Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Aloha Maui

My family and I are going on an eight day vacation to Maui. We leave Monday. Can I just say that the timing of this trip (which was planned last summer) could NOT have come at a better time?? I truly believe the ocean breezes, rainbows, sunsets, flower-scented air, and snorkeling with 7-foot sea turtles will bring peace and restore rest to my soul.

It's been a hard month.

Nay, it's been a hard year.

Here's my theme verse for the trip:

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered these trials for a season, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." -1 Peter 5:10

Aloha Maui.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

it's ok to not be ok

Two weeks later and I am finally ready to share about why things were so hard after Christmas. Let me share two quick points of backstory:

* There's a little joke my sisters and I have. My older sis is the only one married and with kiddos. Which means she gets up when her sons get up. It could be 5 a.m. after a night of no sleep because the boys kept waking up...and she is up and at 'em. I have so much respect for her. How do parents do it?! I guess you just live with coffee running through your veins 24/7. Anyway, the joke is that during holidays, my younger sisters and I will emerge from our bedrooms after enjoying a nice morning of sleeping in and my poor older sis has been up for hours. "You 3 will never be mothers!" she jokes. "You love sleep too much!" Which is so true. Us younger 3 are big sleepers. Sleeping is one of my favorite hobbies. I love sleep so much, I wish I could marry it. And I've noticed the older I get, the more I love it (and need it). I guess it's smart that most people have kids in their 20's. Get those sleep-deprived years out of the way before you reach your 30's and 40's and really need those nights of uninterrupted slumber.

* Second piece of backstory: Older sister, her husband, and two boys moved after Christmas. Their previous neighborhood wasn't safe so they packed up and moved to a nearby city where the crime rate is much lower. A bunch of people from our family drove over one day to help them unpack. Or in my case, watch the boys while other people unpacked.

Ok, that brings me to what happened. The "15-tissue-issue".

I was in the family van, driving with everyone to Amy (sister) and David's (her husband) new place. We had woken up really early to get over there and I hadn't slept well the night before. I think it was a mixture of helping the parents clean the house, seeing lots of relatives the past few days, being in the post-holiday spirit, and having a million thoughts running through my mind. Whatever the reason, I probably only got 3 or 4 hours of sleep by the time we woke up to go. So I was in the van and I started to feel a bit anxious. WHY? What did I have to be anxious about? Nothing. But I've noticed that when I don't sleep a lot (or sleep well), I'm more prone to anxiety. It doesn't mean I'll automatically have anxiety, I'm just more prone to it. Like if you don't get enough sleep, your body's defenses are down and you're more prone to get sick.

I was trying to mentally calm myself down, when a horrible thought came to my mind. "Oh my gosh, it's true...I will never be able to be a mom. If this is how I feel after ONE night of not sleeping, how am I supposed to handle years of not sleeping?" I've seen all my friends and my sister deal with that - sleep deprivation sucks, big time. It's part of parenting. But I just don't think I can do it.

Well, that escalated to me thinking, "Oh my gosh...I will never get married." Because no guy is going to want to marry someone who not only struggles with anxiety but someone who doesn't want to bear his children.

And then that escalated to, "Oh my gosh...I am going to end up alone."

Aaaaaaaand cue the anxiety attack.


My parents and aunts were talking and laughing in the van and I was silently suffering and crying and trying to ignore the thoughts that were resounding through my head.

I will never be a wife. I will never be a mom. I will be alone my whole life.

Needless to say, I didn't stay long at Amy and David's. I felt so bad leaving early. But I couldn't really function. The next day, the sadness came. Because I get sad over what made me anxious in the first place. After a couple days of that, it was time to call my counselor and make an appointment.

I went in and prefaced things by saying, "Ed. I'm a mess."
He said, " a mess."
"Ed, I'm going to cry. A LOT."
"Sarah...(*pointing*)...there are the tissues."

15 tissues were used during our hour session as the words came flying out of my mouth. He listened quietly and patiently as I poured out my thoughts, feelings, and fears. Finally I finished and he spoke.

"Sarah, you're grieving."


"Your life is different from how you pictured it. You thought you'd be married at 24 and having kids at 26. You thought you'd be where all your friends are - married, kids, dog, mortgage. And that is not how your life has gone. You had expectations for your life, like we all do. And things have not worked out the way you thought or planned. And you are grieving. You are grieving those dreams. Those hopes. Those expectations. You're not ok. And it's ok to not be ok. Let yourself grieve."

You guys, I LOVE my counselor. In just 2 minutes he validated all my feelings, didn't make me feel foolish for having those thoughts, and gave me permission to be sad. Permission to not be ok. Because this IS a big deal.

If you are married or have kids, don't forget to thank God for those blessings (even when they're driving you insane). You have no idea how much I long for those things. How many years have gone by where I have watched boys I like go on to like and marry other girls. Or how many weddings I've been to. Or how many weddings I've been in. Or how many married friends I've helped move into their new homes. Or how many baby showers I've attended. Or how many pictures on facebook I've seen of "First Day Of School" or "First Lost Tooth" or "First Disneyland Trip". Or going to my married friends' birthday parties (or their kids' birthday parties) where I am the only single one there. Do you know the feeling of watching life happen to everyone else and you feel left behind? Like there's a big dance and everyone else has a dancing partner and you are sitting on the fold-out chair by the door, wishing you could join the dance (especially because you LOVE to dance) but you are alone.

My counselor is right. I am grieving. It might sound silly to some, but it is very real to me. I am 35 and not even dating anyone. So I don't know if I ever will be a wife, let alone a mom. The death of those dreams breaks my heart. But I have started to process what that looks like. It's definitely not the life I would have chosen for myself. But I know God has a life planned for me. A life that is fully for Him and His purposes, not my own.

And I do want that.

But right now?

Right now, it's ok to not be ok.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

tissue count

This past week has sucked.

It's pretty lame timing, because my Christmas week was awesome.

But not this week. This week has sucked. Big time.

I have an amazing Christian counselor I see when things are tough. And he doesn't know this, but I have a "tissue indicator" when I visit. He always keeps a box of tissues by the couch and I can tell how good or bad I'm doing according to how many tissues I use during our hour. On a normal visit, I might use 3-4 tissues (crying, blowing my nose, etc). If it's pretty bad, I might use 6-7.

Yesterday's visit? 15 tissues.

This is a 15 tissue issue, friends.

When I'm feeling better, I'll share the story of why it's been a hard week. But for now I'll just say: You're welcome, Kleenex, Inc. I am keeping you in business.