The End: When endings are the doorway to beginning

In an interview released yesterday, Eugene Peterson said if asked, he would officiate a gay marriage. As I am sure you can imagine, the internet exploded. While I agree with his position, that isn’t actually the part of the interview that brought me to tears. Instead, a bit further down the article, the interviewer spoke of endings. Mr. Peterson is 84 years old, reaching the end of a beautiful career and lifetime. The interviewer asked, “One day, as with all of us, Eugene Peterson will not be someone who exists. He will be somebody who did exist once. When that moment comes, how do you hope people will remember Eugene Peterson?”

What a question, eh? One day you will no longer exist. Here is a portion of his response…

“I haven’t been part of anything big. I’ve never been a big church preacher. I’ve never been on the radio or anything like that. I’m so pleased that people care about what I’ve done and support it because these are difficult times for the church. I’m quite aware of that. Anyway, I guess I’m just surprised that anyone would remember at all.

This is where I cried. For a thousand reasons, this honest, gentle response touched my soul. Not three sentences earlier he uttered words that will echo across blogs and tweets and facebook rants for weeks to come, without changing much. No, it’s the gift of his long, consistently beautiful life which we will remember, and he didn’t do any of it for fame or recognition. This is beautiful.

Last week I told my husband, I feel I’ve written out all my bitterness. I still have things I am angry about, of course: injustice, 45, the ways we treat each other. These things make me angry, and they should. Anger is a catalyst for change; I hope I never lose it. But bitterness is anger we turn inward, hanging on to it like a trophy, to prove our rightness, our superiority. At some point, that feeling flowed out of my fingertips and disappeared. My heart feels buoyant, expansive, and filled with light.

I have changed. Nothing else about our situation has. I’m still checking the weather in other people’s cities. I’m still a misfit in a conformist culture. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I really haven’t figured out anything at all. But I understand myself better, and if that is the only thing I take away from the last 100 days, then it is worth the hours and days of effort I put into it.

But it isn’t my only takeaway, not at all. Writing for one hundred days has helped me rediscover my voice, the one I use to speak when I’m not defensive or wounded or (very) afraid.  I learned to sit comfortably with fear, but not with silence, not anymore. I understand now that  I am most powerful when I love well, and sometimes the best way to love well is to let go.

Most importantly, I know I am not alone. You all came with me. Maybe not every day, but you showed up. You spoke up. You let good enough be good enough on days when showing up was the best I could do. I didn’t take this journey alone. I hope that you may also have felt a bit less lonely you yourself. Deconstruction is a difficult, often isolating experience. It’s good to hear the voices of others to help you feel normal, sane or at the very least, not condemned. Like Eugene, I’m just surprised anyone cared enough to read at all. That’s the truth.

I love new beginnings. I always have. But endings? I haven’t always done well with those. Still, here we are. Together at the end, one hundred days later. It takes an ending to give birth to something else new.

There it is. Can you see it?

 

 

How to be human again: remembering our divine self

I’m experiencing a sort of reading nirvana right now. I truly believe the right book arrives at the right time. At least, it’s been my own experience. I’m currently reading several books: one about the Bible, one by a Buddhist nun and several books about Islam. Honestly, the ways they weave together and overlap is nothing short of holy. I’m having divine encounters each and every time I drink in words, lately. I keep taking off my shoes and watching for burning bushes. It’s amazing.

(This is the part where you either decide I’ve completely lost my mind, or you’re sticking with me forever. Bless you, whichever way you choose.)

Anyway, one of the ideas I encountered today was the necessity of relearning to be human. It began with the context of the Jewish people leaving Egypt and wandering out into the wilderness after centuries of slavery. I can’t think of anything more dehumanizing than human slavery, can you? Anyway, the reason the Mosaic law, and especially the Big Ten came into being was to help remind the Israelites how to be humans in community. When you leave a place where your life is defined by an utter lack of control, boundaries, and inherent worth, you lose part of what makes you a compassionate, empathetic human being. It isn’t intentional; it’s survival.

And freedom, when it comes, if it comes, can be so overwhelming, you either shut down or glut yourself on it until you explode. We need guidance. We need a framework to show us how to live well and fully without exploiting our new found power and responsibility. It’s no simple thing to be free, not if we want to do it well.

Enter some rules. Given not to bind people up again, but to guide people along a path of life. This is the way, walk in it, the guidelines say. Not with whips and threats of harm, but with smiles and open arms of welcome. This is life. This is love. Follow me.

Because we are free, it is up to us whether or not we listen to the Divine voice in our souls. All of us have it, but sometimes we forget. We need reminders of how to be human.  Or maybe we’ve believed the lie that humanity is wicked, untrustworthy and despised and so we no longer wish to be human at all, loving or otherwise. We set our eyes entirely on eternity and try to push the world away, out of sight, out of mind.

But you know, I don’t believe this is true of humanity. Certainly, Jesus did not despise himself or his companions, or the world as he walked in it. No, He loved. And when we’d forgotten the nature of the Divine who has always, always been singing us down the path of Life even since before time, Jesus came to remind us again. How to be human. How to live life, fully.

I’ve written a great deal these last three months about recovery and deconstruction and all the wounds and ways of healing I’ve encountered along the way. I’m relearning how to be human too. Sometimes it’s felt narrow and private, cold and lonely. But it’s bigger now, more like standing in a field in the pouring rain, arms open and face tilted to the sky. It’s wild and welcoming, and a little bit crazy. But it’s alive and oh so sweet and powerful as well.

I remember. I am reconstructing. May I not forget again.

Ten Guideposts for being more human
  • I will remember to seek the Divine
  • I will seek to be in the moment without numbing or distraction
  • I will love humanity as it is, not as I would have it.
  • I will speak kindly of all people
  • I will rest
  • I will act lovingly to family, friends, neighbors, and strangers
  • I will honor life
  • I will love and enjoy my marriage
  • I will hold what is mine loosely and share generously
  • My yes will be yes and my no will be no
  • I will remember that everyone is living a beautiful and difficult story

Efficiency is boring: Why I always stop for ice cream

When my girls were young, I often felt overwhelmed. Part of the problem was the unrealistic expectations I placed upon myself. Another part was the constant feeling that I needed to get more things done in a shorter amount of time. Many nights I went to bed feeling worn out and frustrated, as though all I had accomplished was spinning my wheels. I constantly chased efficiency.

Hindsight is kind to me now. I’m able to see what really matters was happening quite invisibly while we stumbled about. My children were growing into human beings, and oh what marvelous human beings they have become.

But it didn’t happen efficiently.

Raising children is a long, sprawling, messy, inefficient process. Sure, you can rush it along, but why? We have decades and decades of adulting ahead of us. Childhood, on the other hand, is just a tiny span of time. And yet its sprawling untidiness often made me feel as though I was somehow living completely wrong. I knew there must be a way to tighten up, to remove the messiness.

If there is a way, I sure never figured it out. We had cereal for dinner for days when my husband was out of town. Also, ice cream. We wore dirty clothes and, sometimes, skipped baths. We definitely skipped school on beautiful days and not-so-beautiful days. They never took a test or received a grade. Not one. I never got it all together, and so each day was a bit of an adventure without a map leading us to the end point.

Gosh, I’m so glad for this.

I’m so glad we chased curiosity and went to Sea World on Thursdays (sometimes every Thursday.) I’m glad we watched movies on rainy days and took unexpected trips and left chores unfinished to read just one more chapter.

Our rampant inefficiency has led to the most interesting life. My delightfully messy children have grown into such captivating adults. Sometimes we sit around the dinner table and have discussions that swing from silliness to serious and back again so fast I almost have motion sickness. We look at the world from the front, back, and sideways and never see the same things twice, nor hold the same opinion very often. We’re not neat or conventional and, most certainly, not at all efficient.

We aren’t boring, either.

It’s only taken me forty-four years to figure out efficiency is boring. The point isn’t  to get to the next things as quickly as possible just so to cross it off some cosmic list. The point is to suck every bit of enjoyment out of the journey even if it means it takes five minutes or five hours more. Also, you should definitely stop for ice cream. With sprinkles.

 

Coddiwomple: Moving into an unknown future

So, here’s a funny thing: I don’t know what’s next. Stranger still, I’ve made an odd form of peace with it. Me, the planner, the anticipator, the dreamer, has simply decided come what may, it will be alright. This reaction is unusual for me. Sometimes I sit with it and hold it softly, like a rock on my tongue, unfamiliar and secret. I actually found the word today to describe this state of being: coddiwomple. Isn’t it great? It’s real world, I’ll wait while you google it.

Coddiwomple:

Origin: English Slang Word

Definition: To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.

It’s been ninety-five days since I started writing a blog a day. Simply focusing on one habit suddenly brought other habits into focus, good and bad. When I’m not writing every day, I work on other things – adding and removing, shifting, adjusting, making peace with the fact that some changes stick and some fail, and some should never have been changed in the first place.

Somehow, making space in each day for transparency, opened up space for other things I was either too fearful or too busy to try before. Let’s face it, even a routine we hate can be more comfortable than the new and unfamiliar. Or perhaps the sheer scope of possibility is too wide open for us to consider, after all, we’re certain to make a wrong choice with so many options in front of us, hey? When you wrestle with perfection, this is a truly paralyzing thought.

I’ll be the first person to tell you I’m a work in progress, someone who still has a great deal of progress to make. But the fact that I can look back and see the heavy burdens I’ve carried littering the path behind me lets me know I’m at least headed in the right direction. I may not be certain where I’ll end up, but I’m no longer afraid of being someone different when I arrive. In fact, I desire exactly that, a reborn me, fresh and new in the sunshine.

Surprisingly, there’s a fair number of things about myself I plan to keep, as well. I’m not throwing everything, far from it. My journey this year is revealing things I’d forgotten that I really like about myself. Self-love and self-care have brought these buried treasure to light again. I won’t be casting them by the wayside so quickly, but I’m willing to refine and redirect them as necessary. Only time will make those refinements clear. 

And so I coddiwomple along, unsure of my next move, my purpose or what I want to be when I grow up. But I’m learning to embrace the journey; even here there is purpose and direction. I don’t have to know the destination. I only need to take the next step.

Sanity for Breakfast, with a side of freedom.

This morning I met a friend for breakfast and coffee. She is often busy during the summer months, so it’s been a few weeks since I last saw her. As we shared about family and events and, as always, books we’ve been reading, I told her how I have no real plans or responsibilities until September. I swear her jaw hit the table.

Really? She asked, What in the world do you do?

I responded, Honestly? Whatever I want.

I wish I knew what words to use to convey how incredibly free I felt in that moment. I do what I want.

For many reasons, I developed a co-dependent personality in my formative years. Like any other pattern of behavior, once you learn to react a certain way, until you recognize and relearn new behaviors, that is the way you always react. Once I learned codependency, it didn’t matter if the relationship was healthy or unhealthy, I saw it through a co-dependent lens.

Although my co-dependency didn’t stem from abuse, it knew exactly how to react to it, which means for years I have danced to the tune of things will get better when you act better. I lost myself in this dance, literally. When everything is about the image you project, you forget what is real and what is merely imaginary. I lost myself, my preferences, my opinions, my desires…my identity. I don’t say this bitterly, nor do I blame one person or thing. Things happened to me; I reacted. This is life.

Fortunately for me, I reached an IHHE (I-have-had-enough) moment two years ago. I couldn’t diagnose the issue then, but I knew I needed help. I might not have sought out that help had I known the depth and extent of reconstruction required to learn sanity. But now that I am on the other side I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

I saw a picture earlier this week:

sanity
I’ve never heard anything truer than this. I have felt absolutely crazy time and again over these last years. I’ve cried and yelled and thrown things. It is gut-wrenching, soul-shaking work learning to be sane, don’t ever let anyone tell you something different.

But oh. Oh, this morning I looked at my friend and told her I do what I want, whatever form that takes. That moment was freedom. Freedom from caring what other people think or expect or demand. That moment was sanity. To know who I am, what I like, what I want, after so many years of trying to measure myself by everyone else’s standard is like taking a deep, quenching drink from clean, clear water after years of sucking tepid, rinse water from a sponge.

This creative Sabbath, this window of unbroken time, is like a capstone course after two years of hard work, study, and unending support. This is where I begin to use all the skills I’ve worked so hard to master. This is me owning my life again.

All I needed was a cup of coffee to make everything clear.

The state of home (or I have no idea what to say today)

The air-conditioning is out in my van – again. I’m sad about it, mostly because it’s fairly hellish outside. Although, it does give me a great reason to not go anywhere at all. We all know how much I love staying at home.

This week, in a fit of energy conservation and frustration at my inability to stay within the grocery budget, I unplugged the second fridge. Hunky keeps asking me, “Why are we doing this again?” And I’m not sure how to explain that it feels like an act of resistance and a stab at control.  I may still have rage issues.

One of my progeny (I’m not allowed to say which, publicly lest her application isn’t selected) is applying to an international mission trip in the spring. I’m excited and jealous. She’s stepping out of her comfort zone to do this and I applaud her for it.

However, I either need to win the lottery or start making money blogging or get a real job. If I apply to Chic-fil-A my daughter can be my boss. Also, I will starve to death. (Chicken isn’t vegetarian).

This morning I fed eleven cats. ELEVEN CATS. As much as I like the quiet of summer when all the college students are away, I need school to start again so I’m not the only person in the neighborhood caring for these semi-feral critters. All commentary on my decision to feed these cats will be ignored. I don’t kill spiders – do you really think I’m letting kittens starve? No.

Family vacation coming soon. I am ready ready ready. The ocean is calling. I’m collecting books and making grocery lists and trying not to be anxious about leaving the dogs for ten days. As I write this Mo has draped himself across all my pillows staring at me with lovelorn eyes. Perhaps it’s ridiculous but our love is real. I miss them when we leave home.

Today relationships are on my mind. How I do better with a few, close friendships than a vast sprawling network. About the power of small kindnesses and the interconnectedness of sharing the day-to-day mundane over the span of years. I started to write about that today, but it’s not ready yet. I need to let it marinate a little longer.

I’m terribly behind on book reviews which is a shame as I’ve read some really great stuff lately. Since I don’t plan to leave home this week without A/C, maybe I’ll get a chance to finish them at last. I can’t make it rich as a professional reader while being a book review slacker now can I?

Thus is the state of my head, heart, and home this Friday. Summer rolls along and takes me with it, just as it always has.

 

Embracing space: what’s left when there are no distractions

Do you know why most New Year’s resolutions fail? (I know, we’re in the middle of a July heat wave. Bear with me, here) I think it’s because we try to add new things to our lives without actually making space for them. We want to hang on to all the old ways which are familiar and comfortable and on top of them add all these other, better things which will make us new and improved. I know it’s what I do, anyways.

This concept occurred to me this morning while I was sitting with my funk. Somehow, when I was journaling this morning, I wrote myself into a funk. Usually writing works the other way around for me. So there I was, stuck; stuck in the mucky, monkey-mind mess that likes to snare me from time to time. You know the one. There’s never a specific thing you can point to and say, this is the problem. Instead all the little imperfections and quirks and wish-it-could-be’s and if-only’s pig pile on your brain and dance around in spiky tap shoes.

No? Am I alone in this?

As I sat there with all the tap dancing things I should be doing-thinking-improving-changing-being, I realized something. By allowing this fallow time in my life, by not filling it with appointments and obligations, I have no distraction from my funk. I just have to sit with it. I suppose I could have created some busy work. Something always needs washing or sorting. But I didn’t. Instead I just sat with the funk.

I am funky, I thought. Not very pleasant at all.

A funny thing happened, then. I sat there and accepted the funk without fighting, without creating a distraction, without rushing to escape. Pretty soon, all those terrible tap-dancing things began to seem quite silly. The longer I sat, the sillier they became. The more I made room for them, the smaller they shrank. After awhile- poof! – they disappeared.

How strange, I thought. This has never happened before. What’s different?

Then it came to me: space. Empty space made it possible for me to sit quietly  while the jiggering, yammering demons did their worst. When I didn’t flail and flounder or argue and chide them, they wore themselves out. They disappeared, leaving me none the worse for the experience, and perhaps, even, a little bit better.

I began to wonder how many other simple lessons I miss because I am always busy, always thinking, always striving to be something better than who I already am. Don’t misunderstand, there’s nothing wrong with activity or with aspiration. Only I get tripped up by trusting in should or must instead of simply accepting who I am, and letting what comes, come.

I should be better than this by now.
This must finish this so I can be….
If I don’t accomplish what will they think? (They who? I don’t actually know.)

It’s no wonder I fall flat at resolutions, be they New Year or otherwise. I never make room for anything to be fully realized, especially not my own heart. Instead, I just try and squish newness in and around the things I love to do, the things I need to do, the things I should be doing and the tap dancing demons. I’ve never found the courage to clear out enough space for anything to change or grow. Whether I’m afraid to let go or certain I can hold it all, the result is the same. I smother everything in layers of expectation – the good, the bad, and the messily fantastic- and expect it to be different this time.

So yes, this morning I was uncomfortable. Funky, if you will. But I survived. It didn’t last too long or hurt too bad, really. Those fiery darts turned into flowers when I stopped using all my defenses against them. There’s a lesson to learn in this. I plan to make space for the rest of the day to let it sink in, making room for the newness, room for wonder.

It’s kind of amazing the insight you can find in a wide open space when you stop looking for something to fill it.

 

The Power of Showing Up (even on days you’d rather not)

Eighteen years ago, I stopped working to stay home with my children. At the time, I had an almost one year old and a new born and working simply to break even with day care seemed ridiculous. Of course, when child number three came on the scene seventeen months later, I was locked-in with stay-at-home parenting. As the girls got older, we made the decision to home school. And that’s my life in a nut shell for the last twenty years. Sure, tons of other things happened, but when I look back over it what stands out is showing up to raise and educate my ladies. All day, every day for a very long time. It’s been a worthy couple decades for sure.

I say all that to share this, I’m no stranger to the occasional tedium of simply showing up. For me it was the daily routine of young children and then the daily routine of school. Day after day, week after week… Maybe for you it’s something different, but we all have seasons where it seems like showing up is all we do and nothing ever changes.

I feel like that today sitting down to write more words. Yes, more words. I am not sure how many words I’ve tapped out over the last ninety-two days. 50,000? 75,000? Many, many words. I show up and I sit down and I tap, tap, tap. But days like today it seems like a whole lot of effort for very little result. Truthfully, speaking, I’d rather be watching Gilmore Girls.

But here I am, showing up again.  Same effort, new endeavor.

It’s not easy the little mundane things we all have to do every day. It’s easy to believe we’re the only ones caught up in the mundane repetition of what it takes to build a life, a family, a career, a legacy. Everyone on social media is posting the highlight reel; television and Hollywood constantly promote the dream of miraculous discovery followed by instant fame and fortune. Meanwhile, I’m doing good if I have on clean shorts and a clean shirt on the same day.

Can I get an amen?

We’ve packed a thousand lunches, washed ten thousand plates and matched (or shoved in a drawer) at least a million socks. I can fold a fitted sheet neatly in under forty seconds, but there’s not an audience for  that on America’s Got Talent. I’d throw in the towel, but I’d just be the one that has to pick it up again.

Sometimes it just seems like we ought to have moved on to something more important, more glamorous, more rewarding by now, am I right?

I may not have fame and fortune to show for these weeks turned decades of showing up, faithfully, day after day. But I have gained a little bit of insight now that I’ve finally stuck around long enough to look back. What I realize now is there is great power and deep beauty hidden within the bland facade of the day-to-day grind.  I see it in the forms and faces of my children, near grown.

Oh, I say, breathlessly, when catch them in the corner of my eye. Oh, there is a masterpiece. I didn’t see it until just now.

Even though those moments are fleeting, the weight of them adds magnitude to my soul. This is the moment, even if no one else sees it, this is the one.

But we have to be watching, waiting, expectant, because for most of us, glimpses and glimmers of glory are all the fame we are destined to receive. We have to open to receiving the unexpected holy moment right in the middle of scraping the egg pan and punching the time card and tap, tap, tapping the words on the screen.

We have to be ready, and we make ourselves ready by showing up. By doing the next thing. By not checking out even though binge watching Gilmore Girls sounds so much more appealing. (Even if you sometimes binge watch Gilmore Girls instead of showing up, it’s ok. Show up tomorrow. )

There’s power in showing up. There’s depth and beauty and hope and encouragement in the midst of those who don’t lose sight of what matters in search of something more exciting and renowned. These little things, the mundane, loving, self-sacrificial things can shape a home, a neighborhood, a city, a culture…the world.

If we just keep showing up, we can do anything.

 

 

A quiet refrain: why wasting time matters

This morning I had some thoughts about boredom. I’m reading a book by a Buddhist nun, as one does, and in it she speaks of the need to refrain. Refraining is the first step on the path of mindfulness. She says this:

“Refraining–not habitually acting out impulsively–has something to do with giving up entertainment mentality. Through refraining, we see there is something between the arising of the craving–or the lonliness or the aggresion or whatever it might be–and whatever action we take as a result. There is something there in us that we don’t want to experience, and we never do experience, because we’re so quick to act.”

Hi, I’m Dana, and I’m a habitual numb-er and self-distract-er.

This is something I have become more mindful of lately, my penchant for distraction. Honestly, I think it’s something we all do without really thinking about it – which is why it’s habitual. For myself, this happens for at least two reasons. The first is that we live in a productivity driven culture. Empty time is an anathema. In fact, we are consistently guilty of double-booking, over-scheduling and undervaluing rest and relaxation. Ask the next ten people you know how they are and at least six of them will respond with “busy.”

We check our phones when we wait in line.
If we’re out to eat, the news and at least one sporting event plays in the background.
Most world events that happened more than twelve hours ago are barely relevant.

We are as tuned in, turned on, active and informed as any people have ever been anywhere. It makes us feel so terribly important to be so.

We fill time because culture expects it. If we aren’t producing something, we are wasting time. We’ve elevated busy to a status symbol. I’m not pointing fingers. I am very much talking about me.

Lately though, I’m trying to shift my focus by refraining for a moment in the margin, that space between what I am doing now and what I intend to do next. I pause. I consider. And sometimes, if the thing I’m reaching for will only distract from the present, I let it go.  I experience boredom in grocery lines. Sometimes I even eat a meal with no noise and no book. Just me and food. I don’t even invite the monkey brain (sometimes she shows up anyway).

The second reason I think we fill our time so completely is because we are afraid to who we might find in the silence. As a whole, I don’t believe we like ourselves very much. Whether it’s society telling us we don’t measure up to the latest trending standard, or religious institutions convincing us of inherent evil, we just don’t experience in a very self-compassionate existence. The more consciously I create margin in my life, the more I hear the self-destructive messages the world sends us echoing around in my head. I think it’s killing us; I know it was killing me.

When I make space in time, in my head, in my soul, I can replace those toxic messages with something real and valuable and loving. I can finally hear other, more beautiful but less clamorous messages writ on my soul in a deeper, quieter language, the one the world tries so hard to drown out.

I’m thinking about all of these things in relation to my summer break. Honestly, I’ve tried to convince myself it’s a selfish, lazy, foolish endeavor. A waste of time. But that isn’t the truest message, it’s simply the loudest. It’s the message the gods of productivity and self-loathing would have me believe. The true message is that my soul is created by love, to love and for love. My worth is based not in what I produce, but because of whose I am. I don’t have to fill time to matter.  I don’t have to be afraid of what I will find inside of myself, and I don’t have to prove it to anyone by working hard. Even if I’m bored, uncertain and unproductive, there is beauty and worth to experience.

I will refrain, and in that space, find peace.

Walking through Anxiety; Getting through when I cant get over

Several weeks ago, I shared part of my story in the main session of Celebrate Recovery. After I finished, someone came up to me and said, I’m so glad to hear you’re over everything now. My heart kind of stopped a little, and I gently said, I’m not over it. It gets better, but I’m not over it. Some things we don’t get over. We simply get through them and come out the other side different. Then we have to learn who we are all over again. That’s what I’m doing now. I thought about this interaction yesterday after yet another little attack from my friend, anxiety.

That makes two specific incidents in a weekish, after a month or more of no sign of anxiety at all. At first, it made me angry. I mean, I thought I was over it! But then I remembered this exchange and I considered what I knew about each episode. Both centered around areas where I still do not feel safe, where I probably am not going to be safe, but which I cannot entirely avoid either. Life is like that sometimes. Sometimes we have to look the shark in the mouth. Sometimes the best, safest, most important thing to do is to get as far away from the situation as possible. I’ve done that too, but in this specific instance, it isn’t called for.

If what I said about getting through a thing is true (and I believe it is) then I am on the right track. Some days I get through it better than others. Some days, I have to go places I would rather not, whether physically or mentally. For awhile, even that thought gave me anxiety. But now, I can assess a situation and realize it’s more likely that I will walk through it healthfully than anxiously. This is a win, a really, really big win.

But sometimes, well sometimes anxiety is going to be there. It’s going to grab me and choke me and tell me everyone is out to get me. But it happens infrequently enough that I am now saying What the actual junk! rather than Here we go again!  Friends, that is a win in my book. When anxiety is the outlier in my response pattern towards stressful situations, I am healing. I’ll take that.

And even though, yes, I had some episodes recently, they were just that, episodes. Instead of anxiety sending me home to climb into my bed and numb myself on netflix. I breathed (thank you meditation), stopping to examine the triggers.  I even identified what set me off rather than just triggering for no apparent reason. Then I was able to ride it out and have an otherwise normal day.

All of these things are very good things. Very, very, good things.

Maybe I had to shut out the world for several days, step outside for a few moments, stop and breathe on the corner a little while, but it’s getting better. I can’t remember the time I spent a whole day with the stone of anxiety sitting in my gut, pushing bile up my throat. I’m not retreating to bed to block out the world. I’m getting through it, making steps to come out the other side of this changed, with scars and new ways of understanding a place I once considered safe, a place I will never be able to just avoid.

Maybe I’m not going to get over this, and that’s ok.  But I am going to get through it. And I already like the person I’m learning to be on the other side. Take that.