Aug 7, 2013

The right way to fall apart

Primarily this has been a venting blog. When I started it in 2005, that's what I called it. I had in big, bold letters across: Warning. This is a venting blog. I took it down soon after when I realized that it was a pretty cheesy thing to put on a blog header and that all blogs (or at least, back then, when blogging first started, and they were all more like online journals instead of family scrapbooks or promotional fronts for business) were venting blogs.

I have avoided this blog for a while I think partly because now my family reads my stuff :) Nobody read this blog for a long time. Also, I'm a published author. How much of my personal life/feelings do I really want the world to pay attention to?

I've realized lately that I just need to keep being myself. If people find that odd or unprofessional, that's something I've decided not to worry about.

My challenges have been hard ones to get through. I went through a really terrible and frightening situation when I was a young adult, which left me a single parent, scrambling to manage being a full-time employee, full time parent, preparing frenetically and ambitiously for the future. I did not think very much at the time... I just did stuff. Hard stuff. And I was constantly on the edge. My head was so full of worries and impending problems I couldn't solve that I just had to pray a lot, not think... just do.

Then I met Jeff and we got married, and life seemed (and was, and is) miraculously wonderful. How strange and miraculous to have someone who really thought I was a good person. Who really loved me. Who supported me. Not something I've had a lot of in my life.

Together, Jeff and I weathered a lot of (now that I look back on them) very difficult challenges. We blended a family--twice. We went through getting him through school and underemployment, and unemployment. We went through a long, stressful, arduous process (both emotionally and financially) to bring two daughters home from Ethiopia. We went through Jeff having a difficult, not-very-rewarding-or-encouraging work situation.

And then we moved. Picked up roots and started over. Started a new job that was so much better but also very stressful because of more responsibility and visibility. We rented for several months while looking for a house--the first time we've done that. It's not as fun as you think it will be. We moved, and adjusted--it takes me about six months to not be horrified at any big change in my life--

and then life slowed down for us, finally. About a year ago we looked around, looked at each other and realized, "wow. Is this what it feels like to have a normal level of stress?"

And I promptly fell apart.

OK, I don't mean dysfunctional falling apart, like not being a good wife or mom or author or church member or whatever. BUt it's like Heavenly Father was keeping all these feelings and stress I've had sort of harboring somewhere in the deep freeze of my subconscious, and then He allowed everything to thaw.

My whole life, people have expected me to be strong, and capable, and independent. When I went through all the stuff with my previous marriage, my bishop was like "she's doing great." My parents were like "Sarah's so strong." My friends were like "Wow, your'e so awesome." But what was really going on was, Heavenly Father was helping me stay together by having me not deal with it all just yet.

How do you fall apart gracefully? How do you do it compassionately and charitably, so you don't hurt others around you with your emotional difficulty? How do you examine and challenge ugly, ugly feelings and worries and irrational thoughts and frightened, distorted realities while keeping the world safe for your children?

I have seen people fall apart in lots of ways. I worked at a residential treatment facility for two years. I've seen all sorts of destructive ways to fall apart.

But the thing is, those people get the attention they need when they collapse so spectacularly. It is a lot harder to just walk up to someone (say your bishop, or a therapist, or someone like that) and say, "hey. I'm really struggling. I need help," and have them believe you when you're saying it so rationally. And calmly.

How do you ask for help?

Lately, I have felt a bit of resentment toward those around me who are "falling apart" destructively but get so much attention for it. I want yell, "Hey, it's really, really hard for me, too! BUt i'm not doing these destructive things! Does that make me less worthy of nurturing, of being given slack, of the benefit of the doubt? Does it make me less likeable, that I'm trying to do it *right?*"

And then the other day, I was lying in bed with Jeff and we were watching Buffy or something else fun and I realized something. I looked up at our 10-foot ceiling, out our balcony window at our five acres of land, and I suddenly remembered how very, very, very blessed I've been.

Heavenly Father is aware of me. He is nurturing me. He has seen the difficulty Jeff & I have dealt with and he's lightened our load, given us miracles, given us everything we could possibly want. We have been blessed for falling apart, and putting ourselves back together, gracefully.

In the end, I really am very independent. I don't want people fawning all over me or discussing me in ward counsel or acting all solicitous and worried. What I want are a few good, supportive friends. People I can love who love me back, who understand, who can handle the good, bad & ugly and love me more for it. And who will give me a chance to do the same for them. And this last year, Heavenly Father has blessed me with this as well. Jeff has become one of those people. He was before, but not entirely, because I wasn't in that place yet. Now he is. And I've made some friends who are, actually, more family than friends. I find that blessing far more precious than any other I've been given.

I'm doing my best. It's really hard. I'm tempted to do so many stupid things. I don't have fifty people patting me on the back for it not doing them. But I have realized I only need a few, the ones who matter. And I have those. And people who might judge me or think I should be doing more or doing things better--in the end, Heavenly Father knows my heart and he's the one who matters.

But I still wonder lately--what's the right way to fall apart?

A question for you readers.


merrilykaroly said...

I think it's really difficult to find those people who are more family than friends. It sounds easy, but it's not. I wish I had more of them than I do.

I don't know the right way to fall apart. Maybe it's just to try to keep it together, a day at a time, enduring until the day you die. Sounds hard :/

I realized the other day when talking to a friend about a very personal thing that she shared with me that people all around me are all probably struggling with really difficult things. I forget that.

Those are all just random fragments of thought that came to me while reading your post. :)

Annalisa said...

I think it's like how you sometimes get sick right after finals are over; your body holds on just long enough to get through the really hard stuff and then collapses once the worst is over. Sometimes we're like that emotionally too. Hang in there, just keep going on momentum and adrenaline until we're through the tough stuff, then when we're safe our mind finally let's go a little. Tough crashes, though.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you are finding your way to more peace and happiness after long struggle. You have always been a person of grace and dignity and that has never left you. I love you always and I admire you always as fellow being out in this tough old journey of life. I don't know if there's ever a right or wrong way to fall apart. When you're not an attention seeking person, it's hard to attention...when you need it. That's the hardest thing. Grateful that you have been helped all along the way to find what you needed. Mom