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 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott


I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

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The thing with teeth in the middle of my chest

On my worst days, it feels like....


This thing feels like a sinkhole with teeth, living in the middle of my chest.

Like the living hole in Star Wars that almost sucks Lando Calrissian to his death outside Jabba the Hut's lair. (If you don't remember this scene, you're probably still stuck on Princess Leia wearing a metal bikini and chains).




It's called the Sarlac.

I think it sounds like, sore lack. 


When it opens, I can feel the ache. I can feel it start to expand and suck things down- my joy, my peace, my sense of safety.

It steals the room inside me that helps me feel like I can handle the day's demands.

When it opens, I cave under the weight of the pull-it's a cavity bleeding outwards, a relentless black hole where my heart should be.

The force is irresistable- like a tractor beam, inch by inch all the beauty, all the hope, whatever is true and noble and right and good and pure, disappears inside the darkness, and even my physical body starts to hunch over; I bend inside myself until the lack is what defines me.

One friend commented that every time she sees me, I am more and more reserved. Like all my energy is going to maintaining base line functioning: breathe, get out of bed, feed children, feed myself, keep children safe, keep myself safe, get children to school, breathe, feed them, breathe, put them to bed, put myself to bed. Begin again.


William Styron says it's "a sense that my thought processes were being engulfed by a toxic and unnameable tide that obliterated any enjoyable response to the living world" (16).


I know in my mind the things that would help: meditation, yoga, getting outside, connecting with God, writing, alone time, foregoing sugar and gluten and coffee and alcohol, calling girlfriends, pulling in reinforcements...my list of self-care is more than adequate to shut the mouth of the sinkhole, but I have no will to follow through.

No motivation to fight.

It's frightening to have that thing that makes you care, makes you work at this thing called life, disappear.

It's like the switch, the one that keeps you going because it matters to keep going, just flips off. All is meaningless.

To face the futility of life is like being in deep water and losing sight of the shore. Every which way you turn, there is nothing but endless struggle to get nowhere with no point to any of it.


I have one recurring nightmare that has followed me most of my life; like most nightmares, no words can do justice to the feeling one wakes up with when it happens, but if I could describe it in one word, it would be hopelessness.

The world is a dim room- one enormous cardboard box standing on its end. There is a ceiling somewhere far above in the darkness, but it can't be seen, only felt.  There is no day and no night, no visible passage of time. There are no windows and doors, only the brown rectangular box. The bottom half of the box is filled with water from end to end. Everyone in the world is inside the box.

There is a sickly brown light, and from the light, you can see all the people- they are either bobbing in the water, or standing on tiny ledges along the walls of the box. The people in the water are flailing about, some treading water, some looking for an object to hold onto; all are desperate to get back onto the ledges. The people on the ledges are desperate not to fall into the water; they cling to the wall, inching along their four inch wide shelves.  No one is helping anyone. Each person is stuck inside their own struggle to survive. 

Eventually, the people on the ledges will tire and fall into the water; eventually, the people in the water will tire and drown. All of the fear and the flailing is pointless. The world is a water-filled box with no way out.

Styron says, "The weather of depression is unmodulated, its light a brownout" (19).


On my worst days, there is only the thing with teeth in the middle of my chest. On my worst days, I am stuck inside the brown box.






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Reader Comments (2)

Remember, a light saber can cut through anything, especially a cardboard box; you just need to know how to use it.
Staying with the Star Wars analogy, you're like the young Luke Skywalker...Baby, you are Luke Skywalker!
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Luke was depressed because he wanted to discover himself but he felt powerless to do so. Things began to change when his life on the farm with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru gets torched by the storm troopers, everything that was stable and familiar is burnt up, and he is left with two annoying droids and an old hermit of a friend named Ben.
Luke is upset, angry, and lost because the dark side just stole his happiness. Luke doesn't really know who he is or what he's supposed to become but he knows what he is against, the Dark Side.
Ben decides to disciple Luke, training him in the ways of the Force. Ben/Obi-Wan gives Luke a Light Saber that Luke’s Father once used, the one that Obi-Wan took from Anakin/Darth Vader when they last dueled on Mustafar, the lava planet, where Ben nearly destroyed Anakin. Anakin, or by then, Darth Vader, is left leg-less and burnt, clinging to that dark ashy bank, angry for being powerless to save loved ones from dying and suddenly powerless to save himself. Obi-Wan grabs Anakin’s Light Saber before leaving to save Anakin’s pregnant wife and deliver Anakin’s offspring, Luke and Leah.
So this Light Saber that was last used in an attempt to destroy Obi-Wan/Ben, is next seen as a gift to young Luke, the offspring of Anakin, from Ben. Ben then begins to instruct Luke about the power of the force. Redemption is taking root, but like his father, Luke has fears and doubts.
The initial training that occurs in the Millennium Falcon is rough. Luke gets stung multiple times by the little floating ball that shoots lasers. Luke is unable to masterfully use this weapon and he gets frustrated. At the same time, Han is verbalizing his own doubts of the force and telling Luke it’s all just superstitious theory. But, Ben encourages Luke to continue his practice. Luke is obedient and it begins to change him. He begins to see the power of the force first hand. Luke’s obedience and Ben's later sacrifice to save Luke have profound impacts on his life. Luke obeys Ben and goes to Dagobah to continue training under Master Yoda. Yoda teaches Luke how to master his Light Saber and his mind.
Luke is gaining confidence when he comes head on with his father's issue of wanting to save his friends vs. being obedient. Luke uses the power of the force to sense danger. He sees his friends in trouble and he wants to protect them. Yoda encourages him to continue his training, but Luke does what his father did and disobeys Yoda to fight Darth Vader at Cloud City and protect his friends. In the end Luke almost dies and ironically his friends have to save him from falling off of Cloud City into oblivion.
This defeat that Luke suffers ends up being the thing that saves him and the galaxy. He learns from his defeat and matures, becoming who he was to become. The need to be obedient is now clear, and Luke completes his training which prepares him to once more face Darth Vader and prevail over the Dark Side. He becomes a master with his Light Saber and is able to use the tools Ben gave him long ago to defeat that which so desperately wanted to defeat him.
Your dark hours and defeats will make you stronger if you allow them to. Hold on to the tools and weapons you have been given. Practice using these weapons and tools daily against this Dark Side. Continue to be obedient in the ways of the Force, even when it seems hopeless. In the end the Force will be with you and help you prevail over the Dark Side.
It’s all about Star Wars Baby!

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

I love all the references to Star Wars! If we had eyes to see the intense spiritual battle that goes on all around us, we would not be suprised that we get so beat up and wounded.(Eph 6:12). Here's a promise I was claiming for myself that I will pray for you too: ...That your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday! Isaiah 58:10. Once you are on the other side of this, I believe God is going to use you in amazing ways to help other women prevail over the dark side.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlisa

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