What is it about steps that makes you want to sit still and stare down? The long staircase that leads you down to the floor below lies right before your eyes. One step at a time, I climbed to reach the top where my two bedrooms are. After I finally put my daughter to sleep, I quietly left her room seeking to sit alone with myself. My inner soul screams for attention, too. And often, I ignore that whining voice inside me. And this is the place I found most comforting and relaxing, the top of my staircase just right outside our bedrooms.
What does confusion mean, mommy?
My daughter asked me earlier today. I thought for a moment and said, “Remember when you cried during your nap time at school? You weren’t sure why you had to take a nap in the classroom, right? Or the time when you had to go to the afternoon recess at your new school and you cried because you didn’t know why mom was not coming to pick you up while other kids were leaving one by one? That’s confusion.”
My daughter was still confused about the meaning of confusion even after my effort to clear it up for her. She said she cried because she felt sad. She missed mommy. At least somebody around here is not confused about one’s emotions. I know I am.
All week, I was wading through the murky water of my confused emotions. Fear. Longing. Loneliness. Anxiety. Sadness. Anger. Loss. Then one morning, I finally woke up with the feeling that I dread the most: the feeling of wanting to flight. To avoid. To shut my eyes. To face away from the problems and challenges. The spirit of discouragement and insecurity mixed with low self-confidence was taking control of my heart. I had to set myself free from the negative vortex that kept me locked in the fast-spiral wave of destruction.
Each night, I found myself sitting atop the staircase. I sat here, way up high, and noticed how my tired gaze effortlessly stared down the whole height. I climbed one step at a time. I did not climb a Mount Everest or anything, but for some strange reasons, I felt accomplished. So I repeated this routine of sitting in silence, alone, at the top of my staircase. It took me a few nights to finally connect the dots. Once it did, it made a total sense. It turns out, I was right to feel accomplished.
It was a little more than ten years ago when I found myself kneeling on the bathroom floor, sobbing, trying to quiet down my uncontrollable cry. Every night, I did that, while my then-husband was sound asleep. I was at the peak of my clinical depression. I had run out of all my desperate efforts to stave away my dark emotions and I had no effective coping skills to manage my stress, hormonal or situational. The medication did not work. The suicidal urge was getting stronger. And most of all, I did not have God in my heart. Not yet.
And so, I was left with no device but to escape nightly to the bathroom to pour out my emotions. But I don’t do that anymore. I have better ways to cope now.
I read the Bible.
I look deep into my heart and connect with the mighty God who has all things in control.
I sit at the top of my staircase and stare down at the world instead of burying my face on the cold bathroom tiles.
I still cry. More than you would ever imagine an almost-40-year old woman could.
And I still believe that crying is healthy. To certain degrees. It’s healing. It’s your body’s way of detoxing stress.
Tonight, I sit at my usual spot alone again after I put my daughter to sleep. I make my own self-analysis as I scan my body, head to toe. Where did I store emotions today? What is my body trying to communicate? These are the questions that I ask myself up here. Sometimes I can find answers and sometimes it takes me days. The important thing is to continue to check-in with myself daily in order to stay connected with my self and with God.
Tonight, I sense that confusion is still there but minus that intense fear and anxiety I had been carrying all week. This is a good news. Fear stirs up the ground like the magnificent tornado. It’s hard to control your emotions when fear is at the base of it all. Managing fear without God is impossible, which was why my mental illness ran such a long course to cause havoc in my youthful years.
I am interested to discover what sort of emotional state I will discover tomorrow night when I bring my war-torn body up here by the end of the day. Each day carries its own battle. But for us believers, it is God that does the battle for us! Praise the Lord.