Saturday, February 25, 2012

What God Has Promised

I am up early, as is usual for me, and reading here, contemplating life. I really expected to go to sleep last night and then to awaken less melancholy, less contemplative. That didn't happen and begins to concern me a little bit. It isn't like me to stay in a "down" state for very long, but this one has been lingering for about five days now. I have been sipping my coffee, reading, listening to music, attempting to puzzle it out.

Sometimes it helps me to go back and read what I have blogged. This has been my healing place, my therapy -the publically private place where I spill my thoughts and internal struggles in a world that leaves little room for extended grief, and it has been a healthy endeavor for me. This morning I was reading back over December's entries. This one in particular:

The music still brings the tears to me, fresh and raw, and I still love what I wrote there. There are times when I write that I feel almost as if I have gone into a trance, and when I read it later I am filled with satisfaction for having gotten the emotions and thoughts down "just right". This is one of those entries. In it, I speak of a common theme in my thought process - the idea of life being a pathway. There are a lot of forests in my mental pathways, and as I think of Joseph's illness, often I think of a forest that has been devastated, burned to the ground, ashen, smoldering, uncomfortable. It smells bad. It reeks of loss. As I have imagined this pathway through my schooling, the path through the forest has gradually stopped smoking. Dust has settled. For a long way it was like that, just a burnt landscape. And in time, new growth began to appear. New trees. Birds. Ferns. Shelter. And in getting to graduation, I imagined a clearing, large boulders and a steep curve in the bend that I could not see around. I am still coming around that bend.

And what is remarkable to me about all of this is the clarity reading back over that blog post is bringing me. I have been wondering why I am so tearful. So mournful. So tense. And I realize...I am afraid. My familiar forest is behind me now. I am headed into new territory. I don't even know if it will be a forest anymore. It could be very different now. I am terrified. Because as horrifying and difficult as some of that forest was, it was familiar. And successfully negotiated. It was mine. I had found a peacefulness and deep knowledge of that forest and I felt that forest knew, understood and frequently rewarded me for my ability to navigate it without disruption.

Not so anymore - all is new. All is potential. What I have to realize, internalize and apparently force myself in frequent measures to contemplate is that this is a sacred pathway. I am supposed to be on it. I have been prepared all the way along it for what is coming up next even when it didn't feel like it, even when it was hard. I have to trust, perhaps for the first time ever, that I can handle what is coming, even if in the moment I feel inadequate. Being able to cope does not imply proficiency - it just implies capable. And capable doesn't mean no pain, no fear, no struggle. It just means having the capacity to learn and move onward to the next thing. Internalizing these thoughts calms me, gives me something to think about. The knot is still in my stomach, but it is like having survived my first dark night on this new path. I consciously seek out evidence of a new day and see silvery light on the horizon. (My metaphor is carrying me away here; I apologize!) I am right where I am supposed to be. If I don't trust myself, I need to trust Joseph and trust God. I am being called to rest in my faith, shaky though it may be. Faith in what I have been through and what I have learned. Faith in myself. Faith in other humans, who will be teaching me and helping me along. Faith in God and the purpose I am being called to. I do believe this is predestined. I do believe I have found what I am supposed to be doing. I do believe I will have moments of fear, but that I cannot be swallowed by it in this way. Allowing such feelings unchecked is to live within a lie. And I will not live in lies.

As I sit here and think these chaotic thoughts and attempt to capture them here, I have had a poem that I memorized in high school come back to me. I have not thought of it in years. I loved it then and it got me through some pretty awful times. Thank you to young Sheri for packing the words away so completely and accurately. They continue to soften me now. I have no idea if there is more to this little poem somewhere, but this is what I memorized and called up from time to time to think upon.

What God Has Promised

God has not promised
Skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways
All our lives through.
God has not promised
Sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
Peace without pain.
But God has promised
Strength for the day,
Rest for the labor,
Light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy
Undying love.

-Annie Flint

Strength for the day. I have that.
Rest for the labor. It is promised.
Light for the way. It is foretold.
Grace for the trials. I believe in this and seek to embody it as much as recieve it.
Help from above. I am learning to accept this help. I am learning humility.
Unfailing sympathy. My heart buckles under the depth of this thought.
Undying love. Manifested all through my life, starting with my loyal, gentle husband, my mother, my children, my family, my friends. I am provided tangible proof.

I will soften my thoughts today. I will practice being in a place of trust and hope. I will not fear my joy. I will not cave to anxiety. I will not conjecture what is coming next or could be. I already have been shown - I cannot know. I can only live.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Snow Dreams

I came home from work tonight and almost immediately went upstairs and prepared a bath for myself. This day was stressful, for reasons that don't matter too much now, I suppose. It is all over - the final exam for my critical care internship taken, sweated over, passed (barely) did nothing for my sense of self confidence. I feel like my radar is on hyperdrive, seeking almost frantically for any sign that this rug is going to pull out from under me. I know it is probably silly. I know there are good odds that I will go on to be successful. I have no reason to be doubting myself so much. Sometimes I think learning how to hold a dream come true is just as devastatingly difficult as dealing with the loss of one; or perhaps just after dealing with the loss of one....

So I slid my brain-weary self down into my bubbles and overly-hot bath water and just sat there. Our bathroom is on the second floor and the tub is settled beneath a large picture window. When I am in the bath I look out; some of my favorite times to be in there has been during large storms, both thunderstorms and snowstorms. Particularly I love to watch lightening shows or snow fall from the sky while I lay coccooned in a tiny ocean of silken water. I didn't have anything that interesting to stare at while I bathed tonight, but I imagined up a mighty snow and a mountain in the distance and lots and lots of trees. I meditated intently on the silence that comes with snowfall, the subtle sound fat flakes make as they land one atop the other, enmeshing the world in foamy white softness. The way all the microdetails come into focus as the macro nature of our modern day world is sealed away. Honestly I craved this. It became a one room cabin in my mind, not our suburban home; a fireplace dancing merrily across the room next to a bed with an old quilt or plaid spread on it. The scent of pine. The pile of books. The old standby of yearning that I come to when life has just gotten too hard. I dream up solitude, serenity, security. I could use all of those things right now. I am not sleeping very well. I think too much. I try too hard. I let myself run away with my thoughts too easily and am learning I am not very nice to me in my thoughts. That needs to change, though I hardly know when I am doing it and don't know much how to stop it. I have Tom Hanks living in my head, spittle flying as he hollers "Are you crying?! There's no crying in nursing!!!"

The hospital I work for has a generous allowance given for the scrubs we are required to wear. Nurses in this area always wear royal blue and the first day I put those on was very exciting. In between getting out of work today and picking the boys up from school I wandered into a local department store. It is interesting - people treat me differently. Doors were held. Smiles. I made a purchase and the salesman was not satisfied to merely hand me my bag over the countertop; he walked all the way around to hand it to me with a tiny bow and a smile into my eyes. At one time I would have assumed I was being flirted with, but I think I know better now (do these scrubs make my butt look big?). It was just an attempt to give excellent service to someone he deemed deserving of it. I admit, that felt pretty nice.

My spirit is just weary tonight I guess. I have not gotten to work out this week as much as I would normally do and I had three different exams in five days, all of which had to be passed with a minimum of 84%. I'm exhausted all the way around. I intend to sleep in tomorrow, at least as much as my hyperactive brain will let me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In the Mirror

Sadness, jealousy, competitiveness, fear....they all seem to go hand in hand. I dislike these things in myself. I don't enjoy feeling jealous. Jealousy is more about the bearer than the object and I am acutely aware of this when I see the accomplishments or imagine the lives of others and find myself somehow coming up short. It is a vindictive, ugly, destructive emotion and I feel shame on top of it any time it rears its ugly head. Competitiveness - healthy for some people, but not so much for me. I have yet to learn how to utilize it to its utmost, and usually this particular emotion spawns the previously mentioned one. I am best when I focus simply on myself and let everyone else focus on themselves....but.... Why is that so hard to do sometimes? If someone else is pretty, does that mean I am not? If someone else gets something they want, does that take away any right I have to something similar? Of course not. Some people use it to spur themselves forward. I seem to use it as a way to get stuck and then get really mad. I am working on it. Because right now all it is doing is tearing up my sense of self and making me look at parts of me that I prefer to think aren't really there. But apparently they are.  Maybe I need to be looking at it....

Sadness. So so much of it. I have carried it along bravely, even I know that. But I hate it. I hate carrying it. I hate feeling it. I hate the way it makes me feel like a burden to those I love. I hate the secretive nature of it. And I hate how it spins up into that fourth emotion - fear. Fear of further loss. Fear of failure. Fear of abandonment. Fear of forgetting. Fear of remembering. Fear of hurting people. Of inconveniencing people. Of being self important. Of being ill thought of. Sometimes I think I live far too much of my life prodded forward on the heels of it. And that makes me wonder how much of my life I have truly evaluated, if fear can be a major cause of motivation for me. How much do I really know myself if fear is something I walk so heavily with? My husband asked me this week when I am going to finally start trusting myself. I do not know the answer to that. I guess I am afraid to?

I am not myself tonight. My boys are growing up and I don't like it. I have never seen anything written about letting go of other children when one child has died, but I suspect I am not alone in my feelings of intense sorrow that can almost feel like anger/jealousy/fear as they start to fluff their feathers in preparation of flight. I never considered myself a clingy mother, but I am acting like one these days. Every grunt instead of cohesive words drives home to me that every molecule they are made of is pulling with irrevocable force toward a destiny in which my part has been already played, in which I become peripheral. I guess every parent probably deals with this to one extent or another. I didn't expect to. I think the shock of the emotions bothers me as much as the events leading to them. I never thought of myself as "that" mom. BZZT! Try again....thank you for playing.

I have started my new job. I passed NCLEX in typical Sheri fashion, with much angst and ado and paradoxical let down afterward when, having girded myself for intense battle, find it flit by almost as if it didn't happen. I have a badge with RN on it beside my name. I get a tickle in my stomach every time I see it. The Internship I have is classroom work for the first three weeks, so thus far it feels like I am kind of back in school, only getting paid for it. There are a few dreams come true in that statement, aren't there? I am taking much better care of myself. I log everything I eat on MyFitnessPal and have a bunch of new friends there, mostly members of the Zumba studio I have joined. We work out together and laugh a lot on Facebook. I am learning a lot from the new friends I am making, most of whom are living far healthier than I have been. I let them influence me. I feel better. I am moving a lot. I get to listen to loud music and dance like a maniac until sweat is flowing down my face. What's not to love?

This is a period of growth, of self observation and taking stock. I am finding things I don't like about myself. More positively, I am finding things I didn't know about myself. And finally, I am proving things I was not sure of about myself.  I hopped on this ride willingly. We shall see where it ultimately leads me. Tonight has been emotionally troubling for me. So I will tell myself what I have told my boys so many times:  Tomorrow is a whole, clean, brand new day with no mistakes even in it yet. So go to sleep. Tomorrow will be better.