By: Jana Greene
“You haven’t posted to The Beggar’s Bakery in a while…”
“The Beggar’s Bakery hasn’t gotten any new likes.”
“It’s been a while since your readers have heard from you.”
Such are the multitude of notices I’m getting that remind me I haven’t blogged in a while.
I’M SORRY, FACEBOOK OVERLORDS. I GOT NOTHIN’.
For six months, I’ve been writing a book about recovery. It hasn’t left any time and / or creative juice residue with which to write other things. Writing a book is stressful, but not nearly as stressful as surviving all the things that become material for the book. Right now, things are tough.
The book is all about the fierceness of the recovery life, whether that recovery be from drugs and alcohol or shitty childhoods, or bad relationships, or poor self-image. It is in fact titled “FIERCE Recovery.” But I am not feeling particularly fierce these days, you see.
I think maybe I am fierce in the same way as my fat house cat, who has delusions of grandeur that he is a big, scary panther, when in reality he is scared of the vacuum cleaner. We love him dearly, so he gets to live out his fantasy and we all pretend that he is super badass.
I AM fierce. I am strong. But sometimes I’m delusional about what that means. Any thread of self-glory in those statements is being unraveled like a sweater. I’m naked underneath, but the thread keeps being pulled. Part of my fierceness is being exposed as vulnerability. Vulnerability can dangerous, but no more so dangerous than we are to ourselves when he hurt. Depression is a bitch.
But still, we have hope, because it’s a gift that is not the enemy’s to take. It’s not even OURS to withhold from ourselves.
I think my own personal free fall began with the death of a dear friend’s daughter from a heroin overdose. She was not just a friend’s daughter, but a young woman who I’d watched grow up alongside my kids and struggle with drugs. I had the distinct honor to “mentor” this girl for many of her recovery years, and came to love her.
My city is the “opiate capital” of the East Coast. Overdoses are commonplace. People are dying – mothers, fathers, daughters, sons. It is becoming “normal” to hear that someone I know directly or indirectly owe their lives to Narcan now. Every day I hear of another overdose death, and every single time it brings my heart back to the girl who didn’t mean to die, but didn’t know how to live without her drug.
In other news, the suicide rate is skyrocketing. We were all sad to hear of Chef Anthony Bourdain’s passing, but how much more devastating are the lives lost in our own friend and family circles? People I love very much are being hospitalized for depression. Beautiful human beings are considering taking their own lives, choosing a permanent “solution’ to temporary problems. (Note: ALL problems here on planet Earth are temporary! It’s a universal law that things ALWAYS get better!)
Its as if two of the four horses of the apocalypse – suicide and drugs – have decided to trample the human race under sharp, deadly hooves. We are all so tired.
But we cannot ourselves afford to tire of pulling each other out of the way, when people are hurting so badly. But damn, it’s overwhelming.
Maybe it’s not so important that I fit the definition of FIERCE. Perhaps I don’t need to feel like I have all the answers before I feel worthy to write a blog that says “I’m struggling. You?”
Maybe FIERCE is simply keeping the faith anyway. Maybe ‘fierce’ is just not drinking, and instead writing all of your janky and desperate thoughts and publishing them to a blog that other people might be able to relate to.
Maybe that’s why I’m supposed to write this piece because Facebook wouldn’t get off my back. Maybe we all need reminding that there is hope.
So long has we have a shred of hope, we cannot count ourselves spiritually bankrupt. Sometimes a direct hit right in the delusions of grandeur can shake hopelessness loose and release our inner Big Scary Panthers. Those badasses are all about survival.
The world would be a different place if people understood that they are precious to a loving God, who adores them just the way they are. Still a difficult place, but not a hopeless one.
That means you. He loves YOU.
“I got nothin'” has, in prior times of struggle, been enough for God to work with. Empty of all suggestions to make to God in order for things to work out the “right” way, we just ‘are.’ We stand in need of the one thing we cannot ourselves manufacture – HOPE. We are empty of answers, and desperate for his intervention.
If I’ve got nothin’, my hands are free to pull others up off the ground. They are free to hold tight to God’s promises.
So if you are reading this and your heart is despondent, just know that you’re not alone.
I won’t drink if you won’t!
I won’t give up, if you don’t!
Please don’t lose hope – you are loved.
Vulnerability is okay. We can be badasses in need of help. That’s not an oxymoron!
Take my hand and I’ll pull you out from under the stampeding horses.
And then when you can get on your feet, YOU take someone else by the hand and pull them out, too.
Because when we got nothin’, that is everything.
Romans 5:4-5 [Full Chapter]
“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” – (MSG)
If you are overwhelmed, please reach out for help!
SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE
NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL HEALTH