It’s like dying. Drowning. A total eclipse of the sun.
This time, without my baby, without my Marion, it’s the shock of a grief you don’t expect and can’t possibly be prepared to receive. You stagger under the blow. Nothing sensible remains. Since her conception and birth in 2017, my daughter’s wellbeing has been my primary focus and full time job. She was the person I missed the most, and this time, I didn’t think I was coming back.
Psychosis, they call it. In shorthand, a break. They mean a break with reality. An alternate universe in which demons call the shots, direct your actions, bang you into bathroom walls so hard you bruise. Screaming your crammed face into toilet seats, convinced you’re a slave and have to earn your way free. But you’re pretty sure you won’t. This place, this prison, this absence of sane, will be the end of you.
You’re gone. Dead. Drowned. Darkness veils sight. No one sees or cares, not God, not your family, nor anyone you can trust. You try to catch a few seconds, a few minutes of quiet to read, to breathe, to sleep, but the chaos inside and around you is impossible. Might as well sleep with that guy who’s pressuring you because maybe he can get you out of there. Maybe your compliance will set you free. Maybe, since being here is punishment, your acceptance of it will get you out. Get you back. Get you home.
Home. What’s home? Was there a place, a time, you were loved and accepted, and loved and accepted in return? There was, but it was trickery. Deceit. Lies woven thickly to keep you in chains. God? There isn’t. Joy? Foolish. You’re nothing and no one and this is where you’ll die.
Really? This is it? Wasn’t there something else, something better, something realer? The lies rain like acid and it’s all withered to the bone, but something feels off. Different. Like maybe, this isn’t the whole picture. Deep under the earth, the seed of life stirs, the tiniest speck, the most infinitesimal spark.
Food, meds call, attempts to connect, conversations that don’t fit but aren’t scary or scarring. Primal fear drifting away on swells of fatigue. Friends visit. Slowly, timidly, the fog lifts. Brief, but palpable, the hope flickers inside. David is trying? Trying to get me back? Trying to get me home?
I watch MTV out of sheer boredom, feeling smothered in the dark, but one show stands out. 16 and Pregnant. Weighing the cost of caring for a child versus terminating a pregnancy when you’re so so young. The seed flickers. A scraggly shoots springs out of the soil because the root has been tapped. Marion. My baby. My daughter. I’ve been weeping because I miss her. She’s real. She’s out there, somewhere, missing her mom.
Later, I learn how much. She’s clinging to all four lovies for sleepy time and acquired a new one from a friend, a “baby DOLL!” in pink with mountain blue eyes and hair like hers. But sleeping, she is. Mamas she knows or doesn’t, a neighbor, grandparents, friends from church, are feeding, playing, singing to her, telling her she’ll make it, showing her pictures, telling her Mama loves her very much and she’ll be back soon.
As my fear ebbs and my fogs lifts and my flickers rise, I cry often thinking about my child but full of gratitude that I’m coming home. That the lies are that: lies. Untruth. Some of which I’ve believed since infancy. I am unworthy. I am unsafe.
I come home on a Thursday. Merry holds my gaze for a full minute when I see her, silently smiling. Mama’s home. It’s been a week away, a week drowning, a week coming home. Because when I died my week out of my mind, Someone pursued me, and I survived. Love beyond me and my friendships followed me, held and comforted me, restored my peace. Presence stayed during the eclipse and every eclipsing moment after when I couldn’t believe it, when I couldn’t see it, when all I knew was the power of the dark and I was at its mercy.
Mercy. What is? Unearned favor. Inherent dignity. Boundless affection and infinite worth. This is truth. This is the self I came home to in my therapist’s office Thursday, yesterday, EMDR bilateral tappers telling my mind through my body that I was safe, that I was present, that I was going to be okay. In that hour and a half of vulnerability, tears and breathing, hearing and healing, these core truths from childhood unravelled: I am unworthy. I am unsafe. Instead, these truths He gave me and I hold to be evident: I am worth it. I can trust.
What do you want to remember from this session, my therapist asked, as I sat on the floor in child’s pose stretching the ache. I can trust. Jesus, my people, myself. I can trust. Because I can’t earn worth, only receive it. Because life is not safe. Because these three remain: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is Love.