Sunday, August 17, 2014

My Black Hole - Part 2

I didn't stay where I left off in My Black Hole (Part 1) but I need to add in some components of that time...
There are several things that spoke to me in this season that helped me feel validated in my agony and despair. One of the first, the broken butterfly cookie. Made by my favorite bakery, damaged while putting it on the shelf, I could see myself in it. I felt "damaged while on the shelf" in so many ways. I bought it and ate it almost like some kind of communion with my broken self. 

Each night I'd go to bed begging God to release me from this, cranking at Him for making me live in this pain, wanting to take a sleeping pill to force my self-hatred to the far recesses of my mind, or flooded with anxiety about what the next day would hold. 

One morning I woke up thinking about rip currents. I grew up close to the beach in Southern California and we were there at least once a week. I learned to body surf and boogie board by trial and error and had been caught in many of them over the years. As a teen, I got to the point where I wasn't worried if I ended up in one because I knew how to get out. But now, in 2013, I didn't remember that. So I looked it up.

So many handy tips about depression in there. 
I found nothing about fighting it, resenting being stuck in it, freaking out about it, or forcing yourself to go beyond what you are capable of! Only solid wisdom about how I should respond to this "rip current" of depression...

Finally I felt like I had permission "If in doubt, don't go out." So I stayed in. Only seeing the psychiatrist to work on finding the best medication to manage my brain chemistry, the counselor to work through the pain and change thought patterns, and my small group. Most of the time I went to church. I cried a lot there, but it was a safe place. 

When I look at the pictures of this season - this one taken of a fresh hair cut and color, I can't help but see the sadness in my eyes.
This picture popped up on a friend's Facebook page one day. Again, I felt the need to decide. Am I going to DO life, or DO NOT. Trying wasn't going to get me anywhere. So, I decided to DO.

I had a peaceful sleep filled respite with my aunt in New Mexico. She gifted me with so much in those few days. My favorite though, was this small ceramic circle. I saw it on her wall, loved it, so she gave it to me. Another artifact of this season of pain that turned, slowly, into a blessing.
I left there with a long way to go, but knowing that somehow I'd make it.

One of the major changes I made was having weight loss surgery. I have spent over 20 years at least 100lbs overweight. It was time to do something about it. I had been praying about surgery for over five years. So, six months after the beginning of the "Jennifer Recovery Plan" (JRP) my Love and I decided it was time. 

My medication was balancing out my brain, my thought life, while still challenging, was improving, and my food addiction was still a huge battle that needed focused attention. I knew my family and many of my friends would be there to support me, but without my small group, I would have never had the courage to go through with it. You can see the difference it made in me, physically and emotionally. There were still many times I cried, longing to feel full without getting sick, wanting to order an actual plate of food not just share with my Love, and desperately wanting to stuff down the pain with food as I had in the past. It still happens, just not as often. 
June 2014
I was starting to find courage to live again. Jennifer was not some elusive woman I glimpsed in the mirror for a fleeting second, but one who I began to see regularly. I could start to see beyond the butt size, the lack of makeup, the messiness of life to the woman God designed. I have always been told Jesus loves me. But in this season, I've started to really get a deep heart level sense that He LIKES me.

(By the way, He LIKES you too. He sees the struggle and He definitely loves you, but, He really likes you too. I'm not just saying that. I hear His heart for others sometimes and I felt like He wants you to know that - today - right now - He likes you.)

A few weeks ago I got out of town with a few girlfriends. I felt myself, for the first time in a very long while, resting in the moment. Not trying to imagine what might come next, to try to stay one step ahead driven by the fear of the unknown, but to dream... Imagine the possibilities... Speaking aloud things planted in my heart about who I desire to become... 

These are pictures taken that weekend. Yes, one is a "selfie". I've taken several over the last year, many I deleted, to try to see "me" in the clouds of fog, moments of agony, and on my way out of the Hole. This one, I loved. The real "Me" coming out of the Hole, looking forward to the future...  


Speaking of future... I'm about to go back to writing the blog I started years ago about my pursuit of physical fitness. Stories of all four triathlons I completed are in there. Early on in my triathlon dreams I began considering doing an Ironman race. 

Watching friends do them over the years and vacillating between being sure I could never do it and dreaming of crossing that finish line, this year I took it a step further. August 3, 2014 I stood along the run course cheering on all the exhausted racers jogging or walking by cheering like I knew them. I would think in one moment, I could never do this, and then - I'm not kidding you - a "Jennifer" would jog or walk by. It happened at least five or six times. At one point I looked up to the sky and laughed and asked Him if He was trying to tell me something! Then, later at the finish line, I saw them again. "Jennifer" after "Jennifer" finishing the race. Maybe it was a "sign" maybe it wasn't depending on how skeptical I am at any given moment. 

The next evening, the volunteer thank you dinner was fun. I had never been to one and didn't know what to expect. The best part for me was meeting the 1st place finisher in the women's division. When she spoke I could see my dream of Ironman again as a real possibility. When she said she'd be sticking around after the dinner to sign posters afterwards, I decided to meet her. I shared my story briefly with her. She wrote a note of encouragement and was happy to take a picture with me. 

There will be a Part 3 in another week or two... sharing the current challenges in my healing process and life journey, but for now, I am thankful to say I am super close to being out of the Hole and I am so thankful I lived to share about it. Many thanks to all who have prayed me through this, sent notes & texts of encouragement and phone calls checking in. God has used you in a powerful way. I am blessed to have you in my life.


  1. Beautiful Part 2. And don't forget there will be a Part 3 and Part 4 and Part 117. Whenever I am in crisis about myself, my husband, my children etc… my grandma always says "God isn't finished with them yet." Be present for the process, never giving up hope (wait, that is SO hard sometimes!!!), and follow the Rip Tide Rules… I love them!!!! Love you friend!

  2. I love you and can understand. I am so happy you are healing. I see the joy in your eyes again and you are looking amazing.