods for the majority of the time and didn’t have Sundays off.  But the reality is that even since returning home from that job, I’ve attended church all of…uh, never.  (I showed up once just to do a service thing, but haven’t worshipped or listened to a sermon with my crew in months.)  

I am petrified of showing up to church.  Too many people.  Too many questions.  Too depressed.  Too fat.  Too much shame that I am exactly where I was a year ago (and maybe even a little further behind).  There is always, always, always an excuse.  

I miss the girl I was — the girl who was praising God with hands raised high, who prayed with fervor and conviction, the girl who allowed herself to be broken by the living God.  Some small aspects of that girl still exist.  Some small part of me still believes in who He is and the power He has in the world, the world He created.

And that little part of me gets excited when I see people like my friend Brandy working on His behalf to create a world I would like to live in.  She’s brilliant, that girl, and just published a fabulous (and FREE!) e-book all about restoring shalom* to our broken world.  (Uh, in fact, I would suggest you go and check out her blog right now.  And subscribe to her newsletter.  And download your free copy of her e-book.  I’ll wait…….)

In all honesty, I want you guys to read that e-book because when she outlines what a co-conniver looks like, I think of you.  I think of the beautiful, kind, creative, Jesus-loving, authentic people I’ve “met” through this blog.  I want you to read and think about the ways you can be restoring shalom in your own little part of the world, and I want you to dream big and be creative and show this world what our God can do.

I want you to do it, because for as much as I love Jesus, I just don’t know that I can do much of anything for Him right now.

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shalom (hebrew):  peace