depression, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Francis A. Schaeffer, God, Grief, marriage, Mental health, Philosophy, Reality, Religion and Spirituality, Robert Pirsig, Single-parent, Soul Healing, The God Who is There, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
I spent most of this summer looking for a place to live. For some reason, I also spent it re-reading a book by Robert M. Pirsig: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; a book that was assigned in an English class my husband and I took years ago, before we were married. This is one of my all-time favorite books, not just because of the memories of my relationship with my husband, before everything went so horribly wrong, but because it’s probably one of the best philosophy books I’ve ever read. It was around that same time, that first semester of college, that I dug a used copy of Francis A. Schaeffer’s The God Who Is There out of a bin in the college bookstore. Although Pirsig circles spiritual truths and poignant realities without ever coming to actually know God in a personal way, and Schaeffer’s book argues from the other side, both books shaped much of my young-adult thinking. Anyway, I thought I was so desperately searching for Zen because I missed my husband, but I think I was really just looking for me. (The old pink copy from Mr. Baldwin’s English class was buried somewhere deep in a storage unit, so I finally went to Barnes and Noble and bought myself a new copy, which I liked much better anyway.)
I wandered pretty far off the path this summer in my thinking. Stress does this to me; I can think myself into a hole so deep only God can find me. He always does, but not without considerable grief on my part, usually ending in some kind of confused fog that no amount of therapy or medication can dissipate. I went all the way to Is there really a God, and do we even exist, and if we don’t, then what’s the point of it all anyway? full circle back to There is a God, and these are real tears, so I must exist, and therefore, there must be a point out there somewhere. The real value of a book like Pirsig’s is that while truth is approached but never arrived at, it gives you something to measure truth by. A theoretical plumb line. As in, okay, if I do not believe this to be truth, then what is? Or, more accurately, what exactly do I believe? “Truth is arrived at by the painstaking process of eliminating the untrue.” And while the Lord was more than patient with all of my midsummer wanderings, now it’s time to put things back in order and get back to work.
An irritatingly re-occurring, and always traumatic reality in my life, they seem to have moved in to this place sometime before we did, and I can’t quite wrap my head around how to deal with them. I don’t want to; I want them gone. Can’t get a cat, either, because I’m as allergic to them as I am afraid of mice. Besides, a sign saying “This house is guarded by a kitten” is something only a real blond would put in the window. I had just been thinking, too, that I don’t actually meet the DSM criteria for PTSD anymore (said criteria having been obliterated by all of the ones required for a major depressive disorder) and haven’t for some time, but no, no such luck. Back with a vengeance, which is so humiliating, because this house was supposed to be both a blessing and a place of refuge. And so many, many people bent over backwards trying to help me, and are now so happy and relieved that my summer of homelessness is over, that I don’t have the heart to tell them how upset I am with where I am.
The proper response to “Blessed and highly favored; how are you?” is not “Stressed and suicidal, thank you.” (“Blessed and highly medicated” doesn’t go over so well, either, unless you actually like being obviously and hyper-actively avoided by other well-dressed, seemingly healthy, adults.) At least, not at our church. Our poor staff is just not prepared to deal with such disturbingly raw honesty, so out of kindness and consideration for them, from the goodness of my heart, I give the appropriate response, knowing full well that I’m lying through my teeth the whole time. God forgive me.
I really am grateful. Grateful for a place to think, to write, to sleep and study. I missed my bed. And my coffee maker.
It’s good to be back.