Monday, July 12, 2010

marked by affection

first tap/ballet class
olive had her first dance class this past week. it was a tap/ballet combo and of course she LOVED it. i must admit that it was a very taxing week on my brain and body. see, the more i want to do something (specifically if i want to do something or be part of something FOR SOMEONE ELSE) the harder my anxiety comes on. it's a twisted compliment if i can't come to someone's party or wedding, etc. i wanted so badly for olive to have a good time as she's been wanting to take a dance class since she was 2.

the first morning of class i woke up with my fists and jaw clenched. you can't imagine the level of loathe for this disorder that i have at moments like this. if my anxiety attacks were to ruin anyone's day/experience please Lord let it rest only on me, but such is the nature of having children that your fates are intertwined. as i was getting ready for the day i very clearly felt the Lord lay on my heart the encouragement that He was going before me to make a way and that everything would be fine. still, i cried when we left the house i was so tense. the closer we got to the community center the more the ball in my stomach lurched and the higher my blood pressure got.

(it is the most embarrassing thing to tell you all about this but i think it's good for me all the same.)

we pull in and getting out of her van in the spot right next to me was the friendly face of emily hartman (a woman who goes to my church). i literally almost broke down into emotionally exhausted tears when i saw her cheerful face. to my knowledge she doesn't know of these struggles so she probably wondered why i was so joyful about seeing her! we get inside and there is ANOTHER friend, jen anderson, waiting with her daughters. i spent the next 45 minutes feeling overwhelmed by God's provision in my life.

the rest of the week was not easy, but not nearly as hard as the first day. my parents came one or two days and i had lunch with my mom one day afterward. it's always nice to be with her. she's so restorative, as i hope all moms would be to their hurting children. friday was the final day and i was on my own. i sent out an email chain early in the week asking for prayers and support and just sharing my honest struggle with how i'm doing lately (which is on the higher end of chronic stress). i received SO MANY responses and encouraging emails. i have some amazing friends and i wish i could love on all of them. i wish i could take the time to write an entry about how each one has individually blessed my life with joy. friday i anticipated being particularly hard since, in my mind the stakes were higher since it was sort of a "final performance day" and naturally my anxiety responded proportionally. my dear friend rachel tolentino offered to come and sit with me (yup, i cried). it was so great having a friend to feel safe with, even though i feel such shame and embarrassment over this area of my life. i am so so grateful that i have friends who will go to such lengths and bear with me this burden. not 10 minutes into the performance david walks in and hey, i start getting choked up again surprise, surprise! he knew how stressed i was and took an hour off of work to be there with us.

so let's see, how many times did i cry this week? A LOT. i am going through a season of both intense discouragement and encouragment. discouragement because if i reflect on the 10 yrs of my life in which i've had anxiety attacks, i do not feel i am much better if at all, than that initial onset. well, to be fair my attacks are less intense and i have much less ritual in calming myself down. for those who have been in my life for a number of years, you might remember that when we lived in dayton there was a period where i was totally house-bound, unable to cope with working in any capacity, etc. my stomach turns when i think of some of the Big Attacks from back then. so yes, i am not totally house-bound like i used to be. and yes, i no longer have attacks that are as crippling as 10 yrs ago, but am i proportionally better compared to the amount of time i've had this weight around my neck (or rather heart/stomach)? not really. i do not ever anticipate being able to work outside of my home and that makes me feel pretty stupid honestly (right now i am so blessed to be able to work part time from home!). anyways, i am in a season of intense encouragement because of how those around me have responded to my issue. support and love that will choke you up and friends & family showing you compassion you didn't even know you needed until it was delivered!

here's the bottomline: i am a broken person. i don't mean that in some self-deprecating way. it's just the truth as i think it applies to every person. this takes no long look in the mirror for me to recognize. it is written on the fabric of my life. but i am trying. trying to put one foot in front of the other and wrench control out of the hands of my undo-er and into those of my Maker. one of my big fears is how my anxiety will negatively effect my children. i can barely contain my heart when i think of something like this creating some co-dependent child who has to take care of or shield me. i am definitely not trusting Jesus with my children when i think like this. forgive me. what i want them to see is not how many times i couldn't leave the house because i was crippled by agoraphobia, but how many times i DID leave the house for them and with them. i hope they (and anyone else who's company i attend to) see my struggle as a mark of my affection for them.


Eva said...

great post, thanks for sharing this. i also struggle with anxiety and know how it can stretch into others lives. i also believe one step at a time, like you said.

Corin said...

Oh wow, this was such a great post. The fact that you are able to be so open and honest about this is a huge testament to your will and faith. What you said about every person being broken is SO true. I used to have severe panic attacks. I couldn't drive on the freeway or go into Costco (too high of ceilings). Which now I realize was a form of agoraphobia. I had a really hard time eating out also, in restaurants and even fast food places.

Thank God the Lord heals. I am praying for you today.

Your Olive looks BEAUTIFUL! What a perfect little ballerina. Dakota is just finishing up her first year of tap/ballet this week. It's such a wonderful experience for a little girl to have :)

Blessings to you.

meridith said...

i appreciate your honesty very much! i'm saying a prayer now that the Lord will show you how far you have come and give you hope for the future. the fact that you are fighting this is huge! just that fact alone, every thing that may seem small at the time is amazing.

this is such a precious picture of olive!

Anonymous said...

I suffer from chronic anxitey as well. Thankfuly I've never been house-bound, but every day the hours leading up to going to work are awful! I want to quit every single day!

Have you ever heard of JJ Heller? She's a Christian artist that struggles with anxitey attacks, and wrote asong called "Your Hands" about her strugle. Her music is amazing, and so comforting.

sara said...

you have such a beautiful soul and sweet spirit. I have been reading your blog a bit today and just finished reading your "secret" post and I was moved by how mature and loving your son was when you discussed it with him. He would never be afraid of your heart <3 that just about did me in!

but, it also gave me hope and bits of strength that I can do this. so thank you. I do not suffer in the same ways in which you do, but I do suffer some anxiety/panic as well. it's recent... I just turned 36 and it began about 3 -4 years ago. I hate leaving the house. I have such a hard time planning to go somewhere or GETTING somewhere, though I'm often fine once I get there. I fear so much how this will impact my kids (4 1/2 and 3 1/2). We don't do a lot. We don't have many (well, none, I guess) friends. I fear that I am the reason my son has been labeled with SPD and worry that my inability to function as a normal adult is the reason he's not growing. I can't shelter them just because I can't face the days. I have to remember this. I need to remind myself that I'm their mama and it's my JOB to take them places and enjoy life with them. And I guess that maybe I'll have to fake it till I make it some days.

I want a little boy to tell me he's not afraid of my heart and to be so loving and kind, though. So you're encouraging me.. even in the midst of your struggle.

I hope that you are well and that God is holding you in the palm of his hand and reminding you often that he is. ... even there where it's scary and there where it hurts. Mostly there. You are a blessing to others even when you don't realize and even from thousands of miles away. Thank you. :) You're in my thoughts ... no matter how muddled they may be.

Take good care of all of you!
<3 sara

jenny mae. said...

sara - first, hi. welcome!

i will say that a huge source of comfort for me through this is our amazing friends. i've blogged not even half of the kind, supportive, incredible things my friends have done for me through this awful time! our church puts a huge emphasis on community and living a "jesus lifestyle" which for us means supporting, nurturing, taking on one anothers burdens, etc. i hope and pray you can find a group of people to get connected with and feel free to be open about your messy life (and we've all got a messy life!).

you said that it is your "JOB to take them places and enjoy life with them." and i must interject a little bit here that i feel the two are not the same thing. when i have gone through seasons of intense triggering and had residual panic waves run through my life - i have not been able to take my kids places all that often. but your home can be an incredible, creative, nurturing, FUN places too. what do i feel is my job? to make them understand that they are unconditionally loved both my my husband and i and most of all Jesus Christ. if i continue to parent from that goal, how can i fail?

can i recommend that you read the book that i've talked about in a few of these entries? it is by terry wardle -- strong winds and crashing waves.

blessings sister.