I’m sure you’ve liked them too. Those posts from your friends who are at the gym at 4:30 on a Tuesday morning, documenting their dedication at an hour no human should be awake, much less coherent. Good for you, brother, but I am not that motivated. Or the weight loss posts from your friends who have been following the latest diet trend and encouraging you to try it too. You’re awesome, woman, but there is no way I’m giving up wine and dark chocolate. I am the first in line to laud the success of my friends. Truly, I’m happy they are on their way to taking better care of themselves and they inspire me to do the same. But every time I click the thumbs up, I think about how ironic it is that we, as a collective society, never document the events that got us to the gym or on the diet in the first place. Why don’t we post photos of our stressed-out selves on the couch at 10pm eating a bag of chips or a pan of brownies (my personal preference) or in the McDonalds drive thru getting a Big Mac, fries & a giant Coke for second breakfast? I think because we know those choices aren’t to be celebrated. And perhaps we regret making them too.
I stood in the middle of St. Mark’s Square surrounded by pigeons and cell phones. A sea of people hoping to capture the elusive perfect photo of themselves amidst some of the most beautiful architecture and artwork in the world. Self absorption was no where more apparent to me than that weekend in Venice last fall. Dozens and dozens of people flitting from place to place just to post themselves all over social media. Hashtag “me me me.” Never mind the thousands of years of history surrounding them that has stood and will stand long after they’re gone. As if they give it meaning by their fleeting presence.
It would come in waves, this feeling of darkness overtaking me. I would lie in bed, deep in sleep when I felt it covering me, like a heavy hand, pushing me, sinking me, deeper and deeper into an abyss of blackness. I knew whatever it was, whatever was trying to smother me, was evil. And I knew I needed to fight with everything in me to escape it. So I fought to wake up and when I did, I’d be covered in sweat, my heart beating out of my chest, with a fear so intense I could only whisper the name of my Savior. But whisper I did and eventually, my heart would calm, peace would come in and sleep would return.
I was buying a last-minute gift on Amazon, and the kingpin of last-minute gifts at that: a gift card, when I noticed the products at the bottom of the page that were recommended for me. A sterling silver, stamped, cuff bracelet that read “just f***ing do it”. I stared at my laptop with my brows raised and thought “Wow. Just wow.” How far we’ve come in our linguistic talents over the past 6500 years (yes, I’m a young Earther). How am I possibly going to get my 6 year old to stop saying “Crap. Crap. Crap.” when we’re all inundated with much worse language on a daily basis. And, yes, I am thankful that “crap” is the worst in his repertoire at this point. I can only imagine what will come the way of my eardrums as time moves on. Perhaps surgery wasn’t such a great idea after all.
Yesterday, I read a story about a girl. She’s a woman now, but 18 years ago, she was just a girl. A scared, abused, pregnant girl. Pregnant by force; by rape. The horror of that reality often escapes our full understanding. What that must be like. The heartbreak. The anger. The utter despair. She had a choice to make and from every aspect of her situation, the choice was not hard.
Several years ago, I was told about a young woman who was addicted to drugs and alcohol. She was alone and scared. Two children from failed relationships and now pregnant again. No home. No job. No one to help her and not much hope her life would change. Her child would be born into poverty and most likely suffer the affects of drug and alcohol exposure.
Two women. Two babies. The first baby died. The second baby is my son.