Almost 7 years ago, our family entered into a time that could only be described as my personal version of hell. Without getting bogged down into all the details, I will try to give you the cliffs notes version: Basically, we were poisoned through our water supply and all got sick. Once the city and state got involved, our water issue was addressed and the family started to get better except for me…my symptoms began to change. (Stan was at work during the day, Michaela (then 2) was getting her liquids from store bought milk and juice, and Caleb (6 weeks old) was weaned the week it happened and was on pre-mixed formula that a friend had given us…I on the other hand, drank ice tea from sun up to sun down and consumed a considerable amount of the poison.)
I went through life-altering illness for the next few years and am still dealing with repercussions today. This poisoning resulted in brain-damage, liver-damage, and pancreatic-damage along with wrecking my immune system. The immune system issues resulted in becoming allergic to everything…the majority of my diet (90%) and everything around me (weeds, trees, pollens, molds, etc.)
Believe it or not, the worst part was the food allergies. Eating is such a social thing and you do it at least three times a day. So, people didn’t know what to do with me and they pulled away. I think my friends felt awkward about eating in front of me and didn’t know how to make me comfortable, so I quit being invited to things. Anyone who knows me knows that I am an EXTREME extrovert and so this resulting isolation was torture for me. On top of the isolation, I was reminded of what had been done to us at least three times a day (every time I had to figure out what I would be able to eat) and I obsessed about what I had lost.
I was grieving the life, the health, and the naivety about the world that I had before the poisoning…and I was grieving alone. (Don’t get me wrong, Stan was amazing during this time but he was busy because he had to take on the role of Mom, Dad, Bread-winner, husband, wife, care-taker, etc…it was all I could do to just get up and breathe in after out…I was completely wrecked.) With this illness, grief, and isolation, I entered into a dangerous head-space. I began to question everything I knew about God, life, friendship, justice, and family…and there was nobody to bounce my ideas around with. I had brain-damage and only my own faulty brain to work with. Needless to say, I spiraled into a period of grief and isolated bitterness that I can’t even fully explain to this day.
When I did get glimpses of truth and investment from others, I was like an insatiable drug-addict. I would devour any time spent with others greedily (which probably didn’t help my case because I am sure that I came off as extremely needy…a turn-off to most people.) What I craved was for others to just be present with me. I didn’t need anyone to fix my problem or say any magical words…I just needed people and I had none for a very long time. Slowly, over time, I started to heal and people started getting comfortable with me again…I guess, because I didn’t need them as much as I had before. Isn’t it ironic that needing people drove them away and needing them less brought them closer?
What finally got me to a good place was recognizing God’s presence throughout the experience. Oh, it didn’t seem like it at first…I remember many times of screaming out at him in frustration “Where the hell are you God???” But a few years later, when I would finally step outside of my circumstances and objectively look at things, I would see his presence and his hands. This hell lasted for several years and I can’t help but be eternally grateful for the glimpses of heaven that I got to see when someone would spend time investing in me. Time spent investing in people is NEVER, ever wasted. There is so much power in your presence