Do you run from your shame?

Fetus at 8 weeks after fertilization 3D Pregna...
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I have avoided words for a while.

I mean my own — on the page — telling me things I may not want to acknowledge.  I find out about myself as I write.  What have I been afraid of knowing, I wonder, as I put off writing day after day?

I am uncomfortable with how narcissistic blogging is and yet I can’t seem to write any more without knowing others are reading.  Except what is in my prayer journal, I am completely out there — laid open, exposed.  And by choice.  I don’t know what I think about this.

For a month now I have exercised six times a week.

Taking vigorous walk/run on the treadmill downstairs.  I am up to three miles a day.  I’ve lost about four pounds.  I reassure myself that this pace is the healthy way to lose weight and that this rate is one that can actually be maintained.

I find myself angry and discouraged, when I think of all the weight loss programs that promise miracles and sometimes provide them.  I once lost 17 pounds in about five weeks.  It was years ago.  My body was younger. I did it without exercise.  But I was told that I looked ill.  And inevitably it all returned.  Those pounds brought friends to the party I call my thighs and double chin.  I remind myself that wasn’t on an antidepressant then and weight gain is one of the top side effects of this medication.

But I hate the weight — It’s visceral.  I am ashamed of being fat and more so of being ashamed.  But how I loath being fat.  It is complicated by my mother’s yo-yo dieting my entire life.  And in God’s irony I married a yo-yo dieter as well.

In my mind being fat equals failure. Although intellectually I challenge this idea, it seems to be winning.  I have to challenge it over and over again, because of people I love and respect working their whole adult lives on this issue and “failing?”

Up until a few years ago weight wasn’t an issue for me.  Now I judge myself for my “failure” and I assume others are judging me too.  I realize suddenly how I have utterly bought into the idea that “thin = beautiful, intelligent and successful.”  Imagine the judgmental thoughts I have then.  The shame.

And so I run, longer and harder each day, hoping the weight of my shame will be lost with the physical pounds.

I’ve thought a lot recently about time passing.

I suppose because we’ve come full circle with Molly moving back home after four years on her own.  And a new school year for the other three kids. Around the time that my father was ill my depression was at its worst.   I was trying to decide if I should go on an antidepressant to help manage it.  For Tom and I, going on an antidepressant was a sobering choice that we thought and prayed and researched ad nauseam.  It was one  that we struggled with for months, so when I decided to go ahead I had to take a prerequisite pregnancy test.  No-one could have been more shocked to find out I was pregnant, it was just too much.  Dad was sick with cancer – basically dieing.  Mother was caring for him, in Colorado alone, and was at the height of her drinking.

Being pregnant was the worst news possible.  Mostly because there was no research on the impact o this medication on the fetus.  And I was desperate for help coping.managing.surviving the depression.

A few weeks later I miscarried seven weeks into the pregnancy.

As I look back on those days now, with distance and perspective, I am filled with longing for that child.  She would have started kindergarten this year and as I watch the tiny children walking hand in hand to school, their seemingly enormous backpacks on their tiny shoulders, lunch box dragging, their new white tennis shoes, I am crushed with the sight of it.

And wonder will I mark the passing of every year with this lost child?

I had a dream about her.

I was in a busy train station.  People were flowing in and out of trains and it was difficult to figure out which way to go.  I felt confused about my direction, overwhelmed.  Then a tall blond college-age young woman turned her head toward me.  She was beautiful, angelic, and strikingly similar in looks to my daughter Emma and she had downs syndrome.  I knew she was my daughter.  She looked me and said, ‘They wouldn’t let me come.”  She smiled. This was my daughter that I had lost when she was just seven weeks old in my womb.

I woke up with the knowledge that she wanted to come to me and that she was at peace.

I am six years into the battle of dealing with depression.

There is so much learned.  Many things I have lost or given up.  Much grief and more joy that I could have imagined.  Depression has made me the person that I am now — stronger, genuinely in love with Jesus, disciplined spiritually, more and more at peace with myself in the world.  Twenty pounds heavier and hating that.  But knowing that this depression is a conduit to a better life for me.

I exercise because I know that it helps me manage my depression and my goal is to be off medication.  And it makes me feel good.   I exercise because it means I am willfully thumbing my finger at the Sink Hole of depression.

Keeping balance, along with the wrong attitudes I have about fitness and weight, well, that’s another story.

Glutted with Good Things

I know it’s been a while.

I’ve been glutted with books and blogs and music and helping the kids prepare for a new school year and moving Molly back in (My 22 year old step daughter.)

I have been blessed with renewed friendships, times of striking & revealing Bible study, answers to prayer, working in my garden and yard, preparing delicious food, having providential experiences and conversations.  Oh, and daily exercise!  Good things — all.  I am reveling in gratitude for all of it — for being loved by Abba and the wonder of being a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a neighbor, a writer, and a photographer.  I think this strange feeling is … joy?!

Tom asked me to type this up for him after reading it to him this morning.

I thought I’d pass it on to you as well:

And you, too, youthful reader, will realize the Vision (not the idle wish) of your heart, be it base or beautiful, or a mixture of both, for you will always gravitate toward that which you, secretly, most love.  Into your hands will be placed the exact results of your own thoughts; you will receive that which you earn; no more, no less.  Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain, or rise with your thoughts, your Vision, your Ideal.  You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration . . . .

In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.  Chance is not.  “Gifts,” powers, material, intellectual, and spiritual possessions are the fruits of effort; they are thoughts completed, objects accomplished, visions realized.

The Vision that you glorify in your mind, the Ideal that you enthrone in your heart— this you will build your life by, this you will become.

—From As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

Lastly, I want to encourage you to listen to this message that I heard yesterday at Blackhawk.  I am still gathering my thoughts about it, but I have to say that I am psyched!  Overjoyed and blessed by this sermon about Men & Women and the Church.  The title says it is about Marriage but listen to it, it’s not about marriage.  It’s about the redemption of the place of women in a patriarchal society and challenges the cultural belief that it’s okay to take this into the church and into a marriage relationship.

You will find it here. Titled: The Marriage Dance.

I have a number of posts I am ruminating over — when there is time.

Until then,

be well friends.

MHH

I quit Facebook. Let’s just say it’s complicated.

I recently quit Facebook.  And then came back.  There’s a lot behind the decision. Let’s just say it’s complicated.

As we create a persona on Facebook, picking and choosing what we want people know about us, there is an air of the dramatic to it — don’t you think? This may be only a partly accurate reflection of who we are.  I am definitely not nearly as witty or intelligent as my FB persona.   I just communicate differently in writing than in person.  There’s a confidence (for me) online that isn’t there in many daily relationships.

I can say truthfully that I have made friends online whom I have never met face-to-face.  And I have serious and valuable conversations with people who are not in my day-to-day life.  And so often, things are said that a person might never have said to their face.

Is any of it real?  The short answer is of course it is.  I genuinely believe that it is every bit as real but it cannot ever replace the deep friendships that develop in face-to-face relationships.  The human touch, perhaps a hand gripping yours as you cry or even a smile cannot be felt in online connections.

In the end, I suppose I was tipping too far in one direction. Not spending enough time with flesh and blood friends.

Another reason I quit Facebook

was that I found myself caught.  For me, the world is a cacophony of need, pain and sorrow in a way that clouds my ability to stay focused on the positive at times.  When I read the New York Times or blogs I am so often left bereft and I too easily forget the hope that I have been given.  And FB is a daily reminder of all the need in the world, at least for me — a reminder of how different we all are — A polarization between liberals and conservatives, rich and poor, hungry and fed, educated and uneducated, creative and not so creative, the homeless and those with homes, Christ-followers and atheists and Hindus and Buddhists.  Funny people and people with no funny bone, at all.

I could go on and on.

Any time one expresses themselves, it is an opportunity for people to “let it rip” in a most ungenerous way.  And even when the ‘conversations’ are civilized, I am left with a feeling that this dialogue doesn’t do anything except underline our differences.  I do not believe we will ever convince one another in a different direction over the internet or with the written word.  I just don’t believe it will happen.  Debate, discussion and healthy disagreements can only happen face-to-face.

And so, I decided I had to stop expressing my viewpoints on important matters on Facebook.  It’s unproductive and divisive.  But quitting wasn’t the answer either.

“A real spiritual life makes us so alert and aware of the world around us, that all that is and happens becomes a part of our contemplation and meditation and invites us to a free and fearless response.  It is this alertness in solitude that can change our life indeed.  It makes all the difference in the world how we look at and relate to our own history through which the world speaks to us.”    Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen.

And so, I think I will continue but I will try to not be such a serious person [on Facebook.]

I will only raise issue of importance to me on my blog where I can at least put some time and thought behind it.  And in an effort to be connected I will do more of that — connect.

I will be more intentional about knowing and loving others both online and off.  What about you?