Wednesday, May 10, 2017

year seven

I have a huge bruise on my right hip from zip lining with friends on Monday.

Can you believe I went zip lining?

6 days before Charlotte's birthday! 

With an anxiety disorder in my pocket (it's always there. I can't take it out, but I'm trying to make it less comfortable).

Because flipping out on a platform halfway up a very tall tree with no way down aside from a zip line sounds like fun!

Typically May is for hibernating, but that didn't make me feel better in years one through six so I thought I should try pulling myself together and living in May instead of suffering through May.

This year Charlotte's birthday falls on Mother's Day, which is making my head spin in ways I didn't know were possible (I think it's so overwhelming a thought I've mostly shut down and decided to ignore it) so when an opportunity to get away with my best girls came up I decided to go for it, anxiety disorder and all.

In utter defiance of the panic attacks that come weekly I packed the car on Sunday morning and said goodbye to the kids and Jon. As I drove to the resort I reminded myself I was going on a break, that it was going to be fun, and that I was lucky to have a chance to spend time with my friends without our kids climbing our legs and demanding our time (the five who went have 18 children here on Earth with us. That's a whole lot of needy babies!)

On Monday morning I ordered room service for breakfast because it is one of my favorite things. I don't care about the cost, or the fact that they overcharge, or anything logical or practical. I. love. room. service.

And then I met up with my friends and after scrambling into a harness with zero dignity and much confusion I climbed up a set of stairs on shaky legs, clambered onto a platform and threw myself into the beautiful cool stillness of a quiet Northwest forest. Oh wait, it wasn't quiet. I was with three other terrified girls; there was a LOT of screaming.

Oddly enough, I wasn't as scared as I thought I would be. By the end I was even stepping up for my turn without a topsy-turvy stomach and shaking hands. I was so busy focusing on what the guides had to say and how to keep myself alive I didn't have time to panic.

In therapy I've been working through the idea that I don't have control over my life, or the lives of those I love. I have a lot I am working through, but the issue of control is a whopper of a problem and the core of my anxiety.

Out there in the forest, soaring through the trees with the beautiful Columbia Gorge surrounding me, I made the choice to relinquish control and have fun. I couldn't zip line without the guides (not if I wanted to live) so I had to let go and allow them to be their job: a guide, a helper, a sign post.

At one point a guide was giving me directions and I cut him off. "I just want to go straight, please. I don't want to turn. Why are you telling me how to turn?!"

He put his hand on my shoulder and said, "I'm trying to tell you how to go straight. You're not listening. Just listen, I am showing you what you want to know."

I quickly shut my mouth, listened to his words, followed his instructions, and zipped down the line just as I wanted to (straight as an arrow, no spinning please! It's enough I am on this contraption, I don't need to spin in circles as I am flying down the line!!)

That interaction was my entire life encapsulated in thirty seconds of instruction.

I spend so much of my time in a STATE of upset I miss what I need to hear. I am so busy trying to solve and manage things on my own I don't see the helping hands all around me. I am so determined to sail the ship and keep all the people alive I forget it is not my job, nor am I able to do so. It doesn't matter how hard I try, or what effort I put forth: I cannot keep the people I love alive, well and safe. Coming to grips with that, which I am still in the process of, has been one of the more difficult things I have done.

The last few weeks I've been hearing the Lord urging me to pick up my Bible, but the lethargy of grief and the buzz of anxiety knocked aside His voice.

Why pick up my Bible when I can spend an hour on Instagram? Why pick up my Bible when I can watch Netflix?

Why pick up my Bible when I am so anxious I can't take a deep breath? Why pick up my Bible when I feel completely lost in the wilderness?

This time of year there is always a bit of a war between God and I and it always comes back to the salient fact that He did not answer the way I wanted Him to when I cried out for Him to spare my baby's life and give her back to me.

So I always circle back to this question:

Why pick up my Bible when you didn't save my baby girl?

But last night I listened and picked up my Bible.

This is what I read:

Psalm 27: 1-2

The Lord is my light and my salvation
whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life
of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 34: 4

I sought the Lord and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34: 18

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

After inhaling those verses last night my anxiety scaled down a bit. I'm still jittery as all get out, but I have confidence I can get back to a manageable place soon, and maybe even a healed place someday.

Last month I read a book called The Lucky Few. I wrote a review on it, but I am going to re-post part of it here because I need the reminder.

When Heather and her husband are struggling with the medical issues stemming from their first daughter's open heart surgery she breaks down over the stress, which leads her dad to remind her that God is in control:

"Heather. Heather Elizabeth. Every breath she will ever breathe has already been accounted for. Nothing you do or don't do is going to change that, Heather. God's got this ...

There it was: life-giving, life-changing truth. We had sat in the hospital in the shadow of death. Now we were home, and that same shadow was knocking on my door, but the truth of my dad's words drowned out the racket that death was trying to make.

The truth my dad spoke that night was branded on my heart. And as the days and weeks and months and years went on, I would say the words out loud whenever I needed to drown out the fear that death would whisper in my ear.

'Every breath she will ever breathe has already been accounted for. Nothing I do or don't do is going to change that.'"

In four days I should be celebrating my first daughter's seventh birthday. Instead I am navigating another year without her. A year that has brought new challenges and incredible valleys I found impossible to navigate solo. But it's also the year when I found the courage to live in May. It's the year I dared to say, I need help, and I am listening, and I feel anxious, and will you walk through this with me?

And it's the year I found a little bravery, jumped off a platform and sailed through the forest with shaking hands and a quick tripping heart.

Every fear I confront is for Charlotte. I want to live my life well because she didn't get the chance to.

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