Sunday, December 11, 2011

This Odd New Companion

He joined me almost silently during a difficult time in my life, and he has remained.  He's quiet, so I don't always notice him.  He's not flashy; he doesn't make himself known or push himself forward, but he's constantly there.  He is so quiet at times that I think perhaps he may have gone, but when I turn around, like my shadow, he's there.

This vague sense of disconnect.  My odd new companion.

He's been in my life before, like a frequent house guest - one that you don't bother to put out a folded set of towels on the bed for since he knows where they are kept.  He's shown up when I am sitting in a group of people talking and realize that my thoughts are on a world half a globe away that those I am with have no concept of.  He's come to stay with me through every move as we walk around the house and mentally prepare to leave.  He's been there through abuse when my eyes looked out at a world my hurting child's heart had no way to comprehend.  He's come and gone as our greater missionary family has wound its way through different crisis and griefs.  He moved in for a few months when my daughter died.

Almost a friend.  Familiar.  But even good friends eventually leave.  Now he seems to have signed a lease.

It makes it difficult.  I think, "I should feel/do/think/act....." but I can not.  I am quieter, more reserved.  I trust less.  I went through trauma compounded by the startling absence of those who I thought I could count on.  I find myself less willing to count on people.  In my relationships, I have changed.  I initiate less.  I do not seek after contact, believing it to be false if I have to find it.  "If you really care, you will come/write/call." seems to be my answer to the overwhelming grief of being left alone. 

I struggled so hard to find a way through my lack of trust that I inherited from the abuse in my childhood.  It also didn't help that I led the life of a gypsy (or an MK) and there was nothing constant.  I learned to trust - to begin to.  Technology is nice - not so many final goodbyes as I grew up with.  I began to allow myself to believe people.... they were who they said they were, they would be dependable, they would have good intentions... I could withstand the risk.... learning trust.

Then this happened.  And people, good people, our people, other missionaries... left me completely alone when they knew I needed them.  Trauma compounded with a broken trust.

I'm healing.  I think so.  I'm not demanding of myself that I pretend to be all healed.  I'm still healing.  There is still pain.

And my odd new companion seems to have taken residence in my home.  This odd sense of disconnect.  I'm different today.  I am quieter.  I wait.  I watch.  I initiate less.  I hesitate.  I feel disconnected from people in groups and open up less to people one on one.  (I blog less, too.)  I wonder - who ever really cares?  Why waste my time?

I have this disconnect with God also.  I wait for Him to initiate contact, too.  Thankfully, He does more than people.  We talk.  I ask Him to remind me that He was there.  He does.  I don't have my feelings back - not in my relationship with God, not like they were before.  I'm different.  I'm less demanding, but I am not sure that that is a good thing.  I quietly watch.  I watch God, too, quieter.

I fill my days with different tasks.  I like routine, order, things that are repetitive.  I like quietness or jobs that don't involve my heart.  God is good - He's given me a job like that now.  I love it.  I am to keep order, count, categorize, maintain routines.  It's good.  I still work with old people in a home.  This job, I like.  Somehow, when I am there, my odd companion stays home.  Perhaps it is that this was the place, here among unbelievers, that I received the most support.  Here it was that people really ask, "How are you doing?"  (Ok, there are some believers there, too, but it is a secular workplace.)  Here, I leave my quiet disconnect outside and feel alive.  There is something about caring for the dying and comforting the hurting that comforts my own heart.  Then I leave again, and the quiet shadow follows me.

I wonder when his lease is up or if I have adopted him.

I think about my conversation with a friend who went through trauma right after we did - totally different - but trauma nevertheless.  They are still dealing with the obvious after effects - physically.  When we talked, we talked about this odd feeling of disconnect.  Of wishing we had known that our normal was going to disappear.  We never got to say goodbye.  I liked who I was before.... before when I was learning to trust and feeling on top of the world.

Now I am quieter, watching to see who initiates contact, who really cares, not wanting to risk hurt.  I miss my old self, but life is like that.  There is no going back.  Just like I miss who I was when I was young and believed that you get pregnant and have a baby and life is good.  Before I knew that sometimes you deliver a quiet baby who has already gone.  There is no going back.  I am not who I was before that day.

A strange sense of disconnect.  It's made for a quieter blog.  It's made for a quieter me.  If you are my friend, you already know, its made for long, long silences.  I'm here.  I'm just watching, not ready yet to commit again.  Its sort of like drinking the rest of the hot chocolate after you've burned your tongue.  It may have cooled, but it still hurts, so you don't.

I was listening to a song the other day and I got angry at it.  It was repetitive and boring and kept singing, "I will not be shaken, I will not be shaken."  I thought, "What a stupid song!"  Of course we will be shaken.  We so easily are.  Life is not about my strength.  Yet we won't be shaken.... only because we are hanging on to One who can not be shaken, and even more importantly because He is hanging on to us.

Even when we feel disconnected.  Even then.


Alan & Beth McManus said...

I think your "new friend" lives with me too. I still pray for you and check on you, but I don't say much. Sorry. I just can't muster the energy to work hard on relationships these days. I find myself dreading ministry/Sunday/get-togethers because it means I actually have to talk to people. Makes me sad to see you going through this too. Praying for you.


Ellie said...

Thanks Beth. I've been wondering about how you were doing. I find groups difficult, too, and visiting supporting churches can be difficult... we will begin to lose support if I don't get out there and start initiating contact with them, but its like walking in mud... slow and hard.