Sunday, September 08, 2013

Whys and wherefores...

Suddenly, inexplicably, between one step and another, I had an explosion of pain in my left foot.  The smashed-toes-and-soft-tissue-damaged foot that still has parts that move and shouldn't.  But in a totally different place.  With each successive step, it hurts more.  What does it say about me that my first thought was fear of whatever this problem will cost?

Earlier, because I thought Firewood Man was coming to tend the yard and take care of securing the wood frame and miter cutting the glass bead for the window, I finished chipping out the crumbling caulk around the window.  But, primarily, I spent the day resting up from all that cooking and having of fun.  And ... well ... rather unsuccessfully resisting the urge to finish off the six Peanut Butter Nutella Cheesecake Bars that were left over.  [I might possibly have eaten two of them.  Or three.]

So, I have no clue what is wrong with my foot or what could possibly have caused the problem.  I am hoping that I shall awake on the morrow with the pain just as suddenly, inexplicably gone.

Tonight, I did write more on Trauma and the Brain.  The part of me that wants ever so deeply for our world to have a solid understanding of the effects of sexual abuse the way we have with with the effects of say, drunk driving, wants to write.  The part of me that finds this so very difficult wants me to delete the entire blog.  And then the part of me who is the writer is rather frustrated with the puzzle of how to talk about something piece meal when all the facets of the subject are intertwined.

For example, I started out wanting to talk about the body and how the struggles with the body can make receiving the Gospel difficult, pointing out the physicality of the Gospel.  Only once I started writing—and not getting anywhere close to what I wanted to say—I realized that I needed to write about trauma and the brain.  Only once I started, I realized that I couldn't just write a gazillion page post.  So, I wrote a first lesson.  Then the second.  And I have thoughts on the third. I start thinking I have made a start and then I think How can I possibly explain something I am still trying to understand myself?  SIGH.

When I was writing about PTSD and thinking about how to write about dissociation, I realized that part of my struggles is the fact that I have a neurological condition—two in fact—that causes and enhances responses within my body.  By this I mean, it is not just that Dysautonomia causes anxiety, but that I have so many sensations and so much pain that I am intimately aware of a body from which I have spent much of my life distancing or numbing myself.  In a way, it feels as if our foe is cursing even my efforts to heal in that area of my life, while struggling to accept that the illnesses I have will not heal, that the decline in my body and mind will continue whether I want it to or not.

I am not thinking, at the moment, of the agony in my left foot.  I am thinking of how I feel so many sensations in my heart alone ... when it slows, it feels as if it is thudding ... when it speeds up, all of me feels like a plucked guitar string ... when my blood pressure drops, I feel as if I am fading away.  At any given time, I can tell you, with a very close margin of error, what my heart rate is.  I do not like being aware of my heart, especially now with the intermittent chest pain.  For when it strikes, I find myself pressing the location and its location is not a place on my body I care to acknowledge.

When the anxiety starts, amongst other things, my lips tingle.  I do not like thinking about my lips or touching them or feeling them.  I mean, I had this hankering for red lipstick, but that was about color and an image.  Sitting at the make-up counter at the department store, it was all I could do not to scream and flee when the clerk took my chin and I had to work very hard not to vomit when she started applying the lip liner.  All the while, I had to pretend because I was in public and with my mother.

So much of my life, I have not understood the rest of the world, felt as if everyone else was a half a step ahead of me.  Now, I have been learning why.  But in the learning everything was still secret, mostly, as the abuse was, mostly.  I cannot explain why, but that secrecy frustrates and hurts me ... and leaves me feeling even more ashamed.

Marie has anxiety.  Being around her, I feel normal.  I feel no pressure to pretend.  And I feel safe.  The strange thing is that I would not have said that or even thought of it last summer when she and her husband were living here.  I would not have allowed myself to acknowledge just how much I struggle with having to battle anxiety, on top of everything else, another battle that is also the very opposite of who I used to be, such as with the cognitive decline.  If I tell Marie that my lips tingle and it very much bothers me, she will understand.  Not about the sensation, but about the fact that knowing lips shouldn't tingle and they are tingling and they are tingling because of the panic attack.

And she understands that panic attacks are not really socially acceptable.  She understands that calm down techniques, which are good and helpful for managing panic attacks, are not always received well by others.  She understands the longing that they were and the longing that they were not needed.  She understands.

Marie even understands the Psalter.  The other day, she pointed me toward Psalm 84:

How lovely are Thy dwelling places,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
The bird also has found a house,
And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even Thine altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God,
How blessed are those who dwell in Thy house!
They are ever praising Thee.

How blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee;
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
Passing through the valley of Baca, they make it a spring,
The early rain also covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength,
Every one of them appears before God in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob!
Behold our shield, O God,
And look upon the face of Thine anointed.
For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside.
I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God,
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,

How blessed is the man who trusts in Thee!
~Psalm 84 (NASB 1977)

Marie pointed out that the study note stated this is the psalm of someone who has been separated from the sanctuary, where God is rightly worshiped, and who longs to return. Many homebound and shut-in Christians long for worship in God's house, yearning for the days account of Christ.  She added, "See, you're not the first or only one! There's a whole Psalm for homebound Christians!!"

At dinner with her and her husband, we ended up talking about the times I am not at church because I cannot get myself across the threshold.  Sometimes, I drive over and ended up weeping in the parking lot.  Her husband, fresh off his vicarage, observed that he considers me the same as any other homebound and thinks nothing of my never leaving the parking lot.  Of course he would wish for me to go inside, but if it happens that the Gospel needs to come to me, then such is good, right, and salutary.  

I was able to speak so bluntly in front of Paul because last summer I saw him leap up and race across the room to make sure the microwave timer did not go off.  When he looks at Marie and thinks about her triggers, he sees his beloved, not a bother.  Such love and acceptance and encouragement I saw in that single moment.  I was able to speak so bluntly because the more I read The Courage to Heal and pondered the whys and wherefores of my life, the more I thought about meeting Marie and how she so boldly and freely explained about her triggers and asked me to help her with them. 

I think, then, I was jealous of her courage.  Now, I am thankful for the opportunity to meet her and thankful for the bits of courage here and there my Good Shepherd has given me through His body and blood and through His Word, as I continue to ponder and to face my whys and wherefores.

Anyway, Marie thought about that bit of our conversation and then gave me a bit of the Living Word to remind me that I am known by my Creator.  Another gift of mercy from my Good Shepherd through my neighbor.

Do you think that my hiding in the Psalter is my way of standing at the threshold of the house of God?

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

No comments: