Sep 19, 2014

On Problems

When I post from this blog on twitter, it always ends up on facebook with a giant picture of my face. Which I hate. I realized recently (when I posed a blog with pictures) that twitter just wants a picture from my post--any picture--and it will choose my face if I don't find something else to give it. So, from now on I'm including at least one picture in every post. One, possibly random, but still nice picture that twitter can decide to use instead of my face.

Random Birdwing Butterfly

Actually, that picture might get me in trouble because look, it has a logo. So it's not in the public domain. It was, however, one of a few I have saved on my laptop. The reason why I had this is I was talking with a good friend (whom I have talked about several times on this blog, who also happens to be my bishop) about random things and occasionally I will send him a picture of something we both like. We both like this butterfly because it has his favorite color in it and also my favorite color in it, and I love butterflies, and he has come to like butterflies because I love them. Anyway, I sent him this butterfly several days ago. So it's on my desktop. Random explanation for random picture.

And really what I'm doing now is stalling, because I don't want to write this post. But I kind of have to. It's one of those prompting things, and on facebook this meme came up--the Thomas S. Monson quote of "Never, ever ever postpone a prompting." Heavenly Father is telling me something this morning.

So, yeah. I'm about to get painfully vulnerable. Sorry, or you're welcome, or whatever it is I need to say to you about that.

This is a hard time of year for me. It's, as I've stated in previous years, the time that evokes my feelings in an anniversary reaction. People who've gone through trauma might know what I'm talking about--that around the same time of year, or on an anniversary, of something really difficult that has happened to you, you start feeling cruddy. Or sad. Or just, your feelings are really intense and they burden you and make it harder to cope.

I have been, this year, more unapologetic about it, and my needs during this time, which I think has allowed me to feel the full scope of emotions and deal with them, which is what needs to happen. I think anniversary reactions are there because it gives you a chance to sort through emotions--they're intense enough and are on the surface where other times they might be buried pretty deep. So I'm working on that right now.

I have spent a lot of time, this time, talking to my husband. And also talking to my bishop, he's found time each day to see me for around half an hour, and it has been very helpful. I just feel very, very grateful for such a good priesthood leader and friend. Have I said that before? Yes I have. But I need to say it again.

I have also spent a lot of time being emotional around my husband. Which is very difficult for me, but which I am grateful I'm actually capable of right now. Have I said what a miracle Jeffrey is in my life before? Yes I have, but it needs to be said over and over. He is the singular most miraculous thing that has ever happened or ever will happen to me.

Last night. It was actually a pretty terrible night--lots of feelings as I came away from the business of the day that keeps me occupied and paying less attention. Just really, really difficult feelings. And last night the smoke detector went off randomly and I woke up to some really difficult feelings, too--like an anxiety attack. I struggle with that. If I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep quickly, the racing, distorted thoughts take over and not only do I not get the rest I need, my mind basically is hurting itself. It makes me wonder if somehow my mind addresses lots of issues and concerns and stuff while I am sleeping so that I don't have to deal with it when I'm awake. I don't know. It's possible.

Anyway, I woke up all the way and had to deal with that.

And then when I finally fell back asleep, I had a very strange dream. I dreamed that someone in my family--an in-law--was talking with me and as they talked, I realized they were really struggling. And as we continued the conversation, I realized that, in fact, they were really, really, really struggling emotionally. Terrible struggles. Finally this person kind of threw out her hands and said, "Sarah, I don't understand. With everything you went through, how come you don't have big, big problems?"

And I thought about it. It kind of hit hard. I realized that to her, I seem like I'm awesome or strong or really functional or something and that she was feeling sort of crushed by her own comparison, because it seemed I was not struggling as she was, and why was she struggling when she didn't have an event like mine (few people do, let's face it) to pin struggles on?

So I told her, in my dream.

I do. I really, really really struggle. Life is not easy. It feels crushing, sometimes. But I think two things are what has saved me, and saved the emotional well-being of my family as we struggle. I decided, a long time ago, that I will never, ever do two things. No matter how bad things get, I will never do two things. I will never

1) Leave my family.

That means I will never physically leave them, but it also means I will never do anything that is tantamount to leaving them. Like leaving the church, because that is leaving the covenant I made with them--that is leaving them in the eternity, in a way. It also means I will never commit sins that will keep me from being with them, or will break our family apart.

and I will never:

2) take my own life.

When I was young, my mother told me the story of her cousin. His dad (my great uncle) drank. He was not a good person to be around when he drank. My cousin felt like his life was pretty terrible and so at age twelve, he took his father's shotgun into the barn and shot himself.

I think that this, and also my grandmother's death at a young age, put the fear of God in my mother at the thought of this happening--to anyone she loved, to herself. She sees life as a precious and priceless gift, not one you should ever throw away. And as she reiterated to me and my siblings, like a mantra, growing up, "it always, always, always gets better. Always. Don't do something stupid because of a bad moment."

So even though I really do struggle, and I sometimes fall into a really deep pit of negative emotions--life is worthless, I am worthless, nobody loves me, this world would be better if I'm gone, etc; I know that ending it's not the answer. I know that what would happen in that case is, I would wake up on the other side and immediately think "what a stupid thing I did," and then I'd have to watch my family mourn and struggle and be betrayed and traumatized and then, eventually, move on.

Sorry. This is pretty gritty. I warned you, though.

So I want to tell the internets, and whomever I'm supposed to be writing to right now that, yes, I struggle. I struggle to the point, on occasion, where I can't get out of bed. I struggle to the point where I don't react well to my family--I have to isolate so I don't do damage because I know I'm not reacting correctly. I have to bite my lip or bite my tongue and not. say. a word. Because I know that the feelings I'm having and the words that would come out of my mouth would not be words I'd say if I were in my right mind.

I struggle with intense feelings of anxiety, paranoia, self-loathing. And there are some situations (like at church, unfortunately) when the negative emotions are just an assault at times--like being caught in a tornado, all I can do is let it pass and sort of wait. And hopefully not do any damage in the meantime by reacting inappropriately.

Yeah. I have big problems, guys. I really am pretty messed up. And I feel it, in full measure, at this time of the year when the leaves change and the air gets cold and instead of getting excited for school starting and apple cider and fall colors and Halloween and staying inside in the warm and looking out at the cold and all those wonderful things that used to fill my emotional experience during this time, I feel like the world is falling apart. And what I do to cope is, I hug my babies. I hug my kids. I hug my husband. I hug my bishop, I hug my young women, I hug my friends. I stay quiet except to those who I know I can talk to about it without destabilizing them (and hopefully nobody reading this blog falls into that category), who want me to talk about it because they love me and they just want me to talk to them about stuff I'm feeling.

OK. I'll leave this post on that note:

you need to know, person struggling. The people who love you, love you. Talk to them. They want you to--even if your mind is telling you they don't, that you shouldn't because you shouldn't burden people with the pain inside.... it is a lot more pain for them to know you're struggling, and to not have you trust and talk to them and let them help you feel better. OK? OK.

--and yes, I am fine. No need to send me texts or messages or anything else. LIke I said, I'm just writing this because I feel like I'm supposed to. Why am I fine? Read numbers 1 and 2 above.

Love you all.


Luisa Perkins said...

More evidence of your awesomeness. *hugs*

LucindaJ said...

I came to your blog because a friend linked to it on FB and have spent nearly three hours reading.
Wow, you've shared so much by writing about your struggles and about finding strength. It actually feels a little strange to read some of my own thoughts and feelings here.
Most of all, your blog confirms for me something I've been thinking about for a while - that I have no right to judge and if I'm feeling or expressing anything but love, I need to try harder! Even days when I'm emotionally flat-lining, I need to do my best to make those around me feel loved and cared for. To borrow from Emily Dickinson,
They might not need me
But they might.
I'll let my head be just in sight;
A smile as small as mine may be
Precisely their necessity.

Thank you for not just letting your head be in sight, but for laying your heart open and sharing what's inside. <3

Sarah Dunster said...

thank you. I am grateful to know that thus stuff helps some people.

Cathy Jo said...

Thanks for sharing Sarah.