The Hill I Am Willing to Die On

The crazy in our world seems to get worse, literally, every single day. If it’s not the forthcoming election here in the U.S., and the extreme nonsense that goes into that, it is the pandemic of COVID-19. If it’s not the pandemic, it’s things like “pizza-gate,” kids ‘disappearing,’ human trafficking, and sex slavery. (Side rant: Nearly half a million children are reported missing EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. In the U.S. alone! I’m sorry, folks, but 460,000 kids do NOT just vanish into thin air every year!) There are many days that it is entirely too much for my anxious, empathetic, sensitive heart, and I just have to “turn it off.”


“Operation Not Forgotten” was conducted by the U.S. Marshalls and several other law enforcement agencies recently. It was a two-week operation to find and rescue missing children. There were thirty-nine children rescued during those two weeks. THIRTY-NINE. CHILDREN. (CBS.com) (CNN.com) (Foxnews.com)


I keep hearing and seeing things about “sexual attraction to children,” AKA PEDOPHILIA, being just a ‘sexual orientation’ that ‘can’t be helped.’ I’m sure you’ve seen it, too, if you are on social media at all. I hope it’s not true, and they aren’t genuinely trying to make this a thing. I do, but at this point, nothing would surprise me. There is already a term whose intention it is to desensitize us to it; MAP. It stands for “Minor Attracted Person,” or “an adult person attracted to minors.” Really, people?!? I’m here to tell you that this is not okay.


I’m also here to tell you that I don’t care what the adult “feels,” it destroys a child. It breaks them. It makes them question everyone (even themselves) and everything. It often causes them to experience things like anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts/tendencies, etc. It CHANGES WHO THEY ARE because one is NEVER the same after this.


Like many of the abused, missing, and exploited children today, most of my trauma was caused by people close to me; parents, siblings, a so-called “friend,” and babysitter. I have been a victim of parental kidnapping paired with emotional and mental abuse by a parent. A family member has sexually assaulted me and a babysitter tried to. I have dealt with the consequences of their actions for my entire life. I plan to go into that more later on as I write out my story. The point is that I have been through what so many kids are currently going through, and I can’t “just turn it off” anymore. My anxious, empathetic, sensitive heart just won’t let me.


Neither will God. We have decided, God and I, that THIS is the hill on which I am willing to die. THIS is the thing for which I will fight. They do not have a voice of their own, so we (and I’m talking to myself here) need to step up and be their voice. Our children are an inheritance and a blessing from the Lord. (Psalm 127:3) They are NOT possessions. They are NOT for sale. Not for sex, not for parts, not for ANYTHING.


I don’t know how long it will take me, but I will be sharing more of my story. Please be kind. It is a long, hard story to tell, but I genuinely believe it can help someone. I feel personally led by God to share this aspect of my life, as I experienced it, and as I remember it. It has affected me for my entire life, and this is how I have survived.


As I have said before, other people are a part of my story, and it is impossible to tell my story without telling at least a portion of theirs. Much of my trauma happened twenty-five years ago. There has been justice served, time served, and healing happening in individuals and relationships. When I tell of things that I have experienced, please understand that it is not my intention to tear anyone else down, not even those who did what they did. I know that everything done in darkness will be revealed in the light. The only way that I, my family, and others, are truly going to defeat this evil is for us to own it, acknowledge it, learn from it, and DO DIFFERENTLY for the generations coming after us.


I am just a small town, Texas girl, who loves Jesus, believes that He has saved me, and wants me to use the mess of my trauma as a message of hope and love. The sincere hope and prayer of my heart are that if you read my story, you find the message of hope and keep fighting!


If you are currently experiencing any of these things; if you are a victim of human trafficking, sex slavery, parental kidnapping, abuse, assault, trauma, etc. my plea to you is this; keep fighting! Even if it’s just fighting to stay alive one more day, people are fighting for you!


If you have gotten out of/been rescued from any of these things and are learning who you are now (because you are NEVER, EVER the same after this), keep fighting. Keep fighting for your healing. Keep fighting for your future. Please know that it is not your fault. It is not okay. People are fighting for you!


If you are a kid who has or is experiencing ANY of the things I talked about, keep fighting. Keep telling grown-ups in your life until one of them listens. We are listening. We will not ignore this TRUE pandemic anymore. People are fighting for you!


Dear Ones, We have GOT to do better for our kids! This generation. My generation. My friends, siblings, cousins, etc. that experienced the things we did as kids, at the hands of the adults in our lives, We say NO MORE! NOT OUR KIDS and NEVER AGAIN! We have the power to stop this horrific pandemic of buying, selling, using, and abusing children!
It’s going to require that we get bold, though. It’s going to require that we decide that our children’s lives, health, and future are WORTH telling OUR stories. Worth bringing this demon out into the light, exposing it for what it is, and healing from it.


Ephesians 6:10-12 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
It is time to take a stand. We cannot ignore this silent epidemic any longer.


I will continue to use my blog platform to tell you of my story, struggles, wins, and losses with anxiety. However, I also plan to use it as a place of bringing awareness to this ever-growing pandemic of buying, selling, using, and abusing our children. Put on your armor! It is time for a fight!

~Forever In His Grip

LB

It’s All Him

Good Morning, All!

Ya’ll! I am plum worn out! I can’t seem to get through my day without a nap and going to bed super early in the evening…like 8 o’clock pm kind of early. We have been adjusting to a new schedule recently and it’s kicking my booty. Kermit and I are on the same page; I thought this meme pretty much sums it up…

B was on a 12 hour compressed shift at work; which just means he alternated between working 4- 12 hour shifts a week and 3- 12 hour shifts a week. It was great because that meant that he had either 3 or 4 days off a week (with the exception of overtime days). We were able to plan more things to do together and with the kids because he had those days off. Now he is working 8 hour shifts, Monday- Friday, with very little opportunity for overtime. It has been good for us in other ways, though. I really like having him home earlier in the day. We have the opportunity to do things in the evenings, we are able to have dinner at a normal time. (We were eating dinner as late as 8 or 9 pm. Now we can eat at 5:30-6:00, like normal people!) He’s always off on Sunday, which allows us to start having our big family dinners on Sunday afternoon after church. Change is really, really hard for me, so I just try to focus on the positive things about the change.

One of the things that helps me manage my anxiety is routine. I struggle with change, especially last minute change that I wasn’t expecting/prepared for. I do really well when I have a predictable daily routine. However, I also have to work hard to not become SO dependent on my routine, that I panic if something doesn’t go according to my “plan” for the day. So, I am working on finding a new routine, that works for me, that I can “go with the flow” of the day and get through the day.

In one of my previous posts, I wrote about my routine for the very first part of my day; which is waking up early enough to have coffee, prayer, and bible time with Brian before he goes to work. The next part of my day is my favorite…

After I get back from taking him to work, while the house is still dark and quiet, I make a comfortable spot on my favorite couch, brew a fresh cup of coffee, and write. My goal is to write and have “me time” before I wake my kids up for breakfast and school. It seems to help me set the tone for the day and it makes me feel productive. Definitely more productive that coming home and going back to bed until noon and wasting half of my day.

Sometimes I write in my personal journal. Sometimes I write here, on this blog. Sometimes I write love notes to B to stick in his lunch bag the next day. Sometimes I write out prayers that I am praying for different people or situations in my life. Writing is so very therapeutic for me and I thank you for taking the time to read the things that I write.

I have been sharing my life and experiences with anxiety and other mental health disorders here on this blog for a couple of months now. I’ve told you about the worst panic attack of my life and about how my journey led me to therapy. I’ve told you about my husband, B , and the amazing support and love that he shows me on a daily basis. I even did a whole post about what the phrase “Like a Boss” means to me and why I gave my blog that name.

Now is the time, perhaps, that I share with you the truth about HOW I deal with my mental health disorders and physical ailments on a day to day basis. I feel that if I am going to share the struggle, I need to also share the answer.

In November of 2018 my anxiety was at an all time high and the depression had me at an all time low. I struggled to breathe, all day every day. I barely got out of bed. Nothing brought me joy. I couldn’t crochet or write or get through a day without a panic attack of some level. Even being close to my kids caused symptoms of anxiety- irritability, nausea, etc. B and I had the biggest fight/struggle/conflict that we had ever had and…I left.

I told him that I was done. I was ready to “check out.” Out of our relationship and out of life. I. was. done. I left our house and started driving in the direction of the hospital. The broken feeling that flooded my mind, heart, and body intensified and as I approached a large bridge I said aloud “God, if you are there and You are real, I’m going to need You to show up, RIGHT NOW!” I had every intention of slamming my car into the side of the bridge and falling over it, hopefully to my death. I knew that I could not continue to live with the weight of all of this “stuff,” in fact, I didn’t want to live anymore at all. I couldn’t see anything but the hard, the heavy, the struggle.

The truth is that I have only found ONE way to get through the hard, the heavy, and the struggle. He showed up that day. He spoke to the deepest part of my heart and gave me a hope that the hard and the struggle would end. So instead of running my car off of the bridge, I drove home, to my husband. We sat together and prayed and cried and held on to each other for dear life.

Jesus met us there, in our bedroom, that day. He flooded my heart with a peace that just didn’t make any sense. Does that ever happen to you?! You are in a situation and you should be all kinds of worked up, angry, etc. but you just have this calmness, this peace, this assurance that it really will all be okay?

After that day, all I could do was read His word, listen to worship music, pray, and write in my journal. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote down everything that I felt that He was saying to me. I wrote down prayers; for me, for my family, for people who had hurt me. I wrote down goals and visions for our future that He spoke to my heart. In “christian terms” I was “ON FIRE” for God. There was this huge high, where I couldn’t get enough of Jesus, and I wasn’t feeling anxious, and I was getting out of bed and being productive and I just FELT GREAT.

That particular “high” season ended somewhere around May of this year. It didn’t slowly fade…it just stopped. I stopped writing again, I stopped worshiping, I stopped reading my bible, I stopped praying. Everything just stopped. Guess what happened next?? The anxiety crept back up, the depression spiked up, the exhaustion came back and it was all I could do to stay out of bed for a few hours a day. June is when the panic attack that put me in the hospital happened. (You can read about that here) I started feeling, again, that this was never going to end; that I’m going to have this struggle for my entire life and I just have to “manage.” Ya’ll, that’s a pretty depressing place to be; to feel like there is NO hope that it will EVER get better. That you are just stuck there and there is nothing you can do about it.

I just felt stuck there, and so I stayed there for a few weeks… again. Why?! I don’t really know, these things are not logical, but I stayed with the anxiety and the depression. I stayed in bed for days on end. B has said that I went weeks without ever smiling at all. It was a deep, dark place to be. That’s when my doctor sent me to a psychiatrist, who sent me to therapy. The full story about that can be found here.

Now it is October and B and I strive to wake up at 5am each morning so that we have time to spend together, with Jesus. I make our coffee and he plays worship music and gets ready for work. We sit on our bed and pray together. Then we open God’s word and read it, discuss it, and seek to understand its truth and how it applies to, and affects us today. We ask Him for His peace, calmness, love, and mercies to be with us that day; and for His guidance, direction, and protection.

Long story short…Jesus is my answer. He is my answer for anxiety, depression, and PTSD. He is my answer for the triggers that still exist and try to keep me trapped. He is my answer for how I homeschool and raise my kids. He is my answer for having a healthy marriage and healthy friendships. It is Jesus, ya’ll. Jesus is the only reason I am still alive. He keeps my head above the water, so I can keep my eyes on Him through the storms. He meets me right where I am and hears me when I call out to Him.

You’ll find, as this blog continues, that a lot of (but not all of) my writings will have content that relates to Jesus and the bible, and how it all shapes and steers my life.

I pray that all of this comes across how I actually intend it; to be encouraging, uplifting, and possibly even helpful to those that read it. The things that I write about have been my personal experiences in my life. Not all of it has been sunshine and roses. There has been much darkness and trial and struggle. However, this is what I believe helps me deal with my mental health issues, as well as my physical health. It is Jesus. I believe that as I read His word and draw closer to Him, He gives me a peace and a calmness that beats out the anxiety and chaos. The bible tells us that we will have struggles, trials, failures, hurt and heartbreak in this life. Ahhhhh…but Jesus! He doesn’t always take it all away; but He does ALWAYS help me through it. And that is why “It’s all Him.”

What struggles do you face right now? What have you found that helps work for you in managing/dealing with your struggles? How can I pray for you? Feel free to leave a comment below and let’s open the dialog about these things.

Forever In His Grip,

LB

Full Circle

I graduated high school just a few months before the bombing/attacks on 9/11. After graduation, I began looking into joining the Navy. I wanted to join for many of the same reasons that most people do…to serve, to travel, to learn, to have a steady paycheck after having become an “adult.” 🙂 I was just trying to figure out where in this world my “place” was. The typical things that most, if not all, graduates deal with; “What do I want to BE when I grow up? Where am I going with my life? What kind of “life” is it that I desire to create for myself?”

Just a couple of weeks after graduation, I joined; and my “ship date” was set for mid-July. For what remained of my time at home that summer, you could find me working my part time job or preparing for the Navy. Great Lakes, IL was to be my destination for the next several months for Basic Training and training school.

Fun fact about me: I am a “Daddy’s Girl” through and through. From the time he came into my life, it has been my goal, all my life, to make him proud of me. We had a special bond that not many people understand. We had so many similarities that people often questioned me when they found out that he was not my biological father. The number of people that have told me that I had his smile or eyes is just ridiculous. And, of course, I would just smile, knowing that we didn’t share the DNA that would make that scientifically possible.

Let me say here that we did not always have a great relationship. There were many mistakes made over the years, damage done, healing that had to take place. Dad and I came along way over the years. At this point in my life (18 years old and fresh out of high school) our relationship was still strained, but my goal was still to make him proud. In hind sight, I really do think that I joined the Navy more because HE did. You see, my dad was a “Navy Man” and served our country during the Vietnam War. I thought that by joining the Navy, it would make me even more like him and he would be proud of me. Right?!

Dad’s “official” Navy picture from when he was in boot-camp.

I don’t have any pictures of the day I left for the Navy, but this is one of my favorite pictures of us together.

The day I left for basic was probably one of the more emotional days I have had in my life. We got up early, loaded my things from our home into the care and drove the 15 miles from where we lived, to the recruiting office in a near by town. We unloaded everything from our car, to the recruiter’s car and started the “goodbyes.” I was really proud of myself! I made it through the goodbyes with my mom, my sister, and my boyfriend without crying. I had pushed the time too far and my recruiter was hurrying us along, so my goodbye with my dad was the shortest (are most with dad’s?). He hugged me tighter than I think he has ever hugged me and quickly whispered something in my ear. It wasn’t what I was expecting; it caught me off guard and the tears immediately started to flow. I cried and cried and cried. I ugly cried all the way to Dallas. My poor recruiter! Lol! He was probably thinking “IS this girl going to stop crying?! Like, EVER?!?” It was only he and I in the car for the drive, so it was a little awkward, to say the least.

The thing that he said to me that day, shifted everything for me, although I didn’t realize it at the time. It has resurfaced over the years; like now. It has been close to 20 years now, and I can’t tell this story or say the phrase aloud without crying. He said “I love you, Sis. Do yourself proud.”

“Do yourself proud.” At 18 years old, though, I barely knew what that meant, much less how to execute it. It shifted, however, from wanting to make him proud, to knowing that he was already proud of me. Now it was time to step into MY life that I wanted to create and do something that I could be proud of myself for doing. It wasn’t anything that someone else could do for me; if I was going to succeed in the Navy, or in life, I was going to have to live my life in a way that I would be proud of. Those three words have stopped me in my tracks, they have made me cry at least 100 times, and they have made me pause…think…contemplate, even. Am I living my life in a way that lives up to those words?… Do. Yourself. Proud

In March of 2011 our family decided it was time to transition from our home town to Lubbock, TX to serve with a ministry there called Malta Farms. (You can visit their website, maltafarms.net, to learn more about the amazing work that they do in Lubbock County.)

The annual pumpkin patch for Malta Farm’s fall fundraiser. This was such an amazing thing to be a part of and WHO KNEW that there were so many different types and colors of pumpkins?!?!

I was SO excited to be going to serve the ministry that changed Brian’s life and we knew that we knew that it was supposed to be our next step. Once again, however, anxiety showed its ugly face and made the move extremely difficult for me. It took me months to pack our house because every time I started to pack, I started to have an anxiety attack. Even though I KNEW God’s hand was in it and even though I was genuinely excited, I literally could not do it.

July came, we celebrated Baby Girl’s 8th birthday and the 4th of July with family and friends, and then on July 10th, we loaded the U-Haul and left our hometown for Lubbock. Once again Dad’s “goodbye” was short and sweet; he hugged me tight, told me he loved me and handed me a card. I read it and immediately started crying. Ugly crying, ya’ll. Sobbing. I’m sure that he intended it to mean that I could do the move to Lubbock and be okay (which I did, mostly), but there have been many times since then that I’ve read those words and felt peace wash over me.

I’ve come to realize that it was exactly 10 years (July of 2001 to July of 2011) from the time he first said “Do yourself proud” to when he gave me the card. I have it hung on the wall in my bedroom. It seems to catch my eye at EXACTLY the perfect point in time every now and then. I often find myself saying “I know, Dad. I know I can face this.”

I still need these reminders every so often. “Do yourself proud” and “Keep going! You can do it! I know that you have what it takes to do this!” While I have come a long way, and I do want to live my life in a way that I can be proud of; and even though he has since passed away, I hope I am making him proud, too.

I pray that any one reading this finds hope and truth in these words. “Keep going!” “You CAN do this!” “I KNOW that you have what it takes to do this!!”

Forever In His Grip

LB

Anxiety is…

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I think that anxiety is the single most stupid thing I have ever had to deal with in my life. If you haven’t read any of my other posts, then let me tell you… I think that anxiety is the single most stupid thing I have ever had to deal with in my life!!!!

However, anxiety is not defined as “stupid”; it’s actually defined as:

anx·i·e·ty / aNGˈzīəde noun

  1. a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Similar: worry, concern, apprehension, apprehensiveness, consternation

This is your typical “I’m a little anxious to get the test results.” “I’m worried about how I’m going to be able to pay this bill.” “I have a huge presentation at work and I’m nervous!” type of anxiety. Almost every human, ever, has experienced this type of anxiety at some point in their life. This what most people tend to think when I say that I have anxiety. Perhaps, that fault lies with me and I need to be more specific. I say that, to say this:

There are also various Anxiety Disorders. There are a total of about six different ones; I have three of them. According to the Mayo Clinic anxiety disorders are (especially note the parts in italics):

“Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).

These feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger and can last a long time. You may avoid places or situations to prevent these feelings. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood.

Examples of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), specific phobias and separation anxiety disorder. You can have more than one anxiety disorder. Sometimes anxiety results from a medical condition that needs treatment.

I was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was four years old. Anxiety?! At FOUR years old?!? Yep. I bet you’re wondering “What the heck is a FOUR. YEAR. OLD. anxious about?” Well, generally speaking, a four year old would have nothing to be anxious about. Some four year olds, though, have had a rough go of it from the start; traumatic births, health problems, surgeries, etc. Some four year olds have already had more than one divorce in their parents’ lives, and some times, both of those marriages were abusive anyway. By the time I was four and WELL before I had a clue what the word “anxiety” means, it had started affecting me by manifesting itself in the form of physical symptoms. I had severe digestive/tummy issues and my hair had started to fall out by the handful.

The time that I reached middle school (and started puberty) is when a couple of the men in my life chose to do what they did to me. (I am choosing to leave out the names and some of the details…for now, as I am truly still finding my healing.) The two people were both sexually abusing me, on a regular basis, with neither of them knowing about the other. One was a little heavier on the mind games/mental aspect of abuse than the other; in fact as I grew older, learned more, and looked back on those events, I was being “groomed” for much worse by one and the “worst” was already happening with the other. The thing that did the most damage, though, was being told that I was not acceptable how I was and that I needed to be “stripped down to nothing and built back the way that he wanted me.” What he meant by that was, “I want to control you so you will do whatever I say and I want to scare you, so you will never tell anyone.” Ya’ll this is just my life up until middle school, and this is just the MOST MAJOR stuff that happened, (not everything) and suddenly the question of “Why do I have anxiety?” has an answer.

I have struggled my entire life with feeling like the real, true me, was not good enough. I often feel as though my whole life, thus far, has been me acting; trying to act in a way/ways that would make me “acceptable” and truly loved. Now that I am in my mid-30’s, I feel as though I am starting to grow into what, and who, God created me to be. I am discovering who I really am and not just what someone else wanted to create, what I really love, what I really can’t stand, the types of friends I want to have in my life and the kind of friend I want to be in return. Having reached the point where “just managing” the symptoms of anxiety, but mostly pretending that everything is “fine” is just not working any more; other strategies have had to be put in place. Brian and I decided that I would try the medication route again and I’ve decided that I’m not going to let anyone else’s opinion about how I care for my own well-being, contribute to my anxiety. I just am one of those people that needs medication to keep me on a level playing field. Therapy has been absolutely invaluable; as it is teaching me strategies to fight the anxiety and not just lay down and let it take my life. I have to “do the work” and find my healing or its going to kill me.

It has been thirty two years since I first showed symptoms of anxiety. It has been twenty four years since the abuse I endured stopped and the people involved faced their consequences. Still, even now, as an adult, I still frequently deal with my body exhibiting physical symptoms, whether or not I am experiencing any mental or emotional symptoms at that time. Almost daily I experience nausea, rapid heart rate, difficulty catching my breath, upset stomach, sweating, muscle cramps/spasms, tingling, difficulty sleeping/staying asleep. Now, most days I don’t experience ALL of those things, but I do experience most of them to some degree or another.

I hope that this has given you a little bit of insight into anxiety, and especially the difference between the anxiety/anxiousness that most people feel and the severe anxiety disorders that so many suffer from. Thanks to the support system that has rallied around me, from my husband and kids to my doctors, my therapist and my Camp Gladiator workout family, I am doing better now than I have in many, many years. It is possible. Hang in there.

I would now like to leave you with one of my favorite pictures from the social interwebs…

What have your experiences been with anxiety? Do you struggle with it or do you know someone who does? Let’s talk in the comments. Be sure to “like” and “subscribe” to get my posts sent right to your inbox!

I have many days in my life that I wonder “How in the world does he handle all of the things that MY anxiety causes him to have to deal with? Like, I don’t even think I would be able to handle being married to me!” I mean, come on ya’ll, I’ve only got about three different anxiety disorders! It shouldn’t be THAT hard to handle, right?!

You guys, there are so many ways that my anxiety affects Brian, as my husband. He is AMAZING at dealing with both of us, me and the anxiety. I know he thinks he doesn’t know what he’s doing or that he just plain stinks at it, but I tell him almost daily that I literally do not think I could do this without him. I think that if I was married to anyone else this would have killed me already. That’s the truth.

Brian is a fairly out-going guy. He loves meeting new people. He can talk to any one. So, he is, of course the complete and total opposite of this “I have social anxiety, can I please not meet any one that I have to actually converse with today” girl right here! For him that means few social gatherings; especially if it’s people I haven’t met before. It means having to leave a gathering early. It means me ONLY wanting to be near HIM. This part of the anxiety also keeps him from being able to surprise me. (In my favor, it also means that he can’t play practical jokes on me or startle me). It means that he can’t put me in a situation where I can’t get in touch with him if I need him. (I do TRULY mean IF I NEED him. Emphasis on IF and NEED; think “emergency.”)

Brian has never been the “finance” guy in our marriage. Now, he has always worked and made the money, but he didn’t care about the numbers part and the details, so it became my job to do. My severe anxiety means that he has to double check me when I pay bills or balance the checkbook. It means that He has had to deal with me straight up forgetting to pay bills and things being shut off. It means that he has dealt with me running up close to $15,000 in credit card debt…twice.

Way back when I was a child, my “hobby” was to clean my room, or organize my toys, or yell at my sister because “her side” of the room was a disaster area. When I married Brian, when I was twenty years old, I was what some people would call a “neat freak.” Our first little apartment stayed CLEAN, and organized, and well taken care of. I’m not really sure why my anxiety manifested itself as “neat freak” in my younger years and as “it’s clean ‘enough'” in my older years, but that is exactly what has happened. I say all of that, to say this; Brian deals with me going from one extreme to the other on household chores. I am either cleaning the baseboards with a toothbrush and organizing closets by color, or the trash hasn’t been taken out in days, the sink is full, and I can’t remember the last time I changed clothes. The “in between” on these two extremes is when I do at least manage to remind the kids to do their chores.

One of the hardest, most frustrating, most annoying, irritating things that we have had to deal with is the issues of anxiety that I have in the area of intimacy/sex. I had multiple sexual traumas in my childhood. It has come to my attention over the past several years, as the anxiety has reached an all time high, that that trauma is still affecting me today, in a very real way. Brian has not ever, and I do mean EVER, done anything to me, said anything to me, or treated me in a way that even remotely resembled the things the other men did when I was young. He has always been very gentle and tender with me, has never done anything that was not consensual, has always taken care of me before himself. If you know him, you know how much this man adores me. He still, after 16 years of marriage and over twenty years since the trauma, deals with things like me not being able to turn off the lights, me not being able to be touched in certain areas or certain ways, something small and insignificant causing my body to SHUT DOWN. Or, me having a panic attack in the middle of… and having to stop completely. Brian is so good to me. He is so careful and does his best to not hurt me or cause me any unnecessary anxiety…that it causes HIM anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle. We take frequent “spins.” My therapist has us going on weekly dates; just us. Just to reconnect. Just to hang out and be friends. We don’t spend much money; we go walk at the park or go to one of our workouts and grab a bite to eat. It’s helping. I’m optimistic.

When this anxiety crap is getting the best of me, Brian frequently tells me “I’m sorry, Baby. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I wish I could fix it or take it away.” While we know that our spouse can’t really fix it or take it away, Brian and I have learned some ways that a spouse can help/ease anxiety. One of the biggest, I can tell you from personal experience, is SUPPORT! If your spouse truly has anxiety…IT. IS. NOT. ALL. IN. THEIR. HEAD. They need encouragement to take care of themselves (in all areas). Brian has stood by my side as I went to the doctor and asked her for help. He was with me with I picked up and started taking the meds. He encouraged me to call the therapist and make an appointment. He cheered me on as I started working out and taking care of my physical body. He found the money to make sure that I could do all of those things. Of course, the most important thing (to me; anyways) is that he has carried me in prayer.

If patience could earn you a ticket to heaven, this man would have had his LONG ago! I mean patience like JOB, ya’ll! I’ve already talked about a lot of the ways he is patient with me. I, honestly, don’t even know how he does it. It shows in every area of our lives; our home/home management, our finances, our own ‘personal stuff.’ Anxiety affects so much of my life that he has learned to be patient with me in more ways and in more areas than I think most people ever realize.

Another way that Brian has come to help me when I am anxious is that HE learns my triggers and warning signs. The triggers that we have identified so far are sex, social situations, too many people (crowded Wal-Mart sent me to the hospital), being startled, any of my kids saying that they don’t feel well/have an ache/have a headache/etc. (especially if it is too often) There really isn’t enough room in the “cloud” or enough time in a day to list them all. Sometimes, there are no triggers. It just happens. Those times usually come with some warnings; shortness of breath/tightness in chest, fast heartbeat, sweating, sudden upset stomach, tingling, muscle spasms/tightness.

Friends, this stuff is not easy, it is not for the faint of heart. It is worth it, but it’s not easy. Brian doesn’t experience anxiety like I do, so it’s not something that he truly understands on a personal level. Ask him about what an addict experiences; he KNOWS addiction. Ask him about what a dad, whose kid’s mother is NOT wanting to let him be in his kid’s life, experiences; he KNOWS losing a relationship with a child. Ask him about that same dad’s experiences when he DOES earn having his child back; he KNOWS about restored relationships. There are many things that he has experienced, that he does understand, anxiety just isn’t one of them.

If I haven’t mentioned it already, it is my firm belief that anxiety is the stupidest thing I have ever had to deal with. It is not logical and, in my case, it is NOT just thoughts in my head. It would be exponentially easier to deal with if it was! I can control my thoughts; I could kick anxiety’s ass if it was all in my head.

The panic attack/depressive episode that happened in June was the first time that Brian got a glimpse of what this anxiety can really do to me. The detailed story about that was previously posted and you can find it here. He saw me fighting it. He saw me trying to “push through.” He heard me telling myself “You are fine. There is nothing to panic about. Brian is here. You are FINE.” Then he saw what it did to my body any way. I don’t want it to sound like he has not always been supportive, or encouraged me to do WHATEVER. IT. TAKES. to be healthy and okay–he has. That day, though. That day he saw what I’m really up against and it changed him and how he handles/helps me fight this crap. Anxiety certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. It is a day by day, week by week, month by month, battle that is fought hard for, and won.

Brian, when I can’t breathe, you are the reminder in my head to slow down and breathe deeply to catch my breath. When my heart is racing 95+ beats a minute and won’t slow down, you ground me and bring me back to resting. When I can’t stop the nervous ticks/shaking, you are my solid place. When I can’t sleep, because the anxiety has followed me into my dreams, you hold me and comfort me until the sleepiness and peaceful dreams return. When I want to quit, you are the reason I don’t. Thank you for being my husband. Thank you for helping me fight this fight. Thank you for loving me so completely and so unconditionally. YOU, Sir, are my heart!

Forever In His Grip,

LB

She’s in therapy?!?

This is my third blog post, so if you’ve made it to this one, Thank You! I hope you have enjoyed being here thus far.

Let’s talk about irony, shall we?! I am one of the most introverted, anxious, people pleasers I have ever met. A few months ago I said to myself “Self, we should start a blog.” Self, of course, said “UMMM…Let’s not!! People will read it (or will they?!?!). people will ridicule, people will FIND something negative to say,” and on, and on, and on it went. (I can’t be the only one who has inner conversations with “self,” right? Lol! ) It was at that point that I created a little snippet of a blog on Blogger, through Google. I wrote several blogs, but I never published them. I still wasn’t ready to put myself out there.

Fast forward a couple of months and I had the worst anxiety attack experience of. my. life. Brian and I were going to the grocery store to grab 5 things that we needed for dinner. Literally, 5 things. If I wanted to think hard, I could probably tell you what they were. I was already having some of what I call “middle level” symptoms of anxiety; feeling short of breath and tingling in my hands/forearms. But we only needed FIVE things, so I decided to “push through.” I kept telling myself “You are fine. You have zero reasons to feel anxious right now. You are fine.”

Here is the thing about anxiety, though: IT IS NOT LOGICAL

Even though I didn’t feel threatened in anyway, I wasn’t scared, I had my husband with me, and I KNEW that I was ok, my body did not seem to care. The shortness of breath got so bad that by the time I reached the front door, I had to get a handicapped cart because I could not catch my breath. But, again, we only needed 5 things and I was FRUSTRATED beyond belief with anxiety and it’s nonsense. I got on the cart and off we went to get our 5 things.

By the time we got to the first item on the list, the tingling in my hands and arms had spread to my chest and face. By the time we got to the third item, the muscles in my hands clinched up and I could barely control the cart. We got the last two items and got to the checkout. Every muscle in my body was clinched; including my jaw muscles (I could not open my mouth, no matter how hard I tried). I could no longer control the cart at all. My hands were clinched so tight that I could not open them, even enough to grasp the control. Brian did the checkout and he controlled the cart to get us out to the truck. Everything was clinched (Think labor contraction, long and HARD, all over your body, and IT. WILL. NOT. LET. GO.). The way my face looked, with my tight jaw, yet drooping face, Brian thought I might be having a stroke. (Maybe some day I can get him to tell his side of this experience??)

When we arrived at the truck, there happened to be an ambulance blocking us from getting out of our parking spot. Brian picked me up and put me in the truck and then went to get the EMTs. They checked all my vitals. Ya’ll, my blood pressure was perfect. My O2 level was perfect. My heart-rate was perfect. Yet, every muscle was STILL clinched and wouldn’t let go. The EMTs called another ambulance to come get me. I was taken to TMC, checked over by the doctor and nurses, given a strong anti-anxiety medication intravenously, and observed for a time. Once the anxiety attack had passed, and everything else came back perfect, Brian brought me home.

I spent the next week in the bed. Unable to function. Exhausted. Sore. At my wits end. On the verge of suicidal, not knowing what to do next, but knowing that SOMETHING had to be done. I knew that I just couldn’t live like that. I followed up with my family doctor, after the emergency room visit, who sent me to a psychiatrist. I made the appointment with them immediately. This doctor referred me to a therapist, who I actually didn’t make an appoinment with right away. It was close to three weeks later that I went to see her for the first time. Turns out, this lady probably saved my life…No, she really saved my life.

Therapy is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I highly recommend it. Literally. Every. One. should go to therapy because Every. One. has LIFE on them and LIFE is hard sometimes. Let’s lean on each other instead of stepping on each other, shall we?

Forever In His Grip

LB

Like a Boss

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

What does that mean, anyway?! “Like a Boss”?? This phrase started being pretty widely used a few years ago. Everyone was doing everything “like a boss.” There are memes for days that have the phrase, accompanied by pictures of everything from reading books while doing a handstand to sleeping at work; all being done “like a boss.” To everyone else, it probably means something to the effect of “like a pro.” Maybe?! I don’t know.

I can only assume, that like most things, it means something different to different people. In my little corner of the world, the family I married into has Boss as their surname. This particular family of Bosses have not always taken the “easy way” in life. We have made poor choices in life, we have struggled with all kinds of “bang ups and hang ups,” we have let ourselves and each other down. BUT, we have always pushed through and came out on the other side better than when we started. We have always been able to count on each other and we are all striving to do things differently; better, for the young ones we are now raising. Bosses don’t quit, sometimes to a fault.

I have officially decided that my “Like a Boss” means that I will not let anxiety (or the other host of issues I deal with) control my life. It is a part of my life, maybe forever, but it will not control me or keep me from living my life to the fullest. My “Like a Boss” means that I will invest my time, effort, energy, resources, in the people and the causes that are nearest and dearest to my heart. I will do my best to live this life in a way that empowers my children to grow into THEIR calling, their future, their own life.

So, I guess that means that “Living This Life Like a Boss” means never quitting, recognizing how far you’ve come, overcoming your “bang ups and hang ups,” doing better for the next generation, and not letting LIFE make you quit.

Forever In His Grip,

LB