Notes from the Cave
My cave is pretty cool, and not in the damp, chilly cave-like cool way. It's cool because being in my cave has helped me temper some of the anger and frustration I was feeling not too long ago. I think many of you worried about me going into the cave, but like most things in life, when you follow and trust in your instincts, it winds up being the right thing to do. My post-work crying streak has stopped...did I even tell you about that? For a few weeks there, I was coming home to an empty house and crying for at least an hour. Every single day. And I would spend an unhealthy amount of time perusing Facebook, which brought me only feelings of jealousy and bitterness. I couldn't even recognize myself as I scrolled through the newsfeed. I would spit out words like Oh, isn't that just perfect?? or Go **bleep** yourself! to perfectly innocent people living happy lives. It started carrying into my everyday life as I would see a neighbor with a baby and feel my heart start to boil over with anger. Enough was enough.
Enter the cave.
As I told you before, I was spending so much time focusing on the unfairness of it all that I couldn't stop to recognize that, although something cruddy happened to us, my life is still really beautiful and precious. So, I spent a little time-out in my cave like a little kid in the corner. Except not the old school go-sit-in-the-corner punishment style, more like new school reflection-time style. I've reflected. I've diffused. I feel so much better.
I realized in my cave that I had lost sight of the very perspective I swore I would never lose. That special gift that Callie's short life gave me. I forgot to count my blessings and to really, truly live. I'd also allowed a very big, silent gap to grow between myself and God. I was giving him the silent treatment essentially. Very soon after learning that I was pregnant with our rainbow baby, I straight up stopped talking to God. I mean, what can I say? Every single day of my pregnancy with Callie, every single day, I prayed that she would be born healthy and strong. I said those words without fail for almost 40 weeks. And when Callie was born, she was neither of those things. Strong in spirit maybe, but otherwise my prayers were left unanswered. The biggest, most important prayers of my life. I said them so religiously, in fact, that I actually feared that if I forgot to pray for Callie one day, that God would somehow jump upon my lapse in memory and curse her down. So, I never forgot. Ever.
And still Callie died.
So, months later, I found myself trying to pray for this little baby. I had no idea what to say. Praying for the baby to be healthy and strong once again felt ridiculous. I started saying things to myself like What's the point? I mean, if God is all-powerful and does whatever he freakin' feels like no matter what you ask of him...then, what's the point?? And I would get mad when other people I knew got, in my eyes, their every wish and prayer granted. I wondered if my every previous sin and mistake was being punished. But, God is supposed to be loving...right? Is this part of his plan? To smite down little, tiny, innocent babies as a part of some big plan for me? And the doubts grew more globally... What about murder? Rape? Abuse? Was that part of God's plan?
I didn't know how to answer these questions, so I just stopped caring. I gave God the stiff-arm.
Being in my cave helped me realize that the distance between myself and God was creating a huge hole in my life. I have enough holes! A big Callie-sized one right in the middle of my heart! So, John and I went to talk with our pastor. On a side note, if you have a great preacher, priest, pastor, rabbi, yogi, life coach...whatever!...go talk to them when you are feeling down. It's free therapy and it's amazing. When we got to our pastor's office, I started telling him all my feelings and confessing how mad I was and confused. I went off about the injustice of it all...and why does everyone else get this or that??...etc., etc. And he said two things that will stick with me forever.
1. The perfect life is an illusion. No one has the perfect life. No one. Let me repeat it, because I have to get it through my thick ex-perfectionist skull. NO ONE! Every time I start to feel those bitter feelings creep up again, I whisper to myself...it's just an illusion. Life is beautifully broken.
2. In hard times, it's just important to keep the conversation with God going. Even if I'm yelling at him. I redefined prayer that day. Prayer isn't just a laundry list of things you are glad that you have and things you wish wouldn't happen to you. It is not like making a Christmas list for Santa. It is a conversation where emotions are exchanged in a mutual relationship. Two-way street. Of course, you can still ask for God's blessing or peace or whatever it is you want to ask for...but just know that it isn't the same as a genie coming out of the bottle saying, Yes, master, your every wish is granted. Instead, I have decided that when I pray I just bear my most honest soul to God. I reflect on the positive things going on in my life and allow myself to feel gratitude, and I also tell him everything I am afraid of and ask that he give me peace. That's how I pray...or at least how I'm trying to pray.
I appreciate those of you who have complimented my faith along this journey, but every time I receive one of those comments, I kind of cringe on the inside. Because, truth be told, I do not think I am deserving of them. Faith is not my strongest trait. I truly believe that some people have strong faith as a gift and talent. You know the people I'm talking about. They just exude this kind of peace from every pore of their being. My faith is not like that. I'm a doubter :-/ I give up easily. I have a totally and completely human faith. I make my own understanding of things to fit my way of thinking...which is probably not how you are supposed to believe, but it's how I believe.
For example, I have come to the conclusion that God has created life to be like a choose-your-own-adventure book. He was the author that wrote every single possible path, plot, climax, and resolution. But he gave us the free will to choose our way. The cool thing is that all of our stories interact and intertwine, all based on the choices you make...bad and good. Sinful and righteous. I do not think that God always planned for John and I to have a little baby that would pass away from a rare genetic disorder. Just like I don't think he wants rape, murder, abuse, etc. Instead, I think Callie was one of the many possibilities of our lives based on the our complex choices in life and that God was there all along the way cheering us on when we needed encouragement and sending us comfort (the yellow balloon?) in times of crisis. No punishments, just pathways. Kind of like that guy who could see all the possible futures from Men In Black 3?? (Or was I the only person to see that movie? ) :-) Anyway, that's how I see it.
So, as for me and my cave...I think Phase 1 is complete. Move in to the cave, decorate, nest, get cozy, find peace. Now on to Phase 2, enjoying my life. Mine, and only mine.