Thursday, 25 November 2010

On her kindness

I've had a bad cold this week, nothing serious, but enough to slow me down.

I've been feeling shaky mentally for a while now. Nothing drastic, but enough to slow me down. I'm in a foul mood more often than I like, being avoidant even about activities I love, increasingly unable to imagine enjoying things, my sense of perspective is a bit all over the place and I am wondering if it is time to start with the dried frog pills again -- not to drug myself out of my sense of dissatisfaction, not to medicalize a perfectly reasonable response to an uncontrollable and dangerous world, but to correct or ease or change whatever chemical or structural characteristic makes my fears so overwhelming that I resort to avoidance, displacement, or numbness.

The thing is, I don't really believe it was the antidepressants or the three and a half years of therapy that got me out of this last time. I think it was the continual reassurance of other people caring for me, doing their best to help me despite the difficulties (and I know I did make it difficult, for it was so hard for me to trust), making it clear that even if I don't understand why, I am valued and cherished and loved.

That support has not been withdrawn. On the contrary, it is very real and very ongoing. If you are reading this and you are someone who knows me, please do not think I don't notice that you care. I do notice, and I am grateful, but sometimes it's still hard for it to have any effect. It's as if another layer has been peeled away, and the fears that disabled me in years past have been replaced by some newer ones and some older ones, and suddenly my need to understand why I am loved -- so that I can keep doing whatever it is, you see, and so control my fate -- outweighs my ability to accept love I do not think I deserve. And the messages that I don't deserve love echo from a church that systematically excludes me and my loved ones and a society that makes it clear that the poor are to be discarded, right back into childhood fears of violence and abandonment. My ability to see myself as a beloved child of God disappears in a puff of Pelagianism. My ability to trust God to love me even though I am decidedly imperfect evaporates. I don't understand, and I can't trust, and so I am afraid. But I also have this desperate desire to improve things, to act on behalf of God in the world, to heal the sick and bind up the brokenhearted and all that priestly stuff from Isaiah. Christ has no body now on earth but ours, said Teresa of Avila, and I want to be the hands, the feet, the eyes -- even while I cannot imagine I will ever be anything but dust, not loved, not hated, not even noticed. And the danger of that is that without the sense of belovedness, without the knowledge that I am valued and cherished and loved, all my works are forced and manipulative rather than joyful. I will not be able to refill the well from which I draw water, and eventually I will be too tired and dried out to continue being unkind to myself while I try to serve others and will lapse into apathy or selfishness or despair. I know this is how it goes. I've been here before. It's not kenosis, a joyful self-emptying, a costly but beneficial surrender... it's sort of the opposite of that. But I don't know what else to do, I don't seem to have any control over my sense of being loved, and so I keep going through the motions, hoping beyond hope that if I keep going the doldrums will clear, waiting and watching for some subtle shift in perspective and meanwhile struggling against my instinct to withdraw, hide, hibernate, conserve what I think I have left -- as if any of it is mine.

I am already weary, already thirsty. I keep saying, on Twitter and a few other places, that I know this will pass, winter is always a bit difficult, I know I will be okay. But what I need to remember is not just that I will be okay but that I am already more than okay, that I am already valued and cherished and loved, and this is not contingent on anything I say or do or think or believe. I need to remember how to be kind to myself while being kind to others, I need to remember how to accept the kindnesses others offer.

Only say the word, and I shall be healed...


UKViewer said...

What a heart rending post. Moving, honest, frank and seemingly self aware to an extent that most of us can only hope for.

When we are drawn low, despite all around loving and nurturing and praying for us, it can still be a hard, cold, lonely place. Straining to hear or feel God's warmth and comfort is unsuccessful and it feels like hell on earth.

I don't have the words to say that would comfort or heal you, most would sound like platitudes - but just to say that I, among many will be praying for you, thinking of you, willing you to be well and to know that our love is unconditional - not physical love, but love for each other in the sense of valuing and respecting the whole person, their strengths, weaknesses, gifts and blessings.

I really hope that you will be able to come through and that the chemical changes you speak off are treatable and back in balance to allow you to live and love your life, which seems to frantically busy, but balanced in a special way between the world, the arts and God, whose word shine out in your writing and music.

Song in my Heart said...

Thank you, UKViewer.

Your prayers, your love and your hope mean a lot to me.

it's margaret said...

A while ago --after the losses of several pregnancies and painful poverty trying to pay the medical bills and all --I called my priest saying I needed to make a confession. He came. We talked. I confessed how sad I was, and how angry I was. And he said --I had nothing to confess... I was right to be sad, and it was going to be my anger that got me through it.

Some how --I think it is your sensitivity and intuition --always obvious in your posts --that allows you to be vulnerable and makes you the artist and musician and poet that you are --and is the very same vulnerability that allows the open window to the darkness.

Perhaps there is a way you can greet the sadness/darkness like an old friend without letting it take hold of everything... or like a counterpart to your theme song? Not spoken as advice --just curious...

You are in my prayers. Thank you --and bless you for your obvious courage.

Song in my Heart said...

Thank you, Margaret, for your kind words and your prayers.

I think that yes, I do need to learn, if not to embrace the darkness, at least to be more comfortable with it, less threatened by it. Part of the reason my (relatively mild) low mood of late is so difficult is because I am afraid of it getting worse, afraid of it getting the better of me, as it did before.

I know well that the things that make me sad or angry are things that would make anyone sad or angry, that this isn't an insane response but a truthful one. I am more worried about how that affects my ability to keep going. What can I do when I find the sadness overwhelming but I am just too tired to be angry? I'm not there yet, but it feels like a matter of time. Trying to pace myself, trying to conserve energy, doesn't feel like the right thing and can't ultimately stop me from breaking.

I guess when I get too tired I will stop for a while, as I did before. Maybe that cycle of activity and withdrawal is part of the way I am meant to be, rather than the destructive force I fear it might be. I know God takes broken pots and makes beautiful mosaics, there is nothing left untransformed. Maybe times of activity punctuating longer times of stillness (which I may or may not feel as paralysis) are actually the right pattern. I don't know. But I fear the loneliness, the crying spells, the sense of hopelessness and despair.

May the Lord be pleased with my rest.