Follow by Email

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hiding My Shame



No disease is free from the effects of mental strains, which are a part of life.  If tensions and worry are the greatest evil of today's family and it effects not only our spiritual being but, our peace of mind, and happiness-- and even our physical health, it is absolutely worth our greatest effort to learn how to overcome them, and teach our children how to cope as well.  In my life, my greatest tool has been the gift that had been past to me from 5 generations, the gift of the scriptures. God has designed us for happiness, He created us for joy, and peace, He designed us to live our lives free and to the utmost for not only His honor, but, also His purpose. But, let's be honest and frank, worshipping God at times of great stress can be a solemn and difficult thing. It can be a commitment. It is not a feeling, an emotion, even though it is a part of our genetic fabric, how we were built, sometimes we just don't feel it, sometimes even fight against it. I had been in church week after week, but secretly  I had begun to feel a disconnect and  noticed my sleep pattern had changed and I had begun to fear that things were not right with my mental state. I was having abnormal reactions to everyday situations. I had also begun to dream, and when I did, they would be terrible and awful dreams, to the point of waking me up. For instance, when I drove I  feared things in the trunk flying forward in an accident and crushing me, really odd things, that I knew in my mind were not realistic, but I couldn't stop the feeling or the fear.  I became obsessive about how things where situated or arranged, and if I couldn't do it to my liking I would have to avoid them, or enter another way so I wouldn't see them. So It wasn't about how clean things were,  it was fear, fear of something crushing me, or trapping or suffocating me, about dying. So seeing anything piled or stacked made me physically sick.  Kenny had stored his suits in the back of the boys closet, and it rang over and over in my mind, those suits do not belong in there, until I could not enter their room. Nothing could be under the beds, the car had to be completely empty, even down to the spare tire and jack. This is such a hard thing to write about, it is so embarrassing, anytime you lose control in your life it is embarrassing, but it is so important that other women know, that if you're going through something like this you are not alone, and there is help. I asked Kenny after we had come through this, if I was horrible or awful to live with, because in my mind I had such guilt over those few months and I really battled this, and he said had you not know me intimately you would have never known. So I think the shame of this kind of thing or anything to do with a moment of mental weakness we make  bigger than it really is sometimes. I only wish I had talked to my physician sooner. I prayed daily God please help me overcome this, but, really didn't believe it was something for Him to handle. Go figure. I had stopped taking my Mom's calls for about 2 week, up until then I had been able to keep up the facade, but I couldn't do it any longer, I wasn't even able to leave the house, those last few days. Kenny was driving the kids to school and he would pick things up at the store if we needed them. If  he questioned me, I would just brush him off and say that I wanted to stay home and get caught up on some things. When he would leave, I would get in a ball on the sofa, in front of the fire and not move until he was texting me that he would be home soon. I was paralyzed with fear. At this point I was still able to at least be in the house. On this particular day we got the kids up and off for school and I walked them out to the car and told them goodbye. As they drove off, I turned to go into the house and I could not walk up the stairs past the stacked wood we had stacked by the door for the fireplace. I had walked passed that wood 100s of times.  We had a glass front door and not only the wood had terrified me but we had this grand staircase leading to all 3 floors, and to the right of it we kept all our winter boots and scarves and coats and I could feel my throat closing just thinking about having to walk past all that stuff and it crushing me, killing me. Thank God when I walked the kids out to tell them goodbye I had wrapped a blanket around me, and I had slipped a pair of Wyatt's sweatpants on and I had slid Kenny's Ga boots on because it was 27 degrees that day. Kenny found me almost 6 hours later. I was lying on an outdoor lawn sofa at the front door about 30 feet down the driveway. I was hardly responsive to him. And when he did approach me I was extremely fearful of him. I remember sitting on that bench watching a few snowflakes fall thinking God this is not fixable, this is the end, their is no hope, I have reached the end. I came to abject acceptance, I was done, I'm beaten, finished, God you decide what you want for my life, I expect nothing, I was an invalid, of the worse kind, the mind. Something had changed in my mind, my ability to process what was a threat and what was not was all criss crossed. I thought, I will never be the same. Who will care for my children. Who will care for me? Again this is the end. When Kenny approached me it was as if he approached me to harm me. Everything was a threat.  After quite a while he finally got me in and by the fire and, long story short, my mind had given over to stress and it had created havoc on my mind and body. I  asked him please don't tell anyone I felt stripped and vulnerable,  I feared people will treat me differently. Did I have control over it, I don't know, I guess we all handle stress in different ways, but I do think had I not allowed my thoughts to overcome me, reached out sooner, stood on what I know to be true in my heart, the scriptures, maybe I could have avoided it? Instead, I decided that maybe, I am  clever enough to overcome my own crisis, I could bring myself through all these changes of life. I kept trying to talk myself through this, I was relying on my own small private consciousness and I was sure to fail, and I did.  Terribly it had become "I" not "We" (God), however, Crisis, once again, brings us back, face to face, with our inadequacy and in turn it leads us straight to the inexhaustible sufficiency of God. Somehow that part of myself I had not turned over to Him. I had asked for physical healing more times than I can recall, but mentally it seemed to be a different issue. It just felt like some kind of flaw on my part, like something I could have prevented or stopped, or had control over. Unlike if it had been diabetes or high blood pressure, somehow there is tremendous shame attached to mental illness. As if I was hiding it from the One who knew me the best.  Much of the state of  our mind is what we place our trust in, if we place it in failure, or fear, then we are certainly investing it poorly, I think just down right wasting it. For weeks I had allowed  all my mental energy to be consumed with worry and fear and failure and it had built and built, I had placed my faith in what was around me what I could see, instead of using that energy to rest on the promises I knew God had made our family, many of them I had  seen come to pass. It seems all through the Bible there kept recurring Jesus's plea for us to have faith, to ask, to ask, to ask, The scriptures say.. til now, or up to now, as yet, you asked nothing in my name; ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full. If for all your evil you know to give good things to your children how much more will you heavenly Father give good things to those who ask. My joy was gone, so I certainly could relate to that, and I loved my children more than life. So after the cat was outta the bag, and the crazy lady was revealed,  I felt some better, not so alone, but it didn't get better in just a day. I made an appointment with my physician and I went on a fast. I had to find Him. I had been desperate for Him before over other things and He had always shown up, I needed wisdom, the doctor needed wisdom, my mind needed healing. Like so many things in my life, I thought God this can be one more thing I can use to show your never ending love and compassion for those you love. Now, one little problem, I had swore Kenny to secrecy and this blog is not exactly a group of my closest girlfriends. But, I made the commitment to be honest about my life and I am following the outline and this incident was next and I feel this is such an important subject. So God am I going to give it all to you, even my crazy moment!?! Yep, I guess so. Back to my search for Him, I thought, "Who is going to be my Master, my true Master, fear and shame over what happened, myself, we know how that turned out, no, I want the one true Master, the One who wants joy and peace and purpose for my life.  Mark 8 says for a man to save his life he must lose it. But if he loses it for My sake ....he will find salvation, or he will be saved (meaning from not only perpetual lostness, but from lostness day to day). So in other words, outside of the pain of all out handing over to Him all of our natural self (to be, in some sense, destroyed) there is consolation in knowing that He gives us a new "self", one born from above, one in which He will be the center of. I will gladly, even with the pain of humiliation, give Him everything, let Him destroy it, make it new. God I need a healing of my mind, a renewing, a rewiring, I had let worry and fear become my center not You, and it had taken over my mental capacity. Our families today are living in abject fear, fear of losing their jobs, fear of losing their car, fear of losing their homes, I sit at the library sometimes to wait on the  kids to get out of school, and I have been shocked at the families I am certain are homeless. And many of them go to my children's school. Alot of them walk from school to the library and then the parents come on the city bus to pick them up, many in their work uniforms. From conversations and things I've seen I am certain they live at the shelter. And many live with relatives or friends. The weight on the faces of these children is so heavy, and the parents, are half my age, yet the burdens of life have made their marks on them and aged them beyond their years. What a diverse difference the scriptures have made in our home, in my life, in the lives of our children. The burdens they carry are when the next happy meal is going on sale! When the scriptures are alive in a home,  even in the worse of lifes situations, there is hope, hope that brings parents together, keeps parents together, lets those children know the Creator is interested in the little affairs of their life, every detail, and when real crisis hits they know Who to call upon. I think we have failed to display this simple but powerful truth, God can be trusted. Hope is always of God, faith is always right, fear and despair is always wrong. We can rest, rest in the assurance of knowing that His love for us boundlessly surpasses our own. Nothing can ever separate us from that love except our own blind unwillingness to receive. I thought it would give a different perspective to have Kenny write what he was thinking and feeling the day he found me on that lawn sofa.

  You will have to be told what is happening as you read this very sentence, because it is entirely scandalous and that is because I am doing something that after 27 years a man with even partial sensibility knows never to do, injecting his opinion!  The only thing saving my future is that this is really not much about opinion, it is more about memory.  Memory, that is, of the most striking and demeaning type. Angie and I thought it would be, seeing this particular blog is a bit of an expose, necessary and relevant if I recalled that same day from my memory, something I was hoping I would never, ever have to do and something extremely unpleasant for me.  Let me say, forthrightly, we are not attempting to make some deep theological dogmatic point, we are, also, not implying that we have some extraordinary insight that we alone have been able to acquire, much to the contrary we feel great shame at having been thrown into the furnace only to realize we had really no genuine metal, no gold, no pure silver, no heated and hardened steel, we came to realize we were weak and effete and hardly worthy of the most beautiful and marvelous name of "Christian".  We all deal with hundreds of issues week to week, thousands month to month, but when you tinker with those things in us which are the very core and central beliefs we have built our lives on, the pressure of those kinds of conflicts can reveal who and what you are.  What we have dealt with has only proven that we had so little real confidence in what we believed that we have, practically, been atheists in sheeps' clothing.  Amongst the Jews the old adage, "The fool has said in his heart, 'there is no God'" it had nothing, at all, to do with an open proclamation of disbelieving in Deity, it had to do with the man or woman who, though they believed in word, whole heartily, in God, in the way they lived, however, they were denouncing His existence entirely.
Shame, great shame!  All that to say that this time was in the heart of months and months of continual desperation and bitter internal doubt.  I had carried the immense burden of, as the man of the home, seeing my role as "provider" slowly corrode into a worthless and meaningless title.  I was not only reared in the south I was steeped in the Christian tradition of hard work and honor of family loyalty.  This kind of belief forces an approach of taking years of work and slowly building, not only security at home, but good reputation publicly.  That was all, now, in ashes!  When you awake in the morning and as you rest your head on your pillow at night and the majority of seconds that lye between those two conscious moments, your mind is filled with a form of fear which can hardly be clearly defined, but is the most horrid state being I had ever conceived of in my nightmares.  For the previous year I had waited for Angie to begin the conversation I knew had to eventually come, the one which starts with, "We have to talk!"  Besides, what was left of the man she had married, the man who promised to  provide for and keep her, and her children, through all the days of our lives.  Of the secondary fears I had often borne in my mind's abyss, was the fear that she would break, that she would, in spite of her powerful will to carry herself with great honor and with an undefeatable public show of joy, though it was often a bit of theatre, finally snap and the woman I loved so deeply, so hopelessly, would disappear forever.  It was not a baseless and paranoid fear.  Days like those wear deep on people, deep in the worst of ways.  They grate on your soul, they relentlessly gnaw on your mind, and they never, never give up.  I had tried, and not with an intentional sense of mockery, to repeat all the wonderful quotations which were suppose to bear up our souls, but they fell hollow.  I just asked God for one last favor, in this new world where His favors seemed to short supply, "God, please don't let her break! I have nothing left but Her and these kids. Please, please keep her mind, her sanity, collected and in tact!!"  Mothers have always been the anchor of the home, but this woman had become more than any of us had imagined she would.  Her grace and poise had been tested and she had never lost her powerful compassion for the weak and poor in soul.  She had learned, though it was never natural in her youth, to tell a joke, and amazingly, she became very good at it. This entirely because she was determined to have laughter in her home and with her children, a bit of a prick to my pride seeing as how I had always believed myself to be much funnier than I must have been. I suppose I had become far too paranoid, a common side-effect of such times, none-the-less, I imagined seeing small fractures in that beautiful Trojan horse she had built, and it made me pray all the harder, and, in what I believed, was all the more sincerely.  I had taken the kids, Cole and Bella, to school, I had spent the morning in my long-running ritual, reading and trying to re-think, through my reading, Who and What God really is.  I had headed back up the mountain and the cold, cold mountain wind made me long to see that old brick fireplace.  As I drove up the mountain and turned into our driveway I became puzzled at the dark figure I saw on the N-east corner of the house.  I couldn't see it too well because it was some 150 yards from the last bend in Foxrun and up our drive and then to the back of the rental, however, as I moved closer my mind finally became clear as to what this dark, shadowy figure was and as I did my heart leapted into my throat and my soul dropped into hell.  There, on an old lawn sofa that she loved so much, lying in the only corner of the small back drive where there was a stream of sunlight, was Angie.  She was wrapped in a blanket which was much too light for the kind of mountain cold of that day, and she was motionless.  I forced my mind to go through all the possibilities I could imagine which had nothing to do with tragedy and pain, however when I stepped out of that little red S-10 I could hear a sort of whine, or maybe a low groan, and I started to walk toward her. She never looked at me, never looked at the truck, and she didn't say a word.  I didn't want to do or say the wrong thing so I approached her slowly and when I was only about 15 feet away I could hear some sort of guttural moaning, or a bit of a groaning, the sort of which I had heard when I was growing up when I encountered a wounded animal. I had long ago thought it best to stop praying about anything except the most essential and necessary issues in life, but I could not shake the thought that this was the answer to my one last, most dire, prayer!  She never looked at me and I said, very quietly, to her, "Honey, what are you doing? Are you Okay?"  When I reached out to touched her she recoiled and I couldn't make out if it was deep anger, a moment of mild hostility, or simply the physical shell of a woman who had become lost in depths of a mental collapse.  I said, "Angie, it is too cold out here, you have to come inside!"  Her shoulders and arms were quivering, her lips were pale and a light shade of blue had set in, and she just mumbled about not being able to go inside, about there being too much behind the stairs, that there was danger inside.  I, as had become the case so often now days, didn't know what to do, so I just grabbed her arm, forced her up and lead her inside to the downstairs couch.  The stairs were to the right and when we entered she moved to my left and pulled me hard away from the stairwell.  I wrapped her up and pulled a small electric heater near her and prayed she would have no frost-bite, not that I had any confidence in my prayers.  For the next three hours she didn't move.  I wanted to help her, I wanted to talk to her, I wanted to heal her wounds, whatever they were, but I just sat and stared.  I thought, well I will never again be able, at least while she is sane, tell her how sorry I am for all of this, how I know she had many choices before me, and would have had many after, and how, except for our children, I had come to be nothing  but a curse to her, but I realized I would never have that chance now.  The woman I loved so much was now gone, her body was still there, her beautiful face, her long statuesque frame, but "she" was gone. I would like to say I felt failure, maybe disillusionment, maybe confusion, but what I felt was in places and in ways which speech simply cannot reach.  It was a loss of all that is sensible, all that is good, all that you are sure of, and as if all the collection of pain you had ever experienced became focused on one moment.  I just needed one more day, one more afternoon, maybe just one more hour just to let her know I had never meant her harm, never meant for life to be this way, never meant to lead her to this kind of ignoble end, but all the days, all the hours were gone!  I don't want to talk about this anymore, what I will say is this, I realized the faithless, cravenous, heartless little man I was, and there was nothing I could do about it, but I also realized that it really wasn't about me anyway.