Let’s Dance with our Demons, shall we?
So, this morning I was looking through Facebook. You know, Facebook really does just waste soo much time, but it is entertaining and I was kinda waiting on two teenage girls to get their acts together so we could go. I could have put the dishes in the dishwasher, walked the dog, a million other things that would actually be productive, but I chose to scramble my brain a little more with some Facebook. The thing that I love about FB is that I feel like I have gotten to know so many things about people that I would never have known before. I “hear” from people I haven’t seen or talked to for real in years. That seems wrong, but it is what it is. There are so many people that I love so much and really should spend more time with. I am a big old hermit sometimes, so FB lets me cheat a bit. I am working on it. I really am. I stepped so far out of my comfort zone a few times lately that I am surprised I did not fall off the edge of the earth.
Laura took a summer theater class and they did a performance of Beauty and the Beast. The theater program at Manning is absolutely unbelievable and they put on a really professional show. Well, Ben was out of town the beginning of the summer. He was in Crested Butte and could not be here for the show. Bummer. So, off I went. I got there nice and early so that I could get a good seat. I sat right in a middle seat about 8 rows back. Perfect. When I sat down, there was no one else in my row and very few people there period. I would never choose a row that had people in it and sit next to someone I did not know if there were other options. I just wouldn’t. Truth hurts sometimes. I think I might be a brat, I am not sure. Anyway, people started arriving, but there were still tons of seats. This Grandma and her five hundred grandkids sat right next to me on my left. She even had one big kid in her lap. She gave them all tootsie pops. Ben and I call those silencers. We always had them in the glove box on road trips. When kids got to fussing, we’d hand 'em one of those and it was good for darn near half an hour. I could go for a grape one right now. So, there they are. The kids are really loud and the Grandma is ten times louder and not as cute. Right next to me?? Seriously, why? In a pretty much empty auditorium, why? So, it would be rude to get up and move, especially since we had spoken. She said, “Oh, we will settle in, don’t worry.” Wow, did my anxiety show?
The kids weren’t bothering me as much as this really nice lady talking really, really loudly and rummaging through her purse for snacks. It would have been no issue had she given me a purple tootsie pop. What really would have been great is if she would have planted one in her mouth. I’m sorry, but seriously. She was talking so loudly that it was drawing attention. People were turning around etc. Fine. I will live. I am sure I am not always a picnic. Then a nice family came and sat on the other side of me, filling up the last five seats in my row. They were really nice also and I know the mom on a “our kids go to the same school and I know I have met you but can’t remember your name” basis. She reintroduced herself, but I forgot to listen. Ugh. My head was kind of swimming.
So, a few months ago it was mental health awareness month. You may have noticed they did lots of stories on it on the news etc. The amount of people that suffer from some sort of mental issue is astounding. The pressure we put on our kids now and all of the social media have compounded things so much. Facebook makes a lot of people feel that they are not as loved as others, their life isn’t as good, they don’t have as many “friends”, and they don’t have the rock and roll lifestyle that everyone else has. There are filters that can make you look thinner, your eyes bluer, whatever. It is like a supermodel filter. That is an awful thing. It makes you less accepting of the real you and you must live up to this ridiculous standard of perfection. Thing is, it isn’t really the deal at all. However, it is human nature to examine your life and compare sometimes. It isn’t the Godly thing, but we all do it. I have about one hundred mental issues, but the one that is really troublesome is anxiety when I am in an exact situation like the one I just spoke about. I do not like to be in big groups of people that I do not know. I am not how I seem. I really am not. So, there I was someone touching my elbows on either side. The rows ahead of me were completely full and it was filling up fast behind me. Oh boy. Jeez lady, just do a girl a favor and give me a grape sucker already! It was really noisy with lots of chatter and getting hot in there. The noise all started to kinda buzz in my ears and I could feel my heart starting to race. This is stupid. It really is. So, I reminded myself to breathe and just focus on something.
The lady next to me started to visit and I found myself settling down. It is that feeling of being trapped that really freaked me out. I had a mini (actually it didn’t seem mini, but I am using a filter to downsize what happened to me!) anxiety attack, but worked through it! I lived. See, here I am. After the show a bunch of the kids wanted to go out for ice cream. This was a new group of friends and I did not know their parents at all. I told myself I needed to cowboy up and get to that ice cream shop. Well, I did it! I went and sat with a whole bunch of people I had not ever really visited with before. The kids did their own thing because teenagers really don’t want to admit they have parents. Pretty soon I realized it was 9:00 and getting dark. I had enjoyed myself. So, now I need to keep it going and intentionally step out of my comfort zone. That way it will get easier each time. If Ben had been there, I would have had a safety. This was good. Progress was made. I really don’t know why I am the way I am or how it started. Everyone has their own deal. This is one of mine. No one is perfect. No one.
So, now here it is months later. It is almost Halloween. The summer was a rough one for my MS. I had an exacerbation that really knocked me for a loop. MS is stupid and weird. It can just sit dormant and you go along pretty well, still feeling the numbness, fatigue, and pain, but not to a point of it stopping you in your tracks. Over the summer I got stopped dead in my tracks. Wham. Dang it. So, there were a few months that I couldn’t have gotten up and danced a jig even if someone paid me. This is bad. This is a bad thing for someone with anxiety. See, I couldn’t leave the house much and was pretty much rear-end planted on the couch. Ugh. The not being with many people thing reinforces the fear of being with people thing. So, as I was healing physically, my brain was telling me to avoid. Avoid, avoid, avoid. I have no clue what I think will happen if I am in a big group of people. Maybe they will all turn into trolls and try to get me? Maybe they will all point and laugh at me for my faults? Maybe my invisible MS junk really isn’t invisible, maybe my fear is plastered on a sign on my back, maybe, maybe, maybe everything. None of that is real, but understand that in the moment, at that time when my head goes there to that mucky green slime place, it is very real to me. I have said many times that everyone has their deal. Most people, including myself, are afraid to admit their deal. Now I am saying it right here. This is but ONE of my deals. I have so stinkin many that I will have stuff to write about forever. The thing is by facing my fear I can help myself a bit. I have had to literally force myself out the door some days. I am ok.
It is a demon I face, but God will help me slay it, or whatever. I don’t picture myself slaying anything, by the way, and almost hit another car swerving to miss a stupid squirrel the other day. I can’t STAND squirrels. They are my mortal enemy. Sound extreme?? Well, it isn’t. I have battled with the squirrels for decades over my bird feeders. It took me ten years to get the feeders and bird baths placed precisely so the fluffy tailed rats can’t get to the feeders. It takes careful planning because they can jump from the bird bath to the feeder and then it’s all over. So, now I have baffles underneath the feeders and the bird baths are placed perfectly. There used to be a half dead cherry tree a few feet outside my flower bed/bird sanctuary. It needed to come down as it was just a mess anyway. One day I was looking out my kitchen window and saw a squirrel (with huge fangs and foam coming out of its mouth) jump from my fence to the cherry tree. It quickly scooted along a branch that really shouldn’t have supported it. Then, oh then, before falling to the ground because the branch was sagging so low, it jumped quickly to one of the feeders. Are you kidding me right now? No, no. This isn’t working for me at all.
This was many years ago and Ben had gone to get my Mom and Dad from the airport. Hmmmm….I went to the garage. I rummaged around the workbench. Nope. Then I looked up and there it was, a saw hanging on the wall. I know it was probably the wrong kind or whatever, but I didn’t care. If I hurried I could get it done before anyone got back to tell me that I couldn’t climb the tree and take care of this problem. So, up I went. Sawing off branches is really hard. I didn’t know that was so hard. I don’t have any upper body strength. This isn’t an MS thing, I just choose not to do push-ups or lift heavy things on any sort of a regular basis. I was like a mad woman up there sawing away and cussing and sweating. Sorry, remember we talked about admitting your faults. Cussing is another one of mine that I actually am getting much better about. I’ve told you before, longggggggg line of cussers. I come from generations of cussers. The genetics are thick and deep. My Mom didn’t cuss, she just said silly things. My sister, Kathleen, is pretty good too. Dad. He is good at it. My brothers are awful and I am not the princess I seem to be. Anyway, once the first branch hit the ground and I felt the rush of satisfaction, something came over me. I was so hot, tired, totally unsafe, but determined. I kept on cutting more and more branches off. They would hit the ground and I hoped that those freaky rats were watching from some tree in the distance. They had eaten their last seed from my house! My arms were all scratched up and the dog thought I had lost it. I cut and cut until just a few branches that were too thick for me remained. Then, a voice from the deck…….”What in the heck (not the real word) are you doing, daughter child?” It was my Dad. Ruh-roh. I hopped down and came up to the house to just get it over with. Whatever. You know, GIRLS don’t need to be doing such things. Whatever. It was done and I felt good. Ben was just a little irritated that I didn’t wait for him to do it. Dad was kinda mad because I “had no business being up in a tree with a saw.” That just made me want to, I don’t know, use more tools and get on the roof and clean the gutters or something. I was too tired. My arms hurt for so long and my back was sore. I was too stupid to just go put long sleeves on so my arms were all scratched up. It was done and I am the leader!! I won the battle with the squirrels. So, this story shows you how I feel about the squirrels. Do I want to hit one with my car and be the cause of its death? No, that would ruin my day. It might likely ruin the squirrel’s day as well.
I am not entirely sure how my tangents start, but I rattle on. I suppose the squirrel rant can tie into the overall theme of facing your inner demons. I’m not really sure how, but you all can work that out in your heads. Or not. I have made a decision to do one thing out of my comfort zone each week. Some weeks I succeed. Sometimes I chicken out. I will keep trying though. My dear friend Carl taught me that each night I should thank God for the day that I had. Each morning thank God for the day to come. Just do your best that day. Do your best. Carl passed away last month. Ben, Laura, and I went to see him a few days before he died. He might have weighed 80 pounds and was in one of those hospice beds in his living room. His dog, Daisy, had gotten sick a few months ago and died. How I wish she could have lived five minutes longer than Carl. He was super happy to see us. His bed was placed by the window and the three of us went over to say hello…..and goodbye. He was the same cheery Carl. Over the years he has never complained about anything or anyone. Here he was on his literal death bed and he says, “I am so happy to see you.” He called Laura his little nightingale. I asked him how he was and he said he couldn’t complain. What???? Wow. One in a million. I remember when I would help him to bed at night he would take up such a small space of his bed, Daisy tucked under the comforter at his side. He would fall asleep in like one second. The next morning when I went to help him get dressed, he would be in the same exact spot and no other part of the bed was disturbed. I was so jealous of his ability to sleep like that. I am not a good sleeper. Funny Carl said that I must not have a clear conscience. I cracked up hard at that. That is when he said the thing about thanking God at night AND the next morning. Do your best. If you don’t, try again the next day. That is really all you can do. Right your wrongs and be thankful. So, I am facing my demons and will win. The first part of facing your fears is saying it out loud. I am thankful for each day and am trying to thank God each night AND each morning. Maybe soon I will clear my conscience completely and be able to sleep more than four hours at a stretch. The beginning is being honest with myself about things I need to work on. I am stepping out of my comfort zone. Care to join me?
As my Dad always says, take care of each other.