Thursday, August 13, 2009

That's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight....

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.


Phil801 said...

Hey cuz, I KNOW how you feel! Having been through some of the same things, but not to the extent that you have, I've experienced a lot of what you're describing as well. It makes me sad for you/us because it's a result of our human condition. We had a break, moved to a new ward and had a new shot - and we still have a very hard time going each week. In fact, I don't think we've been through the full 3 hours in a very very long time.

My heart goes out to you. The struggle to come out of this funk is a tough one. Just know that He knows your heart and that He will always welcome you back in full, no questions asked. My attitude is to not give a rat's butt what the people at church think of me, they don't know me and don't know what i've been through. I don't care if they think I'm inactive or a Jack. The only ones that matter are my wife and Him.

Start small, goto RS and then leave. Do that for a couple months and see where it takes you. That's my unsolicited advice at least :)

Phil801 said...

Oh yeah - Love ya tonz!!!

Roblynn and Rebekah said...

Thank you for sharing your story on your blog, that is not pride it is definately humility. We always like to think we are the "only ones" who have had this experience it is great to see were not alone. When my 17 yr. old son was arrested and sent to jail for five years I was devastated and refused to go to church. The funny thing is it was not the people at church. They don't even speak the same language I do! I was angry at God and thought I would get even. Seems silly now, but a year ago it made tons of sense. Pain tends to make us all react differently. In the BOM they all got really humble and religous when things were rough, some of us are backwards. Anyway again thank you for sharing, glad to know I am not alone.

Kristina P. said...

I appreciate you sharing this. I have gone through various periods of inactivity in my life, and honestly, since moving my schedule, all I want to do on the weekends lately is crash, and I haven't been going every week like I should.

I hope they do nothing but welcome you with open arms.

Nancy Face said...

This was so honest and sincere and heartfelt. Thank you for sharing your feelings with us. I wish you were in my ward...I would LOVE to sit next to you! (((HUGS)))

Queen Scarlett said...

I love watching your meta-shmorphosis... it is ...and you are beautiful.

You could always move here and be my neighbor. ;-)

Let's face it... we all have pride... pride is like my little friend with ridiculously big guns. ;-)

Mrs. Organic said...

Phil - You know I love you man. And you do know what it's like, you've had a baptism by fire. I need to come get Adria for a girls' night. And for me, RS is the hardest part.

R & R - I think I mostly felt upset with God. In fact, I think I'll add a post script about it. I'm wondering how things are for you now that you have some distance from the event. Have you been able to come back?

Kristina - it seems to go in cycles, doesn't it? The only time I've really struggled with it previously was when we were newlyweds and all we wanted to do was play on the weekends. And by play I mean go on road trips and visit places we hadn't seen before.

Nancy Face - Thank you! I know you would.

Queen Scarlett - Thank you, I think I'm almost in your neighborhood this weekend. Pride is a tricky little devil.

Elizabeth-W said...

I've been there. All they way down that path I've been there. It led to a lot of big choices I might not have made otherwise.
Wear a cute dress that shows your hot self off, and get yourself there.
Big hugs!

b. said...

Oh how this post rings familiar...I've been a place that feels like this.
"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 get it. I've gone back, but feel like a stranger every week.
I think about you every Sunday. Because I know this has been a challenge for you for quite some time. There aren't any easy answers for this struggle...just know you really aren't alone, even though it feels like it.
I'm a FIRM believer that God knows, understands, and loves anyway.

Mrs. Organic said...

EW - and you made it back, that gives me hope. Thank you.

b - I'm banking on that last thought. One of my biggest (irrational) fears is that the RS is going send around a clipboard for people to sign up to sit next to me. Yes! I'm another service project.

Elizabeth-W said...

Or, that they don't even notice. THAT would be worse.

The Lazy Organizer said...

I have had some struggles lately too but I never stay home because of my kids. We just go to Church because that's what we do and I could never give my kids any other idea about it. It's a good thing I didn't have a good excuse to stay home like you do. It would have been a LOT harder then.

I have been learning a lot this year. I have learned the difference between "I" and "myself". They are not the same person you know. "Myself" likes to make all kinds of bad decisions but "I" don't have to let "myself" go through with them. "I" always have a choice to ignore "myself" and do the right thing.

Ok, sorry if that was way out there and completely uncalled for but "I" couldn't control "myself" this time.

Mrs. Organic said...

EW - true, that.

Lara - You're right, "I" tell "myself" that all the time. Only mostly, myself is a horrible listener - I'll keep working on her.