I'm sitting here listening to Journey's Open Arms.
Grief is a funny thing. It sits on a shelf. Right where you put it. And it waits.
Until one day you go digging for it, remove it from the shelf, brush away the dust, shake it, and then ever so slowly open it. If you are smart, you have someone with you. If you are really smart, you have a professional with you. If you are neither really smart or even a little smart....you don't go digging for it insomuch as it gets tripped (like a live wire on a bomb) and then it goes BOOM.
I am neither version of smart, but I am lucky...because my BOOMS came across like a string of bottle rockets slowly lit over time....except for that whole part about 'no one (including me) knew what was going to be the thing that lit them.' Bless.
This afternoon I sat with a professional (getting smarter) and we detonated (in a controlled setting) one of those grief bombs.
....and it did in fact....go....BOOM.
I brain-dumped in a text to my "people" a snippet of the hour (counselor's orders), and their reactions were enough to give me further pause....."Was/Am I doing the right thing?"
I believe I am.
The truth is on any given day, I am a normal, happy, well-adjusted woman. I have a GREAT life. I am immensely happy and fulfilled. I have worked hard and certainly had more opportunity than one person deserves. I have opportunities to serve and give to others. I have great family and friendships. I am in a great place with God and our relationship. I feel...good.
....it is the days that I don't that concern me. The days when I struggle to separate the reality of my little world and circumstances connected to the anxiety that brews beneath the surface of my mind. Do I deserve to be happy? Should I handle that differently? I'm uncomfortable, unworthy, or simply too much. What is that nagging sense that the other shoe is going to fall? Why can't I do enough? Everybody needs me OR nobody needs me.
Those days zap every bit of hope or energy from me, and I struggle. Deeply.
The truth is that I have been tired for a very long time, but I numbed my life so well with work, alcohol, food, drama-filled relationships, volunteer activities, treasures, houses, responsibilities upon responsibilities, taking care of well everybody....that I could easily blame my being tired on....well all of THOSE things. Not me. *aghast I am* Of course it wasn't something with ME...inside of ME.
Here I am with a fully detonated grief bomb in my lap, and let me be clear....it is all about what I have been holding inside of me. It ain't pretty. I am relieved to have this disgusting hot mess out of me.
Now what do I do???
Now I process.
Now I start forgiving....me, others, God....and I invite God into the BIG hole inside of my heart where this crap once was stored....and I let him fill it back up....with something better...
"So now I come to you with open arms....."
God can even use Journey to heal.
You know "Open Arms" feels a lot like my relationship with God. Just keeping it real here.
One of these days....I am not going to be tired. Not like this. The truth is that I had convinced myself that the tired was ALL the "other" things, but the truth is that the tired is purely emotional (don't hold me to that....I am working this out while I type). I have a hamster wheel spinning in my head ALL the time. I'm all leaned in (shoutout to my friend E.U. on that reference), and really I need to relax, let go, and lean back. It is time for me to not be "on" ALL the dang time. I'm not Wonder Woman. No one is going to die if I set my cuffs down on the dresser for a minute...or forever.
Somewhere along the line the enemy convinced me that everything bad that happened in my life was somehow my fault. If I had been more, done more, loved better, been a better kid, a better daughter, a better sister, a better granddaughter, a better friend...a better fill-in-the-blank....then ALL the bad things that happened and set the dominoes in motion could have been prevented. When that train of lies stopped working so well....then it was go back, fix it - you can get a do-over, begin again. Lie. BIG lie.
For five years I have gone to the altar....again and again and again, but still...STILL....I could not shake the demons. Not all of them.
Today I realized....the demon was me....IN me.
A burr...that had latched to my insides.
...and it looked like little brown craft-paper wrapped boxes with red bows sitting neatly in rows on shelf after shelf after shelf....inside my heart....and inside them....GRIEF. Unresolved grief. Just sitting there.
I'm sitting here just staring at my words. I wish I didn't have to write them. In many ways, I wish this wasn't my life...my story. No one wants to look back at their life and admit that they are an orphan. That people who once loved them no longer do. No one wants to admit that time marches on, that there are no do-overs, that choices have consequences and as such must be dealt with and then you must move on. The nine year old in me is panicking. Just pure PANIC. If I heal, if I move past this and on, what happens to her?
I can hear my counselor in my head....."...she comes with you. She is finally able to grow up."
After intense sobbing for a bit, I just said a prayer asking God to tell me what he sees in me, and I heard, "You are lovely."
"Really?" I questioned.
So....there is that.
Here is the deal...I know that I am not the only one out here who has a giant hole in their heart where life did its damnedest and then the enemy took up residence in the gap. I guess I am siting out here planting a flag not only for myself, but for anyone else reading this going, "I am tired of feeling wrung out by my life."
Also, there isn't any magic potion or pill. I am just NOW here....and it took me five years to get to this little island of healing, and I have more work ahead of me.
I am here.
I made it.
I have crawled and clawed and worked and wrestled and put one step in front of the other....I made it to here. I am going to sit here for a moment and let the joy wash over me. I keep thinking this process of healing is going to kill me....and for a bit it does, but then I cry and grieve and write and worship God....and I feel my strength return. Also, today there is this ridiculous monkey sitting here in my lap while I type (that is a story for another day)...and he smells like lavender which reminds me of a promise. The promise.
So what is the point?
Life goes on.
As ridiculous and cliché as that sounds to me in this moment (and that is saying something because again...there is a monkey in my lap), it is so very true.
In the past two weeks, God has given me CONFUSION on some big things in my life, and yet perfect clarity and direction on others. The clarity on one is ALL about the future. All about a new dream that has a red string back to an old dream that I could have never imagined would really come true. It involves my favorite people. It is proof positive that God absolutely can restore all things, but in his own way and time. It feels so sacred and holy, it will be a long long time before I ever put words to it...if I ever do. It may simply become my own secret garden and something I keep private...for now. In a life that I have opened up and made so transparent, it feels good to have something sacred for myself. The truth is God made so clear that this dream was from him, and I never doubted...but after today, I know that was a gift to me, for my heart...he knew today was going to shatter me into millions of shards of glass....but that gift....out there waiting for me...is an example of how he loves me, he loves my people, and he (again) makes all things new. I can't hold that new gift though until I empty my hands of the old - the old pain, old dreams, old wounds, and simply having my feet in 2017 and my heart in 1980. All of me needs to be here...in 2017.
I turn 46 this year. I am 46 with the heart of a nine year old.
*shaking my head*
...one step in front of the other...
...one step in front of the other...
Jesus, you never gave up on me....even when I gave up on you for a bit. I am forever grateful. I am forever grateful for your open arms.