February Funk

It’s February, you guys. And I am in a serious funk.

Last weekend, I was having those horrible insecure thoughts that some of the moms I’ve become friends with really don’t like me that much.  I mean, literally, I was feeling very alone.  And that is a strange feeling when I’m amongst so many people and chaos on a daily basis.

This happens at times.  And truth be told, I am alone in a lot of what I do.  I work outside the home — full time!!! — and I’m a Catholic mom to six at a parish where most moms with more than four kids are SAHMs and don’t have their babies in daycare and don’t miss the field trips and the class parties and all that stuff.  Every day, I work among many women who simply think I’m crazy (or maybe they think that I really don’t know any better) for welcoming children into my already full marriage and household.  One woman I work with openly discusses taking her daughter in for her “depo shot” and I cringe a little inside, but maintain an understanding facade to the outside.  Another woman continues to tell me all about her friends who have 13 children, “and they all turned out great, went to college and everything!” as though it was a particular triumph not normally afforded to a large family.  Sometimes I wonder if I am the current freak show that everyone kind of discusses as it passes through town and points and giggles as I leave.

Lots of interaction — yet lots of loneliness. I live among this great expanse of secular culture living my life in a very non-secular way.  People are confused by me.  I am confused by people.

I worry that my funk rubs off on my kids in their interactions.  Sarah’s getting to this age of lots of social opportunities and she has a mom who is wary of allowing some of that.  Dani wants to go and do things with her friends, too, but is often stuck because we have commitments for other kids.  Then when my kids don’t get to attend fun activities, I blame myself for helping to create this environment where they have to sacrifice. While I know it’s good for them to experience sacrifice once in awhile, it is hard to know they have to do so. Much is made in our culture of having our children NOT have to suffer and sacrifice while children. “They should be kids!” the conventional wisdom goes.

And then, I look at my growing belly understanding that I’m tacking on many more years of sacrifice to my own life.  And I feel tired. I feel worn down at times. There is a part of me that wants to run, screaming “for the hills” and do what I want to do when I want to do it. I love my family, I do! I’m blessed and I’m grateful. But, I am not as holy as I ought to be and I wish far too often that the “cup be taken from me” and I don’t follow it up with, “but Thy will be done, not mine.”  Because, you know…life would be so much easier….

So, I’m completely rambling and have probably lost track of what I am trying to say at this point.  I’m feeling “done” being pregnant and it’s really just starting.  I’m feeling “done” with my job and pining for something mundane, something with no major responsibility, but I know I need the paycheck that comes with the job I have now.  And who am I kidding?  I do really like my job, it’s just this funk I’m in right now.

Hopefully I snap out of it soon and start to see the things I do in a joyful light.

 

Pride Goeth Before A Fall

PRIDE. I think it’s my nature. It’s a sin I struggle with over and over again. Whenever I prepare for confession, I mentally list out my sins and I try to get to the root of them to confess the proper sin. Because sometimes, the fact that I argued with my spouse is not really the problem…it is the WAY in which I argued and the fact that I was so convinced my way was the best way that I spoke to him as though I were all-knowledgeable and he were a dunce.  And the very root of that attitude is the fact that I took pride in myself and didn’t look to God for the solution.  That’s just an example.

But recently, I’ve had a great big slice of humble pie served up with a (literally) bitter pill to swallow.

I had my annual well-woman exam this week at the doctor.  Yeah.  That one.  Ugh, right?  But honestly, that “ugh” part is over and done with easy enough and then the discussions start.  I don’t think I’m unlike too many people who kind of make note of things to discuss with the doctor as that annual checkup approaches.  I had made some mental notes of some physical things I have been experiencing.  And really only physical things because, you know, I have it all together up there in my brain.  

So, as I discussed a few of the concerns I had with my doctor, the conversation took a turn I did not expect.  He had me talking and I was explaining a little bit about the lack of “quiet” time I have.  I think I was telling him how I understood that just seems to be part and parcel for the life of a Mom who works full-time outside the home and has 5 active kids and a husband who is in the same boat.  I also lamented the lack of couple time my  husband and I have and the impact that seemed to be having on our relationship.  Nothing negative at its core, but I think I characterized it as a “minor annoyance” or something that I know will pass because the day WILL come when the kids will be grown and we’ll have our couple time then.

As we were talking, the doctor opened up his drawer of handouts and pulled out a questionnaire.  I don’t know if I was supposed to see the folder with the label “Anxiety” on it, but my brain made a note to kick that file drawer shut and not worry about whatever the folder said and listen to the doctor.  He simply asked that I read through, answer the questions, and he’d score it later.

After I got dressed and ready to leave, I approached the questionnaire and inside, took a deep breath and told myself, “Be honest.  If he wanted you to take this, he’s just trying to get another picture of what’s going on with you.  He can’t help you if you don’t answer honestly.”

I would be lying if I wrote to you that I remember what the questions were.  I remember that there was one where I rated the frequency and the level of discomfort from numbness or tingling in the past few months.  And there was at least one (maybe three) questions that asked me to rate my level of fear regarding things outside of my control.  But there was a whole page and at each question I repeated to myself that I needed to be honest.

I turned it over to the nurse and headed out figuring nothing would come of it.  The next day, I received a call from the nurse that the doctor thinks I am suffering from mild to moderate stress anxiety and recommended stress counseling or medication.  

In the 24 hours I chose to take in order to absorb this information and think it over and make a decision, my emotions fluctuated.  I remembered how I felt when I took a week off from work last month and I wrote this post.  I thought about the comments and e-mails I received about that post and how relieved lots of you told me you were that you were not alone.  I remembered how supportive you all were to give me encouragement that my feelings of inadequacy were not in vain, that I did have a lot going on and you were relieved to learn that I really don’t always have it all together all the time.  And I remembered the crux of why I HAD to tell myself to be honest as I answered the questionnaire:  Because my prideful nature makes me the kind of person who must always look like I have it all together.  

From my vantage point, I don’t have time to lose it.  I don’t.  I have six people depending on me to keep it together at all times.  I have five children who expect me to be strong, with it and happy about it all.  I have a husband who understands my struggles and supports me wholeheartedly, but who also would suffer immensely to see me suffer. 

I went to counseling for about 3 years, religiously, I’ve let that lapse in the last year because, let’s face it, I just don’t have time.  My schedule is crazy.  And you know what?  My pride is sitting there banging my humility on the head with an anvil-type hammer saying, “Don’t you DARE write that and actually PUBLISH it!”

So, I thought about the doctor’s diagnosis and recommendation.  I told Craig about it.  I let my sisters in on it.  I slept on it.  And the next day, I made the call to the doctor’s office and said, “Yes, I’m ready to do meds.”  Of course, I qualified it all over the place that this would be “temporary”.  I told the nurse all about my new job where I went from managing a team of 4 (including me) to managing a team of 17 (including me) and how it’s a high profile gig at my company and I am scared — petrified, if I’m really honest — of failing.  I told her about five kids who are active in many things and I coach two of their volleyball teams and I’m on the school board, and that really…things will calm down a bit in a few weeks maybe a few months, but I don’t think I’ll need this permanently.

Pride is a tough cookie to crack.


I admit, I’m not quite sure why I share this with you all, my readers.  I try to be the person on this blog that I am in real life.  I know it’s this huge risk to put myself out there to the masses because you encounter all kinds on the internet.  But I think it is because of all of the support you gave me a few weeks ago.  I think you want to know about this stuff in my life.  I think you value the opportunity to pray for me.  And Pride be damned, I need to allow myself the opportunity to be prayed for and allow myself to acknowledge that I am not superwoman, or supermom or anything super at all. I rely more on God than I acknowledge and that is okay.  Let’s face it, it’s a miracle at all that we’ve come this far and it will only be through Him that we get through another year, month, week, day…

I haven’t heard back yet what the plan is since it was late Friday when I was in touch with the nurse.  But a feeling of relief has set in because I let her know I was open to this course of action.  Oddly enough, it makes me feel a little bit more in control.  My sisters were encouraging and they helped me realize that truly, this IS probably temporary (from a humble standpoint) because I just need a little help to relax my nerves and make it possible to focus and prioritize.  

I am grateful to have this outlet to write about my experience with all of this.  Even though I haven’t taken anything, yet, I think the medication is already working because I’ve taken a few more deep breaths this weekend and told myself to “relax” and to “focus” and to just take this day one hour at a time and enjoy my children and my husband and my friends.  And in that experience, I have learned that I do need a bit of help doing that because as much as I can tell myself to do it, sometimes, my neurological system doesn’t cooperate.

And maybe, when I’ve calmed down a bit and I’m able to think my actions through before jumping into them, I will get to work on this Pride thing.  I don’t think I’m ready to do that Litany of Humility thing again just yet.  Because I know that praying that has led to even more humble pie coming my way and I just don’t think I can handle another slice for awhile.  

I hope to remember that awareness is half the battle.  

Acknowledging the problem is the first step in solving the problem.