Do you have 10 minutes today? I texted Doc.
About once a day I have mental break downs. Like that one time last week when I paddled with sis and I realized I had reached a state of complete tranquility. I paused, looked out at the vast blue waters inhaling the deepest breathe I could take and no sooner had I realized my state of zen did I also realize I was REALLY FAR out from shore. Panicked, I began to try and remember how I got that far out. Anxiety ensued and I was quickly un-zenned.
Sis, I better never get lost out at sea, I shouted across the waves rolling between us, within four hours I’m pretty sure I’d be eating my arms from insanity. Y’all would be eating off me for DAAAYZ.
So it’s not all too un-common for me to hit a daily mental spiral downward. I can usually deep breathe, walk, listen to a song or call one of my dear friends in hysteria so they can remind me the sky IS NOT FALLING on my head and I will be okay.
But yesterday I couldn’t calm myself down.
In these moments I call Doc.
He’s my counselor, my stand-in-grandpa, my mentor and confidant. He’s seventy plus years in age and generations in wisdom. His steel blue eyes welcome me always and he often calls me “his girl” as he gives me a pat of encouragement on the back as I exit his office. On days when I can’t get to him in person we FaceTime. I sit on the floor of a little tiny phone booth at work pouring out my confusions and confessions and he responds with grace and guidance.
I’ve been trying HARD to walk my days on my own – that is, ever since that time Doc and I realized my insurance had changed and I owed $1,200 dollars in mental health bills. (Don’t judge a person by their accumulating shrink tab!)
And for the record, I made it two weeks. All on my own. No Doc.
But yesterday, I wanted Doc’s voice. So I reached out. #putitonmytab
Hi Kaylee, his voice came across text, I am in Vancouver… maybe texting would work.
So I spewed it out. All of it. I wrote ridiculous and insane stuff to Doc yesterday. I was a rambling buffoon. Things like if the world has evil in it and we can’t control it, then maybe I was gonna put my tough-guns on and not care either. I was going to become a meany. If I couldn’t beat ‘em, I was going to join ‘em or become ‘em. I was going to quit love. I thought about quitting God (‘cept I once read author, Donald Miller, talk about that time he told God he didn’t believe in him – only to realize he was talking to someone he didn’t believe in and well, that seemed a little bit absurd.)
Here’s what Doc graciously wrote back to my rant:
Is it possible that there is an underlying fear (terror) that you are searching for answers to explain or make go away so you do not have to feel it or face it? Facing it ends up being the only alternative that works. I know how to help you do that. I hear this connection of you to the world, God, universe, that contains a mix of good and bad, power and powerlessness, that is compelling and confusing for you.
What could I possibly be terrified of, I thought. Not even death scares me much. I mean, who knows how I’ll feel once it stares me in the face but for the current time being, I’ve accepted the reality that the mortality rate for every one is one hundred percent and that I will inevitably go back to a pile of dirt. And this year has brought upon the most terrible of nightmares to walk through and in all that I’ve been pretty sure God was STILL with me – so what? what was I terrified of?
Nothing came to mind.
BUT THEN I woke in the middle of the night and heard: How about loving yourself? Are you terrified of loving yourself?
My throat tightened. My body froze – THAT WAS IT - I was embarrassed at how cliché my fear was. The very phrase stamped and framed on every counselor’s office wall, I'm sure of it. I was angry I had such an un-exciting, non-exhilarating fear.
It was too easy... until I though: Dammit, God. Of course I’m scared of loving myself. Because sometimes I’m super awesome to love and sometimes I’m terrible and moody and capable of weird stuff. And yes, OF COURSE I want a guy to love me. Then I don’t have to love myself. Do you know how EXHAAAAUSTING it is to love myself? I don’t think I have the energy for it. I’m sooooo unpredictable and most certainly unreliable. What if I get tired? What If I don’t feel like loving myself? But then I have to anyways? What if I feel depressed or lonely or angry – I have to love myself in that too? No-No. That’s too hard. Too tricky. In fact, I’m angry you want me to take on such an impossible task.
Kaylee, I felt God whisper, your home had ups and downs. Your dad wasn’t perfect. Your mom wasn’t perfect. You’re not perfect. God continued…. Remember the ups and downs you felt, Kaylee? And how unsteady you can feel even now?
Then all of a sudden I heard so loud and clear: That’s! Not! Love! I’M LOVE.
And it hit me. I hadn’t known love. Not fully.
Love is steadfast. An underlying current that carries me.
We are thrust into the world with two realities, and the two have been at war at me since a child:
WE ARE BORN OF THE DIVINE: the very breathe of life fills our lungs and makes our hearts beat.
WE ARE BORN HUMAN: beautiful busted
We are a walking paradox.
And I’d fly from guardrail to guardrail trying to figure out if humans were good or bad - if I, myself, was good or bad. That would answer if the world was good… or bad. Better yet, deep down that would answer if God was good or bad.
What I was really screaming from the depths of my being was: AM I SAFE OR AM I NOT?
We each are a vessel of love, created in the image of the divine, we are also human. It was the good and bad Doc was talking about. I was relying on humans to tell me who God was. Then God showed up and revealed himself to me.
I HAVE BEEN BEGGING God to remind me who I am the past two weeks. Not knowing the answer laid root in my deepest fear.
So who am I? The simplest answer my parents told me since the day I was born: A child of the divine, born from love itself.
“We are all designed for goodness. We are perfectly loved with a love that requires nothing of us, so we can stop trying to be good and live in the goodness that is our essence.” (says the beautiful soul, Desmond Tutu)
I don’t have to work to love myself because love was, is and always will continue to be. It just is. I was thinking I HAD to do the work of loving myself; never realizingI just had to hop on board and enjoy the ride.
I was terrified that the desire to love myself couldn’t be matched with my ability to, that I would always fall short. But the thing is, love has been trying to teach that love always was and is and is going to be. I was looking at it all wrong in the first place; thus never finding the answer. Some sort of allegory of the cave or something, I’m sure.
The lie I believed was: it was up to me.
The truth is, “love begets love.” I’m a child of the divine, caught up in the most beautiful of flow. My existence is the essence. I don’t need to get it, find it, or attain it.
And just like that, for the first time in thirty-two years, I found rest.
Jesus loves me this I know, for the divine showed up last night and told me so.
“Perfect love drives out all fear.”