Divorce is tragic – no exaggeration. If you have been there you know what I mean. It is a pain of incredible loss. But the person that is lost isn’t truly gone. They are walking around and, in my case, happy to be free.
I spent at least two weeks in a blackout. I remember nothing of that time. I had a two-year old son at the time. I don’t know how he survived.
I get flashbacks of acting crazy. I chased my ex around in my minivan like we were on a movie set except we were in public and my son was strapped into the backseat. I traced the veins in my wrist with a broken razor, never brave enough to press harder. And those are the things I remember.
I was broken.
By grace, I survived. And by grace I was pulled from that darkness.
One night I lay awake in my bed not daring to look at the empty pillow on the other side of the bed. I just knew I could not take another night like this one again. I just knew I had to do something different.
So I went back to the basics. I prayed.
I didn’t have the frame of mind to form an eloquent prayer. I only had raw, deep despair so I cried. Literally sobbed. I pleaded with God:
“Dear Lord, please help me. I am broken. I am alone. I am afraid. I cannot go on. I am at my lowest and I need you. Please God, I must know you are here with me tonight. I am going to put my hand on this pillow and close my eyes. Would you hold my hand and stay with me until I fall asleep? Please Lord, please, please, please. Amen.”
I turned my face on my tear-soaked pillow to watch as I lay my hand on the pillow next to mine. Taking one last glance I closed my eyes. And held my breath.
Jesus took my hand. My sweet Jesus was there with me. And he knew I needed to know he was there. So he touched me. He placed His precious scarred hand in my own to give me comfort. My body filled with warmth and a lightness flooded all through me.
I wept with every emotion I had in me…but mostly I wept for joy. By His gentle touch I knew I was going to be ok. He spoke to me through holding my hand. He said, “My precious child I have greater things in store for you. Move forward. You will always have me. Sleep, now, and know that I will never leave you.”
And I did sleep. I fell asleep holding Jesus’ hand. And I had never slept better.
I woke to the sun shining. There was hope dancing in the sparkling dust motes that morning. The transformation was astounding.
I found a little bit of peace for a short time and I was able to move forward.
But the depression demons would not stay away.
The truth is you can have a transformative experience like mine and still fall into despair. Depression is a life-long struggle. There are ups and downs. These are not what most people consider normal ups and downs. These are the lowest-trenches-of-the-ocean anguish to the highest mountain top joys and they happen with dizzying change.
There are very rarely “even” times, at least for me there are not. I am either up or down or on the verge of one of the other. It is a constant battle. It is a disease. It is not in my mind. I fight it every day. Medication, counseling, self-help books, aromatherapy, but most of all, God.
Maybe my struggle is God’s big lesson in my life. It has taught me empathy, patience, and compassion without compare. This battle will never go away but I will never fight it on my own. My Jesus is with me every single day. He strengthens me, carries my load, enlightens me, teaches me…and holds my hand the whole time.