I’m talking to God again. I don’t feel like he is absent anymore. It isn’t what it should be, it is far from ideal, but I’ve found my way back to talking to him. Through other people and their needs of course, not for myself. That’s how it always comes, for me. When they have need and God wants me to help, the gifts appear and everything starts making sense.

Spring was hard. There was a mixup with the ridiculously bad insurance company that covered nothing, and they dropped me. After some frantic searching, I found a new doctor in a concierge practice who is willing to try to treat my fibro. I can call my doctor any time, and he will answer. He really does! I love this practice. I love the staff. I love the immediate sense of security I found when we signed up with them. I eventually got decent insurance again, through the efforts of my wonderful mother. My pain has ebbed and flowed. I haven’t knit in more than a year. My hands hurt too much. The beginning of the year through finding my new doctor and decent insurance was pretty terrifying. I tried and tried and tried to cling to him, to trust, to not give in to panic and fear. It was very hard. I mostly failed. As usual.

The new house is wonderful. Thank you, Saint Macrina! I have my own room again, one wall painted deep crimson. We live across the street from a park which runs along a creek. It is so beautiful. We have been taking care of our priest’s dog off and on, and we might adopt her at the end of the year. She is the sweetest pocket beagle. I love her so.
I’ve been angry with God. I’m trying to work through that. But we are talking, so there’s hope. I realized that I am furious with him, and have been for almost 30 years now.

Rule #1 Today is the beginning. Today we start again. Today is day one.
Rule #2 It’s ok to get mad at God. Be honest, and hold on to him.
Rule #3 Don’t give up. Don’t give in.
To fear, anger, hopelessness, despair, apathy, emptiness, loneliness, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. Don’t give in. Instead, lean into God. Fall onto him. Fall forward, not back.

He chose the cross, and he redeemed it. He takes our sufferings and changes it it.
When I was regularly tormented and abused by my peers, I felt genuine compassion for them. I tried to understand them. I also tried to stand up for myself, but I failed pretty miserably at that. Too empathetic. I prayed for those who hurt me, and over the course of four years, the abuse grew steadily worse and more frequent.My efforts to ask adults around me for help had fallen on deaf ears, so I gave up on that.  I prayed. I trusted. I knew God wouldn’t make them stop, that isn’t how he works. But still, some part of me wanted, expected, needed him to send someone to make it stop.

It didn’t. Not until I was so hurt that I didn’t trust anyone, even my own friends, except one who never ceased defending me, no matter the cost. Then the other torments started, and those I couldn’t get away from. I stopped trusting anyone. Including God. Because nothing and no one made it stop. I prayed until I was empty and broken, and then I became a gross, distorted wretch capable of little but pain. I broke. Again. And much more deeply the second time around.

God put me back together again. Slowly, over the course of nearly two decades, my wounds healed. Some have left deep scars with which I am still struggling, and others are just gone. But in all that time, I never admitted to myself that I felt let down, disappointed, and upset that God didn’t send a hero to my rescue. Over time, that turned into resentment, and then anger. The anger, I think, has been healthier than the resentment. The resentment was a deep poison eating away at my soul.

I’ve been getting botox treatments for my migraines, better meds for my fibro, depression, and anxiety. More consistent access to pain meds, even if they are pretty low key. With fewer migraines comes less tequila, and now that I’m not self-medicating the migraines, I worry less that I am a closet alcoholic.

After multiple conversations with other women, following research and conversations with my doctor, I’ve received and eventually got around to filling out and sending in, paperwork for genetic testing. I think I have a collagen disorder. Which means that the connective tissues in my body are fundamentally messed up. If I am tested, and it comes back positive for any of the genes responsible for a collagen disorder, it would explain almost all my health problems with one big umbrella. It wouldn’t provide better options for treatment, but a better understanding of what is happening is invaluable. It would tell doctors to keep a closer eye on my heart, my joints, my digestive tract, and my eyes. That last one bothers me more than I like to admit. My ophthalmologist brought up the possibility of an EDS diagnosis on her own, which deepened my feeling that I should at least check and see if this is what might be going on.

It would explain the thousand aches and pains, the slow but steady decline of my body.

Writing all of this is hard. It has been long enough since I wrote much of anything that wasn’t text conversation that I am painfully aware of how clumsily the words trip off my fingertips.

I dreamt recently of seeing Lindsey and Mimi again. I dreamt they made full, genuine apologies for all the wounds they inflicted upon me. I dreamt I forgave them. I dreamt they asked for the chance to rekindle our friendships. I dreamt that I said yes. I dreamt that I waited days, weeks, and then months for them to fall back into old behaviors. I waited and waited for the abuse to start up again, when I could take better action as an adult than I had as a child. But it didn’t come, and eventually the anxious anticipation led to an emotional breakdown. One of them found me sobbing and asked after its cause. I frankly confessed that I was waiting for them to hurt me, and the waiting was killing me. Forgiveness I can give. But not friendship, not vulnerability. It would be a lie to say that I could. I woke from that dream not saddened, or hurting, not feeling vulnerable or bruised. I woke enraged. I wanted to hurt someone. I wanted to break something. I wanted to scream a barbaric war cry and take an axe to anything that stood in my way.

The last time I spoke with a therapist, she reminded me that when we are in danger, even if only perceived danger, we busy ourselves with defense and offense.
It isn’t until we feel safe and secure once more that we are capable of dealing with more than our immediate concerns.
I feel safe and secure here, with Elisa and her family, with my Byzantine parish. Safe enough to be uncovering years of wounds. Santa Teresa, I thought I had dealt with all of this. But life is such that we go over and over the same course, getting stronger and wiser and leaning more on God, or being weighed down in a muddy, rutted track.

When my uncle died early this year, at the end of winter, I watched my cousin almost shine from within with love. I watched my aunt give everything she had to ease his passing. I saw him attempt, from his deathbed, to continue to be the pillar of his family. I watched him cede that strength to his children. I watched a strong man die one inch at a time, and at no point was he anything less than he ever was. More than an hour after he passed, his hands were still warmer than mine.

There is something in his passing, a lightness and a weight both, an absence of weight and a gentleness that keep coming back to me, like tides. My uncle was a good man. Dependable, strong, quiet. He and God had their own differences. He accepted a priest friend of mine in for brief conversation before he lost speech. I think he made a small kind of peace before he died. I know he loved much. I know it was never God that he rejected, but only the false actions and words of our very human priests and members.
I can call up the smell of him from when I was a child, the smell of sweat and sun and his pipe tobacco. The sound of his voice, of his laugh, deep and resounding. I always felt safe with him, as much as I could with anyone.  I think God must be like that, when I eventually meet him face to face, I think he will have that deep, reassuring laugh, that quiet strength. He will be the opposite as well, because God is never bounded by us, it is we who are bounded by him. When I die, I hope to see my uncle’s face again, and God shining through him. I look forward to the sound of his voice, and God speaking through him.

I watched his passing bring out something shining and beautiful in his family, along with the deep pain of his absence. Fred’s death was not so. His death was agony and silence. There was no sharing of joy and grief, laughter and tears, at his deathbed. Just heartbreak which had begun for his family long before his death.