About a year after I wrote the poem I shared with you yesterday, I wrote this one:
i miss happiness.
the loss is a hot sting of tears behind my eyes
that I cannot cry.
it is the bitter taste of gall
acrid and severe behind
the last tooth in my mouth.
pictures scroll by on the LCD
that has become my view to the outside—
memories that i should be out making more of.
instead i am here.
making words and sentences and pictures
for other people.
how surprised they would be—
if they could see behind this mask
that i choose to wear.
so nice they think.
i am bereft.
i am battered.
i am beleaguered.
i do not willingly surrender
the battle easily—
but i am ready to go.
leave this entangled mess
to those who care
and who well deserve it.
i want to be done with the politicking and pleasing—
the ever striving and cramming
the never endingness of it all.
because it won’t.
i would like to wake up gently
to forty-nine and a half inches of boundless energy
and be able to match it.
i would like to have one series of days
with no pain
resulting from my efforts and labors.
i would like to be thanked simply
and sincerely one time
from an unexpected friend.
i would like to release the flood of sorrow
that has been building all these many months—
in screaming unfettered release.
and watch it wash without effort
down the slick enamel and chrome
in a swirl of bubbles and foam.
i miss happiness.
like a sojourning pilgrim.
longing for home.
One poem a year. Neither of them particularly inspiring. It was a real reflection of where I was headed. This was the year that the expectations began to weigh heavy on me. The year I began to see the impact on my physical health.
At one point, I was hospitalized (in one of the hospitals I worked at) with necrotizing pneumonia. In an isolation unit where you had to wear a hazmat suit to come to treat or visit me. While in the hopistal, I continued to receive emails and calls from work about projects: asking when they’d be done; asking why I was behind; asking when things could expect to be done. That should have been my sign (if I had missed any previous ones).
What I didn’t do right here, was draw a line. I didn’t set boundaries. I didn’t say – “no, this behavior is not okay.” I just kept answering emails and messages and making promises to do my best to get the work done.
Even after getting out of the hospital and getting over the pneumonia, my health continued to struggle. I had migraines that would last for weeks; I began to develop unexplainable joint pain – and that was just the physical. For the first time in my life, I began to sink into a real depression that clung like quicksand. Even worse than the depression were the accompanying feelings of wanting to end it all that would sneak up on me like a dark shadow. Walking by stairwells and wanting to throw myself down. Dreaming of knives flaying my flesh after an escalated encounter with a coworker. Yet at the same time, my fighting spirit was ignited. I didn’t want to let them win. I didn’t want to let them beat me.
As much as I called out to God during this time, I often felt as though I was pinned beneath a small dome – captured without room for movement; all prayers and cries for help hitting a close ceiling and bouncing back on me.
In the midst of your trouble, remember these words from David. No matter how alone we feel in our circumstances, God is still with us in the midst of it.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
Psalm 25: 16-21
I often described the last eighteen months at my job like being in an abusive relationship (with the dotted line department) – and I don’t say that without forethought, understanding, or without knowing the weight of that comparison. But this is all I want to say about the job – because the tragedy of that job is not the point.
No matter what your desert is – or in my case, the time before walking into the desert – you have to know when it’s time to let go. I was so sure that if I left; if I walked away; then I was letting them “win.” But winning isn’t the point. Being healthy, doing what’s right for your survival, being safe in your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual person is what’s right.
God may call us to turn the other cheek, but I don’t believe that He calls us to be doormats and punching bags. Know when it’s time to walk away.
Tomorrow: Be Ready to Hear Him Speak
I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. During the 31 Days Challenge, I'll be using the hashtags #desertjourney and #inspirationalandfaith80 if you'd like to join in or follow along. Let's continue the conversation!