Two weeks ago, I had a paper cut on my wrist. By lunchtime, it was red and a little sore. By dinner, there were red streaks halfway up my forearm. By the time I swallowed the antibiotics in the emergency room, they were past my elbow.
Oh, and a few years, ago, my dad almost died from a staph infection that turned into necrotizing fasciitis in his leg. So when the ER doc tells you he is worried, and lists all the symptoms that would indicate the antibiotics aren’t working, you maybe start to think of all the worst things that could happen over the next 48 hours. (Spoiler: I am fine.)
Fear is a funny thing.
You think you have it tucked away in the cobwebs and corners of your memory, wrapped up with a tidy little bow of scripture and the knowledge of life in the after.
Then you don’t.
And fear unfurls like a waking lion, slowly at first, then with a roar that clears the cobwebs right out and you remember. Oh you remember. And you find yourself in the CVS parking lot at 11 pm, boxed into your dirty minivan with wet cheeks and a shaking heart.
That was the beginning of what has been a very difficult two weeks.
Two days later I ended up in the bed at 3 pm eating cookies and crying over my perceived (in)ability to parent.
I spilled my guts to two different groups of women who care for me and they both said I might need counseling.
I yelled at my chickens. A lot.
I went to war with the Wee Man over squash soup.
In the aftermath, I told the Husband,
“I am not okay.”
Actually, the conversation went more like this.
“Are you okay babe?”
“Well, I gotta tell ya, I’m not great!”
Which led to a much longer conversation about how I am, in fact, not okay.
The fear is still lingering. I conjure up ridiculous, statistically improbable scenarios. I hear stories on the news about child soldiers and I obsess over the safety of my sons and preserving their innocence. I read the stories of refugees and the impossible heartbreak they are slogging through, I imagine myself in their place, and my soul shreds apart with the weight of it and I think to myself:
“I can’t bear it.”
Any of it. All of it.
I’m not okay.
(And let’s not forget that in one year, we moved to the woods,
had a baby …
started a new job, transitioned to four kiddos all under age 8,
and in the last four months have endured lice, pinkeye, mastitis, a broken arm requiring emergency surgery, several bouts of the flu, and a staph infection.)
Really, I’m just telling you this because sometimes it is okay to say that you are not okay.
(And it’s allowed, too, to look at the pictures here, acknowledge and be all gratitude for what gifts we’ve been given, and still not be okay.)
I like to weave for you my stories that have resolution, that have redemption. But I might not have resolution on this one for a while. I’m slap in the middle of this one and I don’t know the ending. Except to believe with all my fearful, shaking heart that it comes steeped in gospel and grace.
But redemption, it always seems to come at a cost.
I’m not telling you this because I need compliments, or attention, but when I messaged my heart-friends from a pile of crumbs, I needed them.When I sat down at my MOPS table the next morning, I needed them. I needed to skip the past the small talk and the appearances of a comfortable, middle class life and tell them that I was not okay. That I was angry and afraid, overwhelmed and discouraged.
I needed them to listen, and love me through it, and they did.
Maybe you need someone to listen to you, to know you are not okay. You don’t need permission to say it. You need to know that there are people who want to listen, and to love you. I will – or direct you to people who can.
So that’s me this Christmas season … not okay. And that’s okay.
(And just maybe not okay is the best place to be at the celebration of a wee Babe who would be the bridge to our after. He who comes to bring joy in the morning, and who, in the end, brings victory over death.)
(Editor’s note: I am pursuing counseling, for those of you concerned. And I ever grateful for navigating this with my oh-so-gracious, wise, and compassionate husband.)