I’m in a hurry.
Always thinking about what’s next, where I need to be, what I should be doing after this. I’m not busy (you know I hate that word…), and I don’t have more to do than the average adult-ish person, but I’m in a hurry about it nonetheless.
Why wasn’t this done yesterday?
So when the wheels fell off last summer and continued to fall off into the fall and winter, I was beyond tired. Not just with the chaos and hurt that was happening, but with how unhurried I had to be about it.
I would go to counseling each week and feel like nothing was changing.
Still angry? Check.
Still depressed? Check.
Still distrustful? Check.
Still want to end my marriage? Check.
Still hate everyone? Check.
Why weren’t things getting better? Why wasn’t I moving on and healing faster? I was doing everything I was supposed to. I HAD A CHECKLIST. I WAS DOING WHAT ALL THE BOOKS SAID.
But my counselor just told me to keep sitting in it. To stop hurrying the process, to stop trying to skip steps.
Because if I didn’t go through all the emotions, anger, hurt, shock, and brokenness slowly, I would have to come back to it. It wouldn’t go away if I ignored it. It would eventually rear its ugly head again, coming back with a vengeance.
So I had to sit in my suffering.
I had to sit in anger and sadness and hurt. I had to sit quietly with my broken heart and just let it be broken for a while.
There was no way I could jump ahead without becoming unhealthy. I couldn’t skip a step in the process.
And that made me mad. I didn’t have time for this. I had girls to care for. I had finances to worry about. I had work to do and places to be.
Life was still going on in the midst of all the things breaking in my personal life. The mortgage company didn’t care that my husband was an alcoholic in rehab. The soccer schedule didn’t bother to ask if I was tired from running my kids everywhere all the time. My students didn’t know I was crying myself to sleep at night and then pretending to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for class each morning.
Here’s what was (and still sometimes is) the hardest part to understand and feel fully for me:
I am grieving my marriage.
Even as things slowly feel less horrible and dead, I am still grieving my marriage. And grief takes time.
It took multiple therapy sessions to understand what this meant for me. Because in the midst of some healing and moments of hope, I am still full of grief and mourning. For what I imagined my marriage was. For what I dreamed my marriage would be. For what my marriage actually is.
I am married to an addict and an alcoholic. I did not envision this for my future, for my marriage, for my life, for my daughters.
Accepting what-is versus what-I-thought-was knocked me down hard. And even in the present where Chris has been sober for a few months and seems to be coming back to life, I am full of grief for what he promised me, what he pretended, and what he actually did.
So many things died in 2017.
And if I don’t mourn them, they will not heal.
I read a lot of books, and I can’t seem to find any that give tips and tricks to make this grief or anger go away. Time helps. Jesus helps. But nothing is quick and easy.
So I just get to sit. It’s the opposite of fast and hurry, and it feels so uncomfortable.
Sitting in our pain and hurt is hard. I imagine it like this current winter/spring battle the weather in Indiana is currently doing. I wake up one morning and it’s sunny and warm out, things feel alive and hopeful. Then by nightfall, winter has pushed its way back in, bringing with it snow and frigid temperatures. It’s a tease, a dance between hopeful and barren.
I feel both many times a day; I feel light and encouraged, followed by moments of despair and sadness.
And I have to sit in both, feel them both, acknowledge them both.
When the calendar says “first day of spring” it should STAY WARM AND SUNNY.
When I’ve done enough things on my checklist, the grief and sadness SHOULD BE DONE HERE.
If only it were that easy.
If only if I was in charge of the process.
What I wish is for a broken-heart leave of absence. You could fill out some forms, submit a report of all the things that have collapsed, and then the world would agree to be extra gentle with you. Everyone would be notified so you wouldn’t have to answer awkward questions or explain things, and you’d get some time to just sit in the sadness.
But alas, the world keeps spinning and you have to keep going.
I know there is good in that too, but sometimes it just feels like too much. Sitting in something–anything–feels like being left behind. Like everyone else is moving on, but I can’t.
But I know the truth is this is where I’m supposed to be. Doing the hard work, doing the digging and dying and rebuilding. Doing the things that feel the most painful so that on the other side, there can be true healing and recovery. We can’t get there with a checklist or a calendar or an end date.
The sitting takes time.
The healing takes time.
The beauty again takes time.
If you’re feeling weary in the waiting, if you’re feeling beat up in the sitting, here are some verses that are comforting me in the stuckness I’m feeling:
I have made you.
I will carry you.
I will sustain you.
I will rescue you.
Again, God’s message:
“I’ll turn things around for Jacob.
I’ll compassionately come in and rebuild homes.
The town will be rebuilt on its old foundations;
the mansions will be splendid again.
Thanksgiving will pour out of the windows:
laughter will spill through the doors.
Things will get better and better.
Depression days are over.
They’ll thrive, they’ll flourish.
The days of contempt will be over.
They’ll look forward to having children again,
to being in community in which I take pride.”
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