Friday, May 14, 2010

New Understanding: Isolation

I read a passage in my Purpose-Driven Life book that really spoke to me.

“Isolation breeds deceitfulness; it is easy to fool ourselves into thinking we are mature if there is no one to challenge us. Real maturity shows up in relationships.”

Lately here, God has really been speaking to my heart about some key issues that are weighing on me, one of which being isolation. I have been isolating myself for several months now. The only times I haven’t isolated myself was to go out drinking. I have flaked on church commitments, work commitments, friend commitments, and personal commitments. But I didn’t flake on drinking commitments; this makes me feel awful.

Much of my isolation is due to my depression. Sometimes it’s the biggest chore ever just to get out of bed and get to work on time. I’m sleeping constantly, I’m not showering every day, I leave the house knowing I look pretty bad but not really caring. There are weeks when my depression is manageable; I shower, fix my hair, throw some makeup on, and get to work on time. During these weeks I’m fairly talkative but still hanging on to my reservations as not to get hurt or disappointed. And then there are other weeks, those weeks, like the week I’m in now, where I am worthless. I haven’t run in about 3 weeks, I’m barely making it to work, and I look like I’m barely making it to work and anywhere else for that matter. And, I am in pretty much complete isolation. Right now, I am only working 3 days per week. What am I doing the other four days? Sleeping, either eating too much or not enough, and not following through with commitments. I have been reading and writing like crazy, which is a good thing, but all of my insights are useless if I have no one to share them with and no real world experiences to test them out.

But if you asked me how I have been, I would say great. After all, I am praying and spending time with the Lord, I am reading great, spiritual books that are helping me along my journey, and I am writing daily, letting out all of my thoughts, frustrations, and emotions that have been bottled up for years. This brings me back to the Purpose-Driven Life passage. Yes, these are great things I am doing, but look at the other side; the isolation and depression far outweighs the good I am doing. I am not great, I am not well. I thought I was growing spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, and perhaps I have. But with no one to share any of the great things with, by locking myself up in my apartment and only venturing out three days a week pretty much against my will, I am not using anything I have learned, I am not relating to others, I am not interacting with them and acting out this great maturity I thought I had gained. And like Rick Warren states, “Real maturity shows up in relationships.”

So where does this leave me? Well, in an uncomfortable place. There’s no secret answer that will get me to pop out of bed every morning and take the city by storm. There’s no magic pill or potion that will get me to follow through with my commitments, that will get me to church every Sunday or running a few miles a few days a week. I’m going to have to be uncomfortable. I’m going to have to push myself to get in the shower and make myself look halfway decent, I’m going to have to force myself to be among other people; this is the only way I can break through the isolation that depression fools me into thinking I want. I don’t want to be by myself all the time. And while I do adore my dog to absolute pieces (I love you, Rowdy!), I need some human interaction from time to time.

There’s no sense in dwelling on the past, in being upset and frustrated by the week that has come and gone while I was hidden away in my apartment. All I can do is make the most of today. And then make the most out of tomorrow. There are days that will be easy to be out in the world, and there will be days where all I will want to do is lay in bed with my dog. I just need to take it one step out of bed at a time, one shower and cup of coffee at a time, following through with one commitment and then another.

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