Last month fear took over. Fear that grabbed me by the chest and cut off my ability to breathe. Fear that had me sitting in my closet crying because I needed that small space to hold it all in or I thought I might fly apart. When you are in the midst of that type of fear and despair, it is hard to rationally talk to yourself or think straight about the world.
What set off this fear for me? A health issue for one of my children. The issue itself started out mild and we addressed it in the typical way you address mild issues in kids. But then…. it didn’t get better. And as things became worse physically for her, they also became worse emotionally. She was experiencing pain and her answer was to withdraw, withhold, and shut down. She was in full out avoidance with a thick layer of anxiety on top. And on one hand, the answer seemed so simple, but nothing was working and her health was declining.
Here is where the demons of fear, inadequacy, and self-deprecation ganged up on me. I was looking at my child and thinking, “But wait a minute, I KNOW what to do. This is what I DO!! I help children with anxiety, and fear, and worry. I help children with health concerns and physical issues. I should know this.” There is it, the dreaded SHOULD. As soon as that ‘should’ comes out in your thinking, you know you are headed into some deep and murky waters that could swallow you up. Because of my psychology background, I also knew all the WHAT IF scenarios that could play out with the emotional side of the issue we were facing. WHAT IF is the snarky partner to SHOULD and they are both bad news.
What if she continues to decline? What if she develops a severe mental health disorder? What if we need to hospitalize her? What if she becomes suicidal? What if.. What if.. What if….
That was demon #1 talking in my ear. Demon #2 on the other side was saying…
You are not a good mom. You should have caught this earlier. You think you know how to help kids but you don’t. You are supposed to be the expert in anxiety and you can’t help your own child. You are supposed to be the essential oil guru but you can’t find the right combination for your child. Heck, you can’t even find the right combination for yourself.
You have failed.
You have failed.
You have failed.
Whoa. The tears well up again writing that today.
Some days would be good days. The problems would abate. Her mood would improve. We would see a glimmer of hope and think we were reaching the end of the dark tunnel we were walking through. But then the bad days would hit again and it was like a kick in the gut. And even on the good days, I started walking around with a pit of dread in my stomach because all I could think was, “But the bad days are coming.” I would rush to get all my errands and work done. To meet with friends or to clean my house on the “good days” because I knew all life would stop on the bad days.
For a couple of weeks, this cycle continued to pull us down, and the rest of the family with us. It was hard to give to anyone else when this darkness was smothering me. And it was hard to receive the things I already knew or to turn to the resources I had including my husband, my friends, and God. I KNEW that I should release this anxiety and give it over to God, but knowing and doing were not connecting up. (Plus, there was that ‘should’ again.) Finally, it reached a breaking point and I knew something had to change. I had to tell my husband all my fears and how the darkness was smothering me. Now, trust me, he was not oblivious to the problem, but he did not know all the things going on in my head and I had resisted sharing them as if saying it out loud would make it all come true. But on that Sunday night, I knew something had to change for all of us.
I started by talking to my husband and he showed up as the spiritual leader to reassure, comfort, and talk me down. He told me we were not going to borrow trouble from the future, we were going to focus on one problem at a time and solve that problem and then solve the next, then the next, and keep solving problems until we were home free. (A bit of a paraphrase from the final speech in The Martian). Just do the math and eventually you get to come home. Next, I reached out. I reached out to EVERYONE!! Some of my friends already knew what we had going on but I texted one of my closest prayer warrior friends and she had just finished reading a book on spiritual warfare that spoke right to my soul. Coincidence? I think not. I texted an essential oil mentor and said, “I need you to tell me what to do. I am too close to it and I need help deciding what we need.” And the following Monday, I set up appointments with every professional I could think of. We were already seeing a therapist and had seen her pediatrician once but on Monday I re-scheduled everyone. That week we did x-rays, therapy, chiropractic, pediatrician, frequency wave scan, and almost did acupuncture (we decided to wait on that one for a bit).
And now, things are better. Things are better physically and emotionally for my sweet girl and the fear is better for me. I would not say things are perfect and I can sometimes get a glimpse of that darkness sitting a step behind me waiting to jump out. But in all that I did, I found two things that were the keys to opening up my mind and spirit and two things to release the demons. The first was love. The only arrow we have against the demons is love. They have already lost the fight but sometimes they can fool us into thinking otherwise. I needed to love my sweet daughter while I looked for help. Just love on her. I had lost that in the chaos of turmoil and fear. I was so scared that I fought between anger and grief when I dealt with her and I forgot about the love. That Sunday night, I sat with her as we both cried and I put frankincense on us both and told her over and over, “I love you and I am here.” That was all I could do for her at that point – just be there. I also released the self-defeating thoughts and loved myself. I might be the absolute best psychologist in the nation for YOUR kid, but for my kid, I sucked. BUT, that was not my job. My job was to be her mom, not her psychologist. I found someone else to fill that role for her so I could focus on the role that I was meant to fill. MOM. And I might be the BEST essential oil/natural option guru out there to help YOU find the best options for your family but when you are in the pit with the lions, you need some outside help. That was my second tool that helped me begin the climb out of the pit – I ASKED. I asked for help, prayer, support, a shoulder to cry on, a professional to see, a referral, a recommendation, a cup of coffee, a massage…. All of it. I asked for all of it. I stopped trying to do it all by myself and I ASKED.
First and foremost, my peace comes from God. And during this deep trial, he put the people in my life that I needed and then waited patiently on me while I struggled to do what I needed to do. Sometimes, it felt like He was not there, but I know He never left. I just had a period of time where I could not hear him because I was not listening. Even now, things are still rocky on some days and I hear the whispers again…. “you’re not good enough.” But I turn to my tools, I turn to my friends and family, I turn to my God and I say, “I got this.” Today I will solve today’s problems. Today I will love myself and the people dearest to me. Today my house might be a mess and I might have a to-do list a mile long but that is fine. I will put on my favorite song (Currently, Thunder by Imagine Dragons), roll on my “I am Strong” essential oil blend and rock this out.
Demon #1 and Demon #2, you are no longer welcome here.
P.S. After I originally shared this post, a dear friend sent me the song Fear is a Liar by Zach Williams. This is a must listen song if you are in the midst of the demons.