Friday, January 31, 2020

IT'S BEEN A HARD YEAR

A few nights ago, I hosted a group in my home, and I exchanged the usual pleasantries with people as they entered.  I knew these people well and didn't have the energy to be anything but honest, so when someone asked how I was, I said,

"I'm okay.  It's been a hard year."

This person pointed out that we were only a few weeks into 2020, and we both laughed, because that does make my statement seem a bit dramatic.  However, this never-ending January has seemed to deal blow after blow, and it's ending with a bang.  There have been enough notable things to mark any year, and instead of graciously spreading themselves out, these things have marched through in the span of days and weeks. 🤯

This month I also sprained my wrist during one of my ice-skating lessons while I was trying to learn how to spin.  Obviously, that's a really valuable skill for any 38 year old mother of four to have. 🤣  It's the first real injury that I can remember having, probably because I am not the least bit athletic and never participated in any kind of team sports.  When it happened, I knew it was bad.  I could tell it was probably not broken, but it also hurt a lot.  In that moment, I downplayed it.  I didn't want my instructors to feel any worse, and I joined Bella on the ice for the free-skating portion of our time as if everything was fine.  I didn't want to raise any alarms, even though I could barely unlace my skates and driving home was tricky.

For the next week, I mostly pretended everything was fine.  I took a lot of ibuprofen and expected the bad bruising that began to show up.  It's my right hand, so using it hurt, but you can figure a lot of things out when you have to.  I threw a Waffle Fry Party and hosted my parents and brushed hair and did the dishes.  All the normal things.  And all of it hurt.

When I was at Book Club this week, I showed it to a friend that's a Physical Therapist, and she was a bit horrified by the swelling and bruising that remained over a week after the injury.  She chided me for my total lack of action towards healing.  I naively assumed that it would just eventually get better.  And, it would, eventually.  However, after wearing a brace for a couple of days and icing it, I am seeing a LOT more improvement.

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After all that we've taken in during January, I feel like I'm emotionally sprained.  Nothing is so broken as to require casting or immediate care, but everything inside hurts.  There are so many tender subjects inside my mind that my thoughts are having a hard time navigating it all without my brain screaming out in pain.  Because of the kind of news and the ways that those situations impact me, I can sometimes pretend like things are okay.  I can distract or zone out.  I can get a pedicure or my favorite food.  But ultimately, this is just a season of grief.

I have a natural inclination to avoid all types of pain - going so far as total denial as a coping mechanism.  For better and worse, my adulthood has led me through some difficult paths, and I've learned how to walk through pain, but it still goes against the grain.  I don't want to need a brace or ice or medicine for my feelings.  I want it to all be okay.  I want to live in a world that is not broken.  My longing for heaven only gets stronger each day.  Nothing is fair.

It's been an excellent reminder that I never wanted about how often we are all walking around, going about our normal lives, broken up into pieces on the inside.  This week, my car battery died, and because of that, I couldn't get Violet to a doctor's appointment exactly on time, and it ended up being canceled on us, though we would have only been 15 minutes late.  It was a frustrating situation for any day or week or month.  But I was devastated and so angry.  It took every bit of reserve and Holy Spirit to not yell horrible things at the receptionist who was bearing this news.  I knew I was having an extreme overreaction, and I wanted to explain about how hard everything feels, but it doesn't (and shouldn't) matter to her.  I got off the phone as quickly as possible and dissolved into tears and managed to move past it, because at the end of the day, that stupid appointment will happen eventually, and it will be fine.  My anger was not about the appointment.

So unlike my wrist, I am not pretending like everything is fine.  I've upped my counseling appointments for the foreseeable future.  I have dramatically cut back on cookie orders.  I've let myself off of any imaginary hooks that I don't actually need to do.  I've looked at my calendar to book extra sitters to help, because we just need it right now.  I did a yoga class.  I'm exercising and sleeping and journaling and praying and all the things that I know are healthy.  My counselor was really encouraging about how I am using all the tools that I have, and it does feel good to know that even though I am a little crushed, I am not defeated.

If 2020 has been a rough start for you as well, I'm sorry.  There are a lot of sucky things in life that are far outside of our control.  And sometimes I'm not that great at the stuff I have some control over. This is a reminder to give ourselves some grace.  If we are wounded, we shouldn't pretend that we aren't - that is no way to heal.  Because many of the situations that are grieving me now will be ongoing, I don't feel like I necessarily get to "heal."  But, I get to move forward and find joy along the way.  I get to see the Lord at work in both the good and the hard, which I have to hope that he is making good, even when I can't see it.  I get to join hands with family and friends as we navigate tricky waters, and I'm holding on tight to them.

Here's to February and new beginnings and new grace for each day.  That's another thing I've been working on: taking things one day at a time.  God's mercies are new every morning, and in his faithfulness, he's always provided the strength that I've need each day so far.  I'm trusting that he's good for it.  One day at a time.

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