Grace

I don’t actually know how long it’s been since I have written. Time has been weird lately. Everything has been weird lately. And honestly, I don’t know where to begin. I think I said that last time. I am always saying that, but it’s true—I don’t know where to begin. Things have been changing. I am changing. I am tired of suffering, and yet I know that I cannot completely escape suffering. 

About a month ago I realized that I was tired of suffering where and how I was. I was ready to suffer somewhere else in some other way (ha!). I was numbing myself with drugs, alcohol, music, tv, books, sleep, distractions galore. I was sick and tired of my day to day sitting in the same spot in my room avoiding life. Change is painful, but I realized that I was in more pain where I was than the pain of dramatic change. So I jumped. 

And since making that change—the change from my life in Tacoma to life (back) in Tyler—I have felt like a failure. I have felt worthless. I have felt like all I am is a mistake and all I have done is suffer and cause suffering. I have felt lousy. I still feel lousy. And I have continued to distract myself from feeling lousy. This time I have used errands, family time, music (still), and newness to distract myself from how shitty I feel. I have made so many mistakes trying to fill the emptiness I feel—an emptiness that can only be filled, I figure now, by my acceptance of God’s grace. 

It’s funny that my middle name—a name I adamantly go by (as opposed to just my first name)—is Grace because I have a hell of a time accepting it. I can accept my unworthiness; that’s easy, but accepting love despite it? That is the seemingly impossible part. I can see myself as undeserving of love and forgiveness. What I can’t accept is that I am loved and forgiven anyway. Maybe it is the nature of my illness. Maybe it is just who I am. Maybe it is a lesson I need to learn the hard way (and, man, is it hard), but I can’t accept that God or any number of people could love, like, and accept me as I am, or that people and God could forgive the myriad mistakes I have made and will certainly continue to make. 

So what is really going on with me? Who the hell knows? I don’t. All I knew and know is that I could no longer be where I was. My main responsibility in life, outside of myself, is as a mother, and I was being a shitty mother in my own opinion. I was unhappy, and I was unable to find enough happiness and contentment to be the kind of parent I knew that my daughter needed. I was living under the weight of guilt about my parenting. I wasn’t honestly a terrible parent, but I wasn’t living up to my own expectations as a parent because I hated everything. I still feel like I hate everything at times. I feel like I have completely lost my understanding of what love is, if I ever knew what it is. I feel like I have distracted and numbed myself for so long that I have forgotten what love is. 

This makes me a terrible role model, a negligent parent, and an isolated and friendless hermit. You have no reason now (or ever really) to listen to a word I say because I know nothing. I am just trying to find my way through the suffering to some kind of joy. I am trying to find my way from hate to an acceptance of the grace available to me. And it is incredibly difficult. My illness makes it difficult, the circumstances of my life make it difficult. Maybe it is difficult for everyone. Maybe I am just telling you your own story. I don’t know because I feel like I know nothing. 

And I haven’t really said much about it all because I honestly don’t know what to say, and I am afraid to commit myself to anything. I am afraid that if I try to put a name or label on what I am going through, then I will be held to that statement by someone. If I say anything about what I am doing or what I think then I will not be free to change my mind later. And what I really want is to feel free. I want to feel free to move and change. I want to feel free to be the fluid, ever-changing person I am. I don’t know who I am becoming or where I am headed, but I know that I was at a dead end. So I turned around and went back the way I came, I guess. 

And none of you should read too much into this. There isn’t anything being intimated here. I say what I say and mean it. I don’t know what I want or how to get it. I don’t know where to go or what to do. All I know is that I had to make a change. I have to find myself again. I have to relearn what love is. I have to face the world with a clear head and open heart. I can’t hide in my bedroom any longer. I cannot blame everything on my illness nor can I pretend that I am not chronically ill. I have depression, and for some reason I seemingly cannot get rid of it, but I am also still responsible for my decisions. Some things I do because my depression is in control, somethings I do to alleviate my emptiness and blame them on depression. It’s why I keep coming back to grace. I cannot escape that I feel like I am totally unworthy of life and love. I cannot get away from the gnawing self-loathing that tells me that I do not deserve love, friendship, help, or even my next breath. I deserve death and I feel it. I feel it deeply. I am evil. I am broken. I am nothing. And yet here I am anyway, loved, with friends, and breathing.

Two nights ago I was suffering deeply. I sobbed alone in my room (my teenage bedroom in my parents’ house) for 45 minutes solid. My head was reeling, my heart was aching, my gut was churning, my arms and legs were twitching. I was completely consumed by struggle and suffering. And I begged God for respite. I begged him for relief. I begged for it immediately. I wanted escape from my intense pain. And no relief came. I continued to suffer. So I began writing. I wrote a letter to my parents and my sister—the people who are helping me and providing me with the support necessary to make this dramatic life change. I was apologizing to them for my failings. I was apologizing for my existence. It was in many ways like a suicide letter except I was apologizing for not giving in and giving them release from having to constantly rescue me.

I told them that I constantly asked God why he would let me live if I was so shitty at living and didn’t want to anyway. And I told them that God had never answered me. And living with suicidal ideation and no rhyme or reason from my creator was increasingly unbearable. I hand-wrote the letter, and as I was typing it up something happened. I was writing the part about not having received an answer, and as I was typing the word answer (literally after the “an-“) the thought burst into my mind loud enough to make me stop typing: “because I am not done with you yet.” I didn’t literally hear anything, but the thought was loud and clear just like my suicidal thoughts can be. As you can imagine, I began sobbing even harder, and I stopped typing up my apology letter. I just let it all go. 

Honestly, it isn’t that satisfactory of an answer. It might as well be a “just because” answer. But it was an answer, at least it seems like an answer to me. It was something other than the empty silence I had been feeling. I am alive because God wills it. I am alive because God has a plan for my life apparently. I have little faith in my ability to fulfill his purpose for me, honestly. I still feel lousy. I still feel like a complete failure. But I am still alive, and that has to mean something, right? I mean for someone like me who finds herself wanting to be dead more regularly than the average person, my survival must mean something. Right? It has to or else I should just die. If I am not supposed to be alive for a purpose then who cares if I live or die? There is a purpose for my life. There is a meaning to my continual survival despite my inability to fully escape suicidal thinking.

And there is grace. There is grace for all my unworthiness. I don’t deserve it, but if I did then it wouldn’t be grace. I just have to learn how to embrace the grace given to me. I have to accept it from people and from God. I have to learn to love myself again. I have to learn that I am worthy of love. I have to learn that I am forgiven. I have to learn that I don’t have to do anything to be loved—I am already loved despite my failings. I have to learn that I was named Grace for a reason. 

What is next for me? Who the hell knows? How do I end this rambling on my transitional state? How do I begin the next chapter and what will it look like? I don’t know and I am not looking any farther ahead than my next word. I don’t even know what my next sentence will be, but I know that I am moving toward something greater than where I have been. I know that I am on my way to being a better parent. I am on my way to learning what love is. I am on my way to learning to accept the grace that has already been given to me. I am learning to forgive myself for my very real mistakes and I am learning to let go of the guilt I feel for things that are not really my fault. I am learning who I am, and I am going to learn what my purpose is. I am going to not just change, but I am going to grow. And none of this would be possible without grace. And maybe that is why the name Grace follows me everywhere I go. Because I need to remember than despite the lies my depression tells me, despite the mistakes I make in an attempt to escape my emptiness, grace is available to me. I just have to reach out and accept it.

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Backwards

Where do I begin? The beginning? Which is what? This has been a strange week for me. I just picked up and left my home and my life with my daughter to see if I could do better without drugs and alcohol. I was not deeply into either, but I was most definitely numbing myself with them. I was ignoring things with them. I was distracting myself from things with them. I was using drugs and alcohol for a purpose other than fun. I felt like a crap mom. I was loving but that is about it. I was negligent, I was careless, I was uninterested. I was a crap mom other than love and hugs. Those are important but so are baths and healthy meals and clean clothes. I was getting more and more depressed as I saw what I was doing. My world was getting smaller and smaller. I had no friends. None. I had no life. None. I sat in my room all day every day just waiting for the next day. I hardly went anywhere or did anything. I listened to music, read books, watched tv while I drank or smoked or both. I was meditating, doing diabetes care and paying bills, but that is about it. I had no life of my own. I was unhappy. I was discontent. I was aimless. I was just existing without purpose. 

And it had to change. I had to change. So I left. I didn’t feel strong enough to change where I was, so I figured that I would change somewhere else. And the only place I had to go was home. So here I am in my parents house—in my teenage bedroom—writing about change when it sort of feels like I am in the exact same spot I was at 20. Living at home, sitting in the alcove of my bedroom, trying to figure out where I belong and what I want in life. It is a drag to be honest. This isn’t fun, even if it is comforting. I want to just be more than I am. I want to be driven and successful. I want to be normal and independent. I am none of those things. I don’t know what I am at all. I feel like a failure. I have failed at adulthood. I have failed at life. I don’t feel suicidal but I do feel like non existence would at least be less painful than this. 

I don’t know where to go or what to do, so I am focusing on what I have to do, which is take care of my kid as best I know how. Be a good parent. Get her into school, get her with a doctor, give her baths and brush her teeth, make her read books, and play games with her. I don’t have to do anything immediately but be a good parent. A better parent than I have ever been. And once I get that going I can figure out what is next. 

Going backwards to move forward is difficult. No one wants to go backwards ever. But here I am back in my room at my parents’ house. Sitting in the same alcove where I sat as a teenager. Looking out the same window with the same existential questions: Who am I? Why am I here? And I don’t know the answers. I don’t know who I am or why I am alive. But I am someone and I do have a purpose, I hope. And I guess that I had better keep looking for the answers unless I want to keep having to go backwards.