The theme of last year was abandonment and safety, security and fear. It was a difficult year in many ways, and ended on an incredibly low note. I had quite the row with the Almighty, and we know how that always turns out. But I needed to say my piece before I could hear his peace. I’m still not entirely at rest. The kind of peace I seek, which we all seek, won’t be found this side of the grave, but I think I found a measure of its echo, an anticipation. My soul has quieted some from then to now.
It is hard, getting used to this state of life. Accepting it. I want to run, I want to climb mountains and walk foreign cities. I want to properly learn a martial art and a bit of weaponry. I want to be a better archer. I want to learn to dance. I want to get back into rock climbing, learn to ride a horse, to fly a plan. I want so many things that I can’t have anymore. A career. A large family.
I wanted to write about this year, but I don’t know how to write about this year without first speaking of the previous one.
My doctor tried a different sleeping medication, to deal with my terrible insomnia and the issues with staying asleep. The options for medication for this, or any, problem are limited by all the other health issues and medications. So it was our one and only hope. It definitely helped me sleep. But it also made me suicidal. With everything I have come through before in life, I have at times barely functioned, but I had never been suicidal before. It took months for my brain chemistry to come back to normal.
Somewhere in all of that E realized I was doing poorly, so she took me to her house for a week. Put a mattress on the garage floor, gave me an electric blanket and a heater, fed me, spent time with me. It worked so well that they invited me to move in. And it was good. It was really good. But in the middle of that three friendships were wounded.
I barely remember the summer. I slept for most of it. I visited my sister. J went into the hospital and we were all frightened for her. I went to a retreat in early autumn, whereI discovered more healing, more grace. Not for me, but for those near me. But for me, things began to turn again. By autumn’s end, my pain level had risen consistently to something wholly unmanageable and I ended up in the ER. Everything felt like it was falling apart. Living on the charity and kindness of family and friends, unsure of anything except that everything hurt, and I couldn’t hear God anymore. I felt so lost, abandoned, and I had trouble finding or holding onto hope. I fell in love with Hamilton the previous spring, and I listened to it more than anything else. Loud and clever and funny and gave me something to focus on that wasn’t my pain.
I rode on Sundays, when I could, to St. Basil’s. I absolutely fell in love with the Divine Liturgy on Easter. As everything became more and more difficult, Liturgy began to feel like the only place that I could still breathe, the only place where I could hear anything. I know that isn’t true. I know that God talks to me and works in my life constantly. The very fact that the Low’s took me in and gave me a place to live where the only expectations were my own self care, that was the providence of God. The grace of family and friends who showed up, over and over, that was providence. But it was so hard to see. My soul was so blind.
The pain was really bad, all the time. No one could, or would, help. It is just fibromyalgia. It isn’t anything real, or anything treatable, or even manageable, except with this one expensive medication that I couldn’t afford at the time. Insurance that covered barely anything, so specialists became something I couldn’t afford anymore. Advent was almost as hellish as the previous February.
But the whole time, there was Divine Liturgy, and Elisa, and the kids, and my family… As Christmas approached, everywhere I looked was the deep, joyous anticipation of his birth, and all of it pointed to the profound mystery of the Eucharist. So that by Christmas Eve, I was almost high on anticipation to receive him. Even the homily was about the joy of receiving him body and soul. Then Everything fell apart. Somewhere during the fall our priest took a leave of absence. Every Sunday we had a different priest visiting from somewhere, or coming out of retirement to tend to us, or the biritual priest who made time for us, and in all of that, no one remembered to set aside a cup of the precious blood on Christmas Eve. So I was turned away. It was an accident. I hold no ill will or blame to the priest who gave us his time, or the deacons who work so hard to serve us. I tried to turn my attention to making a spiritual communion, but every akathist and hymn was in praise of the glory of receiving him into our very flesh. It felt like a deep betrayal from he who loves me most, and he I strive to love. It felt like mockery. “I called you here, here to this place, to this time, and I offered you such sweet words, such seductive promises, but it was just a joke, can’t you take a joke?” I think it hurt so much because it echoed every betrayal from my childhood when all I wanted was simple affection and play with friends. The complexities of my torment which I attempted to endure with love and patience were profoundly wounding and unsettling. The further torments of my youth, coming from someone I trusted so much were further damaging. It was all far far too much to be turned away from God’s own table after he had sung me such tender songs of union. I tried to sing, I tried to pray, and the words choked in my throat. I couldn’t say them honestly, and I didn’t want to lie, so I fled into the “Outer Darkness” as Father Deacon teased me, and I hid there weeping. I was devastated. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I was devastated by that loss. I spend the end of the year feeling utterly abandoned and enraged at this betrayal. The deacons and servers, God bless them, promised me that it would never happen again. Someone saw how much I was hurting and reached out to me.
That wasn’t inconsequential, it mattered, but it didn’t reunite me. I couldn’t pray without screaming, so I stopped active prayer, and tried passive prayer, just sitting with him. But all I found was my rage and my hurt. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore, the silence. Not his silence, it was my own silence that was unbearable. All I had was my pain, but announcing it was better than silence. I yelled, I screamed, I raged, I cussed, vomiting all my pain into his agony, onto his cross. I struggled to hold onto him, and I felt like I was Jacob wrestling with the angel, or a fisherman with a slippery, impossible fish. The more I sought him, the more he eluded me, and I couldn’t see through.
We got a new priest, and he’s exactly the right priest for our parish right now. The Low’s bought a new house, with all the intense stress that entails, had work done on it, and struggled to overcome their own woundedness to grow closer to one another. I eventually made a decent confession of my rage and hurt. This seems to have set the theme for the rest of this year. Anger.
I think I’ll stop here and start another post.