If you know this song, you know what line comes next: "I'm losing my religion."
And while I wouldn't say I'm losing my religion, exactly, it sorta looks that way.
I'm sharing this battle in the small hopes of it being helpful for anyone in a similar situation. There is no other way to tell it than to jump in with both feet.
I substitute-taught a class at church for the 11 year olds about a month ago. Seeing me in a dress, my three year old looked up at me and asked if I was going to church. When I told her I was, she said, "But you never been at church." That's when it struck me that it had been more than awhile since I'd traded off with Mr. O.
Ty cannot "do" church and hasn't been able to since his battle with chemo and cancer, (although now it's due to the pain of his dislocated hip rather than the nausea caused by immuno-suppressing drugs). To be even more clear he cannot sit for longer than 45-60 minutes and the stress of all those people at church seems to shorten that time to 30 minutes. At school we have a large bean bag for him to lay in, but that's not so easy to do at church. Before his spinal fusion, I used to take him out of his wheelchair and sit him sideways in my lap, leaned up against my chest. I would soothe his nerves by rubbing his back and arms - together we made it through the meeting. Sadly, it's now logistically impossible.
Mr. O and I began switching off staying home with him on Sundays, which worked at first. But gradually I agreed, nay, insisted on being the parent to stay home with him.
It pains me to admit it, but church is not a comfortable place for me. Not that it should be. But.
But I let the hurt of our years dealing with cancer (and the unbearable loneliness I felt) become an anchor on my soul, steadily pulling me under the depths of life. It squeezed the very life out of my flagging spirit.
It was incredibly painful for me to be somebody's service project, on someone's list of "things" to check off, when what I craved was real friendship - so I asked for no contact. That's right, I just said I was experiencing unbearable loneliness and then I asked for MORE loneliness. I know, I'm all about making sense.
I realize that this is painting a very bad picture of me, telling you that I did not handle tragedy with any sort of grace. I felt like God had deserted us (which, hello, there I go again with the not making sense), had slammed us with one thing after another. Even though things have turned out amazingly well and our health, at the moment, seems to be somewhat restored I still felt like that at the time. So I turned to food and let it become my comfort, my support, and my friend. It was a poor substitute.
A year ago, I began to wake-up. I began to catch my breath, to shake the dust off my soul. And I began to re-emerge, albeit slowly, from this shell. I shed layers, both figurative and literal, undergoing a sort of Metamorphosis, if you will.
I am almost ready to go back. I say almost because the thing in my way is my pride. And also fear. Because as long as I'm away it's my choice to be lonely, but as soon as I go back it could become a painful reality. A reality that people stay away because of their choice, not mine. And I'm not sure if I'm ready for that.
I'm not sure if I'm ready for all the elderly ladies to think I've just moved into the ward because they can't recall ever seeing me before (yes, it really has been almost three years). I'm not sure I'm ready to sit alone (even though I know the answer is to pull my head out of my pride and go find someone to sit next to - I mean, what if they don't want me to sit there or they say they're saving a seat? These are my thoughts). And on top of all that, it's embarrassing to admit that I'm prideful.
But I am afraid that if I don't go, the last bit of spirituality, the bit I will need to get me through the next hard thing, the next trial will ebb away and fade into nothingness. And then where will I be? Between a rock and a pretty damn hard place, that's where.
And let's say I'm not exactly ready to be there just yet.