“It would be easier if someone else told the story of what happened last summer. But then I would probably just hate them for getting it all wrong.” So, dear reader, take her telling of the story in your hands. Sit with me. And let me tell you where it went wrong.
She keeps getting the details wrong. You would think, out of everything else that went wrong, the details would at least be kept intact. I thought that asking her to write this would be easier. Maybe it would help you understand all the things I don’t think I can say. But really, I just hate her for it. You see, I couldn’t find the words to tell you. Hell, I couldn’t find the words to tell myself. So I asked her to write it for me. Maybe that would be easier. But, shit, now you have it and you are reading it and ALL THE DETAILS ARE WRONG!!
It’s so frustrating, she couldn’t even start the story right. It hadn’t rained when I showed up. Of course it hadn’t rained. Everything was still calm; the wind hadn’t even started blowing. It didn’t rain until after we got back to the house. I remember. I remember because I wanted a drink and I wanted to smoke. Not that I wanted to get drunk, I just wanted something to take the edge off all the shit and hurt and confusion.
But, like I said, it definitely hadn’t rained when we all showed up.
No no no…the storm was just about to begin.
Ok, so we’ve established that it wasn’t raining. And then that part about it being some super intense and really interesting bible study? That’s not right either. It was, in reality, a super rushed overview of the Old Testament. You know, the “way too much information in such a short amount of time” type. It was that. And, since you want me to be honest, it was boring as hell. Maybe I shouldn’t compare bible studies to hell, but you get what I’m saying. And…and…she couldn’t get the details about the bible stories right either. I kept filling in the blanks and explaining back-story. It’s easier to do that sort of stuff when you grew up using felt boards and popsicle sticks to act these stories out. Also, having a photographic memory doesn’t hurt either. So there I was, right, pointing out errors in the stories and being so good at knowing all the right answers and who did what when and how much so-and-so loved the Lord and walked with him and what prophet said what to whom. It was magical, really. I am sure my 3rd grade Sunday school teacher would be immensely impressed with how much I have “grown in my knowledge of the Lord.” If only my knowledge was enough to sustain me right now.
See. See right there, that line, that sentence. She did it again. I shouldn’t have let her tell my story. She butchered the details. Why do I even care so much about the details? I really just think that I want something, out of all of this, to be right. To be the way it actually was. But even in the bible study, she wasn’t talking about Micah, or Job, or even Isaiah or Jeremiah. She was talking about the Israelites being in slavery in Egypt. Apparently, I was the only one in the group who had any idea how the Israelites even got to Egypt. Remember, Joseph? The guy who was literally sold into slavery by his brothers? And then was thrown into prison and eventually rose to the second highest position in all of Egypt? Yea…that guy. (Is it just me or when things are hard for you do people tell you to go read that story like it will automatically fix stuff?) So when he interpreted the dreams of pharaoh about the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine and told pharaoh to stock up on the goods, he was right. Anyways, that’s how the Israelites got to Egypt, cause his brothers had to come and ask him for help cause they were starving. And if you are going to try to teach the Old Testament, get it right. So it wasn’t the prophets. She was talking about the Exodus. You could tell she was frustrated that I kept correcting her. But really, is it such a bad thing to actually know what you’re talking about?
None of that matters, though. That wasn’t really what I asked her to write and that is surely not what you were wanting to read…was it? But somehow I feel like it still matters. Isn’t the outcome of all of this because of the details? Details are important. Details matter. Right?
And just for the record, I didn’t hijack the conversation like she is making it seem. I didn’t just throw all of this shit out there. It was after the lesson was over, when everyone is sharing prayer requests. I knew that I needed prayer. Why? Because I didn’t really know what was going on with me. About three months before I started questioning everything and I didn’t know why I believed what I said I believed. You know, just a lot of questions…that’s got to be normal and ok, right? It wasn’t like I was running off and joining a cult or participating in ancient pagan rituals, I just had questions. Is Jesus who he says he is? Did he really do what he said he did? And if he is and if he did, what does that mean for me, right now, in this moment?
But apparently, questions scare people. Doubt “isn’t from the Lord” and so obviously it should have no place in our lives. “Don’t give the devil a foothold.” But there I was with all my questions and on top of all that, my world simultaneously fell apart around me. Relationships failed. My mom walked away. People got sick. Grandma went to jail. MY GRANDMOTHER WENT TO JAIL!! I just want to make sure you caught that. After her stint in the big house, or really it was just one night at the county jail, she called to lecture me on my relationship with my mom. “Don’t make the same mistakes we made. Don’t not talk to her for too long. I am speaking from experience.” But it wasn’t even that part that threw me for a loop. It was the part where she admitted that she “had a feeling” my stepdad was more than just an asshole and actually abusive. And then, to add insult to injury my own body was betraying me. I was depressed. Depression seems to be the demon that continuously haunts me. Depression cares not of your socio-economic status, your job title, your skin color, or personality type. He is a ruthless bastard giving no reasons for his torment. And so there I was. Haunted. For three months (yea kind of a long time) I had wanted out. It wasn’t that I wanted to die. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. It was like I was standing on the top of a skyscraper, on the very edge, and I couldn’t step backwards off the ledge. I either had to stand there or jump. It’s not that I wanted to jump. I just was so fucking tired of standing on that damn ledge.
What? Yea, I told them all of this. That’s the part you just read. “…she kept saying that she wanted to die. She said something about thinking about killing herself.” I didn’t say that!! I think I even told them something along the lines of “I am not saying that I want to kill myself. And I don’t have a plan, so please don’t freak out. I am just really sad and really tired and really confused. And honestly, I just want Jesus to show up.” Damnit. It’s almost as if they didn’t hear what I was saying. They heard what they wanted to hear. Stuck on themselves. Do you see that? I mean, I’m not saying they don’t care about me, but they heard what they wanted to hear and they wanted to do what they could do to keep me “safe”, even from myself.
Suggestions were made. Lots of suggestions. They really wanted me to go check myself in somewhere for a “rest”. What the hell does that even mean? Seemed like a line straight out of “Girl, Interrupted”. The scene where Brittney Murphy is trying to explain to everyone that she is okay, when it is blatantly obvious that she is not. She tells them she is just there for “a rest”. Wouldn’t that be me if I just went somewhere for a rest? Me thinking I was really okay and everyone knowing I wasn’t and the storyline revolving around how messed up I actually am? Damn, that’s depressing. And, who can even afford to go somewhere for a rest?
That part is true. They did pray for me and asked for hope and healing and rest. So I got up to leave. I needed to get out, to clear my head. I needed to drive and I needed air. This is the part where the wind started picking up a bit. A storm was coming, you could tell. I left. Thinking nothing more of it. Well, except for the fact that I was still sad and confused and tired and in desperate need of answers. I drove through Sonic to get a sweetened iced tea and headed for the lake. Yea, I told you that was my safe place. Seems like I can think out there. The sound of crickets at night and the glow of the moon on the water does something to my soul. The place I park my car usually smells like cedar; a fresh, “this is alive”, sort of smell. You can see the stars out there. If your arms were long enough, you could just reach out and touch them. They are thrown against a dark sky and the man in the moon smiles down in approval. These are the details that I wanted you to know. Not the depressing and mundane ones. But maybe these are mundane too. Maybe that’s what makes me love them. They are so simple and so seemingly insignificant and yet they hold the depth of life and breath for me. Maybe it’s these brief moments of hope and faith that Emerson was talking about; the ones that hold such depth that they cause us to “ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences.”
The bugs attracted to the light annoy me. Constantly flying straight into my face, but it is calming and assuring to see that life is happening all around me by no effort of its own. Somehow it is all being sustained. I don’t know how, but this place is safe. A refuge. A foundation that I can come back to knowing that it is sure and that it will always be level ground underneath my often unsteady feet. This place serves as a sort of “calm the hell down, soul, hope in God.” Pretty sure that’s my paraphrase of the verse in Psalms that says something about being downcast; the one where he is talking to his soul. I was in the middle of a pep talk.
Then everything changed.