The thing is, I don't like pain.
I don't like it, and I don't want it.
I don't like being uncomfortable, either.
I don't even like tags in the necks of my shirts.
Maeve has been sick all week, and after the first fevered night, I wanted to take her to the doctor -- sign us up for the thick pink drink that will end this! My head hurts; I pop an advil. The air thickens, muggy and hot; I turn on the AC. I argue with someone I love; I apologize right away and "fix" it.
These things aren't bad -- advil and apologies in particular -- but they're often (always for advil) efforts to end discomfort as fast as possible.
Every piece of writing I've picked up in the last few weeks -- all by courageous people like Anne Lamott, Dan Allender, Glennon Doyle Melton, Rebekah Lyons -- has said the same thing: don't try to escape pain, but move toward it: resist the urges to mute it, outrun it, find the big mug of something sweet and warm that will lull it to sleep (I've been looking for that mug all day --almond milk vanilla chai is closest I've come...).
I don't even really know what they mean -- stay in the pain -- but I'm noticing what they don't mean. They don't mean race around at top speed all day to accomplish/pursue/acquire and screech into the driveway just as the bus pulls up. They don't mean eat my weight in chocolate almonds, thinking, on some level, that the sweet crunch between my teeth that I "deserve" is going to treat me right into a new state of being. They don't mean check and check and check and check my texts/emails/instagram feed for a hit of being wanted or included in someone else's day. They don't mean veg out at night as soon as the kids are quiet, watch Parenthood and feel the Bravermans' angst/heart-ache/connection instead of feeling my own or lack thereof. They don't mean numb myself into distraction just enough to keep from fully feeling what hurts, to keep me from actively starting on a road of process.
When I was in high school, I got to wear one of those blow up sumo wrestling suits once and smash into my friends, ricochet off their round bodies, and fly onto my back, where I lay like a bug, laughing with my arms and legs in the air as I waited for someone to stand me back up.
I don't want to live that way.
So this month, I am starting to deflate the suit.
I don't really know what that means yet, but I've started to clear some space. When I sit down to work, I love a big clean table. In my house, I usually have to move a lot of whatever it is (cups/chewed pencils/school worksheets/cereal bowls/mail/glasses/Siracha) before I get that table.
So I'm clearing the table, slowly -- the salt shaker, the pepper. I've de-friended some people I most love on Instagram (and offended them) for a bit. I've been spending a lot of time alone, with God, and with a pile of books I'm reading. I'm on a 40 day spending cleanse. I'm sitting in this song (the 23rd psalm that Page CXVI sings so beautifully):
God is my Shepherd, I won't be wanting, I won't be wanting.
He makes me rest
in fields of green
with quiet streams.
Even though I walk through
through the valley of death and dying,
I will not fear
because you are with me,
you're always with me.
In just the last week, the woods have transformed from a webby mass of silhouettes to green breezy screen. I waited for this -- for GREEN to come, for the sound of wind rushing through leaves again, for the freedom of coatlessness. It's hard to stay in winter, to feel cold through a coat, to cross the frozen dirt ground that can't grow anything, to wake to gray. But sometimes we do, and apparently, according to these writers, we have to.
What I hope, though, is that when it ends -- because it always ends -- I see.
Already, only a few weeks into April, I find myself walking out of the house and straight to my car, on with life. Winter is off my radar, and I forget to be knocked over by the sudden life! I forget to be arrested by what can only be called hope, screaming from the branches.