I wanted to be healed. I wanted to be calm and happy without medication. I wanted to meet the baby who had been visiting me in dreams and visions. I was on a trajectory of hope, aiming for a future I believed was right for me. When it all came crashing down, there was no sense in reaching for that hoped-for life any longer. All I could reach for was getting through another day, and another, and another.
Fortunately, I’m no longer in survival mode. I’m not fighting tooth and nail to get through the day. When I do still have anxiety, it is mild and manageable. I am finally beyond the insomnia that plagued me for months. I’m sleeping without sleep-aids! Most of the time I can genuinely smile. I can take care of my family. I’ve regained my appetite. All of these things are huge victories.
But now that I have the energy to do more than just survive, I also have the energy to look to the future. Assuming that my medication continues to work for me, I will continue to take it… probably forever. I come from a family riddled with mental illness. Most of the members of my immediate family are taking (and always will be taking) meds for those illnesses. I am certainly in good company. But I wish it weren’t so. I wanted a future without medication, and it’s been painful to accept the future I’m looking at instead.
I recently started rereading one of my favorite books, Light in the Wilderness, by M. Catherine Thomas. The chapter I most-recently finished discusses at length the principle of accepting what is. She says that “to be free, we must insist on the Truth, which is always kinder than we might have thought” (p. 19). In illustration, she quotes Jacques Lusseyran, a blind Nazi prison camp survivor:
One should not try to console either those who lost their eyes, or those who have suffered other losses–of money, health, or a loved one. It is necessary instead to show them what their loss brings them, to show them the gifts they receive in place of what they have lost. Because there are always gifts (p. 31).
Yes, I am grieving a painful loss, but it has not been without compensation. Sometimes the compensatory gift is simply a profound appreciation for the light once taken for granted in times of ease. I have received this precious gift myself.
But one of the most valuable gifts I have been given in compensation for my losses has been a breathtakingly beautiful blossoming of relationships. One relationship transformation in particular has been a gift I have waited and longed-for for thirteen years. Two people I love deeply can now see each other clearly. The strain that has plagued their interactions for thirteen years has vanished, and in its place there is only respect and love.
If I could go back in time and choose whether to endure the losses of the last five months in exchange for this gift, I think I can honestly say I would do it. If all I got out of my pain was the privilege of watching this relationship transform, it would have been worth it. Without my pain, this transformation wouldn’t have been possible. My suffering and their mutual concern for me was the catalyst.
When I ponder the immensity of this gift, I can’t help but echo David Archuletta… It’s glorious! There is light in the wilderness. There is treasure buried in the deserts of our lives. Go and find it.