…there comes a time when we must shift our energies outward and re-engage our friends, our families, and our communities….
However, another rope has been lowered in front of me via therapy and residency, slowly and over several months. It's a rope made up of my strength and courage and resilience, of my worthiness of love and affection, of my ability to meet my own needs or to have them met by others around me. It's made up of my okay-ness when a relationship ends or transitions into something else.
When I woke up this morning bright and early, I thought almost immediately about writing. And for whatever reason, the title above came to mind. It wasn't until after my morning caffeine that I realized why: I'm not crashing anymore. I thought, though, that I was going to be writing about strength or resilience or courage. As I searched for quotes (see, now you know my writing process), nothing that came up for those words resonated with me. Then another word came to mind: contentment. It would seem that my mental image of flying is less about strength or resilience and more about the contentment that comes with being where you are.
It is in those moments when I believe something else is needed. Not a savior or a liberator, but something else. Someone else. Someone willing to sit with you in the anxiety and depression and pain. Someone who won't talk your ear off with clichés or platitudes, but will sit there in the absolute silence, awkward as it may be, and wait—wait until you're ready, until you have a little more energy, a little more strength. It is in these times and places, be they deaths, depression, hallucinations, rapes, assaults, or any other moment of sheer agony, that we just might need God to show up and be. No magic tricks. No saving. No liberating. Just sitting down next to us. No consolation. Just presence.
Today was one of those days where I just had to deal. I spent the morning with a close girlfriend. I said some mean things because I'd felt hurt, but at seeing her tearful response, I realized that I was speaking from a place of pain, of simply wanting to disperse some of my own pain out into the world to let someone else deal with it. I'm tired, weak, vulnerable, and broken. I feel bitter, enraged, furious, and drained from having the past couple of weeks writing about the last four years of my life. I just wanted to let some of it go.
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...