Some Change

The inevitability of change is something I’ve always been aware of. Yet, I can’t easily accept. People come and go. Friendships are shaped and reshaped. We grow up. We change. Like the smartphones we buy and sell and buy anew, we can’t get out of this cycle. I can’t get out of this cycle. I’m so deep in that I think I’m subconsciously waiting for something else to shift under my feet. Not waiting excitedly, but dreading.

My therapist keyed in on the word “secure” as I was talking. There are some people who I feel safe with, some who I don’t, and those who I just can’t figure out which side of the spectrum they lie. I’ve basically categorized everyone in my head (not that I’m going to name the order). But they keep changing from week to week. I’m never sure of anybody anymore. Who am I actually walking with when my feet are wobbly? Who will I call? This sudden insecurity leaves me completely lost every time I’m given an opportunity to hang out.

I’m rarely annoyed, but I’m easily stressed. It bugs me how low my capacity for people is now. I’ve spent a lot of time with people, hearing about their lives (which includes their problems). It’s a joy to process with them. But lately, I find myself fearing the load. I spent today listening to a friend rant for an hour, and I could feel my heart speeding and my head spinning. I don’t give feedback or have much to say or ask. I go blank. Where are the life-giving conversations and thoughtful questions and the lame puns?????? How can I be a friend if I can’t BE a friend?

Not to mention, my walls. Very few people get through my barriers and even though I feel bad for shutting the rest of the world out, I just can’t deal. There’s too much stuff. And even when I keep a few secure people around, I get the feeling those friendships are changing too. Nothing stays the same forever.

How so?

Well, #SassSquad (my group chat with Maurice and Willa) have been pretty quiet lately. The FOTD and QOTD just don’t have the same spirit stirring effect it used to. Or maybe, it’s what happens when more than one person in the group is silently struggling and/or are weary.

Some of my friendships have been put on pause if you can call it pause (since I don’t really believe in pause). They’ve been hard to keep up with, emotionally and time-wise. I think, slowly I’ll be taken off their lists of people they feel close to.

Not to mention all the people who either have left or are leaving. Helina, Patrick, Katie, Kevin, Steven, and more. Either getting married and moving away or answering God’s calling to serve and work. I’ve made my peace with these changes (mostly). I’ve had the time. It’s sad, but I’m happy for them. Life keeps going whether you’re ready or not. Even if it’s not your life. And I know there are others who are contemplating a move too. To escape. To move forward. To do some soul searching. As sad as I am that they might leave, it’s their lives and I hope they find what they’re looking for if they decide to pull the trigger and go. It’s just hard bracing yourself for news that may or may not come.

Lastly, there’s a friendship I’m still not sure if it would be better for my soul to let go of or keep. Both options feel correct and incorrect. Healthy and unhealthy. I’ve tried the in-between and I come out feeling torn up, drained, and angry all the time. The devil laughs and I shake my fists in fury. Prayer. Just lots of prayer…

Anxiety. I’ve mentioned this before: I never know what I’ll feel tomorrow.

This weekend was the worst. After a fairly chill Friday-Saturday, I visited a new church with two friends. It was fine and dandy. A little draining but that was no big deal, until the drive back when an unforeseen panic attack ensued. I knew that this new therapy thing was going to take time and that nobody is fixed in a day (or rather a month). And I knew that I would still have episodes of sadness and detachment. But it was as if I was back in Ben’s apartment replaying my first panic attack.

The paralysis, the trembles, the heavy breathing. I was looking at my hands on the steering wheel and all I thought was “this is not my hand….” My heartbeat thumped above the traffic noise. As I drove the rest of the way home, part of me really wished I had asked Greg to stay with me before he left for basketball. But I already felt like a downer and a burden so I told him to go.

Home. If I had sleeping pills, I would have downed the whole bottle. Instead, I just hugged my pillow and rolled around and around. I kept thinking about that week of insomnia 2 months prior, and how by the end of it I was standing atop of the Meridian Garage, contemplating the fall and the illusion of peace. Being alone had always been a safe haven for me. But that day, being alone was the most frightening thing. I was afraid of what I might do if nobody was there keeping me accountable. Let’s just say I’ve been told more than once I’m reckless.

The episode lasted 2 ½ days. After going out for awhile Sunday night, I finally fell asleep. I stayed in bed most of Monday. I couldn’t get up. Going out seemed improbable. My chest thumped every time I thought I might be stuck there forever. Paralysis is a b****… Tuesday came, and it was July 4th. I got myself hyped enough to go to a BBQ. Sitting in the pool helped. I think the upbeat spirit of the holiday and the environment got me out of the hole for a few hours. I’ve calmed. The symptoms subsided. At least for now.

It’s so easy to be angry at God because of our moods. The why’s and the what-are-you-doing-up-there. Do my cries reach His ears? They must. They do. I have to believe that. And I have to believe that there is a lesson. That there is a purpose to this whether it’s to increase faith, create empathy, or grant me understanding. There HAS to be more to this suffering.

The Ledge

I’m over the railing and my foot inches closer towards the cement ledge. I look over and down. It’s a 4 story vertical drop. I don’t even remember how I got up there, alone at the top of the parking garage.

2 hours ago I was at lunch with all the other happy people. Willa and Maurice sat down at my table and began picking at their food. More people came and they were smiling and laughing, and I was all too aware of the difference between their disposition and mine. Their happiness pointed to my inability to be present in the moment with them. I was in a bubble again.

I sat and stared at nothing. I only heard the muffled conversations of normal people around me. I was aware of two things: my guilt and my fear. I looked at Willa and Maurice, sitting quietly, both aware of my state of sadness. I was dragging them down. Miserable me always ruining the mood… I turn and see Greg, laughing and conversing with the other ten plus people at the table. I was in conflict. Because as much as I didn’t want to be a downer, I couldn’t help but feel hurt and sad that everyone else seemed so joyful. I shouldn’t feel that way. I want them to have a good time. Then I knew… I didn’t belong in this group. I’m not one of them. I saw myself as separate. Emotionally, mentally, physically, everything. I shouldn’t be there.

“I’m going to head out,” I said as I got up and walked away. But I didn’t leave. My engine started and I realized I had nowhere to go. After a minute of thinking, I turned it off. I chucked the keys to the side, frustrated that I was still stuck in the parking lot of the plaza, my sort of friends only a 10-second walk away. Why am I so selfish? I don’t want to be… I prayed.

God, please give them a joyful day. Despite how I feel or how I am, give them a day of rest and peace. May their worries escape their thoughts and may you give them the confidence and perseverance to face tomorrow, whether it’s work or school…

My heart continues to pull. I hate the fears I have about Renew. I hate overthinking about my relationship with this community. I hate thinking about how I will become too much for them. I don’t want to be scared of being thrown away anymore. The only way to stop the storm on the inside is to leave 100 percent. If I have no friends, then I have nothing to care about, nothing that can hurt me. I wouldn’t be able to want or wish. I don’t have to face disappointment. My fingers move fast. I leave every chat and Facebook group related to Renew. I LEFT. I throw my phone to the side as soon as I’m done, for fear that I may see the emptiness of my page and regret it all.

I’m crying. The pamphlet I picked up at Pastor Tori’s funeral the previous day sits in the seat next to me. I’ve been reading it over and over. He died a week and a half ago. Sudden cardiac arrest. I detached. Unlike everyone else, I didn’t cry when I heard, I didn’t cry when I saw the casket. But now it’s different.

Pastor Tori led a humble, faithful life. He used to be a Dean at Truth seminary. He loved the bible, the history, the context, the old dusty facts that many people lose patience with. And he loved the dinky little church in Covina so much that he would spend every weekend driving 200+ miles to teach them. He rejected job offers from other ministries for a little group of misfits. It didn’t matter that the members were immature and young and disorganized. It didn’t matter that in the years he was there, the population saw little growth in numbers. He was committed to his community, joyful and calm in all seasons, faithful in serving, and always devoted to the word of God.

And I left that church for Renew. Guilt. I never realized how much I learned from him. Guilt. I never thanked him for his teaching. Guilt. I told myself before the funeral that I will see him again in heaven and there will be opportunities to thank him. But my heart was wrenching and I wanted to forgo everything. Guilt. He was so faithful to his little community. Me? I just ran away from mine… Guilt! Guilt! GUILT! 

Meridian Parking Garage. I left Renew, yet I found no place to go but the parking place in front of the building Renew rents for their services. I got out of the car and walked over to the concrete clearing on the side of the parking garage. The railings of the 4th floor overlooked this area. I wasn’t sure why I was there. My legs moved on their own. I looked up and tried to measure how many Me’s it would take to measure up to the top. It didn’t look like a very far drop from where I stood on the ground. My legs moved again. They ignored the stairs. Instead, they circled around and around, passing the empty parking spots until I was finally at the top, completely exposed to the open sky. I think they were stalling for time. I’m not sure. I reached the rails. I climbed over. My knee, the only thing guarding me from the fall.

We’re caught up now. For a moment, no thoughts cross my mind. I feel empty. The wind blows around me. I inhale and my lungs intake so much air like they’re afraid they won’t ever breathe again. A new emotion swarms me. I can’t do it. I climb back over, slide to the floor, hold my head and scream. I scream so hard and loud, my throat hurts. Now, I really have nowhere to go. NO ESCAPE. The only route I could take, I didn’t have the guts to do it.

TRUTH AND LIES. Truth and lies. Truth and lies… Everything blurs. God is silent. God is good. God is always present. God is working. There is redemption. There’s no relief. God messed up when he created me. God is working all things for his glory. I still have faith. I’m too broken to be saved. I hate the world. I love people. Jesus died for me. Jesus loves me. He pursues me. He left me…

How real is heaven…

Wait. Wait. Wait. WHY. WHY. WHY.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer – Romans 12:12

My story wasn’t meant to end today.