just because I'm silent, just because I give my voice a rest, does not mean that I become invisible. In fact, perhaps in my silence, I might actually let myself be seen, not merely from a distance but up close, where one can see my intricacies and beauty, my simplicity and complexity interwoven. Perhaps in my silence, I can let myself be called not great, not excellent, but simply "good" and hear it as a blessing, as an affirmation. Maybe in my silence, I can give someone else the space to share what they're feeling and receive it as a gift, something special. And just maybe, my silence will make room for God to speak and be heard. Maybe, just maybe...
...I wish I were good at being alone, at feeling comfortable only in my own presence. But that is when the void of my loneliness, inadequacy, and insecurity is most present, tangible, palpable. I feel more and more like the authentic me, and it's hard to celebrate the goodness there when my mind sees the cracks, the flaws, the shame and the pain.
I fight the temptation to define my own worth and value by what I own, by the money in my bank account, by the labels on my clothes. And yet this time of year I am reminded of the source of my worth, of the One who found me so valuable that he would rather become like me in order to join me than stay where he was and remain distant.
The fact is that to know yourself and to let your self be known by others is a gut-wrenching, vulnerable, nerve-wracking process. It often includes tension, drama, and conflict (all three of which I despise greatly). But rarely does this conflict come up, I think, because we inherently dislike or detest someone else. It surfaces because we see something in them that makes us feel something about ourselves. Yet when we refuse to be vulnerable, to "risk engagement," we put ourselves at risk for emotional atrophying and decay.
My point is this: I'm not alone. No one is alone (yes, all you Sondheim fans, I just went there). In this fact alone I've found some solace. Traveling along a river, climbing some cliffs, traversing a canyon, I find comfort knowing that someone is only a duck-call away (forgive me, the lowly city boy who struggles with nature analogies). Even this afternoon, I had a phone call with a new friend who is also asking questions, who is engaged, who wants to go deeper. In fact, I've had a number of these conversations as of late. Maybe that's why I'm content being in the wilderness. Maybe the wilderness has more to offer than the real world, than the insanity of urban, bureaucratic institutional life.
For as long as I can remember, but especially over the past several years, I've had to deal with the constant up and down cycling of depression. Some days are great. Some days are alright. Some days are downright unbearable. Hardest are those days where my emotions decide to become a roller coaster worthy of the most avid thrill seekers. I can go from laughing and having an amazing conversation with a dear friend to needing to lie down on my bed in the fetal position with the lights out and no sound other than the ambient noise of the city behind me. The rapid transition from one state of mind to its polar opposite can happen so quickly that I find myself emotionally out of breath. For anyone who struggles with chronic depression, this probably sounds familiar.
These mountain-valley days can be grueling. On those days where my emotions are fairly stable, whether they be good days or bad days, I feel like I can cope fairly well. On those days where I both skyrocket and plumet, sometimes multiple times, coping is more strenuous. I'm often torn between surrounding myself with those I love most and running off into the jungle after deactivating all means by which to contact me and consequently disappearing completely. Usually, my happy medium ends up including pajamas, milk & cookies, and hiding under the covers while watching either Dr. Who, Steel Magnolias, Stepmom, or some other movie that will catalyze a complete and utter sobfest for me.
After last week's therapy session, I ended up enduring a pretty intense mountain-valley week. There were high moments—meeting with my pastor to talk about ordination, dinner with a friend from church, lunch with another girlfriend—and low moments—one of my dearest friends moving away, a spell of intense anxiety, and another fruitless conversation with my mother where it was affirmed that she would never accept or agree with my choice to be with Frankie. It was one of those weeks where determining whether or not the mountains outweighed the valleys was incredibly difficult (which made for an interesting therapy session today). Alas, I'm still here. My Facebook is still there. My cell phone is still on. My bank account is still full. My wedding rings are still on my finger. My name is still on the mailbox. My heart is still beating and my blood is still flowing.
Blake told me this morning that I have much to be grateful for and proud of. I've come a long way in the last five years. I've made a lot of progress, experience a ton of growth, and most of all, despite not knowing the source of my energy, resilience, or perseverance, I seem to still have a lot of fight left inside of me. I hardly ever give up, and even when I do, it's not completely or for good. I always bounce back. Something within me wants to keep seeing the good in the world. Something inside of me wants to keep fighting, which is what I'll do. No matter what, Lord willing, I won't ever give up. This is who I am...
Part of my journey of balance as of late is finding the rightness between being around others, whether friend, family, church, work, or lover, and being alone. It's never been an easy part of my life, only because I don't think I was ever raised to be comfortable in my own skin. Yet the blessing has come in this... my partner is probably the first who has let me honestly share just how much I dislike being alone (even though I am a fairly strong introvert at heart). When I say I miss him, he doesn't think it's odd or clingy or smothering, but rather sees it as endearing and kind and caring. It's nice to have someone who seemingly gets me, understands my heart and my mind, and gives me freedom to vent and think and be confused. Int the end though, there comes that time where I need to be able to sit in a room, alone, and say, "This is ok. It's not so bad. In fact, I even kinda like it." That's my goal, but again, I'm close enough to the beginning that for now, baby steps are alright. The balance will work itself out... it always does.