Eyes Wide Open

I want to live life with my eyes wide open.

For too long I have dodged eye contact, hiding in the shadows.

The pain loomed, a black hole trying to obliterate me…

I felt too much.  Thought too much

Was too much.

 

I backed away

If I shrank back far enough I didn’t have to feel it all.

The too much could not swallow me whole.

 

If I took shallow breaths of the air around me

Instead of deep draughts

Maybe the pain wouldn’t pierce so deeply.

 

 

Slowly and haltingly Life stands in front

Of the little girl that is my heart.

Life’s hands close gently over hers

Her  hands that are pressed so hard onto her eyes that she sees red flashes

On the inside of her eyelids.

 

Life pries those hands away from her eyes

Color floods in.

 

Pain yes.  Piercing pain.

But also joy.  Life.  Light.

Bright yellows.  Vibrant reds.  Verdant greens.  Deep blues.  Dingy browns.  Soul-sucking blacks.

It’s all there.

 

Life holds my hands out in front of me

Turns my palms up.

And says

 

Receive.

 

See.

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Words on the Rug

Sometimes it takes telling someone else your story from start to finish to really understand the enormity of it.

I found myself telling my story recently.  I started way back–at a point that seemed ridiculously early, and yet still felt pertinent.   I kept talking and talking and talking.  I spoke haltingly at first, but the momentum built surprisingly fast and I was surprised that I kept circling around to add details and feelings that I hadn’t thought of before.  I talked about losing my Mom to cancer, having a tumor myself, and all the ups and downs in between and surrounding those pivotal moments.  I talked about, deployments and doing life on my own.  I talked about finding myself stuck on the floor in excruciating pain.

She asked really good questions–the woman listening to me.  She made me see my story from angles I hadn’t even considered.  She didn’t minimize a word of it.  I squash my story every time I turn a corner, but she let the weight of what I’d said hang just as it had landed.

My words lay on the floor spilled out between us.  She didn’t flinch from them.  Laid out bare as they were, I could see parts of them clearly for the first time.

It turns out there was a heckuva a lot laying there.

It’s funny, when you walk through life–even writing it down as you go–the day to day of it can numb you to the enormity of what you’re living.  Even writing this here, I want to hide and say, “oh you know…  none of it is THAT big a deal!”

But I didn’t do that that day.  Maybe it was because the person listening didn’t shirk from any of it.  Maybe her empathy brought some long-needed validation.  Or maybe saying it all at once gave me the ‘perspective’ I really needed, as I was finally able to feel the heaviness of all I’d come through and been under for so long.

After the words laid there for a bit, she said the words ‘depleted’ and ‘erosion’ and a light bulb came on for me.  I saw how much had been swept out from under me little by little.   So much disequilibrium has taken a toll.

I got to thinking about erosion and roots and what makes the soil stay put beneath you.  Am I rooted firmly in Christ?  What am I planting around me to hold the soil in place beneath me?

How often am I spending time doing things that make me feel alive and filled up?

Since then things have shifted in subtle but powerful ways.  I’m trying to tap into more of that life-giving stuff.  I’m asking God to push me towards what breathes life into me.  I’m carving out time to do things like yoga, and writing, and filling my mind with things that lift me up.  And I’m finding that my brain is marinating in new thoughts–thoughts that don’t have to do with disease or illness or pain, but that do challenge me to see the world in new ways.

I believe there is power in telling out stories.  That day, spilling the words out on the rug made space for shifting deep inside of me.  Who knows what kind of new life might be found in the next few chapters?