Christmas Blues

The holiday season is here and in full swing by this point. Last week I set up my tree and decorated it. I bought stuff to make Christmas cookies this weekend, and I started wrapping (too many) presents yesterday. And the presents put me over the edge. I finally realized that Christmas is really here and the mixed emotions I always experience came to the surface. We do so much for this holiday, but I always ask myself why. Why do we put so much effort into this one arbitrary day? Why do we invest so much time, effort, and energy into making this holiday so big? Would we really miss it if we had never experienced it? If there was no gift giving, tree decorating, caroling, or cooking, would we even care?

Is it because of the “magic” surrounding out childhood Christmas experiences? Is is the excitement of (too many) presents and movies and sweet treats? Do we want to recreate the belief that this day is special?

I know that for many of us it is the opportunity to be with family. For some of us it is the selected day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. But we don’t need Christmas to celebrate either of those things. We could do them without presents and trees and cookies and hot chocolate and carols. I prefer Thanksgiving for celebrating family, and I figure that if we celebrate Jesus we ought to do it more regularly than on his culturally assigned birthday. But we do it all in this season. And we overload it all with all these unnecessary trimmings.

All the stuff, and the obligation to do all the stuff leaves me feeling empty. On December 26 it is all just a mess to be cleaned up.

I secretly don’t trust people who seriously love Christmas because I don’t understand it. I don’t want to sing carols or dress in red and green. I don’t want to watch Christmas movies or drink hot chocolate. I just want to love my kid like I do every day and enjoy the time off work to spend extra time with my family. But I do it all. Because I feel like I’m spoiling something otherwise.

And depression makes it tougher. Depression tells me that there is magic to be felt, but I’m just not good enough to feel it. Depression tells me that my inability to get jazzed about “White Christmas” or “Jingle Bells” means that there is something wrong with me. It tells me that my inability to experience joy by giving (too many) presents means that I don’t care enough about the people I am giving them to. Depression tells me that the emptiness I feel is a flaw.

The holidays are stressful. We have high expectations but cannot control the outcomes. We cannot guarantee that we will have enough money or time to do it all. We cannot guarantee that friends and family will react how we imagine. We cannot guarantee that this will fix anything. We just put in effort and hope for the best. Sometimes the pressure becomes too much and we snap. Or sometimes we cannot escape the memories of people we have loved that are gone. Sometimes we force ourselves to play nice for someone else’s sake and we grow bitter. Sometimes we are just alone. It isn’t all bright lights and candy canes. But we keep pretending that it is.

And that is what I dislike so much. The pretending. We pretend that it is wonderful when for so many of us it just highlights our inability to feel happy or joyful. And we feel even more pressure than normal to pretend. If we don’t love the trappings of the season then we must not love family or Jesus enough. If we don’t think this is the most wonderful time of year then we are scrooges. And if we don’t have big Christmases with friends or families then we are failures.

But Christmas is just a day that we have built up into a season. Christmas is just some peoples’ escape from the rest of the year. Christmas is just a day. And it will come, last 24 hours, and then pass away. Just like every other day.

I may be a scrooge. I may be bursting the holiday bubble, but I am terrible at pretending. But I know that I am not the only one. I know that Christmas is hard for many of you. I know that many of you feel pain at the loss of loved ones or the inability to go as big as your friends and neighbors. I know that I am not alone in wondering why we do this to ourselves.

If you are hurting this Christmas season, know that you too are not alone. And the day will come and it will go. Whether you have a tree or presents or church services or big dinners, the day will come and go and life will go on as it did before. You are not a failure if this season is not picture perfect. You are not a scrooge if you don’t have a tree and presents. And you are not any less wonderful if you cannot wait for the season to end. You are beautiful and important everyday and no holiday can change that. No amount of celebrating on this particular day will make you more loved or special in the eyes of God. Be strong. Stay afloat. Keep pushing forward. This day will come and go. Just like every day before and after. And if you struggle more than usual on Christmas, know that you are not alone. You are valuable. You are worthy. Don’t let the season beat you. Sending you all love and strength whether you love Christmas or loathe it.


Reading Junky

Today I got a book in the mail that I ordered last week: Junky by William Burroughs. I read it for the first time when I was 19, just a couple of weeks after my 2001 suicide attempt. I may have even bought it beforehand; I don’t quite remember. What I do remember is reading it on the porch in Florida where my parents and I went to rest just a couple of weeks after we left the hospital where I was treated for my overdose. In fact, it was probably the first book I read afterwards.

It is a fictionalized telling of Burroughs heroin addiction in the 1940s. It reads a bit like an anthropological study of junky culture from that time. But what I remember is how it struck me as being so straightforward; how he spoke with such authority about his addiction without being dramatic. He seemed so even-keeled for a heroin addict. He seemed so wise and intelligent despite his choice to use such a serious drug. It didn’t make me want to use but it didn’t try to scare me off either. It wasn’t a warning or cautionary tale. It just stood on it’s own as an account of that time in his life.

This struck me so profoundly because of where I was in my life. I had just gone through the worst moments of my life and I didn’t know how to process the fact that I had tried to kill myself. How was that supposed to fit into my life story? How was depression supposed to fit into my recovery? How could I face what I had done and the lingering desire for it to have been successful? How could I build a life when I had done a hell of a job trying to end it, when I still didn’t know if I could face the monstrous challenge of healing?

And Junky taught me how to go forward in some weird way. I learned to just accept what I had done as fact and truth and keep going beyond it. I learned to be objective about it as best I could. I had to see it as something that happened rather than the defining truth of my life. I had to learn what I could from my actions and draw conclusions about how to proceed. I had to be smart. I had to be thoughtful. I didn’t have to be right but I had to be sure. I had to know that I wasn’t facing an existential, defining, divine moment of celestial truth but an illness with causes and facts behind it. I had to be honest with myself about it without lambasting myself for it. I had to study myself and my life to find my way through.

I was a wreck then. I wasn’t able to just pull myself out of it and focus on the facts of the situation, but I figured that if Burroughs could be so matter-of-fact about his addiction, then I could learn to face my own illness with a level head. I didn’t have to just react. I could eventually think and observe my past to try and make some sense of what I had done and why.

Most importantly, I didn’t have to regret what I had done. I just had to accept it as having happened. And accepting the fact that I had become sick enough to attempt suicide without having to believe that I was weak or bad because of it became foundational in my recovery. I began to see myself more clearly as mentally ill rather than strictly flawed. I didn’t hate Burroughs for using heroin despite his refusal to romanticize it. I loved him for just speaking so honestly about it without trying to set my opinion one way or the other. I loved him for his directness and unflinching confidence about himself and his addiction. And I wanted to be like him. Loving Burroughs in all his ugliness made it seem okay for me to love myself in all of my own.

I learned a lot from this little book about heroin. And most of what I learned had nothing to do with drugs. It was all about how I was to face my demons. It was all about how to comprehend the darkest parts of my life and how to move forward without hiding them. I learned to hang on to the dark parts of my life as necessary for understanding myself. And I gained a lens through which to process the choices I had made without subjectively labeling them.

I’ve always seen Burroughs as wise not for his comments on heroin and addiction but for his attitude toward his own life. And I have always admired him not for his lifestyle but for his words about his lifestyle. I began rereading Junky, and I was overwhelmed by the idea that Burroughs’ thoughts on his addiction played a hand in keeping me from attempting suicide again at 19 when I could hardly escape thoughts of it. I always thought that if he could step back and speak authoritatively about his life then maybe I could be the authority on my own. If he could make sense of himself then maybe I could make sense of myself. And that, in itself, certainly isn’t something to be taken lightly.

Sunday’s Truths

Once again, I feel like I’m teetering on the edge. Keeping half of my life together and letting the other half fall apart. Trying to stay upright but wanting to lie down. Maybe it’s the winter. Maybe it’s the shorter days. Maybe it’s the divorce. Maybe it’s everything. Maybe it’s just me being me as always. I watched my talk at this year’s Peace of Mind conference (linked in my last post) last night, and I am really proud of how we did. I think it was well done and will be useful to someone somewhere. But here I am back in the mud, not deep, but it’s up to my knees. I’m living the life of a single, working mom, and I guess that could be enough to do it. That could be what has me questioning myself and my grip on reality.

And, honestly, I feel afraid to admit it. I am afraid of disappointing my family, my friends, my colleagues, all of you. Honesty is what I do, but is there a place for it in my life now that I have all of these responsibilities? Can I be myself when I have to appear strong in order to keep my child, house, and job together? Can I show that part of me longs to just let go? Or must I maintain that I have it all together? It’s why I don’t write. I live in so much fear of disappointing someone or losing what I am barely grasping on to.

The fear overwhelms me. I am afraid that I am not enough. I am afraid that I am too weak to keep this new life afloat. I long to return to the fog of my former self, sitting in my room alone with no one depending on me. I want to just stop it all and catch my breath, but there is no time to rest. There is no time to pause. Life goes on, and I’m trying to participate this time around rather than just observe. But it is hard.

It is hard to get up and go day after day. It is hard to work, clean, care for my child, and handle the emotional stresses of beginning fresh. I already feel stale. I feel alone. I feel like a disappointment. I feel so much shame for what I cannot handle. And I try to hide it for fear of losing what I have. I am afraid of being seen as an unfit mother or worker. I am afraid of being labeled as crazy when I am just what I am. I cannot be more. I have never been able to be more than I am. I am not strong. I fight. I don’t quit, but I also don’t understand why. I don’t get why I keep it up. I just do.

And I’m constantly looking for purpose and meaning in the things that happen in my life. I wonder why I am where I am. Why I would be back here rather than off somewhere else living fully with no regret? I wonder why I have returned full circle after 15 years of wandering around. Why have I found myself living and loving the same things when they have all changed dramatically and I am still just me. I try to be more and different, but I am still some confused wanderer seeking existential answers to my never ending whys.

If I ever seem to have it all together, if I ever seem to have conquered my demons, know that I am just playing the part I feel I’ve been dealt. I’m struggling like everyone else to know what is right and what the meaning is in chance experiences and encounters. Why do things happen the way they do, and when will I understand the course of my life? When will it make sense? When will God show me my purpose, and when will the suffering end?

And aging makes it worse. Ugh. Being 36 is such a drag. I’m too old for this shit. I’m supposed to have somethings figured out but everything is in chaos and I’m as alone on this journey as I was as a teenager, but now I’m dragging my precious child along with me as I wander through the wilderness of my life.

And I know I’m not alone in these feelings. But I also know that not everyone understands either. Some people do have things figured out. Some people float on top with each future step in clear view. Some people know where they’re going and why. So why am I one of the wanderers when I just want to be normal? I don’t want to be a sufferer. So why do I have to be? I want to focus on the goal but I’m too busy looking down at my stumbling feet trying not to fall.

And this all just momentary rambling that I will ultimately regret having said. Because of the fear that won’t let go. The fear that being honest is going to cause me to lose it all. But here it is because if I don’t say it then it will eat me from the inside out like acid. If I am not honest and fully myself then I cannot keep stumbling along at all.

One of my longest and dearest friends told me recently that she thinks my purpose may simply be my unflinching honesty. That maybe that is why I am here. That maybe my compulsion to admit my flaws and suffering is why I am the way I am because too much of this life is lies and half truths. Too much of what we see and hear is not the honest, raw truth of the matter. But I don’t know any other way. I can’t live in secret. I can’t keep to myself. Every time I try I get too close to dying. I begin to burn up and fall away into ashes. So I scream my weakness for all to hear. And it’s the only way I know how to survive. It’s what keeps me going. Being honestly and completely the torn, broken woman who perseveres for an unknown reason is all I can be. And I wish I could be more, but I honestly can’t. I just can’t be detached or cool. I can’t pretend, although I try. But I always fail because my truths come pouring out of my mouth despite my best intentions.

So take me or leave me. Hate me or love me. Admire or reject me. It doesn’t make a difference. I just stay as I am and do what I do.

I often say that others should try being so open, but it isn’t easy. I only do it because I can’t help it. I can’t get away from my big mouth. I say too much too often. And I refuse to be ignored. I scream my pain and shout my joys. I say I love you and I am vicious when angry. I am fully the woman I was made to be whether I like it or not. Full of questions and unsatisfied with partial answers. Demanding truth from others despite their unwillingness to give it. And it makes me feel annoying at best and loathsome at worst. Some people come closer to me because of it and others walk away. And I feel the sting of rejection too much to keep speaking and yet I do.

If honesty is why I’m here then at least I’m doing my job. And maybe it takes a bit of insanity to do it, and maybe one day I’ll learn to appreciate it. Maybe one day I’ll understand how rare it is in this life. For now it’s just Laura Grace being Laura Grace again, throwing caution to the wind for a moment of catharsis despite the growing fear. Despite the risk. Despite the loss. Despite the devastation. I am nothing but this person you see.

Keep going, and if you need to be honest for your own self healing, go for it. I can’t promise that it will feel good or will make things better, but maybe it will dilute the suffering. Maybe you’ll find truth through your own honest admissions. Maybe you’ll experience loss or maybe you’ll find something new and better. But I do believe that embracing who you are fully while striving to be all you were created to be is the best way to go through this life. Or maybe it’s just the only way I know to get through. But keep going. Whatever it takes. Keep walking or running rather than lying down. Fight to find happiness despite suffering. You deserve it. We all do.

Peace of Mind

Here is a link to the talk my dad and I gave at this year’s Peace of Mind Tyler conference. It turned out so well and tells the story of my first depressive episode and how I have learned to live with depression. Much love and healing to you all.

Again and again. On and on.

This has been such a weird year. And I’m in a weird place in my life. I’m too old for a quarter life crisis but too young for a mid life crisis, so once again I’m doing things my own way and having an uncommonly timed crisis. I’m not really in crisis. I’m in rebirth. And birth is painful. Rebirth is worse because it’s painful but also comes with a big dose of shame at the failed previous try at life. Ever tried swallowing your pride at the same time that you’re trying to inhale your first breath of new air? It’s kind of terrible. At least it feels terrible. In reality, the chance to start over and try again is wonderful. It just feels terrible and painful and shameful. I see everyone else seemingly succeeding while I step back (way back) and try again to make a go of things. And it’s scary because I don’t know what will happen. Will I fail again? And again and again? Will I ever get it right? Is there such a thing as getting it right? I’ve always been my own self—beat of my own drum, etc.—so why do I feel so much internal pressure to conform to generalized versions of success?

And I felt so hated until I stopped caring so much about being hated. It’s my life and I would rather make good choices that make me hated than stick with the wrong choices that keep in in someone’s good graces. And I miss some things. But I don’t miss enough to turn around. And I don’t like some parts of this new life, but I like enough to keep going forward from here. And that all has to be good enough. It’s all a crap shoot. I’ve always thought I was doing the right thing until depression slaps me in the face making me see the mire I’ve put myself in (again and again). First it was college. Then it was grad school. Now it’s marriage. I couldn’t get any of it right. And yet I (foolishly?) keep going for some reason unknown to me. Because I don’t know what else to do. Give up? Die? I can’t do that. I’ve been trying to not do that for too long to do it now. I’m supposed to keep going. So I do. No matter how painful, shameful, terrible. Just keep moving forward toward a purpose I hope to discover.

And it’s all to much to try and totally wrap my mind around it for now. I can’t just sit and contemplate my life right now. It makes me feel like I’m going to explode. So I just take it a day at a time and work through what seems like a sea of tears by this point. I just try not to drown and hang on to each daily task. Wake up. Care for Ada. Go to work. Cook and clean. Laugh with family and friends. And think just a little. And cry just a little. And sleep. Then start over.

I’m somewhere I never expected to be. Again. I’m someone I never thought I would be. Again. And yet I’m just the same. Every bit of this is authentically me. I change constantly just like everything else. Except I tend to lean into change. I jump off cliffs. I leave everything behind for fresh starts. And some people tell me those things take courage. I tend to think they take the desperation of mental illness. But maybe the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Maybe I have courage because I understand desperation. All I know is that I feel the desperation far more intensely than the courage. Just like I feel the pain of this rebirth far more intensely than the wonder. I don’t know where I’m headed other than vaguely forward. I don’t even make plans anymore. I just keep going. My plans are always circumvented. My path always diverges. So I just go with it. And try to make the right choices when I have the courage. Or make the necessary choices when I can’t do anything else. I just go on. And on and on. And I’ll keep going no matter where this life takes me. As long as I have the strength and am given the grace to move forward, I will. So here’s to the pain of rebirth. It’s better than the alternative.

Blessings and Kindness

I’ve been busy lately and too tired to write when not busy. I just finished my second week of work, and I’m two weeks away from moving into my own apartment. My daughter is loving her new school, and I am enjoying my job. I have been social, I have been mostly sober, and I am feeling good. My life has changed quite dramatically since August 1 when I arrived back in Texas. I am happier and healthier. I am more productive and more content with myself. I do still have days where I can’t stop asking myself, “What am I doing?!?!?!?,” but they are fewer and farther apart. 

The constant sun is helping; being with family is helping; work is helping; getting out of the house is helping; refocusing on my priorities is helping; getting out of my head is helping. Things are going well, although it is a bit strange to be back home living in my old room and working at my old job. But I am not my old self, so it is different. And moving into my own apartment in a couple of weeks will certainly help shake things up.

I am also speaking at the Peace of Mind Tyler conference again this year, which is on October 7. Last year I read a chapter from my book. This year I will be participating in a longer interview segment with my dad where we will discuss what it was like when I was initially diagnosed and what it has been like for me and my parents living with my depression. I am really hopeful that it will be an insightful and helpful talk for families struggling with mental illness. 

I have been so fortunate in my life that my parents believed that my illness was just that—a real illness and not a flaw or sin. Secondly, I have been so blessed with such a supportive family. My parents and sister have repeatedly helped me when I have asked. I have always had a place to go and encouragement and support to get healthy. I have it far better than a large majority of mentally ill people, which I understand has given me a leg up in maintaining my balance. I struggle with taking my medicine at times, like many depressed people, but I also have a strong drive to work on my health through behavioral therapy and mindfulness. Others struggle much more with their motivation to do these things whereas I have always been engaged in these forms of treatment.

I have been so blessed in my life despite my illness, and I would even go so far as to say that I have also been blessed through my illness in certain ways. I understand mental struggle. I understand desperation. I understand hopelessness. And my understanding of these things has allowed me to connect with others who are suffering. My illness, combined with my family’s support and my ability to communicate through writing has given me the ability to help other depressed people find hope, peace, or connection even briefly. And I am so grateful for my opportunity to contribute to others’ healing in some small way. 

I am so pleased with what I am doing in my life at this moment. I am putting my daughter first, and that feels good. I am reconnecting with my family after several years apart. I am working for the first time in 7 years, and I am rediscovering my ability to live independently. I am not numbing myself with drugs, alcohol, or media. I am not sitting in the same spot in my room all day every day. I am not sobbing in my bed at my loneliness and hopelessness. I am meeting new people and keeping up with old friends. And everyone has been so supportive of my journey. I have been so humbled by people’s concern for my wellbeing and my happiness. I only hope that I can return all of the kindness I have received.

I would love to see any and all of you in the east Texas area at the Peace of Mind Tyler conference on Saturday October 7. I will be speaking that morning and will also have a book table set up. If you come, please stop by my table in the morning to say hello. I love seeing old friends and meeting my readers. You all are such an encouragement to me on my journey. Much love to you all.

If you’d like to attend the Peace of Mind Tyler conference, you need to register at this link, but it is free of charge to attend. I hope to see you there!


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.