Pearls at Dusk

As I’ve mentioned before I used to write a lot of poetry when I was in high school and college. Then the inspiration just sort of died. But in the last year I’ve written four or five poems. I used to crank out that many in a week! Considering I went years without writing a single one I’d say four or five is pretty good. The inspiration has often come after going through something difficult or just when I’ve needed to be inspired. This one came the other night as I watched an almost full moon rising in the east as the sun sank in the west. I hope you enjoy it.

Pearls at Dusk

The yellow moon rises
against a violet sky at dusk,

like a pearl breaking free
of shell
and sea
and salt.

Free to shed soft, delicate light
on a land cast in shadows
and sorrow.

I clutch its glow to my heart,
drink it in to my soul,
treasure up the grace it has given me,
like a whole string of priceless pearls
strung around my neck.

violet moon

My OCD Triggered

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Life definitely isn’t consistent. It can be for awhile, but the bumps and potholes and twists and turns inevitably return. My OCD, which had been completely absent for quite some time, was triggered again, and I’m really struggling with it. The hard part is that it was triggered by someone I thought was a friend, someone I greatly valued. Turns out she was the fair-weather kind, or maybe never one at all. Maybe the facade was always there, and I chose not to see it because of how much the person I thought she was meant to me.

After my last post this friend unfriended me on Facebook and messaged me telling me how much it hurt her, that she couldn’t be my friend and how she was really doing it for me, or for my benefit. Indeed, she was one of several people who prompted me to write what I did. I saw dozens of her own brazen posts, and each one felt like a punch to the gut. Whether she meant it or not, they all left me feeling like I was stupid, uncaring and pathetic. I did unfollow her because I knew it was best for me, just like I unfollowed several other people, some of which I share the same point of view with. Their posts left me feeling just as sick. I, however, didn’t stoop to unfriending her because, as I’ve stated, I cared about her and valued her friendship so much. I also, in part, understood where she was coming from because I was her once, many years ago. And the reason I changed was because I saw how it was driving away people who meant something to me.

I even have a recent example. Since getting back on Facebook about a year ago I have tried to stay away from controversial topics that will insight anger and hurt. But I recently reposted something of a friend’s that I thought was funny. It was political, and I posted it light-heartedly because it made me laugh, and I thought it was true. A good friend called me out on it, though. She read it as being mean and intolerant. Even though that was the furthest thing from my intention, and not what I meant or felt at all, I deleted the post because her friendship was more important to me than some stupid post on stupid Facebook.

Now, going back to my other friend, as soon as she saw one single post of mine that she didn’t like she told me she couldn’t be my friend anymore. (Sounds ridiculously Jr. Highish, right?!) Her cause was more important to her than a friendship that had lasted almost twenty years. And it hurt. It hurt so much to know that politics was more important to her than a person, than a friend who had been very loyal to her for almost twenty years.

I think the thing that really triggered my OCD, though, was her statement of saying she was doing it for me—like I’m some poor little girl who’s too incompetent to possibly know for myself what’s best for me. I’ve had other friends, family members and an ex-boyfriend who used those same words/tactics on me. It brought all of those past experiences rushing to the surface, and I can’t stop thinking about them. I can’t stop thinking about whether I replied to her the right way. I keep going over and over and over what I wish I could tell her, make her see. And then I keep wondering if maybe they’re all right. Am I stupid? Am I pathetic? Am I incompetent? Deep down, I know I’m not. I have been through so much the last year, and I have learned and grown and accomplished so much. I have had amazing support and help along the way from family, friends and neighbors who truly do care about me. But it’s also because I am strong, because I am capable, because I am smart and I do care. Because I am competent, and no one knows what’s best for me better than I do myself. Yet the thoughts circle. The hurt persists. I had made such strides, and now I feel like I’m back to step one again. Well, maybe not that far, but close.

Luckily, the difference between now and when I really was at step one is that I know I can move forward. My anxiety at driving a car again after my accident evaporated after that very first drive. Now I have no problem driving. Easy-peasy, as my kids would say! I think dealing with the OCD will take a little longer, but I’m not going to let someone who devalues others so much stamp out all of the progress I have made, and any of you out there dealing with the same thing shouldn’t either. I will rise up, and I will recover, even if it takes a little time. You can rise up and recover, even if it takes time.

A Vent

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I’ve recently been reminded of why I hate Facebook so much and why I got completely off of it (deleted my account) many years ago. People love using it to vomit their opinions in a passive-aggressive way that they claim is them doing what’s right, what their conscience demands of them, when really they just want everyone else to know that what they believe, whether politically, religiously, socially or personally is absolute truth and anyone who doesn’t believe the same is a pathetic low-life who deserves to be trampled under the refuse of guilt and shame. Now these people will act like they are all open-minded and they aren’t trying to be aggressive or make others feel bad, but I’m telling you—that’s bull*#@%! In my opinion. Insert smiling emoji now!

The truth is that you are making people feel bad, and you know it. You know you’re creating controversy, you know you’ll anger people, you know you’ll start a fight and you don’t care because YOU ARE RIGHT, and anyone who doesn’t agree with you is an idiot. My question is, why? Why do you care so much about what other people believe? Just because someone believes differently than you doesn’t mean they aren’t educated, it doesn’t mean they don’t care, it doesn’t mean they haven’t done any research themselves, and it certainly doesn’t mean they are wrong. Maybe they are actually more educated, care more and have done more research than you have. Maybe we’re just all different. And maybe that’s okay. So why start the conflict? Why not show love and compassion for EVERYONE instead?

I came across a scripture tonight while reading with my kids that I feel applies. In my religion as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we have a book of scripture called The Book of Mormon. In it we learn that, after Christ was resurrected, He visited people who lived in what is now the American continent. One of the very first things Christ taught the people was that contention is of the devil. In 3 Nephi chapter 11 verse 29 He says Satan is the one who, “stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.” In verse 30 Jesus continues, “Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.” Facebook, lately, has been full of people who want to “stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another.”

Now I completely understand being passionate about what you believe in and wanting to share that, but this contentious way is not the right way. I know because that’s the way I went about it when I was a young, arrogant girl at college. Thank goodness I grew up! And thank goodness I learned that using your passion in the wrong way doesn’t change minds, it doesn’t build up, it doesn’t include. It does the opposite. It hardens people, it cements their own opinions, it tears down, it excludes and it causes anger, which is not Christ’s way.

Facebook has been a great tool in getting the word out about my blog here. In fact that’s the only reason I even got back on it last summer. But lately I’ve been seriously considering deleting my account again because of all the people who use it in Satan’s way—as a tool to hurt and tear down others.

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I feel as though I’ve tried and done a reasonably good job of teaching my children that it’s okay when other people believe differently than we do. As a result, my kids have a pretty wide variety of friends religiously, politically, socially, personally. And the great example my kids give to me is that those differences don’t really matter. Kids don’t care about changing someone’s opinion. They talk about their differing opinions in a very brief and civil (sometimes funny) way, then they move on. They don’t fight about it, they just move on. Their passion is about friendship, not politics, not opinions. Friendship and love.

Conquering My Anxiety

As stated in a recent post, I’m doing really well. I haven’t noticed any of my OCD tendencies in 5-6 months, and my depression has been completely gone since the weather got warmer/nicer a few months ago. My anxiety has been very minimal since then as well. It has been absolutely amazing!

Yesterday, my kids and I were in a car accident. I was sitting at a red light fairly close to my house when I noticed a truck in my rear-view mirror barreling toward me. A second later he tried to swerve, but slammed into the corner of my car anyway.

It wasn’t super bad. All three of us had seat belts on and my kids were sitting in the back where they were supposed to be. I did feel some pain in my neck and back. My daughter got the brunt of it because it was her side that was hit into. Her head and neck hurt as well as her knee which hit into the seat in front of her. It wasn’t too bad, though—just a tiny scrape. However, as the hours wore on the pain intensified until I decided to go to the Urgent Care. They took x-rays which came out looking fine, but the doctor prescribed some ibuprofen and muscle relaxers and said I should get some physical therapy. I definitely feel blessed that it wasn’t worse.

I knew I needed to take my car into a repair shop to get an estimate on the damage. All day I put it off, anxiety beating its way back into my life. Even though the accident wasn’t that bad, every time I thought about getting in my car, driving my car, the anxiety would hit, making me sick to my stomach, making it harder and harder to breathe.

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Last night I talked to a friend about how I was grateful, in a way, to be going through this as a single person because it’s teaching me to be independent, to learn and do things I never had to do before. She told me that it was nice because it was empowering. So, despite my anxiety, I got in my car and drove. I again felt incredibly sick and nauseous, breathing was laborious, but I put on some music I like from Audiomachine and Two Steps From Hell, and it got slightly easier. I became less anxious as I continued to drive. And you know what? I did it. I made it. I conquered my anxiety and my fear.

I don’t know if that means it’s over. It has been so nice not dealing with any mental illness the last few months. It was definitely easier driving home, but even as I write this, I feel the anxiety simmering on the surface of my emotions. Of course that could have something to do with waiting for the insurance adjuster to call me back—after having left 3-4 messages and a couple of emails. It’s just a stressful situation, but I know I can do it. I know I can fight through and make it to the other side. I’m strong, and I can do hard things.

Does the Air We Breathe Affect Our Mental Health?

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I thought I’d give a little update on myself. I’ve been doing extremely well the last couple of months. I believe part of the reason is because winter ended, and so did my seasonal affective disorder. It truly is amazing how much I improve once the cold, snow and gray days are gone. It’s amazing what a difference warmth, sunlight and longer days make.

I was thinking more about how well I’ve been doing, wondering if anything else might have to do with it. I believe some of it is just my own growth through experience and knowledge I’ve gained. But I also have been wondering if any of it has to do with the fact that I’ve gotten rid of all the chemicals in my home. A few months ago I signed up to be an independent sales consultant for Norwex. They make, among other things, microfiber cleaning cloths to replace the traditional cleaners in your home. Their global mission is to reduce chemicals in the home. So, the day I got all my Norwex stuff, I threw out all of my bathroom and kitchen cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, fabric softener and drier sheets, soap and facial cleanser. I no longer use harmful chemicals in my home, and I honestly wonder if the fact that I’m no longer breathing in or absorbing all of that crap has played a part in my improved mental health.

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According to a study by the University of Washington air pollution impacts mental health and has been associated with behavior changes. If it’s true of the air outside, why wouldn’t it be true of the air inside? Food for thought, for sure.

 

Time and Seasons

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Today was what we refer to in my church as “fast and testimony” meeting. Usually, the first Sunday of each month is dedicated to fasting, and at church, in sacrament meeting, all members of the congregation are invited, if they so feel the need, to get up and share their testimonies of the gospel. The first person to do so today shared an amazing story of incredible miracles she had seen on a recent trip. The Spirit was so strong, when she sat down I thought to myself, “I love coming to church!”

This has been my thought every Sunday for quite awhile now. Every time I’m at church I leave feeling so uplifted and inspired. I’m always able to feel the Spirit, to learn something, to hear something I needed to hear and I leave with something to ponder. I love Sundays, and I love church!

This hasn’t always been the case, though. I remember going into the bathroom this one Sunday many years ago, feeling tired and frustrated. My youngest was a toddler at the time, or, as I liked to refer to him, my little monster. It was always a near-impossible task just getting to church at all, let alone actually being able to pay attention while I was there. When I walked into the bathroom this other lady in my ward (what we call an LDS congregation) asked me how I was.

“I hate Sundays,” I told her. “Sundays are the worst day of the week.”

I almost couldn’t believe I had let the words out of my mouth, but she leaned toward me and said, “I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way sometimes.”

Church with babies and toddlers can be frustrating. But I realized today it is only a time and a season. There are still times I have to get after my ten-year-old daughter and six-year-old son during sacrament meeting for being too loud or for bugging and picking on each other, but for the most part they are pretty good—good enough that I can listen to and enjoy the majority of church.

I think there are many things in our lives that are part of a time and season. Things come and go. As frustrating as those days were in regards to the Sabbath, in many ways I miss them. It’s hard to see your kids grow up. But sometimes it helps to remember that hard times can pass and good times can grow.