Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Breakup

Home school and I have decided to see other people.  It feels like a breakup to me, the kind where you say it's mutual to save face, but you're really being dumped and you're still pathetically in love.

TJ and I have decided to put the younger kids in a Montessori charter school this fall.  Ezra is too old for the charter school and anyway, he loves his online school, so he'll be continuing at home.  Isaiah is old enough for kindergarten, so he'll be going for a half day.  I began exploring the idea of this school mostly because Maria Montessori's ideals line up so closely with my own--but also because my depression has been harder to manage this spring than ever.  The decision was pretty much clinched when I asked the kids if they would like to go to school with their cousins, and they jumped at the idea.

I feel that God is leading me in this new direction: I hope that by lightening my load I can heal and be a happier, better mom and wife.  Paradoxically, the thought of no more home school in my life depresses me beyond all reason.  True to my usual form, I've been indulging in all kinds of what-ifs about how good a job I've been doing at teaching the kids, all kinds of pity parties about the fact that the kids want to leave me, and all kinds of willy-nilly waffling about whether or not I can go through with it. Thankfully and sadly, the kids are still in love with the idea, and they keep me accountable.

Friends and loved ones have been trying to show support during this change, but because in my heart I'm still truly a home school mom, it's hard for me to hear them without feeling judged one way or another.  I end up irrationally defending the institution like a girl who still loves her ex.  Some people express admiration that I tried so hard and for so long to do something that they consider nearly impossible.  They say funny things like "it's good that your kids will get some socialization now," or, "it's just healthy for a mom to have some time to herself every day."  And I listen to the love instead of listening to the words.  Other friends might feel in their hearts that I'm making a mistake--I'm not sure--but they're kind and show support anyway.  And still others have the amazing balanced view that I'm just following the Lord's will for my family as best I can figure it out. It is this self-image, and not the Hero Who Attempted the Impossible, and not the Failure Who Burned Out and Gave Up, that I'm trying to embrace.

I am struggling to reconcile my gospel ideals of fortitude, patience, and perseverance with my current situation.  I feel very much like I'm betraying my home school sisters in this community by walking away.  We stick to it, through thick and through thin--we cheer each other on, confident that if we can just get through the rough patches that occur in all of our lives, our families will thrive and be blessed.  All these past four years I've had so much positive direction from the Lord on my efforts in our home school, and we've had so much joy and success.  It is difficult to believe that he would direct me away from this fertile ground.

I was surprised and uplifted by relevant counsel for my life coming out of dreary old Jacob 5.  As we discussed the olive tree allegory in Sunday School, I was impressed that the Lord grafts his children where he wants them, for their growth and for the growth of the Kingdom.  Callings change, life circumstances change, relationships change, all whether or not we want them to.  The Master Gardener surely has directed this change, and therefore I trust we will still have a bountiful harvest.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cry More

This is a sacred space for me.  Just looking at my blog brings peace to my heart.  I have always tried hard to follow Mrs. Nielsen's example by only writing when there is something uplifting to say.  This is why you haven't heard from me a lot lately.

Unlike most of the tortured artists of the 21st century, I find my depression dampens creativity instead of fueling it.    But I've also found creativity to be a powerful antidote, and so here I am.

Last week I finally made it in to see a therapist, and we talked about a few things that have been troubling me.  My big takeaway, though, was that I am grieving and I need to honor that process more.  I literally need to schedule more time for crying.

I have gotten into the habit over the years of crying for a few minutes with TJ at the end or beginning of a hard day, and then drying my tears so that I can sleep or get moving.  Crying for too long, I thought, was just a waste of time.  But grief is different from depression, and lately I have felt those accumulated tears as heavy and unwieldy as a completely full, five-gallon bucket.  Every time I made a wrong move, tears spilled everywhere.  In church.  In yoga.  During home school.  I have often felt that I could cry for days and weeks straight and never, never run out of tears.  But never having given myself the freedom to find out how many tears were in there, I just didn't know.

My therapist encouraged me to take as much time as I need to periodically just cry until I can't cry any longer.  So I came home, and when I had taken care of everyone's needs, I locked the bedroom door, went into the closet and began to pray.  I poured out my heart the Heavenly Father, enumerating every weight and every pain in my heart, and then I sobbed and sobbed.   I cried my way through half a roll of toilet paper, and then I felt done.

The relief I felt was powerful and lasting, truly as if I had dumped a hundred pounds of tears.  I went about my daily activities with a sense of lightness and even well-being.  I can't believe how healing it was for me to cry it all out.

My bucket fills up more slowly than I would have thought, but I've cried in the closet twice this week and at other times to a lesser extent.

I don't know what exactly my Heavenly Father has in mind for me at this time.  It is hard to find purpose in suffering.  I hope that by acknowledging and truly expressing my grief, it will pass more quickly. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

So often when I'm in the midst of depression, I feel that I am defined by it--that this is the new me that everyone is going to have to get used to.  And I fight against that perception.  I fight by trying to be cheerful.  I fight by holding on to the things that used to be important to me, even when I'm not feeling it.  

But today I realized that when Jesus Christ introduced himself to the Nephites, some of the first words out of his mouth were to recount the agony he had passed through on their behalf: it had become one of his chief defining characteristics.

"And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying,
Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning."  3 Nephi, 11: 9-11
Of course, he exemplified bearing burdens in the best way; he became refined by them, and he used them to glorify the Father.

I'm trying to be like Jesus.  And that means that the weight I'm bearing is defining me in a way.  A good way.