It has now been 10 months since my divorce was finalized in a courthouse and to say that it has been challenging is like saying the sky is big. Someone once said that glory is weighty. If glory is weighty, despair is crushing. I’m not sure glory and despair are opposites but glory brings joy and trials often carry with them despair.
In the last 10 months, I have been sparring with despair. Back in November I learned that there was an underlying fear beneath my temptation to despair. The fear monger would say to me, “You are not going to make it.” Being a working mother is difficult and being a newly single working mother is even worse. I am not used to running a household alone, discipling my kids alone, changing air filters alone, balancing a budget alone, this list could go on for paragraphs but I think the idea of facing life without a husband is clear. My decision to divorce was not rash and I initiated the proceedings. I came to a conclusion in my past marriage that it would be better to face the unknown of singlehood than to stay with my ex-husband. Even still, actually being alone is a pretty daunting state to live in. Alone and raising children. Alone and rejoining the workforce. Alone and establishing a new social life. Alone and looking to meet a good man. Alone.
When I identified my underlying fear that I was not going to make it in life by myself, it became easier to manage the temptation to despair. I began learning, like a baby taking her first steps, to take the circumstance that triggered the despair and attempt to tackle the problem one tiny step at a time instead of rushing to “I can’t do this on my own!”. To describe a real-life problem will sound ridiculous to most people, but this is typically how inner mental struggles go. They are irrational, cruel and extremely powerful until I let the air out, or better yet, let the fresh air into these horrid thought patterns.
Here is a sampling of some of my triggers. Needing to change the air filter and having no clue where to start. Disciplining one or both of my kids for a recurrent behavior issue that only seems to keep getting worse and feeling terrified that I am ruining this child’s character because we don’t seem to be making progress. Being overwhelmed with my workload and feeling angry that the culture of my chosen profession is toxic and depends on people prone to workaholism. And last but not least, experiencing a break-up with a man. I have had 2 bad break-ups in my post-divorce life and lots of little minor ones.
In the last several weeks, I have been battling depression. I am not sure of the exact date that it started, but suddenly my sparring with despair was becoming my surrendering to despair on an ongoing basis. Talking to friends, exercising, going out with friends and drinking alcohol were providing some relief but I began to have days where all I wanted to do was watch movies and be alone. Work has been horrible lately and it feels like my workload is never ending. I am starting to look for a new job because the stress of this one is keeping me in pattern of tension, exhaustion and frustration.
A few days ago, by the mercy of God, I was shown a picture of my struggle with despair and depression. The weight of my feelings of despair was sucking the joy out of moments that have everything needed to be joyful. One thing that hurt me the most is not being able to enjoy time with my kids. I started to really ask God and myself why I was struggling so much with despair. I closed my eyes and saw a large gaping hole inside of a room. This is the room I have been mentally living in. When a challenge comes, I have been standing on the edge of that gaping hole and the easiest thing to do in that place, is to fall in. I have been struggling to hold on to hope that I have a future and that it is good. The Holy Spirit has shown me that I need to get out of the despair room. I am not sure how but I have to choose to leave. Somehow I entered the despair room and have been living there and didn’t even realize it until a few days ago.
It requires mental strength and focus to leave the despair room but I will leave and I will enter the hope room. It is a God-given mercy to understand why I have been struggling so much and now that I have a picture of it, I can fight this head-on. I am going to begin by addressing the cruel thoughts that got me ensnared in the despair room. Thoughts that say, “You are alone”, “You are not going to make it”, “You are never going to remarry”, “Everyone you love leaves you”, “You don’t matter”, “No one cares about you”, “You are not worthy of being loved”, “Your kids are better off if you die”, “You are never going to get better”, “You are stuck here”, “Just kill yourself and be done with it”.
I belong in hope. “God is always with me”, “I am going to make it because the Lord pays close attention to my life”, “I will remarry one day when it is God’s time”, “Even if my own parents abandon me, God is the strength of my life”, “I matter because I am fearfully and wonderfully created”, “My friends, family and kids all love me and need me to love them back”, “I am worthy of being loved. I am not uniquely unloveable”, “My children love me and need me and would suffer greatly without me”, “I can grow and can get stronger one thought at a time”, “My life is in God’s hands. I am not stuck. He has a plan and I will follow Him”, “I will not kill myself. I will pursue abundant life through Jesus.”