Friday, February 1, 2019

reach


I know. Maybe one day it’ll actually reach me.

It was almost my last night at my parents’ home for a while, and I was standing on the reed-tanned floors, wrapped in a red blanket as the sleek white snow illuminated by the Christmas lights seemed to seep into my cold bones.

My dad had told me he loved me, and that he hoped I knew how deeply and unchangingly. I appreciate that. And as much as my father is so, so human, I knew I was blessed to know that he meant it. Because know it? I did.

Yes Dad, I do know. Maybe one day it’ll actually reach me.

Earlier, I’d been perched on the edge of the hotel room’s 80s lime green armchair. It was past 10 PM, and both him and my mom were there. We’d come—come from me taking a final walk across my college campus with my sister as she now graduated and we were both alum, a walk that symbolized much more than just the diploma she carried. Then after that walk to a table talking with relatives, some who hadn’t actually talked to me in over seven years. All the while, I was coming to terms with the goodbyes and endings—to friends, to someone who soon would be no longer would be the couple everyone made us out to be, to a life I could have had.

I was coming to terms.

Dad, I’m distanced.

I had gone camping two months before this hotel conversation. I was about four miles up a Smoky Mountain. Asthma making my lungs feel like they needed to be stretched for they were cramping and compressing, a nose and eyes watering from the pollen, my mind could see more clearly: that—striding across a literal mountain—I was strolling through a mountain inside myself. Lights flicked on inside, and I later called my mom: it’s like I have this box. This big, white box is in front of me. I stuff things inside of it. Feel something that I don’t like? Stuff it in the box, keep moving on. It’s great, sometimes. But the box is ravenous, taking the joy and the pain. It’s always there, and it’s thick, and I can’t get around it, even when I want to. It’s three feet deep, separating me from anyone. I see people, but they’re at arms’ distance, just out of reach.

Maybe one day it’ll actually reach me.

It came out twice again. I had driven with her to soccer, to play on a team that I had signed up for but had now checked-out of my own life to such a degree that I couldn’t do more than stand on the sidelines. Maybe, it really was a metaphor to how I feel that I am on the sidelines of my own life, something I’m supposed to be participating in but I stubbornly am standing by, arms crossed feet planted, unmoving. On the way back, she asked me questions.

Deborah, tell me when you think you actually did something “good enough”?

I couldn’t.

Every crazy circumstance she had to remind me which others reacted with “Deborah, you did what?!” I always had a counter to. Yes, but people didn’t know this. Yeah, they thought it was great, but people just set the bar way too low. Sure, people said I surpassed their expectation, but they don’t know what it could have been like if I just would have gotten it together a little more.

She said it, then, near the end, after my frantic stream of consciousness that I hardly had ever let anyone in on to know that fully before.

Deb, I’m not even going to say that you’re too hard on yourself anymore. It’s more than that. You don’t know what your worth.

And I put it in the box.
Shut, door, lock, key, chains, seven layers back inside my head. I had to do math. When something strikes a chord, deep down hard, I do math. I add 2 + 2. It’s 4, and 4 + 4 is 8. I did this in the bathroom stall one day at work, and I got to over 2,000. This is what happens when I’m at the breaking point about to lose control, and I do it to reel it back in. To keep from having to go that deep. To keep the tears that so often just can’t seem to come from emerging.

We talked again, last night. I’d let a pretty major thing about my past just drop, and it didn’t get tossed around and come out in a better place like usually happens in our conversations. It dropped. And landed. Heavy. She’d left soon after, and I was left knowing something was up. She brought it back up later that night, and I sat, white and grey blanket up to my chin, hair up in a bun. We talked of real trust and directness, of fear and failure. I’d read her something, at the end, something deeply steeped in still-yet-processing.

Deb, you’re really good at writing.

I stared back at her, and then said the words I’d trained myself to know should come after such a statement, even when they are not in my mind or heart.

Thank you. And this time, with her, I let myself add it, a little sliver closer to the truth. Maybe one day I’ll believe it.

I love you. Maybe one day it’ll reach me.
You’re worth something. Maybe one day it’ll reach me.
You’re good at this. Maybe one day it’ll reach me.

I think maybe, now, all I can reach is this: that in order to reach true, free life, I have to be reached by the One who exists far beyond me. And maybe realize He’s always been reaching for me.

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I definitely don't want this to be a monologue. What are your thoughts? Questions? Ideas?

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