It's been a week, folks. Usually on weeks like this, I look for full moons, but I've been grading till wee hours of the morning and too depressed to get out of bed for my usual dawnbreak runs. I'm not superstitious but I believe in magnetic forces. Some include:
- I've worked and worked and worked to grade and conference with all my students so they can be successful at 11th grade writing standards.-- I internalize all these messages about teachers who don't try enough. Try this. Try carrying between 220 and 300 students on your gradebook. Do the math on reading papers carefully, holding them against a rubric and knowing that 70% of first drafts don't meet higher than a D standard. Not proficient. Now, I have to help these kids see this without robbing their dignity and help them see how to fix it. That takes conferences. Conferences take time. Right after they turn in their papers, my school -- a virtual school where kids do most work from home without me or a parent there -- assigns the unit test. If they didn't give half a rat's buttcheek on the paper, they gave less to the test. Even they are fried. One of my team members resigned. And we'd just welcomed a teacher to drop our loads from three hundred to two hundred. Now what?
- My daughter seems alone at school and had a tough summer. I'm a worried momma. I want her happy. When I have a week like this, I almost hold my breath to hear who will have cancer, more cancer, more double-toil-and-trouble. Maybe it's the disturbance in the force, coming from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, most of the Middle East.
- It was the Elevation of the Cross Feast. This is the feast where we read the OT story about the Jewish people looking upon the snake on the staff to be saved and we are reminded to look at the Cross at Christ upon it. Huh. Every year something overwhelms me and I'm caught looking up at the Cross with the same desperation. It's no cheeky easy solution. I look at it with anger and hurt and sneering. So, God. Why again?
- And, I just get depressed. Regularly and more so as the years go by. I've always been depressed. Now, I get panic attacks and depression.
- My health issues flared up enough that I had to crash my dear friends' home tonight on a run and beg to use her loo. She rescued me cheerfully. I love you, dear friend. I've only done that two other times in the eight years I've been running. It's so humiliating. Not as humiliating as pooing yourself in the middle of a half-marathon though. That's worse. Oh, dear dear GI.
In that, I spent one whole day rebuffing all the love my husband and son gave me. Backrub, mom? I shrugged it off. Eye-contact, darling? Couldn't make it. I slinked up and down stairs without so much as a hello.
But why acid-burn others with my despair? So I told my husband I'd try to kick around in the dark for my big girl knickers. He came alongside me. God should give that man a medal when we get to heaven. He's put up with me for over twenty years. I told him it could get bad way back, while we were still dating. Neither of us knew how crappy I'd get, literally and metaphorically. Lots of couples don't make it. If anyone asks how we do, I point at him. And God, and some friends.
Like my friends Luke and Janna. On the anniversary of their Aiden's death, they wrote me, not I them. Luke sent a playlist which I pulled up when I went for a prescription jog. That's where I pretend I popped an anti-depressant and I turn up music loud and run. Hard.
I tried that again tonight but there was the poo thing. TMI? Just wait till I write about my colonoscopy next week. This is my third in a decade. The docs hate me because I never go fully under anesthesia. I start a conversation just when they think I'm out. It weirds them.
Luke wrote a great blog tonight, so this response is really a push for you to go to his post "Sorrow, Shrapnel, and A-D." Read it. He wrote about Aiden's death, about losing his other (god) kids, about his own struggles with anxiety and despair. As I read his words, I thought of last spring, when one of my fellow parishioners stopped to scrape me off the sidewalk. I'd sat down there so light-headed from my panic attack that I thought I'd lose consciousness and fall into the road. I thought of Luke and Janna's quiet way of being. These people not only save my life, they exemplify what happens when we get up and keep going. In Luke's words,
"In doing so, I have also discovered that most of the people I have looked to for my own inspiration are deeply flawed and hurt individuals themselves, but more importantly, those who allowed their pain to help shape them by dealing with the sorrow shrapnel as it surfaced, and letting Grace, as U2 says so well, “…make beauty out of ugly things.”
So here's to a brother and a family in Christ who are like brothers and sisters. To a friend whose birthday is today and knows what it's like to fight melancholy and care for people with mental illness. To another friend whose family struggles with mental illness. To the friend who parents an autistic child and lets us into her house every week to see what we can learn from it. To siblings and siblings-in-law who let me fall apart and give sound responses. I'm not calling you out to embarrass you. I owe my life to you. I owe my life to the friend parenting a recovering cutter and alcoholic. I owe another friend, facing divorce with shrapnel and grace. I owe cousins, uncles, and siblings with cancer and mental illness who keep on soldiering for Christ. When I'm rooting around for my big girl knickers, hoping they say it's saturday, I turn up my music and keep the beat. Maybe tomorrow I'll have slept enough to scrape you up when you need it. Maybe. I hope so.
I owe all to my God who in the words of Saint Symeon the New Theologian, "knows the multitude of my evil-doings."
You also know my wounds, and You see my bruises.But You also know my faith, and You behold my willingness, and You hear my sighs.
Nothing escapes You, my God, my Maker, my Redeemer, not even a tear-drop, nor part of a drop.
Your eyes know what I have not achieved, and in Your book things not yet done are written by You.
See my depression, and see how great is my trouble: