Fear of Heights
"I feel like this set me way back," I hear myself saying. "Remember how I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop? I'm afraid that now I won't be waiting for the other shoe to drop, I'll be waiting for the entire ceiling to cave in."
I was sitting cross-legged on my therapist's couch, discussing my fears about what I've started referring to as "re-entry" - that point in time when I will have to leave the bubble of my neighborhood, stop sleeping on the couch, and rejoin the land of the living. It is something I am very unsure of. Something I don't know how to do.
Its something I'm not so sure I want to do.
* * *
We had spent the better part of 2015 on my fear of the other shoe. My whole life, any feelings of happiness or joy were tempered by fear of the moment when the bad thing would be revealed. Developed over family trips decimated by angry outbursts, weekend plans evaporated when dad never showed, and one too many Chirstmasses derailed by the 11am martini, I'd come to expect that happy doesn't last, good isn't real, and despite how elated you might feel right now - believe you me, it was all about to come crashing down.
My defense mechanism was problem solving. If I could figure out exactly how things would go sideways before it happened, well then it wouldn't surprise me and I couldn't be that upset. So I spent times that should have been happy sussing out the ways in which it was about to go wrong. If the other shoe was going to drop, well, at least I could try to get out of the way and avoid a direct impact.
If I had a life motto, it was probably "Brace Yourself".
* * *
I had Hope for five days when I first told someone, "I am going to be a mess when she dies."
Hope is barely five months old.
* * *
In the months that preceded my diagnosis, things were going well. Too well. But I had gotten to a space where I was enjoying it. Not worrying. Trusting God and His plan and resting comfortably in the idea that I was starting to reap the rewards of some really hard work.
And then the ceiling caved in.
Sitting here, I'm not sure how I can ever get back to the place of not bracing myself. I imagine lots of hours spent trying to shore up the foundation. Thoughts being consumed by the unknowns. I wonder if I will ever totally rest comfortably in God's will again. I wonder if I will always be suspicious of the solidity of the ground I am walking on. Will I ever trust anyone to stay? Will I ever trust my body not to rebel? Will I ever trust that the road I am on is the right one? Will I ever be confident in what God is asking of me again?
The well-known truth is that there are no guarantees in life. After a divorce and two cancer diagnoses I know this better than most. I know that even the things that seem to come with a money back guarantee aren't really for sure. But I long for that safety - the security of some kind of assurance that things will stay stable for awhile. There there will be shelter from the storm.
It seems a cruel joke to have gotten to a place of feeling that safety just to have it ripped away. I mean - just weeks before this diagnosis Dr. Ginder proclaimed that I had finally reached the point where my risk of a Hodgkin's recurrence was less than 1%. I could breathe. It wasn't coming back. Less than six weeks later Dr. Boardman handed me three more tumors. Unrelated. Advanced.
Talk about the other shoe dropping.
* * *
I know I don't want to live this way. I don't want to slowly countdown Hope's life, nervous about her death. I don't want to tiptoe through friendships, worried they won't last. I don't want to temper joy with fear of pain.
I don't want to strangle life's happiness with my need for control.
And I can't - I'm powerless. Its not up to me. Its up to God. I have to trust He has plans far greater than whatever was lost and left behind.
Its easier said than done. But that's part of what I'm here to learn.
That oftentimes, when the ceiling caves in, God's just creating a skylight.