It’s beginning to feel inevitable: just when I think I’m making progress, figuring life out and getting my stuff in order, God gives a hearty laugh and says “Oh, really?” – and sends me back to square one so quickly that I don’t understand how I got there. This recent bout of illness, and the loss of control that accompanied it, is only one example of this, the last in a series that is becoming annoyingly repetitive.
I don’t like it. Not one bit. It feels like nothing I do is ever good enough. I take a hit, I get back up, I dust myself off, recalibrate – and I’m knocked down again. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do. Sometimes I’m allowed to get a few paces ahead. I start to feel confident. Only to be taken more off guard when the blow finally comes. It’s like I’m being teased. Toyed with. And it hurts.
I look back at posts like this, written barely 3 weeks ago, and I can hardly remember who that person was. So full of hope. So calm and sure and – from this perspective – maddeningly arrogant. No doubt in her mind that it would be smooth sailing ahead. So high on her little victories and amazed by her recent insights into her own personality, she felt invincible.
Compare that me, to the person I am today. Trying to numb a headache with painkillers. Trying to concentrate on a page in my exam prep book – struggling to even open it up. Kicking angrily at fences I’d so sincerely claimed to embrace in a loving, nostalgic ode to rationing. That calm, rational me is gone. Nowhere to be found. I’m a junkie. Knowing I won’t even enjoy it, but wanting it. Needing it. Not able to see anything else.
Maybe I needed to be taken down a peg or two. Maybe I was getting a little too confident. I’m tempted to say a little too happy. I’m trying – I’m really trying – to be patient. To see a reason for everything. To believe that this is all for my ultimate good. But I’m getting tired of it. I’m tired of landing flat on my back. I’m tired of trying to see every setback as a lesson. I’m tired of being grateful. I’m tired of hoping that my life will ever be anything other than what it is.
But I can’t stop.
There is something inside me that hopes. That will always hope. That believes that God does love me, even when my rational mind says this isn’t love – this is hate.
I’m too tired to fight anymore. I’m too tired to get up. I’m too tired to take one more step. I’m too weak to do anything but stay here, where I am, lying in a lifeless heap on the ground. I can’t bear the thought of one more useless effort. I see no reason for it.
But I watch, as if a spectator, as my bruised and bloodied body gets up, one more time, onto its feet. Moving forward. Stupidly. Blindly. And I’m powerless to stop it.
What is it, doing that? Where does it come from? Why can’t it be killed? Can’t it see the futility of the actions it’s driving me to? What reason could it possibly have to think that this time, its efforts will be any more effective?
There is no reason. There’s nothing there. Nothing but an empty, irrational hope that refuses to die.
So I write my blog. I make a new spreadsheet for this month’s competition. I face all the empty squares on my nightly checklist, and start filling them in, again. I write out my food for tomorrow. I step back on the scale, and don’t let myself cry. I try not to think about the future, not to start planning, not to hope too much, because the more I hope, the more it will hurt when it all falls apart again.
But I can’t stop.
I hope even in the middle of feeling this pain. While it’s still sharp and real and present. Because that part of me, that hope, is indestructible. I don’t know why. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t. But it’s going to drag me out of this hole. Start putting my life back together, piece by piece. With or without my help.
And maybe, tomorrow, I’ll be happy about it.