Before I have my coffee in the morning, I can be crabby and unresponsive to things of a girly nature. My girls will say that my coffee can be black like my soul. Unfortunately, there is truth to that.
After being a principal, I was caught off guard at the reality of human nature. I learned that behind closed doors the most kept up appearances are not what they seem. The day I resigned and walked out of the building was the day I began feeling the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. I was once an outgoing person. I became more introverted and not a lover of people.
When John became sick, I also went into super woman mode. I retrieved my cape out of the closet and did all the things from working, appointments, practices, games, laundry to fixing plumbing issues. I didn’t stop. Everyone would say, “Wow! You are so strong!” and I would do a cheerleader jump like ‘Yay me!’ when inside I was drying up…desperate for relief.
“And then she turned to God and it was all better….the end.”
I wish that is how easy it was, but it isn’t. I didn’t hear God. I didn’t see God. I didn’t feel God. I didn’t feel anything. And my soul became black…like my coffee.
Fear and angst have a way of doing that to you. Fear sucks the life out of you. Anxiety lies to you. The pain doesn’t go away in the morning. You really do not know what to believe and you are unsure of what is real. You begin to protect yourself as you pull away from life and from God. You feel that God should protect you from some of these things. You then protect your heart by withholding it from the pain causers and the God that did not stop it.
We often have an immature belief system that we defer to that thinks, “If I am a good girl and do good things, good things should happen to me.” The realities of life tell us differently. In my maturity, I know that God allows me to experience pain so that I may know Him more. The process of getting there can be long and enduring.
I once sat with a girl that had been sexually abused and her anger and pain were not only worn on her body, but in her mind and heart as well. She looked at me and said, “There are no words that can describe this pain.” And I knew her heart. I knew her pain. I knew the anguish of not being able to describe something so powerful, raw, and consuming. Any pain, no matter what the cause, is real. Sickness, death, abuse, divorce, stress, decisions made, addiction…it all leaves scars…hidden or seen. It does not discriminate.
Of course, we shouldn’t talk about pain. We do not talk about pain. We suffer in silence. We need to cover it up. We need to hide it.
When I came out of the hospital, I was asked to leave my house for a length of time. My mom couldn’t deal with me, my anger, and my eating disorder at the time and I lived with another family. I was alone fighting a mental disorder that just didn’t go away like everyone wanted. I would burn my arms (just like many girls cut) so the pain inside would rush to another place on my body. Pain doesn’t just go away. Pain needs to be dealt with.
When we are in the darkness, we hide well. I didn’t make a decision to not trust God, but I slowly became afraid of Him and people. The pain was deep, the uncertainty of daily life was scary, and trusting was hard. I didn’t trust myself, people, or God.
At 44, I wish I could say that eventually pain goes away but it does not. It can become worse if you do not deal with it. You learn to carry it and manage it better. You learn to not lie to yourself and others. There are days that a single scent, comment, song, or occurrence will take me back to the source of different moments of pain. Sometimes it knocks me to my knees and sometimes it feels like the wind was just knocked out of me.
Instead of pretending that I have it all together and I am fine, I take the time to feel the pain. When this happens most people do not want to be around me. I have allowed a few people to hold me during my darkest times. I have never died during this time. I want to sometimes, but I haven’t. And those are the moments that you become stronger. You learn more about yourself and others in the most vulnerable times. You learn that you can trust yourself, a small handful of people, and yes, you can trust God slowly over a period of time that does not need a timeline.
I still do not have my shit together. I am a beautiful mess and God knows that. There have been pivotal points in my life that God showed up when I wanted my life to be over. I am still here. I am fighting. I am breathing. I am living well amongst the pain. You may feel the same way. Many women do. It takes a large amount of courage to feel it and own it. You can do it. Be brave.
I have been walking in the darkness for some time now. I have been honest with everyone, especially my kids. I tell them that I am feeling and dealing with pain. Pain that needed to be dealt with a long time ago.
Last night I asked my teenage daughters what I could do better to be a better mom. Their response surprised me. “Mom, you are doing great. Don’t change anything. You are just getting better and better.” Yes, I am not perfect, but I am better. Time, honesty, good people, my girls, John, and God’s word add cream to my soul, just like my coffee. The pain will not rob me of life….not when I am in the process of painting beauty with ashes.