rebel diaries :: war stories.

Way back when, I offered this space as a place for others to share their story. I called it rebel diaries and so many of you offered your perspective and hurt and hope and belief. Today, I host another friend. When I first saw these words, I knew there were people who would need to read them. She agreed to let me post them here, and included a note for you. 

Dear Reader,
Please read this, hold this gently. It is not an essay for the faint of heart. Truly, I'm in recovery. But War never ends for some people. This is in acknowledgment for all the human beings who want to share and can't, who over-share and feel ashamed, or can't seem to share past the surface for fear of feeling alone. You are not alone. All those things, all the things, they don't make you crazy. This is for everyone who has a War Story.
Your Story Sister

{{ Trigger Warning :: suicide and self harm }} 

Of course it only makes sense that these are my War Stories.

Because when these things happen to you, the outcome is not a death. It’s a thirst for life like never before. It’s a need for God beyond words and comprehension, a grace-filled rain storm that turns into a monsoon. A hurricane. Thrashing.

Of course these are your War Stories. 

Because there’s no other way to describe the war in your head versus in your heart, in your head verses in the world.

These are my War Stories.

When a person tells your husband they are in love him, because they ..what? They love him? They love him and they want your marriage to be over so he can choose them. And you laugh at first but it sinks deep inside your soul and picks apart your bones. Because he says he will always, always choose you. But why did this have to happen to you? Didn’t they know he would always choose you? You want to shake them and tell them how stupid they are.

And because of that secret, they proceed to tear families and friendships and relationships apart in the process. 

And then you can never invite them over for dinner ever again and you lose another friend.

When your parents announced their divorce three days after the ink on your own marriage license was dry.

When you gain 50 pounds in the first year of your own marriage because, obviously, you stress eat the fuck out of ice cream.

When your mother, in the midst of you trying to find Jesus again, announced she was a pagan witch, someone who worships the earth and not the Savior.

And then when she married someone else six months after the ink on her own divorce papers were dry. Someone you had never even met. Someone you had known about before. Someone who doesn’t even know the damage.

When you don’t know what to say to your dad because you know it was his fault, partly, too.

But you’ll never talk about it, because no one asked you how you felt.

And that’s how War begins.

These are my War Stories.

When you feel pushed away by your in-laws. You’re not wanted because your mouth is too big for your words and they don’t like when you over-share. They just don’t know that over-sharing is your specialty, and some people like it. But they won’t. They don’t think you’re funny. They don’t know that your whole life has been a puddle of mishaps covered in grace. They just see the puddle.

All the while, through the War, you were listening to other stories; people who were ripping at their very seams ran to the phone and you picked up to listen. They called it suicide counseling, said you were a staple, without you they’d be lost. The biggest helpline in the nation. You ran it, you successful college grad! But instead, you called it the worst 9 months of your life. You called it crying every day because hearing problems from every corner of the world makes every corner of the world unsafe.

People who said they wanted to die.
People who said they were hurting, bleeding, right then and there.
Those things never leave you. Just like the War never leaves you.
A rope, ready… your words keeping them on the brink of life.
No pressure.

Some days you take the pills someone left behind for you, something to keep you going and suppress your appetite while you’re at it. You gain and lose but at least you can get out of bed in the morning. Until that one time you take too much because you’re so fucking tired and you can’t find sleep for too many days you keep them and stare at them in silence, throw them away but you still keep a few and then you flush them down, down, down the toilet. Except they sit there at the bottom, too heavy to flush, disintegrating and you stare at them while you press your face against the wall.

Tomorrow is a new day, you say.

A War like that leaves a desperation so tight in your throat for God that you can barely breathe. Like swallowed sand, stuck to your insides and drinking up all the tiny droplets of life you have left beneath your surface.

These are your War Stories.

You will cry every year on your birthday. And then drink. And you’ll lose your bikini bottoms in the ocean and moon everyone on the beach and knock over a small kid in the process and laugh by the end of the day. 

Those will be the days of hope. War ceases for a moment. 

You all know that saying, right? Before things can get better, they have to get worse.

You find yourself in the bathtub, drunk after swerving home. Dark rum. You find yourself with a kitchen knife and a broken razor and cold water and the pain seeping right down the drain because there’s no other way to take it out. 

Relief. Guilt. Relief. Guilt.

Like a ticking time bomb.

Because they told you that babies wouldn’t be made and cancer was sure to come, it was sitting right there inside. Your heart broke so much that you just couldn’t bare anything but to hurt the body that forced this punishment against you.

29 scars will be left on your heart. Luckily, none left on your body. But you’ll never forget, will you?

Because when you wrapped up your pulsing, bloody leg when you finally caught your breath, you keep trying to push your sweet puppy away while he reaches out, protecting, to lick your wound. He and your husband sat outside the locked bathroom door together, crying, wimpering at the sound of the water washing down your own blood. Torture, for everyone. You know because you feel it flowing. 

You think, maybe, that seeing the red lines in the days afterward means you’re still alive.

But you try to heal. And you overthink. You lose your breath. You can’t sleep and your chest is tight every day every day every day WILL SOMEONE JUST RIP ME OPEN? You lose sight of what forgiveness is and you let that bitter taste in your mouth go all the way down into the pit of your stomach and consume your whole body. You let it consume your whole body because being angry and frustrated and anxious is better than not being at all, and you know that.

You fight the battle of Depression. You do your best to avoid those triggers that cause you anxiety that feels like it’s ripping through your heart and shooting down through your spine and out your toes. Like bombs. Because that’s War.

And you lose most days.

But most days are not all days and sometimes there is no firing squad facing you and you can get through the line at the grocery store just fine. Other times you abandon your cart and run for cover inside the car while you hyperventilate. It is all you can do to save yourself.

And looking back you knew Jesus was sitting there right beside the bathtub where you sat fully clothed, though submerged in water, head tilted back and waiting for God to strike you down dead right there. 

You remember the water in the river. Where you stood on slippery rocks, knowing, just knowing, this was from the hand of God. Some day that water will quench your thirst and wash away the sand in your throat, the dirt from your eyes. You will feel better, like you did then. And at that point, when you think about all the War, you can’t believe you were ever mad at God because he was right there the whole time.

When every day is a battle, these are your War Stories.

But War ends.

Because some day, now, you will forget why you had to start fighting in the first place.

You’ll lay down your weapons and become a warrior, not a fighter. You’ll start to feel all the feelings again some days. You will have bloody, murderous nightmares that professionals say are a normal way of dealing with stress. You will find comfort in just one pill a day and dumping the moonshine from the stash in the freezer down the drain. Eventually your prayers will be answered and you will find some people who like hugging you and sharing coffee with you on Sundays and will not judge the amount you charge to your Macy’s credit card because you don’t have any money or other coping mechanisms. They will loan you good books and compliment your hair.

They’ll even tell you they think you’re a good person because of the War.

Soon, you might feel your heart beat again. And then you’ll realize that you are a human, a living, breathing person who has a heart and a soul and a brain and a God. Also, you find out that babies can be made and there is no awaiting cancer. So you walk around Macy’s each time you visit and hold those tiny pieces of cloth and think about all the wonders to be. And you will feel those things, those human, good things again. You already do, see?

Posted on November 26, 2013 and filed under the rebel diaries.