Walking bacvk through town on Friday night, I am stopped by a Samaritan. The Samaritans are often out on the city streets on Friday night.
Are you OK tonight?
“Yes”, I reply, and I smile, and I keep walking. Immediately I say that I wonder why I did. I am not OK. It is gone 9pm and I am still not home. I am palid, and have all-but lost my voice, courtesy of some kind of virus: I am so tired. My clothes hang off me where I have lost weight over the past few months. I am stressed by the amount of work I need to get through in the next few days. I had a panic attack in a class that morning, out of the blue. I have no desire to care for myself anymore. And I keep thinking that I want to die, rather than face what is to come. I am farther from OK than I have been in a long time.
But I couldn’t have said “no”. “No” would have meant visiting the pain and the stress and impending loneliness of the weekend. Easier to shut down, claim to be OK than to face that. Easier to go home and curl up, and rock, and try to pretend that the world doesn’t exist anymore. To bury myself in essays, then to bounce through junior church. If I pretend everything is OK, keep the stress hidden, maybe it will be OK. Today, I have not cried for days. I am existing a few feet outside of my mind, not daring to enter into it. Holy Communion does not touch me at all.
I have shut down to a place where my emotion is out of reach, so that I cannot be hurt any further. I can bounce and sing about the classroom. I can mark essays ad infinitum. But I am not there anymore. I am floating just beyond there, a safe distance away. I am scared to come back and feel the pain again. God feels out of reach, too. I want to feel God close again. But not the pain. I am exhausted. I cannot take any more pain.