Secret #29: We are stuck in a cycle and we long to break free.
For me, the cycle looks like this:
Exhaustion –> Anxiety –> Fear –> Anger –> Guilt –> Depression –> Exhaustion… and repeat.
Yours may resemble mine or it may look completely different. This diagram comes from my experience, not a psychological textbook, so you official psychology folk in the crowd may be rolling your eyes. But official or not, so many of us moms find ourselves here – caught in an unintended emotional rhythm that wears us out at best and grips our throats at worst.
It dictates our days and haunts our nights and engrains in us lies we don’t want to believe.
But when we see ourselves like this, how can we not believe? The battle feels all but lost. Like an out of body experience, we step back to see a woman who looks like us and sounds like us, but she does not behave like us. She’s caught in the throes of a cyclone she cannot escape. And we are terrified… because she is us.
Perhaps this all sounds foreign to you. Perhaps you’ve been given the gift of a calm spirit, a patient heart, and a love for your children that trumps fear and anxiety. And to that I say, Praise God. Truly. The relief I feel for you nearly brings me to tears.
But for me, I struggle. For me, this is real.
I have told the story elsewhere of the day that I got help, the day God met me in a therapist’s office and I finally felt understood, validated and safe. Some of you have met Him there, too, wept with exhaustion and relief in the promise of feeling like yourself again, the hope of controlling emotions that have long controlled you. Some of you know that grace can take unconventional forms, even the form of a little white pill.
I was invited to the table by my Savior that day, a million little pieces though I was. I did not realize the heaviness I was living under until that weighty blanket of anxiety was lifted.
Life is not perfect now, but it is not nearly as dark. I am not constantly worried and afraid. I recognize my thoughts and my words again. I can sense when the wind is pushing me too far to one side, and I can make choices to help straighten the sail. I can breathe, slow and deep.
Oh, don’t worry – my parenting is still subpar. I think after 28 secrets you know this about me. But I am no longer running laps in my mind. There are moments of rest now. It is good.
And now for a necessary aside: I am not saying every anxious mama has an anxiety disorder. I do, but mine was professionally diagnosed and, praise God, appears to be temporary in nature. Time will tell.
But I am saying this:
If you are a mama of young children who struggles with anxiety or depression, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Maybe you need to read that sentence again.
I have met the company you and I keep, and they are bright, beautiful, creative, engaging, God-seeking women who love their families and cling to the gospel. Like Ariana described in Friday’s post about loss, so many friends have stepped forward and said, Me, too. I need help, too.
There is grace for this, friends. Grace to hide in the Rock of Ages, yes. But grace also in community and counseling and therapy and taking breaks and exercise and maybe even medication. YES, Jesus can meet you there, too. This is the man who healed Lepers with a touch and befriended prostitutes. He is not put off by our emotional neediness or baffled by the neurotransmitters in our brain.
He is not afraid of us or our issues. He is not threatened by the status quo. He just isn’t. The end.
And also? He already knows the next secret…
Secret 30: We all need therapy.
Yes, children. All y’all gonna need therapy, too.
We need it because of you and you’ll need it because of us. No matter how wonderful you are, no matter what kind of parenting rockstars we are, this is the truth: We all inflict emotional pain, well-intentioned as we may be.
No one is perfect, no not one, exclamation point and period.
And it’s okay.
It’s okay that you and I are broken. All the better for Him to make us whole, my dear.
We have a God who reconciles us to each other and to Himself.
We tell our secrets and He smiles because there is freedom in confession.
We forgive and He rejoices because He’s the one who forgave us.
We make messes and He redeems them LIKE IT’S HIS J-O-B.
He loves us, He loves us, He loves us.
Amen and amen and amen.
Whew. It is wine o’clock now, yes?
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