anxiety, clarity, communication, identity, journey, life, purpose, self esteem, strength, trust

Puzzle Pieces…

Ok… This is all so interesting… unraveling parts of me that I have tried to ignore… Parts  I’ve pushed aside to be able to muddle on… to keep on keepin’ on!  My body and my brain have decided I wasn’t going to ignore them anymore, it needs to be dealt with! It is all beginning to come together and make some sort of sense!

I will need to rewind, talk about things I haven’t touched on in this blog before.  I don’t like to complain, whine, or feel self pity.  I press on… until I can’t.

I mentioned in my last post that I would be seeing a specialist for some ongoing health issues I’ve been having for years.  They have progressively gotten worse and the burden of chronic pain is taking its tole. What that all meant, I didn’t really “get”… I have been beating myself up recently about not being able to feel like me…struggling with everyday things and sheer exhaustion! I was able to for a while blame it on pneumonia, something physical, something seen by others… then the dizziness hit… vertigo, equilibrium issues causing me to not be capable of walking without holding on, nausea, migraine headaches… issues!  When I sought help from my primary doctor it seemed it may have been related – possible Vestibular Neuritis due to inflammation from the sickness. I went to PT for what I thought would just be routine Epley Maneuver (something I’ve done many times before for my vertigo) and it would be relieved and I’d move on (like so many times before).  Well, not this time… 3 WEEKS OF CONTINUED VERTIGO and lots of balance/dizziness issues!  I was referred to a specialist at MA Eye and Ear, I got in quite quickly and was happy to have someone treat me while symptomatic, as I’ve ailed from these things before, but never this long. It’s always been only my words that could describe how I felt, until now.  Tests revealed some different abnormalities in brain function and a Brain MRI was ordered. The doctor suggested I take some time off from work and rest and relax, he ordered me to be out of work for the month until I see him again. I finally was able to stop holding my breath when I got the MRI results two weeks later, it felt like an eternity…  There were no tumors or aneurysms found! Phew!

I was put on a special Migraine Diet to help eliminate trigger foods in my diet. I was put on certain supplements to help my body and my mind.  I have been religious in following my protocol, keeping a diary of all symptoms and reporting for PT sessions. I will be going back to see the specialist next week.

The time the doctor has given me has allowed me to really slow down and see/feel everything for what it truly is.  The constant pain I feel in my arm, neck and shoulder are so prominent when I’m not having to push through everyday, the assessment of myself in the morning of the poor nights sleep I got due to tossing and turning from tinnitus interrupting my sleep, or neck, arm pain has been very eye opening.  Stabbing random headaches that seem to come out of nowhere are felt and documented.  I’ve come to realize how long have I been feeling (or NOT feeling) these things and the crazy amount of stress I’ve put on my body and mind trying to deal with it.  I found out a year ago this month that I have two herniated discs in my neck as well as an Arnold Chiari Malformation… I went to a neurosurgeon then to discuss this and he left it with me that if I lose motor control… not able to zip zippers or button buttons to come back to him.  I have been following that “rule” ever since, allowing myself to think that if all that is still intact then I must be okay.  The chronic pain, stiffness, constant aches, and weakness, tingling in my arm and hand are obviously taking a tole on me… I have begun to be more patient with myself and knowing fully now that my anxiety and new onset of depression certainly could be a result of these physical ailments.

Because the constant pain has been normal for so long, the new onset of constant worry and trying to find a root problem to my saddened state has allowed me to dig deep into my psyche and pin point things I felt were contributing.  I feel that this has added to my already emotional drain and fatigue.  I have taken a break from seeing my new therapist during this and will plan to see him again when I have more answers to my physical ailments.

It is reassuring to me to begin to put the puzzle pieces of “me” together and have a medical doctor really listening to what I’m feeling!  I feel like I’m on the road, I feel like I am taking care of me… I am finally paying attention to what I need! …I feel brave!

“A strong woman has the faith that she is strong enough for the journey … But a woman of STRENGTH has faith that it is IN THE JOURNEY that she will BECOME STRONG!”

~ Unknown

anxiety, communication, identity, purpose, self esteem

Feel the pain? Really?

They say letting the pain emerge is best… let it runneth over.

Accept it, acknowledge it, feel it. After having done a lot of self-help books and learning these things for myself, I felt like I couldn’t get to the point of forgetting, forgiving, and moving past it… so I began therapy. Its good, it’s okay. I’ve only been going 2 weeks. It’s weird ~ what crossed my mind after my last session ~ I didn’t expect it…

I realized my therapist is a stranger to me, I was in a state of need when I reached out to him, I went straight into my history… my “stuff”. When I got through that initial emergent feeling of needing help after having a prolonged sickness, after having been worn down, tired and vulnerable… I got back up and back into my routine… I began to feel regret for opening up so much. Regret for not just being the reclusive me and fighting through this alone like I always have. That is what I do… that’s been my go to.. I hide my pain, I have for a long time, hiding behind a mask is my norm.

As I continued to go and he would ask questions like “how I was doing” I felt strange, I almost felt defensive.

“What? You don’t believe I can handle this? … You don’t know me!! I fight, I survive, I am charming and lovely and I handle things with grace! That’s who I am! ~ Sorry that I allowed you to believe otherwise, forget all that! I’m fine!” I didn’t say this, it’s just been my internal feeling. I realize now … I’ve only shown him the weak, sad, the in need part of me … I am NOT that! WHAT AM I DOING? I have never shown that, I am regretful that I am doing that now! What is wrong with me? I’ve allowed my friends into this new version of me as well, often times I feel pitied and weak … I’ve always been the strong one. I have always had all the answers, People come to me for my strength and wisdom. Who is this person that goes and sits in front of a stranger and whines about her life?? He doesn’t know ME!! He doesn’t KNOW that I am GRATEFUL, BLESSED, STRONG, WISE, AMAZING!!!!! He doesn’t know that!!! I almost wish I never started … like could we just wipe away what I’ve said… I’m fine, I don’t need help!!

What is this? Why am I battling with my own self about this? I started out feeling brave to do this. I assumed it would bring me new confidence and understanding of myself … so far it’s only made me feel regretful… shameful for feeling… guilty for sharing… it’s almost made me feel weaker. Like I’m dwelling now on these things I’ve said out loud, almost feeling like a victim, I don’t want to feel like a victim!!!! I feel like I’ve shed my armor, an armor I’ve spent a lifetime creating for myself. I am out of my comfort zone. Is this part of the process?

Thank God I read something recently that said “if you question and think you’re going insane then you’re not” ~ it went on to explain how an insane person doesn’t stop to reflect, look inward and question it, they are just irrational and out of their own mind. I do have to say that’s brought me comfort. I am really struggling to know how to help myself right now.

The truth is I am going through a lot right now. I am still home from work due to illness… another one …I am stressed about that to say the least. I am seeing a medical specialist next week to try to get some answers to literally years of ailments, most of them having to do with vision, balance, migraines, and chronic pain. I am quite sure the sitting in this chair with pain, feeling isolated and sorry for myself, questioning why I can’t just be “me” without so much effort to feel normal, I remember when that came with ease. I am exhausted, I am frustrated, I am sad… I read and read… I ponder and research my thoughts trying and hoping to find answers.

I do try to snap out of this, try to tell myself to get up, get some fresh air… use my body and mind for something else but then I stand up and the dizziness takes over, I can’t, I literally can’t. It’s a horrible cycle that I don’t know how to stop. People who love me tell me to be patient with myself… I know this, I agree and I try, I honestly try.

I will again try… Baby step #1 will be to go to the specialist next week, not expect healing that day, but hope for understanding. I will pray for some answers, some explanation to what is going on. I will pray that he gives me something to do or focus on to begin to break free of this cycle, the fear, the anxiety and now I suspect some depression, from being out of commission, being and feeling so far from center for myself.

I promise myself… I will continue to try.

purpose

Shedding the Mask…

I’ve always worn a mask

Shown the best parts of me

Hiding the pain

Not talking about the negative

Shining a light on the positive

I’m the helper, not the needy one

I don’t like how this feels

If I’m going to give in and be seen, my guard has to come down, my armor shed off. I just don’t know how to do this yet.

I look around at my house from this point of view of sadness today and I’m mad at myself. I’m the one who is supposed to bring the life to it, the meals, the celebrations… where has she gone? Will she come back? I feel guilt and want to begin to pretend again. Who will that benefit? How long will this last until she’s back?

adult children, communication, drugs and alcohol, expectations, family, purpose, raising kids, respect, responsibility

Everything’s Different …

I began this blog many years ago, if you’ve followed me you’ve see my family transition through many things.  To put it into perspective when I wrote my first post, my youngest son was 15 and he is now 21.  I can’t imagine I need to explain to anyone how much life changes over that period of time.

We have 3 children, their current ages are 26, 22, & 21. They are adults. Two of our adult children have returned home and are living with my husband and I.  Our youngest did a year of college and decided it wasn’t for him… we respected that completely and with open arms embraced that his next step would present itself with time.  Our daughter, our middle child, age 22, also left school after 3 years.  She struggled with campus life and was met with some illnesses that made it difficult to handle the stresses of being away at school.  She also came home with intentions of growing her small business here at home and forging a new path. We accepted her personal decision and welcomed her home as well with open arms.

As you can imagine life needed to be different from what we all once knew it to be under one roof.  I was conscious of the fact that they had been away from home long enough to have gotten used to not having mom & dads rules to live by, but yet knowing that being in our home the respect factor would still apply.  I worked diligently to allow them space and I felt all the same respects from them.

It has been 2 years of them living at home with us, 2 years of adjustments for all of us. In one of my past blogs entitled All We Expect is Respect I told of how in our family unit my husband and I had a pretty simple formula for our kids growing up …. we would give respect and expect respect, most everything has always boiled down to that.  All those years of instilling this very premise into our children has brought us to the harmony we live in today.  They are amazing!

I would say one of my own biggest struggles with this transition has been all my prior teachings, when they were teenagers, about drugs and alcohol. When we made the choice to have them come home and live in our home as adults I knew they would have to be allowed to make their own personal decisions and with certain respect and boundaries I would need to respect that.  They choose to smoke marijuana. They are very aware that this is something I have always been uncomfortable with. Over the past couple years of course it has become legalized, I have spent a lot of energy being okay with this for them and allowing them this personal choice.  Now “allowing” does not mean crossing my own personal boundaries and they have shown great respect to that. They do not smoke in our home, they do not smoke in front of me and honestly in a 2 years period of them living here I’ve only seen them twice when I perceived them to be high in my presence.  Now that is respect!

We are very open in our communication about substance. I remind (without nagging I hope) that they need to be aware of how substance affects them.  To check in with themselves that its not being “used” as a coping mechanism, that its recreation and relaxing but not a “need”.  It has gotten easier over time.  With open transparency that it is happening and them listening respectfully to my concerns, we have come very far.

I also was certain that we would not enable them while being home. That was important to me.  They pay rent to be here, contributing to home expenses, and they manage and pay all their own bills.  They have student loans and they both have a car with insurance to manage.  My husband and I are  so proud of how they are handling their adult lives.  They both are hard workers and remain dedicated to growing and learning everyday.

I want to remind my readers that the two children I speak of in this post are my two who have been diagnosed with anxiety in their teenage years.  They were medicated back in 2017-2018 and since went off all of prescribed medicines and are handling what life is throwing at them these days with grace.  Do I worry?  Of course.  Am I concerned that they are self medicating with marijuana? Yes, of course.  As their mom I am going to worry, but I have to control that worry and begin to trust.

They are adults now… did I always make the “right” decisions at their age? Of course not.  I respect them and they respect me. We are in a good place.

“Adulthood is like the vet, and we’re all the dogs that were excited for the car ride until we realized where we’re going.”  ~ Anonymous 

anxiety, clarity, identity, life, purpose, responsibility, self esteem

Asking for Help…

Well, my life until now has been defined as being “the helper”.  I have now decided I need the help. I have worked tirelessly to help myself through reading, gaining knowledge, looking inward, meditating, staying aware of my emotions… among other things.  This has been YEARS!  I have done a lot of healing on my own, through self awareness and soul searching.  As my children have grown into adults my time has been my own and I have been using that time to begin to heal.  I say “begin to” because I feel like I’ve done all I can do alone. I need help.

I began seeing a therapist this week.

I have mentioned in past writings that I have difficulty with transitions. I have determined that may be my biggest weakness with my anxiety.  I recently got very sick with pneumonia, I was out of work two weeks prior to our Christmas Break and then our break was two additional weeks.  I most likely over did it over the holiday with company and family time, that I refused to miss any parts of, therefore not allowing myself to heal fully over that time.  I honestly tried, and laid pretty low, but it clearly wasn’t enough rest.  When I returned to work on Monday, after having been away for 4 weeks I soon realized how difficult it was going to be. I knew I needed to return for my kids (I work in a first grade classroom) but physically I was very drained and my body began to react to that.  On Tuesday I went in convincing myself it was the “right” thing to do, I could not make it through the day… headache, body aches, upset stomach and rib pain from the torn cartilage I had from all the coughing through my sickness were just not something I could bear while trying to be positive and helpful in the classroom.  I went home and began to fall into an emotional wreck.  Crying and wondering when I would feel like me again and get back to my duties at school.  If you’ve followed me here as The Bountiful Mom over the years you will know that my home-work balance is something I’ve struggled with in the past.  My mind went wild with thoughts of people questioning me and my illness and my time out of work.  Most of what I was ailing from at this point is unseen, I’m not coughing anymore and I look okay.  I was, and am still, not okay!

I spiraled with thought.  Thoughts that twisted me up. Familiar feelings of guilt and shame. Feelings of questioning my own self… was I really still this sick or is this my anxiety now?  Am I convincing myself of the physical ailments in order to have something to blame my thoughts of anxiety on?  I reeled with overthinking! I had absolutely been here before.  I knew I needed help.

I searched the internet for counselors, therapists and doctors in our community who may be able to help me.  I’ve considered it before and even made a couple attempts at setting up appointments.  I always went with women and always skimmed over men when looking … I’m not even sure why? I guess as a mom and all my complexities of thought I assumed a woman would understand me better.  Then I came across a name I was kind of familiar with but not familiar enough that it deterred me.  What I mean by that is I live in a small remote community, so finding someone I do not know a lot about already or have a relationship outside of the therapy room had proved itself difficult.  This one somehow felt good, worth giving a try.  I called the number on the screen. I needed help.

To my absolute astonishment I wasn’t met with an answering machine or a voicemail. A male voice answered my call. I stuttered a bit as I began to speak, my voice broke as I began to feel weepy in my need.  He asked when I hoped to begin sessions.  I told him I was out of work and felt stuck. I asked about meeting today, explaining how I knew he was busy but… he stopped me, he said “How about 1:00pm?”  I was relieved and yet a bit scared. But, I needed help.

I feel brave and courageous. This has been a big step. That first day was good but it kind of began with my backstory … I didn’t really talk about immediate need which was getting over my sickness and getting back to work.  I left his office feeling hopeful for the weeks ahead and had a restful afternoon.  I had been to my primary doctor as well that day and had been advised to stay home another day and allow myself healing and rest, I was told the pneumonia had wreaked havoc with my body and I had to give in to it.  So, the next morning I did some of the home remedies suggested to me at my medical doctor and settled in to rest for the day.  I was once again overcome with thought in the quiet of my living room. Questions of what’s wrong with my immune system to make me not bounce back yet, how could I continue to do this to my coworker and my students? My new therapist had told me we could text if need be, he wouldn’t charge for phone sessions if I needed it on a whim… I decided to reach out again, that took courage.

I needed help.

He said “How about 1:00pm?”  I was so relieved, he was kind and understanding.  I went this time to talk about work.  My work-life balance that has seemed so off-balance for years.  I questioned it being aligned with my passion and if it is even the right job for me anymore? I talked about my own childhood trauma of anxiety and misunderstandings coming into play and being triggered by some of my student’s behaviors and cries for help.  He helped to restore some of the confidence I had lost over my physical illness, time spent alone at home in pain and basically he helped me to feel heard and understood.  I don’t talk about my anxiety to many people.  I feel judged by it. It is a label, not an understanding. From experience I have learned that when someone doesn’t battle with it themselves or have a loved one they have seen deal with it, they honestly can’t relate. It is hard for someone to understand what my brain allows me to believe when I am not at my strongest.  So… I keep it to myself.

After that appointment, I felt stronger and more confident than I had in weeks. I went to work the next day!! I struggled through my weakness and was there for my kids ~ with a fresher outlook on my abilities to return to them and be what ~ and who ~ they need.

I will continue with therapy.  He explained to me how much work I’ve already done on my own to get this far.  He said we are able to skip over so much that we have already reached the AP CLASS… he told me “Our time together… this won’t take long”.   That also has given me confidence. I am (and have been) working on me, a version of me that I love and respect. I know she’s in there, but sometimes the darkness traps me and I struggle to see the light again.

I asked for help and I am receiving help.

 

adult children, clarity, communication, life, responsibility

The Coffee Shop

   Saturday morning… the satisfaction of waking up thinking about something other than mundane tasks of a weekday morning routine.  I woke up joyful today. Texted the kids to see if either of them could meet me for bagels and coffee?  One answers immediately… he can fit it in before work “if you can be there in 5”.  Of course I’ll be there in 5… jump up and quick get ready.

I get there before my 19 year old son, my youngest of 3 adult children.  I order for us both and sit down in a corner seat.  I mention to a friend at a nearby table that my boy was meeting me and he’s heading to work … “I may only get a few minutes, but a few minutes I’ll take” I say to her.  Knowing smiles cross both of our faces. He joins me moments later and his smile fuels me for my day.  He sits with me and we chat a bit, just being with him after the crazy work week I’ve had completes me somehow.  He scoffs down his bagel in a way only a 19 year old can and gulps his chai… he’s out the door… off to work.  Off to continue his journey… his becoming. I love watching this, I love hearing him share that he’s got to pick up his buddy on his way to work and wouldn’t want to be late because then delivery times get “screwed up”.  This might all sound so simple and not worth mentioning, or blogging about for that matter, but I feel it is more than worth it.

What I’ve clearly learned over time is that most other people don’t see the world the way I do.  I realize this is a daily exchange of many as a day begins, but for me it’s me watching the growth in my son, the learning of responsibility, he makes me proud.  I find such joy and emotion in everything around me. I find that it’s the simple things that bring the greatest joy… small daily accomplishments all leading to bigger ones down the line.  Don’t be mistaken… with this strong emotional attachment to the little things that I say bring me “joy”… the small things also rock my world in a way that other’s can’t always understand. I FEEL everything… and strongly might I add.  The good and the bad.  I internalize things and overthink them… is this a bad thing? I’m not sure, I just know it’s me and I know that I am beginning to understand myself more everyday.  I have felt misunderstood for much of my life.

Sitting in the coffee shop after my son left was different for me, I don’t often sit alone like that.  I sat committed to finishing my coffee and taking in the morning buzz of the people around me. I live in a small community so there were many familiar “hellos” but just as many unfamiliar faces too.   Chit chatter surrounded me, I consciously worked at not pulling out my phone… I honestly wanted to “see” and be seen!  I sipped and observed.  I saw many so engrossed in their phone screens that they would need to come out of that trance to even remember where they had landed for coffee that morning.  Others are “regulars” here and had friendly conversations amongst them.  A gentleman sat alone in the opposite corner from me reading the morning news.  Chatter across the counter while folks waited for their orders… I noticed one man who was so kind and followed each “Good Morning” greeting with “How are you doing anyway?”  — A man after my own heart.  He wants to know more, head lifted, eye contact, genuinely interested in how another person is “doing”.  I honed in on one conversation at the counter that sounded a bit deep, they were discussing a poster hung up for a fundraiser for a local musician who’s battling cancer. The man who wants to know more asked the barristas how his battle was going.  The response came from one of my favorite people behind the counter,  his response was “he’s ok… but this just may be his last loop around the planet.”  This resonated in me. I pondered that thought and knew I would write this morning.

I have not been turning to this blog for a while… I have been preferring my pen flowing across the pages of my personal journals…Yes that was plural… I have multiple journals around my home, always ready for me to jot down my many thoughts. This feels good today.

My coffee shop experience this morning left me humbled to be human. The last gentleman to leave the shop before me made his rounds to say goodbye and told us all that “Life is just a big wave… we are all on a tiny surfboard! Stay steady!”  Peace.

 

adult children, anxiety, awakening, identity, life, purpose

In Nature All Things Transform, Even People…

I woke up this morning thinking about my daughter.

She will be home after her exams in about two weeks. She is struggling. I always want to take the hurt away, find an answer… a solution. We’ve been at this a while, she has battled depression for almost 2 years now and all I’ve had to really offer is listening and understanding. Medication worked for a while but now seems to not be? Her stress levels are currently very high as she heads into exam week, this exacerbates her anxiety as well.

This morning I awoke with a renewal of hope. I woke up thinking of nature… thinking about how everything that is worth it takes time and nurturing.  Flowers begin as tiny seeds finding their way through rock and soil to meet the sun, they need water and light to begin to grow. They then form buds and gradually open themselves up into great beauty to share with the rest of us, all the while never doing this at the same time as the seed beside them.

The great enormous tree in our backyard began as a tiny acorn, finding ways to sprout despite all the adversity it’s faced. As a young tree it faced the wind and had to learn to stand tall, maybe changing form here and there to withstand the beating weather. But it is there now… with strong roots and providing shade and shelter to the rest of us.

The symbol I most thought of as I thought about my daughter this morning was the butterfly.  How the butterfly begins as a caterpillar… Haven’t we all felt like the caterpillar? The transformation and the morphing they must endure to eventually become the butterfly is inspiring. The interesting part to me is THE CATERPILLAR NEVER KNOWS IT”S HAPPENING.  They gradually go through natures plan, often very slowly, feeling undeveloped, feeling very unnoticed.

I saw my daughter clearly this morning as the caterpillar.  Not for it’s form or dullness… but for it’s desire, for it’s willingness to push on when all feels slow and unexciting. She is doing the inner work now to be able to fly off in grace and beauty… she is morphing and transforming right in front of me. I am so inspired by her strength and her ability to continue to smile when feeling such inner pain and turmoil. I am so proud of her and can so clearly see how today’s effort and strife will lead her to her transformation.

All of my children bring me such joy.  They are adults now.  I have such admiration for them, watching them take what my husband and I have instilled in them and seeing them apply it to their own lives, priceless!

“The butterfly is only beautiful because the caterpillar was brave.”  ~ Anonymous