Category Archives: Growing Pains

Things that relate to changes in life and having to deal with tough issues

Thoughts for Thursday

Depression is difficult. This is my story.

It’s insidious. It breaks things and hurts people and lives can be pulled apart by it. When I heard the news about Robin Williams on Monday night I was filled with a great sadness. Sadness, and a longing to have been there, to have helped. To cradle this beloved person in my arms and cry and listen and be there. That’s a bizarre feeling to have for someone I knew through a screen, with whom I never had any personal interaction with.

But that’s who I am at my core. I want to help, I want to be there, I want to serve. And one of the hardest lessons I had to learn is that as much as I want to fix things and make everything alright–it’s not just up to me and sometimes there’s nothing I can do besides pray.

I got married young and at the time my husband was not depressed. He had told me that he had clinical depression but hadn’t had an episode in a while. I didn’t really know what that meant–my experience of depression were those times I had “the blues”.. the kind of thing that going for a run or sitting on a rock by a stream or talking to God could help. In a day or two I’d be back to myself.

But this thing just crept in. It took hold in him and I didn’t know what to do. So, naturally, I read articles and books and watched movies and youtube clips and did anything I could to educate myself. We’ll fix this!  I thought, oh-so-naively. Therapy sessions booked, medications prescribed, and it’s all okay right?

Nope.

Fights began. Irrational, ugly, mean fights in which unloving things were said that hurt us both. They usually ended in both of us in tears, apologizing–but these fights will wear you down. I didn’t understand, although I tried so hard. I wanted to. It took me a long time to figure out that this is not just an episode–this is life. And when you’re that young and you have all kinds of bright eyed hopes for what your life is going to be, and then realize that in this current situation that life is impossible, it will break you. It broke me.

Things Fall Apart.

I tried. I tried for a long, long time. Therapy sessions fizzled. Medications were not refilled. Other, more harmful methods of self medication were taken. I numbed myself to the ups and downs to the point where it just didn’t effect me anymore.

I prayeda lot.

My husband was not a religious man and this ended up being a really difficult thing to overcome, especially in how we dealt with this depression. I turned to God and trusted that it would be okay. I frequently admitted that I cannot do this on my own and relied on my faith and my community to lift me up. He did not. If I could have gone to therapy and taken his medications for him, I would have. If I could have finished up those last semesters of college for him, I would have. I felt helpless and powerless and I can’t even begin to imagine all the things he was feeling and going through.

I’m not saying I did everything right. I’m not saying that you can’t help someone who is depressed–you can love and encourage and listen and be there. It’s hard. It will change your relationship to that person. He stopped wanting to change and get better and in order for me to live the life that I believe I am called to live, we had to separate.

It sucked. But it was also a good thing for both of us.

I don’t have much contact with him. I know he is re-married and they have a baby girl. I wish them health and happiness and I sincerely hope he has found it. I pray for him and hope he has peace in his life.

That’s all I can do, now.

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O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up–for you the flag is flung–for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths–for you the shores a-crowding,

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning…

–Walt Whitman

 

My heart is heavy today, as are many of yours, at least on this side of the world.  A great light has gone out.  A voice has been stilled.  Though we know that the moments we have with the people who elevate their art to a professional level–making so many of us laugh, or think, or escape our mundane little lives for and hour and a half while they give us a good show–it’s still a shock when they are gone.

Robin Williams made so many people laugh.  My best friend Ryan put it best, “It makes me so sad that he died from being so sad.”  It’s hard to fathom the depth of that sadness, for most of us.

Part of experiencing human life is feeling the emotion of depression.  For most of us, that’s how we experience it–an emotion. But for some of our brothers and sisters in this life, depression is a disease.

Depression is as serious as cancer, or heart disease, or a variety of metabolic dysfunctions.  And just like all those other illnesses, depression can be terminal, even with a great treatment plan, even with lots of support, even when things seem to be going in the right direction.  Just like massive heart attacks after years of clean eating and good exercise, or a relapse after extensive remission, or a devastating little infection that won’t clear up with any medicine known to exist.  And that sucks.  It’s brutal and scary and hard.  But it’s true.  And unless and until we stop pretending that depression is something someone can help having, something someone has control over, we will continue to have people we love, famous and ordinary and next door, die from it.

We have to stop talking about how people who die from depression are selfish.  You’d never say that about someone who died from a brain tumor.  We have to stop shaming people for taking appropriate pharmaceutical steps to treat depression, and from seeking professional counseling.  You would never say that about someone who needed to take insulin, or a blood thinner to stay alive.  We have to make mental healthcare check-ups as important as our yearly physicals–and they should be affordable for everyone, including and especially children.  Most importantly, we have to be willing to talk to the people in our lives we are concerned about–we must not wait until they start acting out.  Don’t put the burden on someone who’s hurting to come and talk to you.  Think of it like being aware at the airport–if you see something, say something.  And for the love of little green apples, be kind and loving.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, please know that you are not as alone as you feel.  You are not stuck.  You are amazing.  You are beloved.  Your place in the world–who you are and how you are–is holy, and important.  You give joy in ways you cannot imagine.  People are praying for you, right now.  People are loving you, right down to your toes, right now.  Good things are coming.  Hold on.  You can do it, and all the people who love you want to help, in good and kind ways.  Your friends at thedailycake.org are grateful that you read this, and if you want to email any of us to talk about your stories, or to reach out for more information on how you or someone you love can begin recovery, please contact us by following the links on our “About Us” page.

Robin Williams…you were a piece of my happy early childhood, with your lovable alien Mork, clips of stand up I was probably too young to really appreciate, star in some of my most favorite movies, and the best James Lipton interview I’ve ever seen…may you rest in peace, and rise in glory.

Watch this…

 

love,

rachie

 

 

Thoughts for Thursday

Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted let rescue begin
Come find your mercy, Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time I feel like you know me pretty well. I love all things high church, Episcopalian, rubrics, liturgy, smells and bells, organs, the whole spiel. I’m staunchly traditionalist, let’s-bring-back-Rite-I, and it will be a cold day in hell when there’s a screen in my church.

I never went to another church, but I did go to some Christian schools growing up so I had a weird time in my youth where I didn’t know what was going on. I had two very different experiences of “church” and Christianity and they were so opposite. On the one hand I had my church, full of mystery and wonder and an old white haired priest and robes and organs. On the other hand I had contemporary worship music in mid-week chapel, pressure to “accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior”, and a bunch of other theology I didn’t really understand. Jesus during the week was different from Jesus on Sunday, so eventually I chose Sunday Jesus.

In doing so I completely did a 180 on this other type of worship. I mocked it, openly, and reveled in how MY church was better, was different, was more holy. (I was a teenager, okay?) This attitude persisted as I got older, maybe a little more toned down, but when I saw so many young people flocking to more traditional churches after having such bad experiences with other Protestant denominations I felt justified. I felt smug. These aren’t particularly good Christian things to feel but I’m only human. And I’m Episcopalian for a reason, and I have chosen to stay Episcopalian for a reason. (many reasons, really, but that’s another post.)

So God does what God does best and sent me someone to challenge these elitist, smug feelings and it has been such a humbling experience. A friend from high school moved to my town (a friend who, incidentally, in my youth I would go to her very Baptist youth group with occasionally) and introduced me to this wonderful man who is SO involved in their church he rivals me in churchly enthusiasm.

And this has been one of the most surprising and beautiful things: when I visit their church, when I sit in worship with them, I am challenged. The judgmental feelings that come up have to be dealt with, because the more I sit there and listen to the worship team and read lyrics off a screen and hear the word of God preached so passionately from the pulpit, the more I realize that there is no “right” or “best” way to worship God. There are preferences, sure, but however people connect with God and with one another is a beautiful thing. And there is always something I can find to connect with.

The song I posted above was sung on a Sunday that I wasn’t at their church but kind of wish I had been. I really, really like it. And that’s unusual and weird and challenging for me, in all kinds of good and healthy ways. I’ve started dealing with a lot of that weird baggage I’ve been carrying around for a decade, and laying them down.

For These and All Thy Blessings…

This post is a long time coming…

I’m writing at my work desk, looking up at the row of windows above my desk, listening to Patsy Cline, and marveling at how life works out.  It’s hard to believe this is August, because it’s only been in the 90’s once in the last month.  It’s hard to believe that we live in Ohio, now, and that for the first time since December 2011, I’m bringing home a full pay check and benefits.  It’s hard to believe that I spent the first half of the summer pulling 80 hour weeks and running summer camp. It’s hard to remember that I don’t have three jobs, anymore.  And last week, I was so happy, just sitting at my desk and editing, I burst into tears. 

The newness is sweet enough to give me a toothache.  I know that at some point, the newness will start to rub off, and this will look and feel like normal.  But for now, I’m determined to soak in the deep well of happy I’ve fallen into, and not feel guilty, or wonder when the well might run dry, or try to decide if the speck on the horizon is a storm blowing in.  Instead, I’m going to mow the back yard, and steer clear of the poison ivy, and dead head the lilies that grow by our air conditioner.  I’m going to reacquaint myself with both my crock pots, and get some fresh herbs planted in the boxes we brought from Houston.  

Pay day was last Friday, and for the first time ever, I felt like a real writer.  Of all the things I ever wanted to be, professionally speaking,  this is the thing I wanted most, and wondered if it would ever come to be.  I am profoundly grateful for the ministry that is mine.  I remember having a similar feeling, when I was falling in love with my beloved…this feeling that what was happening was absolutely the right thing, that every step it took to get here was worth it, that all things really were counted as deep joy. 

It’s good to be here, and good to be caking, again.  Thank you for your love and prayers for me and mine as we make this transition.  Get ready…I’ve got some stories for you. 

Love,

rachie

Thoughts for Thursday

firefliesFireflies
by Cecilia Woloch

And these are my vices:
impatience, bad temper, wine,
the more than occasional cigarette,
an almost unquenchable thirst to be kissed,
a hunger that isn’t hunger
but something like fear, a staunching of dread
and a taste for bitter gossip
of those who’ve wronged me—for bitterness—
and flirting with strangers and saying sweetheart
to children whose names I don’t even know
and driving too fast and not being Buddhist
enough to let insects live in my house
or those cute little toylike mice
whose soft grey bodies in sticky traps
I carry, lifeless, out to the trash
and that I sometimes prefer the company of a book
to a human being, and humming
and living inside my head
and how as a girl I trailed a slow-hipped aunt
at twilight across the lawn
and learned to catch fireflies in my hands,
to smear their sticky, still-pulsing flickering
onto my fingers and earlobes like jewels.
—–

I love this poem. Good poetry, I think, is honest, and it’s a peek inside someone else’s soul–a peek that also reveals something about the reader, maybe that they didn’t even know about themselves. Her vices are also my vices–some of them anyway. And it makes me think about myself, and what mine are, and how there’s something beautiful in sharing them with others.

Impatience is something I have struggled with my whole life. I have learned that for the most part patience pays off, like when you decide to re-heat pizza in the oven instead of the microwave. But when it comes to being patient with other people–waiting on someone else to do something or complete something–I struggle. It’s hard to slow my pace down to match someone else’s.

It has taken several not-awesome learning experiences to slow down, breathe, and let go of the thought that I’m in control. I am most certainly not and that is for the best for everyone. It’s hard for me to sit in that tension, that anxiety.

Recently my boyfriend went on an 8 day mission trip to the Dominican Republic. I missed him a lot, and the communication black out was hard for me. So impatient was I (and, also I just love surprises) for his return that I drove to the Atlanta airport (both of them.. ugh, Atlanta, why you so crazy?!) to meet him there. I stood in the arrivals area with my little sign positively WRIGGLING with impatience. His flight came in early so I was dancing around for 30 minutes, searching faces coming off the escalator. There were two little boys waiting for their father who exhibited more patience than me.

When their group finally did come of the escalator I didn’t see him. I went up to someone else that I recognized and I was like “Welcome back! Where’s James?!” I ended up completely missing him in the crowd because I was so impatient. He saw me before I saw him and I totally missed that fun little moment of surprised recognition. A small thing, but something I had been looking forward to.

I wish I had been able to calm myself down enough to patiently wait there. I wish I had talked myself down, breathed, and let things happen as they would. Hindsight’s 20/20, right? I can see why they say patience is a virtue.

As I continue my journey through (formal) discernment I’m learning more and more that I definitely need to cultivate patience in my heart, and to let God handle things. It’s really freaking hard, y’all. It’s not like I can just up and decide to go to seminary–other people, the church, are part of this. And I’m sure I will have many, many more opportunities to practice patience in my life, not just waiting at airports or for correspondence from committees.

All those Psalms about “wait for the Lord” make so much sense…

Thoughts for Thursday

You know that if you get in the water and have nothing to hold on to, but try to behave as you would on dry land, you will drown. But if, on the other hand, you trust yourself to the water and let go, you will float. And this is exactly the situation of faith. (Alan WattsThe Way of Liberation, 1983)

cat treading waterThis is me, lately. Struggling to control myself and the water and demanding gravity and fighting the current. It has been so hard to let go, to trust. Stress is everywhere, weighing me down like lead shoes. My prayer is for help in letting go, in trusting God. Help me float, Lord.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

 

There just aren’t enough hours in the day!!!

nervous

This week our cake makers are feeling a little overwhelmed.  Many of us have major events going on at work or in our personal lives that are using up all our energy and brain power.  Finding time to do all the things you want to do can be hard.  So what gets neglected?

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Moveable Feast

“…deeds are done which appear so evil to us and people suffer such terrible evils that it does not seem as though any good will ever come of them; and we consider this, sorrowing and grieving over it so that we cannot find peace in the blessed contemplation of God as we should do; and this is why: our reasoning powers are so blind now, so humble and so simple, that we cannot know the high, marvelous wisdom, the might and the goodness of the Holy Trinity. And this is what he means where he says, ‘You shall see for yourself that all manner of things shall be well’, as if he said, ‘Pay attention to this now, faithfully and confidently, and at the end of time you will truly see it in the fullness of joy.” 
― Julian of NorwichRevelations of Divine Love

 

I think I like St. Julian because she preaches the Gospel to me in a way I can believe without feeling like I’m deluding myself.  She’s a mystic, and I like that, too.  I wish I could be a mystic, but I think I probably think too much about moisturizer to qualify.  All I know is that when I read what she’s got to say, what she seems to understand about this life, I feel better.  Sometimes, just having someone else say, “This stuff is hard…and raw…and real, and it’s ok.  Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong, or that you’re being punished.  It just means that somethings are really hard, no matter how much you love Jesus.  Loving Jesus just helps you deal with the hardness, makes a way to be with Jesus in the hardness, makes a way for Jesus to resurrect and renew the raw and the real of our day-to-day lives.”  That’s what I hear her saying, anyway.

 

Light a candle.  Say a prayer.  All things shall be well.

 

Love,

rachie

Thoughts for Thursday

List every job you have held since you were 18.

I sit, staring at that sentence and the seven little boxes given to list all of the jobs I have had since I was 18. There is another sentence about also listing jobs I did that were volunteer/unpaid, but if I did that then I would be up all night. I might even be up all night anyway.

I’m going to need another piece of paper, please.

I’ve been thinking a lot about vocation lately, probably a good thing since I am in discernment with my diocese. When I think about all of the jobs I have had since I was 18 (way more than seven) and look for a thread of similarity, something that binds them all together, I come up short. I’ve driven a forklift, answered more phones than I want to think about, completed mountains of paperwork, sat up all night at the desk of a dormitory. I’ve scheduled appointments for animals and people and babies. I’ve cooed over kittens and puppies and newborn babies, rejoiced over happy news of what gender or healthy deliveries. I’ve cried with people over loss and heartache, held a dying animal in my arms, hugged women who have experienced tragedy. I’ve been around the world to serve women who are so abused and mistreated that they are scared to stand up for themselves. I’ve kept breweries running in Georgia (and almost shut one down a time or two), I’ve come in on a Saturday to move boxes around a giant warehouse to make space for more people to work. I have helped people with skin problems, pampered and cared for them, put make up on hundreds of faces and told them they were beautiful without it but oh-my-gosh you need this mascara in your life.

The only common thread I can come up with is meeting hundreds of people who are very, very different from myself and loving them so much.

But how do I put that on a job application? How do I convey that I’m not just a job hopper? They are looking for stability in the job history, presumably, but my job history is anything but. Some jobs were not for me, but I’m better for the experience of having them.

And so I wrack my brain to list them all, the dates I was there and when I left. I hope and pray that I get the chance to explain it, to say what I learned and experienced and how that will help me be a good priest someday. (God-willing!)

It’s the world’s dirty secret.

Liberal Arts

I turned thirty-five this month.  I don’t feel thirty-five.  I remember thinking my mother was thirty-six for the majority of my childhood and I definitely don’t feel old enough to be a mother…wait, I am a mother.  I am married and someone’s mother and thirty-five years old.

I don’t feel twenty but I feel a lot closer to twenty than to forty.  I have established myself in the world.  I know who I am and am even considered knowledgeable about some things.  I am an adult but that word has way too much baggage that doesn’t apply to me.  I am still fun, young, free-spirited, and a little crazy.

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