Happy New

It’s been exactly 16 months since I published anything on this blog.

What have I been doing all this time? Remodeling. Mostly figuratively, but also literally:

Over the past year and a half, we’ve tackled a number of moderately challenging homeowner issues that have sprung up in our new house: many aggravating plumbing problems, a situation with the AC unit, and a full reclamation/restoration of our basement floor space thanks to water damage. It ended up being quite a blessing in the long run: now our kids have a fresh, clean, bright, huge rec room to play in, and it only cost us the deductible for our homeowner’s insurance… which was still $1000. Due right before Christmas. Yeep!! But without that insurance, it would have been SO much more expensive.

And we refinanced our house right before, which supplied a bit more wiggle room in the budget right around this time of year.

How’s that for Providentially generous? 🙂

However, these endeavors pale in comparison to the number one priority that has taken up most of my extra attention over the past 10 months: our thirdborn child, born this past February.

Baby Percy
Thirdborn–a little girl.

A perfect little GIRL to follow up my two darling boys. I have been absolutely enthralled ever since (daddy, too). Her brothers are generally pleased with her existence as well, so bonus!

Of course, enthrallment does not obviate the required toll of sleeplessness (and the constant adjustments to home life) that accompanies the parent of just about any child under 18 months. That, paired with ((mostly)) finishing up the marathon of potty training with my firstborn, starting the whole process again with my secondborn, beginning our first “official” year of homeschooling in the fall of 2019, and taking on more part-time online teaching work, accounts well for my absence ever since February.

But what about before then? After all, the whole preceding fall and winter are blank on this blog, too.

That brings me to the more figurative remodeling process I’ve invested in since you last heard from me. Do you remember my account of the severe psychological breakdown I experienced last summer?

It was bad. Very. Very. Bad. In that post, I bluntly confessed my profound need for serious help and announcing the beginning of my quest to get it.

16 months into that quest, I can now tell you: I have achieved some great triumphs.

So much darkness lingers in my heart and mind, still, it must be prefaced. However–my ability to perceive that darkness without succumbing to it was non-existent before.

And now–now, I can.

There is a book I’ve been reading–that is, trying to read, fraught will immense delays thanks to the demands of parenting–since just right about before little Percy was born on the fringes of spring. I haven’t finished it yet, but thanks to my husband buying me my own copy for Christmas (I borrowed it from the library nearly half a dozen times, returned it late nearly every time, and still barely made it a few more pages forward each time before now), I’m about halfway through. It’s called All the Crooked Saints, and it’s by Maggie Stiefvater.

(Whom I already adore for her work in The Scorpio Races, btw, which I would recommend to absolutely anyone.)

All the Crooked Saints is about nothing more or less than dealing–or not dealing–with one’s mental health. Being a narrative fiction, of course, it doesn’t call it that: it has a more appropriate, helpful designation for the battles we all face–or don’t face–inside our own heads.

Darkness.

Understanding what darkness is–or not understanding it at all–is what makes the story a whole lot more compelling than the pitch I gave you two paragraphs up.

I bring this to your attention because, if you really want to know what the last 16 months have been like for me, I will point you to this book. What it describes will give you a far more accurate and truthful and full perspective of my passage during this time of silence than I think I can create for you here in my own words.

As a brief glimpse, though, allow me to quote a few excerpts:

 

“The miracles at Bicho Raro always came in twos.

The first miracle was this: making the darkness visible.

Sadness is a little like darkness. They both begin the same way. A tiny, thin pool of uneasiness settles in the bottom of the gut. Sadness simmers fast and boils hard and then billows up and out, filling first the stomach, then heart, then lungs, then legs, then arms, then up into the throat, then pressing against eardrums, then swelling against skull and eventually spilling out of eyes in a hissing release. Darkness, though, grows like a cave formation. Slow drips from the uneasiness harden over the surface of a slick knob of pain. Over time, the darkness crusts in unpredictable layers, growing at such a pace that one doesn’t notice it has filled every cavern under the skin until movement becomes difficult or even impossible.

Darkness never boils over. Darkness remains inside.

But a Soria could draw it out and give it form.”

“…The second miracle was this: getting rid of the darkness for good.

No one wanted to see their darkness made manifest, but the reality was that it could not be fought until you saw its shape.”

 

Could

not

be fought.

 

Until you saw its shape.

 

I have seen the shape of so much of my darkness, finally, through the work I have done–through the work God has accomplished in me–over the past 16 months.

I used a great deal of therapy from a licensed trauma counselor to begin. So much was exposed and untangled and sat with and understood, peacefully, for the first time.

I gathered a number of vital tools from those sessions, tools that I have needed for decades. And I used those tools to go to work.

I began to remodel my faith. I began to remodel my relationships–first with each one of my children. Then with my husband. Then with my extended family members. I began to remodel my sense of self, my sense of worth, my sense of joy, my sense of belonging. My sense of goodness and peace and righteousness–what those things really look like.

I finally, just barely, began to taste and see that the Lord is good.

And it has changed so much.

I can’t tell you where this journey or process will end, because I am squarely still in the middle of it. I have a LONG road, or roads, to go. But I am so happy, and so very content, to finally be ON this road.

I have wanted to be on this road for a long, long time. I feel like I have finally, finally launched.

And the blessings of just that have stacked up and overflowed in my heart and my life abundantly more this year than I ever could have hoped.

I am abundantly grateful.

 

Thank you, Lord.

 

Happy New Everything.

–GM

 

2 thoughts on “Happy New

  1. I am intrigued by how you describe seeing the shape of your darkness. Is it just sharpening discernment to see the lines and everything in a more black-and-white lens? Also, what tools specifically helped you to see this and remodel all of your relationships? I wish you a faith-filled and wondrous year ahead and congratulations on your little darling!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! If anything, I might say it involved learning to see in color, rather than always in stark, desperate black and white. If you read the book I quoted (which I suspect you too would love, btw), many people’s “darkness” isn’t actual darkness at all when manifested, but rather some impossible physical manifestation with any number of colors, textures, and other sensory aspects: for instance, an enormous snake binding two people together. A carpet of monarch butterflies overlaying a wedding dress, their wings drenched in rain. A man with a coyote’s head… etc. The thing about each pilgrim’s darkness is that is is a personalized manifestation of a deeper, spiritual problem each one faces. Seeing the shape of one’s darkness means that you have finally truly begin to understand the essential nature of that very personal, unique source of trouble that has been hounding you inwardly. You finally comprehend the nature of what drives it, what gave rise to it, what perpetuates it, and what other problems it creates.

      Some specific tools that helped me see the shape of my darkness was, firstly, multiple counseling sessions with a licensed professional who specializes in helping people deal with traumatic backgrounds. For the first time, I was able to discuss the nature of the childhood abuse I suffered in detail, intentionally, at length, with a trained guide at my elbow who could help me understand its effects more fully, as well as point the way toward healing. Some of the specific techniques she taught me involved training my body to relax through breathing properly (it is both more involved and simpler than I had previously understood), developing personalized self-care rhythms, learning how to express myself authentically without weaponizing my emotions against others (specific turns of phrase to use, different vocabulary to choose), how to stop and focus on calming myself physically when I feel a rush of rage (I have since come to refer to this as “getting off the hamster wheel”), how to mentally and emotionally prepare and plan for stressful situations I see coming… I could go into more detail about how I applied each of these things, and there’s more, but I don’t have too much time to comment right now. 🙂 I hope to blog in more detail about each one in future, though!

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