Recently, I had fallen asleep on the couch in the middle of our show and was in a state of dreaming that feels as if you are caught between two worlds at once. We were huddled under the warm blankets and spread out with pillows, he on his side and me on mine on the “L” shaped couch. I was drifting off into one of those dreams that seems so real and vivid, yet you can feel your mind searching in confusion. It is as if you are aware you are in a dream yet still not sure about it as you drift away.
I heard the sound of my name and I awoke with a start as I squinted in the dark to see my husband standing over me. In a state of sleepiness, I didn’t immediately process it was my husband standing there or that it was his silhouette against the glow of the television.
My heart started pounding and I could feel my hands start to shake. Where was I? What happened? I heard him saying something about the dog needing to go out and the baby was fussing.
I was on autopilot, heading toward the kitchen, and listening to the familiar litany circulating around my brain, “I am in my house, I am safe, I have two children, there’s the cat, that was my husband, the wall is cold, I need the bottle, the counter is cold, I don’t want to be cold, I hear the dog…” And so on and so forth.
It is the self-talk that I find myself doing in an attempt to stay in the present so as not to allow a trigger to set off a chain of events I don’t want to participate in. They are staccato thoughts stabbing at the mind, stunted and uncertain, but trying to sound brave in an attempt to scare off the unmentionable things that haunt the mind. But, it was too late. Those unmentionable things stormed into the present…so very real and so very powerful.
I do not even know where I go when my heart pounds, my body shakes, and my reality feels stretched out between then and now while the now rapidly starts to disappear. I heard my voice getting frantic, I could feel the storm swelling within, and my insides turned into a tornado.
I got swept up in the path of it and, by the time it blew over, I saw tears in my husband’s eyes as he stood in front of me reaching for my hands. And, by then, I had no idea what was going on or why I was so upset. I stood there bewildered and perplexed. What had happened? I was asleep one minute and a frightened animal the next.
I found myself feeling around in a gauzy layer of clouds for several days. I was jumpy, nervous, and frustrated. So much progress had been made and it had been so long since I felt as if I were walking through a landmine of triggers. Yet, there I was, doing the special dance around a land mine of triggers as if I had just gone completely backwards after having come so far. I have developed an aversion to that word: trigger.
Then, the guilt set in; forgive me, God, for being so broken and scared. How many times have I wept and asked God to forgive my brokenness, to forgive me for my fear, as if it were a choice? It is not a choice and that is the torment of it. That is the part that cuts and bleeds you out. I don’t want to be this way, God, make it stop, this isn’t who I am!
I just want to be a good and faithful servant. I want to give and be a light in this dark world. I want to love and be loved. I have a big, soft heart and how will anyone ever see that if I am frozen in a state of fear?
I pulled out my headphones and headed to the elliptical again. God and I were going to do something about my state of mind. I pumped my legs furiously and began reciting the Shema, a Hebrew prayer for rising in the morning and retiring at night.
Sh’ma Yisra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad…
Barukh sheim k’vod malkhuto l’olam va’ed…
I sang it loud, even if it was off-key and I was out of breath. I kept singing it, even if my pronunciation was chopping the entire prayer to pieces.
That night I let my husband hold my hand while a giant thorn of grief finally broke loose. I could barely speak, but I finally uttered, “What happened was wrong. And, it hurts so much I have always been afraid to feel it.”
We read Psalm 37 together and God revealed Himself. He is my refuge and my stronghold. The beauty of that broke me and, in the middle of it all, I saw joy in Him.
I think broken people are usually the most beautiful kind. In spite of it all, I am compassionate, tenderhearted, sincere, and I hunger and thirst for righteousness. I have a heart of flesh and not a heart of stone. I genuinely care about the feelings and burdens of others, because I know what it is like to live under the weight of them. And, I have a passion for God that burns like a wildfire.
I am an imperfect human being who has had some successes, some traumas, a few failures, some more successes, and even some blessings along the way. I am a human being who fell and shattered along this journey. I am someone who, by some miracle, lived to tell about it.
And, that is why I get shattered in Him.
I am an imperfect human being who is still learning to get still so I can let His light shine on all of those broken pieces.
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.
A version of this post also appeared on The Mighty.