It’s ten p.m. I should be in bed, or at least headed in that direction. I should not be in front of a screen. Screens stimulate my brain: it takes me at least an hour after even glancing at a screen to wind down enough to fall asleep. But I figure it’ll take me an hour to fall asleep anyway, even if I don’t sit here and type this post.
It’s been 16 months since I blogged regularly in this place. 16 hard months. 16 months of letting go of almost everything I thought made me me. I let go of blogging, of writing, of my dreams of being a writer (by which I mean someone who makes something approaching a living wage from words), of my best friend (she moved to Iowa), of my beloved house, of my favorite Seattle neighborhood, of Seattle itself, of my identity as an urban mom, of my identity as a rock-star raising four kids in 800 square feet and doing it with some semblance of grace and good will. All of it, stripped away.
I can’t say I feel like Job: I still have my family and my health. I still have plenty of food to eat and a roof over my head, though I don’t much care for it, given that it’s not my sweet home in Ballard. On the surface, I really have nothing to complain about.
And yet—my heart hurts. It’s been hurting since Susan got her job in Iowa over a year ago, and it took a further walloping when we sold our home and moved to the burbs. It’s been six months, and my heart still hurts every time I drive into Seattle to visit a friend or take my kids to co-op or Tae Kwon Do.
I have wanted to write about it—blogging is cheap therapy—but I feel so stupid. For the love of God, Kimberlee, it’s just a house. People in Nepal would be giving their right hands for your life right now. Get over it. That kind of stupid.
The thing is—I would never say such a thing to another human being. Unless they were perennially self-pitying I would never even think it. And yet I behave as though it’s okay to say such things to myself, to berate myself for feeling sad when I have so much to be thankful for. It goes beyond berating. From anyone else, the stuff I say to myself would qualify as verbal abuse.
This is not the Christ-life.
We talk a lot in Christian circles about dying to ourselves. Well, this sort of self-abuse is the kind of thing we’re supposed to crucify with Christ. It’s the sin that so easily entangles, which we need to lay aside so we can run the race of life-with-Christ with joy.
There hasn’t been a lot of joy in my life of late.
I’d like that to change. I’d like to take those harpies captive for Christ and crucify them. I’d like to start living with my arms wide open, the way Jesus lived—and died—instead of curled up in a ball, staring at my own ugliness.
Writing is one thing that cracks me open, lifts my eyes off my own self, pries my clutching hands loose from whatever it is they’re clinging to. I don’t even know what they’re clinging to. Safety? Control? Pride? Whatever it is, it’s an illusion, a delusion, a death sentence.
The only way to live—not merely exist, which is mostly what I’ve been doing for the past 16 months—but really live is to fling our arms open in embrace, throw our heads back in laughter.
Risus est bellum.
That’s the motto of a small Christian school north of where I live. It means laughter is war. If there’s one thing evil can’t stand, it’s laughter. Laughter is levity, it lightens—spreads light—and it’s contagious. I haven’t laughed nearly enough these past 16 months, and I’m losing the war.
Writing restores my perspective, helps me take myself less seriously than I do when I’m stuck in my own head with the harpies swirling their nasty half-truths (and outright lies) before my eyes. Writing helps me see myself as the hilarious joke that I am. It helps me laugh at myself.
It helps me win the war.
The war against the harpies. The war against isolation. The war against despair. The war against the powers of darkness that seek to divide God’s beloved children from Him, from one another, from themselves.
I have let those powers win, simply by refusing to lift my pen, by refusing to humble myself here in this corner of the blogosphere and say, “I’m sad. I’m sad that I sold my home. I’m sad that I live in the suburbs. I’m sad that the life I thought I was going to have no longer exists, except as a lost dream that will never come true.” I was embarrassed that I was sad about that. I am even now embarrassed that after six months I am still grieving the loss of that life. I have let my sadness and my shame silence me—which drove the sadness and the shame further in, which drove me deeper into myself in a nasty inward spiral of growing self-loathing and despair.
The only way out is through. And the only way through is to get my gaze off myself. And oddly, the only way to get my gaze off myself is to write about…myself. I hate that. It’s part of why I’ve endured the past months in silence. It feels so self-involved to write about myself. It is self-involved to write about myself. But it’s better to write about myself and have a little laugh at my own expense and be done with it than to sit in a shame spiral and stare at myself for months on end.
I realize that this is not a funny post, that no one reading it is laughing. That’s okay. I’ve sort of forgotten how to laugh, but I’m cautiously hopeful that as I return to this place which has seen so many rueful self-revelations, the laughter will return, too.
In the meantime, I thought this was really funny, and totally apropos to this post:
As a Christian, I want to “imaitate” Jesus. And as a writer, I think it’s generally a good idea to “imaitate” the dictionary. Here’s to “imaitation,” friends! Long may it live!