How dark is dark enough?
How deep is deep enough?
How far is far enough?
When you permit yourself to be your own gauge, there is no answer to these questions. Our own despondence is marked by greed and pride. When swallowed by depression, you can never feel cold enough, alone enough, or empty enough. As much as we hate it, we go after more and more.
The bard said that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Apparently, he was unfamiliar with my fury directed at myself when I hit bottom.
Spare me the platitude that rock bottom is where you build your foundation. I’m familiar with it, but when you’re lying on rock bottom, curled up in the fetal position, and crying out the only prayer you can, that God would just let you die, you’re not getting much building done. And it doesn’t matter how long you lie there. Life continues to swirl on around you.
The kids need a ride to school, to soccer, to Sally’s slumber party. The sink still leaks. The oil in the car isn’t changing itself.
And those leaks just get worse, and that oil just gets darker and darker, threatening irreparable damage to your vehicle.
But you cry until your cheeks sting. Life is passing you by, but you just can’t face it anymore. Is it depression? Anxiety? Paranoia?
Can you relate?
If you can’t, prepare to get lost. Because in the darkest depths of my depression, when I can’t see light at the end of the tunnel, when I’m all out of answers and simply drop the questions, I find peace. It’s comfortable being alone. They know me here.
Maybe it’s because I don’t have to hide in the dark. No one sees me cry. No one hears the epithets aimed within:
You’re not good enough, and never will be.
Everything is all your fault.
Nobody even cares that you’re dying inside.
There is no one that wants you around, anyway.
Despite all the raging, it is comfortable. In the darkest places of my heart, I’m not accountable to anyone. I don’t have to be honest. I don’t have to lie. I can just be, and even if I hate everything about myself, at least I’m accepted, if only by myself.
Don’t miss this. It is not the “peace the passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7), but is a false peace, like an addict finding solace in that next hit. It seems to help only because it masks the pain. Enough morphine, and you won’t even care that your arm got ripped off. Stop the bleeding, increase the dosage, and you won’t feel a thing.
But here’s the problem:
While I find contentment in my misery, everyone around me suffers. Believe it or not, there are people who love me, and who like having me around (most especially my wife and kids, and maybe even you). And when I steal myself away to hide in the darkness, no one else can enjoy my company. Sure, I may be present. I might be sitting on the couch or at the table, but I’m checked out. My eyes are focused on my phone or on nothing at all.
When in gets cold enough inside, even love is frozen. And I’ll be honest: love is my filter. Take that away, and I can say some pretty cruel things. True or not, those things should not come out of my mouth, and they shouldn’t be entertained inside my head for any length of time, either.
If you’re tracking with me, I know that you’re going to struggle accepting this, but people are trying to find you. The problem is that pesky darkness. When they get close, you remain veiled, and the best they can do is to fumble in the dark in an attempt to find you, but it seldom works. More often than not, the hand reaching out pokes you in the proverbial eye (or strikes a less-proverbial nerve) and only causes you to push them away even farther. “I’m fine. Don’t worry about it. Just forget it.” More lies, and no solutions.
But I’ve pushed people away, too. I’ll manage this if I’m alone, if I’m not held accountable, and if you don’t require anything of me. I’ll just survive in my own misery, and I’ll miss everything, but I’ll be okay alone and you’ll be okay without me, right? Of course you will. Because:
I’m not good enough, and never will be.
Everything is all my fault.
Nobody really cares that I’m dying inside.
There is no one who wants me around, anyway.
Haven’t we heard this stuff before? Maybe you’ll say that I should just reject it. It’s not true, after all. But when you hear the same thing enough times, you start to see validity in it, and I can prove it. Remember the Shakespearian quote the I used earlier? “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” It’s a great quote from William Shakespeare, isn’t it. Only it’s not. It was from another playwright for the same era, William Congreve.
Not that it matters. It sounds so much like Shakespeare that we all think it’s his. Rather than correct our thinking, we’ll go on believing the lie.
This can’t go on!
Somewhere along the line, things have to change. But the things won’t change. What must change is our reaction to the things.
Our thinking must change. Our words must change. We’ve got to reject the darkness and the hate, and seek the light, the love, the acceptance that is offered to us, not just by our friends and family, but by God Himself.
Try as you might, you can’t push Him far enough away that He can’t hear you, if only you will cry out in honesty. Without a doubt, He regards the prayer of the destitute, and does not despise their prayer (Psalm 102:17). Maybe you’ve been feeling pretty destitute lately? I know the feeling.
But I’m becoming more and more convinced that I don’t have to suffer like this anymore. If you’d hear me, maybe, just maybe, you don’t either. Not by counseling, nor by medication, by by His Spirit. Thus saith the Lord… pretty much (Zechariah 4:6).
Keep the faith, people. We can’t afford to lose it. Blessings!
That is the final post in a series, celebrating individual songs from one of my favorite bands, The Classic Crime, and their album “Phoenix” (available here). It is my hope that whether you like the band or not, there will be something in the posts that will resonate with you.
I never intended to go through all 13 tracks, but I’ve tackled several of them. Among other things, these posts express my anticipation for their next album, scheduled for release in early 2017. I’m probably more excited than a grown man should be for something like this, but I’m okay with that.