May in Review

The salty air caught me off guard. Had I been away so long from my ocean that I had forgotten? It’d been over a month since I trod on these sands.

I breathed in the the sweet ocean scent as much as I could. While the cool breeze kept me from sweating, the sun’s warmth comforted my aching soul. This month’s focus was letting go of anxiety, which has proved to be quite the task. I needed a time out from my worries, and the Atlantic coast was my drug of choice.

I skimmed through an old magazine, pausing every few pages to take in the scenery around me and to let my mind wander over the small breaking waves.

I tried to absorb as much sun as I could. It was as if I was solar powered, with my lights dimming from the lack of beach in my life. For a few moments, I was content. My worries were on the mainland while I was on the island.

I wish I could have bottled up that moment to relive it every so often.
Burdened with an anxiety disorder and selling a house with my husband, who is ill equipped to do so in my eyes, letting go of anxiety was difficult.

Long story short, we sold the house. My worrying did nothing to help this along, surprisingly enough. Our new house has 2 issues: a bum window and some flooring that is warping at the seams. I’m doing my best not to freak out. And then my parents, high strung perfectionists from the Midwest, have made our house a stop on their east coast road trip a few weeks after we move. What could possibly go wrong?

My rescue passage, Psalm 130, is written in German next to my computer at work. I’m slowly memorizing it. I whisper it to myself during the day. Some days, that was the only thing keeping me together. My feverent prayers for a buyer were replaced with a groaning spirit of prayer. I didn’t know what or how to pray for my situation. The Holy Spirit knew. My walks turned into a jumble of prayers and thoughts that went off on tangents. My prayer life reflects the current state of my old house: stuff everywhere, staged for packing, with no real order. And my bathrooms are disgusting. I’m not cleaning until the terminal clean for the new owners. I don’t have the time. Nor the patience. With my routine and way of life interrupted, rest has been scant.

I also started a part time job on top of it all. Because, yeah. Money.

My awesome non-medicated brain can not let go of the anxiety. Even the counselor said I can only contain it: I have tools to stuff it back into its box so its tentacles don’t invade other areas of life and rob me of the joy of living. Psalm 130 is one of them. I did my very best to beat the monster of anxiety into submission this past month – sometimes I was successful, other times I was not.

I leaned hard on the Lord this month, sobbing incoherently into His robes. I am ready to move on from this season of life.

May: Let go of anxiety

My focus for the month of May is to let go of anxiety.

It’s a tall order for a GAD sufferer. I’m starting a new part time job on top of my normal job. I used to have anxiety attacks doing this same job several years ago.

I went to college for this job. I have well over 10 years experience. I need to stop freaking out about everything all the time. I need that confidence boost from April.

While my house is under contract, the deed is still in my name. Our buyers could back out, which is my biggest anxiety trigger right now. Nothing is final until the ink dries on the closing papers.

With the new job, my home life is changing. I’m going to be in a new neighborhood, with new neighbors. My day is going to have new rhythms: there will be things I do there I didn’t need to do at this house, and vice versa. The anxiety of not having a routine – or a place that feels like home – is rough and uncomfortable, like a wool sweater.

Let go and let God.

I’ll keep repeating this until it sinks through my thick skull. How do you let go of something that causes your hand to paralyze around something you cannot drop because it may hurt someone?

I don’t know either, but this month, I will wrestle with it.

Unless

“Show me how it ends
It’s alright.”
(So Cold by Breaking Benjamin)

In 2005 when I finally decided to get my personal life together and focus on the Lord, I was listening to a lot of alternative rock, like Breaking Benjamin. That spring, the line from that song resonated with me; I heard the line as, “Show me how it ends, it’s alright?” Who was I going to be in December? My fear was nothing will have changed and I’d be fighting the same battles. It wouldn’t be alright. Everything would be for naught.

That December I was a changed woman, and set sail for the east coast.

I find myself in the same situation this spring: we bought another house. We need to unload our current house, as now we are carrying 2 mortgages. The house has been on the market for nearly a week, with mild interest. We’ve already discussed lowering the price. We have to have allowances for carpet, probably windows.

I am freaking out. I’m having trouble eating with the anxiety attacks.

Friends who know the house assure me it will sell fast. A good friend of mine said the most comforting thing: I will be provided for. I am a faithful servant of the Lord and that will not be forgotten.

Oh, Lord, help us!

My Dad, who is an expert at doomsday scenarios, hit me with line of questioning as to why we didn’t have a contingency clause. Ever since that conversation, that large rock has returned to my stomach.

I find myself praying for less. It is such a weird concept in this world of constant needs and consumption. Lord, please take this portion, as I want to live with less stuff and more You!

To combat my brain going into overload, I’ve decided to pray the offices. It’s Catholic (sigh), but I do think it will help me reroute my thoughts/anxiety/energy. I divided the clock into quarters (0000-0300, 0300-0600, 0600-0900, 0900-1200, etc.) During these blocks of time, if I am awake, I will stop and pray. It will be for my house to sell at a reasonable price, and quickly. For my friends who are struggling with loss of a spouse, loss of dreams with spouse. Praise for a blog friend who’s years of prayer came to fruition this past weekend via a diamond solitare. Praise that I will keep going and serving where the Lord leads regardless of my real estate portfolio, debt to income ratio, and earthly needs/wants. In the meantime, I am on a spending freeze.

I need to have faith that He will provide. I just wish He could show me how it ends, I hate not knowing.

Is it going to be alright?

April: Live with Confidence

One of the perks of living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder is that you second guess EVERYTHING. Whether I am buying a house, a pair of socks, treating a patient, or making a life altering decision, my brain whispers, “Are you sure? What if you’re wrong? What if the exact opposite is true/better? How will you know? You need to think/pray/freak out more about this.” I am paralyzed by indecision and worry that my choice is wrong, either fundamentally or factually.

This month is going to require some confidence.

Heck, my entire life could use some confidence.

I’m closing on my 3rd house this month.  Yup – for those of you keeping score at home – I have owned more houses than cars (3:1). I have decisions to make about paint, decor, and where the silverware drawer is going to be in the kitchen. I have cleaning projects, landscape projects, and painting projects all lined up; most of them will be put on hold until I can unload my current property to conserve money. This is my new home, I have to own it and the decisions that come with it.

The loved one with an alcohol addiction combined with a new house that I’m 85% sure I like has been a bit more than I expected to be dealing with at this point. Nonetheless, the Lord shall provide.

I found this book about making decisions with a Christian-centric mindset, and it was like a breath of fresh air for me.  The basic principle was, “What does God think about non-moral decisions? How do I know God’s will for my life?” Mr. DeYoung proposes just to do something, much akin to throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it will stick – the fleeces we depend on are more out of our culture than the Bible. The Bible has much to say about living, but does not specifically address major life decisions such as, should I marry this person?  Should I buy this car? Obviously, seeking the Lord in all things, but sometimes He doesn’t give a clear answer. And so we act. The Lord will provide.

What does living with confidence look like? I’m not sure yet.

I need to pray about that some more.

On the Periphery

I’ve always been on the periphery of life.  I was born this way.  I was held back in preschool because I wasn’t “socially ready.”  I’ve always had a few close friends, but have never been popular….or what most would consider “normal.”  If middle school taught me anything, it confirmed that I was, indeed, not cool.  I carry this with me now as a thirysomething.  It used to bother me, but doesn’t anymore.  It is like my brown eyes: something that is a part of me that isn’t going to change.  Sure, I could cover them up with contacts and look different; but at the end of the day, I still have brown eyes.  It’s just the way it is and I accept that.

What does it mean to be on the periphery?

It means a guy treating you like a girlfriend, but when asked if you’re together, he says no, with that look on his face like he just smelled something bad.  You’re not what they expect you to be.

It means not getting invited to the office Christmas party.  I’m not sure if it was an oversight or an affront….but no one noticed I didn’t get an invite or wasn’t there.  And the office busybody who coordinated the party never said anything to me.  You are forgotten.

It means speaking from your heart to a loved one who happens to be one of the cool kids in life.  Yet the moment you leave the room, they sneer at you and call you fake.  Except you’re still listening and they have no idea you are still there.  You will never be one of them.

That’s what it’s like to be on the periphery: slightly out of phase with the rest of the world.

I am on the outside looking in or behind the scenes unnoticed.  

There are things to glean from it, however, that most people miss out on for whatever reason.

I am content by myself.  I am my favorite traveling companion and I have yet to be sick of my own company.  I don’t need validation or applause from other people to keep moving forward.  Sometimes it’s nice when it does happen, but it is not something that I need to survive.  I like me, warts and all.

I see what others don’t.  With my unique view of the world, I often see beyond what’s right in front of me.  I’m the one lost among the leaves and can’t find the forest.  Bible verses that allude to other things happening in the background blow my mind.  It’s like in the parable of the Prodigal Son: notice how the father never speaks directly to his wayward son?  After it was pointed out to me, I always look for things like that.  Perhaps that just fits my personality.

I rely on God.  When your human companions often don’t show up, blow you off, or as in my case, have always been too drunk when I need them the most, I turn to the Lord.  When I was in therapy for my anxiety, they suggested I memorize chapters of scripture.  I made Psalm 130 my rescue chapter – a mantra to self sooth.  I memorized the first few lines in German: “Out of the depths I call to you, O Lord.  Lord, hear my voice.”  It resonates within my soul.  And He is always there.  I don’t always hear His reply, but refocusing on the Lord has brought clarity to my heart.

And so, the story continues….