"I'm sorry to hear about your friend's sudden death...." my sixteen year old self feebly offers to her.
"Thanks. He's in a better place now."
Uh? Was she serious? How would God let him in when this guy was clearly so selfish...suicide! How could someone take their life when they have so many people around them who love them and would be devastated by their act?
I smugly and ignorantly wondered where her friend really was? The contempt and judgement secretly oozing through my membranes seeking to box-in and make sense of such pain and suffering. My stern, black-and-white God sucked of compassion and reeking of pat answer faith.
A teenager running from her fears, putting on competency to counteract her feeble footing.
* * * * *
She takes a walk along the Danube River trying to quiet her mind. She stares out into the mirky waters of the river running by, the matchbox communist skyscrapers span the horizon. Her eyes search out the expansive skyline, a foreigner in an oppressed land, longing for the freedom and safety of home.
Where did I go?
The leadership had designated this time to reflect on the summer. An exercise Susie would rather skip over than face. The utter vulnerability of not knowing where the Susie she once knew had gone. How to even begin trying to process a dream shattered, a heart broken, a mind breaking down.
Stopping along the rivers edge I watch as she leans her back against a concrete pillar, collapsing in a curled-up ball. Head tucked between her knees, the tears and anger come, Why God? Why would you allow all of this? I can’t take more. What have I done to deserve this?
Yes, let it come. All that fear, anguish, confusion has to get out. Breathe. Feel it. Enter it.
There is a weightiness and dignity to her confession. I startle knowing we are on holy ground and I long for her to know this is good. So good. Even if it doesn’t make sense. Yes Susie, He is here, closer than you think. But to her God has allowed heartache and brokenness beyond what she can bear. How could He? Her heart opened wide to love only to be tore open, wrenched out and flung down throbbing in disbelief.
How can this be good?
She weeps, crying out to God for some measure of relief. Weeks of oppression have paid it’s toll. Why?
I watch as she begins to confess every dark sin and thought she could recall: What ever had she done to bring this on? Painstakingly she clamors for relief. Head pressed back against the pillar, she begs God to do something, anything to release the captivity of her mind.
What she didn’t know was all that wild stuff raging in her mind had been suffocated way too long and just wanted to get out. It had become a jumbled concoction of partial truth mixed with major distortions, subtle fears becoming paralyzing ones, paranoid at the darkness that could be uncovered within. To her it felt like she was going crazy. Well, she kinda was. That’s what happens when a heart gets tired, hurt, run down, and holds it all in. But forgive me for even using her word “crazy” that would be making something like this far too simple, too boxed in, for she didn’t yet know about the battle set against her life.
* * * * *
When I look back on my life it seems a lot like looking in on a storyboard. Like in the movies, when the director has all the pictures--scenes--up on the wall and you know there's a story, a good story, in there it just hasn't fully panned out yet. The scenes above are windows into my life in different seasons.
The storyline of anxiety and depression runs deep. Even before my little life came on the seen these dark and frightening characters had been playing in the foreground and sometimes the limelight of my family line.
In 1998 life handed me a great heartache, the loss of a boyfriend, and my first bout with an anxiety disorder. The girl at sixteen had no idea of it's darkness and the battle one wages when living day in and day out with the dark hovering.
Unless you have experienced it, full blown medical anxiety or depression, you won't get it. You can't speak of it cause you don't know what it's like to have a cloud hovering about, to not be able to escape your ruminations and the dark that taunts you. You don't know what it's like to just want to watch a movie or go to sleep to escape the internal torment. You don't know what it's like to have God with you but still feel Satan ever so near.
I praise God for the journey companions he gave me along the way reminding me I'm not alone.
I praise God for the medication that sets things back to their proper, God designed balance of serotonin and norepinephrine.
I praise God for the doctor and counselor who got to the bottom of my torment and treated me.
I praise God, and this is B I G, for the anxiety and depression that led me to the lowly places...broken places...barren places....for there, there, I would SEE GOD!
Robin Williams, I never knew you, but I admired you. You made me laugh as a kid in that silly egg spaceship and visiting my friends on Happy Days. I cried when you dressed as a clown and touched those patients lives. I wept, deeply, when you hugged Matt Damon and fathered him in a way only grace can. I belly rolled off my seat when you dressed as a woman to reconcile a marriage. I hopped on my desk and my soul soared belting out a giant YESSSSSS when you read of art and sacred living to those boys in the classroom who you were inviting to become men.
While we call it "acting" I know you cannot act that kind of depth. It is hard won and it reeks of a living, breathing soul that is dealing with the cards life has dealt. A life that has lived in the dark but recognizes true l i g h t.
I didn't know you and yet somehow I did. As life does. I am sad you are gone. I am sad that you suffered so. You were loved.