All the Feelings

There is a burning in my stomach. It’s a familiar feeling, although not one I enjoy experiencing. I can even name it (ahem…them), and that makes me angry.

Allow all the feelings.

That’s what I am supposed to do. Allow them to wash over and then right out of me so that I can continue on without getting stuck. I HATE THAT.

This burning in my stomach is because there are so many emotions hitting at once, and I can’t figure out which one to allow through first. So I’m going to name them and hopefully be able to let them go.

Anxiety: What if I cannot get everything done? And on top of that basic anxiety, what if I can’t get everything done well? What if someone judges me for not doing “right?” What if something slips through the cracks?

Fear: I’m afraid of this new change. What does that mean for me? What does it even look like?

Excitement: I feel excited and enthusiastic about the possibilities.

Anger: I am angry that I have all of these emotions. I am also angry at how hard managing everything is.

Joy: There is so much joy in seeing hard work pay off.

Grief: In this final stage of letting go, I am sad. I am sad that the life I struggled to find peace in has ended in a way that was unexpected.

Happiness: As I look to the past and to the future, there is happiness in many parts of my life story. I am happy that I have had the privilege to experience many things, many thoughts, and many transitions. I am happy that my kids love me well.

Peace: In the midst of all of these emotions, there is a knowing. A knowing that cements all of the feelings into the peaceful realization that all is well. This is where I am supposed to be at this time.

Today is like the official funeral for my previous life. It’s over, and I don’t know what life will look like in the after.

I am a new person, and I get to rest in knowing that.


Obesity Keeps Me Safe

This post is risky and hard to post, but I think it’s important.

In April 2014, I saw my doctor and told her that I was beginning to experience panic attacks. At the time, I honestly believed that I had no reason to be anxious. So she and I began to try medications to help prevent me from completely losing it.

Looking back, it seems as if it is a miracle that during that season I did not have a complete nervous breakdown. Here is what had been going on:

  • Code Red had been going on and off of medication for depression for years, and I never knew what kind of person would be walking into my home each evening…he might come in happy and hyper…OR he might come in on edge, ready to attack anyone who made the slightest noise…OR he would be so down and depressed that he would mope around talking about how “we never caught a break.” (That last bit was ridiculous. We had been blessed time and time again; he just couldn’t ever seem to see it.) And he was always, always drinking.
  • My oldest son was graduating from high school and seemed to be struggling against the world. Nothing I could do helped him find peace. My heart was sad, and I wasn’t sure if this was what normal growing pains felt like.
  • The herniated disc in my back had completely filled my spinal canal. I was in a ridiculous amount of pain most of the time.
  • Throughout the year, I think that between all 6 of us, there had been 4 or 5 surgeries.

After beginning the medication, I began seeing a counselor because I wanted to know how to best help my son. His high school years had been full of injuries, and he had not able to compete in athletics…and this son LOVES all things competitive. He was extremely depressed and I wondered if he was suicidal…how was I supposed to handle that? He had completely given up on academics (although he would get near-perfect scores on all exams), and he had turned down engineering school because he planned to join the Navy.

I was stressed, but I didn’t think that it was something that moms everywhere weren’t processing and walking through.

During the conversations with my therapist, small details began to come out about our family…and the more details that I shared, the more I began to shut down, and the more I shut down, the more I began to run through a drive-thru rather than cook a meal. (For those of you who know me well, this wasn’t normal. I love to cook. I love the details of putting together a detailed weekly menu, and I love to create enjoyable family meals.)

The pounds began to creep on. 5…10…40…80…100 all within an 8 month period of time, and I simply did not care. In fact, I tried to convince myself to care, but it didn’t work. The only time I even noticed the weight was when I had to dress to go somewhere.

I am pretty sure that the anxiety/depression meds were a bit too strong and created a numbing effect. I was simply grateful to have something to take away all of the stress that I had been feeling, and fast food was an easy provision.

Since 2015, I have fluctuated about 20 lbs but have remained significantly overweight…obese is the word that catches in my throat…never in my life have I been obese until this last season.

In 2018, during the bombshell of Code Red’s secret life, I decided to try a diet/lifestyle change with a dear friend. I failed. Time and time and time again. I set goals only to ignore them. I read information and absorbed it to the point that I know that I could teach someone exactly what to do to become healthy. I have spoken to my current counselor and we have worked through stuff.

But I have not been able to pull myself out of this strange pit.

In less than a month, I will be 48 years old. Just 5-1/2 years ago, I was 100 lbs lighter than I am right now.

What I have learned about myself is:

  • In 2014, I began to eat fast food as a “rebellion” against my family. If they weren’t going to have conversations and deal with stuff, I was not going to provide good, healthy meals for them…plus they like fast food, right?
  • In 2015-2017, I was heavily medicated/numbed. Mixing anxiety/depression meds with opioids and muscle relaxers prevented me from caring about anything. FYI-I did not struggle with addiction…my back pain was extreme. I am currently not on any medication.
  • In 2014-2018, I cooked enough to maintain appearances for outside people. This is weird, but even when I cooked for the family that lived with us after Hurricane Harvey, I felt as if it was keeping an appearance.
  • In 2015, I stopped wanting to be present for my then husband. I didn’t like going places with him only to be left by myself…and if I was overweight, he didn’t invite me. A win for me.
  • In 2018, my world collapsed. I simply survived that year. Fast food kept my kids fed without me having to think and prepare. I ate because it was there…I do not remember craving or enjoying food at all. That’s a lie…I did eat a lot of Captain Crunch…it’s strange how a childhood favorite brought comfort during that time. Food comfort is such a crazy thing…I don’t even like Captain Crunch now.
  • From 2019 – present, I now recognize that I provide fast food or poor food choices to prevent me from having hard conversations with my kids. Let me explain. Traditionally in our family, when fast food was purchased, we all went our separate ways to eat…never eating it as a family. If I cook, we eat as a family. If we eat as a family, we talk. And if we talk, I will begin to want to begin holding some accountability. I simply haven’t wanted to put in the effort. Yes, I know that isn’t emotionally healthy…

Do I eat too much? Yes, I love tacos and candy and soda and all things bad for the body. Not to mention that when you eat fast food nearly every single day, sometimes twice a day, you don’t have to eat astronomical amounts of food…you will put on significant weight without eating all day, every day.

So now that I know the root of what has happened, what am I going to do about it?

I honestly do not know.

There is one more roadblock to overcome. There is the dilemma of losing weight and becoming more attractive. As arrogant as this sounds, I know that when I am even somewhat fit, I am attractive. And if I am attractive, someone might show interest in me. And if someone shows interest in me, what in the world would I do? I don’t know how to determine who to trust. It is probably better for me to avoid that possibility altogether.

As crazy as this sounds, until I find my voice, obesity keeps me safe.

How I Process My Emotions

Lately, I have experienced quite a bit of anxiety. For days now, I have attempted to figure out what the root of it could be, but I haven’t been able to grasp it. I simply know that it is making me irritable, and because I do not want to be unkind to those around me, I have wrestled to keep the low-lying rage low…really low.

This morning, I have been gifted with a few hours of uninterrupted quiet. My immediate thought was to go and try to get ahead with my homework. Nonetheless, I realized that I needed to stop and spend some time in the quiet. My soul is ill at ease and I simply need to rest in God’s presence.

Some of you may not understand what I mean by that. Let me explain. When I take my Bible and my journal to read and reflect, it is as if God joins me in my time. Some people do not believe that is possible. I do, and it brings me great comfort. In fact, it is something that I believe to the depths of my soul. He is always present; sometimes, I simply do not take the time to notice.

During this time today, I decided to take a walk through my anxiety. If I am truthful, I don’t like to do this. I find it time consuming and annoying. However, it almost always brings clarity to whatever it is that may be bothering me. Here is what my journal entry looks like:

“The presence of anxiety is nothing new; however, it hasn’t been my companion for many months now. It’s presence the past few days is hurting my heart and causing me to reflect on myself today.

  1. I’m anxious because of money…I didn’t expect to have 3 children living at home with me right now.
  2. I’m angry because of my situation.
  3. I’m conflicted because I’m also super-excited for incredible opportunities.
  4. I’m sad because I want to be married.
  5. I’m appalled that ‘way back when,’ I had a hesitation to marry Code Red, but I married him anyway. (First time that I’m admitting that…it’s a bit embarrassing to me.)

So where does that leave me right at this moment? It leaves me with the reality that I can do this. I can do hard things. (maybe that should become my go-to phrase?) I can accept the changes that need to be made and make them without issue. Does it change my situation? No, but it does give me perspective.”

I share all of that to show you all what it looks like to thoroughly process your emotions. If you’re anything like me, I feel impatient taking the time to do things like this…I would much prefer to keep pretending my emotions don’t exist.

But when I do remember to take the time for this, I realize what it means to be emotionally healthy. It means that I feel the sensations running through my body, I acknowledge them, and then I detail exactly what they are. Once I can visibly see what is causing the disruption in my soul, it becomes possible for me to release the anxiety and move forward.

Maybe this can help some of you recognize what you’ve been feeling?

Weariness and Anxiety

Just as I begin to embrace this newly found freedom, I receive news that pulls me right back into the past. Why won’t you leave me alone?! Why must you attempt to diffuse my joy and hinder my movement forward? Why do you need to control me?

We have been divorced for a few months now; I have embraced life and am becoming comfortable with it.

Go away.

Leave me alone.

I knew the very minute you found out that I was going to stand firm. Your attack was strategic and personal. You know my weakness…no one else would even know how deeply that action would affect me…but you do. After all, I fully trusted you for 25 years.

Please stop harassing me! It is as if you won’t be satisfied until I break and lose control. You continue to provoke me. I know that these attacks are directed to attempt to keep me on edge and in a state of anxiety.

Just. Go. Away.

I am tired and weary…I want to enjoy my life that is supposed to be free now.

Sorry for the whiny post today. I’m so tired, y’all!

P.S. This is one more example of abuse…

What is emotional abuse anyway?

Disclaimer: This post is weighed down with emotion. Read it only if you want to truly see what abuse looks like. 

**As you read this, don’t feel sorry for me. I  see it now and I am walking away from it with confidence…shaky confidence, but confidence nonetheless.**

Oh goodness. Even as I begin to formulate my thoughts on this topic, my eyes well up and tears threaten to spill over. This continues to be very sensitive and it even causes my breathing to become irregular and rushed. It strikes fear into my core. I continue to wonder if there will be some sort of consequence for voicing my truth.

These thoughts are the very essence of abuse. These feelings remain present at all times. Sometimes they are tiny feelings, like when the abuser is far away; but sometimes they are BIG feelings that cause the recipient of abuse (notice that I didn’t say victim) to “perform” with the hope of escaping the consequence.

5 years ago, I was seeing a therapist because I was suffering from anxiety. As we talked about my life, one day she looked at me and asked if I was being abused. I laughed. And said no. And stopped seeing her. About a year later, one of my kids was seeing a different therapist that eventually requested a family session. After explaining her observations to us, Code Red determined her to be crazy and “we” agreed that we wouldn’t be going back. But I was curious and secretly made another appointment. She asked if I was abused. Seriously? I immediately believed that these counselors must have both gone to the same school…can you believe that all they did is look for abuse?! You already know that I didn’t go back, right?

As I write this now, I wonder how could I have been so deceived? Of course, our home was full of emotional abuse. The children and I lived in fear and perpetual stress.

The cycle of abuse is filled with incessant anxiety and the never-ending presence of fear. The insane part of it is that as the recipient of abuse, you convince yourself that you exaggerate everything and that you must be crazy. Then there is the explosion and you realize that you didn’t exaggerate and you aren’t crazy. And then…it’s all good. There is calm. There is a lot of attention and affection, sometimes even gifts. You convince yourself that “He didn’t really mean to do that” or “If only I had…”

The first time that I knew something wasn’t right, we had been married for about 2 weeks. Code Red got angry about something and threw a chair that hit the sofa right before it got to me. After a few hours, the apologies were abundant. The promises started to come. I forgave him and all was well in our world. Until the next time I did something wrong or asked for an extra hug. (Putting his arms around me was a big deal…when I asked for what I needed, I was told that I was demanding and needy. Over time, I didn’t need anything from him…or from anyone else for that matter. Do you know that even now, I sometimes flinch when someone hugs me? Especially if it is a man. If I see it coming, I can breathe and put on my “happy face” to handle it but it is so hard.)

A few months after the chair incident, a close friend told me that she and I could go to lunch or dinner; but she would never, ever come back to our house with him there. She said that she didn’t like the way he spoke to me or how he treated her. She said that she couldn’t handle it. I was embarrassed but understood exactly what she was saying.

So I began to keep my close friends away from my marriage. It became too risky for my people to just drop in like normal friends do. I never knew from moment to moment what might set him off. Although I needed friends, I couldn’t handle the fear of his anger, so I kept them as separated as I possibly could. I tried to rush them out the door before he would come home from work. I was extremely anxious about people coming to dinner. I told him that it embarrassed me when he expressed his strong emotions in public. He told me to get over it, that I exaggerated everything, that no one thought anything about his sarcasm or outbursts.

I began to doubt myself. I began to question if maybe I was overly demanding. I wondered if I was insensitive to his needs. I had never in my life been called demanding before. I had always been one of the most responsible, thoughtful people around and I didn’t know how to handle it. I began to withdraw into my mind. I would mentally examine and journal about absolutely everything I did or said. I studied Scripture about being a better wife. I wrestled with God because I couldn’t understand why I was so bad. Why couldn’t I ever do the right thing? And when it was WAY too much, I buried myself into books, hundreds and hundreds of books.

And then. I began to cook and bake. I could disappear into a safe world that appeared to be with people but prevented me from fully engaging with others. I didn’t realize it at the time (actually, I didn’t realize it until this very moment) but cooking became my safety. I was good at it…really, really good at it. It became my identity. It was literally the only safe place where I could hide in plain sight. I became known for it. Code Red began to use my talent to connect with people. And that was a win for me because it made me feel valuable. Worthy of something. I could finally do something that was right. And when I cooked for people, he was affectionate and supportive and encouraging. Finally, a win of some sort.

Until I did something wrong again.

That’s enough for today. I’m exhausted! And I didn’t even talk about the psychological abuse. Honestly, I’m not sure that topic will be discussed here…I cannot seem to grasp or process the magnitude of it yet.

For more information on the topic of abuse, visit this link (although it says violence against women…the cycle can go either way):