Wednesday, February 1, 2012

SUFFERING is such an ugly word.
so heavy and ominous.
just like 'tragic' and 'devastating.'
words that promise heartache and despair, grief and loss of something.
i don't flippantly toss those words around.  i save them for the good stuff.
although i am dramatic in my talk and writing,
often using heavy-hitting adjectives like 'magical,' 'amazing' and 'fabulous,'
well, the aforementioned words, i use lightly.
with SUFFERING, at the top of that list.
but i've used it a lot in these recent posts.
and really?  REALLY?  have you RRRREAAAAALLLLYY suffered, liz?
has living an anxiety-filled life REALLY been insufferable?
no.  no it hasn't.  i can say this.  for me, it hasn't.
mine has been peppered with great joy, beauty, humor, peace even.
SUFFERING is a parent who's lost a child.
terminal cancer in its final days of pain and discomfort, too far gone for goodbye's,
looking to death for relief.
living in a war-torn country,
trying to provide for your family with next to nothing.
THAT is suffering.
but in the heart and mind of an individual suffering from depression or anxiety,
there is no better word.
it is hell on earth.
only instead of grieving a loss, managing physical pain or trying to scrounge food for your family's next meal from an empty pot,
suffering can take a different form.
it's you, trying to live in your own skin, amongst all of that. 
trying not to be afraid of your own shadow or feel totally out of control of your mind and body,
so much that you'd do ANYTHING to trade places with ANYONE else.
THAT too, is suffering.
obviously, there are different degrees of suffering.  but it is all held together by the same truth,
that you are trapped.  
wanting to be ANYWHERE other than where you are.
seemingly no end in sight.
STUCK in a dreadful place.
before THIS girls' big, ah, "interruption" came (i like that.  a nice name for an unraveling of my mind,)
i just went with it.
never thinking it was THAT bad.  
no, i wasn't the mom who freely booked flights or took off on weekend get-a-ways with her husband or her girlfriends,
but i wasn't the mom who built fortresses around her newborn baby either, terrified to leave the house or afraid to walk out her front door.  
afraid to make human connections, eye contact, or share my soul with strangers.
i was none of THOSE people.  so, i was good.  fine.
it just took YEARS to leave my kids to go away for a weekend.  
i just had these crazy, irrational fears to manage. 
physical symptoms that terrified me.
but always nestled nicely in the middle of those two worlds.  relating well to the mom on the left, but wanting so bad to be the mom on the right.  who lived her life without fear.
and years of trying to work it out, trying to change, has been a challenge.
leaving me to feel raw, exposed, panicky, fighting myself but always leaving myself an exit,
a direction to run in to.  
the end of a pew, a chair by the door, the back of the crowd instead of the front. . .
any place to avoid being trapped.  stuck.  unable to breathe or move.
i became this God awful place, convinced that if i was being TOTALLY present,
joy-filled and happy and excited, it would make the terrifying stuff of my worst nightmares, hurt less.
so, so wrong that is.
i love this amazing quote from a recent book i read. . .
"There is one guarantee:  If we're not practicing gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we are missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard times." -brene brown
amen to that, sister.
and i had become the antithesis of that very idea.
believing that, well, the less i SHOW up, the less life will hurt.
as my new favorite author has so eloquently put it,
"There is something about accepting the unpredictable fragility of this life that is just too much. . .there are so many ways to bolt."
and i KNOW you know these, personally.
everyone has their outs. . .food, drugs, sex, money, fame, careers, exercise, gossip, dieting.
maybe even the cleanliness of your home, your 'stuff', shopping for MORE stuff,
maybe even losing yourself in your kids.
for me, my obsessive and terrifying thoughts, 
but THROWING 200% of yourself in to one of the above, obsessing.
"Obsession gives you the illusion of feeling everything without having to be vulnerable to anything."  -geneen roth
how easily and mischeivously obsessions distract us from the REAL life stuff we just can't (or THINK) we can't cope with or face.
for me, plowing head first in to a brick wall,
like the big ol' rag doll dumby in a car safety test,
recoiling by force and then fear,
banged up and bruised and fumbling for an out,
did i find out i could break the cycle,
the totally F-ed up pattern that my life had become,
by simply walking right back through the rubble, instead of fighting it.  or ignoring it.
or trying to climb over it.
by leaning IN to the harsh winds instead of allowing them to carry me away.
and that's how it happens people.  for some of us, in more subtle ways.
for others, in the form of big, fat wake up calls.
we've heard it a million times, but we HAVE to step outside our comfort zones if we want to grow.  the work is messy and painful and disheartening at first, but HAS to be if we are to appreciate the beauty and bliss awaiting us on the other side.
i feel B-E-Y-O-N-D blessed for the pain, the gut-wrenching fear and anxiety that has left huge chinks in my armor. 
it's added character.  charm.  like the cracked walls and sloping foundation of an old house.
it has brought me to a greater place of peace, trust, and the confidence and assurance that i've got it all within me. . .everything i need to know.  
and that SOME day, maybe even today, i can return the favor.  
i've learned too, and so beautifully spoken by geneen roth again, that "there is no reason to use drugs because anything a drug could do would pale in comparison to knowing who you are."  
KNOWING and TRUSTING yourself, is powerful stuff.
the stuff life should be made up of.
so i DID and CONTINUE to pull myself from the ditch of my mind.
and WITHOUT medicating myself?
yes.  it can be done.  but not alone.:)
coming up. . .


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