Between the stress of the downturn in my work and the more open discussions of "the issue", it has been tense. A couple of weeks ago, I lost my cool and exploded and was rude to my wife. She said things that implied that she could no longer deal with my attitude and all that goes with "the issue". Harsh words crossed our lips and emotions flared and ultimatums spewed forth... It was like that scene in "It's a Wonderful Life" where Jimmy Stewart come home all stressed and destroyed and starts taking it out on his wife and kids and Donna Reed starts to say something like: "why are you taking it out on me and the children? Why don't you... leave!".
Well, I left... I didn't pack my bags, I just grabbed a notebook and my cell phone and slammed the door and disappeared for several hours.... I headed to the mountain and hiked up to my rock where I've gone before for solace and comfort and peace, where I can look out over the valley, over my neighborhood, over the lake and desert horizon to the west. I wanted to be free of it all... free of everything! I wanted no connection with reality. I stripped off all my clothes and lay totally and completely naked on my rock for several hours (not a good idea on a sunny day... got a sunburn in places that haven't seen the sun before - ouch!). I transitioned from anger to frustration to hurt and pain. I openly wept.
My thoughts went to places that weren't pretty. I began to hear voices that hit me from every front... voices that EVERYTHING IS A LIE! My whole life is a lie! My marriage is a lie! My fatherhood is a lie! My testimony and the church are lies! The way I live, the facade I carry with me everywhere is a lie!
As I calmed down, as I lay there naked allowing the sun and canyon breeze to consume me, I finally came to the conclusion that I couldn't go on like this. There had to be truth somewhere in my life. Everything can't be a lie...
She started calling my cell phone. I didn't answer. I didn't want to talk to her! I couldn't talk to her! I was so tired of talking about it. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to go away. I contemplated sneaking back to the house, packing up things and driving to California. I wanted the ocean!
She kept calling... I finally answered. She was in tears. She was panicked. "Where are you? Have you really left me? Won't you please come back? I can't do this without you? I'm so sorry. What am I supposed to do? Can I come find you? Please answer me..."
I told her that I needed to be alone, that I wanted to be free of it all, that I wasn't ready to come home just yet, but I told her that I would come home at some point.
My heart ached. I had really hurt her and panicked her and caused her more pain for my actions, for my issues. I didn't want to hurt her. But, despite my hurt pride, it did feel so good to hear her voice and her desires to want me back.
I settled down. I didn't pack my bags and drive to California. I slowly got dressed and said a prayer and felt totally empty inside. I started down the mountain into a canopied grove where six... yes... six hummingbirds fluttered over my head. I looked up and saw the sunlight stream through the leaves and the birds buzzing around me almost looking at me and communicating with me, and I felt lifted... it wasn't really an answer to my prayer of where to go or what to do, but more a message of hope and assurance that I wasn't alone, that SOME things are a lie, but not EVERYTHING is a lie, that He is there and understands me and is mindful of me and will continue to be with me and with my wife and with this "issue".
We reconciled and we've started over. How many times must we go through this?
I shared this with my therapist. He was impressed at my journey of being "free of it all" and stripping naked. It was very symbolic of my burdens of the facade I carry, of the lies I live. He saw the hummingbirds as something very spiritual, very real and confirming. I don't think I'll be able to look at hummingbirds again without thinking of this roller coaster of emotions... ending with a sense of resolve and peace... definitely a "tender mercy".
More to come...