Jubilant July to you all! It’s that time again: Here’s everything you wanted to know about my past month but were too afraid (or or busy) to ask.
Body: Everything here is holding steady, which is both good and bad. Good because I’m still at the gym, getting stronger and less creaky, and I haven’t broken anything. Bad because I’m still struggling with persistent mystery illness. I’m surprisingly fine with how working out is going. Old demons of body dysmorphia haven’t resurfaced (or when they do dare peek out of their oubliette, I can bop them down immediately), and I’m more troubled by people hogging the machines than I am about the number on the scale. Praise the Lord. The unending sickness does bother me, though. Like…a lot. I joke that I constantly have a low-grade cold–not enough to go to the doctor but enough to impact my daily life–but this is getting ridiculous. It’s got me looking into anti-inflammatory diets, but that does pique the interest of aforementioned demons, so I’ve had to let that go for now. When it’s not that, it’s endometriosis attacks, plus whatever my toddler is contaminated with, so my days can get pretty gross, literally and figuratively. I’ve kinda-sorta learned to deal, but that’s no kind of life; I don’t want to accept that I’m always going to be sick just because the docs can’t figure out why. There’s a specialist I want to see who’s a bit unorthodox in approach, which sounds perfect for the unorthodox pathology I’ll be bringing him. More as the situation develops.
Mind: Man, I don’t even know. Last month, I shared that I got plowed under by the darkest week I’ve had in ages, so my first therapy session is next week and a friend offered assistance through their counseling program, so help is on the way! I also had a massive breakthrough the following Sunday: it took two services and four hours, but eventually God broke through and the darkness had to flee. Nothing changed–all the circumstances that were crushing me as still there–but everything was different. If you’ve ever had a moment like that, spiritual or otherwise, you know what I mean. After that, I was okay. Life’s been a hazy mess since then (more in “Parenting”) but manageable. And then the other night I got caught in the undertow again. Not the riptide that catches you by surprise and holds you under while you scream, but the sneaky kind that pulls you into deep water and lets go as you start to panic. What’s infuriating is that it’s not even about anything. It just is. The worst part is that I thought I was past this, past depression (which is silly but true), so I end up sinking deeper because I feel guilty/ashamed, sobbing my face off in prayer trying to wrestle out of a prison I’ve been set free from and wondering what’s wrong with me that I keep going back (more in “Spirit”). Awareness helps, but sometimes knowing it’s not real makes it worse. BUT. Steps are being taken, and I’m far more equipped to fight this fight than ever before in my life, and I will fight. Demons of comparison, shoulds, abandonment, detachment, perfectionism, and control are not the boss of me.
Spirit: I’ve had two major breakthroughs this past month. One, I mentioned above. The other happened just this past Sunday. A handful of women in our church are training in a new style of prayer/mentoring, and it’s rocking all of us in the most amazing way. During service, we were asked to bring one issue to the altar, one thing that’s troubling our soul no matter how deep, and receive freedom. It sounded either miraculous or unbelievably arrogant. But up I went. I wasn’t sure how to say what I felt, which confirmed my desire to be free from the constant fear of being wrong/needing to make the right choice the first time/failing and ruining everything. When it was my turn, the process was simple. She walked me through prayer and visualization to see where the problem started–to seek out the root; once identified, I asked forgiveness for them and for me and what Jesus would give me in exchange for letting go of this fear. I struggled here because I’m afraid to be wrong, but small whispers came and I trusted they were God and not me. I laid the thing on the altar. I stepped back from the hole it left and found it filling with blessing–confidence, covering, correction. Three days later, and things are different. I am different. I can’t tell you how (yet), and I’m cutting so much detail for space, so there may be a full post later. But between this powerful moment and the way God showed up in my numb darkness before, I can’t deny that something is happening deep in my spirit, even if I’m not 100% sure I know what that is.
Parenting: It was an offhanded comment to say this stage of the parenting journey is like the newborn phase all over again, but the past month has really underlined it. A lot. In crayon. The parallels are uncanny: unpredictable emotions, incredible development, constant guessing, tears of anger and frustration, confused panic, sudden joy, endless hours turning into exhausted days that are suddenly weeks gone by without notice. And that’s just me. I can only imagine what she’s dealing with as her brain, body, and heart grow in wild leaps, beyond her capacity to express or manage at this age. It manifests in rebellion, defiance, testing, but also remarkably grownup thoughts and feelings. The combo makes me feel like I’m dealing with a tiny teenager. She’s asking to go to the mall and everything! The other day she said, “It not fair!” and I had what I can only describe as temporal whiplash. I flashed back to Labyrinth and Sarah, the it’s-not-fair queen, saying, “It’s not fair. But that’s the way it is.”; I flashed forward a decade, knowing that’s where I’ll reap what I’m currently sowing, and had a moment of real terror for the quality of my kid’s character. Our entrance into toddlerdom has been like stepping on an ice cube: invisible, slippery, messy, and shocking. But least it’s not a (metaphorical) Lego, right? You step on it, you cuss, you clean it up, you move on and try to be more careful next time. In the meantime, I’m doing my level best to not let chaos consume everything. Yet another parallel with the newborn phase is that it doesn’t seem to matter how I arrange my plans or my sleep, I can’t seem to scrape together the alone time my soul so desperately needs. The immediate impact is on my writing (see below), but it also generates a weird background static that fuzzes up my entire self and leaves me feeling like I need to be degaussed. Fortunately, I know from weathering the fourth trimester and (eventually) becoming human again, that there’s an end. When I can keep that in mind, it’s easier to lay aside the panicked drive to defend my personal world to engage more fully in hers. They’re only small for a little while. Pretty soon she won’t need me so much. And then it’ll be a whole different kind of growing up–for both of us.
Writing: This fell off the table abruptly and hard. The kid exchange that gave me one writing day a week is over because summer, and combining that with the spiritual weirdness I’m experiencing seems to have dried up the tap, even for the daily Noticing posts. At least temporarily. I’ve been through enough of these to know it’s not permanent, although that doesn’t mean it’s not distressing. Knowing is only half the battle, after all. I still intend to post one real thing per week, I’m just not entirely sure what that’ll be. The devotional writing needs space and practice; personal writing feels too scarydangerous for some reason; fiction needs time I don’t have. But! Writing is better than not writing, even if it’s bad or hard, and God gives us gifts to use them, so I’ll do my best. I may take a page from Sylvan’s blog and do a post challenge or suchlike just to keep my hand in. Until that works itself out, I have a book doula project to work on: a friend wants to turn their thesis project into a real book, and I do love this kind of thing. Describing it to someone over the weekend, I felt lightness and excitement rise up in me, unexpected but lovely. Joy passing through is always an excellent indicator of proper direction for me, so perhaps it’s a nudge from on high. We shall see.
Speaking of writing, here’s what I wrote last month on the blog:
- A note about being vulnerable on the internet: There is a subtle pressure to not be yourself on the internet. Online culture encourages us to speak our truth but often punishes us for it in the form of concern trolling, disapproval, or silence. Be yourself anyway.
- Nine years married: It’s our 9th anniversary (I nearly forgot)! Where we’ve been has been hard, I won’t lie, but where we’re headed is going to be amazing.
- A fixed point: Introspection helps you to become your best self, but when the practice becomes the point, things can get dark fast. It’s by focusing on who God says you are that keeps you in the light.
- Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Jesus Christ: There’s something about being tight with God that just makes your beautiful soul shine through your pores.