(Disclaimer: This hasn’t been proofread. I’m tired.)
The first 35 years and 11 months of my life, I perfected worrying. I was so good at it that my body learned to pour on the adrenaline with relatively little external provocation. From the September of 2012 until September of 2014, our family went through some very difficult times. Well, really the tough times improved in April/May of 2014 but it took me 4 – 5 months to start to unwind and stop living in fear. This post isn’t about all the sh*t that went down. Just believe me when I say I had plenty to worry about. The scale of worry went from sheer terror involving life-saving to the underlying hum of worry that was constantly present with a buzz that never went away. Even my nerve endings seemed fragile. I didn’t suffer without trying to curb the crazy. I see a mental health nurse practitioner that helped manage my severely disordered sleep and anxiety with medications. (Can’t tolerate SSRI’s. I have horrible side effects.) However, in addition to the medication I take for sleep, she prescribed a beta blocker to slow my heart rate, chop my adrenaline response down to side and thus, rid me of panic attacks. I’ve seen her at various intervals for therapy. Right now, I’m seeing her weekly. In looking back at the past few years, I know that I would have had to have a “Sageview (local psych unit) vacation” without her help. I did plenty of work, too. Don’t get me wrong that I am touting her as my hero. I’m not. Despite her intervention, I was still worrying and experiencing daily anxiety. That’s not happening anymore and it’s a new way of life for me. I mentioned a few posts ago that I had attended a Heart Math class that taught me about coherence and transforming stress. It explained positive emotions, negative emotions, cortisol and DHEA levels. I love the science but now, I love my life. I can’t say that I felt the hand of God reach down and shake me, but He sure got my attention. Since I’ve embraced the concept that I am going to be gratitude and have lived this new life with the intention of being grateful, several toxic things have left my life. Worry and resentment are two the toxic things that are gone. As the days pass by, I find that this new me is enjoying herself. I am happy and this person feels more like me than the person I was. If I want to be angry, resentful and anxious, I have to concentrate on conjuring those emotions. If I’m going to expend the energy, I might as well do relaxation techniques instead. I have more space in my brain now for other things. My focus and recall are better. I have more patience to offer, even to myself. I decided that I wasn’t going to beat myself about who I was and how I behaved before. It’s in the past and none of it has anything new to say. Rather than bash myself, I’d rather offer encouragement for who I am becoming and where I am going.
My children are the dearest people in the world to me. For years, Preston has gone to his dad’s house and I have made myself suffer. Every holiday that wasn’t mine, I’d be upset about him being gone. I would worry that something would happen while out of my reach. My frustration and anger and resentment and disappointment would overshadow everyone’s holiday. Well that’s just crap and I’m not doing it anymore. I am thrilled beyond measure that Preston is on this Earth to celebrate any holiday, I don’t care where he is. I can love him just as much from 200 miles away. The biggest gift that I can give him is the peace of mind knowing that I am just fine at home, doing my thing and I’ll be happy to see him when he gets back. It was the strangest feeling to drive him to the mid-way point on Saturday and not feel down or damned or depressed. We sang along to the iPod, some Christmas carols and songs and other songs that we enjoyed. Since little brother was riding along to hitch a ride to Grandma and Grandpa’s, we also listened to his audiobook. Even though I was driving to Detroit Lake over the snowy, mountain pass, it was an enjoyable ride. Logan was more relaxed about going away from home for a few days than I have ever seen him. (He’s had a few pouty moments since he got there but homesickness happens.) I wasn’t anxious when we talked to Preston’s dad. I found it much easier to be polite to him. We gathered up all their junk from my car, put it in his truck, they gave and got hugs and were on their way. It was amazing. I watched them drive away without a single negative thought. I turned up the radio and went on my way. I recall being grateful for my winter tires, iTunes, satellite radio and a fun, comfy car to cruise home in. I didn’t ruminate about them leaving or count the days until they will be back. I’m here for them if they want to text or talk but I’m going on with living my positive life until they are home. They don’t expect me to be sad because they are away.
I’m so blessed to be changing my life at 36 and not counting my regrets at 56 or 86. My biggest struggle now seems to be making sense of these positive emotions and expressing myself clearly. I was a Negative Nellie or Toxic Tess for so long, living a joy-filled life will take some getting used to. I pray that those who knew me, or think they know me, can allow me the room to be different. Already my boss has made assumptions about things I’ve said or done, while truly not understanding or appreciating my motivation and how I’m changing. I will remind myself that everyone is fighting a battle I know nothing about, and I don’t need to bash them over the head with my own quest for freedom. Thanks for being patient with my quirky post. It’s time for bed.
Love and hugs, Rebecca