Good days sneak up on you, I think. Just when I feel like I’m mired under all this struggle and pain and bullshit, a good day sneaks up and opens the door. The sun pours in and suddenly I have perspective. And it’s astonishing. Because all the scary things that have seemed so dark and ominous are suddenly revealed to be little and helpless and flopping about ineffectually on the floor, not looming over me like scary giants.
Because in the light is God’s love. And His love is more powerful than ANYTHING. When I can get perspective, when I can tear my eyes away from all that is bad to see what is good – then I see a little tiny corner of how much He loves me, and it is overwhelming. He loves me fiercely, passionately, powerfully. I am His daughter, loved, cherished and adored. And when I can hear Him, He tells me that, over and over and over again. And when I can see His love, I can see that my fears are just that – fear. But love wins. No matter what the fight, no matter how awful I believe my opponent to be – love wins.
Today, I woke up fighting. Yes, my first thought was fear. But my second thought was NO. And my third thought was, I am worthy. And I have continued to think that, actively, intentionally think that all day today. When I am feeling good, when I am feeling bad. I am STILL WORTHY.
I am allowed to make noise in my home during the day, whenever I like. I am worthy. I matter, too. My opinion matters, too. I am worthy.
It was such a good day that I even made it out for a run. Now I love to run. But running is also a huge place of weakness for me. I have tried many times over the years to start running regularly. I set myself up, maybe I buy a new pair of trainers, and I go out for maybe two or three runs. And I push myself too hard, too fast. My legs hurt for days afterwards.
And the next time I try to run, all the nay-sayers come out in force. I am fat. I look fat when I run, and people will laugh at me. How will I carry my phone? What if it rains and my phone gets wet? Which way should I run? It’s getting dark now, I can’t run beside the river, and I hate main roads because the traffic is so loud, but it’s impossible here to run along quiet but well-lit and safe streets. And my ears will get cold. I need one of those ear-protectors that I see all those runners with. Or those carry-along water bottles. Or shinier leggings. Or better shoes.
And I argue back, but I will feel GOOD if I run. I like to run – and afterwards I get that adrenaline rush and I feel great. But what if I get a stitch? And I’ll have to shower after my run. And once I’ve showered and washed and dried my hair, that means an hour and a half that I’m not studying. And I need to eat. What will I eat? I’ll be starving after my run. I have to eat something healthy. But I want something naughty. Like what? I can’t eat naughty things, I’ll feel rotten.
[I have fairly bad IBS and eating lots of different things makes me feel really rather unwell. Cue a great deal of arguing with myself at mealtimes…]
You get the idea. Once I have fought my way through all these thoughts, and round and round in circles with some of them for a good hour, I am exhausted, and I no longer want to go running. But then the shame and the blame come, and I hate myself just that little bit more.
The inside of my head is not a fun place to be, some days. So that fact that today, I went for a run – this is immense! I am very, very slowly learning that I can just run. Today, it was a nice day. Beautifully sunny, and I had eaten a good breakfast not too long before and not too recently to make running uncomfortable. I focussed very hard on the fact that I like running, and then I went for a run. If I start thinking that I am a runner, I won’t go. If I make it a New Year thing, to be done three times a week for the rest of my life – I won’t go.
But if I just get out of the door and put one foot in front of the other, I may just go. And after twenty minutes, my knee hurt so I walked a lot. But I had a glorious twenty minutes. And it reminded me that I really DO like running. So I might just go out again in a couple of days.
And the fighting stops. All the noise inside my head, it stops. When you are accustomed to constant fighting and bitching and spiteful remarks about you, from you, inside your head – silence is nothing short of a miracle. Praise God.
My other triumph of the day is that I told people. To start with, I went up for prayer at church. And instead of couching my words and making some framed, pretty prayer request – I was brutally, painfully honest. And they accepted me, loved me and held me. They prayed for me and – the most astonishing bit – they asked to pray for me more often.
Asking for help is one of the most difficult things for me to do, because I genuinely believe that I do not deserve help. And I fully expect other people to share that view. Stepping out and trying to see if they do share that view is terrifying. I have known that something is really not right for over a year. It took me reaching the end of my tether at work to ask for help for counselling there. And as twisted as this sounds, it was actually reassuring that I felt suicidal at times, because that meant that something really was wrong with me. That I really deserved the help that a counsellor could give me.
The second time I have asked for help is from a very good friend of mine, someone I have known and loved for eight or nine years now. We live on opposite sides of the world but we generally stay in pretty close touch and I cherish our friendship. I had been listening to the voices which told me that she would never understand. That she wouldn’t want to care. Or help.
Nothing could be further from the truth. She loves me, esteems me, and is instantly telling me how much I helped her when she was struggling through difficult times. I had totally blotted that from my mind, and I’m not totally certain that I remember what she means even now. But she is asking to talk to me, insisting that I talk about this, wanting to help.
Such a positive response to a request for help is a little overwhelming and in all honesty I am a bit scared. I don’t trust anyone, so I don’t trust the person who has offered this to me. But that thought is not from God, so I will ask him for prayer. I will admit to my weakness. Because I cannot do this by myself. And I feel so free. It is liberating, this honesty. I see the power of it in others – the best speakers are always the brutally honest ones. And I did not believe that it could work for me.
But there is a quiet in my head this evening. A calm. And quiet, above all else, means the very best of good days. I live for the days when I will live with this peace. All the time.
So I say again, if you are reading this and you feel as bad as I have felt, or worse. If you don’t believe that you are worth asking for help. If you don’t think anybody will care, or listen. STOP. Don’t listen to those lies. Listen to God, who made you and who loves you. This will get better, this will get easier. Maybe today is the day you can ask someone for help. Maybe it won’t be until tomorrow, or next week. But you can do this, you can survive this.
I believe in you.