I saw him. He looked dishevelled and exhausted. I thought I was going to be sick. He didn’t see us. We went into the store and straight away I ran to the bathroom. I sobbed in the cubicle and got out my phone. I knew he was alone. I just wanted to speak with him. It had been more than two months and I missed him so badly.
Instead I phoned a friend. My hands were shaking as I pressed her number. I stood leaning against a display cabinet crying as she told me to put the phone away and go find my husband. After some minutes I did. We did our shopping and went home. Later that afternoon I dropped one of my children at a party and had to pull the car over to the side because the sobbing came. Deep, wracking, breath stealing sobs. They came from somewhere deep, deep inside. I heard my pain as it came out from within me. I didn’t know how I was even still living with that grief and brokeness. I phoned my brother and could barely get the words out. I’m not even sure there were words – just noises. Eventually things subsided enough for me to drive home.
I tell you of that episode because I think it matters for you to know that even though the Hope was there and God was making Himself known to me, I was really, really struggling. I didn’t want to be in my marriage. I was grieving the loss of the other. I didn’t know who I was or who I should be. I was no longer planning suicide but some days the thoughts were still black. The Hope didn’t remove the pain. I’m not sure that it even dulled it. But I found the two could co-exist.
I got a piercing. The piercing was a challenge and a marker. It was a challenge to my husband – can you really love me as I am? As I REALLY am? Even if I don’t conform to your expectations? It was a sign to myself that even without the other I could go on living. He had enabled me to be more fully myself and every time I saw my piercing I would be reminded that I could still grow and become more myself without him.
I was told that the piercing would take twelve weeks to heal, and I wondered if my emotional piercings would be healed by then too?
It was around that time that I saw an online Lent course advertised on Twitter. It was called Be, and the idea was to take time in the run up to Easter to find creative space to Be. I wasn’t going to church and I desperately missed christian community so I thought perhaps I should sign up. Offered as a 2 for 1 deal was a writing course as well. It made no sense for me to take on extra things at that time – it seemed a disastrous choice to make. And yet, I felt drawn towards the sign up. Late one night I filled in the paypal details and committed to the courses.
I had no idea that the women I would meet on the courses were the people I needed to walk alongside through the next months. God did.
Lights in the darkness.