Monday, October 15, 2012

No Dumps Days

I have officially imposed on myself a new writer's rule: no blogging on Dumps Days (as in, down-in-the).  I had one of those on Thursday, and was very tempted to pour my heart out on the page.  But I decided to hold off and I'm glad that I did.  With the benefit of hindsight, it's not that last Thursday looks any better (it was an awful day people), it's just that this board is supposed to be about moving forward.  If I can't look at challenges in terms of where they lead (which you really can't sometimes when you're in the thick of it), then they're really no good for anyone, least of all me.  Hence, the No Dumps Days Rule: get some perspective, then put it in writing.

Last Thursday didn't start off any differently from any other day. I took Howie to school, had an appointment, and went to work.  I was not super busy on Thursday, which I think was part of the problem.  I had time, and plenty to do to get ready for our move, but no ability to get anything done.  Right now everything--adoption applications, rental applications, renovations, leasing agents--is in stasis waiting for some prerequisite to occur before we can move forward.  Well, as we all know, I'm the world's worst at waiting.  Finally having some free time but being unable to put it to good use made me start feeling helpless.  It made me start thinking about all of the things that will need doing, and worrying about how on earth we'll find the time later to get them all done.  It was overwhelming and isolating, and made every other challenge of the day seem that much bigger.  

Here's a for instance. I found out Thursday I needed a babysitter for Sunday, but our regular sitter is in Switzerland this month.  After nearly an hour of calling I hadn't found a replacement.  I started freaking out, thinking: 'If I can't even find a sitter for a Sunday night, how on earth will I be able to take care of Howie on my own when Jake is really gone?'  Actually, the second half of that sentence is a major concern of ours, but it's a problem for another day.  The point is, I was having a major meltdown over the simplest, most common of problems: I can't find a sitter when I need one. It happens to lots of women every day! But on Thursday, I just felt like an epic failure. Like I was adrift, all on my own with these huge mountains to climb and no one upon which I could rely, including myself.  To my own ears, now, it sounds very melodramatic, so it's a good thing I have that No Dumps Days Rule.  But it's not that the feelings are unique--when facing big challenges, people do feel overwhelmed, isolated, and sometimes even despairing.  And it's not that they are invalid.  It's just that, 'I give up' was how I felt, but it certainly was not the end, or even a place I wanted to stay for long.  

Late in the day on Thursday, I was checking in at Faith Deployed, one of my favorite blog spots. It's a site for men and women whose families are facing deployments, where people can share comments, helpful articles and information, and encouraging words.  On Thursday, one of the entries was from a frantic woman who was facing her husband's first deployment since they became parents.  She wrote a lot of the things I was feeling--isolation, uncertainty about whether she can handle it, anger and sadness at being apart, etc. She was clearly writing on a Dumps Day, and it was heart-rending. But one of the response comments caught my eye; it was from a woman in her fifties who has been serving with her husband for many years. She quoted a passage from the Book of Psalms:

"When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of their troubles.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed spirit."  Psalm 34:17-18

The older woman's advice was simple: Feel your feelings because they are part of being human. God is not offended by what you are going through. If you feel like screaming or crying, journaling, hiding under your desk (not that I would know anything about that...) or just babbling incoherently then do it.  Sometimes perspective only comes on the other side of catharsis. God did that on purpose because He knows that working through our emotions is necessary to our healing, so feel your feelings.

I mulled that thought over all weekend.  I read Psalm 34 over and over again, and it brought me to the conclusion that to make these next two years work, I am going to have to do a little self-adjusting.  I'm a reserved person, though few people know that about me.  Jake says I have two layers of self: what I let everyone see and what I try to make sure no one sees.  I don't do that intentionally, but I think he's right.  I have many friends, and I share much of myself with them.  But the places where I'm most vulnerable, few people get a peek at those.  What we are dealing with right now, it's hitting me square in those vulnerable places.  And trying to maintain my top-layer self while processing everything else is not only exhausting, but (if last Thursday is any indication) it has catastrophe written all over it.  I may well implode! So my challenge through all of this will be to ease my guard a bit, share a bit of my hidden-layer self, and be willing to feel my feelings.  Because boy will I need that post-catharsis clarity for what's ahead!

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