Patrick Kennedy breaks the silence on mental health and addiction. He told the secrets – it all comes down to that. The walls I build are thick with these hushed words. I am the best keeper of secrets. My loyalty and responsibility require it. I would fit in well with the Kennedy clan, you see. Your secrets are safe with me.
But what about MY secrets? Who do I trust with those?
For the better part of my life, the answer was no one, for I know that most do not keep secrets well. So, I kept mine. I carried a backpack filled with secret stones. I saved my feelings and my stories and your feelings and your stories. I loaded them in my backpack, all of them, and carried them where I knew they were safe. With me.
Eventually, though, I stumbled. My bag was too full. I kept trying to store the feelings and the secrets, mashing them, bashing them into the bag until I broke with the weight of it all. I fell to my knees. And I finally had to deal with them. One by one, in the safe net of therapy, I spoke them aloud. Sometimes reluctantly. Sometimes in a torrent. Some rocks were bigger than others. Some I didn’t even know I had. And some I keep taking back to this day. It’s not easy to let them go. On my own, I can not live burden free. But I’m learning I don’t have to…
Exhausted doesn’t do justice to the state of my mind that April 14. My body tight with anxiety and fatigue, my soul weary from trying, and my mind wiped. I lay on my back and breathed. In for 5, out for 10. As my body relaxed, so did my mind. God reached straight down and offered me the greatest gift of my life. He whispered to my heart. This is not your fault, darling. You didn’t do anything to make this happen, my love. Let me say it one more time in case you missed it….This is not your fault. You didn’t cause yourself not to sleep. You didn’t cause yourself to break down. There’s nothing you can do to fix yourself. Only I can do that. Let go of the guilt and the blame, beloved. Trust me. Let me do all the work. You’ve been the one hanging on, wearing a backpack filled with stones. Take out each one and place it on my shoulders. Go ahead, try it and see.
Stone one…guilt. I saw myself grasp the big, heavy rock and gently place it on Jesus’ shoulders. When I looked up it had shrunk to a pebble. Come to me all you who are weary and I will give your rest. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
I grabbed the next rock…shame. As with the previous, I placed in on the shoulders of my beloved Savior and a weight lifted. I did the same with Sleep, Anxiety, Stress, Fear. All the secrets. On and on, these heavy burdens became light on Jesus’ shoulders. And for the first time in a year, I felt healing. True healing, not an excited burst of hope from the latest meditation or book promising the magic cure.
This healing, this releasing of the secrets and stones, is slow and messy, but it is coming. It is coming from the only One strong enough to lift them all away. From the moment the stone rolled away that first Easter morning, Jesus began taking my secret stones. He will take your stones, too. Let’s let Him.
This series is not a tidy story of a fairy tale life. It is messy and truthful. For 31 days, I will share pieces of my journey, practical coping techniques for dealing with anxiety, spiritual insights, emotional struggles, and a whole lot of other. I will likely jump from here to there as the Spirit leads. I invite you along as I share my experience, my strength, and my hope. Thank you for being part of this journey with me. Together, we shall seek the still.