I have so many things going on. The heaviest specifics, I don’t dare to write about.
These are Heavy, hard days of—if not Suffering —Pain. But I know so many, many people going through Pain. In that, we are not alone, but being a writer and photographer comes with a price. I know what’s happening to us isn’t for public consumption. Lives, hearts and souls are at play. If I cannot write, what do I do? If I cannot Speak through images I fear I’ll drown in my grief.
I have been thinking hard about what’s useful for others. What I can pass on.
I was recently at a meeting for parents of youth, a “you rah rah” sort of meeting where a couple traipsed up on the stage as Master Parents (My words). The pastor said: “If my children could turn out like anyone’s I would have them be like so and so’s kids.”
I thought to myself, “Damn. He did not just say that.”
This was before I went back on Effexor, when I could still cry.
I’m not a public crier. I actually try very hard to never cry in front of others, men especially because of the stereotype that women are overly emotional. (This is one of the sexist ideas that I most loathe.)
So I ran from the room in grief and anger and disappointment (I know this pastor and I was surprised he’d say such a thing.)
Our recent months, even the last year and a half, were difficult. I have had moments in the last while that I was certain I couldn’t go on; as doctors, and friends, and mentors, and experts, all had no idea how to proceed with some of our challenges.
We’ve wept, we’ve prayed, we’ve read, and we’ve met with experts, We have done more than everyone can imagine, turned over systems, got to the top of the chain of command, advocated beyond what everyone said was possible. And yet, after all that, life’s not much different. Circumstances improve incrementally and then fall apart, then settle down. We adjust and we try again to find normalcy.
The same issues continue. With a new normal, we have a new resolve.
I ran from that room coming face to face with the audacity that we might be able to DO something more to create a certain outcome for our kids. As I slithered to the floor, I wept uncontrollably for our situation, for our lack of hope, and for all the kids growing up in homes where parents do think there is a formula to arrive at “a great kid, a healthy kid, or a spiritually grounded kid.”
And when I had composed myself, I very nearly walked out of the building to never return to youth group, just yank my kid out, because I’m impulsive like that.
I am rash. And that kind of haste is wrong when it comes to an unfortunate turn of phrase with someone you trust. I say things now and again I don’t even mean. Second chances are important and I’d want one. I returned inside.
But I haven’t felt so alone in a long, long time. I sat in the back, on the steps so I could make a run for it. Knowing the Church isn’t cognizant of how to help families with mental illness. One, because we’re not sure we can talk about it, sure. But also, they just don’t know to help.
I cannot pray. It’s ironic and convicting as I spent the summer reading everything I could find about prayer since I was writing an essay on Praying without Ceasing, will be published next year in a book. And today, these days, lately, I cannot pray. I’ve always struggled with praying.
My heart feels like stone. Partly, this is the anti-depressant medication. I know this because I’ve been on it before. I didn’t cry for more than five years last time. Yes, that’s a special hell. Don’t make that decision lightly, to take antidepressants.)
I cannot feel, except a flat, emotionless, disorienting pain. My heart feels like when they numb you before a shot; if I poke at my heart I know it’s still there but you get the idea.
So what then? What’s the outcome of a Most Difficult Year?
We’re being strong. We’re hurting, but we’re cognizant of a long-suffering kind of trust in God. Right now doesn’t feel good but over our lifetimes God has been present, faithful, supplier of hope, our healer and God has sustained us. That doesn’t change.
But most days are like today. Sitting here feeling isolated, feeling afraid, feeling unwilling or unable to be with humans. But I know, even still, God in Jesus is present. God waits.
I don’t feel it. I know it. I hold on to Belief, clutching. Today, it’s all we have.