Bless the thing
that broke you down
and cracked you
because the world
needs you open.
The thing about being in the pit is eventually your eyes adjust and you start to see again.
This is a hard thing to explain because compassion (and being human) makes us all empathize and sympathize with suffering. We can recognize it and acknowledge it in others. We can be sad when others are sad.
But there is a unique kind of suffering that happens when you’re in the pit. You’ve been there so long your eyes finally start to adjust to the new view, the new dark, and you have just enough strength to look around…and suddenly you see you’re not alone.
These people you’re with aren’t there to support you; they’re in their own pits next to you. You just happen to be floundering at the same time. You’re pit-friends. Your suffering is different than theirs, but it’s still suffering and pain is pain and here we are–together in our shit.
You broke open and they broke open and here we are, broken open in the same place trying to find our footing or build new legs or learn to walk with a limp.
When you’re in the pit, friends and family come and they look in the pit because they love you. They see you drowning and they try to lift you up as best they can. They ask what can I do? and what do you need? and because you’re in the pit, you don’t even know what you need. You don’t have your footing. Can you help me stand again? Is that possible?
Oh, wait, you’re up there and I’m down here.
Okay, thanks for trying.
But the pit-people (is it okay if I call you the pit-people?), they just scoot closer and say me too–I don’t know where to go from here either. Let’s just sit together.
I have met many pit-people this past year. Is it because my eyes are adjusting to pain and suffering? Is it because I am still bruised and battered, still covered in the scars of disappointment and heartbreak and loss? I lost a lot in 2017: dreams, sleep, hopes, people, money, family, innocence, security.
It’s an odd thankfulness to say I’m grateful for people who broke with me. For my friend who almost lost her son in a four-wheeler accident. To the friend who was brave enough to say out loud her parents never wanted her and then fight for healing. For the friend demanding what she deserves from a husband caught up in addictions and unhealthy relationships.
For years I’ve prayed for wisdom and here, in this pit, I’ve suddenly realized the wisdom is just being more aware of the pain, the pain we all have. The knowledge we’re more the same than different; the knowledge the pit is bigger and wider and fuller than we ever imagined. My prayer for wisdom was answered with more mercy, more grace, and more compassion. Those things are eye-openers and heavy, heavy things to carry.
The tricky part with everything crashing and burning is you can get too wrapped up in your own wreckage to see other people’s wrecks. So we pray for eyes that see while we navigate our own devastation.
Once the new-ness of the implosion wears off, you get your bearings just a little and, if you’re lucky and working on growing not just dying, you recognize others better: the sadness in their eyes,the soft way they move through their day, the barely audible sighs, the just-a-moment-too-long glances.
Pit-people have become my people.
Pit-people, the honest ones, are who I want in my circle. The friend who says, I did some ugly stuff last night and I need help telling you what I’m afraid of. The friend who says, I’m so scared of what’s happening right now and I don’t know how we’ll make it out of this.
Because we all feel those things. We all think those things. Some of us are just better at pretending.
I’m done pretending.
The pit strips away a lot of pretense. Pretending, ignoring, keeping quiet, saying yes when I mean no, and allowing damaged people to keep doing damage to people I love got lost in the fiery descent to this hole. I’m not looking to pick them back up again.
I hate the pit, but, okay, I get it too.
The pit has lessons and gifts and fresh starts.
Maybe we never really get out of the pit, exactly. Maybe we just start finding other pit-people, we start building better, safer, healthier stuff in the pit. We pick up some pieces. We leave other pieces where they fell. The pit gives us some freedom and some control again.
We’re starting again, right here in this pit. Here’s who I want in, here’s who I want out.
And then over time, the pit starts to look kinda safe and homey. The pit starts to become less painful and more joyful. The pit feels less scary and more safe. We realize the other pit-people, the ones who’ve suffered and survived, the ones who’ve crashed and rebuild, are the most beautiful. They’ve got smudges on their cheeks and bruises on their arms. They’re limping and dancing and laughing and falling a little but it’s the most glorious, wonderful dance you’ve ever seen.
And the pit. The pit did this. The broken hearts. The death. The destruction. The weeping. The disappointments. The fear. The depression.
This broken, beautiful, bruised, open place was where you were supposed to be the whole time.
Damn you, pit.
And thank you.