Panic Attack

An Excerpt from Trapped In Carnality written by Elle Kavanah, July 2019
Chapter Ten, Waves of Purple

Reckoning

After one of our many breakups, I find myself in a state of utter despair and paranoia. After four sleepless nights, my mind is relentlessly antagonizing me. Craving sleep, I have taken more than the recommended dose of sleeping pills and still, I sit here in this small dark hall at the top of the stairs between my first-floor garage and my second-floor apartment, refusing to let my heart take its death grip off of a guy that I know is profoundly wrong for me. I am wide awake and deeply disturbed. My thoughts keep circling like a vulture, diving down and devouring any shred of sanity I possess.

Crying out the proverbial, “Why God? Why?” I demand to know how my life got so off track. My mind flashes to the beginning of this downward spiral beginning with Jacob. Did I not love God? Did I not accept Jesus into my heart? Did I not spend time studying the Bible and learning what it is to follow Christ? Did I not teach others to do the same? Did I not spend countless hours at the church serving God and leading in Student Ministry? Did I not try to be a good Christian? I thought I was a good Christian. I did not drink alcohol, curse, watch inappropriate things, or listen to secular music. I had severed all ties with people who did not live like me or act like me. I attended church on Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings. I was at the church picnics, ice cream socials, Bible fellowships, potluck lunches, and barbeques. I tried to be the perfect minister’s wife, donning both real and superficial smiles as the circumstance warranted.

Alone and broken, I want to make sense of this horrible, dark pit I find myself in. What if l had never married Jacob? What if he had revealed the secret part of himself before we entered into a marriage covenant? What if he never struggled with homosexuality and we did get married and stay married?  Would we have lived happily ever after? Would we still be in ministry? Would he be a senior pastor by now? What if I never met Dominic or Ren? What if I had remained faithful to Jacob? Would he have ever revealed that hidden part of himself? Would I have spent my whole life married to a secretly gay minister?

The questions will never be answered. The perfect life I always wanted can never be. My life was derailed entirely during my marriage to Jacob. I worshipped him. He was everything to me. I trusted him with my whole heart, and he abused it. I was neglected, unloved, and unneeded. I was an essential piece in his artificial life until I could not stand it any longer. My flesh cried out for love, attention, and companionship. I needed to be desired, to be wanted, to be cherished, held, and appreciated. I was his life partner – like doing dishes, walking the dog, and folding the laundry together, but he was not my lover. I was a utility wife.

When I could stomach the loneliness no more, in comes the long list of lovers, fulfilling my basic need of being enjoyed, desired, and wanted. Those illicit moments were great, ecstatic, and temporarily satisfying, but my conscience strangled my peace and my joy. My heart longed to be in the Lord’s house, but, because of my broken life and my sin, I was not accepted. Again, and again, I tried to get back to where I once was, and every time I was turned away as a wretched sinner, unworthy to sit in the pews with the Lord’s perfect people. Just like now, I am unworthy. I am dirty. I have sinned so much. I have defiled the name of God. I have committed high treason against the Lord Most High. My sins consume me. I used to think I was good. There is nothing good in me.

When my perfect life fell apart, I walked away from God. I didn’t care if I lived or died. My faith remained, but I was done living in a fake world. I wanted authentic people and relationships. The pretentious and superficial life was revolting to me, and yet, I only want to be close to God again. I want to know that he has not abandoned me—my soul longs for peace. My eyes ache from the tears I’ve shed. The hollowness of my heart longs to be filled. Where is my salvation? Where is my God?

Sitting in darkness, the white walls of this four-foot-wide, six-foot-long hall begin to collapse around me. My breathing is short. The pounding of my heart grows louder and faster. Fear climbs in my soul. Panic starts in my toes, and I feel it inching up my legs. My calves contract and grow hard. They become fixed, and the muscles are unable to release. I press them, wanting my flesh to relax. It doesn’t.

The room is getting smaller. There’s not enough air. Tears seep out of my eyes, and I clutch my arms around my bent legs. I try to caress my stiff, pointed feet. To no avail, the muscles are stone, and the pain intensifies.

Oh no, not my hands.

The tingling starts in my fingers and crawls up my forearms. My hands go numb. My heart is exploding against my chest. I cannot move. My fingers contort into hard, unmovable fists. I am dying. My heart is going to shatter right inside my chest. It’s pounding like a wild mallet on a bass drum. I have no medicine. I have nothing to calm me. My body is devoured by fright and anxiousness. The room goes black.

My broken heart cries out, “God! Where are you? I need you!”

Minutes pass, and my thoughts grow still. My body is heavy. My breathing slows down, and I see waves of purple flowing down around me. The hall releases its hold, and I drag myself to my room, my legs are lifeless trees.

Reaching into the drawer of my nightstand, I feel around for my old, green Bible. I pull it out and place it on the carpet in front of me. I am examining the exposed strings and dried glue where the bound cover used to be, the front reads, Disciple’s Study Bible. The back cover is missing, and the memory of throwing this once cherished book at Jacob comes to mind, the cause for its torn binding and missing pieces.

My sight is blurry from tears and sadness, but I open my Bible, longing for comfort. My eyes focus on the illuminated words –

“Fear not! For I have redeemed you! I have summoned you by name! You are mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you pass through the waves, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. The flames will not set you ablaze, for I am the Lord your God! The Holy One of Israel. Your Savior.”

At this very moment, it becomes clear to me that God is with me and has always been with me. He has never left me. I left him. I walked away from my relationship with him, but he never left me. King David says in his Psalm, “even the darkness is not dark to you (God). Where can I flee from your presence?”

Where can I go from your Spirit?
  Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
  if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
  if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
  your right hand will hold me fast.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
  and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
  the night will shine like the day,
  for darkness is as light to you.

David, King of Israel

As I pass through the flames that have held me captive for what seemed like forever, my soul samples peace, and I know God is with me. Warmth fills my body as I repeat these words over and over, forcing them into my mind so they will always be in my heart. I know I have to let go of this life of darkness and death. I have to forget Tate and everyone like him. This contrived life I’ve been pursuing and trying to force into my mold is never going to work. I have to stop. I can’t live like this. I can’t go on like this. Enough.

Trapped In Carnality is available at:

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