The haar in the pit of my stomach

by Anna Blanch on June 23, 2012

So there I was, sitting in Waco yesterday afternoon. Having spent a couple of days with people it was the first moment I had been able to reflect on my time here so far and something unexpected happened. A deep sadness overwhelmed me: a kind of dark cloud grew in the depth of my gut and threatened to pour out of my eyes.

At first I was confused. Here I was editing my PhD draft and in the last couple of days I have seen some of the people who were my joy and with whom I changed and grew as I lived here. I have laughed and rejoiced with them as they have shared all that has happened with them in the last couple of years.

But yet, here I was feeling myself on the edge of tears.

I think there’s a part of me grieving the difficulty and challenge of the process of writing the PhD and though I am upbeat about the state of things and what I have to do in the next few months, my experience has not been all that I had hoped when I left this place three years ago. I don’t think I had allowed myself to acknowledge it until speaking with a mentor with whom I cannot be anything but honest. Strangely, it was his encouragement and congratulations that made me realise how much I had missed him and it set me on the path to begin grieving what I have missed in being in relationship and presence with him and others in the last three years. It is also the heavy news that a professor I know – a young professor who has been such a model of scholarship and teaching for me- and someone I was hoping to visit with while I was here is gravely ill with cancer. I only saw her last year and we had such an invigorating conversation in the crypt of St Paul about faith, and scholarship and teaching. My heart is burdened for her, for her husband and for her children.

Again, I hate cancer.

I think it is the sense that the familiarity and connection I once had with this community here in Texas is not that which it once was. It is of course ludicrous to have expected it to be anything like that which it was. So much has happened since I left.

I grieve for my inability to maintain relationships and to communicate effectively with those I care about deeply.

My own towers of babel have come crashing down.

And that deep needy black hole in my gut echoes.

It could be the coffee I drank this morning, of course.

But I doubt it.

I grieve for the difficulties and brokenness which some of my friends — which all of us, really — have faced and are facing.

I long for real connections. I long for relationships in which I have not failed, in which I’m articulate, encouraged, other-centred and where I don’t act as I have anything to prove.

I long not to be embarrassed about sitting in a coffee shop with tears quietly streaming down my face.

Yes, I’m that girl

I sometimes wish the world is other than that which it is.

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  • Kathleen

    I recognise those sentiments so much. I think there’s an inevitable grief that comes with change, even positive change. When I was coming out of the most acute stage of my illness I suddenly had the ability to process all the difficulties of the previous year or so and it was overwhelming, having to come to terms with the hurt and disappointments of relationships that didn’t make it through that period. For the first time I didn’t have the distraction of all-consuming stress and had to work out how to live through my day with a different set of priorities. I also emerged to an entirely different social scene than the one that surrounded me when I went into my housebound seclusion!  I can imagine that something similar is lurking just over the horizon as I work on my last chapter. This is not the same thing, and it’s only analogous, but I do recognise these emotions and I hope you feel supported, practically and in prayer, while you get these things done. Blessings x

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