Friday, March 20, 2015

When I felt invisible: part two


Prior to March 2014 I had no idea what I was passionate about or liked to do.  Sure, when someone asked, I would list off all the things that K enjoyed - for which I tagged along - because they were pleasant enough and I had very little else to offer up.  My birthday cake that year had literally been decorated with an icing replica of his face, "because", he'd said, "I thought about what you liked and it was either me or tea".  If we want to get honest about what it's like to feel absolutely invisible there is no better example than when your own birthday cake is some other person's face.

Don't get me wrong - I loved that cake, we all got a hearty laugh out of it, but it exposed the matter pretty clearly. There was nothing much that could be distinctly pointed out as "me". I had nothing of my own and I was quickly, deeply dissatisfied with that.

Thus, I threw myself into anything that I ever had even the faintest desire to try:
 - I bought a beautiful black guitar (a la Johnny Cash) and slowly taught myself to play, the pressure of the guitar strings burning my sweet, virgin fingertips into numbness;
 - I began to paint, draw, and generally just create art (for better or for worse...and it's usually for worse);
 - I committed to a yoga practice.  Yoga is a lifeline for me, a sure cure for anytime my mood threatens to cloud over, and is so well suited to my disposition that I feel like it's always been in my life;
 - I tried my hand at decorating, cooking, paddle boarding, and hiking. I dyed my hair purple and got a huge tattoo on my ribs. I swam underneath a waterfall. I stood in the ocean. I danced.

It is no exaggeration to say that I fell deeply, madly, no-holds-barred in love with everything.

Where, once, I had stood feeling alone and invisible, I now have an ever-growing array of friends reaching out to me, both to support and be supported. I can't put into words the way my heart swells when I think of the generous, kind-hearted, flawed, devoted, honest, and wickedly talented friends that I've made.  Each of them, in their own perfectly unique way, teaches me everyday about the transformative nature of unconditional love. How one woman can be so lucky is beyond me.

My marriage to K is both more fragile and more resilient that I ever imagined it would be. I discovered that marriage love really does equal commitment (a lesson K probably wishes he didn't have to teach me). He stood by my side as I begged to leave, refusing to let either of us walk away and loving me whilst I broke his heart - I can't repay that and can only hope that I will be his unshakable anchor should he ever ask the same impossible question of me.  I learned not to take our vows to each other for granted - they aren't a guarantee and must be renewed with each day, sometimes with each hour.  He doesn't have to stay in this, nor do I, but our friendship and love for one another transcends whatever imperfections of character might tear us apart.

I pray again.

From March to October, I discovered that all around me was life, freedom, and invigorating energy.  A year later, I still find that to be true.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

When I felt invisible: part one


I began my journey of self discovery in March 2014. I had spent the entire year before that feeling incapable, forgotten, and, frankly, invisible.   I had absolutely no idea who I was or what I wanted out of life anymore.   I was confused, desperately sad, and I had given up hope that God would or could actually help me.

Honestly, I was shocked that my prayers fell heavily in the silence of an empty room. Wasn't I favored by God? Isn't that what people had told me and what I had believed for so long?  Where, then, was this favor now?  I had prayed in every which way I knew: hours-long conversational prayer; tearful, pleading prayer; angry, exasperated prayer.   I begged for a baby, I begged for an answer, I begged to not feel that deep, painful, I-can't-breathe knot that had grown too large in the pit of my stomach.  Oh, the silence of the Lord is an unpleasant thing. 

Having spent the better part of 2 years getting dragged and bruised by life, I was now on auto-pilot.  I found nothing truly enjoyable. I sobbed multiple times every single day, hiding myself away in bathrooms and closets so that no one would know.  I gained 15 pounds.  I wandered around my house all day, from room to room, in between binge watching television and sleeping far too often. Lonely and alone, isolating myself, I was convinced no one would really even notice if I disappeared. 

But then, quite suddenly, I couldn't do it for a second longer. I couldn't be sad, be invisible, be empty, for one more moment.  I don't know how to describe it except that I felt such an urgency to live, to truly live, that I couldn't sit still.  I shed off everything about myself.  Or, more to the point, it was as though my 'self' was a shattered mess of glass on the floor and I was in charge of going through and picking out the pieces I wanted to keep - putting myself back together in an entirely new shape. 

Without a doubt I made decisions that hurt quite a few people and behaved in ways that are deserving of no ones forgiveness (although they've all given it to me).  I stopped hanging out with most of the people I relied on before, going so far as to avoid my family and to tell K that I didn't want to be a wife anymore.   It was too much to be needed by anyone, especially if what they needed was for me to behave like the woman they knew - the woman I was trying to escape. I felt I was fighting for my life and, somehow, everyone that knew me before became the embodiment of what I was fighting against.

They say that the Lord refines us as though gold placed in fire. I always assumed the process was passive and mild...that He just slowly made me a better person day by day while I merrily went about my life.  I learned quickly that the description of going through fire is, indeed, an apt one.  I spent painfully long days and nights confronted with my own lacking, my own impurities, my own broken and dark heart.

I learned what it is to cry out in the deep of the night asking the empty space of a God you aren't sure of if He is even there, to be huddled in the corner of a bathroom at work cradling yourself through a panic attack, and to sit across from your husband on the couch of a marriage counselor.

Those were very unpleasant times and, to my sorrow, I dragged K through them with me.