Sometimes self-care looks like rappelling off the side of a cliff and sometimes it looks like Netflix in your pajamas. What’re you gonna do… Try as I might, I can’t always outrun the reoccurring waves of grief. Sometimes adventures and distractions and busywork help me pull my way out of it, but sometimes those waves pull me under with no warning. I can fight it, which only leaves me more exhausted, or I can wait below the surface, holding my breath until it passes. When I’m not feeling stubborn, I reach out for Christ’s hand as soon as my lungs start to burn. But sometimes I wait until the last possible moment because I don’t want to admit that I’m drowning.
Right now I have this tug-of-war between who I was before and who I want to become. In between those two people, in between the was and the going to be, I sometimes don’t even know if I exist. It’s uncomfortable, sometimes even painful. Sometimes I retreat towards what’s familiar, what I know; surviving. Seeing everything as a tiger that could attack at any moment. Where I can’t even think about stopping to enjoy life because just surviving requires too much energy. Where I can’t go to sleep when I’m tired, I have to stay up to, you know, do all the things. That’s how my life has been the last handful of years.
Lately, I’ve been reminded that I wasn’t always such a stick in the mud. I used to be playful and adventurous and take risks. My biggest adventure was marrying Gregg. Our whirlwind of a courtship-engagement-marriage was the stuff Nicholas Sparks’ novels are made of… romantic and crazy and full of drama. And as level-headed as I’ve always (mostly) been, I was drawn to the fearlessness in Gregg. I wanted someone who could throw caution to wind and take me on the adventures I craved. And that he did. But along the way, I became the buzz kill while Gregg remained the dreamer.
But what do I do now? What does it mean to just be me? I don’t have to be the buzz kill anymore. When I’m not expelling all my energy putting out fires, there’s more left to burn on things I love doing. When I feel safe, I can actually enjoy life, and be fun even. At least when the tide is out, when the waves of grief aren’t a danger. And when they are a danger, I can laugh through them (I have a really morbid sense of humor now, actually), even if I have to do it from the safety of my couch.
Men are, that they might have joy. I’m understanding this more fully as time passes. Not just by finding things to be happy about even when I’m surrounded by straight up suck, but by finding joy despite the fact that not everything is going great. I don’t know if there’s really much of a difference, but it feels like there is. The difference is that I feel like less of a robot and more of a human. I am better able to connect with people and feel with people and love. And I know that’s how God wants it to be.