May 13, 2022
This morning I got a notification from Google photos from four years ago. I tapped on it and it was a picture of my mom and dad sitting next to a small Layne. I scrolled through the photos of that visit that seems like a lifetime ago. It wasn’t a perfect visit. It was awkward, but we could sit in the same room and at least on the surface, everything was okay.
And then I watched as pictures and videos of joyous times scrolled past. Austin with his chubby baby cheeks, Pepper in her tiny puppyhood, and then later as her body leaned out into adolescence. Every moment was so beautiful and yet tinged with the pain of loss. My boys are growing up. Things will never be as they were. Also the crushing feelings of inadequacy. I should have loved them better! I should have enjoyed those moments more! If I had been someone else, something else…… I know it doesn’t make sense. Even as the tears pour down my face, it doesn’t make sense. It just hurts.
I hate depression. I hate the self loathing. I hate the negative self talk stream in my head. I hate the fog that leeches the beauty away from my eyes. I wish I could banish it. Like Pandora in reverse, I could trap it away in a box. But it never goes away forever. I can come up for air sometimes. Sometimes I actually feel good for a while. I just have to remember that those times exist and will come back again.
I just came off my period. I didn’t bleed much but I had more flow than usual. I also had abdominal pain, bloating, weight gain, and mood issues. I also am still recovering from Covid. I tested positive about a month ago. It was a mild case and although I haven’t had symptoms of the actual illness for a couple of weeks, I am still trying to dig myself out of a hole of housework and garden chores that have piled up. Also, my oldest son has been taking all his end of the year AP exams and auditioning for marching band leadership so he hasn’t been doing his chores. (Not that he was doing much before.) Whenever I ask the other boys for help with his chores they get resentful and whiney.
I wish I was someone who could stand up to my kids, be confident, and not wallow in self conscious indecision! I’m weak. I know it. And all I can do is wish things were different. Or do I? Can I shame myself into becoming that person? Can I force myself; to squeeze the last drop of physical and emotional energy to reshape myself into the assertive and powerful persona I desire?
As I reflect on that, I remember some thoughts I had a while back about how through therapy, I’ve come to see how little control we really have over our lives. We are born to parents who are given the impossible task of nurturing us in a fallen world full of problems. Those parents have scars from their own childhoods and they pass on the injuries to their children. Like a blight in the garden, young and old, no one is spared. This world is not a Garden of Eden full of fruit and flowers. It is a wilderness full of disease and decay.
That realization has given me compassion for myself, my parents, and all the other miserable hurting humans on this planet. It has taken away the sting of my judgement. I have set down the judge’s gavel to extend a hand of fellowship. I know, even in this season of doubt when the mustard tree of faith goes limp in the hot sun, that a better being will come along who is worthy of that mantle. As for me, I will be a friend to mankind.
Just as important as that vital truth is its opposite. I may not have much control over my life. I may be a victim of a myriad of circumstances. Still, I have more control over my life than anyone else does. I have the power I need. God has given me what I need to accomplish His purposes, I just have to figure out how. Like a gate, the power is in the hinge. The gate cannot control the weather, the soil, the material it is constructed of, or anything else, but it can swing open and shut. It is small, but the hinge is key.
I am swimming today in an ocean of hormonal chaos. I can’t change that cocktail, but I can choose to have faith in the Master who calmed the tempest. This storm will pass. The laundry will get done- or not. The kids will finish out the school year. There will be many messes and too much screen time this summer. There will be imperfect family outings and many things broken. I can choose to embrace broken things. I can choose to see the beauty in myself and my imperfect life.
I can choose to take the emotional energy I have and give myself a hug. I visualized myself split into two beings. One a mother, and one a sad young teenaged girl. The girl was overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy in a changing body she didn’t understand. The mother just sat next to her on the couch and cradled her head. The mother couldn’t tell her that someday she would understand the strange cycle of physical and emotional changes of womanhood. She couldn’t reassure her that it wouldn’t get worse and more difficult to manage. She could only just sit with her; both of them conscious of the complexity and challenge of it all, but knowing that they weren’t alone.