I had an inkling that there would be waterworks before I even got in the car. I literally stared at a package of kleenex and thought, "I should be bringing that to keep in my dress pocket," but I shrugged it off.
The Spirit must be so fed up with me.
But ever since miscarrying, I've found myself stubbornly numb to what "the Spirit" wants. Or God. Or Jesus. Or whomever you prefer. I can rationally recognize that I've, as the saying goes, hardened my heart, but I didn't feel much in regards to that fact other than recognition.
"Interesting. My heart is very hard. Well, I suppose that's to be expected."
I expected shame. I expected penitence. I didn't expect indifference. I didn't expect complete and clear and apathetic coherence.
I knew I was angry.
I knew I was being indifferent to spite God.
If He was indifferent to my pain, two could play at that game. It was a war with myself, and I knew it, but I so desperately wanted to fight that I didn't care.
Now obviously, as a relatively active participant in the LDS church, I am aware that God is not likely to be "indifferent" to my suffering. Jesus literally bled for me, so I think he's probably a bit more invested than I give/was giving him credit for.
But who has the time to let these things go when you're feeling so blindingly hurt and betrayed?
I don't like to publicly cry. Some of my most humiliating moments in life are hinged upon crying in front of people. In fact, it's probably more accurate to just say I don't cry in front of people.
I'll cry--if it's a reaction to a dead dog in a movie. Or a particularly affecting piece of music. Socially acceptable and permissible moments to have eyes welled with tears, or a poetic single tear running down my cheek.
So when I left those kleenex sitting on the kitchen counter, I was telling myself I could just keep it in like I usually, always, do. Save it for my closet, for my car, for the dark under my bed.
Then we walked in, Mark squeezed my hand, we separated ways and I sat at the end of the row. The lights dimmed, the creation played before my eyes, and I'm still trying to process what I felt.
Who I felt.
Back in EFY, Youth church camps, Sunday meetings, I would squeeze out some tears during the testimony meetings because everyone else was doing it and they seemed to enjoy the attention. I experienced that "warm and fuzzy" everyone swore the Spirit manifested as. I knew what they were talking about and I believed that was it.
It's been awhile.
So when I was watching the temple video in that hazy dim, I distinctly felt a moment sharpen. It wasn't a hug, it wasn't a smiling down upon me, it wasn't even peace. It was more like an authoritative figure stepping up next to me and placing their hand on my shoulder.
Presence, as in to be present.
It didn't wash everything away. I still had ugly and ripping thoughts flash through my mind. I watched as Eve received her name, as I renewed covenants to multiply and replenish the earth, and my mind cried, "this is the whole point! This is why I'm supposed to be here! This is all I've ever wanted to be, to do, to become."
After getting married I always thought I was being cautious by bringing my "desired" number of kids down from six to four.
What if all I get is one?
What if all I get is one and I can't even just be grateful for that?
That's not even to get into my self-surprising reservations about adopting.
The whole while I wrestled inwardly, the presence didn't change. It didn't overwhelm me with love or peace or sympathy. But it never retreated.
I suppose it felt something like a guard at my side. I knew it wasn't going anywhere, and I felt validated for it. Not comforted, not fixed, not released from my agony, but perhaps protected.
They were different tears. My core shook, my vision fractured and melted and swam, but every blink sent the floods out, following in streams. It didn't take my breath away, and I was able to quietly leak out the pressure like a sponge pooling under the force of it's own weight.
That is, until I saw my husband waiting for me across the room and I quickly made my way over to the chair next to him.
And blessedly, there was a neat and tidy box of tissues directly along my path.
I didn't bother leaving my glasses on, whipping them into my lap and just pressing the fragile paper to the drowning edge of my eyes. I could hardly breathe. I definitely couldn't see, so I just stopped trying. I wasn't even thinking. I can't pinpoint the reason I was so affected. There wasn't a solid, definable reason. I was vaguely aware of the majority of the group we had come with filing out, but Mark, having a tight grip of my hand, never so much as twitched so we just stayed put.
My Guard had followed me in, like a shadow, but had ballooned into this vast aura that blew out the walls and expanded within me.
I began crying again at the thought of having to leave.
I wanted to always feel as safe, as protected, as brave as I did then.
I would have stayed all day long....if I didn't desperately need some breakfast.
I felt fairly stable and like I had come up to breathe from the depths of whatever it was I had been avoiding for so long.
But as I folded and carefully placed my temple clothes in my bag, one of the dearest women in my life saw me as she was leaving and came to let me know how glad she was that Mark and I had been able to come.
She drew me into a long and weighted hug, and I felt that same strong, protecting presence, as I could barely whisper, "thank you," through the tightness in my throat.
It's hard for me to need people.
It's hard for me to show the raw bits.
It's hard to shut out the paranoia.
"No, I'd rather pretend I'm something better than these broken parts,
Pretend I'm something other than this mess that I am.
'Cause then I don't have to look at it
And no one gets to look at it
No, no one can really see.
Cause what if everyone saw?
What if everyone knew?
Would they like what they saw?
Or would they hate it, too?"*
I know that I'm not alone. I may not feel it, but I know it.
I know that there are so many people that care and are there and will continue to be there.
It's hard to remember, but I do know it.
If you've hugged me, if you've asked how I'm doing, if you've liked my posts or tagged me or texted me, just know it means more than you realize. Thank you, and really thank you.
*Dear Evan Hansen excerpt