The last few months have been a steep uphill climb as I've not only had to face the daily heart wrenching sadness of missing Suzie's presence, but as I've also had to learn how to live a kind of life that is alien to me. These months have consisted of a series of steps, some forwards and some backwards, separated only by periods where time just seems to hang motionless, without any purpose or meaning. Generally I would like to think that I'm in a better place emotionally than I was a few months ago. But, as I discovered last week, progress can't be measured on a neat linear scale. One isolated but significant setback had a dreadful impact on any sense of progress that I'd thought I'd made, and threatened to destroy my confidence completely.
I've been trying hard to get some degree of interest and social contact into my life, which has been hugely challenging for me as I deal with ongoing anxiety issues, and infinitely more difficult as I face these issues without Suzie beside me. It was a great achievement for me to be able to resume a hobby that Suzie and I had previously enjoyed together for many years. But during last week's practice evening I had a severe panic attack and, although this was caused by the claustrophobic nature of the venue, it has triggered a more widespread and destructive effect on other areas of my day to day life. I've had to curtail my involvement in this hobby, and the social contact that comes with it, which is a great disappointment to me, and I'm now trying to work through the knock-on effect that this setback has had on my depression and anxiety.
For a few days after this experience I was in a really dark place. I felt utterly defeated. I felt like I was right back where I'd been a few months ago, unable to stop crying and feeling totally lost and hopeless. My overwhelming sense of fear and dread as I face each new day has hit an all time peak. My desperate yearning to reach out and feel Suzie's arms around me is almost unbearable. Suddenly I just need her so very much. The heartache of her absence has reached a whole new level. Maybe the reality of it has finally hit me.
Somehow, though, I know I have to carry on. So many of my daily Bible verses recently have reminded me that God promises to give us strength to cope with the setbacks of life. I know that He has all the resources I need, and He loves me enough to help me one step at a time. A familiar quote has also been at the forefront of my mind.... 'This, too, will pass'.
I continue to face each day, each hour, each minute, at a time, thanking God for the many blessings that I know are still mine, even on my lowest and darkest days. There's no doubt that I've had a huge setback, but I'm trying to see it as a 'step back' rather than a total defeat. That is easy to say and infinitely harder to do! But what's the alternative? Giving up simply isn't a viable option. I may need to retreat a little for a while, but only enough for healing to resume and for some degree of strength to begin to return. I'm sure that will happen in time.
Meanwhile I'm learning to be a bit more gentle with myself, more tolerant of my failings, more aware of any achievements, and infinitely more dependant on the unfailing love of our faithful God whose grace is always sufficient for all I could ever need. I'm down but I'm not out!
Psalm 73 v.26
I admit how broken I am in body and spirit,
but God is my strength and He will be mine forever.
Psalm 31 v.24
Be strong and He will strengthen your heart, all you who wait for the Lord.