Friday, December 23, 2016

In the Spirit of Christmas

This year, the Christmas season hasn't been peaceful.

My rock bottom anniversary is December 27th -the day I came undone in every possible way.  Years later, I heard Danny's full disclosure on December 13th.  This year, my body seems to remember. 

I slipped into depression without even seeing it.

Depression, for me, isn't debilitating sadness or a full inability to get out of bed.  It starts out as truth.
"You're out of shape.  You're past hope.  You move like a 50 year old because you don't take care of yourself."

I believe it all because I sometimes I wear a blindfold and trust every voice around me.  I can't see where they're leading me.
"I don't feel good," I told my husband, "Just getting my dailies done takes EVERYTHING in me.  Scriptures, prayer, good food, a shower.  It's all I can do and I'm maxed mentally."
"That sounds like depression," he says.

That place.

The blindfold comes off and I look around only to find myself at the bottom on a dark hole.  How did I get there?  I took the stairs, blindfolded and steady.

As I've been sitting in the bottom of that hole, I've also been online shopping and checking things off my list.
What else needs to be attended? attended to?

Check, check, check, check.

My husband is right -this is depression.  It isn't a low low or a high high -it is a sort of numb middle ground where I can't feel the present moment. I don't think I even really want to.

Christmas is so rich with incoming stimuli -so many feelings.  I feel nothing except, 'Can I go home now?'

As my blindfold comes off, I simply make a start.  I start my way back up the stairs by reaching out.
"Heavenly Father, I'm down here again."
"Hey, friend... just reaching out to say I've hit a depression and need to say it out loud."
"Hey other friend, I'm reaching out because the holidays are hard and I didn't see it happening, but I've gone into depression."

Reaching out is the first and best step.
My sponsor talks to me about peace and slowing down, and as she talks, I think of what The Savior did.  Someone once told me that if we're struggling, we can remember that Jesus saved the entire world in three days.  I've clung to that for the last year.
"Things feel bad now, but in three days, things will feel totally different.  Can you hold on until then?  Just three days..."

Robert Frost tells us that nothing gold can stay, and I remind myself that the opposite is true as well: nothing bad can stay, not forever.

A friend of mine reached back to me without having known about my experience with my sponsor.  She brought up the 3 days of darkness before the Savior arrived in the Americas, and I know God sent this message to me: Time is on your side, so much can happen.  Hold on through the darkness, daughter.

So what does this have to do with Christmas?

I guess I feel distant from The Savior of the World, but I acknowledge and appreciate the example of SUPPORT He lived.  He was surrounded with support at all times.
This isn't saying He was supported at all times.

But He had His people.  His parents, and family, His 12 disciples, His friends: Mary, Martha, Lazarus.
He had support.  He reached out.
"Can you not wait with me one hour?"

Next year will look different because I will set some boundaries.  Three days from now, things will look differently.
I can hold on.
I can hold on while I climb back up.
I can hold on when I slip down a few steps.
I can.
Because God can for me.
Because He does.

He is my support, even if I don't always tap into that truth.

I hope your Christmas is filled with some solid support, whatever that means to you.
This is me with someone in my support circle -The Savior of the World saved our marriage, and here's a piece of the first family pictures we've taken in three years.  That's a miracle to me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Supporting Myself

When I was growing up, I used to wander around my great-aunt's ranch house -the one she'd inherited when her parents had passed on.  It was an adobe wonder with stunning tile work through the hallways and glaring red carpet in the bedrooms.  In the living room, there was a magnificent picture window looking over the small city below, and a stone's throw to the left were two shadowy, cold bedrooms with a bathroom between them.  I crept into them one afternoon and was held captive by the pictures hanging over each bed... in one room there was a younger version of my great-grandmother, and I could see pieces of my mother in her face... her nose, her expression, it was familiar to me.  In the other room, a portrait hung of a handsome man I'd never met.  The mystery of it all kept me busy for hours.

Who was he?
Where did he come from?
Where was he now?
What did he do?  Who did he love? 

I worked up the nerve to ask my aunt.
"Who sleeps in those rooms?" I asked, knowing that she slept in the great room just off the kitchen.
"That's where my parents slept," she said, thereby increasing the mystery by a million fold.

Were they even married?
Why separate rooms?

Now that I'm older, I know a bit more about the handsome man I've never met and who passed away long, long before I was ever a thought.
But I still don't know why they didn't sleep in the same room together.
I'd ask someone about it now, but the mystery of it all still keeps me busy when my imagination needs a midnight feeding.

Lately, I've wondered if Danny and I will end up that way -sleeping separately for as long as we both shall live.  It isn't ideal, and I shake my head sometimes at just how much my marriage doesn't look like what I thought it would, even in surprising small ways.  I think I'm even more surprised at how okay I am with it, grateful even.  One thing that is coming up for me lately is how much SPACE I need, not just in marriage but in general life.  I need space for my imagination to cook up worlds without end.  I need space for rejuvenating.  I need space for safety.

The couch provides me with safety in that way, and during times where we sleep apart, I talk with God and allow myself to feel the peace that comes from the space instead of overthinking the WHY of it all.  Right now, I just need more time with God.  I'm on a slippery slope these days, and I can feel my center slipping into enemy territory.  Others are in my center, and God is on the outskirts.

The couch becomes a chapel in it's own right.
The nights are cold and just before the sun peeks in the east, the temperature drops even lower.  A few years ago, I picked up a few piles of scrap yarn and started making a scrap blanket.  I used three strands at a time, not thinking much more about it than, "I have lots I need to use up fast."
Using my favorite basket-weave stitch, I weaved for hours.  As my yarn basket lost weight, my blanket gained it.
So heavy.
Too heavy.
I couldn't keep up.  Eventually I tied it off and shoved it in my linen closet to think about later in life.  Much, much later.

But about a month ago, I pulled it out and covered myself.  The heavy blanket -though it wasn't wide, it was long -felt indulgent against my nightgown.
Every night, I pull the blanket over me and drift off.  Every morning, I sit cross legged on the couch and cover my lap with the blanket while I meditate and pray.

Yesterday after a solid prayer session, I opened my eyes and looked at my blanket.

Do you know how good it felt to cover my own arse?  To have something so protective of me MADE BY ME, standing guard every cold, dark night... the triple strands reminiscent of The Godhead that surrounds and upholds me as I plug through life's daily scraps, carefully weaving them all into one broad picture?

Soul Food.
Can I stretch and walk today?
Family members.
Wind down.

The blanket is an empowering way to start my day -a beautiful reminder that I have my back.

It's an important reminder to have. A vital one.

Maybe this blanket deserves to be stitched into a heavy finishing sooner rather than later.