Because I’m running low on creativity, I decided to try my hand at a daily prompt offered by the Daily Post here on WordPress. Yesterday’s prompt was “No, Thanks.” The prompt asks, “Is there a place in the world you never want to visit? Where, and why not?” Now, I’m not sure about actual places in the world, because I’ve only ever been outside the country once, but I know a thing or two about places inside the mind I’d prefer not to return to.
Once upon a time, there was a young woman who woke up every night to cry and gasp and shake and sob. This young woman did not know for a very long time that her crying and gasping and shaking and sobbing had a name. This young woman did not want to listen when a nice man with a stethoscope around his neck said words like panic attack, anxiety, and depression. For this young woman believed, you understand, that these things did not exist.
I don’t have to tell you that that young woman was me, the me of four years ago who was very new to college and very stressed and very scared but wanting to do well. That four-years-younger me was very alone in a new place, because she was very timid and very shy. Now four-years-older me looks back at that young woman and says, “Didn’t you notice? All the signs. All the red flags and flashing lights. Didn’t you see those?” But younger me did not, and so she found herself in a doctor’s office wondering why on earth she just couldn’t be a normal human and not want to hurt herself and not feel like crying all of the time and not be so tired. So she started taking little blue pills, and felt a little better. She stopped waking up at night to cry and scream and shake. But the young woman still believed her problem did not exist, and so she moved form her scary college to a new one and put away the little blue pills and told herself, “I will be happy now.”
The young woman tried very hard to be happy, she did, but she found that it was hard. And after a long time of pretending to be happy, she thought of hurting herself again. But no, this was not okay. The young woman went to a counselor who sent her to another man in a white coat, who gave her another bottle of little blue pills. And so she took the little blue pills again, but they did not make her feel a little better—only tired—so she gave them back to the man in the white coat and left the counselor and cried and wondered what to do. And then she remembered her three-years-ago promise to go find these Catholic people who had the Eucharist. Two-years-older me looks back at herself and smiles.
I still cry and shake and stare at walls for hours because I just can’t do anything. But when I found myself looking into the face of my Eucharistic Jesus for the first time, life suddenly made sense. It was okay to hurt, I realized, because Jesus had hurt too. It was okay to hurt because my suffering had a purpose—on the cross with Jesus our human hurts become more than human. Through Him we can also offer our pain for the sake of others. Through Him we can help the Church even in our helplessness. So to hopeless, meaningless darkness I say, “No, thank you.” As long as I have my Jesus, there is no darkness, for in Him there is no darkness at all.
Saint John Paul II, incredible example of heroic suffering, pray for us! Read St. JPII’s encyclical on suffering, Salvifici Doloris.