I've got an itch to scratch. It relates to a post I wrote some time ago, my first that dealt with my past and present struggles with depression. In that post I gave a brief history of some of the more difficult periods in my life, and talked about some of the reasons why I think that things are better now. I mentioned Tom, and my children, and my improved outlook on life. I did not mention God, or my faith.
I was mindful of this as I typed, and I felt a twinge of guilt even as I made a conscious decision not to "go there." I must ashamedly admit that one reason was a touch of bashfulness, and near-embarrassment. Not because I am ashamed to be Catholic, quite the contrary. But because I wasn't sure yet just how personal I wanted to get with the blog, and while revealing my struggles with depression is about as personal as it could get, it seemed that discussing my spiritual life would be throwing in yet a deeper level of revelation when I was already nervously trying just to "dip my toes in first." And because I know that discussing matters of faith and religion is often such a turnoff to so many people, especially in today's cultural climate. It shouldn't make me want to hide my faith away, but sometimes it does.
But even more than that, it had to do with where my head was as I returned, on some level, to those places and times. To those feelings.
To that shockingly empty darkness.
I sometimes wonder if my moments of deepest despair weren't, somehow, the briefest taste of purgatory. They were loveless, Godless pockets of misery. This is not to say that I believe God to have abandoned me. Rather, I attempted to abandon Him. One of the first, unfortunate, knee-jerk reactions of traveling down that destructive road is that I begin to push others away. Starting with God.
I don't really have a legitimate explanation for it, though I know that it stemmed largely from feelings of shame and unworthiness. And from a selfish desire to burrow deeper into my own misery, and further away from everyone else who did not share in it (which, to be clear, was absolutely everyone else in my life).
Though I rarely tread close to that darkness anymore, it is still a tendency that I greatly struggle with, this instinctive refusal to put my trust in God, or even to talk to Him, when things start to go wrong. Sometimes it starts as a fear that if I pray for something and don't get the answer that I want, I'll feel worse than never having asked for it at all. Other times it happens without my notice, after a few days have gone by in which I haven't taken the time to acknowledge God in my daily life, or spend time with Him in prayer, and I start to feel like Eve in the Garden: n.a.k.e.d and ashamed. And instead of running remorsefully back to Him, I hide away until I am reminded, through the Mass, why this is absolutely the wrong thing to be doing. It is one reason that I treasure being able to attend on Sundays, and why it has been difficult for me (beyond the guilt that I feel over it) to be missing it so much in recent months due to sheer exhaustion and difficulties getting and keeping Michael on a schedule.
But I know that I am deeply indebted to the Lord, and I can see clearly now the ways in which He assisted me through those desperate times, despite myself. Though I refused to use Him as resource, to rely on Him, to put my faith in Him, or even to offer up my suffering to Him, He was there for me. Through the people that He sent into my life. Through the blessings that He has bestowed on me. Through the healing that I have experienced. Through the trials from which He has spared me.
And so I owe it to Him to acknowledge that He, most of all, has made it possible for me to get to where I am today. And it is He who continues to sustain me, still.
I only wish I'd had the courage and humility to proclaim that in the first place.
It's still a mystery to me, sometimes, how I ever manage to forget the wonders that God has done for me. Especially when I've got my own little slice of heaven, right here.