Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Into The Twilight Zone

The counselor sat back looking satisfied and gleeful. The offer hung out there in the air. The retreat was mere weeks away. If we wanted to go, we needed to hop on board quickly. Slots were filling. What I now know was a panic attack began flirting around the edges of my mind. My heart was beating so fast and hard my eardrums felt like they would explode. I fought the urge to get up and run out of the room.
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creations

I should be happy, right? The counselor sure was. Here was what I wanted, what I had longed for on that night years before. When I had curled up on the front seat of the car in a dark, cold grocery store parking lot mourning the departure of my friend who could have been so much more, this is the reward I hoped for. Here was what I had wanted all the days I mourned my commitment to that tough decision to drive away from the comfort only inches away. Here was what I had wanted all the lonely nights I had stared at the ceiling in the wee hours of the morning with tears dripping out of my eyes and filling up my ear canals. And yet, I was terrified by the offer.

After all this time, after all the hurt, after all the loneliness, after all the loss, after all the lost dreams, could I trust enough to take this final step in a reconciliation. I was dizzy and sick to my stomach. I'll be honest with you, thinking about it as I write now 5 years later, my fraidy cat body feels all the effects of my traumatic stress reaction. I'm dizzy. I'm nauseous. My hands are shaking. I want to run even tho' I've already lived thru it. Being a fraidy cat is hard work, doncha' know?

Courtesy of Mad Penguin Creations
I took a ragged breath and must have said I'd go. I'm not sure how I said it now. I just know that come September, I found myself in a packed car headed toward a conference in the mountains of Tennessee. I steeled myself with the knowledge that if I got too panicky, I could grab the car keys and flee. Someone would take my husband home. We'd both be embarrassed, but that might be preferable over my having a heart attack.

At some point that weekend, the keynote speaker said, “I know there are some folks here who are so battle scarred that you are here with fear and trembling. You don't want to make eye contact much less have any physical contact with the person sitting next to you. That's ok. This weekend is not about that.” He went on from there, but I'd heard enough. I felt no less panic-stricken, but I knew I could reach for my dream and the husband who had worked so tirelessly to escape the monster that had ruled his life.

Later that weekend, he turned to me, “I am not the man you married. I'm a different person now. Would you marry me again?” I was sure I had somehow found my way into an episode of the Twilight Zone. It was too improbable, too fantastic, to be true. We arrived back home to the little house that had become our launching pad into a new post-Chapter 13 life. We told the boys there was going to be a wedding. Our older one would be both best man and musician. Our younger would carry the rings and be his dad's other best man. Fraidy cat fairy tales do come true.

Wasn't God really doing all he promised me he would do those long, bitter years ago? When he said, “Let it all go. You can't fix anything. This will be the first time in your life that, through sheer force of will, you couldn't fix something. But, you can't. Be still.”

I hadn't been able to be exactly still, but he had meant it. Nothing I did fixed anything. Again, I thought, “It was worth everything we've endured if it meant finding what we've found.” I had no idea what the next 2.5 years would hold.
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creations

Oh my....are you out there, God? Have you seen me all this time? I used to be your biggest cheerleader. I was the one about whom my friends said, “You have the strongest faith of anyone I know....” Look at what has happened to me now. What happened to that girl that believed you were a good God with a good plan? I'm writing my way back to you. Will you come find me?

What about you, fellow fraidy cat? What has driven you to the point that you no longer steadfastly believe there is a good God with a good plan? Or, have you never given it much thought as the fraidy cats wander in and out of your life? I know my fears have a different name and different roots, but it takes a fraidy cat to know one. Come back tomorrow. Bring a friend, won't you? You know what I'm going to say, right? I hope you will, but I'm scared to death you won't.

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