I am limping out of 2014 and into 2015. One week ago today, I had foot surgery, and I’m just now able to put weight on that foot. I’ll be in a boot for several more weeks as the bone that was cut regrows around the pins that should now keep it straight.
I am also limping out of the year spiritually.
This fall, I experienced the worst online attack of my life. Unlike earlier episodes, this one was not about my writing and my ideas, but about my personal life. The internet doesn’t much care if viral items are lies, as long as they’re lurid (cf. Rolling Stone and the University of Virginia). Nor was it any consolation to me that everyone familiar with the situation — those who have the actual facts — assured me that people ultimately prefer the truth to lies, but it will take time.
In spite of those assurances, I suffered. My back went out in what I am sure was a pychosomatic event. For a week, I was in excruciating pain, unable to move, unable even to get to the bathroom. For a month, I was crippled with pain.
I re-engaged with my therapist and became acquainted with Acute Stress Disorder — that’s 308.3 in the DSM-5. She and I are now working through the consequences of what has happened, and I am renewing spiritual practices that will provide me with peace in the midst of stress.
My therapist is fonder of quoting the I Ching and Buddhist wisdom than she is of the Bible, which is fine with me. (I’ve got the Bible knowledge — I need someone with a different perspective.) One of the first things she said to me when I started seeing her again was this: Sometimes you need to sit down in the middle of the road.
I took this to mean that I was doing too much fighting, too much defending of myself. I needed to sit down in the middle of the highway and let the traffic rush past me. Maybe I even needed to let a truck run me over.
I can’t shake the misperceptions and corrupt interpretations of things that happened years ago. I just want to move on with my life, to live in peace, and to celebrate the little life victories. There are plenty of those: one of my kids placed third in a hockey tournament yesterday; another was voted captain of his robotics team; another qualified for nationals in Irish dance. Courtney and I are nearly spellbound in our love for one another. I’ve got my most ambitious book yet coming out in a couple months.
Yet I can’t ignore the pain of my past. It’s something I will carry with me, all the way to the end, I suppose.
And I’ve wondered if maybe America is also suffering from a bout of acute stress disorder. We are on edge.
So for now, maybe we simply need to sit in the middle of the road, to listen to one another, and to try to conjure love even in the midst of acute stress.
I continue to hope and believe that the birth of a child savior, God-enfleshed, is our most likely shot at peace. We may be limping, but at least we’re still on our feet.
Merry Christmas, friends. Here’s the Jones-Perry Christmas card for you: