Up all night…with anxiety

Anxiety posting continues…

Last night, I had such a hard time falling asleep.

I couldn’t quiet down my brain.

I was so tired I could hardly move or talk…

And yet, my brain refused to quiet.

I was running all the comments on Facebook – had I offended someone?  If I had, did I need to worry about it – or was it their problem?

That conversation I had with a coworker today – did they know I was kidding?

The class of 9th graders I lead – did I do a good job, or did I really miss the mark?

 

The answer I would give to any other is – “It’s totally their problem, yes they knew you were kidding, and of course you did a good job.  Try not to stress!”

 

And yet, for myself, I could not offer these kind words.  At least not in the moment.

After getting some rest, I am able to find peace.  Some exercise has helped – and reaching out to friends has offered more comfort than I can ever be able to thank them for sufficiently.

Anxiety will not have the last word.  Stefanie will.  Even if she continues to struggle with Anxiety until she’s old and feeble – Stefanie will have the last word.  (With the help of God, of course!)

To be a Nomad

I’m not sure I was ever a homebody…but I know I always dreamed of living somewhere exciting or fun when I was growing up.

I remember visiting Uptown Minneapolis every year, visiting my aunt and uncle and cousins – their house was beautiful, and the neighborhood was glamorous – everything I felt that my home in small-town, eastern South Dakota was not.

When I decided to get up the courage to move – it was tough.  I left a job I’d known all through college for the romantic ideal of the “big city.”  I was fortunate to have the support of my sister, and my best friend from high school with me – and we adjusted rather well, even though I was ridiculously homesick for my parents – especially at first.

My parents both live within a two hour drive of their parents, and I saw my extended family on a regular basis.  It was hard – at first – to be SO FAR AWAY, and yet, we acclimated to the longer drive, and my parents came to visit on a fairly regular basis – especially once my children showed up.

And then the itch started again.  We had purchased a home in the suburbs – and I couldn’t believe I was going to live somewhere FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE – it felt so stifling, I couldn’t explain why.   Stability in a home is such a value ingrained into my being – and yet, I was ready to go.

Well, we tried to sell the house, and were a victim of the housing bubble of the time.  Our house was worth much less than we paid, and we ended up in forclosure.  A blow to my husband’s and my ego, but nonetheless, an opportunity to start over.

We lived on campus while I finished my classes for my seminary degree, and I loved it.  I loved that we were closer to my sister, I loved that I could walk everywhere I went, and I loved the community that campus housing offers.

The experience  was a bit jarring – I had a few night terrors at first, wondering if I had made the wrong move in giving up on the house – even though we did all we could to make right with the bank – but I adjusted with fairly little issue.  

We then spent the summer living between couches in our friends houses and my parents house in South Dakota – in preparation for our move to Denver, for my internship with a beautiful ELCA congregation out here.  I felt so delighted to be so nomadic – and I couldn’t wait for the next adventure to begin.

I had done so well, I stopped taking my anti-anxiety medication, and was feeling better about life than I ever had before!

Then we arrived in Denver.  The drive was excruciating, and the altitude almost killed my lungs.  I knew I would miss my friends and family, and I was instantly homesick.  Add to that a nagging pain and numbness in my dominant arm, and you can imagine, it was just a rough start.

It took a long time to adjust – thanks to surgery, and a merry-go-round of supervisors – but I eventually settled in. I still missed my family and my many friends back east, but I started to fall in love with my congregation, and find a few local comforts to make my new neighborhood feel like home.

  
And now, it’s almost time to go back.  I was reminded of the crazy feelings of homesickness in a recent visit from my home congregation, and now I’m in the weird position – ready to head home, and not ready to leave.

I’m not likely to struggle as much to adjust to be back in a familiar place, but in anticipation of leaving this place, my church family and friends, my actual family that’s out here, I’m feeling weepy – and I’m beginning to worry that adventure isn’t for me.  It’s painful to leave – but a Pastor’s job is to enter and love fully, and then remove oneself fully – even if we never move, this will be a reality for me.

If this is to be my future, luckily for me, so far I’ve been sent to places filled with wonderful and loving people – it’s better to miss people than the alternative – but it means I’ll have the occasionally tear-jearking dream that wakes me up to cry a little…and when I’m gone, I’ll be able to rest in the comfort that God will be with us all until we meet again!

How old is old?

It came in an email – “Your dad has a blockage,” – and as if in ironic empathy, I felt my heart sink.

Other things that came in that same email – “We caught it early” and “We are getting it taken care of,” and “he’s going to be ok”, didn’t seem to pick my heart back up, at least not as high as it had been prior.

My father, a man who just turned 60, has always been at the pinnacle of physical health – tall, lean, and active.  Active to the point that even NOW I feel he could easily kick my butt in hand-to-hand combat, but he’s refrained from challenging me while I was in the midst of child-bearing.  (He’s also a gentleman.)

 

 

When I look at him, and my mother (who incidentally is in a new health kick and in the best shape I’ve seen her in years), I do not see the “aged”.  I remember when I was little, if I heard someone was in their fifties or sixties, they MUST have white hair, need a cane – I’m sure you know the picture I imagined.

Those white haired people, are my grandparents.  I have all four – the eldest 86, and still checking his cattle, the youngest 78, and working as a home health aid, taking care of home-bound persons much younger than she.

My question is, who is old?  I am not yet thirty, and feel so unbelievably old – that half my life is gone and I’ve accomplished so little.  My face starts to show lines, my joints are starting to ache, and my children are starting to get more and more – wait, it’s enough to say I HAVE CHILDREN.

And then I think, aging is a gift.  A gift God has given me, and others have not had the opportunity to continue.  It’s a gift many of the young and beautiful are struggling against illness to achieve.  It’s a gift that has allowed me to continue to have earthly bonds with my ancestors, to know them as an adult in a much more meaningful kind of way. 

Hollywood has taken the beauty of youth and pushed it before the beauty of life, a full life, in which battle scars mark our faces and bodies, telling stories of our past, giving us hope for our future.  It causes us to wrongly assume that life is over once we are done being “wrinkle-free.”  To that I say, bollox.

The doctor told us my father’s blockage was in the “widow-maker” artery.  Bedside manner lacking, it told us how lucky we were to have him here, with a simple stent to allow him to be as active as ever, if only with a new perspective – not just for him, but all of us.

Our time is limited here.  As a Christian, and a spiritual being, I have hope for promise of life beyond death, but I want to remain here as long as I can, to enjoy those I love as much as I can, and to help God’s creation as much as I can.

Be thankful for the gift of your life, thankful you have gained enough time to earn signs of age, and try to forget our consumption with physical appearance – only you have control of your insides, and only God can make judgment on that!

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)

Today I “graduated” from my first unit of CPE.  CPE, or Clinical Pastoral Education, is a program in which persons are educated in pastoral care, usually at a hospital or medical setting, and joined by a group of peers and a supervisor to process their feelings and what motivates them when they do ministry.

Now there are those that elect to do a unit of CPE, and there are those (ahem, me) who are required as part of their degree to do a unit.  While in seminary, I have watched many of my peers go through CPE, and seen mostly the same reaction – I learned a lot, but boy it was tough.

I went through CPE having just found out I was not able to do my degree in the normal process due to some grade issues caused by taking classes when I had Arthur.  I was also dealing with postpartum depression for a time.  To say it was tough would be an understatement.

I learned so much about myself, about others, and about God.  I was surprised to find how at home I feel as a pastor at the time of death, and gained a real sense of what it is I’m doing at seminary.

One more chapter on the path to a Master’s of Divinity has been knocked out, and soon I will be back in class.  When people ask how CPE was, I’ll try not to sound like a broken record, when I report that it was tough, but I learned a lot.