BETTER

Feeling so much better, and I am excited to share this experience. A weight has been lifted from my soul. Hope and joy flood my heart and what has drug me downward is no longer even in my thoughts without a quick dismissal. Better. What a joy to be better!

Facing an illness of any sort can test one’s will, one’s strength and endurance. One must, in my view, rely at some point on the one who is greater and stronger, who can lift those heavy burdens. Who has not when dealing with even a cold or stomach virus, we wondered and thought, “will I ever be done with this?” I know I have. Ask anyone with asthma how they feel anticipating a cold as symptoms set in popping every vitamin C tablet to no prevail, it can bring even the strongest personalities to a mere sniffle.

But, an illness that last months, years, with obscure answers, can send one on an emotional roller coaster of sniffles, tears, and a few moments of thrown or tossed shoes and frustrated words they wish they could take back. At least that’s been my experience with vertigo. What I have often personally found difficult is the inner battle we don’t like to share. In fact, that inner battle I will allow to drag me downward. The battle between anger and guilt. With whom am I angry? Some have suggested God. Some have suggested it’s just anger for anger’s sake. Let’s say it is God, which makes sense in a way. Although I am uncertain he is with whom I am angry, let’s imagine why. First, I am a child of God. Considering God is my parent, ultimately, I often feel confused by what I face at times. Like a kid who is told they must come in early from playtime for a reason unclear, I have had to give up being a part of important things to me to deal with this problem. When giving up something I find important because I am on week four of a bout of vertigo that will not dissipate and I can not get out of bed, I lose my perspective on life. I can not see the forest for the trees, when I am lost in the woods of my own time in the wilderness. Even though my time in the wilderness is nothing compared to Jesus’ 40 days and 40 nights, or someone who is undergoing cancer treatments that break their bodies down slowly with the hope of killing the invasive biological entity known as cancer. Even though I am not in that unimaginable position, I have found myself questioning God’s plans and even my own self worth. If sick, what am I to God? What good can I accomplish? Who do I really help? I find myself thinking of all the gifts God has given me, and I wonder why I even have them, if I can’t get out of the bed. The ironic thing about that aspect of my experience of vertigo or a Vestibular Disorder as it’s best described, is that I can get out of bed most days fairly easily. It’s the dreaded walk down the hall. Will the sensation of wall passing by the corner of my eyes as I walk slowly to the kitchen or my cat dashing across my feet cause me a tilting sensation, followed by the slight spin that will not overturn me, as I turn into the kitchen, where I usually get to talk with my daughter, who is so much fun with her stories thoughts and ideas with which I am blessed enough to have her share with me. Fascinating as she is to me, and absolutely one of my greatest joys, I will find myself holding the counter, wishing I could simply get through the moment without showing or revealing my lack of focus. Ironically, I take in her every word. It’s is like the salt in my life, it’s what fills my day with purpose and I will not miss those moments.

Even so, unfortunately, at times, I can not bear to do what I love. I get what I need and return to my bed defeated. So, that experience is what keeps me in bed, when I give in to the symptoms. Giving in ahead of time is the key. In fact it’s not giving in to them it’s allowing these symptoms to exist, for my brain to process the experience, and adjust. This adjustment or compensation my brain can make is what I find amazing. I learned this treatment through physical therapy. One forces themselves to face the dizziness, but in the recovery of the imbalancing experience, one’s brain, in many patients, can actually learn a new way to respond to the stimuli. Isn’t it amazing God made our bodies with such capabilities and called upon people to teach us these wonderful new ways to function. These transformational therapies are no accident. God has also called upon people to act as emotional support, trained to hear the deeper emotions that stir our souls, so we might can identify and gain empowering insight into how to proceed without the emotional dives of such a life changing experience as illness. They may not be able to remove emotional pain, but they can assist us in facing and coping in new ways we may not have even seen. It’s their outside perspective looking into our lives with an open heart and mind that gives a therapist the keys to our emotional healing.

I believe it is best to not lean on our children in times like these. Other adults can serve that purpose. Children are equipped to deal with their own worlds. In saying that, on the dark days, they see our experiences. It’s okay for them to see us be real and learn how adults cope. But, sometimes she has seen me struggle in ways I wish she had not. Forgiving myself for that is coming slowly. I can not deny the momentary lapses of reason where I lost my temper and hit the kitchen sink, breaking it, as water spirt out everywhere announcing mom had lost it. She had asked me to fill her humidifier. I could not stand up straight long enough to do it. The dizziness wears one down to just absolute exhaustion. Using one’s brain to concentrate on movement with every step will feel like taking the ACT six times a day. Add onto that I’m ADHD, and you have one mom hanging by a thread. I wish she had not seen that moment. Even so, she has seen me fall apart.

Children, or young people, will often say that thing we need to hear in those moments. I should NOT have let her hear me despair out loud, but she did. I am human after all . I expressed my lack of self worth loudly one day in anger, saying if at my age I needed a handicap plaques for my car as suggested by my dad, that I might as well just give up. What was I going to be able to do, to accomplish? She mentioned a friend of her’s name who has cerebral palsy, saying “she has a handicap and is she less as a person?” Horrified at the thought of degrading another human being, I retracted my statement, especially a child, a young person who I saw as having vigor, determination and as much humanity as the rest of us. I never see her as handicap, but yes, she has a handicap or disability. There is no word for these challenges for which I am pleased. She lives with these challenges as a full whole human being. She is not a victim, but a person who has an identity beyond victimization.

So, if I can’t disrespect this child, why is it okay for me to disrespect myself. Why is it okay for me to feel like I am less than? I am a child of God, and God is not through with me yet.

So, I am feeling better. The doctors have made a few medication adjustments and though vertigo will be with me for a long time, it’s no longer pressing on my life to the extent it was before. With this being said, I want to ask your permission as my readers.

I want to explore not only sharing my experiences as a person, but my experiences of God in my life, and how I see scripture applying. I think I am called to something beyond myself. Frankly, that calling must be beyond, because I am no perfect Christian. I have finally drug myself to a Lenten service, as I hummed the song played whenever Darth Vader makes his entrance in Star Wars. Duh duh duh, duh ta duh, and I’m dreading it. I push church away often, and yet, I’m so drawn. There are certain hymns that I just find annoying. I can’t stand the wording and I wonder, does everyone realize what this hymn says? Or, am I missing something. I don’t feel the rosy happy joy over every hymn. Does that make me less of a person or Christian? I hope not. But, most are amazing. I will belt them out. I love singing so much. But, there are ones that just make me cringe, because if I can’t connect with the words, I can’t sing it with vigor. I don’t know what that is about completely yet. But, honestly, what if it’s not well with my soul? I mean, what if my soul is pissed off? I mean I wish sometimes we could sing our true feelings. I love you Lord, but I’m struggling today and I still think your awesome. My soul is only well because of you, but I don’t feel it every day. For myself to sing “it is well with my soul” is like awful. I want to go hide in the church bathroom during its well with my soul. Because, when bad stuff happens to me it’s a while before it’s well with my soul. It takes months years sometimes for me to be at peace over a problem. So, is that song even true for anyone? I just don’t get that hymn. I am way to analytical, but that’s how God made me. Therefore, I stay in church assuming he has my mind that turns everything in circles and upside down repeatedly until the hymn is all twisty and getting me annoyed, or a sermon that pisses me off, well, I’m one of God’s children too. Maybe that’s the reason so many people avoid church. I mean, it’s not well with their soul and they think they must be there. Or, they think church is for those people, the people singing rosy hymns and there is no room for sinners who may not like every hymn, or get bored, or think what the heck was that sermon about. Well, I don’t feel guilty for feeling human. But, I hear other people express that and it makes me sad. My first husband, the Presbyterian minister Lattie, he did not like certain hymns. We would secretly make fun of those hymns. I think that his very real, very honest, very huge desire to serve and know God was what drove him. Now, I loved the music, and I sang in the choir. I sang it’s well with my soul in the choir. I loved our choir. But, with all of those experiences and feelings woven into the past twenty years of my life, I must say this. I loved our service at St. James Episcopal today, but most of all I am loving the people that I am coming to know at St. James. I don’t know what God has in store for me, but it’s time to listen more closely, not out of guilt. I feel a peaceful pulling into something.

Perhaps it’s being an even more present parent and wife, and friend. Perhaps it’s volunteering more in the church, but listening is the only way I know to find the answers. It will not be tossing a bunch on my plate, because I am already stretched thin!

I know that part of it for me is seeing myself of value, of being someone who is not less because of struggles with vertigo, my ADD, and the emotions which I have vented at times not congruent to the words spoken in my presence by those near to me, those words spouted in periods of overwhelming anxiety resulting from too much time waiting for this dizziness and nausea to evaporate. The impatience and anger, those human emotions, do not degrade me. With God’s love and his process of making us new everyday and his constant work to draw us closer to his purposes, I look forward, to with your permission writing more poignantly, taking some risks and getting my thoughts, stories, and reflections heard.

So, if you are up for it, I want to write about lent next, and delve into why I might avoid it, and why we need it, and to see it as a gift. I might address bigger concerns such as these school shootings. I really do t know yet. My mind runs in so many directions and writing allows me to see them come clearly together. Sharing that with you, my reader, would be a great joy.

Shelley

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