What to say! I’ve had a few posts sitting in the draft bin for awhile now. Reading through them I realize I couldn’t even seem to complete them with partially coherent thoughts. I’d type a sentence and then stare at the screen, “thinking” for a bit, delete the sentence, retype it and stare at the screen. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle and perhaps a little what writer’s block may look like. I would never be able to write a book. I’d get stuck eventually and the grand dreams of being published would be crushed:) However, it’s weird how coming back to them much later doesn’t change the truth of them.
In a previous post, I mentioned a variety of life changes that have occured in the last year. One of them was hitting 40! Thankfully, I have a wonderful group of friends that celebrates the milestones together and my significant birthday was no different. We have some fond memories of our “fancy digs”, aptly named for the less than desireable location and overall beauty of the accommodations that were much more appealing in a picture on the rental site than in person. However, we made the best of it and laughed, cried, argued and made up all while listening to the stomping of our upstairs neighbours and promises that I would never again be responsible for booking our accomodations!
However, the months that followed that celebration left me feeling a bit overwhelmed by the quagmire of the dreaded “middle-age”! Okay, that sounds ominous and terrible but honestly that was really what I was feeling. A constant pit in my stomach, tears at the drop of a hat, perhaps not unusual for me but this felt different somehow. Actually just constant anxiety was filling my days, something I had never experienced before in my life but was clearly struggling with. I was concerned about finances as we managed James being self-employed and for Sam managing to find the financial means for his first year of university. Add to the mix some incredibly deep shifts in my spiritual journey. Questions, conversations, contemplations, readings, podcasts, etc. that left me reeling a bit about what I had grown up with, raised to believe, raised my children in and framed my entire being around, my mental capacity was filled beyond what it could handle. I saw my doctor knowing that how I was processing was not particularly healthy but not sure how to get things back into balance. She asked me to do some counselling before we talked about anything else. I was not surprised and TO BE CLEAR, I am a HUGE proponent of professional counselling. Three of my four children have been to a counsellor, one whom sees her “therapist” regularly and I have seen it work wonders for many people. However, that didn’t stop me from feeling apprehensive and nervous. I can not really pinpoint why I felt this way except that it meant that I had to admit that I was not managing well and managing well is my specialty. Having said all that, I took my doctor’s advice and saw a professional. She is amazing, I felt heard, she validated my anxiety, she gave me a number of suggestions and I went home to use them. They worked for awhile and then they really didn’t. I think there were two things that made me realize I needed something more than counselling. The first was lying in bed every night not being able to sleep and usually waking up in tears and the second was calling my best friend and crying on her shoulder over the same issues again and again. I realized I needed to put some things on the back burner so I could manage the practicality of life. I had to take stock of what was most important and in this particular time I needed to focus on getting my anxiety around finances in check and focus solely on my kids and work. I set aside my spiritual quest, understanding I would need to come to it when I was in a more healthy mindset.
Heading back to my doctor was humbling. I felt defeated as I told her that I was not coping well with life. She is also a great physician, she’s not particularly warm but extremely professional and matter-of-fact. She explained to me that sometimes a chemical imbalance is created when a person is under a significant amount of stress for a long period of time. I was relieved to be understood and to have a solution. It’s been a few months and it’s taken some processing to work through the need for medical intervention, I can feel the difference it’s made to be taking something to balance out the chemicals that were not in-balance in the first place. I am also a huge advocate of medication, when necessary, but it’s hard to feel complete and comfortable when it’s your own body betraying you.
Fast forward to now and things are manageable once again, life is back in balance with a few tweaks to make it just right. As I have begun to manage the practical parts of my life, marriage, work, kids, etc. I feel some freedom to delve back into the area that I’ve put on the back burner for a bit. There continues to be some deep contemplation and absolutely beautiful conversations with people who are also experiencing some deep shifts in their understanding of self and faith. I’ve been reminded several times over the last weeks of how easy it is to put our best foot forward, when we present ourselves on social media. It’s also easy to stop short of asking some pretty big questions and opening some uncomfortable conversations. As I re-enter the world of writing and sharing online I really do not want to do that anymore. I want to step into the uncomfortable, engage in some deep questioning and discuss the conversations that some might try to bury. Perhaps that’s a bit of a reason for the write, delete, write, delete cycle that has plagued me.
I want to be authentic and allow my experiences to be useful and honest for myself and those around me. I want to engage purposefully, carefully and bravely and help others who are similarly questioning to have a place to begin to process. I hope for a safe place to process the changes that have happened as I’ve entered this stage of life. Over the next bit I want to unpack some of my spiritual journey in order to encourage others to journey through it as well. My eyes have been opened to realize just how many people are on this journey but feel stifled and uncertain as they deconstruct their belief system.