"...and the rains came and the last of the leaves fell...and fall rolls into winter...just like that...Beautiful. Seasons change. Whatever one you are in...savor THAT one." - Heather Nelson, 11.28.2016
I have an EXCEPTIONAL counselor.
I don't say that enough. Just like everyone else on the planet, I believe myself to be "one tough nut to crack" and just like everyone else on the planet, I am putty in the hands of a skilled/wise/caring counselor.
So....I arrived for my weekly counseling session today knowing I was going to spend the entire time spewing about the fact that I feel squishy and unsettled. Read that as squishy. S Q U I S H Y *insert eye roll*
My counselor laid out some HARD truth with me today.
SQUISHY is your present normal.
Deal. With. It.
Well....let me whip out my credit card in jubilation as I get to pay for this abuse. ;)
The truth is I am not sure healing is the hardest part of counseling and all that comes with it...I am pretty sure navigating all of your relationships as you heal is by far the HARDEST part.
I feel like an alien in my own body a lot of days.
...and not the cute ET kind.
I mean...who am I? what am I? what do I want? what do I need? how do I feel? #forthelove
When the counselor asked me today if I had noticed the cycle, I felt the fear rise within me....here we go. I was fully braced for some "crazy" (in my mind) diagnosis. I knew it. I need to be put in an institution. Yup...I said it...because that is where my mind went. Because. I. Am. Certifiable. *eye roll*
So....everyone can put away the straight jackets. That solution is "too easy" for me. I am not crazy.
I am broken.
I am healing.
I am re-learning who I am.
I am letting go of all of the defense mechanisms that have kept me safe...and I do mean safe....since I was a little girl....and I am....
Oh. My. Gosh.
...I am vulnerable...exposed...and it is unnerving. Completely and totally unnerving.
I am going to digress for a moment. ;)
I think the aha for me today was I really thought I was over that part...I mean I have felt exposed and vulnerable for a good long while now...even before starting counseling earlier this year....but there is a difference. Vulnerability has levels just like anything else. Vulnerability to me with 20 walls still around my heart looks (and feels) a LOT different than vulnerability today when I feel like the only thing between me and anyone on the street who walks up to me is maybe a blue tarp (with holes in it). I am learning to let more of me just hang out and who the hell am I to know what that looks or feels like to others....hell, I don't know what it feels like to ME.
So....there is another aspect to this too.
Not everyone in my life is as healthy as I am (dear Lord Jesus I just cackled out loud even typing that). I mean...Lord, bless my own heart.
It is true. The healthier I get the more I am keenly aware of others around me who are both healthy....and let say...not so much...okay they are just NOT. So...not only does that lead me to a new since of empathy for others....I also have to develop what my counselor casually (and by casual lets just say I heard this word, she might have used another) referred to as the "bubble" that I now have to operate in within toxic environments and/or relationships that I may or may not be in from time-to-time. I am thinking it needs a name....like "Heather's Healthy Bubble" - nope....that sucks. I need to work on that. ;)
So...a bubble. This is the place where I stay healthy...operate from a healthy place...and whatever crazy (did I say crazy? I meant toxic) is happening around me....I am immune.
If this works, don't worry....I am going to patent it and make a fortune and feed the world.
So here I am sitting at my desk at home before church dumping all of these words out into this blog and wondering....do you really hit publish on this post Heather????
Here is why.
I promised back in February of this year when I hit the proverbial wall, that I would be honest in my writing about this process...as I had worked to be honest through the prior three years of what I lovingly refer to as my wilderness season. In some ways, I am still there....still learning and growing and healing. I am smart enough to know that all of that, to some degree, continues past the wilderness...but it is profound what God has brought me through thus far and I would be a liar and a fraud if I didn't acknowledge that. I am not who I once was, and that is not of my own doing - but solely a result of God's relentless pursuit and mercy.
This is part of it. All of it. The concerns that you are crazy and unfixable, irrevocably broken beyond repair. The anxiety (though I am in a lull period there - don't jinx it) and the sleepless nights. The cold wash cloths covering your entire body to power-walking three miles around downtown NLR and LR to keep yourself from either a) losing your mind, or b) committing a cold, calculated murder. Tears, oh the tears. Yoga. Breathing. Learning to breathe. Working through the regrets, the loss, past mistakes (lets call it what they were - sin), forgiveness - myself and others. All the new words. The new lessons. Boundaries. New and renewed relationships. Destroying walls....and now...The Bubble.
Perfect. The Bubble.
There is tremendous joy in this process, and I want to note that here too. I mean, I just feel like I got pounded...and yet here I am writing and smiling. There is joy in the fact that I am 45 years old and I am learning....I am getting better. I am not shrinking away from the hard work, the hard facts of my story, the hard parts of who I am...who I became....who I want to be. I still have dreams. I still have wants and desires. I still want good things for myself and those I love. I still want to be an encourager to others. I still believe in the promises I hear from God. I still believe in healing. I still believe I can be healed....even more than I have been healed thus far. I believe I will survive the squishy. I believe I am going to rock vulnerability, and I pray that all of this HARD and the telling of the HARD helps someone out there...gives them hope. I almost typed a whole lot of words, but I didn't because the point is not to tell someone how to "fix themselves"...the point is to simply pass the flashlight back to them and let them God together figure out what they need for them. Every story is unique. My story is unique. It belongs to me. It is mine and mine alone. Only God knows the full extent of the path I have walked this past 45 years. He is the one who has held my hand (even when I was unaware) and who no matter who enters and exits my life, will hold my hand until my last breath....and then there is the rest of the story....
So...that is where I am at....learning all about my new bubble. LOL
...but seriously where I am is grateful. I have a great counselor. A couple of awesome cheerleaders who are holding my hands through all of this...not to mention a whole crowd of witnesses who encourage me daily. I am not alone in this...but mainly I am learning how to lean first into God. Letting him catch me...catch my heart, my spirit, my mind, and even my body....even and especially when I just feel like I am too much for everyone.
...and that is the overarching lesson today. There will always be bad days, bad people, and bad seasons....but those don't have to wreck me or my life. I can be healthy even in the midst of unhealthy situations and/or people.
I am hopeful.
*It is Advent and Christmas and I am all about both...especially the music. I just downloaded two new Christmas albums yesterday...one is Christy Nockels and it is BEAUTIFUL, but this song click HERE moves me for reasons I don't fully understand yet, but I feel like it is supposed to be on this post....even though I am not seeing the connection...somehow I have to believe God does. So I hope you will listen to the song titled "Wrap This One Up" and check out the entire album on iTunes. I recommend the whole thing. I hope to write some posts on Advent since I am doing it again this year (only my second year) and loving it. I have a journal full of writing...I promise to share some of that here. Until then....Merry Christmas.