Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day 1070: Turn Up The Heat

This is a long one.  And painfully honest.  You don't have to read it.

I didn't post yesterday.

And I'm not going to.

It's not that the entire day was that bad.  I spent it much like Thursday--cycling through a whole range of emotions over and over again, with bits of Friday's experience thrown in as well, where I would think about the tragedy and just cry.

But, mostly, I was trying desperately to stay on top of my own struggle.

I've had a lot of feelings and impressions and it's difficult to put them into words properly.

Basically, I feel that the heat has been turned up in the refiner's fire.  Just when I start to feel pretty confident in a few of the most important areas of my life, circumstances string together in just the right way to test me in those very areas.

I've recently been reflecting (and patting myself on the back) quite a bit on what a great relationship HH and I have.  We really do.  But, there is a certain set of circumstances where the great communication and selflessness we share with each other crumbles.  Fairly quickly.

We're in the midst of that very set of circumstances.  And everything came to a head last night.

Hold that thought for a moment.

I've also been pretty pleased with my progress here in battling depression.  I felt like I had a lot of thins sorted out and that I was kind of permanently above a certain threshold.

It feels so shallow in light of the Connecticut tragedy, but the truth is, I've been really challenged by the prospect of not being able to exercise for three weeks.  I believe I've already fessed up to having an exercise addiction.  I thought I was doing a good job of keeping it in moderation, now I'm not so sure.  I've struggled with all of these panicky thoughts related to the issue and it's been a struggle.

Add that to the ongoing sleep deprivation and then the crumbling of the idea of being in a near-perfect relationship.  All of this was swirling around all day leading to this final breaking moment.  And then a complete collapse.

I sunk and I sunk fast.

And I quit.

None of my new thought patterns or techniques for challenging negative thoughts and beliefs worked.  Because none of them mattered to me any more.  Dare I say, it was almost as if I was embracing the old depression?  It just felt easier in some ways.  Which sounds a little crazy, I know.  Especially, in light of how fantastic my recent happiness has been.  But, it did feel easier.  It's familiar.  And giving into it means I don't have to fight.  And when I feel so down, I don't feel like fighting any more.

And so, I was done.

I know--I know you're probably thinking about all of the recent "breakthroughs" I've shared here.  All of my new mantras.  All of my new found hope and joy.

I thought of those things too.  And then I pushed them out.  Telling myself that it wasn't to be.  It was a wasted effort.

Because, I quit.

There was a part of me so hurt and disappointed that the rest of me was thinking and feeling this way, but that only added to the awfulness of it all.

And it happened so fast!

In a last ditch effort, I got out of bed to write in my journal.  The hurt and disappointed part of me knew that if I could sort through all of my thoughts, I could find that hope that felt so completely and well, hopelessly, lost.

HH stopped me then.  He was aware of the problem between us (both share in the responsibility there) and thought that if we could talk it out, everything would be fine.  He had no idea how far I'd fallen.  Talking things out was good.  We may have finally solved yet another recurring source of conflict between us.  It's not one that arises very often, but like I said in the beginning, it's one that always causes a problem when it does.  And in the light of today (even though we came to an understanding last night, I was still to tired, hurt, and depressed to really have faith in a positive outcome), I can see the blessing here.

In the refiner's fire for our marriage, we're that much closer to ridding ourselves of one more "impurity".    Making us that much stronger.  And I know that it has been our struggles, far more than the things that come easy, that have made our relationship as strong and amazing as it is.  But, the heat never feels good in the moment of purification.

And going back to last night, I still felt completely hopeless and awful inside.

Sleep is always restless and elusive on nights like that.  So, I was awake a little after 5 this morning contemplating and wallowing in the yuckiness of last night.  I knew I needed sleep, so I tried in vain to get it.  Then fed Darling A when she woke up a little bit later.  Tried again to sleep and eventually gave up and decided to write in my journal after all.

I'll be honest, even in the midst of my devastation, I sort of expected that cheerful optimism to pop out again in my writing.  It's been a powerful force during my transformation thus far.  But, this morning, it was gone, with my hope.  I wrote a horribly honest, raw, and depressing entry.  I kept waiting for things to make sense.  For my mantras to pull me through.  For my reminders written and posted all over my house to matter.  For something, anything to be enough to bring the light of hope back.

But, it didn't come.

Until I remembered one of the small reminders--remember to use the Atonement (of Jesus Christ) at the beginning of the struggle (rather than after struggling on my own for a long time first).  But, how to go about doing this?  I wasn't quite sure.

And so, I prayed.  A simple prayer.  Letting the Lord know that I felt completely at a loss, but I wanted to have that desire to try and be better again.  That I knew that somehow, in a way I cannot comprehend, He can and has made everything in my life right.  I didn't know how to access that healing grace, but I knew that through His infinite power and wisdom, He could grant it to me.

I was without hope, but I had just enough faith.  And honestly, I kind of expected it to be this instantaneous relief.

It wasn't.

I felt a tiny bit better as the Spirit whispered to me that I was finally heading in the right direction.  But, I was a long way off yet.  So, I read my scriptures.  I love the Book of Mormon.  But, the chapter I happened to be on today was about a war and I didn't really find anything there to soothe my soul.  So, I turned to my lesson manual and was not at all surprised to see how fitting today's lesson was in light of current events: Righteous Living in Perilous Times.  I know there was no mistake in the Lord's timing with that.

And as I read, I also knew that there was no mistake in all of the interruptions all week that meant that I had been unable to read the majority of the lesson until this morning.  It was precisely what I needed this morning, and would not have affected me the same had I read it any earlier.

And it was in this simple last bit of a sentence where my healing began, "...the price of peace and happiness is righteousness."

That is it.  All the Lord requires of me in order to provide me with peace and happiness is my righteous living.

Thankfully, he didn't say "perfection."  Because, I'm a long way from there.  But I am striving to live righteously.  And the Holy Ghost instantly confirmed this with a warmth in my heart.  And let me know that I do qualify for that peace and happiness.

It still took the better part of the morning for me to be able to let go of all the hurt, anger, fear, disappointment, and darkness.  But, gradually, I did.  And the more I let it, the more the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ healed my heart.  I don't know how to explain it.  I only know that it was only through His grace that all of that darkness was replaced with light and as I write this tonight, I feel once again, peace and happiness.

And going back to the refiner's fire--this was a personal purification.  It was horribly painful.  I thought I wouldn't survive it.  But, the Lord knew not only that I could, but that I would.  And He knows that of all the lessons I'm learning, this one is the most important.  Because when all else fails, the Savior will never fail.

John 16:33--“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” 


Becky said...

One of my more memorable answers to prayer was "You're enjoying wallowing in self-pity, so don't pray to be happy, pray for the desire to be happy." And once I asked for help to change my desires, it came.

I didn't read that lesson until this morning (for some reason our ward is "off" and we'll never get it - which is too bad), but that line "the price of peace and happiness is righteousness" was my favorite. It's true.

Peace comes from being obedient, joy comes from serving others - two lessons I learned a few years ago during the Christmas season that I try to remember all year.

Hope you enjoy a peaceful week :)

Cheryl said...

Becky--Such great advice! Thank you. And thanks for the reminders. Those are two lessons I'm still trying to internalize.