I am not spiraling downward the way that I did during my worst days, when I made a plan to die, five years ago. But I remember. I remember that when there was nothing I cared about, when I wanted the pain to end so deeply that I thought death would be better, something stopped me. And that was love. Somehow, something sparked enough love for me or in me to ask for help.
Today, a complicated relationship reappeared in the form of an argument that has continued, off and on, for almost five years, about the church that I grew up in. Another child of my church wrote to me to ask me to read an offensive, pompous and condescending blog post about why it’s all nonsense, why those of us who believe are just very nice people living in a very nice fantasy. After I told him to stop being such a jerk, I remembered what I really do know about my faith.
My God is love. Because that is what I found in that horrible darkness. There was nothing else to stop me from calmly walking off the edge of the roof of the tower I had planned to go to. I don’t need him or anyone else to understand. But I will never forget that I didn’t see a light or hear a voice. It felt as though someone had simply taken my hand.
It brings tears to my eyes to think about how many times I have taken that hand and held on tight. My Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, cared for his organization, his churches, his monks and nuns, his devotees and even the plants in his garden. But he repeated over and over that love and devotion would do more for us than all the piety in the world. He wrote stories, suggestions, even lessons on how to live, but he promised that love was enough.
I try to live by as many principles taught by my church as I can, but, as you might imagine, anxiety disorders make meditation extraordinarily painful. Sitting still and practicing the meditation techniques I know is a daunting prospect. But love, I can do. Devotion, I can muster. I close my eyes, and I picture myself holding my Guru’s hand. I squeeze tight and beg for Him to help me remember a simple affirmation:
“I am Thine; Thou art mine.”
Just as I am a child of God, He belongs to me. I lean on Him as my protector, as the One who loves me most. I will never spiral down as far as I did that awful night five years ago. I am so strong, now, compared to then. I am not yet out of the spiral that began on Saturday morning, but I am gripping a hand that is stronger than mine. And it will keep me from falling. It will protect my baby. It will guide me as I try to do my best during pregnancy, and I will have that same guidance when I am a mother. I won’t be happy all day, every day. That’s not how it works. But there is a hand for me to hold, whenever I need it.