This Is My Church

I just realized today something that should have been obvious to me years ago: this blog is my church.

I come here when I am wounded and wondering, when I feel the ache of being human in a way I need to let go of. I come here to witness myself in my own pain.

It’s kind of ironic that this is true, given the ink that gets spilled about our “edited lives” that are shared on Facebook, the picture-perfect moments we capture on Instagram. But given my general tendencies to tell the truth and my desire to stare life directly in the face, I suppose it makes sense that I want to air only the ouchy stuff. For when I am in the deep is when I most need to remember I have company, always; that I am merely, and majestically, being human. (And thank you, dear friends and company, for being here when I need to be witnessed most.)

I am shedding and shedding and shedding right now. I hate that six years after my life went truly upside-down that I still have to look back to that as a reference point, that I still find places I am holding on to what’s gone. In changing over my closet from winter to summer, I have come across dozens of pieces of clothing I’m still holding onto from 2010—clothes that are probably, what?, six sizes smaller than I am, as 2008-2010 was a brief moment in my life I was thin. I don’t lament the thin, not at all (it was fun, though). I lament the sense of security, safety and success I was living in then. Those things are gone. For good, most probably. And yet I love three of those dresses in particular, and still can’t make myself part with them, even though right now I’m knee-deep in half-filled garbage bags of stuff that Has To Go. Because I love love LOVE the woman I was when I was wearing them. Fearless. Happy. Open to everything. An untouchable kind of confident.

I was larger than life then in a way that made me feel… larger than life.

And now I’m just Stacy-sized: whatever the size of the dress, the size of the personality (undeniably big) and the human (undeniably small) who resides within in me remains the same. I’ve gone from being a big girl with big dreams (and a lot of hidden pain) to being a life-size, war-worn woman who is tender, confident (still that), optimistic, open, and wounded.

But as I go through my closet, it’s not just those dresses I am holding onto. I’m still holding on to the end of that particular career. The end of feeling like I was on a ladder for which there was only one direction ahead: ever upward. The painful reminder that there simply is no moment in life where you acquire the necessary goods—husband, children, career, financial security, happiness—and arrive at the Safe Place I so fervently hoped existed when I was a young girl, a teenager, in my parents’ home, promising myself a calm, stable, well-made future.

I keep thinking I have finished with that fantasy, but no. I bump into it again and again, so deeply ingrained was fervent promise to myself. But it’s time to get rid of all that. The navy-blue interview dress for a corporate job I will probably never again have. The collection of handbags and evening bags, for the kinds of events I will probably not ever go to again. The dozens and dozens and dozens of shoes I keep because they are objects of beauty, but that are ridiculous in my life and in my closets now. And sure, I have room for them (great benefit of being single is I get to take allllllll the storage for myself)—but now I am seeing that it’s time to let go, of as much as I can, in as many ways as I can.

It’s gone. That life is gone. And I moved myself into a new one, with great intent and care. And I love it. Being up here in the green and the woods feeds me, keeps me connected to the parts of me I trust the most—and keeps me disconnected from the shiny objects that pull me toward wanting status, that beastly outside validation that tells me I am good and smart and… worthy.

These many months of not working were a blessing and also a curse: I had to live solely in my mind and come to terms with what is in there when I am not building a shiny new rocket ship for some company or another.

But something amazing and wonderful happened to me, too, in this insular, brooding year: I finally was able to fully inhabit all sides of myself at the same time in a way I’m not sure I have ever done before. And that happened in no small way because of an amazing, soulful man who came into my life. In his company, I always feel a hundred-percent me, all of me, the whole me, all the nonsensical juxtapositions and the weird clash of being hyperconfident and wildly insecure suddenly making sense (or at least not not making sense), and that big, beating heart of mine I am always carrying around in my hands, seen and treated so tenderly.

But I have to let go of that, too, for reasons I won’t share. But mostly because it’s the right thing to do. True love waits. If you love something set it free. If I can’t stand on my own, then I can’t stand with him and vice versa. Choose your cliché or aphorism.

So now I feel as delicate as a butterfly with wings that were brushed too harshly by a tree branch, damaging the fine structure that allows flight, life.

I’m always letting go. Always trying to find the quiet inside where I can know and believe (those being two different things) that I am worthy of love. And now what I need to know is that the love that walked into my life and made me feel like…. just me — big/small me, brilliant/goofy me, confident/wounded me, loving/hurting me — is mine to keep forever, in really meaningful ways.

But it’s oh so hard to stand on your own sometimes. And I get tired of how many times in my life I have had to do it.

And so I come to church, to this sacred space, where I can say aloud “I’m hurting,” an act of prayer that reminds me that pain is not forever, even if the ache it leaves in its wake is.

And I come to church also because it’s through my pain in life I’ve learned to connect with many things that are bigger than me—grace, belief, selflessness, acceptance. Those very grand humilities are what have always pulled me through.

I’m on my knees, friends, looking for the glory. And I know it will come. It always does.

About stacy

I am a writer, author, mother, former magazine editor (last at Redbook), optimist, and, above all, a searcher. I'm still searching for whom I'm really meant to be, after a series of very jarring losses: a divorce and house disaster that led to a book (Falling Apart In One Piece); a week after the book came out, my parents suddenly fell gravely ill, I resigned from my job (and, apparently, my career), my son went into crisis, my parents then rapidly died four weeks apart, and my boyfriend (who had moved in with me and my son just weeks before the book came out) began the painful journey of realizing we couldn't make our relationship work (that story unfolded on this blog). Since then I've been trying to figure out what's next. Or, in other words, how to fill in the blanks.
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9 Responses to This Is My Church

  1. Lindsey says:

    I wish I knew something to say other than thank you, and I relate to every single word – I don’t know many people better able to convey feelings that echo my own personal landscape of insecurities and joys and hopes and disappointments. Thank you for this. xoxoxox

    • Stacy says:

      Lindsey, your shared ownership of the constant poignant ache of living has been a very important ballast in my life. I wish time and circumstance allowed us to be closer friends, but regardless of that you are still one of the most cherished friends the internet has offered up to me. Thank you. xoxo

  2. Rita says:

    So much in this resonates, Stacy. It’s so big and important and true (all of it, from the clothes to the love and the trees and the church), that it’s hard to find any words that don’t feel up to the task of offering something equally true in return. I find myself in a similar place. 8 years ago my life blew apart, and it was hard (hardhardhard), but I grew and things changed and I thought: Well, that was nothing I ever expected but it was necessary and now I’ve figured out All the Big, Important Things and I’m good to go and things are going to be all OK now. And then nearly 3 years things didn’t blow apart, but started to slowly unravel and it was a whole different kind of upending and it has been hardhardhard, too. Perhaps the hardest part has been realizing that while I’d figured out some of the Big, Important Things it was not even close to being All–and now I know it will never be All, and that such upheaval can happen again (likely will), and that I will stumble and fumble my way through (again), and that I will tell myself I’ve given up on the fantasy/myth of the Safe Place, but that I haven’t, not really. I mean, I have. I know that there are Safe Places in our lives, but they are more like rest stops on the freeway. We get to stay and enjoy them for a bit, but we have to keep moving. We don’t get to live there. But there is part of me that will think, the next time I get to one, that maybe just maybe I can stay there forever.

    I am so thankful that we can all gather in our various churches and bear witness to each other and hold each other up and worship the wonders we do find in this life and world.

    • stacy says:

      Rita, Thank you, thank you for this long, thoughtful response. Rest stops on the freeway is definitely a very good way to capture those brief moments of respite, where we do not get to live. Just typing that makes me ache. I’ve had a low-grade stomachache for weeks, and I can’t shake it. And my mind won’t settle. I wrote a nice blog post, yes, but I wish I could take it IN and change the wanting within me. But, no. The eternal vacillations of our humble, sometimes feeble minds…. Sigh. So glad to have company, and friends, and someones to help hold me up. Thank you. xoxo

  3. Liv Albright says:

    Stacy,
    I keep searching and searching for a blog that speaks the truth. Real, beautiful, hard and sweet truth. Finally! Finally it I found you.
    I can tell I’m quite a bit older than you but it always strikes me that when being committed to the truths of life, there really is no age barrier. You write a lovely blog, and this first post, for me, will keep the day filled with unexpected pleasure.

    I haven’t been to – blog church – for quite awhile, but it feels like home.

  4. Chris says:

    Stacy, I’ve been wanting to reach out to thank you for your wonderful book. I came upon it when I was looking for something to help me find my way through this awful time. I can relate to many parts of Falling Apart in One Piece. There were times when I couldn’t believe I was reading the same as I was feeling. My life turned upside down when my husband decided he didn’t want to be married to me anymore. I thought we were good, but, apparently, we were not. I am still trying to find my way, as it’s only been a few months and things are not final. But, the death of my dream of how my life was to be, is. Thank you again for what I needed.

  5. Pingback: And More and More and Then Still More | Filling In The Blanks

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