Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Heart and Our "Also Lives"

For the past two weeks, I have found myself thinking about what we keep private and why.  Not sure I have figured any of it out but I thought that maybe if I took some time to think it through with you, I would understand it better than I do today.

I love facebook.  I do.  As someone who's life circle has always had a lot of spires coming from and heading to a wide variety of directions, I love the way all those folks that I care about come together in a place of intersection.  From early on my teen years, I desired this... but could not work it out. With facebook,  I love that I can read about the mundane goings on in the lives of friends with whom I once shared such things.  I love watching families grow, seeing pictures of events and exchanging ideas, recipes, frustrations, life experiences.  It is good.

But somehow, I am finding that we all keep back some parts... some darker days or moments of failure or questions about our kids.  We dig through our days mining for some way to connect but throw behind us the very things we may need to share.  Maybe this is just natural, maybe it is totally okay.  But maybe we are choosing not to share some things for reasons that should not be...

Today, a facebook friend very honestly shared that several people had made (incredibly) snide comments about her weight.  Immediately she was inundated with kindness and encouragement on her wall and it was real and it was honest and I know that her morning changed on a dime from a place of self-doubt and sadness to a deep reassurance of her worth and the wonder that makes her unique.

I love that.

But it doesn't happen nearly enough.

When I worked with college students, we talked A LOT about community.  We valued it, protected it, sought to create it and reveled in a life lived alongside. When I tell my older boys about their childhoods, the story always begins with, "You were born into community..." It makes me smile, still.  The images of my family living closely with college students are treasured still and are certainly a part of our family's history.

But what I know for sure is that community is built best in honesty.  It flows from our very willingness to put out the best that we are, our strengths and our gifts, in a sacred offering to others.  And, it flows from our corporate ability to drop our guards, admit our needs and open ourselves to the love and service of others.  I think it is how God created us to be.  Where I am weak, you are strong, and we knit together in a way that creates and new a beautiful thing.

But we don't always allow that to be.

And I am not sure why.

Perhaps we are so afraid of what others will see or say that we feel like hiding is our only choice.  But the truth is that our fears are often unfounded because when we let down that guard what we find is that all those days when we stood still in self-imposed solitude, it had little to do with being alone and lots to do with feeling alone.  When we tell the truth, we find that so many people who are quite nearby deeply understand and can come alongside.

Are we afraid of that?

I think sometimes, we are.

The intimacy that it requires is overwhelming and it sure is hard to maintain our fortresses when we are faced with the compassion of others.  We don't know what to say and somehow believe that something must be said.  We feel guilty being in a role of receiving when the work of giving is easier for many and that strength feels good.

So deciding what we share becomes this crazy dance of trying to be honest and yet maintaining some safe distance and all of the craziness of this breaks down the dream of community and connection that lives in each of us somewhere.

So, why has this come up for me now?

Well, it is really about my heart.

So, don't freak out because I know then I will stop typing and because honestly it is not worth freaking out about. Clearly I am okay because here I sit, typing this blog to you.

I am not really sure how I landed in a place where I would feel so sick and yet not post a word about it.  I will be wrestling with that for a while.  But, I think I just didn't know what was going on with me so I wanted to wait until I could tie it up neatly and then it would be done.  But, its been two and a half weeks and I still don't know much so it seems like I am waiting for something that may never come.

So, here's the story...

Two and a half weeks ago, I started having heart palpitations.  I didn't think much about it at first.  I assumed it would go away.  I am healthy and had been feeling great.  I have lost a bunch of weight and am working out.  I eat real food and healthy food and feed my family the same.  So, I knew I could not be sick.  I am doing all that I know to do to be healthy and well.

A week went by, the palpitations continued, and I started to feel dizzy.  This, I did not like.  But still I kept on going, trying to do my regular things and keep my regular pace.  But the dizziness increased and I was feeling fatigued.  After an especially worrisome experience while driving, I was encouraged by those close to me to go to the doctor.

So I went. Which I am not quick to do.  My doc made a plan but in the meantime she was clear that I could not drive.  Sigh.  I am the mom to 4 kids.  Involved kids.  How can I possibly not drive?  Plus, I am fiercely independent and like to take care of details and shopping and all of that stuff on my own when it feels like it needs to be done.  But, that was not to be for now... which was (and is) unbelievably frustrating, to say the least.

Lots of tests went by and the docs could see that something was happening.  But what?

We didn't know until last Friday.  A final test came back on that afternoon.

The doc called with information about atrial tachycardia and said my heart was going way too fast.  She said she could see that I need relief.  So, she called in a med.

I am not a fan of meds at all.  But, at that point, I was nearly 2 weeks into feeling poorly.  I was happy as a clam to try anything she wanted to offer.  Mark ran to get it and I quickly took it... and...

It did nothing.

So finally yesterday, two and a half weeks into this craziness, I saw a cardiologist.  I was unsure but I liked him.  He was calm and took his time and tried to help me understand what it means to find out that this happening to you.  He wants to try a medication, as well.  He said it may not work but sometimes it works well if you add another medication.  For now, he wants to find a way to just get me feeling better.  Once this settles down, we can talk about the difference between treating a symptom and healing an issue.  That is a big thing for me...

In the meantime, the docs are hopeful that we will find something that settles my heart down.

So there it is.  Not so scary, see?  It is not life threatening (though it is annoying) and as soon as I am not light-headed, I can move on and get back to driving.  But I do have a lot to learn.  While my mother has had a similar thing, I still need to learn to understand this in terms of my own life and my own desire for balance and my own need for independence and activity.  I need ideas and I may even need help.  Which I struggle with... When, and if, the meds start working, I will feel a lot better.  For now, I am pretty tired and pretty frustrated and pretty weary of all of this mess.

So why did I say nothing about all of this?  Why do we feel like we need to put out posts that are entertaining or contain questions and answers or tie up situations in nice neat bows?  Does your life look like that, nice and neat?  Mine does not.

My life has moments of true joy and intentional teaching and fulfilling moments with family and friends.

And my life also has deep frustrations, unsolvable problems and limitations that I bang my head against nearly every day.

The truth is we all lives lives of also.

Life is beautiful and good.

It is ALSO dark and scary.

Life is loving and close.

It is ALSO broken and hard.

Life is captured in the wonder of pictures and heart warming stories.

It is ALSO gritty and complex and hard to describe.

Life is healthy and strong.

It is ALSO illness and need.

Every person who paints a perfect picture and complains constantly and eats only homegrown and drives through McDonald's and loves their kids and is angry at their kids and is all they hoped they'd be and nothing they thought they would be... every one.... lives an also life.  Even you.  Even me.

So, let's open ourselves up a titch and tell the truth about what we are living because the thing you need may come your way just because you decided to speak up.  The situation that is going on around you, and I know there is one because there is always one, is familiar to others and if they knew what you needed, they might just stretch out a hand.  Or pull you into an embrace.  Or come alongside and walk for a ways, when the path is uneven and dim.  Or maybe, just maybe, we will see our needs and those of others and then all sit real quiet and pray for one another and allow our also lives to be broken in upon by the grace and truth that can be found in learning that we are not alone.  And we will feel supported in a way that is divine and desired...

This, we all need.

Even you.

Even me.

Blessings on your day.


Nickie said...

Thank you for your words of encouragement. You are so right, we need to express to each other what we feel. Our society tells us that when someone asks how we are we respond... "fine." When in reality, many of us are hurting, crying on the inside, angry or depressed. We are so quick to tell everyone the GOOD things in life, but we hold back the negative for fear of judgement.

Good luck to you on your journey with your heart. I pray that everything goes well for you and that the doctors can find much needed answers.

So, here's what I've been holding back. Only my family knows any of this. Our 8 year old daughter is dealing with anxiety issues. I've never had to deal with anything like this before with any of my kids. It started the beginning of the school year when 1 girl in her class began somewhat "bullying" her. Now, this girl isn't saying horrible mean things. It's more in her actions. One day she wants to be friends with my daughter, the next day she won't speak to her, ignores her, or whispers about her to other girls in the class. So, began the anxiety. I have talked w/ her teacher numerous times about this, and finally last night let the teacher know about the anxiety. The drama with the girls has gotten to the point that the teacher isn't sure what else to do, so she has referred the situation to the Dean of Students. The Dean of students is very nice, but scares my daughter to the point that my daughter hyper-ventilates just talking about her. We have a doctors appointment next week for her (well child exam), but I will most definitely be bringing up the anxiety issues as well. We need to get her some help before this gets any worse.

So, there's what I've been holding onto for several months now. I'll be praying for you Nadia, and if you could pray for my daughter, it would be much appreciated. Love your blog, keep up the great work! :)

BlessedMomof5 said...

Terrific post Nadia. We've lived in community a lot also and very much value the ability to stay close and share deeply. I think the one thing we've learned through this type of sharing, however, is that time, place and person are important to remember when you open up some of the deeper struggles. Everyone must share deeply with some people--deeply meaning everything you are thinking, feeling and experiencing. Also, I do think it is important to be honest and transparent in many of our struggles, both to help ourselves and other people. I've seen how telling other people about them often eases the worst of the burden and you begin to see that you are not alone, and begin to put your own problems into perspective as we realize that other people have struggles too, sometimes struggles much more difficult than our own. However, I do think that some struggles or concerns which concern other people need to be protected from the scrutiny of Facebook, or maybe just a larger group of people. Sometimes a struggle is not just our own property but belongs to someone else too, and I think we need to be careful to protect others. Sometimes praying deeply is the most important thing to do.