When I first started this blog, I had all intentions of sharing and writing about all things health and wellness, but especially as it related to weight-management and fitness. Somewhere along the line, this blog morphed into something that became merely educational or instructional, and I felt like it was missing ME – well me outside of my kitchen. And I noticed that when I’m really struggling with something, I haven’t been sharing or writing about it, and there ends up being large gaps in blog entries. So, while I will continue to share with everyone deliciously healthy cuisine and fitness tips, I think I need to share some of the mental and emotional health issues that are part of the fabric of overall wellness.
I’ve been struggling a lot lately, and the “I need to do/should do/have to do/ want to do/ don’t have time to do/ wish I had money to do this, that and that” chatter in my head can sometimes be so loud, it’s debilitating. The heaviness of this goes in waves – some minutes, days, weeks I feel like I’ve got it all under control and I make a little progress; other days the chatter is so overwhelming that I feel like the Tasmanian Devil. I get so tired of spinning that I just fall in a heap on the couch.
I’ve been unemployed for over two years. I worry a lot about money – keeping my apartment once unemployment benefits run out (which, despite all the extensions, the will run out, soon) paying utility and medical bills, dealing with the annoying student loan company, finding a job to pay for these things, and trying to jump-start a business without any cash. And yet, I still tell myself to stop complaining because there are a lot of people worse off than me.
I’ve had some relationships – personal and professional – hit the skids recently. And while I am glad to remove the negative energy from my life, it has caused me a lot of stress and also brings sadness and feelings that I could have somehow been better.
Any insightful person has learned along the journey to recognize patterns that show up in their lives, and we tend to focus on the ones that need “fixing”: compulsive eating during particular times or situations; dating the same type of partner over and over, or relationships repeatedly reaching the same result. I recently realized a different pattern happening in my life in the past two years. I’ve had about half a dozen people “show up” for me with supportive, uplifting and very positive things to say about me and to me, the latter centering around how their Faith got them through certain situations.
Having grown up in a very religiously-ambiguous house with a father who gave lectures every year when the tree and its pretty, sparkly, shiny, colorful decorations came out about how organized religion and all its players had no place in our home, and with a mother whose only outward expression of her Christian upbringing was making us get on our knees before bed and pray together as a family (which stopped when we reached teenage years) or recounting stories of the Seventh-Day Adventist boarding high school that she went to – and subsequently sent my rebellious sister to as a means of “straightening her out” – being religious was not encouraged. Then, somehow, I found myself at a southern Methodist college where my first semester was spent being dragged by schoolmates to church after church in hopes that I would conform. I think I was traumatized by this! But I think I also had my first spiritual awakening and began to look at the World’s religions and discover what I liked and what I didn’t like, what I felt like I needed and didn’t need. And, I developed a strong aversion to the people I considered “pushy” or “proselytizing” and to those I feel JUDGE others for not acting out piety the way they think you should.
Fast forward to these past two years. When my friends have said to me “I just had faith that God would take care of it,” I did my usual eye-roll followed by “But what does that mean? What does it mean to have faith? What does it mean to trust that a higher power will guide me? How can God possibly want me to go through this?” And these are the questions that started my journey. A lot of the chatter in my brain has been related to my purpose on this planet: WHY does God want me to go through this? What am I supposed to be doing? What am I supposed to be hearing that I can’t because the questions don’t stop long enough for me to formulate answers? These are the questions that have resulted in open and honest conversations – long and short, and often ending with me crying, reading books given to me by these friends (including my first Bible and several others helping me to understand the Bible!), and a lot of soul-searching. Once I realized that my heart and soul needed more nourishment than my Zumba classes were offering, and more peace than just the last few minutes of a yoga class, I started to wonder if a church community was what I might be looking for.
I’m hesitant to even say it is THE answer FOR ME – I know it is the answer for many, but I also know many who just show up and call it good. I am taking note that in my path have been put strong, smart, forward-thinking women – like me – who are strong in their faith. Friends who have been gentle and kind with me and given me time to ask my questions, who have encouraged me to think more and investigate and define MY OWN relationship with God and what that might look like. I took some big steps yesterday and attended two church services, primarily because in the first, I ended up in a planning meeting and didn’t get a “good dose of God!” I am a liberal – a fiercely independent, intellectual, spiritually-inquisitive liberal who doesn’t like to be told how to walk, speak, etc. because I am wrong and you are right, unless you are my PT and how I’m walking is throwing off my alignment! But, I do want to engage in conversations like the one in yesterday’s second service: In our struggles, in our brokenness, transformation begins and great things happen. And I try not to judge others, though sometimes I seriously wonder if some people really thought their outfit looked good when they left home!
I am thankful for the struggle in that it makes me feel alive. And though relief from the pain of this struggle is welcome, I have faith that great things will happen. I just have to continue down this path of self-exploration and continue to discover and define those things.