Thursday, April 27, 2017

From the Outside Looking In

I stand here, looking at you, willing and praying for this to all go away.
    Knowing you are anxious and angry and sad helps me grasp the behavior,
     but it does little to help me understand what is flying through that head of yours.

I stand here, watching you unravel...watching you struggle.
             You writhe...kick...throw...yell.
   You pull your hair as if to pull your dark thoughts out of your head.
   I watch you squirm. Your anxiety appears to manifests itself as bugs, crawling inside.

I stand here, wondering how fast you are processing every thought.
       I picture your mind like rockets shooting off at random times, colliding in air...
          ...and then there is an EXPLOSION. At times I see the
        rockets getting ready to soar, but other times the explosion is the first thing I see.

I stand here, watching the wheels turning inside your mind. Your every thought connects to another.
    Some event that makes you anxious comes trucking along, but it results in a thought that
    makes you angry. So, anger jumps on this emotional roller picks up speed....
     encouraging other memories and trials to jump on the next car.
                    Inside my head I scream, "MAKE IT STOP!"
    Unfortunately that ride just keeps flying around until you realize what your actions have done, 
              and then you crumble. 
    Sadness jumps onto that roller coaster.
       As the ride comes to a stop your body collapses and tears spill from your eyes.
            Tears full of guilt for what you maybe just did.
            Tears full of fear that you won't be "normal" like the other kids.
            Tears full of fear of the unknown, not knowing what makes you angry.
            Tears full of fear that this is how you always will be.

I stand here, hugging you...wishing I could make it all go away.
      Your body finally feels calm and at peace. The rockets have ceased exploding
          and the bugs have stopped crawling.
           If I hold you long enough will I absorb the anxiety...the anger...the sadness?
              Do you feel me fervently praying?
                Do you sense my will to take your burden and make it mine?

I stand here, trying to comprehend.
    How can I say one thing and your mind convinces yourself of the opposite?
    How do just two questions wrong on homework during the entire week equate to failure for you?
    Why when I say, "You are smart" do you hear, "I am dumb?"
    How can you not see how funny and clever you are?
    Why do you translate a lesson on the value of money into an indication of your greed?
    Why do you insist you are nothing special?
    Why when I say, "I love you" do you sometimes hear "I hate you?"
         ...and the list goes on.

I stand here, second guessing every word and action that comes from me, for fear that
      it will be interpreted the wrong way. I try to hold all my emotions in for fear they
      might be translated wrong. This morning was rough. By the time we got to the school
       drop-off I was in tears because I knew you were suffering and 
                 I feared you have no idea how much you are loved.
    You saw my tears and thought they were because of you. 
  They weren't, but guilt and sadness hit you like a ton of bricks.
           I saw your face. You hit rock bottom.
           I drove away, tears rushing down...that was my rock bottom.

I stand here, wondering what YOU really feel. Do you feel your thoughts exploding like rockets?
       Do you see yourself squirming and do you feel the bugs? When you are calm does your
       mind feel like a sunny field of flowers? Can you sense how your body changes?
          Deep down...way down in the inner recesses of you, do you see how special you are?
                 How loved you are? What do you see? 
         The biggest hope of mine is that under all of this you know that....
                     I still KNOW and SEE that YOU'RE STILL YOU.

I stand here, thankful for the gift of forgiveness. Thankful for salvation.
       Thankful that I can comfort you that you are a child of God and that someday
         all of this will be gone as we will live in eternity with Him.
              Until that day...
                        I will stand here, by you, loving you.

Watching mental health struggles tear a loved one apart
is a painful process. I continue to try to
understand in the hopes that I might be able to help.
This is my view from the outside...looking in. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Heart Recharged

Last weekend I traveled back home.  

My heart SANG, and I felt it SMILE a million times over. 

That might sound cheesy, but there is no better way to explain it. To say these past few months have been rough is an understatement, so this trip was just the kind of therapy I needed.

It all started with a wedding invitation from a former student. My initial reaction was to consider the usual reasons why this adventure wouldn't work out, but the more I thought about all the people I would see I knew I had to go. Even though I only lived and taught in Michigan for 5 years, a huge piece of my heart will always be with those that impacted me during my time there. That being said, it had been almost 10 years since I had been back to Michigan. While technology is a blessing because it keeps people connected, there is just something so great about seeing someone special in person.

At the wedding I stepped into a photo booth for the first time.
Needless to say, we had a little bit of fun. These kids are crazy. I love'em.

So who was I so excited to see? Well, I was blessed to work with an amazing faculty and staff when I taught there, and it was so great getting to catch up with all of them. I left that teaching position 13 years ago, and while some things have obviously changed, there were many things that were the same. It was awesome to see that their love for their students and the school are just as strong now as it was then.

My heart saw and heard their gratitude, and it smiled. MLS continues to be blessed. 

I got to visit with many of the students I had over the years. I know most teachers will always refer to their students as "my students" or "my kids" even years after they taught them. Besides teaching and coaching, I was a dorm supervisor so I actually lived in the dorm with the students while there. That was an interesting experience - one I thoroughly loved.  Living in that situation creates a connection that a normal teacher or coach will never have. All those years ago I was proud of those students and felt so blessed to have them be a part of my life (hopefully the feeling was reciprocal). Fast forward to 2017, and those feelings have grown tenfold. Now to see them as "grown-ups" with careers and families was just amazing.

I feel like I taught them Shakespeare and Dickens and volleyball, 
but they gave me back so much more. I'm forever blessed. 

I saw the phenomenal families I got to know there. They could never replace my biological family, but there were several families that took me in/adopted me during my time in Michigan. As a result I have several moms, dads, brothers and sisters there. They were all such a blessing to me then, and still continue to be today.

Talk about unconditional love...I'm forever blessed. 

The cure was relatively simple. Grab a HUG and share a LAUGH (or two or a thousand) and check back in at the end of the weekend.

I've always been a hugger. I'm not sure what it is about a hug, but it fills me up. Not counting hugs from my husband and children, I received more hugs this past weekend than I have probably in the last year. Please excuse my dramatics, but there were moments when I felt emotion and words being transferred through a hug. One hug almost crushed the breath out of me, and I absolutely loved it.

And, I truly believe that laughter IS the best medicine.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love to laugh, and this weekend I did every variation and level of that. Grin? At least once an hour. Giggle? Like a little schoolgirl. Chuckle? It is the common reaction when people reminisce about a great memory...which I did on a regular basis. Guffaw? That is what erupted several times when I was literally doubled over in a laughing fit. The result? The inability to breathe due to laughing so hard. I love that feeling, and I wish it could have gone on and on....

All in all the cure was a success.

As with most reunions it wasn't all laughs and party time. There were some sad conversations and tears shed; we all have struggles in our lives. Yet every time there were tears, the reminder of our Lord's promise to us and the knowledge that HIS plan is better than ours reminded us how blessed we are for so many things. The fact that they we were sharing these things with each other portrays the closeness we feel and the love and concern that is there. What a blessing that our paths have crossed, and we are there for each other always - not just during the good times.

And, for me, being in the company of people that have been such a huge blessing to me helped me to come back recharged. It didn't erase the stress of every day life and the extra challenges that have arisen these past few months, but it did help refresh me. It added some pep to my step. It helped me find my laugh again. It helped me hit "restart" and come back with a renewed focus. It squeezed out some of the sadness and frustration in my heart and resuscitated it back to me feeling as close to "me" again as possible.  

On Monday I got back into town in time to pick up my girls from school. My youngest ran to me, I picked her up, and we hugged for a good long time. My older daughter did the same. Hugs can speak volumes, and those said just as much. For me it said "I'm home...I'm here...Mom loves you...You are a blessing to me...I thank God for you...I'm all here..."

Michigan, I'd like to thank you for an amazing weekend. It was hard to say goodbye, but I hope to see you all again soon - hopefully before another 10 years flies by. Until then, God be with you until we meet again.

Simply put...I'm recharged.