Giving up

Say Something”

…..
Say something, I’m giving up on you

And I am feeling so small
It was over my head
I know nothing at all

And I will stumble and fall
I’m still learning to love
Just starting to crawl

Say something, I’m giving up on you

(A Great Big World and Christine Aguilera)

Knowing I enjoy the Pentatonix I turn on the YouTube ready for the beauty in their voices. This song plays into my ears and my heart is torn with waves of grief and I remember. I remember a night when I had given up until just one more word was said.

The pen held firmly in my hands I wrote my words, the last I would say, that I loved my children, that I was so sorry I couldn’t be what they needed me to be. Less than a page was all I would leave. I had given up on me. I was going to say goodbye.

It had been over 6 months since I began my fight with suicidal thought, the darkest night of depression. I had tried to hang on, finally taking my month at the mental hospital and following through with weeks of group therapy and one-on-one appointments with my psychiatrist. I had stayed a week with my children at a shelter, always coming back believing that within me I could find what I needed to be the mother, the wife, the friend, the Christian I longed to be but the darkness wasn’t lifting.

The road ahead seemed so long and the well-meaning gift of a book on depression had shown me a way to not be without my action being a cry for help. I could do this and my children were still young enough to not remember (so thought my twisted logic) and my husband could marry again and she would be good enough to give them all what I couldn’t give. She would know how to be the person who others expected me to be. If I was gone, he could try again and everyone would have a happy ending.

I didn’t want to be cruel, I wanted to be there for my children but he had told me he would make sure I looked like an unfit mother if I tried to leave. If he couldn’t have the children, then I wouldn’t have them either. I had failed being able to keep my cool when the things that were said got louder and more hurtful. I had struck out at him to stop them and then he would laugh and stop. I had proved I was bad and he could go back to pretending that he could mold me into what he needed me to be.

There were good moments. Moments of laughter. There were even times I could say I was sorry for something and he would forgive me …. Until I needed to ask him for something, then it would all come back. He was as trapped in the scripts he had been raised to follow as I was by the ones of my past and attempts to talk about what was between us would crumble into a defense of myself against the accusations that it wasn’t an us problem, it was a me problem. But I would end up striking back and so I held myself accountable for my actions and hated myself for my failure to live up to what I believed.

Now meetings were being called on the days he knew I had therapy sessions. I needed to miss again and again. Even when we got support, he would fail to pick up the kids if my session went late and that fell through. Finally, I had to believe I was as well as I could be but my heart was still so torn.

There had been a short time of relief after I returned from the shelter but things were spiraling down to the bottom. Fearing as always that I would become the mother of my childhood example, I could not let things reach that stage and so this night had come.

He was at one more meeting and the kids had been bathed and read to and were safely asleep. I had an hour or two before he came home and knew my children would not wake. And so I began the action that would let me say goodbye to the world. One step by another I moved myself closer to the place where choice would end, where thought would end and I could just go to sleep and not wake up again.

I walked around my home, focus dimming, touching all the things I had tried to do for my family, empty things that could not fill the hole of the pain I felt I was to everyone whose lives I touched. How I had believed I could make it was beyond me in those moments. Now I just felt the grief that I would not be the ones to raise my children. I had once felt so sure that I could do this. I had such dreams of the mother I would be. But I knew I couldn’t be that mother with him and if I tried to leave he had said he would do whatever it took. But the children needed a good mother, maybe if I was gone and he could find the right person, he wouldn’t be so unhappy. Maybe she could keep from striking back and then everything would be okay.

And so I entered my children’s rooms, brushed back their hair and kissed them one last time.

I was close. I could feel it when I reentered the living room. Was there one last thing before I couldn’t remember anymore? My eyes spied the small tape deck sitting on the table. I had bought some tapes the last time I was in the town where I went for treatment. One of them was in the machine and so I flipped the on switch. The voice of Chris Christian filled the room:

“Don’t give up, Don’t give in, Give it all to Him
‘cause he cares so much more than you know.
If you think that the person you want to be is the person you’ll never become
then look how far you’ve come.”

Rage filled me as I slammed the recorder off. No! Not those words! How could God be so cruel as to give me words of hope when I had almost finished my goodbye? I had looked so hard to find a quiet way, a way without chance of failure. With the words of a song, my plan was ruined. I threw the thing I was using across the room sending fragments everywhere. I was shaking at what God had done. Of all the words I had been given words of hope. I cleaned up the mess I had made once I stopped shaking, hid all the evidence knowing that I was at an edge of maybe and went to bed.

“Okay, God,” I challenged, “Either I wake up in the morning or I don’t. It’s up to you.” And  I closed my eyes and went to sleep.

I woke in the morning. It took almost three days to fully feel the fogginess lift and over a week before I told my psych, the first I told of what had happened that night.

_________________________________________________________

A month or so later a song I heard inspired the lyrics of two songs, on singing how Jesus totally gets what we deal with and one offering God this life that for some reason God believed still had value. Having written my songs and feeling my prayers were said, I began to walk toward my room and sleep.

“Aren’t you going to listen?” The words stopped me in the hall as if they had been spoken into the room. Only two other times had I heard a voice that clear.

“What am I supposed to listen to/” I asked this voice of One who I could not see but heard as if he stood in that hall with me.

“You will be as a fruitful field.”

Okay, and what was that supposed to mean?  Being married to a religious man had one perk, there were lots of commentaries in the house. The words were in the King James version, the one I had grown up with but the message given me that day almost 27 years ago became a promise that has walked with me through the years.

I will write it here from the Bible I read it in all those years ago. The servant who planted the field …. The enemy who planted the weeds …. The cry for the right to clean the field …… the admonish to wait and let the harvester who knew the grain make that discernment …. The cry in the car that with all the weeds I saw in my life there would be no room for any good grain …. the inner images of a barren filed with a few spindly stalks …. The gentle reminder that when all this was done there would be wheat in the field ….. the grieving in me that the harvest would be so sparse …..  and now, this voice in the field that led me here:

“till the Spirit is pour upon us from on high,
And the desert becomes a fertile field,
And the fertile field will seem like a forest.
Justice will dwell in the desert
And righteousness in the fertile field
The fruit of righteousness will be peace
The effect of righteousness will be
Quietness and confidence forever.

Isaiah 32:16 & 17

God was not through with me yet.

Don’t Give Up – Chris Christian

Pentatonix cover of “Say Something”

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8 thoughts on “Giving up

  1. Denise Jackson

    Isn’t it a blessing to be able to confront the past, to sort our thoughts, to realize our worth, and all of it done through our writing? I’m glad God wasn’t through with you yet. You have come so far. And you have that precious little granddaughter. May you continue to know your value.

    Reply
    1. ljandrie57 Post author

      I think it has been so deep in me because this month is the 27th anniversary and 27 is kind of a special number to me. We never know what we do and how it will affect others. And we can never have that affect if we give in to the myth that we are better off not being. If I have learned nothing else in life, that living is the necessity for caring for others that is the most important.

      Reply
  2. Melinda Lancaster

    The past can be a painful place to mine treasure. You’re brave, Linda, to do that and even more courageous to share it. May His comfort sustain you as you traverse this place in your journey.

    I remember when I finally shared my “story.” It takes sheer guts. I’m so thankful that God goes to such great lengths to keep His children.

    A fruitful field, indeed. May it be so according to His Word.

    Reply
    1. ljandrie57 Post author

      In some ways that scripture being given that night came full circle to the lesson I had been given with the wheat and the weeds in the field. It still amazes me to this day the reality of that voice that night.

      Reply
    1. ljandrie57 Post author

      My life is full of God moments like that, Mike. I may not understand sometimes why God doesn’t just kick the depression from me but I still come up to things that ignite the old harmful scripts in my life.

      I am just thankful for people like Henri Nouwen and Parker Palmer who have shared their own on going struggles with depression and yet have been able to empathize and help others because their “brokenness” in the eyes of others has been something they have accepted as a part of who they are so have not let it stop them like I so often let mine stop me.

      They, and others who open up give me the courage to keep growing knowing that each time I have better coping mechanisms and more wisdom to process why this one occurs. I only hope by sharing, I can help one person not reach the point I did here — if only by alerting those around them that there is a danger months later when those around them are expecting them to just kick out of it all ready.

      Reply
  3. L. MIchaels

    This was my story. Everything, including the husband (but not his job). Except for God let me carry it out … or so I thought. It absolutely should have worked. But had me wake up anyway. When He says “No, wait” I think He means it. Thank you for being brave enough to share.

    Reply
    1. ljandrie57 Post author

      I was hoping that there would be at least one person that writing this would matter to. It has taken me 27 years to share it. It was time to let it go and let it out. I think God knows what we each need.

      Reply

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