Hello January 1st, I hope you have seriously reconsidered they type of year you bring in light of last years’ damage. 2013 was kind of a bust. I can only remember one year of my life bringing more distress and it was roughly a decade ago. I suppose for that kind of reprieve, I should be thankful. I’m just not there yet. I’m trying to get up from the dust and reawaken a soul that was nearly lost this year. So goodbye 2013, you won’t be missed. My one hope is that the death you brought would birth new life inside of me soon.
This time last year was the eve of loss. I could not know how much at the time. When I began to lose, I guess something inside of me thought that loss was equated a threat to my very person. I remember the first waves of loss that began to rush over me. It wasn't just the loss of a grandfather. It was the loss of ideals and pictures of control. Ideas of how I should feel when a grandparent passes. Pictures of feeling more in control and at peace. My emotions were ill-fit for the pace of my life. If there is any part of me that gets the brunt of neglect, it is my emotions. I didn't have time to lose control. Work and faith and mothering and being a faithful spouse and being a student, training for a marathon all required a certain cadence and energy that I could not give another person, including myself. I did not have time to stop and deal with my heart. Sit tight, I told her, you will have to wait until I have time to deal with your disorder. And January 21st came and went and I kept moving. Moving past the funeral, past my feelings and on to my next demand.
I remember jokingly telling my grandpa Joe that he was not allowed to die as we stood at the graveside of my grandpa McCord's burial. My grandmother doting over my song at the funeral and casually planning for me to sing at hers one day...I was serious about my orders...No one else can die.... I can't handle the loss. Please consider my sanity and stay with me another year. But May 23rd came and loss was mine again. I can't handle it, I told God. Strengthening my grip on all the shaky pieces of my life, I told my heart to sit tight, I would get to her soon enough. Even missing the funeral because there were already wonderful 5-year anniversary plans that demanded to be met. "He would have wanted you to keep your plans." my grandmother said. And she was right. But my heart was still waiting on me. I brushed past her again. I will get to you.
I have been mentally trying to resolve myself for months. There was even a lingering conclusion type blog that is dangling in the draft folder of my phone. I could not finish it because I wasn't at a place of closer. I had stopped short of despairing of life but I could not make meaning of the pain so I continued on my journey away from the pain into a place of total feelinglessness. (Not a word but go with me)
I'm kind of a conclusions person. I always want to know: What did we learn? How did this help? What can we change? But that kind of reflective learning requires a heart that is alive. And that is my problem. 2013 tried to kill me and I was a willing participant in the process. What I did not realize in the participation was that I was risking was the death of my heart. See, hearts can't wait forever. I asked my heart to do something it just couldn't do.
There is a researcher (who I adore), named Brene Brown. In a ted talk (found here) she talks about the important connection that vulnerability and emotions have to being alive. She says, "you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can't say, here's the bad stuff. Here's vulnerability, here's grief, here's shame, here's fear, here's disappointment. I don't want to feel these. I'm going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. I don't want to feel these. You can't numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle." I have shared this talk so many times and referenced it and warned against the danger of being numb and here I have fully engaged in a numbing defense. The power of which was so strong it is hard for me to unravel. I haven't turned to banana muffins or beer but I have turned to full on stoicism and it's choking me out.
The verse that has been calling to me from my neglected bible is this one, "The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I have have come that you might have life and have it to the full." John 10:10
So 2014 finds me in a kind of come and get me kind of place. I have had all the numbness I can stand. I am tired of holding all the pieces together. I've seen behind the curtain of control and it is a lie. I want to be alive. I want to feel the fullness of life even if it excruciatingly painful but I especially want to feel the joy. I want to reject the promise of comfort that being numb lies about bringing. Come and get me Lord. Bring life from death as you always do. Water the dry places and break up the hardened ground. I want to live.