I hardly know where to begin.
I mean, when you reappear after an unexplained blog absence with the first post in almost three months... it had better be a good one.
Let me first begin to explain the unexplainable.
June, July, and August have brought with them incredible suffering. In the midst of going through an intense healing process in our relationship, something I hope to one day divulge in more detail, we were, and are still, dealing with the following: finding out (after becoming ungaurdedly excited about the prospect) that we cannot even begin to pursue Foster Care until the probation is 6 months behind us (meaning, 2014 we *may* have a chance to try again); having our first modification application for our mortgage be denied based on "not enough income"; living paycheck to paycheck while working myself into the ground, sending in countless resumes and cover letters for Mr TCIE, and getting nowhere due to the recent felony conviction; and experiencing one of the most severe spiritual droughts yet encountered in our marriage. We completed the Consecration to Mary on our annual renewal date, August 15th (Assumption), but only barely, and let's face it, most of the time we were just uttering the words as quickly as possible with no feeling whatsoever.
I know Mr TCIE has also been going through these difficulties. But this blog, being from my perspective, will focus at this time on what I was feeling this summer...
this summer, as I dealt with all of the above, and simultaneously watched one person after another after another bring home yet another child. To say the reality of it was painful is a comical understatement. I felt... like death. Like death before it has imparted its last blow, a blow which inevitably brings with it the peace of finality. I hurt. I ached. And I still do. Except, now I finally have a grasp on where I'm going from here. But more on that later.
Reading blog announcement after blog announcement brought me to an ugly place. A place full of jealousy, contempt, and most of all, resentment. I realized I wasn't avoiding reading the joyful news on the blogs. I was only avoiding writing on my own. I wasn't sure why that was. But when I actually found myself FORCING my fingers NOT to type what I was REALLY thinking in the comment boxes (with one drunken exception in late July on Sew's blog... oops), I knew I needed some kind of intervention.
I mentioned that what I felt most poignantly was resentment. Although, while I could identify the emotion, I could not fully identify its source. All I could articulate, at the time, was through an ugly sob to Mr TCIE one night: "I feel like God is just GIVING out babies like candy!!!... And all the FAT kids keep getting FATTER!!!" (Eloquent, no?)
It was different years ago. Years ago, this online forum was a safe haven from the usual frustrations in the life of an infertile/childless woman. Even those suffering from secondary infertility wrote first and formeost about their infertility struggles, with the occasional young child anecdote, usually relating back to the infertility. I knew that part of my resentment had to do with the fact that I felt triply offended now by God, as one of the only veterans left, made to watch as those who used to be where I was* continue to reap in the blessings, and ironically, mostly through adoptions, in a summer when I was bound from even hoping to do the same someday.
*I say "used to be where I was" and not "where I am," because I do see a huge difference in where I am now and where I was just two years ago. I think that veteran status does give a different perspective on how others react to their journey, and I'm not sure if it's a time thing, a spiritual thing, or a "total experience" of all types of suffering thing (perhaps a combination of all three), but I do sometimes feel like a wise old man in Confucian China. Or maybe I'm just getting old and crotchety. I did turn 31 this summer, after all.
But still, I knew there was more to my resentment than just that. I mean, if others' blogs were the primary source, why avoid my own blog? At first, I decided that I didn't want to put all of that ugliness out there. I've made it a point to bring a message of hope through this blog for all these years, and I didn't want it to suddenly turn into a bitter, jealous vent-fest. (Honestly... if you only knew some of the thoughts that were going through my head... just ask Leila... I'm pretty sure after my emergency therapy phone session with her, she immediately began offering sacrifices for my sorry soul.) But, no. It was even more than that. I had a ton of "material" to write, and yes, while ugliness was the theme of the summer in my head, I could have censored out the ugly and still produced some readable material. There was something else holding me back from writing.
And it was probably midway through my blog hiatus that I began to realize, I was resentful to be TCIE. As soon as the thought first entered my mind, I knew it to be the main underlying reason for my ugliness. I was no longer blogging because I was tired of being the persona of my blog. I was so angry with God for keeping me locked into this life of helping others carry their cross by embracing my own... that I decided to just stop carrying it. Well, at least a big part of it. Don't worry, He gave me plenty more to carry as the summer wore on.
And it helped. I still suffered, and greatly. I still read others' blogs, because, what can I say, I have a healthy dose of Melancholic in me, and we do tend towards masochism. I managed to get to confession, and discussed the spiritual indifference I was feeling with my priest, who informed me that I was in the desert. Desert, indeed. With no end in sight. This is one of the toughest times of my life. Which is, again, ironic, seeing as I'm pretty sure I've written those words oh, about 8 times previously on this blog.
At a certain point, I felt ready to come back to blogging. Maybe two weeks ago or so. Most of the ugliness had passed, and I wanted to jump back in with some updates, etc. But now, knowing that I had been gone for so long, I wasn't quite sure how to make that re-entry. The pressure of writing "the perfect" blog post was mounting. Quick Takes wasn't gonna cut it. I needed something really good.
But then the resentment started in again. I began to feel like my presence in the blog world was missing, and I "owed" it to people to come back and write about hope in the midst of suffering, and joy in the midst of pain. But then... I didn't want to, again. And so, another two weeks passed.
Then, there was today. Mass. I've continued going, and mostly paying attention to the readings and homilies. I sing in the choir so what has helped me stay structured in Mass during this spiritual drought is preparing for the next song. Today, we sang The Summons.
A song I know well. Wrote about it recently, after recalling one of my favorite posts of AYWH's on the same song years ago. Somehow, this song manages to teach me something new each time I hear and sing it.
The line that has always been the most effective for me is: "Will you love the 'you' you hide if I but call your name?" But not today.
Today, a new phrase jumped out at me, screaming at me to listen... and reflect.
"Will you let me answer prayer in you, and you in Me?"
I have a collection of gifts, letters, and cards from bloggers I've become close to over the years, and the other day, I was reading a few of these cards. Several times, there was mention of my blog bringing deeper faith, stronger spirituality, and solace and compassion. (While touched, I remember thinking while reading these recently, "Uhhhh, how does my incessant complaining do all that??")
My work in FertilityCare and NaPro is a blessing to me, and I know I am, in some small way, helping those people I come in contact with through work.
But when I sang this line in The Summons, I began to look at my blog in a different way.
This blog is a way of connecting with people on a more personal level. On a Christ-like level, that cannot always be achieved through my professional life. It is here that I can truly "be myself," and let others come to find themselves through my own written self-discovery. This is a modern explosion of the body of Christ. I cannot distance myself from that. Yes, I can and should distance myself from the aspects of this blogosphere which cause harm and suffering... but I need to continue to allow God to answer prayer in me, and I in Him - however He sees fit.
Truth be told, I love my blog. But I am not my blog. And I've made that distinction today. To allow God to work through me in what I write on this blog does not have to mean that I am nailing myself to the blog as my new cross. Does that make any sense? I hope so. Because it's crystal clear to me, now.
As far as my current life is concerned, I am cautiously optimistic. I know from past experience that just when you think things couldn't possibly get any worse, ohhhhhhhh how silly you are!! - but this time, I have my old friend back: you. All of you. The body of Christ, in my life. It is a life worth living. Stay tuned for what happens next...