It Took A Long Time To Recover

How long will you keep me here

walking on this line

I’m outside your house and home

and I can’t remember mine

Everything is so foreign now

I thought I had you with me

And then you came out crying

And I knew it never would be

We were walking in circles

and it felt like quite the time

I guess I never felt your love

I just kept on feeling mine

….

Yeah I know it happened

Yeah I know I stumbled

I stumbled through the summer

tried to find another lover

tried to chase another lover

but I also know it took a long time to recover

Every year, the cycle of my life seems to carry so much wait (and weight) in August. Maybe it is the last push of summer. Maybe it is because so many of the cycles of my life have revolved around education or some new endeavor. Or maybe I got stuck in a loop.

The lyrics above are to a song I wrote back in 2016. You can see a rare video of me singing it back when I recorded it here. Then you can evaluate my singing voice and come to new conclusions. Regardless, those lyrics came from a place 3 years prior at the beginning of August which wound up being the final page of a complex relationship.

Since then, the month of August has been a month in which I started grad school, started a chaplaincy residency, ended a chaplaincy residency, started teaching. It has fallen in seasons of transition. Life transitions are usually challenging in themselves, but when transitions are accompanied by grief and loss and perceived abandonment they can feel impossible to get through.

This August is no different. I have felt nauseous for 2 weeks straight. Sometimes my body feels like its trembling, like I’m going through some kind of withdrawal. I have been searching for a name for what’s happened. It’s not grief. It’s something more intense. It’s whatever the emotional pain someone heaps on you as your grieving that makes you question reality is called.

Is there a word for that?

Is it gaslighting?

Maybe but not entirely.

It is fear but not the reverential good kind. It’s the kind that has you on high alert that makes you kind of weary of many interactions. And that creates a fight to capture an accurate identity instead of one being crafted through false accusation.

And so in these conditions we recover. People who have endured much worse and the loss of much more find a way to recover. Sometimes it takes a very very long time and the only way they recover is to find new hope.

So I’m preparing to newly hope. And if hope can no longer be found here, it is time to go. And if time to go means a quicker recovery then there is a good in the goodbye.

I hope you too can recover from your wounds and losses in this season friends.

The Disappearance of Most Familiar

I’ve lost my keys for what feels like every day for a month except it’s not my keys I’ve lost.

I don’t know what your pattern in dealing with grief is, but my seemingly unavoidable pattern is to delay it until the last possible moment. It is hard for me to accept that things are gone. My theology feeds this thought in its claim that no person is definitely gone if they confess Christ. Absence in theory is temporary.

Humanity does not do well with accepting the permanence of death, and the leap that we cease to exist seems to run contrary to the hope instilled in us by the Spirit and breath of God. How could God’s breath be anything less than eternal?

But the nature of missing things does not suggest that things evaporate or lose their mass or matter. Though, I don’t know how the concept of life as vapor jives with the thought of object permanence, things don’t cease to exist when they are not seen or heard.

But if things or people did cease to exist wouldn’t we just adapt to life through the lens that nothing lasts unless it is present? Would that spare us or cause us more pain? Is it more painful to accept each time someone leaves or dies that they might never come back?

But that is not how life is. When we lose, we still wish we had or had won. We still want who we want to be here. We would rather have what we have been looking for than lose it for good or even for a little while. Because when all we are left with is memory, it can feel like our memories are taunting us as reminders of what we had but have no longer. They exist as if to say, “good luck going on without.”

Then we are left with the choice to forget or leave behind or move on. We are left to give up clinging to the past, and in a sense, it feels like we are asked to give up hope for the future. We become confronted with the reality that this person is not there in quite the same capacity or potentially any capacity for what we still hope to do or achieve or find encouragement for along the way. Everything becomes a matter of faith or fiction or fairy tale. Am I carried by the memory of the one lost or some mystical coexisting presence and intercessor?

And what of the other disappearances? What about the one who leaves not life itself but just your or my life. They exit from you and you alone. What about that person, who very much alive decides, “I want little or nothing to do with you? How do we navigate that rejection or hatred?” Because if we carry that, what we carry could be catastrophic at most and confining at least.

The finality of death or seeming finality is not fooled by the question of “how can I fix this?” I simply cannot. The relationship has seen its end. They are gone. Most or maybe all regrets have no help.

But the lack of finality of relational abandonment, neglect, or disconnection is a much different challenge. There is more forgiveness required due to the risk of continual hurt, the risk of unanswered questions that still beg an answer, the deception and misperception of peoples opinions and thoughts. All these and the seeming fruitlessness of trying to restore a relationship that lacks mutual desire can be wraught with distress. Even more, when the fruitless attempts don’t seem to be grounded in any tangible, rational reason, we can be tempted to fight for the familiar.

But love holds loosely. I don’t know if that is truth, but it seems true. My favorite blogger said it was true a decade ago, and it has felt true. In other words, all any of us can really do in any of our relationships is to let go, not with the thought that we or the person we hold will fall off a cliff or into a deep cold ocean after our ship has wrecked on an inceberg, but to let go with both our feet on solid ground and hope that whether this person is standing across from us or next to us that they will choose to stay when we let go.

And if they don’t, then it is their loss. And that at the end of the day, maybe that person was not who you thought they were, or maybe that person or persons was not worthy of your space, and maybe they aren’t as familiar or necessary as you thought. And we will accept, with some measure of difficulty, in some strange, cruel or even unimaginable way, that their disappearance at least now, is for the best.

James Passaro has been blogging for the better part of a deacade around themes pertaining to Christian theology, love and loss, coming of age, coming to death, poetry, vocational identity or lack there of. He still belongs to Jesus, still steady in pursuit of a meaningful calling, a desire to be of use to the Church, still finding ways to genuinely love, still faithful to His Lord, still willing to listen to your story. He still thanks you for reading.