Hi.

Torrey Gazette is the combined work of everyday Christians blogging on books, family, art, and theology. So pull up a seat and join us. Family Table rules apply. Shouting is totally acceptable.

Reflections on 2015 and One Year of Marriage

Reflections on 2015 and One Year of Marriage

In a powerful and singular way, 2015 will be the best year of my life because I married the love of my life. January 2, 2015, we rang in our new year in a teeny town in Maryland, with all our friends and family around us, in the blistering cold. We honeymooned in a teeny town in Virginia and then returned to the not teeny in Orlando to start our lives together as one in our new apartment with the whole world before us.

Since then life has steadily gotten more difficult. Bills are gross and not fun to pay. Neither was going back to rigorously studying Latin, three weeks after saying “I do.” We were both working, both in school, and both perpetually exhausted. We even came down with the stomach flu not ten days after being married, of all things, which should have been a larger indicator of how the year was to go, but we didn’t notice. January was a good month overall. 

February things got strange and worrisome —  Campbell got sick, but we didn’t know it. I thought it was the stress of being newly married, and carrying the weight of his family on his back while working and in school (enough to put any healthy person in a counselor’s office), but it was deeper, scarier, and unwavering.

We scheduled doctor’s appts. Basic prescriptions and diagnoses were given — general anxiety and depression. We kept telling ourselves how once he graduates (that coming May), we’re sure all of this will go away, and our planned international honeymoon trip to Cancun will cinch things up nicely, and we can get everything back to normal in a jiffy by then.

Not even close (and really, not at all). His sickness began to take over, and he was quickly left a shell of who he was — who I knew him to be. Work was near impossible for both of us. I took up two jobs to help things not be financially stressful, which just created a new kind of stressful in some other area of life. 

Then, I got sick. Really sick, just like Campbell, except it wasn’t in my brain, it was all over me. My chronic childhood idiopathic urticaria (hives without a cause) came back with a vengeance, and I even had to be hospitalized at one point it was so bad. No meds would help me. At one point I would wake up and not be able to walk because I would have so many hives on my feet that Campbell would have to carry me to the bathroom. Another day I’d wake up and couldn't see because my eyelids were swollen shut. I couldn’t attend church, or go to the gym like I used to. I ended up dropping those two jobs because of my hives. It basically felt like being the modern day equivalent of a leper. 

Then, C got worse. His inside was worse than my outside. Work was no longer a viable option for him. Then, school, something we both planned on for a long time, became out of the question. I had to drop out of all my classes the day before my Junior year started. My hives had for the most part subsided, but one too many mental breakdowns on my part let us know that was the direction we needed to take. Right around then, C had to decline his first semester at his master’s program. It was then that I truly told myself that his sickness won. No more work, no more school, just sickness, leaving my broken husband more and more broken every day.

A very long hospital visit for C (I wish I could block out of my memory forever) happened shortly after that time. Treatment centers were explored. Eventually, we found the one. It was a hard and horrible time. I’m so proud of him for doing it, more than he’ll ever know. But I sure hope it never has to happen again. 

By the end of C’s time at that center, he was given two more diagnoses we didn’t have entering the program. He was on over ten prescription drugs, many of which have long term, horrific side effects, side effects I wouldn’t wish on anyone. They include but are not limited to nausea, dizziness, exhaustion, stomach pain, irritability, suicidal thoughts, light sensitivity, and about 20 more — some of which aren’t even appropriate for me to mention. Like many medical situations that don’t really work out nicely, you end up trading one form of sickness for another, and you keep on trading till you find something passing to keep, even if it’s pretty awful. 

I took a job near home to attempt to stay sane and be near C. It kept me partially sane and very much near C, so it did the job while I had it. Eventually, my hives came back and I had to quit it — my fourth job lost in 2015. 

Within this time, my grandfather had a stroke, and two of my relatives passed away. My family in MD felt further away than they had ever been, and it seemed like all of my family was getting sicker by the day.

In light of all this going on, I can’t not mention church. For the past seven Sundays in a row now, Campbell and I have cried in church, to the point where I had to leave, or he had to leave, or we both had to. Every Sunday I go in thinking, “this Sunday I won’t lose it,” “This Sunday I’ll make to communion,” and I’ve found that I just can’t. Every church service is harder to attend than the last one, knowing I’ll just have a meltdown, again. I know I’ll always have Campbell to hold me and whisper in my ear that Jesus loves me, and that that’s all I’ll ever need — Jesus loves me. This is a topic I’ll more thoroughly explain in another post, but for now, I’ll say I’m clinging to Jesus and my creeds, and that’s it. That’s all I can manage.

December was the hardest. The anniversary of my MIL’s passing was Dec 18. It felt like it had a ripple effect on everything in December. I don’t know how we made it through that month. 

Many, many things that aren’t 100% horrible happened in 2015 too for us. We joined a weightlifting team, and our team has been and continues to be a huge source of joy for us in this dark time. Campbell graduated college, I finished Latin and my sophomore year. I worked at Brooks Brothers this past summer, one of the coolest and most unique experiences I’ve ever had. Thanks to Campbell’s pushing and prodding, I started oil painting again — really, really painting again, like I used to, and am opening up a shop very shortly to share ( and hopefully sell) my artwork publicly. I’ve made new friends who have loved me to pieces, far more than I ever deserved. I’ve learned of a deeper level of importance of being in the community of believers than I have ever known -- (and yes, Josh, Alaina, Steph, Brent, Jordan, Lesley, Tamara, John, Corey, Danielle, Lisa, Nikkita, Knapp family, Sproul family, Stouffer family, Brenyo family, Petit family, BBB fam, Unthank family, and all of my other friends who know exactly who you are -- I’m talking to you). You have all helped us tremendously, and it’d take a post even longer than this one to describe how grateful I am for all of you.

We were gifted with our most precious four legged angel we never deserved this year, Grace Sproul, a constant source of happiness in our lives. Within this year alone, Campbell and I traveled to Maryland twice, Virginia twice, North Carolina twice, Utah, and Mexico, as well as countless cities throughout Florida for weightlifting. Campbell competed at the Florida State weightlifting competition and at University Nationals this year, coming in the top 20 in the United States in his age division. Ironically, from weightlifting, both Campbell and I ended 2015 in the best shape we’ve ever been in, and couldn’t be happier about our athletic achievements from this year. I turned 21 this November, and Campbell turned 20 right after my 21st. We both have changed for the better this year, despite our medical and spiritual setbacks. Through our constant state of weakness, Christ has made us stronger, both individually and within our marriage. 

In many ways, we refuse to look forward to 2016. In short, 2016 feels like the veggies you don’t like that you have to eat to be excused from the table, or the person at the party you’re trying to avoid but can’t. 

I’ve learned a few things from this year that I hope to take with me in 2016 — Jesus loves me, and that doesn’t have to do with how I act, ever. He loves me, end of story. I need to cling to my family, if and when it’s healthy to do so. When your life is falling apart, you need people, and oftentimes, those people. I cling to the creeds, because when my life is so chaotic, they’re not, and usually they help realign me and focus. I cling to Scripture, even though I can’t read it as much as used to be able to. Even if we don’t want Scripture, it doesn’t change the fact that we need it. It doesn’t instantly fix anything, but I’ve learned there’s a unique relationship to my emotional stability and my intake of Scripture. I cling to my husband, because despite everything, he is still the man I married, and the man I love, and will always love. I still don’t deserve him a single bit. 

Of course, I cling to Christ, because He’s all I have. And, when I don’t, even more bad things happen to me that are truly my fault. Ultimately, I have no expectations for 2016, other than Jesus will love me. I can always expect that. 

Somehow Christ is forging Campbell and me through this. Even though we feel like complete trainwrecks, I know that Christ does and will use our trainwreck lives for his glory. He will make beauty from our Babel, always.

(Photo by Delaney Mara Photography)

Anxiety & Christmas with Barth

Anxiety & Christmas with Barth

Reading Goals: 2016

Reading Goals: 2016