It has taken me almost a half a century to understand that one of the greatest measuring sticks we have in our life is death. As I have lost friends and family members, recently I have learned that our legacy is more important than the “things” we gather, here on this earth, because they are all left behind to be given away by someone else anyway. It is more about the things we give away while we are here that really matter most.
And it is not only about material things, even more so, it is about our self and our time. I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that I am selfish in giving away pieces of me. I give freely to the people I know love me. But even at times, I’d rather be alone. And if someone is difficult, even if I love them, I have learned to avoid rejection or dysfunction at all costs.
I spend time with a handful of people I choose to, that matter most to me, and don’t really go out of my way to make new friends. My husband is constantly wanting me to reach out to friends at church and I have always dug my heels in, except for a select few. I remember when we moved away from the place I literally grew up, away from all of my friends, to a brand new place and he’d said, “you’ll make new friends.” I told him, I have all the friends I need. Well, that would have been very sad if that was true, because some of those friends now, are the ones in that handful of friends I mentioned earlier, that I have grown to love and choose to hang out with most.
I do know that I tend to want to come home from work which is a “people” job, and retreat into my own little shell away from everyone, not answer too many questions, or have too many plans and just unwind. I know that I disappoint my very socially inclined husband, and I feel bad and then that makes me mad because I feel guilty and that is up there among the top four feelings I hate to feel… Frightened, Sad, Angry & Guilty!
Depression is something I have never bought into. I mean, I know it exists organically. I worked in a Psych Unit for almost six years. It is a very real condition. And there is treatment for that kind of Depression. I’ve witnessed the successes of those treatments. But what I am talking about is admitting that I have it or not. Which I was told that I do by our counselor. And have fought that diagnosis ever since. In fact I got mad and stopped going to counseling. Thinking of course you are going to have to label me. I’m not depressed! I’m mad and angry and exhausted!
I mean, crap happens and you are sad, or scared or angry because of it, right? It’s a circumstantial thing. Depression doesn’t happen to people like me. I go to work every day, I don’t sleep my life away. I laugh and joke and live! You work through the crap and it goes away. Right? Maybe not. Maybe you work through it, but the layers of fear from all the things that have happened in life pile up and you don’t know how to deal. For the first time since then, I have wondered. Maybe she was right?
Fighting a war inside your head is exhausting. Being expected to even know how to begin to talk about it, takes your breath away. Even people like me, who talk for a living. It is like caring too much about everything but being perceived as if you care about nothing. Always looking back, wanting to fix where you were, being afraid to believe in tomorrow. Sometimes faking a smile and saying you are fine, is so much easier than trying to describe your pain. I mean, don’t think that I can explain how I feel when I don’t even understand myself. Always wanting someone to just say “It’s going to all be okay” and for me to really believe it. And wondering if you will ever feel like it’s really okay.
A lot has happened to a lot of people, horrific things that I can’t even imagine and they have turned around and made their journey into lessons for others. I know that some of my experiences can be an opportunity for a better testimony, that if I can get through it, others can too.
I guess that I’m beginning to realize that finding the courage to understand is our reward. That it’s okay to cry for the ones that we miss, but so important to embrace the ones that are still here. That fighting for life is making us stronger and that stronger is a very good thing. And that I need to learn how to really and truly, genuinely love the person I have fought for all along… and that, that person is me.
To love God first, and then ourselves is one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn. For I can’t love anyone else until I understand who is loving you.
She builds people up because she knows what it’s like to be torn down.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has known what God has prepared for those who love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9