Friday Feels: October 2018

This has been a long week, a long month, a long year. I've had ongoing car troubles, ongoing legal issues, ongoing ... everything. Even our moving plans are dragging on and on, creeping along so slowly sometimes I'm not even sure we're moving forward despite the evidence right in front of my face. I have days when I'm just a little bit hopeless, overwhelmed with all the change, all the weight of the burdens I'm struggling to carry with grace and composure despite the barriers around me.

And honestly, that's one of the biggest things I love about writing this Friday Feels series. I love the way it gives me a chance to really sit down and explore myself and how I'm feeling about my life right now. It's a great exercise for my mental health too, especially as a single mom with PTSD, battling the impact of traumatic experiences and chronic illness. Sometimes, life is hard - not just for me, but everyone, and I think one of the best ways we can cope with our challenges is just to sit with them for a while, accept what they mean for us, and seek the next step forward even if all we can manage is a baby step no one else notices.

This series is one of my baby steps, because in taking the time to look at how I'm feeling, I'm able to explore what I can do to improve the things that have me feeling certain bad ways, how to keep a grasp on things that have me feeling certain good ways, and when my feelings are unhealthily out of balance.

But what I love best about it is that it isn't driven by the usual emotions I might think of on the fly - it's not just "happy" and "sad" and "mad" and all that stuff. I like changing it up and surprising myself by using a random emotion generator to choose the prompts I use for these posts, which I have found both challenging and enriching along the way.

So, with that being said, here's what I'm feeling lately, and why I'm feeling it.

1. Angry:
Over the course of this year, a lot has changed for me health-wise - not because my health has changed specifically but because after so long, I now have solid answers to questions I've been living with for most of my life. Unfortunately, those answers have now created questions about the health of my children, as several of my diagnoses are thought to be hereditary and my daughters both have various appropriately similar symptoms.

And yet ... I can't seem to get away from the constant suggestion that I'm somehow making it all up, despite my MRI reports, confirmation from my doctors, and now increasing confirmation from my children's doctors.

It pisses me off to open up to people only to be so readily dismissed even when I have proof in my hands. I guess I'm still learning to be more careful.

2. Calm:
When I can remind myself to rest in my faith, I am calm. When I can remind myself that my doctors are highly qualified and trustworthy, I am calm. When I can bask back in the way my daughters love each other, when one of them reaches out to me with compassion when they see me struggling, when my dog lays his big, heavy head in my lap, I am calm.

The best pleasures in life really are in the little things.

3. Enthusiastic:
The opposite of calm, I am most enthusiastic lately when I switch my focus from the glass-half-empty to the glass-half-empty mentality. When I catch myself heading for a panic attack thinking of all the challenges in my life, my favorite way to turn it around is to play a little game with myself.

I like to ask myself, "What if everything works out perfectly? Then what?"

4. Festive:
The holiday season is beginning - soon, my city will light up with Christmas trees and lights. It will come alive with festivals and gatherings and celebrations. Our elf on the shelf will be back in the house, holiday cheer will be plentiful, and our local Weigel's keeps the best eggnog on the planet flowing.

I have high hopes and tons of excitement for this coming holiday season for sure!

5. Heartbroken:
There is serious loss in my near future - my Grandmother's Alzheimer's disease is worsening and her decline is pretty pronounced now, but I haven't set eyes on her in ages. I'm afraid I won't get to see her again before she's gone, because she's too far away for me to risk driving my van to see her. The thought that I've seen her for the last time shatters my heart ... but at the same time, I still want to hold onto the memory of her as she was. Today I got to see Disney's Coco for the first time, and I cried as I saw my Grandmother in the story.

My mother has now begun to develop dementia as well. I'm still not sure how to cope with that.

6. Inspired:
I had a text conversation with my oldest daughter recently, and as part of our chat, I showed her some of my content from this blog - bits about being strong, about taking steps, setting boundaries, loving yourself, being enough.

I've been thinking for a while about public speaking in various forms, and as I spoke to my daughter, sharing encouragement with her as she makes her way through the tumultuous teen years, I was moved to tears by her encouragement of me.

"Sometimes, I see what an amazing person you are, and I am ashamed," she said. That was how she started a message that addressed her depression, her insecurities, her issues with abandonment, her ongoing health issues, and her absolute fear that she'll never be able to get it together. She talked about her inability to hide those issues, the way it shames her to lie and tell her friends she's fine when she's not, only to have them know better.

"You are amazing and strong and I can't seem to be," she said. "I'm sorry."

And everything about that conversation solidified my why, reminded me of how valuable sharing our stories can be - not because being strong matters, but because in sharing the weakness behind my strength, I hope to show my readers how to find their own.

7. Petrified:
Sometimes I get too caught up in my mind, and I have to remind myself to breathe, to rest, to trust in God's plan for my family. I get overwhelmed thinking of all the obstacles in front of us, all the things I'm juggling, all the ways my life could completely crash and burn in an instant.

It's terrifying - I break out in sweats, lose sleep, skip meals. I have to take time to sit and write it all out, just to get it out of my mind for a while so I can stop the chaotic swirl of "what-ifs" that haunt me every moment of every day.

And then, usually, I go back to my Bible. I read. I pray. And I keep taking the baby steps leading me through.

8. Strong:
Despite everything going on in my life over the last several years and all the ways things have changed, I'm incredibly proud of the way God has used this time to work in me, growing and maturing my spirit while enriching my life with people who genuinely care about seeing me become the ME that's in my soul - not just the me they wish I was.

My life has always had people in it who had a vision for me, a little box they wanted me to fit in. I've been rejected a lot by people who couldn't love me for me, especially after realizing that I don't want to fit myself into a box that's not my shape. Family members, friends.

I spent way too long thinking the problem was something wrong with me, something lacking that made me so easy to discard, to forget.

But now I know better. And as I've grown more accepting of myself and the beautiful way in which I was made, more enamored with the purpose and will I was created to fulfill ... I've learned so much about how to advocate for myself.

I may not always feel it, but I am strong.

9. Stubborn:
I don't know that I specifically feel stubborn about anything ... but all the same, I am not ashamed to admit the role stubbornness plays in my life.

I stubbornly pursued answers regarding my health - and I got them. I stubbornly defended my personal boundaries even with long-time friends - and I found not only greater respect for myself, but the truth about who belongs in my life and who doesn't. I stubbornly advocated for my daughters, pulling together evidence to prove more than just "mother's instinct" or some kind of random hunch - and I got confirmation that my "mother's instinct" was right on point.

I don't necessarily feel stubborn, but maybe that's because anyone who calls me "stubborn" is just saying "persistent" wrong.

10. Worried:
As much progress has been made in my life this year, there's still a lot of changes ahead and I still have plenty of unanswered questions to work on as the new year approaches.

My top worries this month:

  • My van is literally embarrassing to drive now. We call it "the rattletrap" because it's so loud, and sometimes when I'm driving it, I notice people noticing the racket it makes. I'm 100% positive it's only still going by God's grace. Fortunately, the best hope I have of replacing it is God's provision, which I'm sure will be right on time, as always.
  • My dog has been growing a small lump in his belly that I haven't been able to afford to have checked out. Since spring, it has gone from one lima-bean sized lump to one grape sized lump, one blueberry sized lump, and one pea sized lump. None of them seem painful to him ... but not being able to go have them figured out is a major stressor for me.
  • One of my major financial things is coming to a head, and while I'm confident of it, I'm also completely and utterly terrified. This worries me constantly.
  • My mental health has been suffering quite a lot with everything going on lately, and I'm struggling to keep up with it all - but I literally cannot afford to drop any of the balls I'm juggling. I have so many days where I'm so exhausted and stressed all I want is to lay down and quit, but the show, as they say, must go on.

What are you feeling?

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