Monday, December 4, 2017

Darkness in the Prison of My Mind

I feel like my mind is in prison. In a closed cell. In solitary confinement.

We lay it all out here on this blog. This is a place where people can see the utter poverty and personal brokenness of a man who "looks pretty good on paper," who speaks and writes in an articulate way about history, about the lives of heroic men and women, about God and conversion and faith, theology, philosophy, and literature and all that stuff.

For those new to the blog, I have chronic illness. I suffered a physical and mental breakdown ten years ago which led to my "retirement" from active teaching (you can read more about it in this BOOK from 2010). I am now a writer when I can be. I am just one wounded person trying to help others with what I can still give. If that frightens you away, I can't do anything to keep you from running. It can be a frightening thing.

I believe all the things I write, and I draw on my own experience with its more or less obscure indicators as well as its occasionally vivid signs. These things are at least in my memory, even if right now I find myself in the dark.

This year has just been so very, very hard.

I am oversensitive. I think too much. I am too often alone. Nevertheless, there are many times when I don't mind being alone, and I need to think and be sensitive. So I make the best of it.

But it's out of control. I'm trapped. Everything feels shattered and crippled and messed up in my life, but I do have this small strand of myself on which, if I am very careful, I can manage to live in a human way.

So I try to write and communicate with people, and read and think and pray. I try to love my family, though I feel useless and frustrated for being useless.

As I get older, the space gets smaller. Everything slowly gets harder. The paralysis of the rest of me seems to grow. Even when I wrote Never Give Up (the book) I didn't really see how the passage of time would affect me in this way.

But I am fighting against it, at least in some ways. I am trying to learn new things, and to be open to reality which has so much mysterious richness for me even after nearly five and a half decades. I am trying to live in empathy and solidarity with others who are suffering and to encourage and rejoice in the fresh energy of the coming generation (including my own children).

I'm fighting, except in those places where I'm still too proud to admit I'm poor and in need.

I'm fighting and I'm losing sometimes and maybe winning a little. Still, my "center cannot hold. Things fall apart." I know where this all leads, ultimately, and I am afraid.

I am scared of death.

Mostly, I am scared of death because of my weak faith. But also, death is a strange and incomprehensible and mysterious thing. It's a plunge into the dark. Even though it may yet be years away, I feel scared. I feel the darkness of it even now, as time slowly diminishes me.

I know Jesus is here in this darkness. He is here all the way to the end. He accompanies me and asks me to entrust myself to Him. It doesn't really comfort me right now, but that doesn't change the fact that He is still here

I need Him to hold onto me.