Beneath the Layers - March
This is a series that we started this year - in the spirit of vulnerability. It's on my heart to open this space up to more personal things, to keep it vulnerable and a place where you can come to feel validated. As women, and moms, we often times feel the same feelings, no matter how many kids you do or don't have, no matter where you live or what you do. But somehow, we all think we're alone, we think we're crazy for being crazy, and feel misunderstood. But guess what? Your crazy is actually totally relatable, while it might appear different on the outside, the heart of the matters are all the same. I hope you can find some inspiration, some hope and maybe even a few laughs knowing that we're all in this together. There's peace & unity in community.
Each month, I want to address a fear that I have, and a negative thought or self-talk that I engage with. What will follow those is an affirmation that I tell myself, something to combat those feelings, along with an action plan of how I intend to conquer those thoughts.
My hope in sharing these with you is to show you that you're not alone. It's easy to look at someone's life (or what you might think you know of it) and make judgments, assumptions and even paint a vivid picture. "She has it all together, she doesn't have struggles, her kids are perfect, her marriage is incredible, etc.." But guess what? We ALL struggle, and while many of our struggles can look different, they all feel. I want to live in a world where feelings are currency - where we can exchange feelings and invest in peoples hearts, invest in their feelings - not in their circumstances or image.
I have health anxiety. I'm talking the kind that has controlled what I do in a day, where I go, and even who I let my kids play with. It has me sanitizing, oiling, washing, spraying, and whatever else in order to prevent anyone getting sick. The sight of a runny nose will send my body into a panic and I immediately go down a worst-case scenario path that sends me into a spiral of emotion and anxiety. We've had a few scary calls with the kids' health (Bellamy had a febrile seizure in the bathtub, Winnie & Baylor both suffer from Asthma, and Winnie has had some food allergy scares), so my anxiety is born partially from some of the traumatic situations I've had with the kids. I wasn't always this way and I've already began to reign myself in with what I've learned, but one of my biggest anxieties on a day to day basis is health. Throw in flu season and I'm #done.
I fear that my kids will get sick, that it will escalate into something bigger, I worry about who will take care of the rest of my family while I'm in the hospital with one of the other kids, I think about what I'll do with the other kids if I have to take one of them in the ambulance when Collin is out of town. The thought of sickness overwhelms me, paralyzes me and sometimes even makes me sick. We were on vacation last summer when Baylor started wheezing a bit before bed. I was up the entire night with a horrible stomach ache, tossing & turning and even thought I was going to throw up at one point. Baylor woke up totally fine and my entire night was ruined & consumed by the sheer anxiety of him being potentially sick. I can't tell you how many times the anticipation of sickness was far greater than the actual sickness. It feels embarrassing when I lay it all out on the table, but I'm 100% certain that I'm not the only one with these thoughts, these destructive thoughts, so I know it's important to share.
I underestimate their body's abilities, their resiliency and the control and power that God has over their bodies. Through wellness, I have equipped their bodies to fight whatever might come their way. They have always come out the other side un-harmed and stronger. It's never as bad as I think it's going to be. A new day will come, this too shall pass, time heals all things (etc etc!)
A friend referred me to a Brene Brown Podcast (here!) that was so powerful. She said something that shook me to my core and has become my new mantra. She said that so often, we "forebode joy" and spend our time "dress rehearsing tragedy" (or in my case, illness). Let me explain: when I see my kids, instead of leaning in to the joy that they are, I think about the 10 things that could go wrong or how awful I'm going to feel if/when they get sick or something happens to them. By doing this, I'm "foreboding joy", I'm not letting myself fully lean into that joyful emotion because my anxiety is blocking me. My anxiety is telling me "don't get too excited, shit's about to hit the fan." Brene talks about shifting our mindset to gratitude in these moments, being grateful for those very kids, those very moments (high or low) and leaning in to them. Because guess what? We're going to look back and wish we leaned in to more joy and 99% of those tragedies we played out in our heads, they never made it past our thoughts. SO when i feel those destructive thoughts coming, I try to practice gratitude for what I do have. I'm thankful that I have kids, I'm thankful that I have oils and other wellness tools to keep them healthy or support them when they are sick, I'm thankful to be home to love on them. Instead of "foreboding joy by dress rehearsing tragedy", let's "be grateful and lean in to joy"
Let's remember that we're all in this together, that often the best support is someone who's going through it right there with you. I hope you'll share in the comments if you have other responses, fears, or vulnerabilities - sometimes talking about it is just enough to take that weight off our shoulders!