Sometimes I have a hard time finding meaning in my life with hidden disabilities.
Because of my husband’s health issues (brain injury resulting in memory loss, executive function problems and epilepsy), our world has gotten significantly smaller. We no longer have friends over or host parties…and it’s not JUST because of Ben. Initially I said no to these things that were so important to us because I wanted to preserve and protect my husband. Now I say no because I’m tired, worn out, and struggling with depression. I miss our friends. I struggle to find meaning in a world that is just work, work, work, dealing with my husband’s disability and trying to raise three children as God-fearing, God-loving adults in spite of my sin and lack of faith.
Because of our diminishing finances, our world has also gotten larger, in ways that I am not really comfortable with. My children no longer attend the small, Christian school that they’ve gone to for the past 5 years. They are in the local public elementary and middle schools; when I show up to events and conferences (when my work allows), noone knows me or my husband and all we’ve gone through…I feel anonymous and somehow frightened. It felt different when we met at our church school and everyone knew that we were dealing with health issues, even if people didn’t fully understand what we dealt with on a daily basis. Now I struggle to find meaning in a world where our children are numbers and our homelife is unknown to most.
My work takes me far from home. I struggle to find meaning in my life, day after day, working to pay bills and health insurance (almost more important than bills at this point). My job pulls me away from home for 10 – 11 hours each day (it’s a long commute and I am there for 9 hours). It is an environment where I need to pull myself together and separate myself entirely from any heartbreaking emotions I may experience. It is a good job…but it is not remotely fulfilling. There is nothing about my job that relates to my life, my education, my interests. I need to pretend to be someone else in order to not become too depressed. There is nothing in my 8 – 5 job that provides meaning to my life.
This post is entitled “On Finding Meaning.” Many of us women grew up thinking we would find our meaning in our families. Some of us, who did not grow up in the Christian community, felt that we would find meaning in our life’s work. Right now, I am struggling to find meaning. My family life is challenging and overwhelming. My professional life is unsatisfying. My friendships are…well, for any one of you dealing with a family member with hidden disabilities, friendships ebb and wane depending on our own emotional resources and the understanding and complexity of those around us.
So I write this post longing for comments. How do you find meaning in so much heartache? How do you find God when everything in your life is filled with pain and unfilled longings and the terrible effects of the fall? I know that there is so much heartache in other countries and many women (and men) whose lives are not consumed by hidden disabilities write beautiful blogs of trips to these regions and ways to help. But how do we find meaning in the narrow lives God has given us? How do we find meaning in the boundaries God has provided for us in living with these hidden disabilities?
Please comment, if you can. I am definitely longing for input to help me to keep going in my life which sometimes feels meaningless and without hope. I generally try to end with an encouraging scripture, but today I am asking YOU, the reader, to provide me with the hope that will not fail.