It hit me as a leaf came down from the heavens. Or at least, one of the hundreds of trees that populate our street. The wind had kicked up from a recent storm, sending a green crinkled reminder of life’s fragility into the palm of my hand.
I’d caught this reminder before it hit the ground. That felt fitting. The ground is where I’d been lying prostrate — or what felt like it — for two months.
Shirt-drenching nightmares. Heart-stopping visions, voices, images. Flashbacks from Hell. These beastly symptoms and some others I’ll refrain from writing about here were the newest fixtures in my life. They’d been there since July and showed no signs of departure. It was in this context that the wind-tossed leaf landed with me. And we were both so fragile.
But then, the leaf reminded me of something else.
Years prior, before this mess unearthed itself, I’d started a blog about life with “the littles,” the smaller moments of joy that people often forget about because they aren’t broadcasted in big, shiny lights. That space, liftingthevale, had done such a good job of centering me in another time. Why had I forgotten its lessons until now? And what about this little leaf brought me back? Why in the bottom of my new struggles had I experienced the metanoia people love to read and write about?
The answer had to be faith.
It might have been as small as a mustard seed (or a wind-tossed leaf), but it was there.
It should be noted that around the same time, I’d started going to daily Mass. This was something I’d talked about for years, but for several reasons, never got around to doing. Now it was not only possible but necessary. As a result, I found myself at church every morning. And through that, I found something greater than my struggles.
My life might have been spinning out of control outside those pews, but within them, I found order, safety, peace. For an hour a day, I could sit and pray, and reflect on what it meant to be a truly pro-life Catholic — which is to say, someone who understood that there was value in lives marred by the darkest of hours, the greatest afflictions, or other less-than-favorable things. Yes, there was value even in my life.
This realization served me well.
Sure, it was with me when I caught that wind-tossed leaf, but it was also present when I needed to make hours upon hours of phone calls to mental health practitioners who never called me back. I searched endlessly for relief that neither my willpower nor my prayers could bring. For weeks I had no response from a single soul.
Who but God was listening to me in my hour of need? Besides God and my family (because at this point, the number of folks who knew the battle I fought was severely restricted), who was listening? Anyone?
Thankfully, doctors started calling me back. And yes, faith helped with the interim period. Because honestly? It would have been easy to give up during that time — on church, on medicine, on life itself. Lord knows I’ve heard stories that ended much differently in these kinds of circumstances. But, as summer turned into fall, I’d been spared that fate.
And for that, I am so grateful.
Because of that, August and September were the beginning of this space, of my healing, of this testimony.
Because of that, I found my first way home.