#10: I used to say my therapists were crazy. Nope, that was ED.
If my life were a novel, it’d read: My Therapist is Crazy, except it wouldn’t actually be funny, because the joke’s on me.
I say that not because I’ve necessarily done anything wrong, but because I struggle significantly with the lie that mental health illness is a choice, and therefore its cure is in making better decisions. Just typing those words incites a cringing within my body that I can hardly tolerate.
It’s been about a year now since I’ve returned from full-time, but it feels like just yesterday, and it feels like I dreamt far more in the way of personal achievements than mine presently. There is nothing true about this because my clinicians and I intentionally did not materialize recovery into socially constructed adulthood milestones. At the same time, my desiring those milestones also leads me to question whether I’m “grown up enough” for my age.
By 22-years-old, I had my Master of Urban Education Degree, official English Secondary Education teacher licensures in two states, quite the satiating credit score, and two savings accounts. I had just selected a top choice job position from among multiple offers, and I’d go on to open two retirement accounts within that next year employed. In addition to feeling successful because I’d defined myself by number diplomas, dollars, and decidedly perfect skillsets, I felt successful because I knew I’d arrived “ahead of my time.” It was not enough to do well. It was enough when the best. As arrogant, meaningless, and shallow as that sounds, it exactly was. That is not to say that I did not want to serve – I was literally giving my life away to education because of the injustices I saw and still see in our academic institutions. The problem lies in my inability to find contentment outside of the latest definition of “good enough,” which, of course, changes as quickly as its listed items can be accomplished.
What is different now from then is superb: I have a deeper understanding. Am I any more competent of self-sufficiency? Absolutely not. But I think I’m beginning to understand a little bit more what balance exists in what I cannot do on my own, and what I am responsible for as someone who has been gifted because she has proven to be a faithful steward in the past.
Really, I’m talking about the balance of law and grace. That line between law and grace did not change. My character has changed, in that I’ve grown up a bit more, but not with such a self-efficacy that I am in and of myself stable. I have always, always said that my physical and otherwise demonstrated wellbeing is a direct representation of what inward happenings are at work. I stick by that reasoning now.
The “joke” is on me, humanity, in every put forth effort that seeks to accomplish its own purpose outside of greater strength and support.
The “joke” is not unwise because I should have read through its cleverness any earlier or worked any harder. The “joke” is unwise because I am unwise, I will always be unwise, and yet I am intrinsically connected to wisdom as a result of what universal-level grace is bestowed upon this earth and ushered into my life, for the exact time: this.
I do not see a possibility for restoration, greater hope and strength for myself outside of a very distinct relationship between grace and the law, and their distinct connection allows me a type of unexplainable freedom. Unexplainable not because I am somehow advanced; unexplainable because I am finally comfortably incompetent.
You see – and yes, I have entered into my soapbox realm, if you haven’t already noticed – you see:
This entire time, I thought that recovery was going to be about “when I got my s^*& together.” Even still, I say that all the time. And y’all, this cussing habit of mine is turned too ugly as if ugliness could present itself on a spectrum. It’s being renewed too. But the more intensely I focus on behavioral modification, when I start comparing myself to others, and when I seek a self-security for my identity outside of what will never be able to be a human-like measurement of worthiness… then and only then have I aligned with a recovering mindset.
Do not be fooled: It can feel like I am a slave to sickness. And hear me clearly: Not as in positioning myself under a self-interpretation of my living as deprived. Not as in I am a slave because I have no power to make good choices. No piece of slavery that is defined by a sense of meaninglessness. Slavery in the sense that hardship, specifically sickness’ hardships, will exist as a master that I cannot in my own power overthrow.
Sickness identifies the line where wellness becomes dangerous, and stepping into those dangerous spaces are never without consequence.
Sickness identifies what is operating in efficiency and where is the inefficient operation because whatever work is produced comes at too much a cost on the part of the rest of an organization.
Sickness identifies where there will be no more living at all if there is a continuation of whatever ongoing space exists outside of fair, necessary regularity.
So yes: Sickness, in some ironic way, is a helper master, because it understands, follows and upholds the law.
Recovery is not part but all grace. Recovery is what tears down every single wall and anticipated outcome that is logical, valid and reasonable for the situation, even those given circumstances where what is reasonable is not what is just.
Sickness, recovery, and justice do not have the traditional, Joker and Batman, villain and superhero relationship. Sometimes sickness is the Batman. Sometimes recovery is a dark night.
As I also often, often say, faithfulness cannot be measured with outcomes. Stewardship cannot be measured by prosperity. Faith can never be measured by devotedness. Just like failures do not at all inform blessings.
How very, very dangerous it was to think that I could, in any way, inform my recovery in such a way that my own individual actions could so quickly, swiftly and surely change the trajectory of my experience that I could create my own happiness, safety and fulfillment in a body that I inherited broken. How very, very dangerous it is to preach to someone that he can heal himself.
And how very, very dangerous it is to think that I can, in any way, inform my recovery in such a way that my own individual actions could so quickly, swiftly and surely change the trajectory of my experience that I could demolish my own hurtings, insecurities, frailties, and faults, in a body that I inherited perfect. How very, very dangerous it is to preach to someone that he is irresponsible for his own stewardship.
Whether I do well or whether I do not, the outcome of my recovery will never be in part, whole or unrelated to my good, generous offerings to my own body. When others have, or others have through me, mistreated my body, my body has fought for me, shined, triumphed and slain every big unfriendly giant that has ever dared show its face before me. When I am restless, my body is able to be still until I am ready to listen to its cues for a renewed living.
I wrestle every, single day with the idea of a freedom that I cannot earn, contribute to or take participation in other than to just sit down and be humble. I wrestle every, single day with the idea of a freedom that I cannot attain unless I steer away from what imperfections jeopardize the best part of freedom: paradise.
There is a wellness in my soul tonight at the same time there is the same existing book title: My Therapist is Crazy. And I am so glad. Because if not for knowing just how crazy my therapist is, I might not know how boldly I stand living today.
This, friends, is the beauty and story of my receiving grace.
Photography © natalie rose eddings