Fight or Flight

There are two responses to fear, so I’ve been told. Fight or flight. You either face what’s before you, or you run from it.

I do both at the exact same time. I’d like to think of this as a skill. It’s most likely just another one of my defense mechanisms, but it seems to work for me.

Michel left. I keep turning down jobs because I need to be with Levi. My dad is losing his speech. I have absolutely no clear future ahead of me. So what do I do? I paint. I work out. I cook. I read. I write. I lay on the floor with Levi for hours at a time. I run, but into things. I suddenly get creative. I take on challenges. Until the end of the day comes and I’m exhausted.

But it always seems to hit me, all this running. Last night Levi was awake from 12 until 3:30. He started sleeping through the night about 2 days after Michel left, so last night something must have been wrong. (Possibly the black eye he got from the corner of a table, just saying.) After the millionth time patting his butt and him immediately standing back up in the crib, staring at the monitor as if he knew I was on the other side, I lost my patience.

Something I cannot stand is when I’m trying to hold him, comfort him, and he just keeps pushing me away.

So last night, at 3am, I sat in the total darkness of his room. The quiet was smothering, just the creaking sounds of the heat running through the house. Levi kicked and pushed and screamed, and I just sat there. I took deep breaths, and I started naming graces.

That I have a crying son to rock. That I have a house, in the cold. That I have steroids to help me not get sick from lack of sleep. (I stuttered on this one for a bit.) That Michel is safe, across the water, with his mother. That Michel will come back. That my mom checks on me, her 26 year old daughter.

I thought of a woman who recently lost her husband, and how her fear must be so present, so forceful.

I closed my eyes and apologized for being selfish. For being so inward that I was starting to get mad at my son, when he really just needed to be held.

God, how often do I push You away when I really just need to be near You? Do I throw my little tantrums and do what I believe to be right, when You’re waiting in the silence, never losing Your patience.

I’d like to think I’m super mom, but I’m far from it. I’m just a mom. But that’s good enough.

Since Michel has been gone we’ve redone two rooms in this house. I’ve painted so many thing I might as well start mailing them out to people. I’ve lost 15 pounds in 14 days. I go and go and go, until I’m forced to stop.

Levi found my old journals while causing trouble in the closet of his room. I sat down and started reading from Haiti, from before everything changed. Of course, my heart started to burn, started to turn and twist and dance inside of me. My personal words to Christ, how have I forgotten these? The last entry I wrote was “so it happened. Here I am. After all that.” It was the day I found out I was pregnant, and then I never wrote again.

So of course, I immediately went out and bought a new journal, which has already reinstated daily prayer, a return to the Eucharist for the hundredth, no millionth, time. I use journals to show me where I’ve been, to help me figure out where I’m going, and to keep me focused on what’s in front of me.

Someone important to me recently told me that God has done so many unexpected things in life, that he can expect the unexpected instead of what he thought before. It’s throwing out our limitations and our expectations. It is taking the boundaries off God. It is allowing Him to create, without consulting us first.

This is how things are now. When I’m alone I’m reminded of who I am. Reminded of my strengths, and of my brutally ugly weaknesses. I’m taught to rely on God so intensely that if everything is taken away, I’m still standing. I’m not there, may never be, but my heart wants it, and maybe that’s enough.

So fear, really, is just a distraction. But it can also be a motivator. It dares you to look it in the face and re-evaluate. You can run, but run to Him. Or you can face it, but face it with Him.

Or just do both.

Anyone want a painting?


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