I hope you know by now, that it’s not just all cute blog posts and rainbows over here. I mean, sometimes it is, but I hope you hear with great transparency that life, ministry, adoption, etc. is hard. The REALLY GOOD kind of hard. But still hard.
Toward the end of this summer, an innocent comment from Joel triggered a category 10 meltdown and I realized that the hardness of it all had done a number on my heart. He was home for the first time in weeks (he was renovating the house we now call home) and I had asked him, “Do you think this is the craziness of this whole transition or do you think I am depressed?” He sweetly replied, “Babe, we just gotta get through this crazy season.” Cue Hurricane Hurdle. I simply could not just keep pulling myself up by my bootstraps and “get through”. That night, God opened my eyes to how disconnected I was from myself and my soul.
Granted, you can only go so many sleepless nights and deal with so many traumatic and sometimes violent and destructive, fits of rage until the euphoric adrenaline of “getting the kids” begins to subside. After hearing my heart, a friend texted me some info about grief and “Post Adoption Depression”. It seemed the reality of “adopted baby blues” was what had been seeping in since the beginning of the year…I didn’t notice my anger every time a friend or family member left me a voice mail that I knew I would need to try and squeak out the time to return. I dismissed my lack of desire to get out of bed or my ever-shortening fuse with my kids. I sort of noticed it odd that I cried through an entire women’s retreat weekend in February, but I just blamed it on being tired. Oh and I even ignored the flashing red light at that conference when I submitted a question to a panel of staff women and an amazing staff woman whom I deeply respect, answered my anonymous question with, “Whomever you are, it sounds like you are depressed and need to get some help.” Right.
I could write a dozen blog posts trying to share how I think I got here, but I felt extremely known and understood by these two posts: When Hope Seeps In and The Truth About Adoption: One Year Later. I felt safe emailing them to the awesome woman who counsels women on staff with CRU and another great counselor at our church here in Oxford. Both of their responses confirmed my suspicions.
I have always known depression is a legit physical, spiritual, emotional and circumstantial struggle, one that that is so consuming and real. It didn’t seem to be one that would be a part of my story. I don’t know why, but it just didn’t seem to fit. Anxiety, sure. I’ve have spent the majority of my life being wound as tight as a top knot. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Fillmore, told me she’d give me $20 if I quit chewing my nails by the end of the year!! I continued to chew until I got engaged b/c dang it, I would have good looking nails on my wedding day. Lame, I know. After marrying Joel, who is as cool as a cucumber, I’ve relaxed. A LOT. But it seems the pendulum of anxiety and depression has swung the other way recently. I think for me, this bout of blah was what I ended up with because I was simply too weary to get wound back up.
So, yeah, I feel the freedom to say I have struggled with depression recently, especially this spring/summer. And I might struggle continually. Or I might not. And that’s fine.
I did begin to feel some warmth and connection to myself when I began to name the struggle and bring it into the light with others. Getting away for 4 days in September was really good for my soul. I booked an early arrival and a late departure and spent good time in the word, in community and worshipping. Note: I am not typically a big feeler who gets into experiential worship…it’s great if you are, it’s just not typically the place I feel the most connected to Christ…but it was in the middle of that night of worship after seeing a mom worshipping while wearing a Moby wrap with a sweet little one that grief bubbled to the surface.
Grief from wayyy down deep. Gutteral really. In the darkness of that hotel ballroom, similar to the one when I surrendered my life fully to the Lordship of Christ, I was okay with coming undone. There was safety and freedom in journaling and snotting and listening to women worship at the top of their lungs. It had never occured to me that I had not fully grieved the loss of those years with my little ones. The years of Moby wearing, the years of attaching and nurturing. The years the locusts ate. The years the psychologists, psychiatrists and pediatricians repeatedly ask about and I just shake my head and shrug my shoulders because I don’t know anything. The developmental stages that even my kids ask about when they see a baby and are curious if they ever had a paci. So I wept. Freely and openly. I journaled and just sat in my sadness (and all those other negatives emotions that I tend to avoid) and was really good with it. It was almost a tangible sense of relief. I spent the entire next day in the hotel room all a.l.o.n.e. fasting, praying, journaling and debriefing what I’d learned that weekend. It was the balm for the soul that was needed. A seminar called “Making Things Happen” was an strong challenge to evaluate the mission, vision and values of MY life and then “put on my awesome pants and get to living it.” This time to eval and re-focus really was what I needed for this season of blah.
Bonding and attaching with two children takes time. Learning how to be a parent takes time. Transitioning to a new town takes time. Grieving losses takes time. And it all takes a huge heaping dose of grace.
Since being here for a few months I/we have begun to find our way. That’s my only aim right now. “Finding our way.” Elizabeth Elliot say, “do the next thing.” My friend Aimee says “find healthy rhythms.” Both these women challenged me to find rhythms that would work for our family and make them so routine that I didn’t even have to think about the “next thing.” Like how you don’t even have to think about brushing your teeth or locking the door as you leave. Not a “do more and try harder” legalistic, humanistic mentality. Healthy rhythms.
Asking people to pray, simply getting out of bed and making it up nice and neat, starting each day with a tall glass of ice water, blogging, cooking, EXER-freaking-CISING and getting consistent time with the Lord, these small, yet monumental tasks have really created rhythm for all four of us. October was seriously awesome. The crisp air cut straight through the static in my heart and mind. I am feeling more “normal” (whatever that means) and I am praying that God is allowing me to turn the corner and live my life.
How about you? Do you experience seasons of depression physically, spiritually, circumstantially and/or all of the above? (Welcome to humanity, right?) I’d love to hear how you have seen God be tender to you during these times.