The following is based upon some excerpts from Lysa Terkeurst’s book, It’s Not Supposed to be This Way.
‘When there is an undoing of your life, there is an unknowing of every next millisecond. Every next breath. The peaceful predictability of what you thought would be your life is suddenly replaced by a very unexpected darkness and silence you aren’t used to.’
‘Darkness has such a way of swallowing up enthusiasm for the future.’
The unknowing of every next millisecond may seem to be an obvious, or even a ridiculous, thing to say. But let it sink in for a moment. We don’t think about the very next second because we take it for granted. We assume it will be just exactly the way we planned it to be. We assume it will mind it’s manners, and stay in line, just as it’s supposed to. Just like all the others that have come before it. We don’t anticipate it. We don’t dread it. We don’t even think about it.
Until we have a reason to.
Until life has shaken us to our core and we don’t even know if we will draw a breath in the next second, let alone live any life beyond that single breath.
This is what it’s like for me to live with bipolar disorder. From one second to the next, I just don’t know. Sometimes, I find myself holding my breath, waiting, scared for what is to come. Sometimes, I hold my breath hoping things won’t change. Other times I breathe quickly, willing the change to come.
But breath can’t control it. Will can’t control it.
And so, ‘the peaceful predictability’ that I thought would be my life is replaced by this dark silence. It’s dark because it’s unknown, and it’s scary. It’s silent because I’m there alone. I walk in the darkness alone. No one leads the way. There are no guiding lights to illuminate my pathway. I have to find my own way in the dark, in the silence.
And it can be all-consuming.
Though there may be light and laughter all around me, I sometimes can’t see it because the darkness and silence are too overwhelming. They don’t let the light in. They don’t let laughter in. I’m encapsulated, constantly searching for what the next millisecond will offer.
And that is the darkness.
It’s the uncertainty that hangs overhead. It’s the fear that goes with it. It’s the lack of trust in myself because I just never know which ‘me’ will show up. It’s the exhaustion from constantly checking in with myself. It’s the exhaustion from acting normal when I don’t feel normal. It’s constantly feeling torn between wanting relationship and wanting isolation.
Dark has certainly stolen ‘enthusiasm for the future.’ How can I be excited for the future when I can hardly manage the energy to get through today? How can I even think about crawling my way through the darkness and the silence tomorrow? Or the next day? Or the next? It’s hard to want to carry on without hope of change. Without any thought that tomorrow could be better, why would I ever choose enthusiasm?
Because I have Jesus.
Only with Jesus. Maybe that’s too simple for you. Maybe it’s cliché. But it’s all I’ve got. And it’s huge. I have hope for tomorrow. I have hope for a brighter future because Jesus can give me that. Maybe He won’t this side of Heaven. Maybe this is where He needs me. And if so, I will be obedient. But I will still maintain hope for a better tomorrow because Jesus didn’t die for me to be stuck in this forever. So even in the darkest times, when I struggle the most, and can’t even remember that I have hope, I know it’s still there, waiting for me. And when I can’t remember, He protects me until hope returns.
My world is breaking me, Your love is shaping me
And now the enemy is afraid of what You’re making me
And as I fall apart
Come flood this desert heart
Fall like the rain, Living Water
And I know Your way is best
Lord, help me find my rest
And I’ll be the clay
In the Hands of the Potter
(Hands of the Potter, Casting Crowns)
These lyrics spilled over me this morning as I was getting myself ready for the day ahead. And I just broke. Granted, I was already feeling cracked and fragile, as is usual these days, but still, I broke. My world is breaking me. Everything is spinning out of control. I mean I literally feel like I am spinning. I am going in circles, just grasping at the things around me, but they are spinning even faster, so that I can’t grab hold of anything long enough to make any sense of it.
The next year holds so many changes, which means lots of decisions will need to be made. And normally, I would be excited about this. I would be embracing a fresh, new start. I would be looking forward to new beginnings, especially since this place has been so tough. But this time? I don’t know. I just don’t want to deal with it. I want to ignore it because it’s a bit too much. It’s all a lot too much. We have so much more to consider. We have so many more options. This time, no one is telling us where we have to go – or ever if we have to go. Do we go, or do we stay?
What’s best for me? My career – license, supervisor, job; my health – stability, treatment team. Do I want to start over? Can I? I don’t know. What’s best for Aero? Stay here and continue at Woodlawn? Stay here and homeschool? Move and homeschool? Move and find a new school? Public school? Private school? Big school? Small school? Where? Which district? Where are the good schools for him? How will he do with a new therapist?
If we stay here, should I stick with Kelly? Is that really a good idea at this point? Is the writing on the wall? Is she really about to crack? It appears so. But if we are about to leave, I feel like I should just ride out the storm.
If we move, where do we go? What town? Do we buy or rent? If we buy, do we buy new or resale? Do we push for mom to live with us, or not? How much do we spend on a house? We don’t know what our finances will look like.
What about Austin? Do we let him go to UWF? He wants go to there because of a girl. Do we let him do that? That seems ridiculous, but do we push the issue? Do I even want to fight that fight right now? I don’t think so. I don’t think I have it in me. Will it disappoint me? Yes, probably. But… Still, moving to Texas and being closer to Amber will be nice, even if Austin is still here. At least we know plenty of people here.
And what about my health stuff? My medications seem to be constantly screwed up. Something is always just off enough that I feel bad in some way or another. Take now, for instance. I don’t feel great. I am anxious much of the time. I feel intermittently restless or tired. Sometimes I feel fine, even. Other times I feel so overwhelmed that I don’t want to wake up the next day because I don’t think I can handle life anymore. It all feels like it’s too much. And then I feel fine again for a little while. When it feels like it’s too much, I think I need to make changes. When I feel fine, I think I should leave well enough alone, because after all, another med change will merely upset the apple cart again, and will inevitably just bring its own set of negatives, so what’s the point? And if we make changes, what do we change? Which medicine do we change? Do we change the dose or do we completely go to a different medication altogether? And do we get rid of one of the medications, or keep one the same and change the other? See how confusing it is? There are too many variables. I don’t want to go through anymore changes. It’s just easier to deal with the bad that I have now. At least I think it is. Until it isn’t. Until I cry myself to sleep because I don’t want to wake up tomorrow.
And then there is all the stuff at home. And then there is trying to deal with Amber while she is at school. And then there is forever being behind on paperwork. And then there is trying to deal with helping Aero not drown in middle school. It’s all too much. Taking care of myself is too much all by itself. Husband, kids, career, move. Too much. I’m drowning. My world is breaking me. And I feel like I am failing in every way possible.
Every day, I do the bare minimum. I do only what I have to, and sometimes I don’t even do that. But there is no joy in any of it. I thought there would be joy. I really did. I thought by now there would be joy. Who wants to get up every day, go through the motions in some various state of exhaustion, and just manage to get by? I don’t. I don’t know how long I can keep doing this.
I wonder how long God will have me do this. My faith is very strong. I have never doubted that God has a plan for me, and that His plan is good. Is it selfish, though, to wish that it included some respite and some joy? Because, although things are not nearly as bad as they have been, I am worn down, and it doesn’t take as much to bring me to a breaking point as it used to. All it takes sometimes is a long, tiring day to bring me to my knees. That’s enough of a reminder that weariness is always just around the corner. And weariness leaves me with little fight.