Edge of What?

I meant to have a summer post; September, October, November posts. I’m not sure where they went. Too much looking over the edge. I had bronchitis in the summer; lost three weeks work. My trauma got retriggered last spring and slogging through it, writing got stuck. That makes sense when I’m writing about things connected to what triggered me.

Last week, my counselor and I talked about managing joy. Setting boundaries to pace it. I trigger to joy too. That probably sounds odd to people who don’t have trauma issues or overwhelm easily. I’ve been doing well aside from the ongoing pain issues from life and last year’s injury.

I have good neighbours and coworkers. Patient family. I’ve been receiving compliments in my writing groups. Those trigger me like joy. processing what it feels like is exhausting. I’ve been practicing listening to my body when it needs to rest, and not pushing it too hard, too often.

At Thanksgiving, visiting family and long-time friends I’ve missed is one place I found joy and some overload. The driving was hard on my neck and back; almost 3,000 km by the time I got home. Travel and work pain hangs at 8/10 most days and sleeping is the worst. I roll over onto the pinched nerve and muscle aches and can’t get back to sleep. I’m behind on writing and reading homework. Have gone to zero music nights. I work. I sleep. I work again, and I will edit this again today in the hope I will actually post it.

Last summer, the layers of life catching up with me. June, one year past Jack’s death and funeral, one year past my fall at work the week after his funeral. Wishing so much for ongoing relationship with his children that may not come. I got through the memorial in late May, and tipped over into early June. Longing for connection, I talked briefly to Jack’s boys, who I’d still like to know and love through their life. Their lives are just forming and his death rocked them badly.

Me too. I think it all caught up with me. Old stress and new. I’ve been writing on faith this year. Not a lot, but begun. And then June, six years away from church, working on healing, an email arrived announcing the annual meeting of the denomination my ex-husband and I attended. Life and memoir at a point looking back to faith, church.

I probably shouldn’t have watched it. Realistically I’d stayed away needing to heal. I was naive thinking I was ready. This was their first, post-Covid Synod with delegates meeting in person rather than handing off to a Board for decision. I felt for them. They had a collected Agenda, a long list of topics, 2016 on; the same year I left my ex. A tough list including use and misuse of power, racism, safe church ministry, restructuring, new graduates or candidates for ministry, and ‘celebration’ of 25th year of women’s leadership and ordination. The kicker though was a report committee with the long title “A Committee to Articulate a Foundation-laying Theology of Human Sexuality”. I naively thought myself far enough past abuse to be curious about these topics and what they’d say.

For the whole of my 36 years married, many of the above topics weighed on me in different ways. I wanted to hear them say they were looking seriously at the damages that had been done in the various areas, places they’ve dealt with, maybe even seeing the ways they overlap, the reasons people have spoken up on struggles within their church contexts. I wanted to hear the positive things they would put in place for the future. I wanted to hope.

I wasn’t prepared for the way it hit me; the video sessions, discussions, debate. My body shifted back to places if abuse, heard words weaving in and out, tone and texture off somehow. Tones too familiar, words felt misused. Memories of abuse, of 2016 leaving my house, my family, my church and my friends. Things I’ve been writing about the last few years aiming at memoir. And getting through the last two years upstream against pandemic and death. All the years life and death tugged me this way and that. Logic, not logic, love that isn’t love. Rules black and white to my colours. I know this place. It isn’t good.

And grief, so much grief. I listened, repeated, repeated again. Synod swirled around like a sinkhole drowning the ground.

July, I got sick, recuperated, reminisced. Not from Covid or Jack or the loss of my mom. But faith, church, marriage, fear. Synod bled into past, danger, divorce. I caught Bronchitis, first time in seven years. I was raw. Sat in sunshine, wrote memoir, bundled to cold. I’ve been working again five years, taken no sick time until this last year. Now my third leave from work – two bereavements and this, my health giving in. Not Covid they said, an infection in my lungs. Bronchitis.

I coughed and I slept. Watched synod again. A four-day course for writing cheered me a bit. I wrote quite a lot. I rested some more. Most time I spent sleeping. Remembering the past. I’d often get sick, ‘stress flu’, just from life, anger, abuse, judgements and pain.

I haven’t missed that, don’t want want it again. I’m doing quite well since I left, I am told. Starting to do better from the pain of last year. More strong than I realize, not bitter or unkind. Good friends help me listen. Coworkers keep me sane. They watch over me. I’m lucky. I’ve been blessed many ways.

What happened this year with Synod, raises more pain and grief, but I hope also joys. I am finding new understanding with family and friends. I spoke with my ex, several coffees and meals. Curious if he saw Synod. “Not interested,” he said. I showed him my memoir. One story, that’s all. “Have to start my rebuttal,” he joked, “but good that we talk”.

I don’t know what this year brings, but I hope it brings love built in tough places, strong connections and faith. I want Jack to be proud. He said I am strong. He valued my faith, my loyalty, being kind. Looking back, looking forward, it’s the one place I stayed through all of life’s messes. Allowing questions of faith. God at my side.

I’m no better or worse than most people, I think. I ask the hard questions. I’m hard on myself. But I sense open spaces for kindnesses learned, more space given to listening to myself and to others. Some panic, but less fear. I’m practicing brave.

Not stupidly standing too close to the edge. But I’ll look to the distance, that not-quite-seen shore, trust God for answers, the right moment to ask. Walk, enjoy the earth, breath and creatures, examples of rest.

Time again to write. One day my words may mean something. I hope they bring life.

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