I write to figure out how I feel about things and I share to invite you to be a participant in the process. I am unable to respond to every comment but know that I read them. Also, in my sharing, I am trusting you to not hold my sins or Thad’s sins against us. We are fallible human beings who pray that our vulnerability will be the pathway that leads you to LOVE and LOVE is Jesus.
I am going to tell you about the sadness that is suffocating me because here in this space, I can control the conversation and tell you exactly what I want to tell you.
I am unabashedly hiding behind sunglasses and closed blinds and unanswered text messages because my personality is such that to respond to you is to be wholly honest and wholly vulnerable and wholly unable to practice the art of restraint. I often joke that I am no pastor’s wife because I cannot fake it. Ever. If it’s in my heart, it’s on my face and coming out of my mouth. This trait is both a blessing and a curse.
After four days of joyous homecoming bliss, reality met me after midnight on Friday and broke open within me a torrent of sobs I could not contain. The sobbing continued through the early morning hours of Saturday before I pulled my crap together long enough to buy flowers at the Farmers Market and make it to a birthday party. But as soon as we left the party, the dam broke wide open and I cried all the way home until today, when I simply ran out of tears to cry.
I am broken from the inside out and my chest feels heavy enough to make breathing hard. I feel exactly like a slow, hurtful wave of something I cannot name is crashing over me and I cannot get my footing on true, solid ground before another wave of hurt crashes over me. Truth is blurred and the past feels like one bad dream I cannot wake from and the only good dream I ever wanted is so far out of reach that it is impossible to believe I ever set my life on acquiring it. I feel wounded to the core, like I’m seeing history through a lens that’s altered all my memories.
On Saturday, between the Farmers Market flowers and the birthday party, I devoured The Unquiet Mind and today, I regret ever picking it up. The grief that welled up within me with every page turn was suffocating and finger pointing and the hardest truth I never wanted to swallow. I have spent twenty years loving Thad’s unquiet mind while simultaneously peering into his clear blue eyes trying to reach his heart. Even in college, before the kids and the tumultuous first years of marriage, I had a keen awareness that Thad had chosen me out of obedience to Jesus and not out of a heart in love with me. We had a courtship, not a passionate love affair, which made sense in light of our mutual devotion to Jesus. But I can remember longing for him to just touch me. And this longing is still the greatest longing of my life.
Twenty years of life is shattering into a thousand pieces that I cannot hold because the pieces leave gaping wounds when I gather them up into my arms.
I am bleeding out and Thad cannot stop the bleeding.
And I just want to rewind the tape of our life all the way back to my freshman year of college and look into Thad’s eyes again and know that the cost of loving him will break me over and over again- not because I think I am unworthy of love and affection but because his mind is hardwired to build and plant and pioneer and forge ahead and scale mountains and I am simply not a thing to be conquered. I want to see the real him, the one with bipolar, and know that it’s the illness that will break my heart and not him. I want to know in the pit of my soul that I am loved because I simply breathe and not because I can match his mania or champion his wildest dreams or keep up with the plate spinning.
But I cannot rewind the tape. I cannot get a do-over.
I cannot go back and tell myself the truth. I cannot undo twenty years of wrong thinking or pointless striving or bargaining with God to make Thad slow down and love me. I cannot go back and choose my kids over the next kingdom thing. I cannot go back and hold my ground and refuse to be a willing participant in the frantic madness that convinced me that I was not enough. And I cannot go home.
I cannot undo what has been done.
But I can wholeheartedly grieve what we’ve lost even though grief is the unwelcome guest that I am compelled to entertain. To not, is to invite bitterness to the table.
I can invite Thad into my grief instead of holding him hostage for the things he cannot undo.
I can own my part in our story.
I can weep when the anger wells up into tears instead of words.
I can name the regrets and then let them go.
I can be a truth teller and slay the shame before it ever creeps up the back of my neck.
I can be compassionate with myself.
I can rear my kids in a home where mental illness isn’t a stigma to avoid but a strand of DNA to be yielded to Jesus to be used for His glory.
And I can use the fullness of my broken humanity to point others to the Redeemer of broken things.