Ocean in a Bottle

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
Psalm 56:8

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I’ve cried so much in the last year. It’s almost unbelievable.

There was a time in my life I naively thought that if I could only get my OCD under control, I would never be sad another day in my life.

Alas, I’ve been in OCD remission for nearly a decade, and I’ve been drowning in tears for the last year and a half. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they are the same months I have attempted online dating.

(Sidenote: I’m in Duluth this week, on a writing-reading-resting retreat, and everywhere I look I am reminded that I was here around this time last year, still unaware that I was about to undergo the first round of that strange, ugly, ambiguous grief called ghosting, which would occur the Saturday before Memorial Day but which I wouldn’t realize until the Tuesday after it.)

I can’t seem to quit crying, certainly not since 45 was elected, not since I started online dating, for the entirety of 2018 thus far, and especially since I started new pain meds. You know how construction sites have those signs that brag, “We’ve gone 87 days without a lost time accident”? Well, my sign would read, “I’ve gone ZERO days without crying.” And it would stay that way.

Tonight I read about tears online. There are three kinds, did you know? Basal tears are the ever-present moisture in our eyes. Reflex tears are the kind that clear out threats: smoke, onions, dust. It’s the emotional tears (or psychic tears) that are the ones that come after overwhelming emotions.

It starts in the brain; then the endocrine system triggers hormones in the ocular area. Studies have shown that the make-up of emotional tears is different than reflex tears, which are 98% water. Emotional tears have hormones that indicate high stress levels, along with endorphins, a natural painkiller called leucine enkephalin.

Does any of this matter?

I hope all of it does.

All of it.

 

Eighteen & Again

Someone posted something on Instagram recently (and now I can’t find it) about life at 18 vs. life now. It occurred to me that it’s been 18 years since I was 18, and of course that intrigued the writer in me. So I thought I’d explore the comparison of those two milestones in my life.

At 18 …
I wanted to be a published author, along with all the glamour that came with it
At 36 …
I am a published author, along with all the stress and anxiety that came with it

At 18 …
I had undiagnosed OCD
At 36 …
I’ve been in remission for a decade

At 18 …
I thought true love was just around the corner and I’d likely be married by 22
At 36 …
I still hope true love and marriage are just around the corner

At 18 …
I was so extroverted I had to force myself into 10 minutes of being alone each day, at the urging of my favorite professor
At 36 …
I am so introverted I have to force myself to make plans with people

At 18 …
I could eat breakfast food for every meal
At 36 …
I can eat breakfast food for every meal

At 18 …
I had always been ultra-thin, but felt like a kid
At 36 …
I’ve battled with weight issues for over a decade, but (usually) love my curves

At 18 …
I had almost no health issues (outside of OCD)
At 36 …
I’m a web of interrelated diagnoses

At 18 …
I wanted to know that God found me acceptable
At 36 …
I know he does

At 18 …
I had spent one semester at Northwestern
At 36 …
I have spent 18 years at Northwestern

At 18 …
I didn’t even know yet that I enjoyed the company of children or teens
At 36 …
Kids are my purest joy, and I write novels for teenagers because I love that stage of life

At 18 …
I hadn’t even met most of the people who would be my friends as an adult
At 36 …
I continue to amass the most incredible friends this earth has to offer

At 18 …
I had not yet read any of the books I would later say had changed my life (outside of the Bible)
At 36 …
I’m excited about what life-changing stories are still ahead

I love today.

What a great day.

No skin cancer! (I haven’t mentioned my biopsy here on the blog, but if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen my #BandAidFace photos.)

Therapy was healing.

Work was fun.

There was a goodbye party for a beloved English professor at my university, and it was so good to see so many lovely writing alums. Being in the company of writers is so life-giving.

These kittens are making me so happy.

The pain in my hands/wrists/arms is nearly gone.

I had a banana-Nutella smoothie.

I am going to Duluth next week to write.

The handsome man is delightful.

As I said: great day. 🙂

 

 

 

Holding Both in Such Weak Hands

flare
verb
to suddenly burn or shine brightly

flare
noun
an exacerbation of a chronic disease

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Can’t write much today because my wrists have been in pain for almost 24 hours now. Just trying to rest: pared down my to-do list to just three things, this blog post being one of them. Earlier today, I would not have been able to type it out. This evening, I am a little better.

I want to shine bright, make a difference, be a leader in thought and action. Sometimes it can feel so impossible with a body that feels like a leaky bucket: hard to store up energy when the most mundane things seem to leech power. Some days I feel like a rag that has been wrung out.

I know I am blessed with resources, privileged: I can afford pain meds and peppermint oil, my employer works with me and not against me, I have a support system that could make a king envious.

So, somehow, I get to do both. I get to flare up in multiple ways. Perhaps not at the same time.

But then again, with all I’ve learned of vulnerability: maybe so.

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Photo by Blake Cheek on Unsplash

Check Please

One of those times where I can’t find the line between whiny/TMI and honest/vulnerable, so I get a bit stuck on blogging.

Let’s just day there are a lot of things in 2018 that make me want to crawl into a hole.

But there are even more things that motivate me to stay engaged, namely, meaningful connections with friends and family, coworkers, college students, my friends’ kiddos, spring temperatures, Chipotle delivery, highly anticipated sequels, the balm of scripture, eyeshadow experiments, and one particular handsome man.

So I will stay out of the hole for now. Actually, if I crawled in, the people above would climb in after me and eventually pull me out.

I know I am lucky. The luckiest. Blessed. Pick your word. I’m grateful. I’m held.