Tuesday, July 31, 2012

You save me.

About three months ago, everything I thought I knew fell away. All of the things I counted on disappeared, seemingly at once, and I was left depleted and broken. I fell to the bottom of the bottom. I fell further than I thought possible, so far in fact, that I thought I would never get back up.

Sounds melodramatic, I'm sure, but it is how I felt at the time. As proof, here's an excerpt from that first week of falling:

"My heart is shattered. Once again I find myself alone and in utter disbelief. I can’t sleep for the life of me since it happened. My thoughts swirl and clutter my mind: pain, shock, anger, sadness, confusion, guilt... The pain ebbs and flows and I can’t bare it. It chokes me. Another wave comes, I see it cresting, and it washes over me, pulling me under the current, helpless and hopeless, not even fighting it. I give in to the weight of the pain, I let it drag me along, knowing I’m powerless to stop it. It swallows me. I want nothing more than to be free from this. To have my old life come back, to have someone pull me from this dark water and back onto dry, steady ground. How could this be happening?"

Again, I know it sounds melodramatic and this post is not meant to solicit pity or consolation. I write this post as a testimony to the miracle that the love of God and community can be. I write this in praise and thanksgiving for the incredible support I received by those around me. I prayed for God to save me, to send me help, and He sent it abundantly.

Sometimes when we're in the thick of trauma, it's hard to see grace. But looking back over these past 3 months, I see that God loved and healed me through every kind glance, friendly hug, funny text, late night phone call, and late night hang out that my community gave me. Even those who didn't know what was happening in my life, but were still a part of my life, be it on Facebook or church or my new (blessedly trauma-free) job, supported me without even trying to. And even people I thought were lost to me forever came back in amazing, powerful ways to support me.

Community is powerful and immensely healing. In three months I have been to hell and back again, steadily healing from the chaos that was my life in April. I still have some healing to do, but I can finally see hope again. It would not have been possible without the communities I take part in: my family, my friends, my church, my work, and even my internet community (I even got support from Australian pen pals! Now that's cool).

Moral of this blog? Trauma can lead to desperation. Desperation can bring you to your knees. From your knees, the depths of your pleas are heard, and if you look closely, are answered through God's love, in the form of community.

Thanks to all of you who saved me, and who keep saving me, a day at a time.

I am truly blessed.

P.S. This song seems appropriate. Music is good that way. Gotye "Save Me":


Sunday, July 29, 2012


First of all, I'd like to start by saying I'm writing this blog while kneeling. My desk is gone, and my computer perches precariously on a filing cabinet while I type at its metallic edge. It's cold and uncomfortable, which is exactly how I feel right now.

Not to get into too much detail, but I just recently (as in this last week), had some interactions with a person who was desperate. At first, I couldn't pin point what they were desperate for - love, attention, security? All of the above? The desperation seeped into every action and word during my conversations with them, and I tried to comfort them the only way I knew how: listening. It didn't help. When our conversation finally ended, and they walked away, I was left as I said before, cold and uncomfortable. As I write, I realize it's because that desperation is so familiar. It has enveloped me, too, many times. In fact, the last three months have been some of the most desperate months of my life (to be discussed in my next post).

Desperation is not foreign to me, and I would venture to say that it is not foreign to anyone. We've all had those moments in life where we felt that hopeless yearning for something we felt was lacking. We feel its void in our life until it becomes an obsession and colors our every behavior and thought. We wander around looking for that something in what we think are obvious places: other people, money, a better job, bigger house, attention, fame, recognition. We look to these things to fill us, to satisfy this yearning that calls to us so urgently.

But now I wonder, what should we be desperate for other than God's love?

I think that we will not ever be completely satisfied here on Earth; we may come very close, but there will always be that void, that feeling of incompleteness, that follows us on this journey. True peace, true fulfillment will only come when we're united with Him who made us.

And with that, this blogger is going to sleep. My knees hurt now and are desperate for bed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


[Originally written 10/9/07... back in my more emo days]

What am I afraid of? For so long I’ve been walking around in my head, peering out now and then to make sure I’m still alive. It’s like I purposely put up this foggy wall between me and the world and all the people in it. I guess I’m trying to protect myself – it’s an emotional survival instinct. I’ve been working veiled, pasting a smile to my face, saying all the right things, and basically being a prisoner in my own head. My wall has turned into steel bars; I can’t climb over them, I can’t break through, but I can see through them just enough to be aware of what I’m missing.

Every once in awhile I’ll stick my hand through the bars with my tiny little cracked mirror and take a hesitant look around. I enjoy the things I see, even the other prisoners like me. I see their eyes and their mirrors and in both I see myself. Sometimes the sun will shine through the dusty window and for a single moment I feel myself breathing, I feel myself living. The sun warms the blood in my veins and coaxes the stale, aching breath from my lungs. Then it goes away, or as is more often the case, I turn my back on it. What if I were to stare at it any longer? Would its rays burn me? Would my eyes adjust to the light and not be able to appreciate it anymore? What if its warmth were enough to pull me through the tiny window? What then? I would fall to the dusty earth, scramble to my feet, back pressed against the wall, as my bloodshot eyes darted frantically from the people and things in my midst. My bars aren’t there to protect me anymore. I can’t hide within the safety of my misery and desperation. I have to step away from the wall and remember how to use my senses again. Baby steps. Am I afraid of failing? Am I afraid of succeeding? In my prison, my failure is expected, comforting even. I hold onto it, purposely finding ways to keep me in my cell – I am good at self-destructive behavior. It’s like I want to stay here – it’s easy. Success, or even the attempt of it, comes with so many more responsibilities and expectations... more opportunities to fail and with greater consequences. What if I’m not strong enough?

I am weak. I am weak. A priest told me this yesterday, and it hit me with surprising intensity. I am weak. Yes, I went to confession. I felt compelled to go and I’m glad I did. The priest was nice and grandfatherly and opened my cell for me, just a little... just enough to get me started on the process of integrating back into the land of humanity and feelings. He told me that God is forever patient, and He’s always waiting for us to come back to us. He said that we all have dark periods in our lives, but we can always step back into the light.

I need to breathe. I need to write. I need to pray. I need to do all these things. And maybe then, I can slowly ease my way out of my self-imprisonment and into the light.

"He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness."
I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Cor. 12:7-10

Monday, July 23, 2012

Navigating the Friend Ship: Part Two

Acceptance. Genuineness. Raw, open honesty. Unconditional positive regard. High standards, but low expectations. These are the qualities that have come aboard the friend ship lately. They are qualities that were not necessarily there before, or if they were, they were lacking or hiding behind some insecurity or misunderstanding.

But now they seem to surround every conversation Random and I have. It adds a different feel to the communication, this new acceptance and vulnerability. We hypothesize that it is what allows for platonic love* to grow. [*"platonic" here meaning strong, non-romantic, brotherly love]

This poses a very important question: How do you let go of romantic love while at the same time increasing platonic love? Is it even possible? I would like to think so, but am still uncertain. I think the transition from romantic love to platonic love requires a more extensive and intricate use of the heart muscles, a workout I haven't done before. (Can I get a personal trainer for that?)

At any other time in my life, or with any other person, I'd probably have just walked away from this entire thing, letting my wounds close up over the parts of my heart that needed further exploring. Instead I stay, one dialogue at a time, in hopes that maybe my heart will learn a lesson it couldn't learn otherwise. Every dialogue is a mix of nostalgia, discovery, pain, beauty and growth. It's exquisite in its uniqueness; We're walking through mostly uncharted territory, with no guide but God Himself (I wish He'd leave us a map or something... just sayin'). It's not particularly easy.

Perhaps this is why so many people run ashore when trying to ride the friend ship. It's HARD. And not like have-an-awkward-conversation hard, but let-me-tear-out-my-old-heart-and-grow-a-new-one hard.

I'm not sure in what ways it's hard for Random, but for me, the letting go is the hardest. Letting go of our past, and accepting this new way of relating. While Random loves me in this platonic way, a way that still fulfills me and brings me peace, it is intrinsically different than it was before. I'm still adjusting to it. It's not a bad, just different, and it doesn't allow for old feelings or emotional baggage (that has to get checked and processed often.. but that's a whole other blog). So I have to practice letting go. I have to accept the direction our friend ship has taken, which is freer, fruitful and to be honest, kind of fascinating.

Moral of this blog? The friend ship is still a bit scary, still uncertain, still difficult, but so far, still worth it.

We'll see what happens next...

"The art of love is largely the art of persistence." - Albert Ellis

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Navigating the Friend Ship: Part One

In keeping with the nautical theme of my last blog post, I find it only fitting that this one be named such. Navigating the post-break-up-let's-be-friends ship can be a bumpy ride. Luckily, with Random's penchant for all things viking, and my weird love for all things pirate (I mean, they say 'arrr' and have parrots - love it), I feel like we're up for the challenge of riding this possibly stormy sea of unknown friendship-ness.

When we first started the whole "let's be friends" thing, I was definitely not completely on board (ha! I promise, I'll stop with the word play...eventually). I had plenty of doubts and fears that friendship could lead to more heartache and confusion. And there's still a risk of that, I suppose. But I was willing to take the risk, mostly because I felt like God was calling me to. And I'm glad I did, because with each dialogue I have with Random I learn something valuable.

This week I learned, or felt, something remarkable:

For the first time since I've known Random, I feel more free than ever. I feel free to really be myself. I'm not scared of saying or doing the wrong thing. I'm not worried about impressing him. I'm not worrying about whether he's going to call or not or when I'll see him again. I am free of these worries and fears. And without them, I feel lighter and more myself. Now when I'm around Random, I am just me. Simply, genuinely me. What joy and peace there is in that.

My hope is that this new freedom, this openness, will lead to building a stronger friendship (more on friendship building in the next post!). And while it saddens me to think that it took us breaking up before we could be more open and real with each other, I am so thankful for the gift of these experiences (read: social experiments) with him now.

Alas, since neither Random or I are captaining this ship, there is still some fear about where we're headed (on my part anyway), but if we really trust in God's navigational skills, I'm sure we'll end up better off in the end, no matter where He takes us.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Walking the plank.

I was listening to Gotye's song "Eyes Wide Open" and one of the lyrics really struck me:

"We walk the plank with our eyes wide open."

At first I was delighted at any lyric that inspired pirate imagery, but when I let the words sink (ha!) in further, I realized why they struck me so deeply. I feel that "we walk the plank with our eyes wide open" when we embrace God's truth and true love. We know that defending the truth is a dangerous task, one that may lead to scorn, ridicule or hate. And with true love, we go after it, knowing that within its beauty, there is still plenty of pain, confusion and loss to be found.

But in life we are all called to pursue these things - truth and love - even though they may not be popular or easy. If we are brave enough, or as scripture mentioned yesterday, weak enough (since through our weakness Christ's strength is shown), we will work towards holiness by aligning our lives with Christ's mission to spread His truth, and to love each other completely, "without complexities or pride" (Pablo Neruda's words here).

We were made to walk the plank for Truth, for Love, for God, fully aware that had we hidden from our true calling to be radical in this life, we would not have to suffer the pain of free falling into a vast ocean of unknown. Because we could stay on the boat, laughing and carrying on with all the other scurvy pirates, living a life that is easy and uncomplicated. But it would be a life that is empty. Pointless. How boring is that?

So while pirates are awesome in theory, I think I'd much rather take the radical step off the plank and plunge in the icy water, knowing that I can only fall as far as the cross.

"A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for." - William Shedd

Thursday, July 5, 2012

To boldly (and prayerfully) go where no one has gone before.

This is what happens when you break up with someone after seriously dating for 8 months:

1. You go through the always awkward/painful ritual of giving back each others things (trade back his Jesuit book for your Oliver Sacks book).

2. You make the unsettling (and somehow more official) move to remove your relationship status on Facebook.

3. You perform the really discombobulating "last goodbye" as he walks you to your car and you realize as you drive away, you won't be back.

4. Finally, you have the moment when you wake up the day after and realize that no, it wasn't a nightmare, you really did just break up with your heart and somehow the world is still turning.

What follows next is assumed from the standard protocol I've witnessed since watching and experiencing adult dating: once those rituals are complete, you typically don't encounter "the ex" ever again. At least not on purpose.

And that's it. You break up, navigate the socially awkward goodbye scene, and you're done.

That is standard protocol, unless of course you are Random.

Random never has, nor will he probably ever, follow standard protocol, something I appreciate and admire in him.

But because of this difference in Random, I find myself navigating a place I've never been before: The Land of Staying Friends After a Break Up.

When I say "staying friends", I don't just mean acting polite but distant when you happen to bump into them at Whole Foods while buying groceries. When I say "staying friends", at least where Random is concerned, I mean building and maintaining a real, honest friendship that involves talking and platonic hang outs.

Dangerous territory? Quite possibly. Uncommon? Sure. Potentially confusing? You betcha.

Alas, Random and I were nothing if not adventurous (okay, he is adventurous, and I'm just impulsive and prideful enough to accept a challenge), and it seems even after the end of "us", we're not much different. And so we're accepting the challenge of being friends despite the emotional baggage, allowing for the baggage to be present, but choosing to work around it for the possible fruit good friendship can often bear.

So where does that leave us? Charting unexplored territory very slowly, very prayerfully and with the hope that God will lead us where He will.

I'm not sure where this will take us, but if our previous dialogues are anything to go by, I'm just thankful for the spiritual fruit, emotional healing and clarity I've gained so far.

No matter what happens, we are in God's hands, and at the end of another day in unfamiliar territory, that's where I place my trust. In His hands, we're never without guidance.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Only the lonely.

[Originally written 5/14/12] It’s the loneliness that gets me. In the beginning, I woke up with it and went to sleep with it every night. It was there as soon as I stopped focusing on work or too many social events or money issues. It was confusing at first, because well, I guess it never left completely, even when Random was around. You see, loneliness followed him, too; though sometimes when we were really in love, it took a break from pestering us. We could breathe, really breathe, in those moments.

But now that the biggest tidal wave of the grief has passed, the slower waves are breaking. Sometimes I’ll go whole days without loneliness, if I work really hard at it. Then some days, I’ll dream of how things used to be, and it's right back to haunt me. Or when I'm alone and no one really knows where I am, and if I were to be eaten alive by feral cats in my parking lot, no one would know for a couple days... the lonely gets loud then, too.

The absurdity of that last scenario distracts from the underlying truth:

I can’t stand the lonely.

It’s suffocating. It makes me tense up and want to run. Where I would go, I have no clue. I guess that’s why I love reading so much: I can escape, however briefly, the lonely that lurks around.

We were not made to be alone. When I’m alone all I can see are the people around me who are not alone. (Jealousy is very close to loneliness. Second cousins maybe. I hate it, too.)

Perhaps the loneliness I feel, that we're all prone to feel at times, is the result of forgetting what's inside us. God's presence is with us always, even in the darkest of moments. If we truly believe and trust that God dwells within us, who are we to fear such a small thing as loneliness?

It's only loneliness. It's only pain. It's only suffering. It's really an opportunity to cling to God with all our might and remember that in the end, He is all that matters.

"Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labor that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfillment whose limits extend to infinity."

- Thomas Merton