Saturday, April 22, 2006

Emptiness feels like a virus

I’m lying in bed, thinking, like I’ve done so many nights lately. I just watched a movie, and for some reason they always bring my emotions to the surface.

I’ve overcome so much this semester – just being able to say that shows how far I’ve come. I was drowning in that bottomless pit of hopelessness, and I managed to fight my way back. I say fight because that’s what it was every step of the way. I’m not saying I did it alone, I’ve been so blessed to have so much help to deal with my problems. When I was going through it, I felt like I was leaning on everyone, and floundering rather than fighting. But now I can see that what I did, what I have done before is a great achievement and something to be proud of. I’m still so surprised that I made it, that I really did overcome . . . still, things aren’t quite right.

Emotionally, I feel like myself again. The feelings of going crazy, of worthlessness, of general irrationality are gone. Yet, I find myself thinking, “How am I going to survive this?” Only now the “this” isn’t unbearable depression, it’s the overwhelming loneliness that I feel so often lately. I feel like there is part of me missing, so empty.

I’m a people person. I always have been. I love my family and friends with ferocity and loyalty that often surprises people, even myself occasionally. I don’t think I’m made to be alone. Throughout my childhood, I struggled with the juxtaposing ideas I was faced with. One came from my family, whom I adore and respect. It was the idea that we should be independent and happy without people. My mom always said, “It’s nice to have people around, but you shouldn’t need them.” I never quite understood this principle, because it so opposed my nature; the part of me saying, “That’s ridiculous, everyone needs people.”

In reality, it’s still something I contemplate occasionally, especially at times like this. I firmly believe that people need other people, and that we aren’t meant to be alone. We’re gregarious animals, such as is found so often in nature. Like sheep, cattle, horses, birds – we belong in flocks and herds. I guess the human version is family. Still, no matter how firmly I believe this, when my heart aches with loneliness, I can’t help but wonder if it’s a sign of weakness. If only I were stronger, would I be able to live my life independently, without so much pain?

I wonder, but only fleetingly. In my soul, I know that “it is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) I know there is no weakness in sharing life with other people. There is a country song by Garth Brooks called “Standing Inside the Fire.” It’s about the people who stand on the outskirts of the life, watching because they are afraid of risk. The second verse talks about those who battle the fire and walk the wire; those who are convinced that without risk, there is no purpose. One line says, “Life is not tried, it is only survived, if you’re standing outside the fire.” Being strong and independent enough to not need people may prevent pain, but it also prevents joy.

So I can’t help but wonder now, when will I find my help meet? Where is the one I’m meant to share my life with, and how long must I endure this loneliness? And most of all, how will I bear it? The emptiness seems to grow stronger each day, and sometimes I fear that it will encompass me, leaving only bitterness. I know who I am. I don’t need anyone to provide me with an identity. I need a partner, a friend, someone to laugh and cry and love with. How much longer must I endure?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Change of Plan

Life doesn't always go according to plan. This is a tidbit of wisdom that I have gathered over the last few years. In fact, life rarely goes according to plan. I don't know why that is, I just know it's true. Sometimes the things that are most important to us are the things that we have the least control over
It can be anything; this change. Maybe you were convinced you would fall desperatly in love in college and life would be perfect. Instead, you have a degree, but have yet to find any men of consequence. Or maybe someone you loved and lost returned to your life years later. That's the thing - these changes in plan aren't always for the worst.
Plans aren't the only things that change. It has often been said that people can't change. Let me tell you a secret: that's not true. It's an excuse for all the people in the world who don't want to change. But people do change, and it can be a beautiful thing. A father who struggles to be supportive can become a tender and loving parent. I swear it can happen. I've seen it.
I know why we make plans. We are afraid of the unknown - the "what ifs" can drive a person mad. I don't know why life doesn't go according to those plans. But I do know that life has a way of workings itself out for the best. The key is to find joy in the unknown.