hope grows from strange beginnings

Posted: March 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

The evening that I dumped the kitchen table over on purpose amidst a screaming fit, I decided I needed to get help for my PMS.  I don’t remember what chain of events got me to the table-flipping point – my entire memory of that day is how the late afternoon sunshine poured in across the red countertops,  the crashing sound of the table hitting linoleum, and my dawning horror at what I had done.

It had been ugly for quite some time.  My moods were swinging hard enough that my husband was marking his calendar, so he’d know when I was going to lose my mind (he never mentioned this to me – I just happened across it one day while straightening the desk and burned with shame that it had come to that).  There had been a lot of crying, a lot of yelling, a lot of drama.  There had been the night he had wrapped his arms around me amidst a rage and carried me, flailing, upstairs to shut me in the bedroom, asking me not to come out again until I could calm down – that day had been followed by two days of a period that pinned me down to the bed, speechless with its pain.  I don’t remember what my kids were doing at the times that I went off – one was a baby and one a kindergartener, and though I sometimes stomped out of the house for a long walk when I was ready to blow, mostly it didn’t cross my mind to stop and remove myself from where they might see or at least hear the awfulness of it.  But then, craziness rarely stops to think, eh? 

I made an appointment with a gynecologist and another with a counselor, pressing for quick appointments before another cycle could set me off again.  It had been like this ever since I had weaned Caleb at 11 months – stopping nursing seemed to have somehow sent me spinning off out of control.   Seemed to have changed who I was.  If someone had told me in that window of time that some illegal drug would stop me from the scary ways I was acting against my will – I swear, it felt like it was against my will – I’d have RUN for my own supply.  Thankfully, no one made any such suggestion. 

The doctor did an exam and some tests, recommended a book on how to fix the problem with diet, and gave me some samples of Xanax.  The counselor talked with me a time or two and then changed it from individual counseling to marriage counseling.  I ate better and took massive vitamin supplements.  Exercised.  Avoided the Xanax like the plague, other than on the rare occasion when I just felt like something bad was about to go down – I was terrified of becoming an addict.  I think I took maybe 5 of them over the course of 2 or 3 months, and then threw the rest in the garbage, not even wanting to touch the sample packages they were in. 

Long story short, though even to this day sometimes PMS comes and messes with me pretty badly, I haven’t been its out-of-control victim since around the time of that table flipping evening.  I have the tools and I know what to do, when suddenly my body feels bad and everything seems like fingernails on the chalkboard of life and I go interminably clumsy and sound grates on me as a personal offense.  PMS doesn’t get to wreck my life anymore.  I’m very grateful for that!

Time will give us a better perspective, won’t it?  At the time, it seemed the PMS thing was the whole problem.  Looking back, it was just the one last thing that I couldn’t handle.  Weaning Caleb made me grieve – we had easily decided on having my tubes tied after he was born, and while I stood (and still stand) by that decision, the simple fact is I was kind of wrecked for a while about never having another baby again.  Our marriage was a mess, for too many reasons to recount, and neither of us was any good at improving on that.  One of my daycare moms had befriended me and then turned crazy stalker game player-ish and was literally doing and saying things daily that seemed crafted to make me doubt my sanity.  I was in one of many rounds of burnout with the daycare.  Money was hard – I dreaded the ringing of the phone and whatever bill collector it would bring.  I had zero connection to God, and a house that never got even close to clean, and not the slightest clue how to stop choosing chaos, much less any awareness that choosing chaos was exactly what I was doing. 

This passage is one of the reasons I’m able to have compassion for crazy, chaotic, frustrating people who run around burning their bridges with all their might.  Today is another installment on answering Lori’s “reader question” about how we love the unlovable.  Truth:  I don’t know how nice people who were never crazy, irresponsible idiots do it.  If you have always been a “pretty good person,” always stable, never just lost your mind and done things you knew you’d regret for the rest of your days…well, I don’t know where you find a reserve of compassion for “the least of these.”  (But…if you feel like you’re one of those “pretty good people”…are you sure?  I mean, is it true, or are you nicely glossing over inconvenient things you’d rather not think about?)

As for me, I’ve got a treasure trove of awful memories of the way I was and the things I did and how much I didn’t notice that I might be harming others around me while I struggled in my own insanity.  I don’t like it that I collected those up.  But I LOVE IT that God uses them to do what His word says He does – He brings beauty from ashes.  What man means for evil, He uses for good. 

So for ME, even those old bad memories are reason to celebrate.  He uses them to give me exceedingly abundant compassion for those who are there right now.  He uses them to help me know that these people ARE NOT hopeless, not beyond redemption, not a waste of time or prayer.  They are the reason I can be patient with progress so slow that many won’t count it as progress at all.  I’ve been there.  I know.  And if that doesn’t make me an ambassador of hope, what would?

  1. Candace says:

    Amen! I SO agree with this post. It’s because of who and where I’ve been that I can love the least of these.

    • karen says:

      It’s a beautiful thing, to know ourselves well enough and be sufficiently free to not have to insist that we were right all along, eh?

  2. Linda says:

    Love you so for sharing that Karen….I always knew you were an amazing young woman, and this just proves it! I thank God for you.

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