It’s tough to capture so much in a few short posts. But I’ll attempt to keep explaining my journey.
I’ll turn to my mental health now. I mentioned that I started seeing a psychologist in 2005. That was a major step in my recovery, healing, growing process. I started out focusing on my anxiety caused by my health problems. And we gradually dug deeper…to find that my anxiety goes much beyond that. I grew up a worrier. I felt like I had to be perfect. I didn’t want to ever make anyone upset. I didn’t want to let anyone down. So I lived a life trying (but obviously failing) to be perfect and please everyone…but myself. I worked hard in school to get good grades. Anything besides an A was a failure to me. I had perfect attendance in high school…didn’t miss a day all 4 years. I wanted everyone’s approval…friends, family, etc. I compared myself constantly to others…always trying to measure up to someone else’s standards. I never asked anyone else for anything. I thought I should be able to do everything myself. I never admitted mistakes. I could not handle criticism. And having a very not perfect body made things very tough. I tried to hide any pain I had. I wanted to always seem “normal” and not stand out. I was always so concerned about what others would think.
My therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy) started with simple steps. I had to ask Justin for help…just for minor things like doing the dishes or emptying the trash. Surprisingly that was very tough for me. But I did it…and found that it was good to ask for help…and that Justin wanted to help me. I like to help others, so what made me think someone else wouldn’t want to help me? Why would it be a burden if I asked, but no big deal if someone else did? Not logical, I know (now). Then I had to start assessing stressful situations…what can I control, what can’t I control. Then let the things go that I can’t control. I would go through this process before every doctor appointment, every time we traveled, even before we would go out to dinner. I learned various techniques to control and counteract my anxiety. Each one helping a little more. So the panic attacks ended. And I could function a little better. But the anxiety was still there, just not quite as intense. My physical healing (surgery/recovery) also made a huge impact. When a major source of my anxiety was severely lessened, so was the anxiety.
I continued to see my psychologist (and still do once in a while) regularly. She really helped me through the journey through infertility. I met with her throughout my pregnancy and afterwards. Amazingly I did fine with all the hormones, etc. No post-partum depression. Little by little I saw myself transforming. God was bringing me out of the valley. But that does not mean I’m done.
I still had one pressing physical issue I had never dealt with…overactive bladder. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. I HATED traveling when I was little. I would just stare out the window for the next rest area sign. I didn’t even like the drive to church becuase I was afraid I would have to go to the bathroom. So I saw a urologist a few months ago. And of course there isn’t anything physcially wrong…just an overactive bladder. Lucky me 😛 Becuase of my colon issues I can’t take the medications that are available for OAB. So it’s just an annoyance. At least so far. My regular psychologist referred me to a colleague to try another kind of therapy called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). So in October I saw another doctor to try EMDR (she does it with sound and touch, not sight). I did 2 sessions with her. And I think that was my real starting point to the major changes I’ve seen lately. This type of therapy helps you get rid of traumatic memories (namely my bladder/bathroom issues as a child). It really helped me see clearly the root of a lot of my anxiety and my personality. It gave a starting point for change. I don’t have to be perfect! Good enough is ok! God loves me just the way I am and so should I! I wouldn’t think less of anyone else that had physical limitations/health problems. Why do I think others will think less of me? This doctor also suggested I try another therapy called EFT (emotional freedom techniques) to continue to reduce my anxiety. I am still in the process of trying that. I hope it helps as well.
And as is always the case, God has his timing worked out perfectly. This change and growth I’m seeing all comes now that I’m a mother. I don’t want to pass my anxiety and my perfectionism on to my daughter. I want to teach her that I love her for who she is. She doesn’t have to be perfect. She is a child of God and his perfect creation. Rebecca is teaching me so much too. And I can especially see how much grace God shows me every day when I fall down. He doesn’t hold anything against me or get frustrated or angry with me. He shows unconditional love.
I used to compare myself to other moms. It always seems like everyone else has it all together. But I am realizing that is not true. I joined MOPS this year. And I am so glad I did. It is amazing to share experiences with other moms and know that I am not alone in the things I struggle with. It has also been amazing to see so many different women…and truly value them for their uniqueness. Everyone has different talents and struggles. But they are all children of God and He loves them all just the same…and that includes me! I have also had the opportunity to hear two amazing authors speak…Shauna Niequist and Karen Hossink. God knew I needed to hear the message from both of them. Their books have been a true inspiration to me. And I am growing daily, striving to be the woman (wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, etc.) that God wants me to be. He is using every one of my struggles to show me his full character and to make me more like Christ. And of course God always puts things right in front of you when you need to see it. When I read part of “Confessions of an Irritable Mother” today this is what it said:
“God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. And there is a purpose for everything that happens in our lives. As you journey through life, in and out of various fires, I pray these lessons will buoy you and bulid your faith. Think about this: It isn’t a random chance that you’re reading this book! God knew you would be reading these words before I even knew I’d be writing them. He is always good and He will use everything in your life according to His good purposes!”
That pretty much sums it up 🙂 God is good! And He is in charge. His plans are always better than anything I could dream of. I may be on a long journey through one fire after the next. But I trust that God is using each one to mold me into the woman He wants me to be. Without my daily physical struggles I probably wouldn’t even be writing this blog! I spend time pretty much every day after lunch at the computer, but probably wouldn’t if I didn’t need time for my body to relax and digest :p God has a purpose for everything. He can use you no matter what your limitations or struggles.
I have skimmed over a lot of stuff (hard to capture 20 years of health issues and 3 1/2 years of therapy in a few paragraphs), but I hope these few posts have given you a little glimpse into the trials I’ve faced and continue to face…and the joys I’ve experienced. But more importantly I hope it has given you a glimpse into the deep, deep love that God has for us and his unchanging ways. I don’t know what else God has in store for me, but I do know that I am thankful for the struggles I have faced and the perseverance and growth they have produced. I am thankful for a loving God that is refining me and renewing me each day! God has a plan for me and He’s working it out to completion day by day.
I hope to continue to write reflective posts (sharing my struggles and my joys) as I continue to grow and learn. Who knows, maybe these posts are all part of God’s plan to help me be a help to others 🙂 I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me!