When I look back over the past five years, especially the past two – I am floored by how much I have evolved. And how often! My Instagram page tells part of the story but honestly it doesn’t even come close!! I sit here listening to Charli XCX – Black Roses and I’m instantly transported back two years. Transported to the moment when God said to me, “enough is enough – get up and move!” I had spent more than a year hiding from the world and any kind of pain it could inflict on me; physically or emotionally. I had had ENOUGH! As strong, fearless, and independent as I was – life had beaten me down and I had thrown in the towel!
Where I Hide, There I Am
Sadly, my attempt at avoiding pain backfired. I found out the hard way that “too little” in life is just as bad as “too little.” I had allowed the pendulum to swing drastically from over-committed, overachieving perfectionist to uncommitted, underachieving anxiety ball. Fear and anxiety were casual acquaintances long before this but now they had moved in. How could I have thought hiding from the world would allow me to escape my dark passengers? Truth is, those little brats sat comfy cozy in my lap while I sat helpless in the corner of my prison cell.
They thrived and I started deteriorating; mind, body, and soul! It was DEVASTATING! I honestly thought I was protecting myself, yet somehow, I was in more pain now than any other time in my life. That’s the thing about the ugliness we allow ourselves to sit with; we mistake comfort for safety – the two are not the same. I had sat “comfortably” for over a year (nearly two) with the ugliness that is fear and anxiety. All the while thinking I was safe – never knowing I had flung the door WIDE OPEN for the enemy!
We hold onto what we “know” no matter how ugly, out of fear that something “uglier” may come along. Never seeing the darkness we’ve become comfortable with. Day by day, I witnessed the chipping away of my strength and sanity. My physical pain worsening, my mind and body deteriorating rapidly, and my anxiety worsening every minute. Everywhere I looked, there was a reminder of the things that could and would cause me pain or trigger my PTSD. I was buried in a world of hurt and confusion. Often wishing I would die – not for my own sake but for the sake of those I love. Why? Because PAIN feeds ANXIETY and ANXIETY feeds PAIN! It’s a crazy vicious cycle – one that is absolutely devastating for those who suffer from chronic pain and PTSD. One that is tremendously worse for the loved ones of those who suffer. Suffering a nightmare you cannot understand unless you’ve lived it! One I wish on no one. If given the choice to face the world and all that seems scary or sit in a self-imposed prison and rot – I choose to face the world. God never intended for us to sit and hide. We are meant for so much more!
So, God says… “Get UP” and I finally stop worrying long enough to hear Him and I GET UP! I get up and I make my way to the lakefront. A favorite place of mine for over 30 years – a childhood memory. One day at a time, I go out with only the intention to “get up and move.” No goals or objectives – no obsessive perfectionism, just me following God. The Holy Spirit repeatedly telling me “a little bit of something every day, is better than nothing any day!” Little by little my strength increased and subsequently my speed and distance. But more importantly, I started truly connecting with the world around me. I looked forward to seeing new and familiar faces along the way – a smile, a nod, a “good morning!” I found it impossible to sit in my “funk” while I was immersed in God’s beauty.
This month marks the two-year anniversary of this moment – a moment that sparked a change in me that has been painful, beautiful, and necessary! A moment that sent me on a journey of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and most importantly self-love. God has been listening, even when I didn’t believe it, and little by little he is answering my prayers. Not in giant sweeping moments but in small substantial ones. Planting little seeds and guiding me along the way – through all my pain, confusion, disconnect, and hopelessness. God gives me strength!
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. John 5: 8-9