Love like a Nightmare

I watched my grief spiral out of control.

The evening before, I cruised through memory lane struck with nostalgia. That afternoon all I wanted to do was vomit.

I didn’t. I came close though. Weeping on my daybed as I thought about how much has changed since high school, and the things that haven’t. It’s funny though. This crazy thing called grief.

It’s so hard to control.

I think about grief the way most people think about romance and falling in love. You never seem to know what hit you. But then sometimes you blink and it’s gone. It makes you wonder and question your sanity.

As I laid on my bed staring up at the ceiling I felt months of repressed feelings run away with me. I never meant to push it all down, but much like vomit, it stayed there until I couldn’t fake it anymore.

I lost one of my best friends from high school to suicide, I keep thinking. Then seven years later someone else from our church who I did not know went and did the same. Isn’t once enough? And yet I ache for my old friends that knew the both of them. I ache with a fierce intense pain.

It doesn’t seem fair.

I lost a mentor to cancer who will never see me walk down the aisle. Believe me, she would have been in that wedding! Along with my accountability partner who, shortly after, never spoke to me again. And I was never in her wedding the way we daydreamed it would be. Neither was her father.

I lost a grandpa to old age. Is it pathetic that each funeral feels lighter and more happy?  As my mind and heart adjust to the death around me, I dig  for scraps. I dig and I dig and I dig. I’m still digging.

I lost an aunt. She had a mini-stroke. While not preventable, all of us were shocked. None of us knew, and we wish we had been more prepared.

People so often make the assumption that I’m single at 25 because I want to be. That’s only partially accurate. I’m single because life’s sorrow hasn’t given me any room or time or peace of mind to have that kind of fun. And I feel guilty for coming across as wanting anything less, because it feels like I’m lying. And I feel guilty for wanting anything more, because I’ve survived ones who would have loved to see it in the making. And it hurts like hell to think that it ever could happen without them there, and hurts like hell to think that it never could either because life has stopped being about what I want. I’ve lost far more times than I can count. So I stop counting the losses, and start counting the gains when I can.  

There’s no waking up in the morning thinking “I’m going to go on a date with so and so…” and just see where it goes. Just wake up and see. I don’t have to know. In fact, I’d rather not. I’ve watched dreams burn to soot and ash. Do I make anymore? Does anyone? It just feels like more fire in the making.

I watch those boys walk away all the time. Once upon a time it was because church played an influential role in diverting my attention. Now, I don’t have the heart to watch many men walk into my mess. That doesn’t feel like love. While I long for romance, I don’t want to watch another person break with me. It’s a nightmare worse than being alone. Jesus can stand the sight of my pain and my sorrow and my grief and my sin. He is strong, steady, safe, and secure. A man would surely crumble. Wouldn’t he?

People around me seem to be crumbling all the time. I’m digging Lord. Lord how I am digging. I’m digging for pearls people have cast aside in the dust. In the refuse of humanity, I look for the strongest reminders of God’s grace. Are these the treasures I am supposed to find?

Others who seemingly have no sorrow and have suffered little loss walk by them all the time and I am shocked. I’m sitting at the table of the Lord and it’s breathtaking- with beauty and with pain. I’m afraid. I’m afraid of the beauty I’ve cracked open because it hurts. It hurts when I can’t numb it. It hurts when I can’t control it. It hurts when it’s just me and God because I feel like so many people are missing. I’m craving intimacy but I’m craving control. I can’t have both.

Are other people moving slowly or am I going faster than all of them? Or is it the other way around? Is God slowing me down just so I can remember to look for him? He’s right there.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heavens. I will be exalted in all the earth.”

Lord be exalted in our lives. In our living, working, breathing, family lives. This thing called grief is a nightmare. And yet, like falling in love…

I blink. It’s over. I question my sanity. Is this right? Do I honestly feel like God is further away from my happiness and closer to my pain? Is that accurate?

In the absence of things and people I’ve loved so much for so long, a fierce Messiah rises up and calls me Beloved. One who took the nails and the grief and the pain on the Cross with love in his eyes. He takes my hand and he sits in the silence and in the mess for as long as it takes for me know.

He loves me, though I will always forget.

Life is different now. I say that with conviction because I have to move on. There’s not really a choice. Every other option afforded me will surely make me crumble like countless others. I’m not a little girl anymore, and my prince charming is a bloody yet resurrected King. He is something fierce, because this life will break the many who choose to let it, but He rises up for those who are willing to fight in His strength. I picture steely eyes looking at me giving me strength to move on.

Somedays love is like a nightmare, but I’m learning that’s okay.

This is my public farewell to my friends and family that have passed, and the many connected to them. These are the flowers on their graves that I never thought to give them, and the tears I never wanted to cry. I know I’m not the only one who misses you.

This is my open goodbye to the ones that chose to walk away through the change. Some of you I walked away from myself because I couldn’t bear to watch you crumble with me.

This is me, unsticking myself as best as I can from the pain that has me constantly looking back, or constantly looking over my shoulder wondering what else could I possibly lose next. This is me choosing to look ahead at the love that looks so much like a nightmare and bravely face the future.

This is me, stepping out into the great odd-known.

Breathe, I tell myself. Ready. One, two, three…

Let go.

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