Friday, August 9, 2013

Brave New World

Wanna know a secret?  Come a little closer...I have this secret life.  I am a stay at home mom by day and a call girl by night! 

Wouldn't that be an awesome opener if it were true?! I bet I'd get a ton of hits on this baby! Not like, "Awesome about the prostitution, Kate!" More like, "Wow! I'm definitely going to finish reading!" 

No, my secret is so much less explosive.  My secret life exists solely in my head.  There are plenty of days when my mind is relatively quiet.  But, every now and then, my baggage rears it's ugly head and starts talking.  Usually, the chatter coincides with major changes in my riiiight about now!  Let me just clarify before you send me comments suggesting that I need to consider psychotropic drugs.  I'm not actually talking to pretend people in my head. That would be not so secret, me thinks.  

No, it's just that when my routine goes through a major shakedown, as wonderful as that may be, I can't seem to turn my nervous thoughts off.  We, as a family, are on the brink some big changes, and well...change and me...we're not so good together.  I truly believe that God has plans to prosper and grow me; great plans for my family's future.  My heart is light and happy, friends! I just wish that that knowledge would somehow make it's way to my stomach, my clenched neck muscles, and my erratic breathing! 

There really has never been a time in my life when I have not struggled with the billion dollar word that drug companies love so much: anxiety.  It's not a constant in my life anymore, thank God.  But, it is very real and pervasive in times of transition for me.  I can remember the year that we moved to Chicago, as I was entering the 7th grade, like it was yesterday.  My little brother, who could make friends with a lamp post, would have five new friends before the moving truck had even rolled out of the drive way, no matter where we lived.  He has the kind of personality that children, adults, and animals are drawn to like a heat seeking missile.  He might disagree, but he has an easy going way about him that puts people immediately at ease.

While he was out playing flashlight tag, kickball, and creating new scar tissue on his roller blades, I was on the verge of developing rickets, due to lack of sun exposure!  I could spend hour upon hour huddled in my room, playing Barbies (yes, that's totally normal in middle school) and watching "Golden Girls" reruns (also totally normal) and the Jerry Springer show (you'll always have the 90's, Jerry).  My mom would beg me to join in the outdoor festivities, but I really couldn't make it much further than the stairs before having to run to the bathroom with IBS symptoms.  Oh, the angst!  I was too small and serious for my age (Barbara Walters was my favorite TV personality) and I preferred the safety of my little indoor world to the great unknown. 

Finally, my mom and a neighbor ambushed me with a blind date of sorts. The kindly neighbor invited us over to meet Molly, another sweet, serious soul with pretty red hair who was just as nervous about starting the 7th grade.  Molly and I became fast friends and we shouldered the burden of being awkward tweens together. A few weeks later, I discovered another hidden treasure. Another too-tiny-12 year old sat silently a few rows behind me in chorus class.  I complimented her on her white Barbie high tops (she still wears high tops) and we quickly bonded over our love of Elvis Presley.  Now, Anjali, has two beautiful children of her own and I still thank my lucky stars that I had the good sense to pick her out of a crowd!  

I learned at a young age to seek out friends that love and accept me for my idiosyncrasies and don't mind if I don't do small talk very well.  Knowing that wonderful, strong women have your back can make all of the difference in your world.  Having a husband that actually cares about the best and worst parts of your day is a beautiful thing.  But, no amount of reassurance or encouragement can quiet the busybody in my head; always questioning, second guessing, assessing, assuming the worst.  That, is just an inside job.  Anxiety is not a choice. It is one part of me; just like my brown hair, my flat derriere, or my green eyes.  It does not define me, but it can be a heavy load to carry. My heart aches, at times, for my husband and children because try as I might, I can't seem to give them all of the attention that they deserve. 

The other night, my brother and I were texting, our main method of communication.  He is so concise and intuitive!  He said, "You are smarter and stronger than most.  Why not act like it?"

Um...gee...thanks!  I don't know.   (I am very concise too!) 

Why don't we act as smart and strong as we really are?  For me, I think the answer is that I avoid feeling anxious at all costs.  If I acted like a stronger, more confident version of myself, people might not like me as much, which would create anxiety.  There, you have it! Is that true?  Probably not.  But, the fear is real; nevertheless.  Maybe you have found reasons over the years to make yourself small.  Do you know why?  

Instead of wringing my hands and stamping my forehead with "Lost Cause," I choose hope.  I choose to believe that by putting my faith in the future God has planned for me and making positive choices, I can be different.  I can practice being stronger and assuming the best, for a change.  I can be humble for the right reasons.  

And, if that negative voice starts to chime in, I can just yell, "Somebody tell that bitch to be quiet!" 

No?? Would that be weird?  Okay, then maybe a little deep breathing and prayer, instead!


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