Here’s what my computer desktop looks like. I think I took that picture a week or so ago, though, so there’s even more stuff on it now. I seem to have lost the skills to help me be organized.
So. It’s March. Specifically, the end of March. March has swept right on by in a haze of sickness, sleep deprivation, and stress. I’ve been sick three times and am at the tail end of a nasty flu, which came complete (and raging) with congestion, coughing, a sore throat, fever, chills, body aches, a cold sore, an eye infection, and laryngitis. It’s been a largely miserable five days, but there is nothing quite like coming back to the world after illness. Everything is shinier and a little more bearable with one’s health restored.
There’s a thing inside me, a darkness, a brokenness, anxiety, depression, thinktoomuchitis. I always end up with the same conclusion. I must be a horrible person. That must be why life is so hard, why I am never satisfied, why I continue to want despite all my having.
I always thought I was alone. Then we went to this place. Church. I shudder when I hear the word church, much like I cringe when I hear the words Jesus, blessed, and worship. I’m a recovering Catholic. Up until a few weeks ago, it’d been 16 years since I’d set foot in a church for something other than a wedding or funeral. Church was not for me. It never felt right. It never … resonated.
But life had gotten hard. Too hard. Hard to the point where I felt like giving up. It’s hard to feel so broken in a society that just wants to gloss over all the ugly stuff. It’s hard without community. We looked online. We found a Unitarian Universalist church. We showed up a few Sundays ago. A nice little old lady gave me a name tag and I told her I hadn’t been to church in 16 years and that I was raised Catholic. She looked at me kindly and I knew she understood and she said, “Welcome back.”
I listened to the reverend deliver a sermon about how our lives are stories of returning to love. How we are born wonderful, curious, creative people, and little by little, life wears us down and we become fearful. He said things that I knew to be true and I fought back tears and I felt the collective brokenness and strength of everyone in the room. It’s true. The service was an invitation to skip over all that glossing of the truth that we are so fond of doing and to dive right in to the center of our own broken hearts.
Even better: no talk of Jesus or Mary. No shoulds. No thou shall nots. No sitstandkneel, no meaningless or empty rituals, no guilt. No Bible verses.
Instead we talked about love.
It was wonderful.
And it resonated. We’ve been three weekends in a row and it continues to resonate. It’s a place where I feel safe. I have never felt safe in church before. There is some great mystery I am finally beginning to understand, why people make small pilgrimages to their churches once a week. I get it. Even though I don’t know who or what God is or even if God is.
I am attending the church of the human experience, where we set free our joys and our sorrows. My own life is a story of returning to love and I welcome the journey.
I am gainfully employed again. I’d like to say that I have achieved my childhood-turned-adulthood dream and am writing for a living, but I’m actually just waiting tables again. It’s hard work, and I’d actually forgotten how physically demanding it is as well. I don’t guess I ever would have foreseen myself taking on a food serving job when I left the industry over five years ago, but that’s because I was sold on a whole bunch of bullshit that turned out to be … bullshit. And yet I struggle constantly with being back here, giving up my weekends and my nights, putting up with shit from customers (and managers and co-workers), all for the almighty dollar and how to use that dollar to make things happen for my family. It’s humbling. Knowing it’s not all about me anymore pushes me to work harder and to do more, though, because at home I’ve got two ragtag little boys who need us to get our shit together.
I don’t know what to do about writing. Or exercise. Or getting enough sleep. Or eating right. Or someday living in a house of our own. Or paying off our credit cards or student loans. Or getting a second car. I don’t know how to achieve balance in my life. Our apartment looks like a chaos demon threw up in it. We still haven’t managed to completely unpack, even though we moved in almost five months ago. Our kids have very interesting sleep needs and that means that I spend more time sleeping with my older son than I do with my husband. Sometimes lunch is noodles and strawberries. Sometimes it’s just strawberries. Or just noodles. Sometimes they don’t eat all day because they are clearly not interested. Sometimes they scream in the library, take off their shoes and throw them in the street, climb on the table and pour all the salt out of the shaker, take off their diapers and pee everywhere.
They are so cute, though.
It’s what I hold onto. The cuteness. The laughs. The stupid songs I make up to make them smile. The many times I catch Roy snuggling one or both of them. I spend so much time in my head and in that dark space, and these are the things that drag me out into my life.
They deliver me to love.