Last year at this time, I was tied to my bed for two weeks, fighting an inner darkness that appeared in the form of life-gripping anxiety—the kind that leaves your body weak and your skin crawling and food tasteless in your mouth.
I’d be wrong if I didn’t admit to giving into hopelessness at some point. Two weeks can feel like a long time, especially when you don’t know how long the anxiety will last. I questioned how long God would let me stay paralyzed, how long it would take for him to rescue me. Faith felt like a risky thing, but I put it into my mind that I had been through this a few times before and had gotten out of it, as the saying goes, “This too shall pass.”
These paralytic episodes sprouted from what had happened four years ago, and every year since then, it’s like it’s happening again. Even though I’m not in it anymore, my body remembers, still angry at the harm that had been done to it, lashing out through self-sabotage. The first time it happens, you think you are dying. Then it happens a second and third time, and it still feels like you’re dying but also becomes sickly normal.
During the week leading up to Easter Sunday, or what Christians call “Holy Week,” I started having flashbacks of the day I had climbed over the railing of my ex-boyfriend’s balcony, looking over my shoulder to the ground below, calculating if the fall would be high enough. It’s a memory I’ve tucked far away. The desperate girl I became that day—the one who looked death in the face and found it appealing—still really scares me, mostly because I am afraid she will someday come back.
The flashbacks came out of nowhere. It was April, nowhere near October, and my first response was to be angry, maybe even shameful, that four years later, I was still having to deal with the effects of what had happened then.
My second judgment pushed me toward a kinder alternative: I’m learning these jarring moments aren’t shaming sessions God is punishing me with. They are so much sweeter. They are “kairos” moments, invitations to pause and enter into revelation. It was because the flashbacks were so out of place that they felt intentional, so I leaned in.
As the week progressed, I had several more flashbacks of the same image, except the lens had changed, like I suddenly had an ability to see a part of the picture I couldn’t see before. I saw myself clinging to the railing of the balcony, crying out in the hopes that someone would help me, and I could now also see God’s hands. Great, giant hands circling around me, creating an airspace where nothing would harm me, not even myself.
As much as I am ready to move on from that day on the balcony, God is still bringing me back to it, telling me there is more he wants to heal in me. I want to believe that the work God and I have done this year hasn’t just been emotional or spiritual but physical, too. I came into September and October bracing for the attack on my body I thought for sure would come. We’re halfway through October, and I am still standing. There have been minimal moments of anxiety and depression and no suicidal thoughts. Maybe one of these Octobers, it will only be a memory.
Photo credit: Pexel