I Saw Myself

I haven’t done any writing prompts for awhile, but when I read this one — Prosery #2 at dverse poets — it connected in my mind with one character in a story I just finished, and also called to mind a real-life situation I once observed. Sadly, some people just can’t be loved out of their bitterness.

So I’m going to try working “I dreamt I was the moon” into a 144-word story.

I Saw Myself

I saw myself as the sun, drawing you into the light. I dreamt I was the moon, touching your emotions, awakening your desire to love. I imagined myself your guiding star toward a richer life.

I believed all your excuses, furious with those who’d wronged you. But instead of drawing you into the sunshine I was sucked into your gloom, not understanding how impenetrable — how willful — your darkness.

Hooked on you, I gave and gave…until our relationship broke me and I became just another burnt-out star in your black hole. I never foresaw the pain, the frustration…or that you’d leave so much darkness in me.

My father says, “Good thing he’s finally gone.” My mother sighs. “Now maybe you can start enjoying life.”

But I’ve been in the darkness for so long; it may take ages for my light to brighten again.

Of Downfalls and Updrafts

The young woman rushed along the street in a fit of desperate emotion. Life was over for her! What dreadful future predictions played out in her mind as she headed for the Clifton bridge? Was the weather as dismal as Sarah’s spirits that day? Surely you wouldn’t start out in the bright sunshine to fling yourself off a bridge?

Yet that’s exactly what Sarah was about to do. She’d just received a letter from her fiancé breaking their engagement. She’d never hold her head up again. Back in 1885 this rejection would have seemed like the end of the world to the heart-broken young miss and she was going to end it all. Leave all the heartaches of Earth behind.

A nagging voice in her head — we all know it, that voice of “all hope lost” — drove her on. “Love is lost forever. There’s nothing ahead for you but a long and dreary spinsterhood. You can’t live without him. And the shame! Jump, by all means. Jump.”

Sarah walked onto the bridge and looked down through her tears to where the river wound through the gorge 245 feet below. Another wave of despair swept over her and she climbed over the railings and onto the parapet. One last sob and she leaped into the emptiness.

But air isn’t empty. And in this case a draft of wind, coupled with her volumnious petticoats, considerably impeded her descent. To Sarah, the fall must have felt like slow motion, as the wind caught and swelled her wide skirt and crinoline. Down she drifted, not into the water below, but onto the riverbank where she sank deep into the soft mud that prevented her serious injury.

Astounded watchers below rushed to the spot and pulled her out, shocked but unharmed.

Sarah later married and lived to be 85.

Wikki tells us:

Sarah Ann Henley was a barmaid from Easton, Bristol, who became famous in 1885 for surviving an attempted suicide by jumping from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, a fall of almost 75 metres.

And poet William E. Heasell wrote a verse about the event:

An Early Parachute Descent in Bristol

Once in Victoria’s golden age
When crinolines were all the rage
A dame in fashionable attire
Would change her life for one up higher
So up to Clifton Bridge she went
And made a parachute descent
But though, ’twas not the lady’s wish
A boatman hooked her like a fish
And thus a slave to fashion’s laws
Was snatched from out of Death’s hungry jaws
This story’s true I’d have you know
And thus it only goes to show.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My response to today’s writing prompts:

Fandango: LEAVE
Word of the Day: DISMAL
Ragtag Daily Prompt: WALK

A Cloud of Oppression

I was lost in a dark cloud one day years ago. As I thought of the future, the scene looked so bleak. I thought of my brothers and sisters in the Lord – and of myself as well – how full of faults we all tended to be. Yes, we wanted to follow Jesus’ teachings, but temptations came and we so often had to confess that we’d entertained thoughts, said words, done things a Christian shouldn’t. If our lives up to this point had been so full of failings, how could the future hold any hope for better things?

I had many ideals of Christian life and behaviour that I couldn’t seem to live up to — and neither could others. But lowering my standards didn’t feel like the right answer, either. God does hold us to a perfect standard. We can’t say, “If we’re mostly good, the rest will get by.” I couldn’t pass off my failings with, “Oh, well, I’m just human.” The Lord asks us to obey his direction. When we don’t, we are doing wrong.

But I am so human! We all are. Often we don’t fail a little, either; we fail Big Time. Someone does something that irritates us and we tell that person off in no uncertain terms. We forget that “Charity is patient and is kind, thinks no evil, hopes all things, endures all things…”

We want — may even take — things that aren’t ours and violate the “Thou shalt not covet.” The Apostle John wrote, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world…” Next thing I know, here I am, wanting stuff again. I see my Christian sisters wanting stuff, too. God says “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” and here I am skirting around the truth to avoid criticism for something I said or did.

That day, as I viewed my own past track record – and that of others in our church – the dark cloud towered over me, suffocating me in despair.

My husband and I were driving to a neighbouring town to do some business so I began to tell him how I was feeling. As I was explaining, a little voice dropped a clear thought into my mind: “Your problem isn’t with the past, it’s with an evil spirit.”

One of those falling diamonds from heaven that clunks you on the head when it lands — and makes perfect sense when you examine it. This thought pierced that dark cloud like a laser beam, blasting it to pieces.

I immediately repeated the thought to my husband and something amazing happened. It’s like my eyes were opened and I could see it so clearly. This “blue mood” was actually a tormenting spirit. It would come to me every time my thoughts went back to the past, and it highlighted all my imperfections. It shadowed every thing I’d done with dark tones of failure – which was why I had a hard time thinking about the past at all without getting depressed.

As soon as I recognized it for what it was, it was gone! That whole dark shadow was gone and I could look at the past in a brighter light. Things were not nearly as bad as I had been seeing them. Why, we had all behaved as normal people! Sure, we had failed, but the blood of Christ covers all our failings. God forgives us, not because we’re improving with time, but because His Son paid the price to redeem us.

I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve wandered into that same dark cloud and felt that oppression. I’ve heard again that voice lamenting the blackness of my sins and/or the errors of other Christians. I’ve tried to fight it myself, to pull myself out of that mood, but positive thinking never gets me very far. Thankfully the voice of the Holy Spirit reminds me that I can be forgiven; I don’t have to let myself be browbeaten by those accusations.

Over time the only effective solution I’ve found is to cry out to God for help. “This spirit is tormenting me again, Lord. Please make it go away.” It’s amazing how those dark tones can be zapped and life can become bright and cheerful again. So many times He sends me a thought, a verse, a song, that lifts me out of the sea of despair and sets me on the right path again. Praise the Lord!

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God…”
I John 4:1

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Ephesians 6:12

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:14-16

A Carful of Puzzles

A Bit of Local News

This week, just for fun, I planned a Puzzle Exchange evening at Silverwood Villa retirement home. Spring isn’t the best time for jigsaw puzzle exchanges, with folks starting to think of yard work, but the event gave the residents a chance to enjoy some evening company. I had a number of jigsaw puzzles I wanted to give away and I knew quite a few have been collecting at the Villa, done and put in storage. So I planned the event for yesterday evening and invited everyone who wanted to come.

The invitation was to bring puzzles to exchange, to give away, or just come and get free puzzles. I took a few of my African violets to give away as well. (They seem to multiply so rapidly at my house.) To top off the affair nicely, my books finally came.

On Jan 26th I ordered the first twelve print copies of Silver Morning Song, from Amazon. They were shipped — and never arrived. After a month of eager waiting, I wrote to the company and they said, “Sorry about that. We’ll send replacements.” So they shipped twelve more — and THEY never arrived.

I was getting rather discouraged and beginning to wonder if I should just abandon the project. I notified the company again and they were very good about it. They refunded my purchase price and the agent also instructed me to order again, requesting the fastest shipping, and he’d waive the extra charge for that. So I ordered forty books at the beginning of April — and was beginning to wonder why these weren’t coming, either.

I had an answer on Monday: they hadn’t been shipped yet. On Monday Amazon notified me that they’d shipped my books from Baltimore, using the DHL shipping company. They arrived in four days — pretty fast! So now I can tell the world, my book is AVAILABLE in a print edition and I have copies to sell. 🙂

Or you can order a copy of Silver Morning Song from Amazon.com, and e-books from either Amazon or Kobo.

Back to the puzzle exchange. I brought my puzzles; some other folks brought theirs; one Villa resident’s family contributed forty-some that he’s already done. We had the dining room whole table full, stacked several deep! But there wasn’t a large turnout; three local couples, three ladies, three Villa residents, plus ourselves.

Several people took home a few puzzles each and about half a dozen stayed at the Villa. As to the rest, we have about six boxes and a couple of bags in our car at the moment. I have an appointment in the city today, so will drop these off at Value Village. In addition I sold six books and five of my African violets found new homes.

A good visit was had by all who attended. 🙂

Personal Note:

For the past while I’ve been thinking of giving up blogging — maybe even giving up writing — for a time. Lately I’ve been drowning in a sea of recriminations. It’s taken me awhile to even identify what I’m feeling, but this is how I can best explain it. And I realize it’s nothing new; maybe it just goes with the terrain of OCD my mind is so often bouncing over?

Feels like being crushed under an mountainous “To-Do” list — or rather a mountain of “This should have been done last week, last month, last year, and wasn’t. How undisciplined! Never accomplish anything!” I’m supposed to be editing my book for teens, but stalled after Chapter 4. For sure I have no time to waste writing, so much other stuff must be finished first. Yet that doesn’t happen, either, when you’re feeling suffocated. Do any of you other readers have spells like that?

Anyway, I decided to just do simple blog posts until this dark cloud passes. I trust it will in time. First thing this morning I was contemplating all my failings in general when the line of a song came to me. “Jesus paid it all…” ALL can be forgiven. Precious thought! Like a lifesaver to a drowning person. I grabbed that thought and want to hang onto it. 🙂

Enlightening Book On Depression

BOOK REVIEW:

How Hard It Really Is: A Short Honest Book About Depression
by J. S. Park

This book was written for folks who are seeking answers about this major problem. it’s for those wrestling with depression themselves and for those who want to understand what the sufferer is going through.

Pastor Park isn’t preachy; he offers no pat answers. No “Trust God, have more faith, count your blessings.” No “Think positive, just cheer up.”  No “This vitamin formula, yoga position, or new drug on the market will cure you in no time.” In fact, these pat answers make him angry because they tend to add yet more mental anguish to the sufferer. He knows. He’s been there.

“My hope here is to give a voice to those who have been depressed so they can share in their own words what they have found helpful and what they have definitely not.”

You’ll read about others — even doctors — who’ve been in, or are in, the same battle. Knowing you’re not alone can give you courage. Knowing that winning is possible is empowering. Seeing how others have climbed out of the darkness can give you courage to keep trying.

If you have a loved one who is dealing with this issue and you want a little better picture of the enemy, this book will definitely clarify some muddy waters.

The best thing we can offer each other is…our set of experiences, our voices, our ears, so that the tunnel is less intimidating and the light is not as distant as it was… It’s in sharing what we go through that we are empowered to make it through together.

The first few chapters contain a lot of basic facts; I found it rather heavy reading. This is where the writer discusses some theories behind depression, past and present, and different approaches that have been adopted in treating it.

I found the later chapters the most engaging, where he shares his own experience of being knocked for a loop, the treatments he tried, the help he found, the friends who stood beside him and made a difference, the way he finally managed to climb back out of the deep well he was in.

Sometimes there are obvious social and economic factors that trigger depression, but the writer also tells how suddenly it can hit a person:

“(It can be) …a simple punch in the face with no complex reasons, no social complexities, no biological build-up — just a sudden shock to the system. Depression can occur by a crisis event or situation and, like a face-punch, will spin you around and leave you surprised and reeling.”

He discusses the role culture plays in how we talk about and deal with this affliction. Is depression only “the white man’s disease” as some cultures say?

The section I’m Here gives some valuable tips on how we can reach out to a friend who’s struggling with depression. It’s a lot easier than you think. One thought that really impressed me: we don’t need to grab a microphone and make a rousing speech or say just the right thing to get this person through the darkness. Rather we need to give the depressed person the mike and listen. Let him share what he’s going through and how he feels. To be there is often the best gift a friend can give.

“Something powerful happens when we reach across the dark…
Fear starts to shrivel the moment it is exposed.”

The section, Who Am I Without You? deals with being so dependent on the approval of others that we crash at the smallest hint of rejection. The writer urges us to get to know ourselves, our own likes and wants. How necessary it is to stop being a people-pleaser — needing, clinging, then devastated when they feel suffocated and walk away. He tells how he learned to love others more and need them less.

In the last chapter, Elijah, By Bread and Water, he relates the account of the Biblical prophet Elijah, who had his greatest victory on Mount Carmel — followed by a vicious threat to his life that knocked him right into the cesspool of depression. Pastor Park shows us the gentle method God used to pick Elijah up and set him on his feet again, an inspiring story.

“(God) is bigger than your situation and closer than your deepest hurt. He’s not mad. He is cheering for you and rooting for you this very second. He’s okay about all the things before. He sent His Son for that very reason.”

The book’s Appendix lists different treatments for depression and hot-lines readers can call to get help or a listening ear when needed.

Amazon US Link

☆☆☆☆☆
5 stars from me.