Stealing Dreams and Crushing Plans

I’ve been praying a lot lately, which is entirely out of character. This wasn’t always the case. In fact, faith and prayer once came naturally to me.

I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church. I went to Sunday School, received my first communion, and later made the choice to be confirmed. The first time I got married, I walked down the aisle of a Catholic sanctuary. I said rosaries when things felt uncomfortable or unfamiliar. I lit candles and prayed to St. Jude when friends and loved ones were experiencing hard times. I truly believed that there was something bigger than myself looking out for us all.

So What Happened?

My younger brother, Nicholas, was a devout Christian. The kind of man that didn’t just talk the talk, but walked the walk. He broke from the Catholic Church, but never waivered in his own belief and reliance on God. He was active in his religious community, and participated in youth groups (both as a youth himself, and later as an adult role model). He could quote passages from the bible with ease — his favorite was the book of Corinthians — and always spoke to us if he felt we weren’t living in a way that aligned us with Jesus’s teachings.

Nick saved himself for marriage. He was wedded to a gorgeous girl that he fiercely loved. When they were heartbroken by miscarriages, he held on to his faith. He believed that when it was meant to be, it would be… and later, they had a beautiful baby boy. My brother loved his wife and son with an intensity that few get the privilege to experience in this life. He believed, with all this heart, that the Lord held them in his hands.

When his back became a problem, and he could no longer skate or surf or ride his beloved motorcycles, he prayed for a solution. He listened to doctors, and believed that the many surgeries he suffered would ultimately relieve his pain. When they didn’t, he continued to ask God for guidance.

Later, Nick divorced and became the primary caregiver of his son. His back was a constant source of pain and frustration; but still, he got up every Sunday morning and took my nephew out for maple bars and milk. He walked him to the park when he could, and did his best to attend every school and sports function. He took his son to Church.

At night, after reading to my nephew and putting him to bed, Nick walked quietly into his own bedroom and prayed. He didn’t ask for much. He wanted only a small reprieve from his pain — just enough to be able to carry his son in his arms. To be the father he wanted to be, without the ever-worsening restrictions of the searing pain he experienced every hour of every day. And I prayed for the same.

Nick’s pain was so excruciating that he had to rely on my folks for help. They moved to be close to him, and were at his house almost daily — and still, Nick insisted on doing as much as he could on his own.

My Mama took my younger brother to every specialist she could find. When they had to go to the Mayo Clinic, a two hour drive from where Nick lived, he laid in the backseat of the vehicle in terrible agony. Every bump and bend in the road coaxed tears from his eyes, and angry exclamations from his lips. And yet, he read his daily devotional each morning, and again at night. He continued to pray for help.

My family never got an answer to those prayers.

Afraid of leaving his son with little money, and wanting to be remembered as the loving, devoted father he was — instead of the angry, sullen prisoner to pain that he had become — my younger brother took his own life. In the car where he shot himself, they found a copy of his daily devotional spattered in his blood.

And I broke from God.

A Desperate Prayer in a Desperate Hour…

I have returned to prayer out of desperation.

Several months ago, I started experiencing debilitating episodes that drop me to my knees and sometimes leave me incapacitated for hours.

Between my neurologist, my new primary care doctor, my cardiologist, and my gastrointestinal specialist — all exceptional doctors that my Mama blessedly fought for me to be seen by — an answer to my problem has yet to be found.

I don’t know what to do. I feel lost and forsaken. I’m losing hope, and I’m losing ground.

There are days when I am so sick that all I can do is take every medication that has been suggested, lay in bed covered in ice (to fight hot flashes that cause flop sweats), and pray — beg! — for sleep. Just enough sleep to give me distance from the pain and spasms that wrack my body into a state of paralysis and fear.

When relief does come, I offer prayers of gratitude.

I have told Mitchell that if a solution cannot be found, I do not know whether or not I have the strength to endure. It is not a threat of suicide (something I have a long and sordid history with), but a wish for peace. A longing for a reprieve from having to monitor if and/or when my body is going to attack itself and leave me shaking on the floor.

Thus far, my prayers have gone largely unanswered. I do get sleep from time-to-time, and have an occasional good day here and there… but the illness is still lurking, waiting around the next darkened corner to pounce on the vulnerability of my health.

If It Didn’t Work for Nick…

I used to believe that I could feel Nicky’s presence — that his spirit was with me. It was the last torn and tattered shred of faith that I had. When I just can’t find a way to pray to God, I pray to Nick. But lately, I don’t feel like either is listening.

If my younger brother is out there, watching over us, he has more important issues at hand. My nephew needs him. My Mama needs him. My Daddy needs him. I know that my issues are not his to fix… but I miss feeling like Nicky’s near.

In a sense, when Nick took his life, he saved mine. I haven’t attempted suicide since we lost him, though the thought has crossed my mind on more than one occasion (one of the many awful facets of being a Borderline). I cannot — I will not — put my family through another loss.

My nephew needs his father’s family to be here. He needs to know who Nick was through those that loved him best… and every time I see my nephew smile, I do get a glimpse of the Nicky that I so deeply loved. I see him whisper across those inherited baby blue eyes, and then an old familiar sparkle dances in young Johnny’s dimples.

So I pray. I pray for the strength to hang on for just one more second, one more minute, one more hour, one more day. I pray for the rational thinking that divorces the Borderline in me from acting out. I pray for a solution to what ails me. Sadly, I sometimes pray for death.

And then I think, “If it didn’t work for Nick, it sure as shit isn’t going to work for me.”

But I endure, and I pray… just in case. And I often wonder, “Where is God when we need him most?” If only I knew.

5 thoughts on “Stealing Dreams and Crushing Plans

  1. I don’t know where God goes when we need them. I wonder that myself when I despair. A hand every now and then, some direct intervention would be both nice and appreciated.

    Every time I see that “footprint” poem, I want to scream.

    I’m so sorry about your brother. He sounds like a beautiful soul. Pain that doesn’t end is hard to live with.

    I’m sorry you’re there now. I want to offer up solutions. I want to suggest this painkiller and that stretch, and have you tried more salt, less salt, veganism, and supplements? I remember how much I enjoy getting that advice: I suppose people imagine those suffering haven’t tried everything that can be thought of.

    So, no actual advice (though permission to kick in the knee people who offer it), just hugs and a bottomless bag of energy 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Ms. Em. I know that you understand my frustration and pain. Your blog often gives me much comfort — and rarest of all, the gift of laughter.

      And yes, the diets are the latest advice from my physicians — cut dairy, cut acidity, cut fat, cut salt, cut processed sugars. I don’t always do it perfectly, and it rarely helps, but I try. I’m also hiking on my good days, and try to do Yoga when my mind is quiet enough to practice.

      I can’t thank you enough for continuing to support my writing. It means the world to me. Hugs, right back at ya’! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

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