{Ten Thousand Tears}

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My tears are welcome.

I see them splattered, dried on my glasses as I peer out the window into the wintry, cold, gray, foggy morning;

tiny specks on the panes of my eyeglasses.

I wipe hard at these dried salty witnesses.

They are a record of my sodden heart.

Ten thousand tears come raining down.

The soil of my soul is softened.
Broken apart by tears, which took forever to reappear.  Though I fear

that I cannot stop them, deep down I know that they are what keeps my heart growing.

Soil ready for love, open

to the community of believers,
to grace,
to healing, forgiveness and new life,
to hope.

My tears, such an old and forgotten notion

for me.

When I was a child I pinched my eyes closed to reject my weakness, my torment as I was hollered at by a daddy that

didn’t know

better.

I closed down my heart;

it hurt too much to feel bad all the time.  So I told them, you aren’t welcome here.

And my heart and soul slowly turned

hard as stone.

Today my tears rain down though I fear them, they make no sense

their intensity, they make me vulnerable,

they make me feel weak, even when I know this

is

wrong thinking. But it is true now, I cannot protect my soft heart, sodden and murky, saturated

still,

My tears, they are here to stay I hope, welcome.

MHH

I’ve lived with depression, at some points melancholy as a part of my “personality” for much of my life, but it only became clinical major depression about ten years ago.  A variety of things came into play and I fell into a dark, frightening place. (I tell a little of my story in Not Alone.  I tell parts and pieces here on the blog — under My Story.)

But I have worked hard to face my mistakes and demons,as I did I began to heal and then had the strength to do the personal care that one must do who lives with this sort of mental illness.  

Though I am in a similar place today, depressed I know that I am a different person. I am different  “Spiritual Soil.”  I thank God for that picture that came recently from a friend’s teaching in Luke 8. I know God as I never knew God then.  I sense the Holy Spirit’s whispered truth of healing and hope. I have enough hope to believe the truth that I will heal, I will heal again even as ten thousand tears rain down.  

Much of my blog has been about my depression, beginning in 2001 which worsened through a series of personal and family adversities over the next several years (including the death of my father from brain cancer, during which time my sister and I cared for him in our homes). In 2005, when I became even more severely depressed, I was nearly non-functional, attempted suicide, and I was hospitalized for a while.  

In later years, I became a quiet, desperate drunk attempting to self-medicate and forget..  My drinking addiction grew worse and worse over the period of my depression, becoming debilitating by 2006 or so. This was very difficult for my husband and the children at a quite impressionable age saw me frequently out of control. They are now to the age when these things do impact them, though I got sober in July, four and a half years ago.  

These are not easy things to admit.  They make me feel damaged, weak, and if ever there was a stigma related to being broken I feel it like never before.  But it came to me recently, that I have to write my story.  I have to tell it, and let it go.  So that’s where I will go, to that place of heartache, depression, my experience with being a hard-core fallen down drunken mother and my cavernous personal grief about that, and interlaced in-between is Hope that I have found.  

So as much as I fear my own tears, I fear more the depth of my sorrow and grief when it I shove it back inside.  That’s what makes one depressed.  That’s what made me drink.

I know this is the next step for me, to sort it out  and live hard days, weeks and months of therapy, sleeplessness, and depression ahead.  

I am thankful for the everyday, tangible and incredible voices of love and encouragement I find foremost from my husband, but also from friends and family.

Thanks for all those that read and live this story alongside.  I know there are fellow sufferers.  I know there are others who have family or friends who descend into this murky, sinkhole of a hell and you cannot imagine how to help.  I hope that whatever I find in my story that’s redemptive will one day help others understand, find help, and live through it as you walk beside a fellow sufferer.

This isn’t over for me, my story isn’t written.  

Grace & Peace,

Melody Harrison Hanson

January 29, 2013

{On Staying in My Wonderful, yet Complementarian Church}

I’m pleased and immensely honored to have an essay included in the upcoming book, Finding Church, a Civitas Press community project.

This particular essay was difficult to write as it addresses the choice to stay at our wonderful and yet Complementarian church. Suffice it to say that I sweated blood, shed tears and lost sleep writing this one.

The estimated publishing date November 2012. I will let you know how to order it as we get closer.

What’s changing, so that I can be writing!

This is such a busy time for folks with kids.  We are living the last month or so of school and for whatever reason my kids seem to teeter on the brink of things this year academically, spiritually, emotionally — this has been a challenging and demanding year.  With summer looming, there will be any opportunities to stick our feet in the river and less time to write.

I am thinking about that tension.

I’m starting to work more seriously on writing projects. As I listened hard at the Festival of Faith & Writing  and looked at my writing life and habits, I realize that I need to cut back on some things before I can ever dream of space to write every day.  (I know I have a lot to tell you about that experience, the festival.  We’ve been back a week and there’s been no time!)

Projects that I’m working on:

I am working on a book review of the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer for The Englewood Review of Books and hope to do more of those, both for Englewood and other publications.

I continue to write for Provoketive magazine:  This included a review of  the book Resignation of Eve by Jim Henderson, a piece titled The Accidental Stay-At-Home Mom and others, but by far the most popular essay was The Voice of the Feminine.  That content is not repeated here on my blog  so you will have to pop over to there to read it.  I hope you will.

I am working on a short series of articles on “The F word and the Church.” (Yeah, that F word: feminist.)

I am really excited to hear that I will have some poem in a book about fear titled Not Afraid to be published around August, 2012 by Civitas Press.  (This is the same press that published my essay on Depression in their book Not Alone which is available now. If you know someone who suffers from depression this book may help.  I have been told by many people that it has been a good, honest resource.  I also have many pieces on my blog about my personal trials with the black dog of depression.  They are collected here. )

What I want to change:

One thing that I find to be soul crushing and destructive for me is Facebook.  Being at-home with such great flexibility to my schedule  I see that I allow many things to interfere with the “work” of writing and with spiritual growth.  Facebook is such a time waster for me.  I’m inherently curious, nosy kind of person and the fact that I can vicariously follow along other’s lives is bad for me.  That’s where the soul crushing part comes in.   It’s like high school insecurity all over again.  So I’ve been tempted to quit completely.

Image by JJ Pacres on Flickr

But at the Festival of Faith & Writing I heard over and over that writers must have online presence and following.  We have to nurture that and  be able to “prove” our popularity to a publisher.   But the flip side of that is that it is just not good for me!

If I don’t have time

to think,

to be,

to write and

to allow the Holy One to mold and move me (not really in that order.)

So I’m backing off of social media  for a season — except here.  I’m really going to try to do this moderately.  When I got hooked on Farmville (of all things — proves I can get addicted to anything!) I had to quit cold turkey and I did.  I don’t want to do that with Facebook because I don’t like being an all or nothing person.  But I’m going to try to limit my time there.  And set some writing goals for the next few months.  I look forward to sharing those with you.

Another thing that I learned at the festival was that I need to hone the purpose of my blog.  Mine has multiple messages and intents.  I have been known to write about:

  1. family (dysfunctional and otherwise.)
  2. God and devotion, faith and (dis)belief
  3. women in the church, feminism as a Christian’s option
  4. various justice issues
  5. my alcoholism and addictions
  6. my church – Blackhawk Evangelical Church
  7. poetry on all these topics
  8. prose on all these topics

Is there anything in particular that you come here to read?  Where do you see my passions and strengths converging in helpful ways?  Would you add more of anything?

Grace & Peace. Melody