After spending two weeks swirling in a vortex of anger, pain, fear, and shame, I found myself the last couple of days quietly trying to numb myself--just slightly. Not the deadening numbness that removes me from reality. But the quiet numbness that muddies my emotions just enough that I can't recognize them unless I stare intently at them. Perhaps I was successfully doing what my therapist suggested: focusing on Christ instead of focusing on my emotions. Maybe. But I am not that optimistic--I'm assuming there was some numbing going on. Especially since both God and my best friend asked me what my feelings were, and I couldn't tell either of them because I was afraid to remove the veil and peek in.
But last night, a feeling of happiness overtook me quite unexpectedly.
I was in the lounge of my very small college surrounded by people. I was sitting on the couch, comfortably tired after a game of ultimate frisbee (which, by the way, is something totally out of my comfort zone, but which was totally worth it). My boyfriend was sitting next to me, sometimes just looking at me, sometimes talking with me (....sometimes looking at Facebook on his phone). A friend of ours was playing songs he had written on an acoustic guitar. Seven other of my friends--or at least acquaintances--were scattered around tables working on various assignments (or perhaps just relaxing). Two young children were in the room while their parents studied else where. The young boy was sitting next to me playing a video game, and begging me to watch him play. The young girl was dancing to the music of the guitar, asking me to watch her as she twirled. There was quiet banter and subtle giggles. Every once in a while laughter would ring out above the other sounds.
I found myself smiling. I found myself thankful that I could be sitting in this room with these people. I found myself wondering at the idea that my life has brought me to this place. I found myself inexpressibly happy.
I have heard it said that happiness occurs when things go perfectly in an imperfect world. I guess I could call that moment perfect. But my may day certainly was not perfect. I had been nervous to go to Hebrew. I had gotten angry with myself during frisbee. I had argued with my boyfriend. I had struggled with food. And yet, this happiness seeped through.
Is it possible this was something more? Is it possible that this could have been a manifestation of Joy? Can one experience happiness without Joy? I suppose. But that happiness would be fleeting.
This morning I felt a twinge in my stomach. Usually twinges in my stomach mean fear or anger. I stopped and I listened. I had been thinking about a request from my former roommate. She wants to interview me infront of our Abnormal Psychology class today as part of her presentation on anorexia nervosa. The twinge made me wonder if I am feeling fear or shame or anger concerning this request and my subsequent assent. But no. The twinge was something different. It is excitement. I am excited to be real in front of my classmates. I have been sitting in this Abnormal Psychology for about four months now--keeping my own abnormal past a secret. Now is the chance to be real. And I am excited.
Look at that! Two emotions that I have not felt in so long: happiness and excitement.
Maybe--just maybe--the Joy of my salvation is being restored to me.