Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Heavy

Heavy is a good word to describe how I am feeling.  You know, I look at certain things we go through in life and I think, "How in the world do people cope without God, or some sort of higher something when things are hard?"  Because I'm telling you, if I didn't have faith in God and that one day there will be a place with no more pain, I don't think I would want to keep living.  What would be the point?  If there is no God, and if there is nothing else after death, where would the motivation be to continue living in a broken and fallen world, that seems to bring more pain than anything else?  And my pain is so trivial compared to what some people are facing right now.  Cancer.  Death of a child.  Death of a parent.  Financial struggles.  Divorce.  And so many other things.

I had my follow up appointment today with pain management.  I was to tell them how I did with the pain pump trial and give them a percentage of how much better I was feeling after the injection of a hefty dose of Dilaudid into my lower back.

I know what you're thinking:  But your pain is in your neck, isn't it?

Yes.  It is.  The highest level they can inject the medicine into the spinal fluid is L2 or L3.  I don't know how familiar you are with the spine, but there are a total of 29 vertebrae that make up the spine.  There are 5 vertebrae in the neck (cervical), and this is where MOST of my pain is.  Then you have 12 vertebrae in the thoracic spine (top-mid back), 5 in the lumbar (low back) and 5 in the sacral (tailbone area).  I have bulging discs at the top of my neck (C2-3 and C3-4).   There is also a herniated disc that has been there for at least 5 years at T3-4 but the surgery is too risky so I just live with the pain from that one.

So with the pain pump trial they inject medicine directly into the spinal fluid, but for some reason, they CANNOT place it any higher than the lumbar spine.  There are a total of about 18 or so vertebrae between where the medicine was placed, and where the bulk of my pain is.  And yet, they still believed it would be worth it to see if I could get relief.  Well, the bottom line is this.  There was NO change.  No improvement.  No relief.  At all.  In fact, I wound up with a bad headache and pain down my arm, not to mention beginning symptoms of withdrawal because I had to be off of my pain pill before the procedure.

When I talked to the doctor today, and expressed how I felt no change at all, he said that either the pain pump would not work for me because the pain was muscular/joint-related, OR the medicine just wasn't able to get up high enough to reach where my pain is the worst.  So, I COULD possibly proceed and have the pain pump implanted in the hopes that when the catheter is in the right place and releasing medicine directly to the affected areas in my neck, I could maybe get relief.  But even he thought that was a bad idea, because I responded so poorly to the trial.

Where does that leave me?  There's one option left (outside of just continuing to suffer, addicted to pain medicine).  I can try the trial for the neuro-stimulator.  I have written about this before.  I chose to do the pain pump trial first, because my doctor said they have perfected the pain pumps and while the neuro-stimulators have come a long way, they aren't as widely used and studied as the pain pumps.  And now, that is basically what he is recommending.  Do the trial and see if I can get relief from that, before giving up hope.

I asked him what difference it would make, if the pain pump trial was ineffective.  He explained that with the neuro-stimulator, they actually inject these wires into my neck.  These wires are connected to a battery pack thing that transmits electronic pulses that can (apparently?) help with pain.  Because my pain is up in my neck, he thinks that maybe this will offer relief.  Everything really is just trial and error.  There's no easy answer.  So, because I don't know what else to do, I have this trial scheduled for April 30th.  It is a week long trial-they send me home with these wires hanging out of my neck and I am not clear if I administer the pulses or if it is timed.  But I wear that for a week, and then I go back to have the wires removed and tell them if I had any relief.  IF, and that's a big IF, I get relief, they will schedule surgery.

The doctor said he was hopeful.  I told him he would have to be hopeful for the both of us, because I just couldn't feel it in the moment.  By the time I got to my car, I just started feeling this weight begin to press down on me.

I couldn't shake it.  I dropped off my prescription (which apparently has been delayed surprise surprise due to insurance issues) and went to get myself my favorite tea from my favorite place, QuikTrip.  I had to fight to keep it together in the store because that weight just would not let up.  It kept pressing and I knew I was going to lose it.  I've felt the breakdown coming since last night.

And this is what brings me back to how I started this post.  I don't know how people do it without God.  I don't know, mentally, how people can cope.  I just don't get it.  Because here is what happened.  As soon as I got in my car, the radio started playing a song called "Oh My Soul" by Casting Crowns.  The tears that I had been fighting back just started flowing.  I just closed my eyes and listened to the words, all the while, tears were streaming down my cheeks.  The despair didn't go away.  The frustration didn't suddenly disappear.  But that crushing weight I was feeling lightened a little.  I believe in God and I believe that He loves me and that He sees me, and that He suffers as I suffer.  He sees my pain and he wants to comfort me.  He wants me to lean on him and know that I am not strong enough, but He is.  And He communicates this to me through music over and over and over, and usually exactly when I need it, before despair overwhelms me completely.

Maybe you're struggling right now.  Whatever it is, take a few moments to close your eyes and listen to this song, or read the lyrics while you listen.  Do I feel suddenly happy?  No. I don't.  I feel much the same.  Except that my load was lightened just a little and I know that I can put my hope and trust in One who loves me more than I could imagine.



Oh, my soul
Oh, how you worry
Oh, how you're weary, from fearing you lost control
This was the one thing, you didn't see coming
And no one would blame you, though
If you cried in private
If you tried to hide it away, so no one knows
No one will see, if you stop believing

Oh, my soul
You are not alone
There's a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down
'Cause you're not alone

Here and now
You can be honest
I won't try to promise that someday it all works out
'Cause this is the valley
And even now, He is breathing on your dry bones
And there will be dancing
There will be beauty where beauty was ash and stone
This much I know

Oh, my soul
You are not alone
There's a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down

I'm not strong enough, I can't take anymore
(You can lay it down, you can lay it down)
And my shipwrecked faith will never get me to shore
(You can lay it down, you can lay it down)
Can He find me here
Can He keep me from going under

Oh, my soul
You're not alone
There's a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down
'Cause you're not alone

Oh, my soul, you're not alone

Monday, April 8, 2019

Distracted and Disconnected

I've spent the better part of a year distracted.  For the first time in the last seven years, I haven't felt as close to God.  I haven't felt far from him.  Just not close.  Not like I was.

I've allowed the circumstances of my life to get in the way.  My priorities shifted.  It happened so subtlety that it has taken me almost a year to recognize it.  I've allowed my pain to take the wheel, controlling my emotions, my body, my heart.  I have been worn and discouraged.  I have become utterly exhausted, fighting against a failing body I cannot control.  And the mental toll that has taken over the last year has been frustrating, to say the least. 

Pain is all I think about.  My life revolves around it.  This is the evening before I go in for what they call a "pain pump trial."  It will determine whether or not having pain pump implanted will be beneficial and allow me to live life again.

But focused on pain as I have been, it doesn't leave much room for God.  Kris and I were talking recently about how easy it is to just veg out and watch TV or play games.  It takes literally no effort or thought.  But the good stuff, the truly beneficial things take time and effort.  And when you are exhausted, the last thing you want to do is...DO.  You just want to BE.

We get this idea in our heads that it is WORK to draw close to God.  And it is work, in the sense that it requires that you be intentional.  You know the end result will be peace and fulfillment, and yet it always just seems so hard to spend time with God.  Maybe it's because we have these preconceived notions that spending time with God looks a certain way.  You know, reading your Bible for hours on end, praying nonstop, things that are really just not attainable.  We have these expectations for what it should look like and we always make it harder than just sitting there and being in God's presence.  Because even in resting in God, we feel like we have to DO something.

Kris is really good at this need to DO something.  To FIX things.  When I'm upset, he wants to do something.  When what I really need is for him to take me in his arms and tell me he's there and that it'll be okay.  I know this.  I know that is what I need.  So, why do I think that in order to rest in God I have to run myself ragged with different exercises proving that I am capable of making God a priority?

When I first came back to God (7 years ago!), there was something so special and intimate about just sitting and listening to songs that spoke words of hope and life, songs that reminded me that I was very broken, and very loved by God.  And somehow, as the years have come and gone, I've gone back to this legalistic view of what spending time with God is.  It isn't about reading the Bible all the time, or praying nonstop.  Those things are great, of course.  I'm not saying we don't need to do those things.  But for me, those things aren't even on my radar when I'm not already resting, just allowing God to lavish his love and kindness on my heart.  For me, it's done through music.  If I can sit and veg on the latest episode of Sister Wives (don't judge me - or do - I don't care), why can't I just cue up an hour of songs that I KNOW speak to my heart and just rest?  Just listen to the words and BE.

Isn't that the crazy thing?  I KNOW what my heart needs.  And it's not even hard to do.  And yet, I feel this resistance.  A voice inside (likely from my enemy) says "but that's so much work.  It would be so much easier to just turn the TV on."  And I'm like, "yeah you're right, that is easier," and then three hours later it's time to go to bed, and I'm left still feeling disconnected.

Does anyone else find yourself in this endless cycle of knowing you need to spend time with God because it is literally the only thing that can soothe your soul, but then you get distracted by something else, something far less fulfilling, and you just focus on that?  And then you feel guilty because just like anything we use to cope with pain or just life, it is empty?  There is no hope in drugs or alcohol, sex or food.  There is, at best, momentary pleasure.  It never lasts.  There is no peace in those things.  Not really.  We like to think there is - but five minutes or an hour of distraction or numbing the pain is not the same as peace, is it?  No.  It's not.

So as Good Friday and Easter approaches, thankfully I find myself longing for that closeness with God again.  I can tell it has been missing from my life.  It was on Good Friday seven years ago that the Cross became real to me.  That I finally understood its purpose and the part Jesus wanted to play in my heart and life.  And I miss that feeling of being so completely broken and overwhelmed with gratitude for what God has given me, done for me, and forgiven me of.  I'm not going to make a vow or goal and say from now on this and that...it would be empty.

I'm just simply going to try today to stay focused on what really matters.  And hopefully, I can wake up tomorrow and do it again.  While the song I am sharing today isn't really on topic, it is one that I have been hearing a lot lately that speaks to what I really want from my life.  I don't want people to look at me and think she was this or did that, or she loved her kids or her marriage was restored.  When people look at me, I just want them to see Jesus.  Because that's all that matters.



Thursday, January 31, 2019

A Mother's Heart

I have spent the last 18 years raising kids, and more often than not, being absolutely terrified that I will be the reason why my kids need years and years of therapy just to lead happy and healthy lives.  I have spent so much time fretting and second guessing myself, and worrying.  Wondering if saying this or doing that will ruin their childhoods.  I want my kids to have good memories when they look back at their childhood.  I want them to see that yeah, I made mistakes.  I failed.  Many times.  I yelled too much.  I was too edgy too often, regardless of the legitimate pain and anxiety and depression behind it all.  But I don't want them to only remember that.

I want them to remember that when I failed, when I yelled or made them cry, and it was done out of anger of something else unjustified, that I said I'm sorry.  That I acknowledged where I had made mistakes and I apologized.  That I made amends.  That I squared my shoulders and tried harder to do it right next time.  That I failed again, and that I owned it, once again. 

I don't live with the delusion that they won't remember any bad times.  That's not what I'm talking about.  I want them to see good, even in the bad times.  I want them to see redemption.  I want them to know that I tried.  I tried so hard to do it right.  And I want them to know that I know that I didn't always live up to their expectations.  I certainly don't live up to my own, which I admit are likely unattainable.

I want my kids to always feel like they can talk to me about anything, even if it is something they have done that they know is wrong, or that they think will disappoint me.  I want them to know they have a safe place to fall, and a safe place to fall apart.  I want them to look at me, their mother, and think, "God she really does love me."

I live in fear though.  And a lot of times, I believe the lies that say I'm never going to have my kids look at me and think I was a good mom.  I can't seem to silence the lies.  They play over and over again in my head, and I can't make them stop.  It doesn't seem to matter that my girls tell me I'm a good mom and that they love talking to me and that they feel like I am a friend.

The real issue is my son.  And I have spent 17 years wondering how I did everything so wrong with him.  And I worry that the first 7 months I didn't bond with him as a baby have profoundly affected him.  That because he wasn't nurtured at such an early age, he has never felt safe.  He has never felt loved by me.  And the most frustrating thing is that I can't go back and change the postpartum depression that prevented me from bonding with him the way any good mother would. 

It doesn't matter what I know.  It doesn't matter that I understand that postpartum depression is a real thing.  All I can fall back on when times get tough (which are far more often than not) is that maybe, just maybe if I had been able to bond with him sooner, I wouldn't have caused him to struggle with the things he struggles with.  Fear.  Anxiety,  Insecurity.  Feeling like he will never be good enough.

If I have to boil my fear down to one single thing, it would be the fear that ANY of my children would wrestle with believing they are not good enough.  That my love is conditional.  I have spent my entire life as a mother hoping and praying and trying to protect them from ever feeling like that.  I know that feeling and it profoundly affected my life and the choices I made from adolescence on. 

And so when I see my son already wrestling with that very thing, I try to think back and determine where I went wrong.  What did I do that I shouldn't have?  What didn't I do that I should have?  And I can try to tell myself that I couldn't have changed anything.  That sometimes people just have something born in them that leaves the vulnerable to feeling like they can never measure up.  But in my heart, if I'm being honest, I have never let go of that fear that tells me if I had just been able to feel something for him as a tiny baby, I could have prevented this.

Maybe what is so frustrating.is the fact that even if that's true, even if his struggle is a direct result of my struggle early on in his life, there is literally nothing I can do to change it.  I can't go back and undo it.  No matter how fiercely I love him now and have from infancy (once my depression was treated) and on, no matter how much I want it, I have no control.  So if this is a direct result of that, I can't make it better.  I can't fix it.  Do you know how frustrating that is?  I'm sure some of you do.  I am certain I am not the only mother out there feeling like a complete failure and heartbroken that I cannot fix it.

Even if it isn't my fault (which I question-not out of self-pity or anything like that but out of legitimate beliefs that bonding with a baby has an affect on them), I can't fix it.  As a parent, you will do absolutely everything within your power to protect your child.  You will go to hell and back if you can to prevent them from feeling any pain in this world.  It isn't realistic of course.  You can't protect your child from everything.  The world is harsh and evil and punishing.  No one is immune to that.  But that doesn't stop you from longing to do whatever it takes to protect them.

I hold a lot back from my kids.  While I am an open book and I am always quick to apologize if I make a mistake or hurt them, I tend to shield them from the depression and the internal struggles and fears that I face.  It's another way to try to protect them.  I don't want them to feel the heaviness I feel.  I don't want them to see how badly I feel, because I don't for a minute want them to think any of that is their fault.  I am vulnerable with them.  I don't hide every emotion from them.  But when I get to thinking about this and feeling like I am screwing them up, I try to mask it.  Unfortunately, that keeps these feelings just below the surface and I don't really deal with them.

Ninety-five percent of the time, I am okay.  I don't question myself.  I don't question my worth.  I don't doubt myself as a mother.  My oldest is quick to give me a hug, and tell me that she loves me and that I am a good mom.  She knows that I worry that they will look back and think I was a bad mom.  And while I don't want her to see me openly weeping because I am tormented by that fear, she does know that it is a worry of mine.  But I don't let them see how deeply it affects me.  It's not their job to carry that or try to make me feel better, so I try to prevent them from seeing just how affected I am by it.

And while my oldest reassures me that I'm doing a good job, and while my middle daughter tells me she feels so blessed to have a good family and good parents, and my youngest daughter tells me she loves me and I share a really, REALLY good relationship with them, the other leaves me feeling like an utter failure. 

And I don't blame my son.  It is not his fault that I feel this way.  He is a GOOD kid.  He is loyal to those he loves and he's kind and sweet.  And yet, he's dissatisfied with his life, with his family, and ultimately with me as his mother.  When he tells me he hates me, I try not to read into it.  I try to convince myself that it's just teenage angst.  I try to make myself believe that in a few years, when we aren't living under the same roof, the relationship will get better. 

I want so badly for him to love me but more than that, I want him to know just how much I love him, even if he does truly hate me.  I don't care if he hates me.  That isn't what upsets me.  I hate that he can't feel that I love him, or that he cannot accept that I love him. I want him to have no logical reason that he can point to that says, "There.  Right there.  That is what makes her a horrible mom.  It's this one thing she has always said or always done that has led me to feel this way."  But I fear the opposite.  I fear that he will have something real that I have done, however unknowingly, to prove that I am indeed a horrible mother.  And perhaps what leaves me off-kilter the most is that I have no idea what that one thing is.  Or maybe it's multiple things.  But I don't know what they are.  I cannot fix it.  I cannot make it better.  I can't undo it.  And worst of all, I can't do what I have always done-which is own it, apologize for it, and try to make amends.

People tell you parenting is hard.  But nothing prepares you for this.  Nothing readies your heart to feel like you have failed even one of your kids.  I am SO SO grateful that the girls have a different picture of their childhoods and their mother.  But it is devastating that my son seemingly feels like his life would be better if I were not his mom.  That he abhors even the thought of me, let alone being in my presence or being subject to my harsh rules that invade his privacy.  It breaks my heart. 

He is the only boy.  And there is a disconnect between us.  The girls have always been easier.  And I don't see that as a deficiency in him.  I see it as a deficiency in me.  Was I just incapable of raising a son?  Should I not have been his mother?  Would he have been better off with a different mom, who was able to better relate to boys?  Where did it all go so wrong? 

I recognize that this is just temporary - this feeling of being an utter failure.  I know that I will weather this and be able to get back to feeling like an OK mom overall.  But not tonight. Not in this moment.

**And just like that, at the end of writing this, I got a text from my son.  Not apologizing for saying he hates me.  But apologizing for something.  Which is far more than I usually get.  It is so hard for him to be vulnerable and express his feelings and the fact that he was able to even say that, while also acknowledging that he is still really mad, speaks of growth on his part, and gives my mother's heart just a little bit of hope to keep on going.  God is good.  And is always there in the most desperate moments. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Too Young To Be So Old

I've spent the last year trudging through injection after injection, new xrays and MRIs, appointments with surgeons, primary doctors, chiropractors, and pain management only to wind up exactly where I started.  Last October, I had another MRI done of my spine, as my pain had been increasing again to the point where it was interfering with my daily life.  I recently completed a set of injections called RFA, or radio frequency ablations.  This was a last ditch effort, really to find a solution to pain, short of surgery of some kind.  When I saw my surgeon back in March, he told me that the only real option was to operate and do a discectomy and fusion at C2-3 and C3-4 in my neck, while pain management told me that my last option was to have a pain pump or neuro-stimulator surgically implanted in my spine. 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

I'm Crazy, Right?

I want to state upfront that I'm not actually looking for anyone to tell me that I am not crazy.  I am just curious if anyone else out there, especially people who battle anxiety, understand the situation I'm going to describe below and the array of feelings that arise from it.

There was an "incident" tonight.  Sometimes I wonder at what point will Kris finally say, "Oh my gosh, you really are crazy!" and then decide he's had enough?  When I'm calm and rational (yes, it does happen...occasionally...), I know the answer.  He will never reach a point where he thinks he just can't deal with me anymore. That man will stand by my side, always.  No matter what.  If our story is any indicator, his capacity to love and forgive and continue to want a life with me even after being profoundly hurt is proof enough.

Why then, if I know that, do I completely lose my mind the moment he expresses agitation or frustration with me?  He deals with my crazy extremely well.  Most of the time.  But in those few and far between moments where he isn't in complete control of how he reacts to my irrationality, I just can't deal with it.  It literally feels like the end of my world.

Perhaps part of it has to do with the fact that the only reason I "lose" my mind is due to extreme anxiety.  It's never a direct reaction to feelings about Kris or something specific he has said or done.  It's not him.  It's me and this damn anxiety that will not leave me alone.  For a lot of years, especially early in our marriage, I thought there was something innately wrong with me.  I would have these irrational reactions to what appear to be very minor situations, and I beat myself up because no "normal" human being would be so bent out of shape over minute changes, would they?

For example, tonight's meltdown was brought on by a simple comment Kris made.  The simple fact (though there's a little more to it) is this:

The show I was watching ended, and he was sitting down to eat, so he said something like, "Did you want to watch Atypical?"

And I literally lost my mind.  I went from feeling fine one second to a state of extreme panic in another.  I will readily admit that I am not even close to nice when everything feels out of control.  I say things I don't mean, I'm extremely short and sarcastic, or I say things that don't have anything to do with what I'm really upset about.  And instead of just telling Kris that I didn't want anything about what I was doing in that moment to change, because that would be RATIONAL, it got really tense, really fast.

Why did I immediately go into a tailspin that ended up with Kris leaving the room and me walking out of the house?

For me, it is never as simple as saying, "No, I'd rather keep watching what I was watching before you came into the room."  There were so many other thoughts going through my head in the moment:

#1.  You love Aytpical - why are you offended by him suggesting you watch it with him?
#2.  You're being irrational and there is no reason this should make you upset.
#3.  You are married and need to bend, and you should compromise and do something he wants to do.
#4.  Why are you so inflexible?
#5.  You're selfish and should not be feeling this bent out of shape over a TV show.
#6.  Don't speak. Don't speak. Don't speak.
#7.  Why did you speak?  I told you not to.  You just made everything worse.
#8.  Oh look, you've gone and really made him mad.  Good job, idiot.
#9.  You're literally an insane person who doesn't know how to have normal human interactions.
#10. You've made him so mad he doesn't love you anymore and can't possibly want to keep doing this over and over again with you.

Look, I'm not making this stuff up.  And I know how ridiculous it sounds.  How ridiculous it actually is.  Even within the irrational thinking, I have rational thoughts.  But I do not know how to express anything at all, or how to deal with how disrupted a simple suggestion to watch a different TV show makes me feel.

So Kris, very clearly upset (and rightly so because I'm a child when it comes to communication in these moments) left the room.  And then the turmoil inside of me escalated.  I felt trapped.  Like I wanted to crawl out of my skin, or jump off of a bridge, or drive away and never come back.  I felt stupid also, because I knew that my reaction was irrational.  And yet, I couldn't escape how on edge I was feeling.  As much as I wanted to just be "okay," I didn't know how.  I had to physically move, or do something to counter the intense pressure I felt building inside me.  My world was spinning out of control.

I felt like if I didn't move, I would explode.  So I put the dog on his leash and went for a walk.  For the first few minutes, I was indignant.  And I was thinking, why can't Kris just be more understanding and compassionate?  This is not the first time we have been in a situation like this.  Kris makes a comment or suggestion, or implies something, and it is disruptive to me.  And then I thought, "You idiot!  That man has been more patient, more understanding, and more selfless in five minutes than you'll be in your entire life."  So then I went from being mad at him for not being 100% compassionate and understanding every single minute of every day, to kicking myself for not feeling capable of just switching direction and taking him up on his offer or suggestion, or what sometimes feels like a passive-aggressive way to get me to do what he wants.

He's not actually being passive-aggressive.  I just feel like he is.  That led to me thinking, "Why can't he just ask?  If he wants to watch Atypical, why can't he just say that he would like to watch Atypical with me?"  And if he would just word it differently and give me a chance to control the next step, would it matter?  Would I be capable of being flexible if he put the control in my hands, instead of making a suggestion that leaves me feeling off balance and like my world is spinning out of control?  I honestly don't know.  I like to think that there is a less disruptive way to tell me that he wants to watch a show with me.  Or that if he would give me some warning or time to adjust, I would be okay and able to change my plans to do something that he wants to do instead of it always having to be about me.

What seems reasonable to me would be for Kris to give me some advance warning.   Send me a chat to prep me for the fact that my expectation for how my night was going to play out might be changing.  Outside of the moment, I can see it from his perspective.  He isn't working on bills or taxes or work anymore (which he had been doing for several hours already).  He wants to eat, and he wants to spend time with me, watching a show we mutually enjoy, because while he can be alone, he does not enjoy it nearly as much as I do and he requires more human interaction than I do because he actually likes people.

But in the moment, that isn't how it played out in my mind.  This was my version of reality:

He had spent several hours working downstairs and in general, I need time alone sometimes to just do my own thing.  I would have been perfectly content to keep doing my own thing for another couple of hours, until the kids went to bed and we could spend our evening just the two of us.  He had also turned on a video game in our room and this made me feel safe and not guilty for wanting to spend some more time alone.  I just assumed that he would stay in our room for a bit.  So when his pizza was done, I actually thought he had taken it into our room to eat and play his game.  It all felt very safe to me.

So, when he suddenly appeared and sprung the news on me that everything I thought above was completely wrong (simply by suggesting we watch something together), I no longer felt safe.  I suddenly felt like my world was spinning out of control.  And in the midst of that, I'm feeling intense pressure to switch directions and immediately change my expectation for how my night was going to play out.  I know that I am inflexible, and if I can't deal with that type of "switch" in the moment, it is going to create a problem and I really don't intend to make Kris' life MORE difficult.  I am not much of a helpmate to him if he is always the one who has to adjust his expectations and compromise.  So let's just throw some good old fashioned guilt in there too for good measure.

I honestly think it has more to do with feeling this huge pressure to adjust right in that moment that does me in.  If I had some time to prepare, I could adjust my expectations and be open to doing something with him, when I originally thought I was going to be alone.  But we don't live in a world where Kris can give me a 30 minute heads up any time he wants to do something with me.  I have learned a few things about myself over the last two decades.  One of those is that I desperately need time to adjust if my plan for how something will go is changing, if it is to occur without any conflict or tension or misunderstanding.  It isn't always realistic.  I know that I can't live my life like that - always having advanced warning any time anything at all in my life is going to change. 

So that's it  That's where I'm at tonight.  No grand conclusion or profound words.  Just a look inside my crazy mind.





Thursday, September 27, 2018

Drowning

Have I ever mentioned I'm tired of my spine?  I'm exhausted from hurting all the time and having to put on a smile and pretend that I feel better than I do.  While I hate "faking it," with regards to my pain, I've learned the no-so-subtle art of grinning and bearing it.  Some days I think it's more obvious that I am miserable, but most days, I am able to portray that I am feeling better than I am.  And if you see me and I look like I'm not feeling great, it is almost a guarantee that I feel about fifty times worse than I look like I feel.

This faking it has not been without it's own drawbacks - namely being increased anxiety and most recently, despondency.  I finally broke down and went to the doctor today and asked for something to help me deal with the panic attacks and constant anxiety I can't seem to shake.  I was on a LOT of Xanax for a long time, many years ago.  While it was extremely effective, I was eating it like candy by the end and wanted to get off of it, as I felt like it was controlling my life.  So I have just been managing my anxiety on my own for the last six and a half years.  And it was going pretty well.  But it has now become unmanageable again and I asked my doctor for something to help.  I can't ride in or drive a car without extreme fear and panic, I'm jumpy all the time, and leaving the house and socializing is its own special horror (among other things).  I've never wanted to be a hermit more than I do right now.

Today has been a rough day.  I almost didn't have it in me to go into the office, but I've missed too much work lately due to pain/injections/anxiety that I just didn't think I could deal with disappointing anyone else today.  And some of that is just me projecting how I think I look or am perceived by others, but it isn't "me."  It's not the kind of person I have always prided myself on being, but more often than not lately, I feel like I am letting everyone down, because I expect better of myself.

But I don't know how much longer I can keep this up.  There's no quick fix.  There's no easy out.  I don't know what the future holds and I am struggling to surrender it all.  It all feels too big, and too complex.

I *know* that God is bigger than this.

I *know* that He can carry me through this.

But I can't see how and I can't feel it right now, in this moment.

So today, I'm giving myself permission to just *be* and hope that the truth behind the song below will start to sink in and permeate my soul.  Because everything I am hearing from my own thoughts and fears right now contradicts what my heart knows and has experienced before.  Lord I believe; help my unbelief.



Thursday, September 20, 2018

Asking For Help - The Impossible Tasks

A friend and I were talking recently about impossible tasks.  She had read an article which detailed a conversation that took place on Twitter and went viral.  It had to do with depression and every day tasks that are impossible for some of us.  I didn't actually read the article until today.  When I did, I thought, "Wait...this is...normal?"

I had no idea that other people struggled with this.  For some, depression manifests itself as sleeping all day, withdrawing from others, anxiety, and any other number of things.  I don't sleep well at all, so my depression has never come out in the form of sleeping all the time. 

When my friend and I were talking (and she was telling me about her list of impossible tasks and how she tries to do one of them each day), I thought the article was about making a list and trying to do those things.  I did not realize that the whole point of the article was that there are a ton of other people who struggle with completing seemingly simple tasks.

I have beat myself up for so many years over my own impossible tasks.  I have concluded that I am lazy or somehow less than all the other "normal" people out there who don't struggle to take kids to the doctor or worse, make a phone call just to schedule an appointment.  I have held on to tremendous guilt over being incapable most days to complete even the simplest things.

And now here is someone telling me that it's okay that I have impossible tasks and what's more, there are so many other people out there battling with this same thing.  Not only that, the author of the tweets was basically saying that's it's okay to have these impossible tasks, and it's okay if I don't do anything on my list. 

I put SO much on my husband already.  He takes care of nearly everything that requires us to function as adults.  And the thought of asking him to help with one more thing is in its own way, an impossible task. 

This latest bout of depression I've been battling for the last several months has manifested itself in extreme anxiety and the inability to complete impossible tasks.  Here are a few of my impossible tasks:

Call to schedule appointments of any kind (for myself or my family)
Drive kids where they need or want to be
Call my mom (or really anyone for that matter)
Put my clothes away
Socialize, even in a work setting
Take a shower/wash my hair
Be kind
Talk (most days when I do force myself to get up and get into the office, it takes all of my energy just to speak to people)
Go to the grocery store
Ask for help

Sometimes I think I get so wrapped up in all the things I can't or don't do that I forget who God says that I am.  Sometimes, especially when I'm drowning in that darkness that goes hand in hand with depression, it's hard to even keep my head above water, let alone find confidence or reaffirm who I really am.  These lies take over and I can't hear the truth and it's exhausting to even take another step, let alone trust God and remind myself of who I am in him.

I think that's why the song below comes to mind.  In some of my lowest moments, this song brings me comfort.  Because sometimes just knowing you're not alone is an impossible task.

Let me know that You hear me
Let me know Your touch
Let me know that You love me
Let that be enough



Monday, September 10, 2018

Speak Up

I've gone back and forth about whether or not I would share this here.  Or if I should share it anywhere, really.  There is a delicate balance between being vulnerable and transparent and knowing when to stay silent.  But as Kris reminds me, writing is cathartic for me, this blog is a ministry and so here goes--maybe this is just for me, but maybe someone needs to know someone else understands.

Yesterday marked the start of National Suicide Prevention Week.  While I myself have never attempted suicide, I would be lying if I said that I haven't had those dark thoughts that take people down that path.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

When Life Happens

In early July, I began a post to talk about the death of Kris' dad.  He died suddenly in June.  Not so suddenly that we didn't get to spend his last three days by his side - but his illness was unexpected, and he went downhill quickly.  It was a turbulent time, to say the least.  Kris and I were already dealing with some heavy family stuff, two different situations back to back that rocked us and left us feeling confused and sad and honestly, like failures and beaten down.

Both situations were ones we had absolutely no control over, and yet we managed to feel the weight of guilt anyway and wondered if we could have done something different.  In August, I finally came to terms with it and believe that there is nothing we could have done to prevent any of it.  But it doesn't change the disappointment and heartache we felt at the time.  And in the grand scheme of things, those issues were just a blip on the radar.  They didn't impact us day to day - they were just things that went against the expectations we always just had.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

I Thought I Was Finished

This time is of year is always an emotional one for me.  We're approaching Good Friday, which marks a new start to life I was given.  It leaves me feeling vulnerable and open - which sounds bad, but in reality, it's a good place for me to be.  It's real.  It's the place where my heart is most tender and responsive, the way God always intended it to be.  I wish that I could say I have come to a place where I am always in that mindset.  Where I am always living like today is my Good Friday from six years ago.  But in this broken world, with pain and distractions, it just isn't the reality I'm living in.  It's what I strive for, but it isn't what I have achieved.  I may not while in this temporary life.

2018 has been a weird year so far.  When I look back over these first three months, and where I've been, it's just been weird to me.  I started out the year with this burden to surrender.  To really truly surrender the pain, the fear, the hurt, the control.  And as my last post can attest, I have struggled with this.  I have given into despair at times.  I have felt alone.  I have felt fear.  I have felt anxiety.  I have become distracted with everything else.  And yet, God has sent me these little reminders of what he asked me for - surrender.

I thought I knew what that would entail.  I thought it just meant that I needed to try to keep my focus on God and allow him to guide me through the good and the bad times.  But lately, I've been feeling something more is being asked.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it in January or February.  When I look back on what I thought it meant, really, I think I thought it would be easier.  I thought it would require more than I was giving, but less than I am coming to realize may be required.