After a long day of work, I’m quite sore, and feeling the aches from some very old wounds.
But then I look at my bed. Not in terms of how nice it would be to hit the hay (although that sounds very good, indeed) but as a reminder.
I’ve built myself a bed. It’s really not very remarkable. Plain, sturdy, with a few little touches here and there that likely only I will ever notice. It holds up the mattress. I sleep on it. Just a bed.
But I built it. I designed it. I bought the parts, the tools. I cut, sanded, painted, stained, and bled building it. (Stupid belt sander – that’s another new scar.) I assembled it. Dressed it with new blankets and sheets and pillows. I’ve polished it with cinnamon oil – not only does it give the wood a nice glow, and make my room smell wonderful (spice and exotic and masculine and fiery), but it supposedly repels spiders, too – we’ll see come the spring. It’s solid, too – wooden beams and blacked ironworks and square corners which all evoke feelings of the earth. Yet when I move, or grow, it’s collapsible and transportable, and easily adjusts to whatever size mattress I want.
On weekends when I get to be with my children, my daughter climbs into it with no hesitation whatsoever. You might have to know my daughter to appreciate what a subtle mark of pride it is that she would not pause before trusting her body weight to something unknown or uncertain. My son jumps on it and leaps off it joyously, and it doesn’t even so much as creak.
I’ve still got some work to do on it. I’ve got a few spots I want to hit with paint, or new fixtures – I haven’t decided yet. Also, I need a trundle so my son has his own bed when he stays with me. It’ll come. The mattress is the expensive part – I’ve got to save for a while to get that.
It’s even more than that, though. The other day, when I opened my eyes, I found myself – once again – unable to move. Can’t think, can’t move, can’t even roll over. The only thoughts I’m capable of seeing as having any validity whatsoever are ones of self-loathing and hopelessness that anything will ever change. It’s a rough place to be, and I’m thankful that it doesn’t happen often. Once every two or three months, now. I’m told that’s really quite remarkable, that I’ve got it down to so rarely. And even when it happens, I lay quietly. I don’t try to move. I feel the bed beneath me, supporting me. I know that it’s a painful place to be, but it will pass and I’ll soon be able to get up. To go to work. And in a day or two, it’ll be behind me again.
Last time, God reminded me that about two years ago, I was in that same place. Only it was every morning. For about a month, I didn’t even have my air mattress set up. I slept curled up on a blanket in the floor, under another blanket. No pillow. I remember a weekend spent curled up there, emotionally destroyed because I hated myself. I hated myself because I knew – in much the same way I know my hair is blonde – I knew that I didn’t love my kids. That I was the worst father in the world. That I didn’t care if they lived or died. Oh, there were other reasons, too – I was fat, and out of shape, and I ate poorly, and too much. I was selfish and a liar and bloodthirsty and manipulative and an addict and evil and heartless. And obviously insane, because I didn’t think any of that was true. But everyone knew it, as much as they knew my hair is blonde. And the more I protested that I didn’t feel any of those things, I fought not to be those things, I didn’t want to be any of those things… the more obvious my insanity So there I was, an insane, evil, heartless monster who didn’t care if his children lived or died. I didn’t need a bed – I didn’t deserve one. I had more than I deserved – I should have been happy with an old towel. Or nothing.
Now, I have a bed. A good bed, that I built. It supports me physically and emotionally – I built it sturdy enough for both tasks. It makes my room smell nice, (hopefully) protects me from spiders, and my children (who I love dearly) enjoy it as much as i do. If it isn’t quite finished yet, that’s ok. If it isn’t much to look at, I think it’s got a certain rustic charm – like an old mine cart. Again, much like me. I deserve this bed – how could I not? Every part of it came from me.
Plus, when I sit on it, my feet land perfectly flat on the floor. Exactly the right height. That’s not an easy thing to get right!