Monday, August 30, 2010

Today and the Terrific Twos

So, I started my job this morning. Those two year olds really put it to me. They climbed on my like I was a Jungle Gym, and boy oh boy, do I remember now why that age group is called "the terrible twos." But they're also, and I'd dare they're more so "the terrific twos," because it's been a long time since I've been around such an honest, more loving group of people. Two year olds express their feelings, whatever those feelings may be. They may not be sophisticated expressions, but you know when they are happy, or angry, or affectionate, or frustrated. They are quick to forgive. Indeed, they did teach me a lot.

Fortunately, the lesson of being quick to forgive came to me sooner than today. As I read through recovery literature, specifically Al Anon, I realize the person who I've had such trouble relating to lately--the person who had become a veritable stranger, was sick. It's hard for me to be angry at a sick person. I find it difficult to sustain righteous indignation at a person who is already battered by their own guilt. The more I read, the more my heart softened. That twelve step stuff is powerful! I know the slogans are so familiar to us that it's tempting to see them as cliche, but when I let go and let God, God worked on that person. He didn't need my help or meddling in the process. When I told myself, "Easy does it," the drive to give up on our relationship dissipated, and I found myself with a little patience. Saturday, my Godbaby Ty got married to her first and only love, Isaiah. Love was in the air, and I found my fractured relationship healing by the words we heard in the church, the swinging jazz music, laughter, friends, and good food. It was like Babette's feast! By the end of the day, we were all dancing, singing, and in love.

As you know, my birthday is Wednesday. Books were mailed to my lovies today, and we'll begin our virtual 3D Your Whole Life journey. I'm also giving myself permission to be an artist. I'm looking forward to the new me. Or maybe I'm looking forward, in many notable ways, to the old me; the most authentic me; the me I've been all along, down deep inside.

Not much to report today, so we'll see what tomorrow holds. I'm waiting on Frederica to email me the answers for my interview questions about the Jesus Prayer book. I think you'll enjoy her very much. So do stay tuned. We have other surprises and guests in store, too.

May I say, I'm so happy to share my life with you.

In love,
mair

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Coming Soon: Our "Your Whole Life" Journey!!! Yay!!!!

Okay, so enough depression and sucky relationship failure stuff already. I went to the doctor today and got a suitcase full of medication that hopefully won't take me to darker, more despairing places (sometimes, they do. Have mercy, Jesus!). Of course the doctor said it's very important to get back on my exercise regime. Lovies, these joints of mine are strained beneath this weight I carry. But Wednesday, September 1st is my birthday. My birthday is just like the new year for me, and I like to do it big! Do you know what I want for my birthday/new year, besides art supplies and an Amazon gift certificate? LOL. I want to take a journey that will help me to take care of me. That's right. If I was on a plane, this would be me putting my mask on first, before I can help anyone else with theirs. But you know me, I like community, especially this one. I'm asking a dozen of you to join me in using this fabulous resource:
http://www.paracletepress.com/your-whole-life-the-3d-plan-for-eating-right-living-well-and-loving-god.html

Here's the website: http://www.3dyourwholelife.com/home.html

For the twelve of you who will dive in with me for 12 weeks, you'll receive a complimentary copy of Carol and Maggie's book, Your Whole Life, the 3D Plan for Eating Right, Living Well, and Loving God, and the journal that goes with it. Once a week, on Wednesdays, we'll chart our progress right here on the blog. I don't mean we'll do any weigh-ins or anything. Don't be skeert.We'll just share the journey, in much the same way that we always do. It's a way to testify of the goodness of God as he meets us on this road. If you sign up, you really do have to participate, but I don't think that's too much to ask. Oh yeah. I'll need your mailing address as soon as possible.

I would love it so much if twelve of you joined me. Please, please, please!!! So, who's in?

Much love,
mair

P.S. You don't have to be "substantial" in weight to do this. Thin doesn't always mean fit or healthy.

P.S.S. This weekend my dear friend and soul mama, Frederica Mathewes-Green, and I are gonna kick it about The Jesus Prayer. Don't miss it!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Guess Who Has a Job!

Well, there are benefits to dragging your carcass out of bed and engaging life. This afternoon I got a call back for a job interview at a child care center. It's very close to the house, an easy walking distance. Apparently, God has a sense of humor. I'm going to be working with children.

Truth be told, this couldn't have come at a better time. I need to re-establish a more normal rhythm of life. I think it will be good for me. I think kids will be good for me, and of course, there is the satisfaction of doing work I know I'm capable of, and have years of experience doing. There is a dignity that comes with work. I've missed it, even though I've been writing for six years (work!), but I haven't penned a good word since I turned in X3 in February.

Not that I think a job will magically heal me of depression, but it will keep me busy. I made an appointment today to see a doctor. A few friends have told me, "It's time to see a professional." Not that I didn't know that.

So, there it is. I'll keep you posted. Please keep praying for me. I'm lifting you and your needs to God, even as I type.

love,
mair

3 Things

Okay, so I'm totally stalled here. Blogging is my last ditch effort to climb out of depression instead of just lying down, but I must tell you, climbing out of depression is ridiculously hard. It's like saying, "snap out of it," to yourself, when you know good and well you can't snap anything, much less out of anything. Depression is the great numb-er. But I do have to live. I choose to live, and if I choose life, I may have to do a fine imitation of the living.

Yesterday, when I finally did sleep and wake up, I said I'd do 3 things. Three things are better than the nothings I have been doing. I don't really remember what they were now, but I suspect one thing was to get out of bed. Not only did I get out of it, I washed my bed linens. Nothing like fresh bedding to climb back into when you've exhausted yourself by getting out of bed and washing sheets and a comforter. I got dressed, too. This was a glorious triumph!

I know it sounds silly to talk about my three things as if they were a big deal, but if you've ever gone through a major depressive episode, you know I'm not exaggerating. I have to do three more things today. Oh, I can start by getting out of bed (once I finally get some sleep), but I also have do different stuff. I'd like to finish my friend Frederica's book. We'll be talking about it here in a few days (heaven help me!) I have to complete a project I've been tinkering with for over a year for someone. I feel sooo guilty that I haven't finished it. And it will be good to get it done, and into his hands. That will be one less weight to carry. Beyond that, who knows? I guess we'll see what the day brings.

Winter Always Calls On Me In the Middle of August

Hey, remember that line? It's in my St. Teresa book, God Alone is Enough. So, not only do I have it in my very public writing, it's my experience spanning decades. Usually August is a slow but steady descent into a depression that would have taken all of Autumn to gain momentum. I suspect that the unraveling of an important--and that, my friends is an understatement--relationship gave me an early onset. It feels like dead of winter in my soul. My body is wracked with pain. I can't sleep, at least not at night. Hello, December.

Which begs the question, why am I flattened by depression in the middle of August? It just doesn't seem to make sense that it's "situational". Lovies, I have a LOT of situations, but few take me down as quickly as my current one. Then again, this level of depression always surprises me, as if when I'm well, I forget this exists. Only the fleeting memory of it remains. Much like childbirth. You forget how awful it is, and you go on making love with no protection. And maybe that's a fitting metaphor, since I went on loving life with no protection. As if this was all behind me.

Doctors have been telling me since I was a young adult that I would likely have to take medication for depression for the rest of my life. Honestly, I didn't mind so much. There was a time when I would have trusted medication, or at least considered it to be a necessary evil, but January's misadventures in medications still sting. I'm not as willing to play Russian roulette with my brain. The problem is, a sistah is laid low over here. In some ways, I'd welcome the reprieve meds would give me, even though it would take weeks to see any improvement.  I'd pray, only I seem to have forgotten what prayer is--yeah, yeah, I know the St. Teresa book is about prayer, but you try reading in the dark night. While I'm at it, I may as well tell you I've also forgotten how to get out of bed. And get dressed. And act like I love people, or actually love them. I can't find my sunny disposition anywhere. No masks of serenity hide the numb ache that has replaced the pain in my heart. I want to curl up in a ball and watch television: lose myself in stories made by teams of writers young enough to be my kids. The only way that I know to pray right now is to silently lift this dullness of heart to God. He knows what to do with it. He's certainly had enough practice with depressives, even if he wasn't God.

So, that's where I am. Forgive me if it's arrogant of me to assume some of you may have wanted an update since the last thing I said was that I was heartbroken. The pieces are still all over inside my chest, and I'd advise you not to go in there. It's a mess, a little dangerous, and you could cut yourself on the sharper pieces if you're not careful.

I'm grateful for a God of mercy, one who is used to me and this beast called depression. When I can hear him again, I'll let you know what he says.

Until then....

mair

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

O, Freedom

Oh freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom over me
And before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in a my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free

No more mourning, no more mourning, no more mourning over me
And before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in a my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free

No more crying, no more crying, no more crying over me
And before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in a my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free


 Those spirituals are something, huh? They really preach when you need to hear the truth, even when the truth heralds one of the hardest things you've ever had to do. They strengthen you for the task.

Lately, I've been laid low. I'm facing some devastating personal crises. Without being specific enough to hurt someone I love dearly, I've said in the best way I know how that I see the error of my ways. I'm also open to being made aware of grievous faults that I may not be so clear about. But here's the thing. No one should have to express themselves while simultaneously verbally abusing the person they are supposed to be expressing themselves to.

I'm good at being abused. That's the horrible truth. I've failed in soooo many ways to protect myself, and it hurts me to say, to protect my children. I took too much for too long, and God help us all. But I came back from New Orleans changed, and part of that change was to not being a victim, or "slave", as the spirituals acknowledge. O Freedom is about transformation. It's about detachment from your awful circumstances, and it's also about tenacious dignity. Dignity is challenging me right now. It's saying, "Are you going to stand up for who you are, and Whose you are, or are you going to let someone treat you like crap again?"

I chose dignity, but my choice isn't as strong and powerful as I wish it were. The truth is, I'm flexing muscles I'd forgotten I have, but there are questions buffeting me like, can I just ignore it? Let it blow over? Is verbal abuse ever okay? And what exactly is verbal abuse? Because maybe I was abused so much, I see it everywhere. Or maybe, just maybe, I'm verbally abusive myself. Oh, I may not drop a lot of f-bombs, or say things in a combative way. I'm a woman of many words. I know how to use them defensively. I'm trying to be kind, yet I get swept up in the sea of anger some people around me are drowning in. This has to change.

It has to.

I want to be free. I'm going to be free. I'm choosing to live with dignity and self-respect, expecting people around me to respect me, too. But it ain't easy, y'all. Please, please pray for me, and if you have any wisdom to offer, I'd appreciate it.

And before I'll be a slave, I'll be buried in my grave

and go home to my Lord, and be free.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Beloved....

My Beloved,

It's late, and here we are again, you and I. The house is still, quiet. No one can see my tears but you.

I don't have to tell you that I'm unbearably sad about all this that's been going on. And I don't know what to do. I said I'd live in dignity, but some circumstances seemed determined to strip such any notion of dignity away from you. I've been here before. It is a wretched, terrible place. The hell hounds are at my heels, and a few have come close enough to get a few rabid bites in. I feel their paralyzing venom spreading through me, sickening me body and soul, and I can't help but think, "I shouldn't have let them come so near." Oh, Lord, teach me the fine art of holy detachment anew.

I don't ask where are you, because I know you're here. Nor do I ask where is your consolation. Such isn't always necessary on the journey, not when you're a grown up. One does what is right simply because it is the right thing to do. But that doesn't mean I don't need your help to do it, with or without a palpable feeling of your comforting presence. Beloved, I ask that that you would give me strength. I'm not strong, but you are. I'm not wise, but you know all things. I'm in the dark, and have no idea where I'm going, but you are the way. Keep my mind fixed on you. Help me to do what I must. Give me the grace to endure this trial. Forgive me for my failings, shortcomings, and sins, and help me to forgive those who know not what they do, and even more, to forgive those who know and do grievous wrongs anyway. Help them, Lord. They are especially in need of your mercy.

Way maker; Lover; Friend; my God; I need you. Help me, Beloved. Please.

Amen.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Mea Culpa

Okay, so besides the fact that I love saying anything in Latin, the words mea culpa weigh on my soul today. A good translation in English is, "my own fault." Despite the most ardent narcissism many of us have, myself included, it's never a bad thing to own up to something you have done, or some way in which you have failed. But that doesn't make it easy, or less painful.

I have had many, many bad years. More than good ones. I didn't intend to hurt friends, loved ones, my children, but I did. Some people are big enough to understand these failings. Others are not, and I won't blame them for that. It's just that some people need more than others. It's a fact of life, lovies. I didn't have much to give. Maybe it seemed like I did. I showed up here almost five hundred times--far less than some bloggers I know, but more than others. I wrote books in which I was as transparent as Saran Wrap. That too, in some way, was giving. Hospitality of sorts. But there were years I languished in depression and illness. I wasn't a good friend, spouse or mother. It wasn't intentional, but I hurt some people who are important to me. People I love.

Mea culpa is hard to stare in the face. I think it's harder than I'm sorry, because it's a greater admission of guilt. And yet, maybe it's taken my recent, transformative experience to even begin to deal with my haunting past. A month ago what I'm dealing with now would have crushed me flat.

I was wrong, my friends. I said that I thought the dynamics had changed in my life, and some people were having a predictable reaction, but it's more than that. Some people are just plain tired of me. I can't say that I blame them, but I wish this wasn't so with all my heart.

Time to put those big girl panties on and face it all. It's remarkable how useful big girl panties are, isn't it? And it's okay, because see, I can't turn back the clock and start over doing everything differently. I can only do things differently right now. The same soft eyes of grace that I willing give to others, I have to use to gaze upon myself today. A lot was my fault. I did not mean to harm anyone in my actions, or lack of actions. I am truly sorry.

For the record, in the words that we say at Mass, may I say to you and all of heaven:

I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned greatly in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.
Therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints, and you my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

And may the Lord have mercy. Hang on y'all. This ride may get a little bumpy, and just so you know, to spare some important people in my life any undue pain, I can't reveal exactly what is happening. I'm sorry for that. I'm sure you understand.

In love,
mair

Monday, August 02, 2010

Hope

Endings can be hard. Beginnings can be frightening, but sometimes God sends hope in these thin places between your old life and your new one. It pads softly into your room when you're up wondering how many more sleepless nights you'll endure, pulls the covers up over your shoulders and whispers like a kind mama, "Everything will be all right." You hear wisdom in her voice, and you can rest.

Grace to you,
mair