So if you’ve read even one of my blogs, you probably know I seem to be incapable of emotional camouflage. Many years ago I recall reading a book about “how to be a writer,” where I found the following quote about my craft:
“There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”Red Smith
Opening an “emotional vein” seems to be my M.O. when it comes to writing, so in that spirit, here goes…
I’ve been in a dark place for a long time. Some who know me well could tell something was wrong, but as with all those who struggle with dark emotions such as depression and anxiety, I’ve become a master of emotional disguise. So why am I interrupting your day with this seemingly insignificant detail?
Well, the fact is, I feel myself slowly (VERY slowly) crawling out of the self-imprisoning cave where I’ve been hiding. I’ve been praying a LOT, and with that has come a lot of tears. Sometimes I didn’t even know why I was crying, but yet the tears fell. I’m being honest here, and as usual, I don’t exactly know why I’m baring my soul, except to say I know there are many of you who have also been in a dark place.
I still have my moments, and in fact, have had to talk to a couple of my buddies recently, telling them straight up, “I’m not doing well, bro, I need help.” So my approach to this despair was two-fold:
- I’ve been seeking the Lord about it. I wish I could say I have meaningful prayer every day, but that’s not exactly the case. I do try, though, and have at least 3-4 amazing “meditation sessions” a week, where I listen to worship music and pray.
- I’ve been reaching out to friends; two in particular. I’ve been in this long enough to know I can’t survive on my own.
You must understand, I’m 55 years old, and nearly 40 years into this “chronic pain and depression” journey. That’s decades of self-imposed exile, and as some of you know, it can literally drive a person crazy if you let it.
Last night I was talking to the family, and as I’ve been a TINY bit like my old self, was telling a story. Feeling a tad adventurous, I fell to the floor to further illuminate the tale I was spinning. Friends and loved ones are so used to me being stiff as a board all the time, barely moving except with much discomfort, due to my many, many chronic pain issues (I won’t bore you with my laundry list of problems; that’s a blog for another day). When I gently hit the floor, my wife said, “Oh my goodness, honey, are you ok? Why did you do that?” And it hit me:
I’ve not been myself in a long, long time. I used to be SO animated; my cousins and childhood friends will tell you that. I recall being able to tell a story with verve and gusto, capturing the imagination of the listener.
Over the years, however, I’ve let myself get further and further beat down. Well, guess what?
I’m slowly, painfully slowly becoming more like my old self again.
Long ago I shut the door on much of the person I used to be, in attempt to hide from the agony and keep others out. Now, however, I can feel that door BARELY open, and in the darkness, can see a sliver of light filtering through. It’s a process, for sure, but I refuse to give up. I keep telling myself the following:
- God loves me more than my human mind can fathom. Psalm 17:8 says, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings.” I assume you’ve heard that expression “apple of my eye,” used to describe someone really precious. Well, that came from the Bible, and is the descriptor King David used to describe the way the Lord feels about us.
- I am greatly loved and adored by my family. It’s easier some days to concentrate on the darkness, but hints of light tell me I’m cherished. Here are my tell-tale signs of love: my grandchildren running into my arms, my kids giving me a big hug, and my wife’s eyes lighting up when she sees me. Yes, the tendency is to keep my mind on the bad, but I’ve been telling myself there’s far more good, and I’m nearly convinced.
- As my Uncle Aaron says, “Until it’s my time to die, nothing can take me, and when it is, nothing can keep me here.” This tells me the darkness I’ve been lumbering through will not destroy me. In the name of Jesus, nothing can.
So I trudge on. The movie Knight’s Tale defines “trudging” as “the slow, weary, depressing, yet determined walk of a man who has nothing left except the impulse to simply soldier on.”
Ha, that describes me right there. And thus, I shall soldier on.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King Jr.
Would you like to join me? Darkness can only defeat you if you let it, so keep fighting, and don’t give up. Who knows? You might just re-discover the you from decades-past. Blessings.