“O love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be…”
— George Matheson
Words. Words used to flow out of my soul with such fecundity. I went no where without a notebook. I tucked it under my trapper-keeper in class and scribbled out stories while the teachers spoke. My “first novel”– the first one I completed that I actually dreamed of publishing (and now would be mortified if it had been!)– was 916 notebook pages in hand-written scrawl; my imagination, my heart, and my soul poured out.
Eventually, my need to write left the land of fiction and landed squarely in the land of memoir. I discovered blogging, and then I went off to college and moved to the UK and started having adventures I’d only ever dreamed onto the lines of my notebook paper as a teenager. I began living them, and then writing down what I lived, instead of simply imagining a character living them. And something in my soul felt whole when I could relay my thoughts on the happenings of my life to my sweet readers.
Somehow, the painful things lost a bit of their sting when they were rehashed through the filter of my writing mind.
But 4 and a half years ago the painful things overwhelmed my entire being. And I lost my voice completely. The words… they just… stopped. Instead, I bleed.
It was the day after my brand new husband and I returned from our incredibly hot honeymoon– like, the deep south kind of hot because we spent it in New Orleans (I’m not trying to brag about steamy [and awkward], virgin, newlywed sex or anything). We were at my parents with my nieces and nephews while my sister gave my Mom a haircut.
I didn’t know she was going to ask her then. I was totally unprepared. I hadn’t even landed yet from the clouds I’d been floating on since our perfectly beautiful wedding day in my parents’ backyard– me in my mother’s dress which I’d redesigned for my own use, all of our family and friends, even many from across the ocean, present to witness our vows; the enormity of giving our forevers to each other. Being prone to romanticism, I would have floated through my entire summer on that cloud. Quite possibly, through these last five years, in fact…
But instead I landed with a thud hard enough to shatter me into pieces.
We’d been hearing rumors, you see. My sister, specifically, but she’d only shared them with me. Rumors of our father– the upstanding citizen, proud church member, and beloved businessman offering a valued service to our community– and a blond he had his arm around. And a lot of drinking. And then there was the rumor about him being in a bar having a lap dance. Over about a year and a half they had been trickling in, unbidden, from various sources. My sister had responded the same way every time, in confusion. That couldn’t be our dad. How could he work 24/7 like he did if he was, like people kept commenting, a drunk? He was a total workaholic, when would he have TIME to have an affair? These people must be mistaking him for someone else.
But that was easy to do the first time, harder the second, third, fourth, fifth times…
After the first time, we decided not to say anything to Mom in case it was just hearsay and it would only upset her. We would simply pray and wait.
…until the day after I returned from my honeymoon, apparently.
It’s strange now looking back. Such a clear, heavy, black line was drawn there between my perception of my life before that moment, and my perception since. I thought I had known depression. I thought I had already been acquainted with struggle, with darkness. And I thought I had developed quite a good depth of compassion, of understanding, through facing my “dark nights of the soul.”
How little I knew about anything.
(to be continued…)