When I hear her cry out, I go from 0 to 60 in a heartbeat. My eyes dash to the clock that reads 2:00 AM. Covers fly off my bed to the floor and my feet hit the ground running. My heart beats loudly in my ears as I run to the bathroom, afraid of what I might see. I’m afraid of how I’ll find her this time.
Mom fell in the night. Again.
I scan the floor and find her wedged near the toilet and bathtub. She had reached for the handle and slipped. Based on our past experiences with falling, I can tell this fall won’t need a call for help from someone to help me get her. I take a deep breath and prepare to help her on my own.
All on my own.
We fumble along, making our way back to her bedroom. My slim, 17-year-old body shoulders her arm. I hear her groan under her breath, denying herself the expression of pain. I ease her back into bed and shuffle back to my room.
I still feel her weight on my sagging shoulders as I go back to my bedroom.
As I pull the covers up, my hands are still shaking. The weight of feeling alone and having to do it all on my own bears down on me and tears start pouring down my cheeks.
He’d been crying for almost twenty minutes. It was almost 2:00 AM and I had absolutely no idea what to do; I felt like I was shooting in the dark. I looked down the hallway and saw my husband’s hand dangling over the edge of the bed while his chest slowly moved up and down. He had an early day and would be getting up in a few hours to go to work.
I knew I couldn’t wake him. I hardly ever woke him in those moments with my son. Looking back I wish I would have woken him. In the moments when you feel like your heart can’t take any sort of response he might give and you feel like you might explode, sometimes doing nothing is the only response you can come up with. Maybe not the healthiest, but it’s all you’ve got at the time.
But there was this nagging in my soul that I couldn’t shake from all those nights up with my son.
I felt alone. I felt like I had to do it all. And then I couldn’t tell whose tears were soaking my clothes. I couldn’t tell who was sobbing more, my son or me?
Little did I know in those moments as a new mother that claws of past experiences were triggering fresh rawness right across my heart. My body was 30 something but my heart flashed back to me being 17 years old.
I’m 17 again and I live alone with my mother while I stand there holding my crying son.
When I held my crying son alone in the night, I didn’t realize those feelings of being alone, of feeling abandoned, were playing out in my anger towards my husband at 2:00 AM over ten years later.
My past becomes my present.
My mind started listing off everything I had to do around the house. Everything went to how I felt like my husband wasn’t enough. I started saying things to myself like “I always get up in the night” or “I’m the one who always gets up in the morning with him.”
I’m the one who was always with Mom to help her get back up.
I’m the one who always ______________.
My heart has triggered something raw.
I wish I had understood this better during my harsh postpartum emotions with my first child.
I wish I had understood this better when we first got married.
Because in those moments of high emotions and agony, I was holding on to my past. It was a quiet weight I didn’t know I was still carrying.
I’d be arguing with my husband and he’d say things like, “I don’t do enough? You feel alone? What about when I do this or this or this? What about all those times I take over for you with the kids in the evening? How can you feel alone? I’m RIGHT here.”
And those kinds of arguments went on repeat for seven years.
Triggers can be a nasty game and you’ll lose every time if you try to play with your own strength.
I had been sitting on the couch, talking with her about my mother and how much I missed her. I had talked about our twisty past together and how I had grown strong from the years I took care of my mother.
And my therapist looked at me calmly on the couch and asked me if I still had those feelings of panic and frustration as a mother that I felt as a teenager.
And then I was crying. Crying because I knew where this was going. I knew that I was still carrying the weight of my past and turning a blind eye to triggers that were eating away at my heart.
How could I enjoy motherhood with this kind of weight? How could I ever find peace and grace with my husband when He never seemed like enough?
How could I quench my thirst for being enough and feeling loved?
I had fooled my soul into thinking the cup I was drinking from was of life and truth. I was drinking from the well of the world, coming back thirsty, over and over again.
It wasn’t until I confronted my triggers with the water of Jesus that my thirst for peace was satisfied.
It wasn’t until I fell on my face before the Lord, asked for living water, when He called out my past triggers by name, saying, “Are you alone? Are you back in that apartment, filled with fear and uncertainty? How do you expect to drink living water when you are gulping down lifeless water filled with your past?”
In John chapter four, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman and revealed to her that he is the Messiah who brings living water to those who will believe. He also called out her past, naming it before her about the several men she had married.
After her encounter with him at the well, she went back to her people and spoke of him as being the true Messiah, mainly because he had told her of her past.
Don’t you think she knew of her past?
It wasn’t until her past was called out by name that she could move forward in the belief of him as the true Messiah, knowing that her identity wasn’t the woman who married many men.
It wasn’t until my past was called out by name that I could move forward in believing who I am in Christ.
When I hear my son cry out in the night, my heart goes from 0 to 60 in heartbeat. But now, the panic is subdued. The fear that used to wrap around my throat is replaced by a calm surge of discernment and confidence.
I am not 17 again. I am not alone. I do not need to feel abandoned. I do not need to feel like I have to do it all.
My present emotions do not have to be controlled by those triggers. When those triggers try to flare up at 2:00AM, I call them out by name and remember who I am in Christ.
I am not bound by fear.
I am no longer a slave to sin, to my past.
I was known by Christ before I was even in my mother’s womb.
I am filled with the Holy Spirit from Christ.
I am lavishly loved by God.
I am a child of the King.
I am not thirsty anymore.