Friday, May 22, 2015
Have you ever felt as if someone has effectively dismantled your life? I know many of us have been here, feeling left, worthless and useless and complete strangers to our own selves. After years of listening and being there for my friends, I’m sad to say I'm here right now, and no I’m not going to spill the beans, with all the nitty gritty details. What I am going to do is be real, be honest, admit I am broken and ask for your prayers, for your patience and understanding as I try and navigate through these uncharted waters with as much dignity as I can muster.
How did I get here? Honestly I was dragged kicking and screaming. I fought hard not to end up a casualty, broken and wounded. But despite our best attempts life doesn't always turn out quite the way we hoped, planned or even fought for. We can hold on forever but the rope is still going to eventually burn. We can give all we have but when all is said and done still find it's just not enough. Let’s be honest, people disappoint us but that doesn’t make them the bad guy or horrible people. We all fail, mess up, make mistakes and make wrong turns, after all we are humans and in acknowledging this we accept not one of us is a saint, period. The cold harsh reality of growing up is realizing you can't make anyone love you, no matter how much you love them they have to be willing to be just as vulnerable or love can't bloom or survive the winter. The loss of a partner, the brokenness of your heart once the words have been said can be immensely painful. Life, love, our best years were not supposed to turn out like this but here we are anyway.
Honestly losing your way, not knowing who you are in your 40's, waking up to realize you’re midlife, is absolutely exhausting, the kind of nightmare you’ve only heard about, positive this would never ever happen to you, to us, until it does. At this point, we're left devastated, hurt, confused and feeling worthless, without anything to offer anyone. Suddenly we feel boring, useless, worn out and used up. We have nothing left to give, to offer, we are stuck in quick sand with no emergency backup plan. Everything we sacrificed seems gone, up in smoke, lost on those we have loved with all our hearts, given everything to and for what, to be left alone in the rubble of what was without as much as a flashlight and a pick axe? Seriously it's beyond comprehension isn’t it, and yet we go on, we have to. We pick ourselves up, dust off and find a new way of dealing with what's left of our lives. Maybe it's not the life we planned for, hoped for, envisioned for ourselves or for our families but all the same it's our life now, we are here and so we begin again.
Despite what may seem intentional in the moment, I do however believe even in the midst of martial conflict, personal struggle, as our lives come apart, no one's purposely tossing relationships out the window. Sometimes we have to lose what we have become used to in order to fully appreciate what we had. Just because we step back, take a detour down a slippery slope doesn't mean we don't love our partners, our families. It just shows we are human, in need of direction, a rebirth of intimacy, adoration, yearning and passion in our waking lives. The thing about midlife self-discovery is this: we have to be willing to invest not just in ourselves, in our wants and desires but in those we honestly want to take along our journey with us. It's one thing to find the part of ourselves we feel we've let go of, lost somewhere in between 17 and our 40's, but it's a complete other story to recover the part of ourselves that's destructive, devastating and damaging to everything good in our life. Remember it's OK to take a step back, grab a deep breath and even figure out a new direction but be careful how self-destructive your trip becomes. Just a warning, when this jaunt down memory lane, this excursion, these code words, mission retrieve youthful vigor suddenly comes to an end you may unfortunately find nothing left of your previous happy life.
As for where I am today, in this very moment, I can't honestly say. I'm more confused than a chicken being plucked and cooked alive. I'm working through my own confusion and hurt. Trying, but not always holding my tongue. I'm human after all. My world has been turning upside down on its axis for over 15 months now. I've struggled to find my way, to be the woman I was expected to be, all while drowning in a sea of doubt, pain, rejection and uncertainty. Being as real as I can be right now, the truth is I have fought some pretty serious self-doubt, major body issues and a lack of self-confident tsunamis in the last near year and a half. I've longed to be wanted, for the love I gave to be returned. It may sound silly but I have pined away in hopes of being told, to be found beautiful in the eyes of the one I love and treasure above all. This is the thing about being human, about having an imperfect nature, we have to realize not one of us is perfect, and because of this we have to be willing, even when we are reeling in pain to forgive. Every relationship goes through major heart surgery at some point. We all become defunct and unable to deal with our own uncertainties, much less anyone else, and so we must learn to have patience while setting boundaries, to love in spite of our current situation. Is it selfish, yah it is but from where I stand now, I also now it's a necessary evil. I am of the option it's not all about how we're hurt or even the whys of it, but truly where those growing pains lead us once we have made it out from under the knife, once we are in recovery knowing the struggle is finally behind us.
Nothing worth having ever comes easy. What we have to understand is just because we take a serious hit like this, even when heads have been turned and we have a bad case of the what if's and I wants, none of it means it's all over, that there is no hope for restoration. I've never been one to abandon hope, and I’m not going down that path anytime soon. What I know right now is I'm finally old enough, wise enough to understand life isn't perfect. The reality is most of the time our lives are spent rowing in a tiny dingy once we've jumped ship, singing merrily merrily, life is but a dream. No, change isn't exactly easy. We fight it often. We wrestle with our humanness, our fears, our need to let go but in the end change still comes. To be honest I'm not sure where my life is headed right now, and yes I'm a little scared but I also know no matter what changes are ahead of me , who I am becoming will be worth the struggle. But that's the thing about life, it's all about change. Changes we are not always aware of, sneaking up on us like a crazy ninja or something along those lines. Either way we're stuck with the sticky process all the same. So reality check here people, sometimes it's truly not about us, and we have to be willing no matter how difficult it is to step aside, allowing life to instruct us. We simply can't fix what's broken in anyone but ourselves. The bona-fide, honest to goodness truth is until we can face those demons inside us honestly, nothing will ever change and we'll be stuck in the repeat cycle indefinably.
What I have come to realize is this: we all change. We can't always predict when and why or even how but it happens. Life is just not predictable or completely reasonable. I'm almost 42, news flash, I'm not getting any younger. I'm not the same woman I was 20 years ago, but I'm not ashamed of who I am becoming now either. I'm a mother, a wife, a daughter and I have so much yet to experience and honestly to offer. I'm growing, exploring life with a new set of wings. Life may be uncertain but it hasn't really disappointed me yet. I'm ready, even if I'm scared, I'm moving onward and forward, with whatever life has yet to offer. It's all going to be OK. So if you're wondering, nope, I have no clue what my next step is, or where it might lead me. Yes I am a complete chaotic hot mess. I have no intentions of throwing my hands up and surrendering anything over to defeat and yes I will absolutely go down swinging! I am a creature of resilience, with a natural nature for optimism, a phoenix rising out of the ash. I am not overtaken by the naysayers nor living in a world of unrealistic expectations. I am me, plain and not so simple, an emerging butterfly. Yes, my wings are still a bit shaky but let me end my post with this, making it very clear; at almost 42 I am learning this life lesson #39, a lesson of rebirth, with all her glorious and excruciating labor pains. I’m not going to come out of my chrysalis, young, vibrant and 24 again and I wouldn’t want that anyway. I’m not going to compete with the new and exciting young 20 and 30 somethings either, maturity has a way of focusing your energy on letting go of what you can’t control. This new beginning, this genesis isn't going to be the end of me, but rather the beginning of something new and beautiful, even if I am the only one to see it.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
What is it about these restless, 2 AM and I'm still up, trying to wrestle Atlas for his tittle empty, desolate kind of nights? It seems no matter how hard we try, we can't shake 'em. Sleep just refuses to come our way once loneliness decides to set in. I know you know what I'm talking about because social media is often popping every night around this same time. It’s one of those you're up, down, tossing, turning, one more glass of water, fidgety, sleepless kind of nights that drain us. And between you and me, they're always the worst! Our mind runs away, haunting us until the sun comes up, then starts the repeat cycle all over again when the sun goes down. Unfortunately, loneliness is just one of those unavoidable emotions we all have to live through at some point or another. I'm certainly not a fan, nor am I an advocate but the hard knocks facts say, loneliness is part of the journey.
The songs says one is the loneliest number, but sometimes even though we are surrounded in a swarm of loved ones our minds tell us we’re absolutely alone, lonely, on our own playing a game of solitaire. Life lesson #38 at its core is about LONELINESS.
The reality is we've all been there. Loneliness can creep up on us with this feeling we're alone despite a crowded room full of people. Sometimes loneliness dropkicks us into the deep end of a pool without as much as a how do you do. Before we know it we're drowning and no one can see or hear us flailing around. Other times it's a complicated relationship gone sideways that leaves us feeling invisible and alone like we've faded away into nothingness. Loneliness at its worst can fill us with despair, telling us we're worthless, second-rate, useless, living a meaningless life. Worst of all, lying next to the one we love the most, there can be an ache so vast an ocean stands between us.
So yes, when loneliness decides to up and pay us a visit, it's usually at the worst, most unexpected, inconvenient time imaginable. There’s usually no warning either, just a sudden kick to the gut. Many times even if her visit is short we're left feeling exiled, packed up and shipped off to a deep, dark and emotional ravine, and a terrain we have no idea how to navigate. The definition of loneliness describes sadness, a depression and a place of remote isolation. Being lonely is exactly what one might expect, a frightening place, where we’re abandoned and lost inside ourselves. It's not exactly a five star resort with a waiting list or a place we check out of feeling refreshed or eager for a return trip anytime soon. The opposite is more the reality: tired, exhausted with a bad taste left in our mouths, wanting the world to just end already. Loneliness simply put is a remote place of isolation, quarantine and no one; I repeat no one is immune.
There's no other way to say it, loneliness sucks! There's no candy coating it, placing a cherry on top or arranging her cause and effect into a beautiful bouquet. Nope, loneliness is the ugly step sister we all dread and she's usually not interested in taking prisoners! As Christians many feel there is no place for sadness, loneliness or depression in our lives because Christ lives within us, and if you just take things at face value one might unreasonably come to this conclusion. But the thing is, we’re ALL human, not one of us is capable of perfection. We all have our areas of weakness, parts of us always in need of grace. If this wasn’t true the Word of God wouldn’t be so clear, insisting we are made strong or that His power works best in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So what can we do once our ship has sailed into the great abyss, when darkness approaches and the shore line of loneliness is visibly in sight? Honestly, I don't know if anyone can actually prepare themselves for this kind of unwelcome Oceanside property. What I do know is loneliness many times has to be ridden out. We often can't avert the storm but we can adjust our sails with the hope of reaching shore in one piece anyway. I wouldn't say washing up and finding myself shipwrecked on Loneliness Island makes my top 10 list of places to visit, that's for sure, but I am aware one way or another life is going to re-route me and re-set my compass in her direction.
The reality of the situation is our lives, once they've entered into this depth of loneliness can overwhelm, overcome us with sorrow, despair and deep, painful heartache. Truthfully at this point it really doesn't even matter how we got there and who or what set our hearts on this course to begin with. Like it or not the reality is we're here, washed up, on the sand, broken and in pieces following a cold, harsh night adrift and sinking. I can tell you from experience, the one thing about loneliness is once she’s got a hold of you, you can't allow her to devour you though. I won’t lie and say I haven’t been in this pit before; in fact I'm grappling with loneliness in this very moment. I write not to appear as if I have it all together or all the answers, because I so do not! This blog, my journey through pen and paper serves as a process, a means to work out the life lessons I myself have and continue to live through, a way of sharing this journey we call life with you. Go ahead; brace yourself now, Katy bar the door because I’m not ashamed to actually admit I suffer from loneliness either. I think we hide our pain a lot of the time living in this place of hurt, alone, as many of us do because we’re the anchor, the glue, holding everyone else in our lives together, and if we fall apart the whole ship goes down with us. I have to say, this can be an unbearable burden, suffering in silence, hiding behind a smile while we’re completely coming undone inside.
At the end of the day what I know is this: loneliness is a thief, willing to steal not just your happiness, but your joy if we allow her too. She's a cold companion for sure convincing us we’re alone. While we wrestle with despair, we can't be so over taken we lose sight of who we really are in Christ. Happiness can be taken from us in a split second but joy has to remain a constant, permanent fixture. Loneliness is certainly not our friend, even if we have to barter with her for our own survival sometimes. She's one of the most destructive forces our hearts, minds and souls have to deal with. So, where do we go from here, what’s the plan, the strategy for getting off this demented and deranged island? I honestly don’t know, haven’t a clue, but what I do know is this: Isiah 43:2 says, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” I believe in the One Who not only gave me life, but rescued me from the brokenness of my soul. I may have been born into a world full of sorrow but Jesus Christ is the One who gave me a hope and a purpose despite my inadequacy.
So yes loneliness may come for me, she may try to convince me life isn’t worth living, pointing out all my inefficiencies, fiascoes, debacles, mega flops, washouts and serious malfunctioning hardware. BUT let me assure you of this fact, my life has been bought and paid for, and so have my shortcomings. I will absolutely continue to struggle, wrestle and even suffer at the hands of loneliness and her consorts on and off for the rest of my life. It’s a given but so is this truth: the joy of the Lord is my strength, He will never fail me; His joy will continue residing inside my heart despite whatever attempts unhappiness throws my way, gallivanting, sweeping or backpacking through this human life of mine. Just remember this when you feel painfully invisible, we never make any discoveries about ourselves without a little unreasonable, irrational thinking! Joy comes in the morning, so just hold on, be patient with yourself and trust the process; this too shall pass my friends, this too shall pass.