I am Eustace.

I am the queen of self-loathing.

And in a week marked by more tears than smiles, when I struggled to recover from the longest, worst kind of hangover, I far outdid myself. Four weeks of freedom, rediscovery, and heart-filling, soul-spilling love, and I found myself back in our darling old house, large and empty and so alone.

I dance in the house of self-pity. I crown myself “poor me” and send words-like-daggers into my husband’s heart. Why did he take us away? Why did we ever leave our HOME?

I spent one full day crying … deep, ugly, snotty, weary tears that left me with a headache for two days after. I camped on the couch, going through the motions of the job I remembered again how much I loved, and I basked in the outrageous grace of co-worker friends.

It’s not grief, because grief means the end of something. I am straddling the canyon between returning to what was once so lovely and the unspoiled path leading to something new. I’m not entirely sure living like this is even remotely sustainable, because it’s like the whole world is hanging in the balance and my heart is, quite literally, strewn across the globe and I’m not entirely sure what road to take to piece it all back together.

But on Friday night, finally, I left the house. I went out in my new Christmas jeans. I dug my makeup out of my suitcase (which had, of course, not been unpacked). I painted on a smile and sipped pinot grigio and laughed with these people that I suppose I can call friends now, after 6 months of these types of conversations. I don’t know that I would choose them under any other circumstances, but I’m learning to like very much their sarcastic wit, their tireless ambition, their midwestern charm, and the way they challenge my husband to new levels of him that I’ve not seen before. I brushed up against strangers in a crowded bar, something I would never do back home. I winced and took deep breaths, and smiled in Price’s eyes and he said without words that it would all be ok.

And then on Sunday morning, after a Saturday spent relapsed, staring eyes-glazed and spirit-drained at reruns of How I Met Your Mother, I tried. I fumbled around with Pandora stations until just the right one started to sing, and then I fought to reclaim our sweet stone house from the dust bunnies that had taken over in the month since we had been gone.

It’s not the same; it never will be – nor would I want it to be. But it’s here and it’s now and it’s home, and that’s ok. Because the queen of self-loathing is, in fact, learning to rely on Someone much wiser in these long empty days, because I was called and claimed and sent to this city, to this stone house, and to this man. I am called to abandon the self-pity, the shame, the grief, and the fear. I can no more make myself at home here than I can call myself new, but I must and shall submit it all to the One who is making me new, who is stretching my boundaries of comfort, and who promises to not leave me when I feel alone.

Self-pity and self-loathing are such delicious things. We wallow and roll and toss about in the mud, pretending we hate everything about ourselves, but really it’s our circumstances – which we, of course, did not cause but must work our way out of, because we’re the only ones that can. My ruthless obsession with curing my acne, with feeding myself more kale than I believe my digestive system can handle, with cleaning and prettying and nesting and making my house pinterest-perfect … these are the ways I am feeding my dragon, the desire for control that eats away at me because I am in a place I have yet to master, doing things that are outrageously uncomfortable, and living in a state of total and complete uncertainty. But self-pity is not the answer. Control is not the answer.

What is?

“And I thought to myself, oh dear, how many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.

Then the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it.

The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is so much fun to see it coming away.”

{The conversion of Eustace Clarence Stubb, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, CS Lewis.}

 

We’re pulling off scabs. We’re finding new ways to live in a new town. I slipped back into old patterns of comfort and warmth and trust while I was home, and all those of glossy-but-necessary bandages have been ripped off in the last week. I am exposed, I am empty, and I suppose that I have no choice but to be ready, because the kicking and screaming and crying and door-slamming of the past week just won’t cut it.

But one more night of wine and Barney Stinson won’t hurt. I can dwell a bit longer 🙂

 

 

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