The Shape of Emptiness

When was the first time you felt empty? When did you notice a void in your life? I think these attributes – emptiness, meaninglessness, void – they can be feelings too. I remember the first time I felt meaningless. I had gotten in trouble for something and was sent to my room. I felt so badly that I took a belt down in my closet and tried to hit myself with it. I want to say that this memory was about the age of eight, but I fear it may have been even younger.

Emptiness came later. I was in at least eighth grade. I sat desperately reading  my Bible, devotional journals. I was looking to God to fill a hole in my heart. I wish my faith, my devotion had filled that hole, but there was a problem with that pursuit.

The hole wasn’t God-shaped.

There is a saying I’ve heard at some point in my life (not sure when or where). It goes, “Everyone has a God-shaped hole inside of them.” Perhaps that is why I devoted so much time and energy to pursuing him early on.

I thought God would fix me.

Now, in my head, I hear an angelic chorus singing, “God didn’t fix you, because you didn’t need fixing.” Okay, not an actual chorus, but it is what I imagine a good Christian would say or think while reading this story. I really wish that they would be right – that I don’t need fixing. I really do.

Some Things Remain Broken

If there is anything that I have learned from adulthood, then it is that some things can’t be repaired. I have seen it with our son’s autism, my mental health and our finances. I imagine a lot of people would simply say that I’ve lost hope. I don’t think that is true, because, believe me, I really dream of waking up to my son’s words and songs. I dream of a year in which depression does not affect me 330 days out of 365. I dream of a world in which we have a home to live in with a mortgage we are able to pay.

Oh yes, I hope.

Yet, I would be stupid not to prepare for a future in which my son needs full-time care. Facts are facts. If he hasn’t spoken by the age of nine, then things aren’t looking good for independent living. My depression? They say that the first time you have a season of depression that you should remain on medication for at least a year. The second bout of depression should be met with 3-5 years of medication. The third time? You should remain on medication for life. They also classify your depression as MAJOR and a legit DISORDER. I qualify for lifetime medication. I.E. This is thing is MAJOR and DISORDERED.

Some things remain broken. My friend has a dead plant in the landscaping at her new house. Initially, she thought to pull the ugly sucker out and replace it with something pretty. Then, she texted me a picture of it and said, “I’m keeping it”. You see, for her (and me) the dead plant reminds us that ugly and beautiful coexist, pain and joy coexist. Perhaps broken and whole can coexist too.

Sitting with Emptiness

In my life, I’m learning to sit with emptiness. You see, I’ve realized that I’ve been trying to fill it for years and years. I’ve tried relationships, careers and jobs, schooling, children, religion, success, popularity, leadership, etc. The truth is that I’ve been trying to fill the empty space with a square puzzle piece.

I’m guessing my emptiness is upwards of a dodecahedron. That’s the largest 3D shape I can recall.

**Excuse me, I just looked up the spelling for dodecahedron and discovered it is actually a polyhedron. Are polyhedrons different than 3D shapes? What is a polyhedron? More than one face, my search tells me. Well, I’ve concluded that most, if not all, 3D shapes are polyhedrons. Geometry has never been my strong suit. Is this geometry? God, I hope so. End digression.**

You can’t fill your emptiness until you understand it, know its dimensions. In order to know those things, you can’t be trying to solve for ‘X’ or running back and forth with objects to randomly fill the space. You have to stop. Be present.

Experience emptiness.

And all I have to say about experiencing emptiness is this….

Damn it! Pain is coming, confusion is coming. This is going to hurt like hell!

Panic aside…

Pain is a teacher. Confusion isn’t a crucifix. And Hell was made for rebels.

Candidly,

Ash

P.S. I wrote this post while listening to “Hold On” by Sarah McLachlan.

 

Jessica Jones A.K.A. My Spirit Animal

I am Netflix binge watcher. Truth. Their latest is the second season of Jessica Jones.

She’s a kick ass antihero. She saves peoples lives and punches people who piss her off. When she goes to anger management, she gives a run down of the atrocity that is her life, all while throwing a ball at the wall. The ball and the wall break. Then, she hands a form to her group therapist to sign. He signs it, terrified of what she will do if he doesn’t. As she walks back to her apartment, she confronts another a**hole entering her building. She says something like “I just about beat up my support group. Back off!”

Oh yes, Jessica is my spirit animal.

I think there is a little bit of antihero in all of us. We long to be great, do good things. Yet, there is something completely insufferable about the world that leaves us ready to punch a whole in a Tesla (yeah, another thing she does). Okay, I might be projecting all of this onto you.

I think there is a little bit of antihero in me.

Some vicious anger at injustice combined with a benevolent spirit twists all my interactions into battles and wars. I don’t really want to fight or view it as a fight. I don’t want to be a victim, but I also don’t want to be an overcomer. Somehow being an overcomer feels too close to accepting the past as truth and the future as a reflection of its power. Why is letting go so damn hard? Why does letting go feel like a concession?

Yes, I like Jessica. She embraces that the future is fucked, but still saves the innocents so they can have the hope, the future, that she wishes she had. Does she wonder if she is a monster sometimes? If she is out-of-control? Absolutely. Every step of the way. I see her try to reason with those questions. Looking at the carnage of someone else’s crimes, she audibly says, “That’s not me. That’s not me. That’s not me.” She’s not saying it for the benefit of others. She is saying it to herself – to remember who she is and who she isn’t.

I relate. When I rage and my children see it, I look into their eyes and see the monster. Then, I say, “That’s not me. That’s not me. That’s not me.” When I hide in my room instead of playing fun games with them or we stay inside on a beautiful afternoon, I say, “That’s not me. That’s not me. That’s not me.”

Healthy me is adventurous. Healthy me loves the outdoors. Healthy me takes deep breaths before speaking. Healthy me holds the space. Healthy me…

I wish I was always healthy me.

Then, there are days where I know, deep down, that the future is fucked. I won’t be healed of a mood disorder. Depression isn’t a one and done deal. Pills don’t fix these things; they moderate them, temper their effects.

There is no cure for what I have.

I desperately want for there to be people with hopes and futures that are bright. I desperately want to give what I can’t have – to others.

Sometimes, I hide. Alone is safer for the world. I don’t want to drag other people into my abyss.

But the world needs antiheroes.

Because super heroes don’t actually exist. Only antiheroes are real. Flawed people doing good things. That is what we really have. Somehow, I think that’s actually better. When Jessica refuses to kill a guy who cheated on his girl…it’s reluctant and ugly, but still possible. When she does the right thing even though the wrong thing makes more sense, would be more cathartic. Well, that’s when we are actually inspired.

Superman might make me want to fly, but Jessica Jones makes me want to actually save the world. There is power in saving a world that doesn’t necessarily deserve it. There is power in saving ourselves, even when we don’t necessarily deserve it.

Now, who wants to be an antihero with me?

Candidly,

ASh

Unformed Opinions

I’m not as American as I should be. I don’t enjoy wearing red, white and blue. I think the  bald eagle is ugly-ish. (Except when he soars, then I think that’s cool. But sitting in his nest? Not so pretty.) And I don’t vote as often as I should. In fact, sometimes I don’t vote, because I don’t want to, which is nigh to heresy in the view of many.

“If you don’t vote, then you don’t get a say.” They chant.

Well, maybe I don’t want a say! Maybe I want to sit back and watch what happens without conjecture, complaint, compromise or concern. Frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn most of the time!

It’s true. I have enough sitting on my metaphorical desk to sustain several lifetimes of caring. I’m not saying I don’t care about anything. I’m just saying, I don’t care about MOST things.

The day someone runs for office on a platform of embracing special needs people and developing sustainable programs for their life’s enrichment – I will be knocking on your door with a pamphlet and more information than you would like. The day someone proposes that all public schools adopt alternative teaching pedagogies and that teachers, parents and children may choose together what is right for them? I will be a telemarketer of epic proportions.

But anything else? Well, those opinions are unformed and this is why…

I believe, in order to know something, you must have lived outside of it and within it. I’m not as American as I should be, because I don’t believe representatives and senators and governors and presidents can have a full picture. Are many representatives, etc. better than a single monarchy or dictator or whatever else there is? Certainly.

but let’s be real, America didn’t invent democracy and they certainly haven’t perfected it.