Journey to Dust, Transformation to Ashes

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I feel like I’ve been in an emotional blender this week.  It started out as me being a spectator, just watching others do what they do. I maintained a numb distance so their actions couldn’t affect me, so I could stay focused on my own priorities in trying to sort things out.  As it was, I had been feeling confused about a number of things for some time, and I was just wanting to get to the bottom of it all without any distractions.

When my own efforts to discern the mysteries of my subjective cuing failed, clarity came from outside.  I can’t say that it was the picture I was hoping to see,  but at least knowing what type of storm has been raining down was better than wondering why I’m soaking wet.  It’s a shame,  I don’t feel that much drier even now.

I’m only human. I like tidy resolutions.  I want things to work themselves out without me having to make any difficult choices, because I fear making the wrong one and being loaded down with years of regret and the permanence of decisions that cannot be undone. I wish it was always that easy, but I guess that’s the point.  Choosing the easy option, or the only option, takes no effort. It doesn’t make us bend, break, or grow.  It is a safe course, but comes with the least benefit.  I think I can safely say so far, Allah hasn’t chosen me for that type of path through life. If that were the case, He wouldn’t see fit to give me so many opportunities to submit to Him.  In the end I know that I am glad I have been given these tests, and grateful to Him for the way He sees me through them.  Yet, I have to admit, sometimes the process gets me down…way down…into the darkest places. That’s where I happen to be right now.

I don’t come here much, but when I do it’s pretty bad.  I’ve been soaking in pain.  Coming home from work each day this week, I would spend hours sitting on the couch, encompassed by the tang in my heart.  I would talk out loud to myself (as though I were the only friend I have), trying to grasp the resolve to make whatever choices needed to be made. What makes it the most difficult is that I can’t see any outcomes that give me hope.

So, I feel like a failure. I feel like garbage and trash. I feel unloveable, unwanted, and worthless.  From the bottom of this pit, the only view I see is the one that validates these feelings. I think about my mother taking off when I was only a baby, and being only a tangential part of my life since then.  I think about how I struggled to make friends growing up, struggled to keep people near when all they could see is the level of my intensity which made them back away.  I think about how I still feel a deficit of close friends even now that my life is nearly half over.  I think about how my words, my thoughts, are just silent cries that often go unheard. I think about how much I have accepted in my marriages that I shouldn’t have accepted, just for the sake of not having to be alone.

Because after all, alone is how I’ve spent most of my life. Looking back into my formative years, and most of it is memories of being alone in my bedroom, trying to quietly occupy myself.  I remember trying, time and again, to reach out to my grandparents for attention, and only being met with exasperated disinterest. I feel shame that the deficit created made me into an attention whore on some level, as I entered young adulthood….but even then I still was cast away for being too extreme, too difficult to understand, unrelatable to most others.

Alone is how I spent the years of my first marriage, waiting night after night for a husband I loved who wouldn’t come home. A husband who had interest in pretty much anything else but me…even cleaning the house. I thought I finally found a breakthrough with my current husband, because he was the first person I couldn’t drive away.  Funny, he was thinking the same about me. I thought we would be peas in a pod forever.

At first, things seemed ideal.  I loved him to death, and I thought I was loved to death.  He had mistakes, flaws…it was to be expected. So did I.  I covered them, forgave them, overlooked them, shoved them aside. My love was so great, it would pay the price of any pain he caused me.  He owed me nothing, except a promise to stay by my side. He did stay, he’s been staying.  Yet, the staying has been akin to grasping a thorned rose with the tightest grip, like swallowing a blade over and over.  I started to weaken from the repeated cuts, and I thought it was my lack of fortitude that needed to be strengthened.

So I face this dilemma: have a companion who may potentially bleed me to death from 1000 slashes, or be alone.   I don’t think he’s doing it on purpose, or because he doesn’t care. It is happening because he is the knife, and it’s the knife’s nature to cut.  He can’t help it, no matter how much he tries to be soft and gentle, he is still only capable of what his nature will allow.  I can choose to stay close, at my own risk…but because my nature is something entirely different…there will be a price to pay.

Or, I could save myself, and heal what wounds are left.  I would be doing it alone.  I would be safe, sane, and intact…but isolated. I am not a raving beauty, that people are flocking to be near me. I am not a comfortable fit into society, that others find me palatable. I am overly analytical, socially awkward, emotionally brazen, and hopelessly anchored to literal thinking. I catch others offguard with my lumbering affection.  I repel others with my neediness.  No one is going to want to love me except those who are themselves unloveable…the guns, the knives, the arrows, the fiery ones of the world. They will accept me and take me and cherish me…but ultimately destroy me because I am nothing but paper.

Just paper, a paper full of words unheard.

Paper is not worth very much.  Paper just gets used and thrown away. That’s been my life experience as well.  Paper can only wound a sliver of a cut, but can be shredded so easily.  Paper is plain, unnoticed, nominal. Paper is fragile, flimsy, and vulnerable.

The value of paper is only as great as the words written on it, and so far the words I have have been of no value to anyone else. My life has been of no value to anyone else, except for what use I can offer them.  Tell me one person who cares to do something for a piece of paper.  At best, only the sentimental will preserve it and keep it safe…but I guess there aren’t many of those types around.

I know this is a bunch of depressing things to say.  I wanted to write it here, so that it wouldn’t stay written on my heart. I want it out, not in. I want it to be something other than my experience of myself.  Maybe, just maybe, once I can do that much,  I can find a way to beautify what’s ugly and bring meaning to what’s meaningless.  If I can’t, maybe someone else can. Maybe Allah in His mercy will.

Until then, I will probably stay crumbled into this ball, in the unnoticed corner.

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2 responses »

  1. This was beautiful. You were very creative at expressing how you felt. A piece of paper isn’t something that you throw away or crumble up. It is something that absorbs emotion from the tip of a writing utensil either a weeping soul or happy individual. Weather its a million words or a picture drawn. It is very complex very flexible enduring all trials in life. If I must say if I found this as a paper lying on the ground I would treasure it as a momenta. I don’t have allot experience relating to love quotas, At some point as a young lad I began to think love was useless something people cover with fornication and lust. I just focused more on being proactive being slightly withdrawn from most people, I found someone to acknowledge just by looking her in the eye I see what I didn’t see in most women but enough of that. I have always kept the idea that communication is the key, I don’t think I’m a needy person sometimes I do. it’s easy to distinguish the facts that I am alone mentally. No one can understand in my opinion but we can relate, share and express. That is probably the most compelling way to go about in life. Understanding both sides of a story, listening. Remember everybodies existence is equal in value. I would like to hear from you again =).

    • Thank you for your feedback, brother. I have to admit that your take on the value of paper is a beautiful way of reframing the experience I was having at the time I posted this entry. I think one of the lessons we all learn in this life is that no matter how alone we feel, or perceive ourselves to be, we are in fact eternally connected to Allah. He is the one Who, when we seek him with earnestness and diligence, truly meets every need.

      Your comments are most timely as I am entering a new phase in my life (yet again!) and I will surely bring your analogies to mind if I begin to start feeling worthless again. Thank you again.

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