Monday, May 12, 2014

Being Authentic and Becoming Mindful

It's been two months since my first hospital visit. These past two months have been.... life changing.  And I mean that. I am no longer the same person I was two months ago.  I had become frequently ill starting at the end of January and by the beginning of March I was pretty much confined to my bed.  I had become so dehydrated from 12 plus hours of throwing up and 2 weeks of non stop diarrhea that I passed out on Monday, March 10 on the floor of my bedroom.  I was able to call for help, which came immediately and I was taken to the hospital. They asked me dozens of questions of what my symptoms had been the past several weeks and all the tests commenced.  They hydrated me, pumped me full of meds and sent me home.  All test came back normal. That next week was exhausting. I couldn't do much so I laid in bed and lived off of my doctor ordered diet of saltines and gatorade. I couldn't shower without help, I couldn't walk without someone holding me up because I was so weak and dizzy. I went and saw my midwife to maybe point me in the right direction of what was up with my body. She thought I was going through extreme depression, or thought I had Lupus.  She took some blood to run the test. One week after my first hospital visit I was back again.  This time with extreme pain in every part of body, and I felt like I couldn't breathe.  I had also started vomiting again. Once every 7 minutes. They ran the same tests again, did a few different things to try and figure out what was going on. Hydrated me, pumped me full of meds and sent me home with some Xanax.

I called my midwife and she told me that I had to find a therapist. If I didn't find one within 24 hours she was going to check me into an outpatient facility of 7 days of intensive therapy.  That, of course, scared the crap out of me because it confirmed my suspicions that I was ACTUALLY CRAZY!

Through a newly found kindred spirit, she was able to direct me to a therapist, who I like to call the "keeper of the keys."  I was able to get an appointment with her the very next day.

Within the first 10 minutes of talking with her we figured out why I had become so ill.  It felt like I was in a minefield and all those mines I'd avoided so well my whole life were being stomped on and the debris was hitting me.  I was feeling things I hadn't allowed for myself to feel for 16 years.  These were things I'd never forgotten, but had tucked away in a safe place to protect myself because no one protected me.  I had been abandoned and left to deal with and handle things that no 9 year old should ever of had to deal with.  I was terrified and alone.  And I knew I was going to be alone.  So I put an armor on that would protect me.  I chose to never be scared again and to be strong. Because I had to be.

Near the end of January my sweet, almost 4 year old gave us a huge scare and the doctors thought she had a brain tumor.  Those 4 days of when we rushed her to the hospital to when we actually got the results of the MRI were excruciating.  I was terrified for my sick little girl, and knew if the doctors worries came true then I couldn't protect her from what would happen. I couldn't keep her safe. Fear. So much fear.

My body felt that fear for the first time in 16 years and I broke down. Not just emotionally, but physically.

Imagine a pendulum if you will and on either side is two extremes. One extreme is hyper-intense confidence, strength an absolute non-stop go getter.(This is where I had been from the age of 9-25) The other extreme is complete breakdown, weakness, mind, body, spirit. Everything just stops working.(This is what was happening now)  And the middle of that pendulum is a healthy balance.

So for the past two months I've been working on working my way back to that healthy balance. It's taking a lot of hard work. And I'm becoming somebody I don't recognize, but it's my true, authentic self.  When you swing from one extreme to the other like I have.... the person you've always been, the things you've always done, aren't easy anymore.  You literally can't even do it.  The easiest thing in the world like answering the door..becomes terrifying and you start to panic.  For 6 weeks I couldn't go out alone, unless I was going somewhere I knew would benefit my mind or my body. So therapy and the chiropractor. That was it.  I couldn't talk to anyone except a few people.  I couldn't go to church, I couldn't go out on girl nights, I couldn't talk about what I was going through because it literally took so much energy to tell it and I would become ill.  To avoid having to explain I just stopped going out of my house. My home became my safe haven.  A lot of people didn't understand what was going on and when they were around me why I was acting different.  It's because I'm not the same person and I felt judgement to still be that person.  So until I had self acceptance that this change going on within me was right and it didn't matter what others thought I became a hermit.

I've learned so many beautiful lessons along this journey.

First, I've learned to listen to my body.  I'm learning to trust what it tells me I need. If I'm apart of a conversation that is negative or something my fragile spirit doesn't need, I will leave.  When I start to feel like I'm going to throw up, it means I need to speak or say something.  When I feel like I can't get enough air and feel tightness in my chest it means whomever I'm speaking too, doesn't need to know what I'm telling them.  I learning to honor what my body is telling me.  It is a very powerful tool.

Second, I'm learning about boundaries. My whole life I've put so much energy into things that I never should have.  Feeling responsibility, an obligation to help people see what is right and keep them on a path of righteousness.  Even with people that have hurt me, I felt a constant need to be the protector.  I've learned that the only power we have is our agency.  Agency is something God gave us when we came to this earth and He will never take that away. He won't mess with it, He won't go near it.  So why should I feel like I should?  In therapy I have found  new freedom and strength in taking responsibility of my own power (agency) and mine alone. So I'm creating boundaries, not to keep people out, no.  To love in ways that allow each of us to have our own power.  This has been so profound for me.

Third, I'm learning about emotions in a new way.  It's literally a new way of thinking for me.  Each emotion has value and something to say, but we become better, closer to God I believe, when we can observe them first, instead of reacting to them.  For example; anger.  Anger is a secondary emotion. Always.  Our brain actually feels an emotion or two emotions before anger comes, but we rarely feel that.  So instead of reacting instantly to anger. Stop. Take a step back and observe the anger, don't judge it or try to change it. I've found when I do this, I'm able to better understand what truly is going on and then I can act responsibly.  Anger can actually be helpful when we use it responsibly.

Fourth,  I'm learning to be in a state of mindfulness.  This is extremely difficult. Mindfulness is when you can love, be non judgemental, and compassionate first for yourself, then for others. Then you are able to DISCERN between what's right and wrong, what is good and bad.  Not living in the past, or obsessing over the future, but being in reality and taking care of the now.  This place I have found my "wise self" and she is powerful, and strong and a little fierce. But she has so much love and compassion and knows exactly what I need. Knows exactly what I need to do for others, and in the right time.  This isn't a place where "I SHOULD do this, I SHOULD do that."  No, wise self just knows and just does what is right.  It's a place of clarity and joy.  I jump in and out of the place, because as a human being I will always struggle but in some instances with some people, I'm able to just ask "her" to come and she does.  And she projects joy and love and peace.  I'm learning to feel all these good things for myself.  But also with others. And letting people and things be as they are and just love.

Finally,  I have found gratitude in this journey. I have found gratitude for my trauma and my heartache. Even though it shouldn't of happened, it never would of brought me to this place I am now. Things had to have happened in the way they did.  I know that.  God is continually molding me into somebody better.  He has a grand purpose for me.  He needs me to be ready for that, He needed to give me the "wake up call" in the way He did, or I would not of changed.

As you can tell from my last 3 points, I'm still learning and I always will be.  I have days where I still struggle, some days are really bad.  And I feel like I'm being thrown backwards and I have to retrace my steps somehow and learn something new.  But I'm moving forward. Committed to this new life I've discovered.

I am more unbalanced than ever, because I'm human.

But that.... that is okay.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My life is an open book....until now.

I've been an open book my whole life to people. I've never had a problem with sharing my struggles. I found it comforting to lean on others for support and often gain insight from those I was sharing with.  I've never consider myself to be private.  Mostly in part, if anything I have struggled can help another person with whatever they're going through, I want to help.  Feeling alone during any struggle or trial is awful. I don't wish it on anyone.

I've gone through massive changes in the last month.  Many of you know how sick I've been. In and out of the hospital. Stuck in bed. Unable to take care of my own kids. I've received an overwhelming amount of support, which I don't even have enough words, the right words, to express how grateful I am. The help we've had wouldn't have been as great, if we didn't live where we do. 

I know what needs to be done for my body and spirit to become whole again. I know what journey I need to take to recover.  The thing is... I am at a really vulnerable state emotionally right now so if opinions or advice is given to me (even out of love and support) it affects me deeply.  I've realized even though intentions are pure from many people who I've spoken too...  Not really anything they say is meant for me.  At least not for this particular journey I'm on. This experience is mine and no one else's, so the things I must do, to progress, are specific and only meant for me.  This past week as I've gained more energy I've spent a lot of time visiting with people, outside of the house.  All of them were positive, supportive experiences.  But I shared too much and that's weighing on me. Emotionally and physically.  For me to get to my end result I no longer will  be sharing the details of what I'm experiencing unless feel prompted to do so.  It's nothing personal towards anyone, it's just not something I need you to be apart of. I appreciate words of support, and hugs and definitely prayers. But if asked, what I'm doing or what's really going on...I will politely give you a vague answer that I'm working on things and getting better.  I, of course am sharing all to my husband.  He has been my greatest support and source of comfort.  He literally can touch me and whatever pain I feel begins to evaporate out of me. It's a beautiful thing. That's what his love for me can do. He's on this journey with me, riding along, protecting me and supporting me when I need him too.

I look forward to be able to share all of this when I've made my way through and come out the other side.  But for now minor seclusion is necessary. Maybe not minor, more than that.  I struggle being in large groups of people. Whether I know them or not. So for awhile I will be MIA.  Working on myself. Moving forward. 

It's strange what the body does to us, to get our attention, almost forcing change upon you.  I know all these changes are for a greater purpose and I have faith in that.