Once upon a time there was a girl who wandered the earth. She had no past, and no future. She had never existed before in time or space, except for in the present. Each new day came as a surprise to her, and there was no anchor holding her to the earth. She simply floated through life, unaware of how time slipped by. She simply just “was.” She lived alone and never spoke to anyone unless she had to. If someone called her by name, it sounded strange, and she never got used to using her own name. In fact, speaking her name made it feel like she was an imposter, posing as a fictional character in a story set in a faraway land.
Feelings floated around her, dancing in the shadows nearby, taunting her, but never fully residing within her. If she reached out to grab one and try to hold onto it – to make it her own – it simply slipped through her hands like water. Sadness, confusion, despair, shame, and an occasional splash of joy danced around her, leaving her feeling like the entire world was an intangible figment of her imagination. The only feeling that stuck to her and never left her was Fear. He had taken up residence in the depth of her being and wrapped himself around her insides, sometimes squeezing so tight she thought she might just die.
She existed in this state until she was all grown up. On her 18th birthday she moved out of her childhood home. Slowly, the girl began to notice that there was life going on around her. One day, after some time had passed, she made a strange, scary decision. She decided to try to be a real person. She packed up her 18 years of nagging nothingness and put it in a box which she hid safely in an obscure dark place in her mind. She shut and locked the door and threw away the key. She reasoned that she would never need those 18 years of life for anything, and she was happy to leave them behind.
Having been entirely out of touch with reality, she carefully began to watch other people and tried to act like them. She knew she was still an imposter – an outsider, faking being human, but there was a strength that came to her when she started interacting with the outside world. She still never got used to using her own name, and she still had no conscious understanding of her place in time or history, but her new existence made her look like a person, even though she knew she wasn’t. It was her secret.
One day, a young man saw her and, thinking she was a real person, began to fall in love with her. This thing called love was entirely foreign to her. It felt scary and wonderful all at once, and she found herself wishing she could hold onto it, while knowing deep inside that it could never last. In spite of this, she agreed to marry him, and once they were married, she settled nicely into a life that couldn’t have possibly been her own. Still she lived there, soaking in the safety, in awe of how real people lived. She did her best to look and act like the real people, even though she knew that her life was just a figment of their reality. She sometimes struggled with sadness over this thing called love, knowing it was never really meant for her and feeling incapable of ever truly loving in return. Life went on like this for a few years and something very odd began to happen: she started building memories with her Prince Charming, and it was strangely wonderful. Her life had finally found a beginning. Her story would finally have a starting place.
All along, she knew in the back of her mind that this wonderful fantasy would not last forever, but she drank it in, becoming more and more attached to her new life. As she grew more attached to it, she became more and more fearful of losing it. Fear had been her one constant companion in life, and with each passing day, he wrapped himself tighter and tighter around her soul, as she silently fought him off with all her strength. Thoughts of impending disaster filled her mind and occupied most of her daily thoughts, but she learned to live with them and still act like a person. She would live this pseudo-life until it fell apart.
A day came when she gave birth to a beautiful baby. Suddenly the life she knew she would someday lose became a little too precious to her, and real feelings began to pierce her heart. Instead of dancing in the shadows around her, for the first time she felt alive from the very real and overwhelming feelings brought on by being a mother. As this real love began to grow in her heart, Fear tightened his grip on her even more. She had built this entire world that she knew she could never keep, and now the thought of losing it was more than she could bear. Those days were filled with overwhelming despair mixed with overwhelming joy – something she had never truly known before. Somewhere deep in the back of her mind, buried in that box was the knowledge that she would someday lose it all. She spent her days celebrating her daughter’s life while grieving in advance for the day her child would inevitably disappear from her life, and her whole world would fall apart.
Still, this was the best version of life that she had ever known. She was content for things to go on this way as long as they would. Who knows how long it could have lasted? But it wasn’t meant to be, for one day, Fear overwhelmingly teamed up with a sudden trauma in the girl’s life. On that very day, a dam broke. In a matter of minutes, the girl went from holding it together in her beautiful “life” to completely inundated with overwhelming, completely terrifying images of a life that had never existed. A well from deep, deep down in her soul sprang up within her and began to flood her mind and body with images from the past she never had. Eighteen years of nothingness came rushing through her as anything but nothing. Terrifying, horrific memories filled all of the nothing space and all of those feelings that had lurked in the shadows teasing her for all of those years came together and swept over her like a tidal wave, threatening to drown her.
Each time she tried to come up for air, another huge, rushing wave of horror washed over her, yanking her to the depths of a deep, deep ocean of pain. Every tactic she deployed to stop the tidal wave simply failed miserably, and she was left completely helpless against its drowning force. There were two people who jumped into the ocean to try to save her, while many others jumped in and pushed her back under, attempting to assist in her drowning. It was impossible for the girl to know whether to grab onto a hand extended to her, for she never knew if the hand would pull her up or shove her back under the rushing waters. In the fury of it all, there were times when the girl simply decided that her only option was to stop fighting and just let the waves drown her. And they nearly did.
This battle for the girl’s life lasted nearly 7 years. Ever so slowly, the storm began to subside. There was much wreckage, but the girl and her Prince Charming, who had never left her side, began to pick up the pieces and rebuild their life. Through the whole ordeal, the girl had gained, for the first time in her life, an understanding of her place in time and history. She emerged from the storm with her feet on the ground…. and her heart? Well, it was somehow more whole than it had been before. She found that God’s hand had sustained her all of those years, and had kept her from drowning, and she made a decision to move forward in life, trusting Him. She no longer just floated, but learned to live her life anchored to Him. She knew that the past still held some untold mysteries, but there was a peace in moving on, trusting God to fill in the blanks with His peace. The sun came out and began to shine, and for the first time ever, the girl began to really live.
Everyone loves a happily ever after story, and that’s exactly what her story was…..until recently. These days the girl finds herself being mocked from the shadows by an old, familiar companion. More days than not, he finds his way inside and threatens to squeeze the life out of her again. More images from the box of nothingness seem to be leaking out, and though she tries to stuff them back in, she knows from experience that her efforts are futile. Today, the girl finds herself staring into a dark, angry sea, with a nasty storm brewing just above.
This new storm has come up out of seemingly nowhere, like a sudden summer thunderstorm on a beautiful, sunny day. She has waited patiently for several months for it to pass, but sadly, the skies are growing darker and the waves are reaching threatening heights. Terrified that she will be swept off of her feet again into the raging ocean, she is crying out to God to keep her anchored to the shore. Prince Charming is still by her side, whispering hope to her heart that it is just a passing storm, and not one to fear. But the grip of her old familiar companion tightens just a little more with each passing day. It is a helpless feeling for the girl, and daily she finds herself wondering how she got here – and why. I suppose those questions will be answered in time. And perhaps one day, her happily ever after will come to stay.