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Archive for the ‘A place where I can bid my heart be still’ Category

help-child-social-anxiety-coping-strategies-fears-afraid-quoteIt’s amazing how the human brain, well at least my human brain works.  Last night was my works auction.  For the last few years I have left the auction in a puddle of emotions.  Some bad, most good, all overwhelming.  So, here’s the thing for any newbies to reading my blog, not that anyone actually reads it – sorry that’s that that stupid brain of mine – I have anxiety.  Over the past four years or so I have become much more willing to talk about that…well in writing at least.  I am also an extreme introvert with some pretty gnarly social anxiety.  Once I get comfortable with people those issues greatly diminish and people forget that with new people, or busy environments I struggle a lot.  I don’t know how to interact in party situations, I literally don’t know how to make small talk, and I can’t get my brain to relax and stop second guessing myself and worrying about what all those people are thinking about me to just settle in,relax, and enjoy.

So, all of this leads to the realities of me in a room full of 90 people (or so I was told), mostly people I don’t know with the exception of my fellow teachers (whom I’m generally comfortable with) and a handful of parents (brain in overdrive to not say something utterly stupid or awkward).  As I wander the silent auction trying to find someone to interact with, without interrupting or intruding on another’s conversations; without trying to cling to my fellow teachers like the social looser I am, I am beyond uncomfortable and can feel the anxiety growing to insane levels. Thankfully it’s time to sit down, I go to my safe zone, a table full of my friends, the teachers I work with.  But I sit between two conversations, unable or unsure how to enter either, and smile at the person across from me, to far for a conversation and to new to my world for me to know what to say anyway.

It’s a great night in which we raise a remarkable amount of money for the school.  After standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, as the bidding for the item that I am contributing to, I am able to settle in and just enjoy the action and the laughter (our auctioneer is a riot).  Then the auction is over, and the families and church members begin to leave…but that means the hardest part of the evening is starting.  See, every year the auction ends with dancing, crazy wild, fun dancing by the teachers and sometimes a few of the crazier, more amazing parents.

For the last two years an amazing friend (if you read this I love you!), and this year a different one (love you too), has dragged me onto the floor and encouraged me to dance with everyone else, led me and tried so hard to help me be comfortable and have fun with my friends.  Shockingly enough (she says with utter sarcasm) I don’t dance, I haven’t got the foggiest idea how to dance with anyone other than my preschool students.  It’s not because I don’t have rhythm…I’m a musician I have rhythm, I just don’t know what to do with my body.  I 100% don’t want to be seen in that moment where I know I look like a big fat girl who has no clue and looks like an utter freak.

Now I know that these amazing ladies don’t care!  I just don’t know how to shut up that part of my brain, to not worry about what others are thinking, to not worry about how I look, to not worry worry worry…I don’t know how to shut off that anxiety part of my brain that says I look stupid, that everyone is laughing at you.  Even as I am being danced with (one of the event crew was dancing with us and seeing discomfort cane over with Ana I fly kind words and twirled me around the dance floor for a moment) and as am I laughing, and truly having fun, there’s still that niggling voice and those tears of unsurness and embarrassment in my eyes.

I have come a long way in the past four years at fighting all those years of shitty words, those mean and nasty comments, the bullying of my youth, but it’s still a process.  And those voices feed the anxiety, they feed the fear.

There is nothing like feeling overwhelmed, scared, loved, and extremely joyful all in the same moment.  There is nothing like trying to process all of that or trying to explain it all to someone else.

Every years a little easier who knows maybe next year I’ll find a way to just have fun.

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At about 6:00 pm tonight, January 14th, 2019, it will have been two years since I found out my father was dead.  I cannot say that I have dealt with his loss with a whole lot of grace.  I have had moments of maturity but mostly I have had moments of a girl missing her daddy.

For 36 years he was there.  He was there to love me in spite of my failures, to help me figure out what to do, or to panic at his sobbing emotional mess of a child depending on the issue and me.  But, he was there…with unending and unconditional love.   My dad and I did not always see eye to eye and I could royally piss him off as only a daughter can piss of her Dad, but he loved me.  At times I exasperated him, but he loved me.  We fought, but he always loved me and except as petulant child, and really at the heart of it even then, I always knew that he loved me and that would never change.

I miss him, and the pain of his absence hits out of nowhere with no contexts sometimes…and sometimes I see it coming, sometimes I can deflect and sometimes I get swallowed whole.

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I will forever cherish the memories of him.  I will cherish styling his hair as a little girl, as he sat with a slightly exasperated and bemused grin.  I will cherish wrestling with him.  I will cherish sitting in the kitchen with him when he cooked, or watching cooking shows with him.  I will cherish watching horror films with him.  I will forever cherish our conversations, how he challenged me to think for myself, to fight for myself, and be the woman I am today.  I will cherish the memories of him going to bat for me when a teacher did wrong.  I will cherish him telling me, and throwing pillows at my head, when I was being a shit.  I will cherish loving hugs and cuddles.  I will cherish games of chess.  I will cherish all the good times the last year of his life brought before the cancer truly took his mind as well as his body.  I will cherish it all.

I will say this as well Cherish your loved ones.  Make memories, make time.  There are aspects of knowing my father was going to die that I will never be okay with, but having that time and making those memories that I will always keep close and be thankful for.

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BAW_lockup_colorIt’s almost vestibular awareness week.  I share these dates, I share the VeDA site this time every year, but I never really explain why or what it is.  To a certain extent I am afraid to do, to have people understand some of what I deal with…what my chronic illness is like because it can seem scary if you don’t understand, if you don’t know how careful and how aware I am of my body and what is happening at all times.

So, what is Vestibular?  Do you know?  Until 8 years ago I didn’t know that word.  By the way it is the balance functions of the inner ear.  Did you know that your inner ear is responsible for balance, had you ever thought about the fact that there is a part of the body that works for this?  I didn’t not really.  I knew that my grandma Helen had a balance disorder and that as a kid I thought she was kinda boring and I hated that she couldn’t do so many things, but I didn’t get it and I certainly never thought about it. I often wish I could go back in time and tell that little girl to be kind, to ask questions, to appreciate all that Grandma did considering that battle she was fighting.  No one really thinks about the idea of balance and the body until it affects them.  This is where my story begins and the reason why I share VEDA every year.  Oh, yes VeDA is the Vestibular Disorders Association.  There are lots of vestibular conditions, most are little known and even less understood, and I have one.

Here is my Story:

My story began in mid June of 2010.  I woke up as normal one day and discovered that my left ear was stuffy and my balance was off.  My only real thought being ‘great another ear infection’.  I guess in some ways my story began before that June day, all my life I’d dealt with ear infections and in my late teens I’d had some dizzy issues that had been attributed to sinus congestion and ear infections.  I dealt with the fullness in my ears and the slight balance issues for a few days before going to the Dr and sure enough I had an infection.  A few days later the dizzies were worse they had escalated to full on tilt-a-whirl moments and I couldn’t hear anything in my left ear.  When I went back the Dr, my concern being the dizzy, they referred me to an ENT they weren’t worried about the dizzy but the hearing loss.

A week later I had my first hearing test since I was a child and was told that I had a profound, at the time 80% loss, in my left ear.  At that appointment my new Dr. told me that she thought I had a tumor pressing on my auditory nerve.  Que utter terror!!!, also I wanted to know when the world would stop spinning, they were not concerned.  I was told it would fix itself but would likely be a few weeks.  A week later I had my first Head MRI…lots of fun for claustrophobe and someone who now got dizzy when laying in any position other than on her right side with her head tucked in.  I few days later the doc called and told me the MRI showed nothing but now she wanted to do a Head CT to check some bone.  Scheduled that…guess what…NOTHING!!!  At this point is had been months, I had had all these tests including having my hearing checked again and it only got worse.  I was missing at least one day a week of work due to the dizziness.  I’d even had to be practically carried from my room as it turned into a tea-cup ride one afternoon.

Finally, I had another face to face meeting with the Dr.  The conversations at home had been about Grandma Helen.  See she had Meniere’s Disease, she had a vestibular condition, and what I was experiencing was her life.

In Late August/Early September I finally got the Dr. to take the Dizzy part of all this serious.  Yes, loss of hearing bad, but ya know what loss of balance bad too and it was not getting better, it was getting worse.  In late September I had what I refer to as the ‘spin around and make you puke test’.  No actual physical spinning involved, just lots of tricking your body into feeling like it’s spinning.  At the end of the test I had a diagnosis, I had a Meniere’s.  There is no cure, there are sort of treatments, and at 29 years old I was young for the onset of the condition.  I will add that I was lucky most people wait years for a diagnosis of Meniere’s.  It is generally a diagnosis of elimination in which you spend years doing one test after another to eliminate causes and more common conditions, because of my familial history I had people who were knowledgeable and who pushed to find out if this was it, there is also believed to be a genetic component.

At 29 years old I was positive that my life was over.  My dreams where done.  I was a preschool teacher who couldn’t spin, couldn’t bend over, couldn’t guarantee that the word wasn’t going to become a merry-go-round at any moment.  I tried, I struggled, and I fought for normalcy.  For a little over a year I continued what I was doing before realizing it wasn’t working anymore.  I was terrified, I was miserable, my co-workers were rightly frustrated, I was seriously depressed, and angry at the world.  Putting on a happy face for families and for my amazing kiddos was wearing and that exhaustion just made things worse.

I left a job that I loved and tried to figure out what my new normal was, what my new dream was, what I was going to do with my life now that I fully believed I couldn’t do what I loved.

I spent many years after my diagnosis, and really the onset of symptoms, terrified.  Living in a world where your body can betray you at any moment is scary.  There is a reason so many with Vestibular conditions have PTSD.  Eventually you figure it out though, for me it took about 3 years of despair and giving up before I figured out that I wasn’t willing to give up my dreams and I was going to figure this life with Meniere’s out.

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It has been just over 8 years since the onset of my Meniere’s.   And it has been 5 years since I decided I wasn’t going to give up on what I loved, working with kids.  I returned to teaching 3 years ago and I teach without fear most days.  I know what my triggers are, I know how to deal when things get off balance, and I have less of those whirligig moments.

I still have moments when I reach out for the wall.  I am careful about getting over tired.  I occasionally have those ‘drunk’ moments.  I have lost 90% of the hearing in my left ear.

BUT, I am blest!  I watch the people in my support groups who are still where I was…even years later, I worry about when those bad bad days will return but I try, so very hard to not let them rule my life.  I don’t physically spin about anymore, and I think about how I move but my life is MINE and I get to do what I love!  I fought and continue to fight for my dreams…I pray that I will never lose them.

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Consider helping VeDa by donating here.

LEarn more about VeDA and vestibular conditions at their website vestibular.org

 

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33572afbc6659890d6628f81a19ab2bc--miss-you-daddy-i-miss-uAs anyone whose spent much time in my Blog know this is a place I come to talk about many things, especially feelings, and try and quiet my mind.  Also, as many know I lost my father in January.  It’s been a rough year…hell it’s been a rough couple of years going back to his being sick and on through his death and the processing of that.

I’ve thought a lot about the process of losing a loved one this year.  I’m not sure, hell I know, that I haven’t done this well and certainly haven’t done this gracefully.  I miss my father so much, and as the holidays approach (and pass as this has been the growing feeling since Halloween), as the anniversary of his death comes near I feel like I am failing at my life.  I am so on edge emotionally, I feel like I am going to break to pieces on a daily basis.  I have to hold myself together…people tell me it’s ok, it’s ok to feel it, to be kind to myself, to be gentle with myself, but I don’t know how.  I don’t know how to do all that has to be done and allow myself to fall apart at the sometime.  I have to hold on, I have to push through…put I’m not doing that well.  The smile is breaking, the façade is crumbling, the mask is gone and all that’s left is me and my sorrow and my pain.  Holding back the tears with the broken strands that are left…and more and more are breaking through.

I’m failing at faking it…I’m failing at a lot of things right now.   So if you have to deal with my in the real world give me a little bit of grace cause I really am trying…trying so very hard.

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A little over a month ago I asked the Priest-in-Charge at my church if I could talk to the congregation about the importance of children in our church and the need for people to work with them.  His response was that he wanted me to give a sermon…I figured he’d finally lost his mind.  Some weeks later I got an email from our associate priest about a Sermon class she was offering.  I signed up.  What follows is the sermon I wound up writing.  My goal was a sermon about the importance of children but what was impressed upon my heart as I wrote was the importance of God’s love for ALL humankind and how we adults need to see that love with the purity, innocence, and awe of childhood.


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Mark 10:13-16

13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Have you ever told a small child that God or Jesus loves them?  Have you watched their face as they take in these words?  Their reaction, is truly enchanting.  One might think that this would be true of telling them that anyone loves them but it’s not the same when they are told that their families love them or that their teachers, or friends love them.  There’s almost this sense of ‘well no duh’ from most of them at these revelations.  But when you tell them that GOD LOVES them the joy and amazement is almost palpable.

At the school where I teach we have chapel every Wednesday morning where we talk about our school’s virtues and about God and Jesus.   My co-teacher and I continue these themes throughout our days learning.  We read stories about God’s love, talk about our school virtues which are the fruits of the spirit, and sing songs like Jesus loves me.  At the end of our circle time we go around the room telling each child individually that Jesus LOVES them.  As well as their mommies and daddies, brothers and sisters, teachers and friends, that God loves EVERYONE.  The first few times we do this the look of amazement on their faces is touching.  That amazement turns to an effervescent Joy as the year progresses…but it is always there.   No matter how many times we tell them that Jesus or God LOVES them there is an expression and feeling of awe, wonder, amazement, and utter joy in their faces and countenance.

In the book of Mark, Mark writes of Jesus saying “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”  I was thinking about this sense of Awe that the children seem to have when told that God and Jesus loves them as I read this scripture the other day.

The church seems to use this scripture a lot for advocating the presence of children in church.  Having them in the service, having education ministries for them, having faith based activities for them so that they can ‘come’ and so on.  Children are important!  Let me say that again CHILDREN ARE IMPORTANT!  Having ministries for them and ways for them to be present and part of the church is important.  Ways for them to learn about, and come to know and love God and Christ are vitally important to them and us as adults but I wonder if that was truly what Jesus was saying.

Again, I think of the innocence and the awe at which my students take the information that they are loved by God.  That they are LOVED by Jesus.  They don’t try and quantify it, they don’t try and negotiate it … they don’t say God will love me if I such and such happens … or if I do blah  … they just accept it with the innocence that comes with Childhood.  With the raw faith and acceptance that comes with being a child.  In the scripture Jesus says “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it”.

I remember in my youth having a conversation with someone who was convinced that this meant that you could only enter the kingdom if you came to God as a child, that you could only be a true Christian, you could only go to Heaven if you came to believe when you were a child. Taking the words exactly as written, word for word but not as I think they were intended.   I remember thinking that that made no sense whatsoever and certainly did not jive with the loving God that I had always been taught about.

Part of the joy of being adults is having greater an understanding of things but sometimes, that deeper understanding, that desire to know more, and question things makes it harder to just accept.  We need to take in the knowledge and love of God as a child would.  Not try and argue it, not try and quantify or qualify it, just accept it.  Feel it as a child would.  Know it and see the awe in it.  Accept that we are beloved by God no matter who we are, no matter where we are in our life or our walk with Him, and no matter our faults and flaws.

Jesus loves you.  Take that in… God loves you …don’t think about it feel the childlike joy of knowing that you are truly and utterly loved.

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You ever wonder why it is so hard for people to be honest?  Honest with themselves, honest with others…just all around honest?  We lie through half-truths, through ‘little white lies’, we tell ourselves it is for the better, but is it?  Does it ever truly make things better?

Why do we lie to those we love, those we hate, those we don’t even know?  Why do boys and girls (or girls and girls, boys and boys, whatever) who like each other lie to each other?  Why do we lie about our feelings?  Why do we lead people on?  Why do we pretend that people mean more or less to us than they do?  Why?

What are we trying to achieve through these types of lies?  Why do we lead people on, saying we don’t know when we do?  Saying we don’t care when we do?  Saying we do care when we don’t? Do we think that it’s better this way…and if so for who?  For us?  For them?  Who is it really better for? 

I think no one.  I think we lie because we are scared.  We lie because we are unsure.  We lie to not damage a friendship…because that always works so well <sarcasm>.  We lie to not loose someone.  We lie cause it’s ‘easier’…but is it?  Lies come out.  The truth wins and in the case of lies the truth may win but everyone else loses.  Friendships are damaged…friendships are lost.  Relationships are ruined…or damned from the beginning because they started with a lie.   

It’s hard but wouldn’t it just be better to be honest to say hey I like you or not.  To say we’re confused.  To say yup I messed up and I’m sorry.  To say let’s move on, to not drag something that’s broken on because you don’t want to let go, because you don’t want to be truthful.

How do we know when somethings a lie?  How do we know when it’s a lie versus us just miss reading the situation?  How do we know the truth?  What is the truth?  They say that two people witnessing the same scenario will see it differently…does that mean one is lying and one is being honest?  How do we know what is real?  What is true?  What makes a lie a lie?  What makes the truth the truth? 

So many questions in this world and so few answers.  So few absolutes. 

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I have spent a lot of time over the past couple of years considering writing this and due to the realities of our world I don’t. I feel the fear that comes with the stigmatization of mental health. I started fighting that fear a few years ago. I finally accepted my own anxiety issues and began admitting them not only to the outside world but more importantly to myself.
You see for a large part of my life as I was growing up my dad tried to get me to admit and seek help. This always caused a battle between us, as my words often offended him as his offended and scared me. He’d label me as depressed, or manic, or he didn’t know what but he saw the struggles. He saw his child who hid from people in a large setting, saw his child who was up and down emotionally, who had a temper that was explosive and got her in trouble. I don’t think he saw the child who was just hurting because of the words she heard from the people in her world.
He didn’t see the child who was effected negatively by always being the new kid. By being the one who didn’t fit in and who was teased mercilessly by the other kids. Whose own friends occasionally got in on the action because that’s the life of a teenager.
As I was growing I heard, accepted, and internalized the wicked and hurtful things that were said to and about me. Those voices, those words became my internal voice. Nearly two decades after those evil words have mostly stopped I still hear them. I hear them in every unanswered text or message. I hear them in the seemingly ignored posts. I hear them when spending time with friends…thinking thinking thinking, second guessing everything I say and do. Wondering if they really want me around or if they’re just pitying me.
Even when being told that I am amazing, that I am loved…I hear the voices telling me this can’t be true. That those saying that just want something from me. A part knows that’s not true but the voices from the past can be so much louder than the ones in the present.
Those voice cause me to be anxious in a crowd. They cause me to be anxious whenever doing anything new. They make me afraid of new people, and old friends, afraid of what they are truly thinking.
They cause issues of depression. They cause me to think that I am worthless and unloved. They cause me to feel like everyone would be better off with out me (a piece of my brain always kicks in right here screaming that the voices lie, it’s quite a battle between the heart and the head). When I make mistakes it’s like I’ve ruined everything and made things 100 times worse than even humanly possible.
I am learning to love myself, I am learning to ignore the voices of my past, the voices that LIE to me. I know that in the moments that the voices are screaming myself doubt becomes trying, but know that I am trying. I am fighting it with all that I have and am and I will win.

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