I wish I could write openly about the things that are going on right now in my life, but I can’t.
So you’ll just have to trust me when I say these past months-really this past year-has been the most challenging since the first 365 days after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.
I have cried more in the past three weeks than I have cried in the past three years.
I am forced to crawl into that secret space inside my heart and soul over and over if I hope to not vomit all these feelings on whoever happens to be nearby.
I look like I’m walking around in the world, but I’m really just walking around in a fog-putting one foot in front of the other and hoping I don’t trip and land flat on my face.
I want to be transparent, but I can’t be. Outcomes depend upon my ability to keep it together.
If I’m transparent, they will see that I’m falling apart.
So I plant a fake smile on my face, put on my good clothes, suck it up and suck it in and do what I have to do.
But I feel so very vulnerable.
Every day I feel like I’m in one of those dreams where you show up naked to class or to a job interview or to some other important function. And everyone just stares-dumbfounded-because they don’t know whether to laugh or cry at my predicament.
And I’m scared.
I know I write a lot about learning to set anxiety aside and not trying to figure out what the future holds. I really do take my own advice.
But some days, some weeks, some months I find I’m just as unable as the next trembling heart to do that.
So I’ve spent a lot of mornings crying before the sun rises too high in the sky. Letting all that vulnerability and fear leave my body through my eyes.
Then I dry it up and get dressed. Put on my mask and get going.
It is utterly exhausting.
I’m clinging to the fact that my track record for surviving hard days is 100%.
Even though I got the news from a knock on the door and not a phone call, ever since Dominic’s accident I sleep with my home phone and cell phone next to the bed-I have to be absolutely, utterly reachable.
There have only been a couple times since he left us that they have rung in the dark of night or early morning, but each time my heart is jolted into overdrive and I cannot go back to sleep.
Yesterday morning I received a series of three (obviously wrong number!) calls around 2:15 a.m.
It was a fax machine-probably auto-dialed-and oh, so annoying because I didn’t even have the satisfaction of calling them back and fussing about their lack of courtesy and bad timing.
The only good thing about it was that the *beep*beep*beep* on the other end told me instantly it was not an emergency call from a family member.
I tried to go back to sleep.
I used all the tips and tricks I’ve learned in these four years to calm my heart and distract my thoughts. The two cats that sleep with me worked their magic and together tried to purr me back to sleep.
It was a no-go.
So I got up and came downstairs. Made the coffee, made the rounds and dropped feed in bowls inside and outside.
Sat down and started writing.
I do love writing in the wee hours of the morning-my mind is clearer and less prone to distraction.
But I hate rude awakenings.
It will take half the morning for the adrenaline to work its way out of my system and I’ll be dragging this afternoon just when I need to get things done.
I used to be able to roll over and go back to sleep no matter what woke me in the middle of the night.
Don’t you justLOVEphoto filters? They can transform a not-so-great picture into a work of art.
And with our phones attached to our hips like another appendage, we are one photo-snapping generation!
But when we choose what to make public-what to plaster across our favorite social media platform-most of us are as cautious as museum curators in deciding which pictures to include and which just don’t make the cut.
We are all about personal branding (even if we don’t realize or admit it!)
Of course this is nothing new-Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes that there “is nothing new under the sun”. It’s simply that what was once reserved for the rich, famous or infamous is now available to every Tom, Dick and Harry-and their kids.
I know when I want to share a moment on my little farm or show off some newly completed craft project, I’m very careful to zoom in and crop out the messy edges of my home, my property, my life.
It’s truly not that I’m trying to “be somebody I’m not” it’s more about trying to only let people see part of who I really am.
Because who wants all the ragged and untidy borders of their life exposed to the masses?
I’m afraid there would be too much ‘splainin’ to do (like Ricky used to say to Lucy) if people saw it all.
I might have to own up to my less-than-perfect housekeeping or my procrastination that means I still have piles of junk on my porch nearly four years after Dom left us.
Someone might freak out that my cats are allowed on the kitchen table (where we don’t eat) because it is too hard to keep them off.
People may whisper that they just can’t understand how I live with piles of books stacked everywhere and random animal supplies in baskets by the door so they’re handy to grab on my way outside.
But when I edit the life I expose to others, I’m also limiting my opportunity to make genuine connections.
Because if the people around me think I’ve got it all together, then they can be afraid to admit that they do not.
If the folks that follow me on Facebook think my life is all giggles and glitter, then they might be reticent to reveal that theirs is shadows and sorrow. If all I ever do is talk about, post and promote the high points of this journey, then who will want to tell me that they are in a valley and can’t see sunlight or maybe that they’ve even forgotten what sunlight looks like.
So I’m going to zoom out.
That doesn’t mean you won’t see funny photos or hopeful posts or encouraging memes on my timeline.
But it does mean that I’ll be out there-big hips, messy house, piled up books and all.
I am committed to authenticity but I am also committed to my own privacy and the privacy of my family.
So while I share freely here and in other places, I don’t share everything.
Sometimes I withhold because it’s not my story to tell. Sometimes it’s because I can’t tell it without harming or defaming others. And sometimes I don’t bare all because I just can’t weather other people’s reactions to what I have to say.
But for the most part, I’m pretty transparent. Because secrets don’t serve anyone well.
If I pretend to be stronger than I really am, I hide the truththat it is Christ in me that gives me strength.
If I don’t admit that certain words or actions hurt my heart, I enable thoughtless behavior.
If I only parrot “Sunday School” answers when someone asks about my faith in relation to my loss, then I silence other heartswrestling with questions and pain in light of God’s sovereignty and love.
If I hide my tears, my pain, the missing then I minimize this great loss,And I will not make losing Dominic small.
But if I am honest about my feelings,
honest about my weakness,
honest about what helps and what hurts,
then I can redeem part of this pain.
I can use it to make space for other hurting hearts.
Transparent is hard because it makes me vulnerable.
But transparent is good because it makes my pain useful.