Friday, March 16, 2012

We Do Not Have a Normal Life

Flare up. Don't worry. It's okay. I'm fine.

This is a household in which the husband and father has a disability. People who have read my book have heard all about that ( It's not the kind of disability people usually imagine: I have two arms and two legs and I can talk and walk and see and hear. I don't have much pain these days and I have a reasonable amount of energy. I am able to do some "productive work," and maintain at least some elements of my profession (even though I am "officially" retired--how odd that is, to be "retired" and have five children under the age of fifteen). Eileen works for love, and for our own children as much as the others, but the school also pay her money for it, and that's a good thing. We patch together what we can and we manage.

We do not have a normal life. We have a beautiful life, but it's not normal. I hope that as they pass through adolescence, our children will be able to continue to embrace the sacrifices of this life. I worry sometimes because I think that, as they grow up, they will be tempted to be ashamed of their father. What does he "do"?

When I wrote Never Give Up (, I said to myself, "you realize that by publishing this you are insuring that no one will ever hire you for a 'regular job' ever again...." John Janaro is brilliant, articulate, insightful, talented in so many ways; what a shame that he's such a train wreck!

I have a chronic illness. It appears to be in remission and under control. But late stage Lyme disease is a systemic infection. Nobody knows what role it might still play in the problems that continue to afflict me.

I also have a neurobiological disorder (probably inherited) that inclines me to anxiety, depression, obsessions, and all sorts of mental hangups. Lyme disease may exacerbate it. Nobody really knows. We keep me going with medications and therapy and diet. Sometimes I just have flare-ups of mental disturbance. The doctors say it will probably always be that way.

But still I wonder at my incompetence and my inability to deal with stress, "how much of this is illness, and how much of it is just spiritual laziness, the unwillingness to love?"

Sick people often have this question, "Is it my fault?" It's not a simple question. I know the illness is not my fault. I know there are some things I can't help. But sometimes I use sickness as an excuse to close in on myself, to refuse to love, to refuse to grow, to justify my "I won't!" by saying "I can't!" I know I am doing this. How much am I doing it? A lot!

I should not be so surprised at myself. We all do this. We all have our barriers and defenses that we have built up against God's love. We all have our ways of evading Him; especially, we have ways of hiding from His presence and His invitation to love in the people and circumstances of the life He gives us every day.

We all need to be broken and healed and made new. That's what's happening in our lives. It takes time.