My Soul Oh My Soul

When clouds veil sun
And disaster comes
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
When waters rise
And hope takes flight
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul

(You Never Let Go, David Crowder Band)

There was a story in the New York Times recently, recounting the results of a poll documenting the trauma of joblessness in the U.S. They report a “pervasive sense from the poll that the American dream had been upended for many” and roughly half of the respondents described the recession as a hardship that had caused fundamental changes in their lives. Depression and anxiety abound, family conflicts and arguments increase, and self-esteem plummets. The story didn’t have any panaceas to offer.   It ended saying “Unemployed Americans are divided over what the future holds for the job market: 39 percent anticipate improvement, 36 percent expect it will stay the same, and 22 percent say it will get worse.”

We appear, I’m told, to have adapted well to our circumstances.  I’m lauded for my ability to make lemonade out of lemons.  Superficially all appears to be fine.  The children are fed, dressed and attend school regularly. The older two are even excelling at their schoolwork. They participate in drama, choir and sports.  And I get up every day and walk the dogs, feed the children and take them to their various destinations.  Why not? I have ample time to play chauffeur these days. 

People offer prayers, and help.  We’ve been ‘adopted’ for the holidays, insuring the kids receive presents to make their Christmas a merry one.  And I’m grateful, in a sort of removed, distanced way.  Thank you for the food and gifts.  I wish I felt it more deeply but I find I don’t care with intensity anymore. 

The stress of uncertainty seeps inside like acid rain, eating away at my body and corroding my soul. I am plagued by pain, headaches, toothache, nagging stiff neck and radiating pain in my shoulder.  I don’t sleep well.  I grow heavy and sluggish and irritable. New lines appear on my face and my graying hair betrays my age. I am losing essential parts of myself.  Ambition, intellect, patience, dreams. Hope.

I’m like a piece of metal, pitted and pockmarked on the surface, shedding flakes of rust.  And inside corroded and weakened. What keeps me going on?  It’s not faith- that went by the wayside back around Easter.  It’s not hope. I don’t have any.  I think it’s just motherhood. That sinewy tenacity that makes women do what they have to do for their children. Would I get out of bed if I didn’t have them?

Where do we go from here? The future, while always impenetrable, seems ineffably bleak.  What can I aspire to?  Or plan for? Our way is shrouded in a deep fog, allowing no more than the next step to be seen.  So we inch our way forward not knowing whether the path leads to a destination or merely onward.

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