(I fully intended to publish Part 3 of my “Pearls and Parenting” mini-series today, but this came up and I felt it was important to write it out. Look for the conclusion to my article on Monday!)
1:00 AM. I’m still awake. Staring at the candle I lit half an hour ago, just to have some light, something to look at, for comfort.
It burns bright–bright enough to light up the room–and so steadily, never flickering. That’s why it’s my favorite candle. I can read by it without straining my eyes. But I don’t feel like reading now.
I’ve been lying here for hours. For a while, I try listening to music to help me fall asleep. I pull up the playlist my husband and I created the summer that we were starting our relationship. It’s more than a playlist; it’s a music journal, really. Each song holds a memory of days when we felt that song defined us, defined this relationship thing into which we were growing, changing, maturing.
Most of the songs are happy, hopeful. But tonight, as I listen to them, I feel…sad. And the longer I listen to them, the sadder I get.
This confuses me. Why am I feeling this way? Nothing’s wrong, Willie and I have a great relationship, we just celebrated eight months of marriage, dammit, we’re happy!..I should be happy.
But I’m not happy. And the longer I lay there, wide-eyed, looking at the candle, the more uneasy and restless and unhappy I become. I feel as though somewhere deep inside me, there’s a pool of sadness that’s just out of reach, like the way you can lean over the edge of a dark well and just catch a glimpse of your reflection far below, but you can’t touch the water.
What the heck is all that about?
I feel vaguely as though I should cry, but I don’t want to let myself do that, afraid it would be a little like tumbling down the well shaft, never sure when you’re going to reach the bottom. If there is a bottom.
2:00 AM. Sigh. This sleep thing isn’t working, and I’m only feeling worse. I shift positions for what must be the hundredth time and pick up my phone. I read the first chapter of The Last Battle, hearing the voices of my favorite radio drama version replaying in my head. I wish I had those radio dramas on my phone. I could probably fall asleep to that.
Earlier that day, a friend of mine had commented on Facebook that Shift the Ape was his first introduction to theocracy as a kid. It occurs to me, as I read the familiar exchanges between the wily Shift and the poor bewildered donkey Puzzle, that their relationship was probably my first introduction to emotional manipulation and abusive mind control. Funny how all those things often go together...
2:30 AM. I’ve been shifting through the Spotify library, listening to a song here and a song there, trying to find an album I can listen to until I fall asleep. I finally settle on my Andrew Peterson playlist, because I know them all by heart and they’re soothing, comforting. And it’s a long playlist, so I have plenty of time to doze off. I blow out the candle and start the playlist with one of my favorites, “After the Last Tear Falls.” Somehow it speaks to me and the weird, confusing ache of my feelings tonight.
7:30 AM. I wake up groggy and over-tired. As Willie gets ready for work, I lay in bed, trying to sort through my memories of last night. God, what was that all about? Even my prayers sound tired and bewildered. And I’m still aware of that deep, sad feeling down inside.
Being practical, I start running through all the reasons why I might be feelings this way, chief among them being hormones and lack of sleep. None of my reasons seem adequate to account for this deep, sad ache.
I wake up enough to tell Willie goodbye properly. We exchange some friendly banter as he walks out the door. After he leaves, I hesitate, trying to decide if I should start work right away or take a nap. I end up lying down for a half an hour, but can’t fall back asleep.
8:30 AM. I decide to do some “light reading” to get my mind working before I dive into the heavier research, so I pick up a book I’ve been reading on Bill Gothard’s Institute for Biblical Life Principles (IBLP). I had been reading a bit of the courtship chapter yesterday, so I pick up where I left off.
Within minutes, my pen is flying over the page, underlining and scribbling caustic comments in the margins. And suddenly, I realize I am angry. Really angry. A simmering acidic boiling feeling that rages, eating away at my insides. I find myself bewildered by this rising tide of anger and sadness all mixed together, and it’s too overwhelming, so I start to cry, hot tears seeping out under my lids and down my cheekbones. Why am I so angry?
Then it hits me. The answer is right in my hands, in this book.
I am angry because I was deceived.