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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Perfect Mess

I was running behind schedule this morning.  I did my usual workout at 5 and was back home by 6:15. But somehow between 6:15 and 7 a.m. I had the nerve to sit down and have my breakfast, rather than taking bites of it as I scrambled past the kitchen island.  Oscar saw me and was so confused by this that he asked me if it was Saturday.  "No, it's Wednesday" I explained and I have lost all motivation to move.
I managed to make my way into the shower and I just stood there in a strange time warp actually enjoying the hot water run down my back. I even decided to wash my hair today.  Seriously, who in the hell did I think I was, a lady of leisure?  Just as I was about to apply conditioner, Oscar burst into the bathroom and asked if he could have my thumb.  He needed it to unlock my phone.  I stuck my thumb out of the shower and he dried it off and pushed the phone against it.

"Why?" I asked.  He said he had made the perfect mess and wanted to take a picture of it.  I tried not to freak out, and my shower euphoria came to an abrupt end.

I'm not a messy person, on the outside.  But on the inside, dear Lord help me. Let me share a little insight.  A couple of weeks ago my foundation was compromised. What I mean is, on the outside, my structure looked normal, but on the inside, I was crumbling.  Anxiety was eroding any solid beams that were keeping me standing.

For me, anxiety is like a closet that you stuff everything into before you have company come over. Remember, I don't like a mess.  If someone is sad, I want to cheer them up, if someone is mourning, I want to shower them with love, if someone is angry, I'll take the hit.  If someone is lost, I want to help them find their way, (totally metaphorically, I have a horrific sense of direction).   I want to take those painful things away from others and lock them away.  At least for a little while, because for me, there is such beauty in a clean space, it's when I can finally breathe.

Then, one day something happened that forced the door to the closet to open and everything spilled out.   I panicked as I tried to stuff it all back in, but I couldn't as much as I tried.  Things spilled out in plain sight. Every anxiety I had hidden away, all my insecurities about every aspect of my life, my marriage, my friendships, my work, my school. Everything.  I had been here before and I knew I needed help, so I called a therapist.

I have had one fantastic therapist in my life,  and I became friends with him, so now he isn't my therapist, and that is really cool, but also sad because every other therapist I have had is, well, nuts.

So I went to a new therapist and sat with him for two hours, TWO hours answering his question as to why I feel overwhelmed with anxiety.  He told me he has never met a woman with more on her plate, and I agreed with him.  And then he told me he knew why I was having such anxiety. I was so thrilled to finally have someone offer a solution.  He told me it was Satan.

(See above comment about my luck with therapists.)

I had allowed Satan into my life and he was causing the anxiety.  Yep.

Our session ended abruptly after that. How ridiculous right? Satan?  But then, I started thinking about it. Maybe he was right? Maybe I had... I mean I was pretty crazy at one point in my life, maybe he saw a vulnerable window open and crawled on in?  Oh my God maybe I AM possessed?

I pulled over and messaged my pastor. Actually, my former pastor, but he is still on my crisis contact list.  Surely he would know.   He responded almost instantly and apologized for the therapist who offered such a suggestion and said that indeed, he did not believe Satan was the cause of my anxiety.

I texted/called 4 of my closest friends and asked them if they thought I had been acting weird(er) and if it was possible that Satan had entered my body.  They all responded and said no.  I didn't text my mom because she would have had an exorcism arranged by the time I got off work.

When I did get home, I poured a glass of wine (i.e. if blessed, the blood of Christ) and called my brother.  I told him what the therapist had told me.  He had a good point.  He explained that if the worst thing that Satan is capable of doing is causing a busy mom who (has four growing boys, a full-time job, a part-time job, a theatrical show, is going to grad school, who helps take care of her parents, and her husband) to have anxiety, then I must be one strong mo-fo.  OR, the guy was full of shit.

I can always count on him to make me see things clearly.

When I think of evil, I think of death, destruction, manipulation, politics, but anxiety isn't at the top of the list, or even on the bottom.

 I discovered a few things. In addition to finding a new therapist, I realized that most of my anxiety is caused by trying to conceal things that make us perfect.  What Oscar saw in his "perfect mess" was that it was the shape of a flower.

What causes me anxiety is all the things that are messy. I worry I'm f'ing up my boy's lives. I worry that Don thinks I'm not doing a good job as a wife or mother. I worry that I'm not smart. I worry that I'm not doing enough for others, on certain days I worry if I'm chubby/ugly.. ( I know it sounds petty, but these things are a concern.) My biggest and most frequent worry is that I just can't do it all.

But as my brother pointed out, I kind of am.

On a difficult day, I need to focus on the times when I saw this. Like, when Fin was at a rehearsal for his play and was the happiest I had ever seen him. When I broke the garage door (again) and Don didn't blame me, just fixed it.  When I got an A on a paper that I did at the very last minute because I was too busy helping Parker with his homework. When a co-worker tells me I look nice when I didn't even shower that day.

If I look closely enough, I too can see that true perfection is messy, ugly, hard and brutal and most importantly real. And most significant is the people who love me for it. Did I mention that not one single person I asked about  my Satan-induced-anxiety hesitated to help me? Or to talk me through it? Not one of them told me I was to blame.

Compassion for others (and in oneself) is being able to see the flower in the mess.  

1 comment:

  1. Honestly, a good dose of Benedictine spirituality, of slowing down to gain a sense of time and place and moment, it would do you a world of good, I think.

    Trust me, I’ve been where you are at and you can’t do it all, ever. Encouraging for a therapist to list Satan as the cause, he’ll make us anxious every time he is able, because that is the exact opposite of a grace and faith filled life, worry.

    If ever interested in The Benedictine way for laity, let me know.