It was a crisp fall day and the sun was blinding while I walked a local trail, so I had to look down.
What a nice surprise.
My husband is an Atheist. Of course, I knew this when we married, but over the years, I guess I decided I just didn’t believe him. It seems too unbelievable to me, especially because I know him the way I do. I am a Christian woman, a believer, as they say. I don’t subscribe to any ”religion” because I think religion only serves to provide the most effective distraction from Christ. Instead, I want a genuine relationship with God and His son, Jesus, based on His word – His love letter to us - the Bible.
Sadly, I also believe I fail miserably at being the person God wants me to be daily, but I get up the next day and try all over again. I’m not trying to ‘believe’ – this comes easy for me. I’m trying to “understand the greatness of Christ’s love – how wide, how long, how high, and how deep that love is. Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with everything God has for you“. (Ephesians 3:18-19) And I’m trying to provide a good example of this love [that I cannot understand] to my children, my husband and anyone else I might meet. But I’m pretty sure that all people see when they look at me is a broken woman, someone who struggles with physical illness (and doesn’t smile broadly and call it a “blessing”), depression, anxiety, financial problems and other unattractive issues in her life, and someone who can’t really wrap her head around the whole God-loves-ME-and-I’M-special-to-Him thing when I think there is a decent amount of evidence to the contrary.
Ironically, my husband is a better “Christian” than most of the Christians I have encountered in my life. He is truly a good and loving man. Where does that come from? If God is love and he has no God to inspire him, what makes him loving? What makes him moral? I really want to know where his morality comes from, on what it is based. But when pressed, he couldn’t answer. Oh, he’s willing to “die for what he believes in” – he just can’t ’explain’ what that is. How is that possible?? How does a person – a brilliant, articulate person – emphatically believe in nothing? Or in “mankind’s intrinsic goodness” (Humans are intrinsically ‘good’? This is news to me.)
I’m the sort who needs things to make sense. I realize I am somewhat neurotic (sometimes extremely neurotic) in my quest for everything to neatly fit into a box marked “logical”, but this is important stuff! And while some would think there is nothing ‘logical’ about faith, with all my heart and brain, I believe that Christ died and rose again so that I won’t ever die, but will live with him forever after this life. I also believe that my husband won’t be there with us because he chooses not to believe. Oh, how sad this is to me.
My first husband was a believer. We believed together until his death nearly 14 years ago. I know he’s in a place we’ve decided to call ‘Heaven’ and that I’ll see him again one day. I don’t claim to understand God’s ways when it comes to tragedy, sickness and sadness… or even love, but I choose to believe His wisdom supersedes my own. [Even if I can't explain it properly, either.]
Changing the theme of my page – and changing it to something more “peppy” and, dare-I-say, “positive” than the gritty looking theme I’d been using since I began this blog – was a very big step for me. Writing again is an even bigger step.
A surprising side-effect of living a life that deals with chronic illness(es) has crept up behind me and caught me completely off-guard; while my former identity was slowly being siphoned from my new reality and the confusion of determining how a ‘sick’ version of myself looks and behaves has preoccupied most of my waking hours, I have been steadily losing… “my voice”. Ideas may make it as far as a sentence in my head, but my inner critic – who used to be mostly just annoying – has developed super-human powers and has the ability to paralyze and silence me. And it does. Regularly.
I have been writing for nearly 35 years. Writing has been a compulsion, a joy, a job, a hobby, and a huge part of my identity for as long as I can remember. Over the past year, though, the volume of the voice that says, “You have nothing of value or interest to say, just shut up,” has become the loudest and most prominent voice I hear. And it is so convincing.
A surgery last February that was supposed to give me relief from my Crohn’s symptoms has actually exacerbated them, restricting my life and activities even more than before I went through that particularly hellish experience. Each month of my recuperation, I was told I would soon feel better, but with the removal of my ileocecal valve (along with a portion of my large intestine), I spend more time IN the bathroom, RUNNING (faster) to the bathroom and praying that I MAKE IT to the bathroom in time.
Putting so many of my eggs in that surgery basket set me up to plummet into a deeper depression than I’ve known in the past; too many days have been spent swallowing OTC sleeping pills and pulling up the covers after my family has left for work and school, then fantasizing about the relief that sweet sleep will soon bring me before finally surrendering to its numbing, comforting powers. Funny thing about those OTC sleeping pills, though – they stop working after a while, preventing me from entering the sanctuary of sleep and introducing debilitating insomnia, instead.
Apathy is frightening. I really want to feel something other than ‘sorry for myself’, but when I do, I feel nothing at all. No disgust, no anger, no pain, no happiness, no love. Apathy sucks. Do what you can to avoid succumbing to it.
So I’ve been working at eradicating the apathy, primarily by forcing myself to list the things I truly am thankful for. And, what do you know? There are actually a good many things to put on that list. This is not to say that I’m really any better at dealing with my chronic illnesses or the things they have stolen and continue to steal from my life, but even if my gratitude list has items such as: I’m thankful that I’m not also paralyzed, I’m thankful that I don’t live in a third world country, I’m thankful for my home (despite being behind in our mortgage payments), I have decided to give myself a tiny break and appreciate this baby step.
If I were going to wait until I had something I deemed worth saying, or wait until a time when I had the ability to write well enough to pass my own scrutiny, I would not be writing today. And I wanted to write today, so I’m biting the bullet… then using it to shoot the perfectionist that lives inside of me.
Gotta start somewhere. And I’m tired of berating myself every day for starting something else (a blog) and not sticking to it.
I’m thankful that I managed to write 654 words, and I’m thankful I didn’t have to get up and run to the bathroom while doing it.
I have been so angry lately, a trait that has never really been an issue for me in the past, but is becoming more and more difficult to deal with. Because depression is often defined as “anger turned inward”, I guess I’ve always just opted for the depression thing. I’m better at that. But the more evident it becomes that I am powerless to change the things that anger me, the more I find my inward filling to capacity and unwanted emotions spilling outward.
So I snap at people. I avoid people. I try to avoid myself. Guilt soon crashes my anger party because I’m a Christian woman who is unable to find or keep the peace that I know God offers and I know is experienced by others. I should know how to do this; I should know how to cope. But I don’t. And then, I become even more angry… at myself.
Right now, my anger has made it necessary for me to hide in my bedroom away from everyone, including my brother-in-law who is visiting from Chicago. I get two days notice and then he’s here, at my messy house, for 3 days. We haven’t seen him for about a year, but worse than that, he hasn’t seen me for just as long. During this time, I have become sicker; my ability to keep the house clean has become increasingly hindered; I have lost 2 more teeth – a fact I hope to keep hidden by smiling very little and, if the occasion arises, to laugh politely while covering my mouth (Think: Geisha Girl ). Perhaps worst of all, I am so much fatter than the last time he saw me because I continue to gain weight for reasons my doctors cannot identify. Since I never wear shorts and only wear t-shirts with sleeves that extend down to my elbow, I am always warmer and crankier than everyone else in this hot house that lacks central air.
The bedroom is safe. The bedroom is air-conditioned. The bedroom is closer to the bathroom – always something I need to be concerned about. No one can look at me while I’m here in the bedroom and I can’t see all the things that need to be cleaned… and then stress over it. It’s easier to lie to myself about my life and easier to believe some of those lies when I’m in here.
But hiding is not enough; still, I am mad.
Today is the anniversary of the day my husband and I first laid eyes on each other. It is a date we have remembered and celebrated every year, but one that he has apparently forgotten today. Perhaps it’s for the best that he not remember the healthy, much thinner, attractive woman (who still had the majority of her teeth); the woman who was wearing short flouncy skorts, a sports bra, a tan and a broad smile. It’s probably better he not allow himself to think about who I used to be and how much fun we used to have when I was able to participate in the activities we once enjoyed doing together.
He and his brother went on a long bike ride today - something I was once able to do, but now I just glance at my still nearly-new bike in the garage and pretend I believe myself when I think, “someday…”
And the anger intensifies. No, no, no… it’s not fair! I throw a little tantrum in my bedroom sanctuary. I cry tears of anger more than sadness and make a mental note of how much uglier I look when I cry. I honestly don’t know what to do to feel calm or break free from this runaway train of thought that always leads to anger. So I resort to my trusty Xanax. It takes the edge off and, at some point soon, I should be asleep. Barring any dreams that mimic reality, I will then be calm and free of any anger… and blissfully unaware that I let it get the best of me again.