Sunday, September 11, 2011

Early Symptoms of Contentment - Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, ch. 11

"I climbed the stairs to my apartment, lay down in my new bed and turned off the light. I waited to start crying or worrying, since that's what usually happened to me with the lights off, but I actually felt OK.  I felt fine.  I felt the early symptoms of contentment.
My weary body asked my weary mind, 'Was this all you needed, then?'
There was no response.  I was already fast asleep." - ch. 11 Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. pg.36

There is nothing better than being able to fall into peaceful sleep, knowing that you don't have to experience the constant fear and worry and depression that have become a hallmark of your life.  I would have to say that things came to a fever pitch pretty recently (say, about 5 months ago?) when I was feeling like I was letting others down (by not meeting their expectations and approval - and, although, their extreme judgmental attitude hurt me deeply, it wasn't completely unfounded, if I'm being honest), but ultimately the worst realization came when I realized I was truly letting myself down.

While I've been ridiculously honest in this blog so far, I still can't quite bring myself to detail out all the ways that I somehow morphed into a person that was unrecognizable.  Sadly, more people than I care to admit actually know the details about this whole embarrassingly immature phase in my life, but thankfully, as I've mentioned before, I have the best friends in the world.  And none of them would ever steal my dignity by airing my dirty laundry for the world to see.  Thank goodness!  We can just leave it at this...five months ago, I was not conducting myself in a way that was consistent with the values and beliefs I claim to hold.  I would describe it this way: you know that crazy, rebellious phase that people go through either in their teens or right when they enter college?  I feel like mine hit when I turned 33...just a tad late.  And, a rebellious phase like that is exponentially more dangerous when you have already established yourself in a family - in a marriage, with children.  These were very dark times for me, spiritually.  This entire "phase", or whatever it is, is what has thrown me into this insane identity crisis and caused me to think seriously about what kind of a person I wish to be.

There came a point (around June?) when I realized that things needed to change or I was on a fast path to destroying everything good that I currently have in my life.  At that point, some drastic changes were made.  Good changes, the most significant being that, as a family, we stepped out from under the control of people that made us feel judged, worthless and hopeless.  It was scary.  Because that was all we knew and we didn't know if we would find anything/anyone healthy to replace this very important group of people in our lives.  Still, even with the risk, after we was the first time in a long time that I have felt truly free.

And, let me tell you, freedom...true, grace-filled, wonderful one of the best antidotes for insomnia that I have found.


  1. Leah, you may have to ask me to stop replying. Until you do, however, I feel like I have to play devil's advocate here. I am not going to let you off the hook with writing the blog about self-examination and cathartic revelation without being challenged to defend and own what you've written. In a previous blog you wrote that you weren't sure what you believed, but in this blog you wrote that you weren't conducting yourself in a way that was consistent with the values and beliefs that you claim to hold. Well, if you don't actually believe these beliefs and values then it is not important to point out that you were not acting in accordance with them. What does matter is how you resolve the dissonance. Which you haven't explained. Why? Because you are still working that out. If you are still working it out, then I feel that the negative connotation of embarrassingly immature, crazy, and rebellious are unfair to your journey of self-discovery. In fact, this blog is full of self-accusation and judgmental tones, for example, dirty laundry, exponentially more dangerous, & insane identity crisis. See what I'm saying?

    I also think you should explain what dark times, spiritually means to you. Were you doubting God's existence? Or, perhaps the place of Jesus as God in the flesh? Or the value of the church in your life? Or something else entirely?

    There is more I have actually chosen to delete :-), but I don't want to be too tough on you at the start ;-). You will owe me more answers in the future though :- D

  2. Thanks, Mike. Good points, as usual. And very valid. I have GOT to let go of the self-hatred. I would say...that's probably the BIGGEST issue that I am working on at the moment and perhaps that is what the blog should have been about. I am working with one of my pastors on all this stuff and during one of our first ever meetings, she said to me, "Leah, you have been a Christian for a long time. You know that God loves you. But, if you are honest with yourself, do you think that He likes you?" Well, of course I started bawling in a Mexican restaurant because...of course I don't! That's kind of what got this whole ball rolling...the questions...why don't I think God likes me? And...who am I anyway?

    My other pastor also said something interesting. He said, "It's hard for us to accept any help from God when there is self-hatred involved. So, it's not as simply as just should ask God for help and He'll help you. Because, it's almost like you won't LET Him help you." I thought that was definitely least in my case.

  3. Dark times was a period of two months of complete and total emptiness. I couldn't get close to God because I was struggling with whether I believed in Him or not and, ultimately, whether I wanted to control my own life or give Him control. Frankly, I wanted to control it so I could do things that I knew were wrong...and not feel guilty about them. But...somehow I never could quite bring myself to go through with it...because deep down, He is real. And I know that I love Him. But it was a disheartening time b/c I couldn't worship. For the first time in my life, I felt NOTHING during worship. No stirrings in my heart, no emotions, no wonder at how amazing He is...just nothing. I would stand there with everyone around me praising God and I couldn't even cry. I felt like an empty shell of a person with no soul.

    There's so much more...but not in a Comment. Perhaps I'll delve into this in a future posting.