I struggled to find the energy to get out of bed, to make myself a piece of toast. Going to the grocery store was out of the question. Honestly, it was that very thing that made me just a little bit less afraid. I remembered that feeling from before, as I waded through the aftermath of a job which had landed me in therapy for the first time. I had said those very words to my counselor, feeling exhaustion in every part of my body.
"Just get a few snacks," she said. "Maybe an energy bar or two."
That day, after my session, I went to the grocery store across the street from her office. I don't remember what else I bought, but I remember the box of mandarin oranges. They weren't clementines, though they looked just the same, they were the natural version of something I'd only known existed in cans, suspended in heavy syrup.
I couldn't stop eating them.
As I began to recognize these things in myself, again, I reached out to a friend, someone who has been there, in the trenches. I told her that I was struggling to pray, feeling so disconnected from God, sometimes angry with Him about what I was feeling. I told her that I didn't feel like writing, that I wasn't sure I had anything to say, but that my blog posts were like my prayers. If I'm not writing, I don't feel like I'm praying.
"Short prayers are good too," she said.
The day after that day, I rose and went to the grocery store. The heavy, disconcerting darkness seemed to be lifting. I breathed deeply and felt every ray of sunshine on my cheeks.
It seemed that a day of trashy movies and sitting still had done the trick.
But on Friday night of this past week, I started to feel heavy again, and by Saturday, I was flat, crying at the drop of a hat, until I finally fell into a fitful sleep.
As I walk through these dark moments, one at a time, I am reminded of the words of my friend: "Short prayers are good too."
I've been holding on to those words as I spread peanut butter on bread, placing another slice on top and cutting it on the diagonal, just as I liked it to be when I was little. I've been thinking of those words in my car as I whisper "expecto patronum" trusting that God understands me when I speak Harry Potter, or Latin. I've been thinking of her words as I lay in bed, unable, often, to say anything more than Jesus in the dark.