They say we are all the main hero/heroine of our own stories. How many of us stop and think what kind of hero we want to be? What kind of story do we want to write? How do we want to be remembered?
I’ve been thinking about this, in light of how I’m feeling. It’s all a giant, gray cloud, just hanging around heavy and dark with not even a drop of rain. My doctor today was saying how the emotions of happiness and affection, “emotional love” if you will, helps us do the work of love, making those decisions of love. I don’t have any of those feelings anymore. It’s all gray.
I posted something yesterday which I decided was not something that belongs on this blog, describing this feeling with a bit more detail. I did self-harm via choking myself yesterday, and I finally admitted to myself that I’ve been skipping meals again for the past few weeks. I feel completely alone. Only two people come to mind when I’m in these dark places, and while they’re the ones I consider closest to me, I feel nothing for them. That crutch that helps a human love is not there anymore. There’s next to nothing in my heart now except my own sadness. I can’t fully appreciate whatever good comes my way from the outside, nor the good I manage to do myself, like when I chose against my desire to skip breakfast when I’d not eaten last night either.
Not unlike the thought that came to mind the other day about martyrdom, on my way back from my doctor’s office, I had the thought that, in spite of how I feel, how anyone who’s been where I am has felt, to choose to live, to do the healthy, loving things when there’s no emotional desire to do it…that’s heroic. When we talk about saints and martyrs, that phrase “heroic virtue” is brought up as the reason we hold them with such high regard as to remember them for up to 2000 years.
While some mental health or trauma sites would say a bunch of empowering things to people who still make the effort to live when they don’t want to, I want to add to that with what it is: heroically virtuous, which is to say, saintly.
I sure as hell don’t feel heroic or saintly, but I don’t really feel anything apart from this gray depression. A blind person, like Tobit, can’t see anything, and yet that doesn’t erase the reality around them. I’m blind right now. My heart and mind is blind to everything good and beautiful around me that makes life in the very least bearable. It doesn’t mean those things aren’t there. My doctor is still there. My confessor is still there. The friends I don’t talk to anymore and feel nothing for are still there, and chances are they still care for me, at least more than I think they do. They might even be worried for me.
My confessor and doctor are in any case. When I told him what I did last night with that belt around my neck, my doctor fixed me a very stern look, said in a very firm, resolute voice, “You need to stop this. You’re playing with death.” It didn’t matter that I didn’t want to die, or that I heard a sound come from my neck that frightened me out of doing it anymore; he told me that this is how it starts, people playing with it, seeing what works, and before long, successfully kill themselves, sometimes on accident. My confessor would most likely say something similar, has said similar things, though in that more brotherly way he has. They both urged me to take this very seriously, my life very seriously; it’s precious to them.
Earlier, I had to make the decision to live, to get out of my car, and buy groceries. With those groceries, I am making the commitment to make sure my body is given the nourishment it needs to make good decisions. When I don’t eat, my thoughts feel all clouded. That’s something I cannot afford to allow for myself; I need to give myself every advantage, every bit of strength I can get.
This probably sounds really weird. It feels weird writing this, but it’s the truth. When we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t do the good we want to do. We cripple ourselves. For me, in my current condition, to not take great care of myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually equals death.
My doctor said, as I was leaving, that I have a strong will. The fact that I’m alive right now, and more-or-less unharmed, is proof that he’s speaking the truth. It’s with that God-given will that I’m going to do the otherwise impossible. I can do what’s heroic.
It’s such an ordinary, bland, I almost want to say “boring“, heroism, isn’t it? We want to do something heroic, but this kind of heroism seems so commonplace. Doesn’t make it less heroic. Doesn’t make you, me, or anyone else who’s gone through this less heroic.
Jesus would go into the desert, went to the garden before the Crucifixion, and He prayed, wept, sweated blood (a real medical phenomenon called hematidrosis). Still He came back. He chose to live the life He was given, to die the death appointed to Him. That’s heroic, isn’t it? That’s the kind of place I’m in, where others were, are, and surely will be, our world being the broken place it is.
It was thinking of these things, the prayers I said on the way to that parking lot, that encouraged me enough me out of the car. While I was there, I recalled back to when someone I knew was sick, and how I would look up ingredients to make something to help them with whatever was ailing them. I’d use my knowledge of herbal health to make my siblings a spiced citrus tea to help them in the cold/flu season, one they would actually request I make, and/or teach them how to make themselves. I’m having problems thinking clearly, so I looked up things that might help my brain (blueberries, fish broth, etc). I managed to do all that, and not go over-budget.
All the while, I listened to something that began sad, then happy and hopeful; a song I used to listen to when I wanted to feel better. It started to form series of pictures in my mind, something that might help others find hope when hopeless. I even started to smile a little, a little bit of light and color coming in through the gray clouds.
…This hope doesn’t come from me. It’s a gift, and as this blog and everything that exists that serves a similar purpose, it’s a gift that keeps giving. My doctor said that it’s the hope of my suffering ending that drives me to do all these self-destructive things, and urged me instead to cling (literally cling, in the case of my crucifix and St. Raphael medal) to actual hope, hope that will actually save my life, and thus the happiness of those who love me to whatever degree.
There are some people out there who did think less of me and my abuse/trauma, but think very much of those who served in the military. There are others who look down on both me and the veteran (as certainly is happening right now, from the oppression we both are getting). Truth is, everyone who’s alive on this earth are what’s been called the church militant. People who’ve gone before us, like that kind priest, are the church triumphant. We’re all soldiers fighting on the same battlefield, trying to get ourselves and whoever else we can bring with us to safety, to victory. Sometimes we lose our way, get lost, run and fall into a muddy pit, but like my doctor said, it’s Heaven I want, what we all want behind all our desires.
It feels like God asks too much. It feels like God is a harsh, detached General, but that’s not true. If He was, He wouldn’t have given us the help He has, the companions we have, or come down here Himself. I’m no hero, no way…but I can be, with His help.
I can make it.
I’m gonna make it somehow.