When I was a little girl, I always felt a sense of peace whenever I went to church. My family life wasn't pleasant, but those moments spent at St. Benedict helped me get through some tough times.
When I grew older, I started attending church by myself. Not regularly. But I'd come and go, arriving in the pew by myself, leaving by myself. In between, as I sat in God's house, I'd look at those around me, the older couples, the younger couples, the families. And though I was sad I was alone, I always held out a little hope that one day I wouldn't be sitting and praying alone, that I'd have someone by my side to share my faith with.
I've moved around a lot - from Pittsburgh to Jacksonville to Chapel Hill to Wilmington to Oak Island to Norfolk. And in every city, for the most part, I've sat and prayed and sang alone. When the priest would direct us to share the sign of peace, I had to stand still, head bowed for a second or so, while families and couples around me said "Peace be with you" to their own first. My dream was to have someone to say that to, a little hand to shake, a family.
It had been awhile since I'd been to church. I go a few times a year, mostly during the season of Lent. But now that I don't work Saturday nights, I decided to go last night. I've been feeling restless, distracted, and in a very selfish way, I hoped the Mass would give me a bit of peace in my heart. Some direction.
I wasn't prepared for what would happen.
As I sat in my pew, alone and up against the far right-hand wall, I looked around at the old couples, the young couples, the families. And my heart began to ache. For the very first time, I sat there knowing it's very likely I never will have that experience I had always wanted. No family around me, no little hand to shake, no husband to whisper "Peace be with you" to. I'm 36. I can no longer pretend there's plenty of time left for it to happen.
I don't know if that moment on Saturday night was the catalyst for what came, or if it was just meant to be because of who I am. But I would end up overeating. And skipping today's 12-mile run - which was to be the last long training run before my half marathon.
The emptiness was so loud, I could barely breathe, if that makes sense.
There are times I think I am hopeless and that I'm all alone in this struggle. Then, as I flipped channels on TV this weekend, I stumbled upon one of the Eddie Murphy "Nutty Professor" scenes. It was just one scene, but it was when he was working out, running up steps and taking an aerobics class. He was happy and enthused and ready to get that weight off (i.e. me, earlier this week). I turned the channel immediately after, because I remembered the scene that was to come: him being rejected and going home and eating everything in sight (i.e. me, this weekend).
I know I'm not alone. I know others (even fictional characters) struggle, too. With depression and weight and the way they feed off each other. So often, I hope that by writing about my own struggles, I'll figure something out. I'll dig deep enough that the wounds I'm trying so hard to fill with food begin to heal on their own.
I'm trying to get to that root of the problem. Perhaps a little too publicly. I don't know how wise that is. But if there's anyone out there who, after reading this, knows they're not alone, then it's worth it.
Peace be with you all.