I sat there in the car, just wailing, weeping, screaming. I sat there with her in it that night. I had no words. When words don’t console, change someone’s pain or circumstances, sometimes you have to just climb into it with them. So into the ocean of pain I dove headlong. I beat my chest like the waves in that sea of her endless anxiety that was crippling. That ocean she swam in, the dark and seemingly endless sea, felt immense in that moment.
I could feel her pain; it was radiating out of my being. So we swam in that salty sea of tears together, one by one dripping off my face and down my neck like a steady stream. The heat from the river of mourning steamed my glasses, so I threw them off and onto the dash, lifted my closed eyes and clenched jaw up to the sky. Sometimes someone can look fear in the face, the dark abyss before them of the unknown, just because of one–that one person with them, by their side, assuring them they’re not alone. No words are needed, for volumes are already speaking when you swim in someone else’s grief, pain, disappointment, loneliness, fears, or whatever that deep, dark sea be named.
Why would I do this? Here’s the story. Numerous times, to this day (I’m not kidding–THIS day) I lay speechless on the lowest place of whatever place or room I’m in, be it bedroom, kitchen, or the ground outside. These moments when I have no words to convey the consuming storm inside of me I now call “the unraveling.”
In college I’d crawl into my closet, designated for these moments. I’d slide the closet door shut, surrounded by pillows and blankets, and a roll of TP (College life, tissues were a luxury item). The pillows and blankets dumbed down the screaming and crying, the heaving like something was dying, for my poor roommates’ sake. But seriously, some things were dying. I was dying to everything I couldn’t control, the outcomes of things I didn’t know. There was death and I came out resurrected.
Once I explained to my roommates why I did what I did, and hid in my room for hours at times, recharging as an ambidextrous introvert, they understood and respected the whole thing. That was great, no longer having glares of concern as I walked out of my room with puffy eyes, a red face, wild hair, and tear soaked sleeves, despite the roll of TP.
This reality of my humanity opened up the door to community, pure intimacy, and vulnerability among my roomies. They’re still some those once-in-a-lifetime gem friends. These friends are the type that don’t lose connection over time or distance, and whose friendship isn’t based on frequency of communication. They sang songs over me that set me free (literally, at the keys and guitar or a Capella) in moments of the revealing of my humanity and deepest need. I did the same for them.
I know how to swim in someone else’s pain because Jesus does it for me. He taught me and showed me. He’s wept and wailed harder than me right next to my numb, yet internally writhing body. He met me in that closet, face pressed to the ground, feeling the whirlwind all around. When all I could do was feel numb, speechless, empty, he held me in the unraveling. Tonight Jesus is capable of climbing into places of deep pain and loneliness, where no man can go. He has the ability to walk through all the walls of the human heart. He showed me experientially that I don’t have to drown and die in the sea of fear and anxiety, regret and unbelief, anger and resentment, self-pity and hatred. He taught me how by swimming in my sea of unraveling with me. He dives in headlong, not considering himself or the fact that he’ll get wet, and comes along side of us when we feel we have nothing and no one else.
Snot smeared onto the carpet mark these moments that are anything but pretty. But there was something majestic in my unraveling, and with each heave I was becoming more and more free. I was dying to all of history, coming into what was happening, presently, and learning to breathe, free from anxiety, insecurity, strangling memories. Every part of me was being redeemed in this unraveling progressively. Unraveling can be the healthiest thing and just what you’re needing mentally and physically to let go of everything. Who cares what anyone thinks?
Tonight I felt pain for what I cannot change and things I cannot explain. The unknown is still before me and my family, and here I am, beautifully unraveling.