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Let your soul be wild and free my little one

I have pondered the nature vs nurture debate quite often when it comes to my anxiety. It always seemed that nurture would win in the cause category until recently. If I were to make a list of MY anxiety, it may still beat out another hypothesis as the root cause, but I am learning, in the parenting game, things are not always what they seem. I know one thing for certain. Someone without anxiety cannot understand another person trying to explain the reasons why and how to them, which make dealing with it quite lonely at times.

I contributed most of my anxiety issues to my grandmother. I learned as an adult, due to multiple tragedies in her life she had much to be anxious about. But when I stayed with her a lot growing up I didn’t understand that. As my anxiety began to take hold, I thought it must be because I was exposed to hers so much. Then I learned my daddy has it too, which would make sense. Except, except I never knew growing up my Daddy had anxiety.?

Now I see my seven year old experience it. She has exhibited signs since a young age and it manifest in different ways. But, I make a very contentious effort NOT to expose her to my anxiety. So much so that I have other family members help rationalize situations for me so I do not let it get the best of me. Believe me, I’ve come a long way since she was an infant! But to see her with it breaks my heart because I know how she feels. Could it be a manipulation at times? Sure, I am aware of that, just as I am aware of what true anxiety looks like on the face of my seven year old.

My husband, as great as he is, is not someone who understands. Oh sure, he understands my anxiety for the super Center and that look I get when I am about to melt down. But he doesn’t understand this gut wrenching, deep breathing anxiety. The kind that has kept me up all night to write this at 4:15 a.m

I only hope she can hold on to the parts of her soul that are wild and carefree. The parts that laugh at everything with a giggle that can warm the coldest of souls. The wander I see in her eyes as she studies something with her mind working on how it may operate. I want her to hold onto the part that operates on stuffed animals with ketchup and gloves and leave the heavy burden of anxiety to me. I’m her mama, her keeper, I can carry the load for us both.

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Dear 22 year old

thI have been where you are. I know what is going through your head. I am still there most days, but I have got some age on me now. I know things you do not know at 22, or do not believe yet anyway. It is hard to believe them, when all around you everything goes against it. But, I am writing this because at 22 there is still time. Time for you to change your thought process . Time for you to become head strong. Stronger than you already are so that when you do have years on you too, like me, you will be able to look back and think, “I’m so happy I was able to change my way of thinking.” The reason is this, your mind is one of the most powerful tools you have. It can help you, it can hurt you. It had done both over time to me. It continues to do it daily. I wish I had someone to say this to me at 22, really at 15.

My story begins at 15, really younger, but for the sake of this we will say 15. I looked around, I noticed what was going on. The girls getting the attention from the boys. Meeting them at the movies. I could not figure it out. I was outgoing, friendly, had plenty of friends but I was not one the one the boys noticed outside of the “friend zone”. I realized what they did notice. I became obsessed with it. Exercising like crazy, becoming “healthy” is what I said. But at one time my parents considered sending me off to treatment because my “healthy” behavior had gotten out of control and on my large boned frame, the weight I had lost down to was skeletal thin. However it paid off where I wanted it to at the time. According to what the “norm” was anyway.

At age 16 the first boy notice me and asked me out. We hit it off. blah, blah, blah, fell in love, married when we finished college at 21 and the rest is divorce history. I could not keep up the charade. I am not born to be a naturally thin person. I am not a skinny girl by birth. I began to gain the weight back when I began to eat again. Just eating healthy, minding my own business, still exercising like normal and eating like normal, but gaining weight above Skeleton’s level. After gaining the weight, this person who promised me forever, better and worse, realized he only like the size I was at 16, not the size I had become 12 years later. Immediately my mind went to the place , “no one will ever want me, love me, if I am not small”, really there was evidence of that right?

Time passes. My soul was searched. Prayers were prayed. I cannot tell you all scars heal, but now I know that body shaming is a real thing and a real problem. I actually lived it the entire time I was married not only by my ex-husband but his family also. The people out there that talk, whisper, stare. They are not secure with something they have, something they are dealing with. Yes, I said I struggle now. Because I did not change my thought process early enough.

That’s what I want for you. Change your mind now. You are good enough RIGHT NOW! RIGHT THIS SECOND you are GREAT, exactly how you were meant to be. Whoever does not see that, whoever comments to the contrary does not deserve a second thought. I know it is not easy. I KNOW it is not easy. But you can do it. You HAVE to do it. Now. Change your thought process now and stop body shaming yourself. NOW.

I remember what cheerleading taught me….

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Some of you may wonder what cheerleading and the main photo of this post have in common. Believe me when I say, A LOT!!! After the last month or so of anxiety ridden day and nights wondering what to do, I finally took a breath, prayed, had others prayed, and the memory of what happened during 9th and 10th grade reminded me to slow down and take a step back. I remember the last time I did something hastily and without really thinking it through and what the results were. Enter the cheerleading reference.

I never have been an alpha girl. A mean girl. None of the cliques found me interesting enough or fitting enough to really “fit” in. But, I was a dancer! I loved to dance and learned to do basic gymnastics also. I remember sitting in the gym one day during the football season of 9th grade watching the cheerleaders lead the Pep Rally. All my friends who also did not have an identity but longed to be a part of that “cool kid club” went on and on about how they were going to be a cheerleader. It was the topic of so many lunch room table conversations, locker meetings, and standing around trying to be noticed that I got sick and tired of hearing about it. Why you ask? Not once did these conversations ever actually involve me. These friends talked around me about trying out for cheerleading like it was not even a possibility that I would want to or even could try out. Now, in their defense I could understand how I may have given off the impression that I was defiantly not interested in being a part of “that” group, but what really made my red hair turn fiery was the attitude that I couldn’t do it. The fact that I could dance circles around these girls and I could do gymnastics just seemed to fall by the way side.

So, what does a young, red-head with a temper and full of pride do? Well of course the first thing I thought is, “well I’ll show them”. That’s right, the dark horse signed up for cheerleading tryout for the Varsity squad. Gasps could be heard throughout the halls for days. Not only was I a nobody, but I was a nobody that used to be an overweight nobody and that is how EVERYONE still saw me even if I had bones sticking out of my neck. Yes, the pride in me of knowing that I COULD dance, and that I COULD do gymnastics, and yes, I COULD be a cheerleader put my name on that sign up sheet.  I showed up, rocked it, did a back hand spring, (the only one I might add) and sat back and waited for the results to be posted after school got out for the summer.

I can remember my mama driving to the front of the school where you could see the flyer taped to the front doors flapping in the wind. I casually got out, because I really could care less either way. Of course I wanted to do it to say I could, but if I didn’t make it my life wasn’t going to be crushed. This wasn’t a Lifetime movie moment. A few other girls who had devoted their lives to the Junior Varsity squad were pulling up at the same time. They of course spoke in a “why are you here, you know you didn’t make it” kind of tone as we walked up the steps to view the list. There it was, about 2 names down, MY name. “Uh”, was really my first thought. Then it was replaced with a little giddiness and I can still remember the faces of those other girls as they had to say, “you made it”. Not sure if they were congratulating me or questioning me. And so it started.

Endless fundraisers, nightly practices, weekend practices, poster making, ribbon making, the list goes on and on and this was just the summer BEFORE school started again. Then it was decorating the gym, gifts for the football players, and of course the Pep Rally. Every Friday night!!!! And we had to wear I hair all the same with the same ribbon. Really? What had I done? Was proving that I was a good dancer worth all this? My saving grace, so I thought, was that we had a TERRIBLE football team and our season would be over soon. Then someone broke the news to me that we also cheered during basketball games too. I could have died!

Finally the end of basketball season! It was over. I do have the “I used to be a cheerleader” comment in my back pocket for those conversations when you need to blurt out useless information. And, I did get a chance to cheer where High School playoffs are played because our squad was the first squad from our school to win Regional Championship and advance to State Championship (no such luck there). But, the most important thing I learned is that pride will get you into trouble. I should not have been so prideful about being able to dance and having the “I’ll show everybody” attitude. That prideful thought led to a year of misery!

While I rushed around trying to figure out my mid-life crisis degree, registering for those classes, and figuring out what I would do about work I was reminded of this. I thought about why I wanted to go back to school. The answer is, I do want to go back to school, and it has nothing to do with pride. But, I was rushing to do it in such a short period just to prove that I could. That has everything to do with pride. I’m not exactly sure who I was trying to prove it to. Probably the same people I proved to that I could cheer-people who really don’t care in the first place. So, after thinking about this lesson and reflecting on my urgency to get school done in two semesters I’ve decided to just slow down. I will still go back to school. I will still get out of the jar. But, I’ve learned that the view in the jar isn’t too bad and it’s not as bad as my view on the outside would be if I only escaped using my pride.

Oh so close to being out of the jar…..

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So, last week, I think it was last week…I’m really not sure because of the carousel I’m always on seems to be moving faster and faster these days, but sometime in the not so distant past I wrote a post about how I felt like a bug trapped in a jar concerning the occurrences in my life at this time.  I know my current post photo does not have a bug or a jar, but let’s face it, I’m not a bug kind of girl. After what I thought was a pep talk and hormones possible subsiding, I could see my way out through one of the air holes created by the ice pick in the lid of that damn jar. So I thought, I will not be a bug, I’ll be a fairy, or a butterfly (yes, I know, still a bug/insect). Much more appropriate for me than just a bug. And then I found this wonderful picture of a REDHEADED fairy trapped (okay, the bell jar is just turned upside down, but come on folks, use some imagination) and I was hooked, because you guessed it, your Southern Belle is a fiery redhead. Now that I’ve set the scene for what I thought was the upswing on this being trapped thing, let me invite you inside to the events of what has really happened.

Like I mentioned, I had a really good talk with one of my closest friends and also with my daddy, both of which help me sort through some of my trapped feelings. Sometimes I just need to talk things out and have someone else listen to tell me what is really going on. So towards the end of last week, things were looking up. I could see the possibility of squeezing my fairy/butterfly self out of one of those air holes in the jar and I knew that I would be just fine. I could feel the air fill my lungs again and my chest start to relax. But this week brought on its own set of challenges for trying to escape the jar and now, fairy/butterfly or not, I feel like I’ve been knocked back to the bottom of the stick and some of the air holes have been closed up.

I’ve learned, not a lesson I didn’t already know, just one I didn’t know I would have to learn again, that ……..well, I’ve drawn a blank. I don’t know how to put this eloquently, how to write it in pretty words, or how to make it sound anything but other than what it is. I’ve learned that some people are just mean, spiteful, hateful, and will keep you trapped just because they can. Yes. I am an adult. Yes. I’ve learned this lesson a long time ago, however I thought I had chosen wiser this time in my selection of not just friends but work associates as well. Now, I seem to be learning that the company you work for, no matter how “good” they seem to be, will keep you trapped. Even if you are one of the best fairy/butterflies they have. Simply put….because the can.

So, I’m kind of back to where I started a week ago, although not quite as depressed and melancholy about it. You see, there are several things “these people” may have miscalculated when they “thought” they could keep me trapped. True, they do hold the lid to this jar. True, they can keep me trapped for longer than I anticipated. But….follow me here people. I will squeeze out of one of those air holes. Several things happen when you tell a stubborn, redheaded southern belle that they are trapped. The first is I do cry. The next is I get mad. The last is I stay mad enough to stick it out and do what they said I couldn’t do. I thought, well, even if you squeeze through the air holes your wings will be too tattered and torn to do anything with. You’ll never be able to fly. But then I read this…..

brokenwing copyThat’s right. If my wings didn’t get a little tattered and torn along the way, I may be eaten by these predators that want to keep me trapped. But once I’m free I can still fly, and I will.

Trapped, like a bug in a jar

  

While waiting on my mama recently to come out of a store, I observed two wasps in a brawl, or mating ritual, I’m not sure which. In either case, one wasp was left the victor and flew away freely while the other suffered a leg amputation and began to hobble around the sidewalk. I continued to watch as I waited, simply because these mundane events of life are calming to my overworked brain, and the injured wasp continued to stumble and eventually ended up in a sidewalk crack. My mama came out of the store about this time and I voiced my condolences to the wasp by offering to “write a witness statement” if needed while my mama insisted I get in the car before someone called the police on the “crazy lady” outside. 

In light of recent events, I can relate to the trapped feeling of the wasp. Of course, he may have flew away right after I drove off. But the bugs we trapped in jars as children didn’t always fare so well. No, I’m not dying a slow, airless death. At least not that I’m aware of, but I am trapped. I have nowhere to go. That’s what it feels like. I’ve never felt so suffocated by the lack of choices before. Maybe the lack of realistic choices. That stick put in jars for the bugs….that’s what I’ve got. One end or the other. Neither end really offering an immediate, viable solution. No leaves in sight. I must’ve eaten all those when I was a younger, naive bug and I thought the leaves and air were endless. 

Yup, that’s me. A bug trapped in a jar. I can see out, see where I need to be, what needs to happen, but I’m stuck in this jar and I can’t seem to make it happen. Time is running out I fear. I do fear that the time spent being trapped I will miss the meaningful parts of the little bug outside the glass. When I was the younger version, I would have flown away. Now, I fear I reached my peak and I’m stuck in the crack of life. 

All because of a bald headed man in an orange jump suit


I’m having one of those weeks. Everything is swirling above me and threatens to topple down and crush me at any second. Yes, I have plenty to be thankful for, as always. But there are times, like now, that the craziness of the past two years seem suffocating.

The carousel of life was circling at a nice pace. My husband and I both had jobs that worked in harmony with one another while raising our then three year old. I was finally getting to a place where I accepted that my “happily ever after” had arrived. We were comfortable.

Then the other shoe dropped. Working for the state, my husband was happy at his job but not moving up the ladder. I voiced my concerns that there was something amiss in the political world of the state job arena and he dismissed me as being overly paranoid. Three weeks later he was put on leave and after another two weeks forced into resignation. No evidence, made up allegations, and a ten year career down the drain. Suddenly not only was I the breadwinner, I became the sole provider for almost a year.

A year passed and my husband found a job, but it takes him away from us. Yes! I know , I know. He has a job. I get it. But I’ve turned into a single-but-not–single-mom. My job has become a problem because of the hours I work. Now I’m not able to give out now 4, almost 5 year old the attention she so desperately needs and most defiantly deserves.

There it was. The news. The same person that instigated the resignation of my husband on the screen being arrested and charged. It occurred to me, my life, and the domino effect, the debt, my anxiety, my feelings if inadequacies as a mother, my husband being “taken” by the road…..all of this is because of that bald headed man in that orange jumpsuit on t.v.