When You Lose Your Hope

I have been dealing with hormones since Tobin was born 18 months ago. I don’t like to talk about it because I’ve noticed that hormonal people can be accidental liars.

Yesterday I spiraled into a panic because Shel has a rash on his face that will not leave. The doctor said it was eczema and we’ve treated it as such, but by yesterday afternoon I was convinced it was ringworm. Then he got a fever, and I added the fever with the rash and multiplied the head cold of Tobin and the crankiness of Quinten and my math turned out to prove I was a horrible mother.

I tried to remain calm and made a doctor appointment for Shel. I made plans to burn the dog’s bedding, and then I made plans to have my carpets cleaned and every article of clothing bleached. Then I was exhausted. I went to bed at 8 with a feverish 3 year old by my side. I listened to him suck his thumb and I reminded myself that things aren’t always what they seem.

It’s hard to feel one thing but believe another.

I spend a lot of time telling myself that my sense of failure isn’t real. Things seem darkest before the dawn right?

There is a scene in Lord of the Rings where all of the monsters have descended on the city of Gondor. They seem alone, Rohan has deserted them, there are dragons flying through the air and smashing buildings, and the orcs are catapulting heads over the city walls. They don’t realize that help is on the way, they only see the bad.

The king looks down on the evil army and tells everyone to abandon their posts and flee. I always get irritated with him. I think everyone does. I think that’s why it’s so satisfying when Gandalf the Wizard bonks him in the face with his staff and tells everyone to keep fighting.

You must keep fighting.

So I look at the little things, because the big picture is overwhelming. I look at the small square of land I have to defend, not at the giant army of evil that is attacking.

I listen to the sound of the three year old sucking his thumb, and I look at the wooden baby toys in the sunlight, and the way the clouds hit the eaves of my house. I look at the foam in my coffee and the way the bricks lay on the fireplace.

I repeat to myself “Hope is a thing with feathers” and I wait for the dawn. The truth isn’t what things look like, or how you feel, or what you think. The truth is a hope, a thing with feathers.

11 thoughts on “When You Lose Your Hope

  1. This is a powerful message, and you're a good friend to share this part of your story so openly. I remember what you said to me over the phone and how, afterwards, I felt inspired to write: “It's not real,” up my arm in Sharpie. We should talk on the phone more often. Love you.


  2. I keep getting that word. I don't “choose” a word each year, any more than I make resolutions. But I keep getting that word. Thank you for holding on to hope in the dark. I'll hold on, with you, shall I?


  3. 'it's hard to feel one thing but believe another.' every ounce of me is with you on this.

    one of my favorite bits on the whole faith-hope-courage spectrum is this:

    Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.
    ― Mary Anne Radmacher

    love to you, my girl.


  4. I love that poem. Emily Dickinson sure did know some stuff.
    (I'm almost as eloquent as she, no?)

    I've been having some dark moments, mostly on behalf of people I love dearly who are suffering. So it seems selfish to claim the sadness as any part of my own.

    Still, pain is pain. And fear is fear.
    But maybe hope is stronger than any of it.

    Love to you, my friend.
    I miss you. Let's aim at the light together.


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