Friday, August 26, 2011

Into the Eye Wall of the Storm

I'd spent a lot of time thinking about my life during the long weeks while my leg knit those 3 fractured bones back together. So, by the time my life caught fire, I had already considered the empty nest looming ahead in just a few years. I had concluded that I needed to reinvent myself. But, then, didn't every mother facing an empty nest and every worker bee facing retirement? I worked that reality over in my heart and head day after day and night after night while I waited to walk again. “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

I wondered what I wanted to be and had a whole long list of possibilities I could cross off. I'll tell you a secret if you come real close and promise you won't tell a soul. I don't say this out loud – ever, so I'm just going to whisper it. When no one was looking or listening and I couldn't swallow back the idea any longer, one dream slipped out over and over again. I wanted to be …. well …. uh… a ...uh...sigh....a...writer... Gosh. It hurts to even say it, so don't tell anybody I said so, OK?

The more I considered my failures, the more I figured I could rule out that dream that wouldn't leave me alone. In fact, the more the idea seemed like pure lunacy. When those words sailed in on that look the day my family imploded, I was sure that I was such a pathetic failure that I never wanted to try to do another thing in my life. My body kept breathing, but if it had required thought on my part, I'd be cold and dead in the ground over a year by now. I guess God gave us an autonomic nervous system for a reason.

One by one my ideas about who I was and what I was to do with myself had crumbled in the long 2 years since we moved into the new house that God pulled out of a hat. I had given up on being the one to tell folks that God was a good God who had restored us to a better life after he allowed us to lose everything. Yea, we had a roof over our heads and a paycheck in the bank. But, we sure were anything but restored. My dreams of a restored marriage had flamed out in an explosion that would have made the guys on Myth Busters stand back in silent awe. My relationship with my boys echoed the stresses and strains of the broken relationship with their Dad. I wondered how they could loathe me given how much of me I had sacrificed or put on hold so that their interests came first.

I sat alone in the quiet and again turned over puzzle pieces of my life. I told myself the situation was temporary and that I'd dig out from this latest trauma just as I had all the others. I looked at the mirror and knew....there was no going back from this one. I might recover, but I'd never be the same.

'm one of those extroverts they tell you about when they say we are energized by contact with people. Exhibit A: the lady in the dentist office who spoke to me for 5 minutes and then asked if she could hug me in parting. Now, as I sat in the quiet, there was not a soul on earth I wanted to talk to. I'd slip home every morning after Jeff would leave for work but before my college son needed to leave for class. I'd complete the academic work I needed to do for Son #2. Then, I'd slip away again to the quiet. Sometimes I rode toward the mountains, but I was as vacant as a human can be and still not have a wreck. The only thing I could think was, “I am nothing. I am no one. Who am I now? If I have failed at the 3 things I have exhausted myself trying to be for the last 24 years, who have I ever really been?”

Charlie Daniels fiddle chased me every where I went and every step I took, “Fire on the mountain. RUN. BOY. RUN.” The only problem was I had been running my whole life, and I had not one step left in me much less the energy to run. I stopped looking for God because I had become so used to the quiet. I mean, if he didn't show up in my dying mamma's hospital room, why in the world would he show up in the middle of my life as big a mess as I was?

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
He might show up for someone fact, in my experience, he usually did...but I wasn't one of the chosen ones. You know the type....the prettier cheerleader who has an easier story to tell. The ones who can intone, “I have a word for you...” and give everyone chills up their spine while they lean close to see what it will be. Or the ones who say, “God. Is. Good. All. The. Time.” with such ecclesiastical conviction that you nod your head enthusiastically even if what you really wanna go is, “Say whaaaa?”

At the end of that week of solitude, the phone rang. The voice on the other end was flat and scared. “Can we talk?” Ain't nothing more deadly than a word that comes sailing in on a look. From where I sat, there wasn't a word left to say. Didn't matter what got said, I'd finally seen the truth in his eyes. Words wouldn't dress up the truth anymore...not even if a counselor helped. I had given everything I had to give for over 20 years. I was so empty, there wasn't even an extrovert left inside me fighting to get back out.

There's a hurricane bearing down on 3 of my old 'hometowns' tonight. When the sun shines again after the storm, folks will assess the damage and figure out how to start over with whatever the storm has left behind. I know a little bit about how that feels. I'm still assessing the damage from the disasters that have overwhelmed my family of 4 over and over since 1999. I'm still trying to piece together what the God of the wind and the waves has in mind for what is left of me now. 
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
What about you fraidy cat? Maybe you hide your storms better than me. Maybe you even do a good job of hiding them from yourself. Have you convinced yourself and all those around you that you are high and dry behind that mask of yours? But, when the world quiets down, and you can't run from yourself realize you can't run much longer.

Welcome home. When you are in this place, you are safe. You don't have to explain a thing. I don't have 'a word' for you that is going to make you feel like I am your moral and spiritual superior. And, while I am still convinced that God's plan is good, I'm gonna be the last one to tell you that I feel good about it all the time. I'm writing my way back to God...and I'm hoping that he will find me as I do. Thank you for coming along on my journey. Maybe come back tomorrow and bring a friend? It sure feels less scary when friady cats stick together.

Micah 7:8 (Bible in Basic English)
Do not be glad because of my sorrow, O my hater: after my fall I will be lifted up; when I am seated in the dark, the Lord will be a light to me.

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