So after a really crummy and tough day like today, like this past weekend, and week like last week, I've had a thoughtful thought: the saying "it gets easier as you go", I think we tend to misinterpret. (Well actually the first thought I had about that saying, I shouldn't repeat but it rhymed with schmull-schmit). I myself, have always interpreted this to mean, "It's hard now but eventually, life mellows out a little and it's not so tough." I suppose this could be true...but how for anyone, anywhere in life (except for really rich people??*) is this evidently true? I really do have a positive point to this, so bear with me; I realize I am coming from feeling like a hunched over troll, mumbling angrily to herself, and needing very badly to get out and turn back into a Normal Niki, instead of Momster.
Jim and I have known each other for about twelve years; we've been married for eight, and with children for five...Never ever in the course of our relationship has it been fairy-tale-esque or "easy going" or even really, consistent. The only consistent we've had is chaos. Now, I'm not saying that's good or normal or that it's someone else's fault that our lives have been this way; we made choices that obviously affected our lives that made it chaotic. (Um, like moving to Denver so one of us could attend full-time graduate school in one of the most competitive programs while the other worked a full-time insane job, enter in that later, school-attendee would be carrying three jobs with field placements, and we would have a baby in the second year. Just for example. Yet...we wouldn't regret those choices for a moment.
What I am speaking to here, is that thing that we humans do sometimes when we say, "Well, once he gets a little older, then we'll be able to ___ and it'll be easier." Feel free to plug that in with any of the following: get a new job, have more family time, move to a new home, lose weight, etc. Now to be clear, I'm not saying that it's bad to have goals and dreams; we often do need things to change before we can really soar. I can personally say, that up until August of this past year, I feel like all I ever said were those lines because the little home we were living in was chaotic, overstuffed, and under-loved. And, there were times when we were so (arbitrarily I'm sure) poor, we could not afford to eat much (though I will brag and say that there was this one series of weeks that our lunch every day was 8 oz of cheese divided up for a whole week, and we'd put it on saltine crackers...I was quite pleased with myself that I made that stretch) and could certainly not afford to go anywhere or even drive. There were times I physically couldn't drive because I was either pregnant (too fat), we couldn't afford the gas, I had a broken ankle, or we didn't have a car that fit everybody in it. I know what it feels like to be going to work full-time and wondering what you're really working toward, living for, fighting for etc., when you know that all you hold dear is just waiting at home or with someone else that you feel should be you. I know what it feels like to feel that immense guilt that you're a "part-time" mom but then to have that pale in comparison to the guilt you might feel if you're finally at home with your kids, and all you want is out. All along, I reflect on feeling like, "It'll get easier...it has to...We can't live like this forever." That was not that long ago, really. And it was true--it was not good to be living with constant hardship. We could've made some things easier for ourselves...I think especially if our mentalities wouldn't have placed such an emphasis on A Land Hoping For A Future Where Things Are "Easier", kids are older, and jobs give more money which are great things. Who doesn't want that? But then you miss...living. I can attest that, if you're not careful with this kind of hoping, you might miss opportunities to love and to be grateful for even the purgatory you might be in. I'm not saying, "SUFFA, SUCKAS! It's the HOLY thing to do!!" C'mon--give me more credit than that! I'm saying that, I myself, am a Whiner. I can always, and I mean always, find something to complain about. So imagine me, The Whiner, in these said situations, which are just a snippet of our humble walk thus far. I was NOT grateful much of the time. I was NOT grateful at the time to have experienced depression and suicidal-ideation; I was NOT grateful for the relationships I burned when I was in that place, nor was I grateful at the isolation my husband and I often felt when I was constantly pregnant and alone, and he was constantly working and dealing with me being so needy and exhausted.
For some reason, God has granted that we get to have those little scenic rests however, and on this particular one (this day of the Toilet Epiphany), I saw a vast past of toil stretching behind us, and couldn't believe all that we've encountered. People get divorced for less these days, dude! But mostly that, my hope should not be in hoping for "easier" ...I mean, I'm just a normal schmuck, and I'm always gonna wish that things would stop being so hard, so exhausting, and so freakin' insane--who doesn't in these times?! And I'm definitely not saying, "Be like ME--care-free and enlightened...!" Because...I'm actually a basket-case with low-lying anxiety, and a tendency towards depression**...But, I now recognize that my hope can be peacefully and comfortingly placed on the green slopes of, "It gets better."
Why do I think that? I guess I forgot to say why--bad writer! Bad! *wrist slap*. Well, that's the best part: after my depression that was seemingly short but very...devastating, I felt like I'd been flipped inside-out and what was to show, was not beautiful, not a palace of humility, joy, or anything worth offering. I really thought, I was not really worthy of anyone's friendship, of being my kids' mom, or my husband's spouse, and certainly not someone who had insight. (Yeah, yeah, yeah--I know--it's actually ANNOYING to write it out loud: the self-loathing that comes with depression sometimes--I annoyed myself! Bear with me though...) I share this because, while anyone can see that these things were mental because they were not true, when you're in it, there is nothing in the world to convince you otherwise. What's worse is that when you're depressed, you have what I've heard referred to a "sad but true" type of insight; you honestly call things as you see them, and you're usually right but the way you internalize them is all wrong. Bleh to you, depression! I kicked yo ASS! So the point is, I had myself totally convinced it didn't get better; that this is who I was going to be. Forever. But then, I had this really wonderful best friend*** explain that they needed me and that our kids needed me, and that I needed to get my head out of my self-loathing butt, and move forward...I'm not sure how or when I decided to listen to him, but I remember that it all swirled around me and hit me hard and fast; I had the realization that I was doing horribly, and that this was the part where I did anything it took to get better because we all deserved that. And that's what I did. I took the medicine I so reluctantly had encouraged hundreds of previous clients to take to get better; I went to therapy (reluctantly), and I sought spiritual direction (this one not so reluctantly). It did not necessarily get easier...I fought tooth and nail and blood and sweat to stay present those days when I was so depressed I couldn't even afford the motivation or the anxiety it caused me, to move dirty dishes from the stove onto the counter (like six inches away). I fought back more depression when I finally looked the devastation in the eyes after the wake The USS NICOLE had left; broken friendships, damaged relationships, and confused kids, and given my previous role of "the one that never breaks", I'd scared the living scheiss out of a lot of people.
Little by little, I gained enough confidence to say, "it's getting better...I am feeling better...I see things differently." I'll never ever, as long as I live, forget two things I discovered in spiritual direction (the one I was the least reluctant about): 1. What is feels like, to be embraced by Jesus, and 2. What it feels like to know you have worth, even in your own littleness. One of the absolutely fantastical things that I received from my truly horrible job, was bed-bugs. It was the norm that Case Managers worked with clients of all types of ailments (tuberculosis, scabies, lice, bed-bugs etc) and we never thought much of it. I had been working with this family of five; I could see the bugs crawling around and it never occurred to me, that they sitting in my office, could leave one or two...or a bunch. Anyway, unbeknownst to me, I brought the Demon Bugs to our home at the time and thought that I was having a weird allergic reaction because I was really really pregnant with my third baby, and I was always having weird side effects. The color red used to make me puke. I was the only one in the house to ever be bitten (and drained *insert cheesy laughter*) and for a full year, we never saw the little life-sucking turds. I'm not kidding. It was so oddly contained that every exterminator that came to kill them was shocked and always had to comment on how crazy it was that I was the only one to be attacked. I didn't think it was crazy; I was covered in bites almost up to my neck and felt like a leper. To make matters worse, even our support systems that we told this to, were a little uneasy to be around us, which was understandable but still sucked. A lot. We were basically asked not to come visit and if we did, I felt really badly about it the whole time. I got a taste of what my severely mentally ill clients felt like all the time, everywhere they went. Needless to say, this was not news I was shouting out to the world, so imagine my terror when I needed to share this with my spiritual director, to give her a fair warning. It had kind of become a way to push someone away I think, before I was rejected. I shared this with her and do you know what she did? Without saying a word, she stood up, walked over to me and hugged me shockingly tight, I just burst into uncontrollable sobs. That was Jesus in a skirt, I tell you. I've never been in any other emotional state at any other time to have felt so rejected and then...so full of worth and love.
I'll also never forget the other part to that feeling of worth: often in my days, I try to stop and "listen" in prayer for like, a minute (don't judge...a minute's a lot in Crazy Mom Land). On one particular day, I was really really struggling to stay present; I was tempted to give into my anxious fog and put my head in my hands. I threw my hands up in the air and said, "What should I do?!" I sat well, with my head in my hands for a long time. I started to stand up and heard, "Fight. Fight for this. Fight." Over and over again. "What the HELL does that mean?" I asked. "That's great; the first time in years I feel like God is actually on speaking terms with me, and I don't know what the heck that means." Then, like so many other times in my life when the cartoon-like bricks hit me in the head, it hit me: FIGHT for these little loves. FIGHT for your dignity; FIGHT for the worth I, your Father, created you with. Don't give in." Once again, I was brought to my knees on our dirty floor but with more strength than I'd had in years. I realized, this was a feeling I'd never actually experienced--this desire to discover and invest in my worth and dignity in God's eyes...I mean I thought I had but you know, you don't know yourself until you're really pushed to the edge, far beyond the safety of where you've functioned.
(Note: please DON"T pushing yourself to ANY edge...
Second Note: If you know my husband, please don't ever approach him and be all, "Hey dude--heard that three years ago your wife brought home the bugs--SUCKED to be you, huh?" It's um...very humbling to admit that and I'm sure sure sure, Husband will not be pleased, not at all, that I've shared this...But it's MY blog dang it. And it was MY blood they took, the little Devil Leaches...*insert Kermit Face*...So please--don't make me sorry I shared it.)
I just remember being in college and being so happy, so ready to die for Christ at a moment's notice, ready to be turned into some fantastic martyr. I'd thought, "I'm a virgin, I'm not bad lookin', and have no lucrative job--I'm a PERFECT fit for martyrdom!" But never in my wildest silly little holy dreams, did I imagine what real vocation, real patience, or real sacrifice actually meant. Vocation: as in--it's a commitment you sometimes have to make, every few minutes or so because, if you don't, you'll dig yourself a pool to get a pool-boy, and run away never to return. (This is not really a fantasy of mine; I hate swimming and I think the term "pool boy" sounds either so pre-pubescent it smells like high school B.O., or so cougar-like I wanna vomit...But you get the picture.)
Patience: the actual definition actually has to do with suffering with another while they go through their debacle, hurt, or pain. It's not simply a matter of "waiting-happily-bouncing-smiling". It's more like, a commitment to endure, even thought it will cost you a lot.
Sacrifice: There are many religious pictures that conjure up an image for this word but I tell you what, it really should feel like carrying a cross sometimes. And no, I don't mean it in that fatalistic-annoying-it's the only way-kind of way. I mean, I used to hate that saying and I get really annoyed when I hear people saying it to this day, "You just need to carry your cross", like it's a toilet hall pass or something...something that can be easily placed on a shoulder, and easily lied down. When I stopped trying to make "sacrifice" something so glorious, or pious, or whatever, it made sense in my own life: it really is just doing that which you never choose to do yourself, or desire to do, and doing it with love and forgetting about yourself. Sacrifice is NOT: thinking how cool you'll look carrying that cross...Though I'm sure Simon thought an awful lot about how uncool it looked to be carrying a giant bloody piece of tree next to a supposed criminal...And then I'm sure he thought about not wanting to look like a pansy not carrying the cross...not being able to hack it. I love Simon. I get him. I hate suffering; I hate when there's not enough tissue in the stupid bathroom and I'm thinking of how I can use a used Oil of Olay facial wipe before I realize I'm being the epitome of lazy. But more than anything, I love Simon because he is the epitome of this question we as Christians ask ourselves: "Am I Simon, who is carrying this cross because that is the right thing to do, or am I Simon, carrying the cross because I love this Man and I'll fail to carry this a whole heck of a lot but, I'll be damned if I don't carry this for Him, and try to get to that place of deliverance and learn to truly love by the the time I get there"?
Well this got a whole heck of a lot deeper than I intended for a Monday night--sorry! Where's the jokies, where are the ridiculous stories?! Sorry folks--sometimes I gots to write from the deep..but to bring this around, let me say this:
So when I say these things, I am not coming from a place where I have just expected life to be easy; I am coming from a place that I have understanding within the little trials we've been given to see that, it does get better. See? I'm saying that through all of these things, there is always and will always BE difficulties for we are not of this world. Yet, I fully believe it can and does get better. Though I am not where I want to be in a lot of areas (like the abdominal area, for example), I am a woman I am so grateful to be. I see that I strive for genuineness and authenticity, and am not (as) afraid to be humbled anymore (unless it's at Sam's...I hate being humbled at Sam's...*insert* Kermit Face from previous post). I love the woman I see me to be, and am. I wish she had more tact...a little more class, and better timeliness...But in general, I feel great hair, a flair for humor, and the ability to drink a lot of margs kind of makes up for that...? If you've made it to the end of this post, be assured, there is humor to come. And, you should win a prize...some sort of prize, yes. Leave a suggestion of what kind of prize you'd like. I'm fresh outta ideas.
*Please, if you are a really rich person, don't be offended; I'd love to hear how things stopped being tough and got easier and then, would appreciate it if you sent me money. Preferably in twenty-dollar bills. And I'll say it like, monies, as in the way I would demand it of you in my Mexi-Can accent.
**Nobody freak out, or feel the need to constantly assess me. That was nearly two years ago--LOTS of therapy and drugs. (The legal-not-brown-hut-legal-kind). I'm in GOOD hands. Psychologist-Husband, remember? Plus, I have a decent amount of insight...And the drugs really helped. I loved those little anti-depressants like they was my own son.
***Best Friend: aka, my wonderful husband. He is the one who had the courage love me with his whole heart, and to say what he did, and to be patient with me in the truest sense (remember, "to suffer with"?). He rocks my socks. He's either a) a serious sucker or b) a def good judge of character...I'll go with b.