Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Too Busy

It's no secret. I get too busy on purpose without realizing that I'm doing it on purpose. Even though I've recently quit freelancing (mostly) and tried to simplify life, it was today that I realized I still keep too busy. Granted, I think my ADD brain thrives on having many projects that interest me. But having been sick these last six days with the flu, with little capacity to do anything, I felt a backlog of emotional pain mounting. My anxiety was fighting for dominance, my thoughts full of self doubt and fear.

Finally I put on worship music while cooking to keep my thoughts under control. That's when I realized that even though I've been trying to simplify, I've kept my mind too busy. Even when I pee I look at Facebook. At night I've been watching movies, reading books, trying to write books...anything except take time to think. Because thinking hurts. I need to fill my free space with prayer and worship and thanksgiving. Otherwise I keep busy to avoid the pain and fear.

Our little friend Hazel relapsed recently, relapsed with a very aggressive and dangerous form of cancer that nearly took her life the first time. Her mother has become a very dear friend to me. After she relapsed it took days for me to whisper the words to myself, I'm scared. It's no wonder I've been busier than ever these last few weeks.

Already I had been trying to cover up the pain I'd been feeling from my own kids. School has been hard on both kids. Somehow it's brought up all the pain of what cancer did to our family.

Grace is struggling, though she loves school too. She talks too much during class. Granted...she's a talker. But I think she's been so hungry for friendships that she's realized that acting out in class gets her the respect of her classmates and she'll settle for that, though she's devastated when she gets in trouble. She assumes correction means she's a bad kid. I've also noticed a severe upswing in disobedience at home ever since Hazel relapsed. Hazel is the first friend to relapse now that Grace is old enough to understand. With Bailey she didn't know it was relapse. She only knew Bailey died.

Luke is having separation anxiety. When he gets home from school his favorite game is cuddling in his tent under his bed. He wants to be on my lap, in my arms, playing closely all day long. We found him asleep on the couch last week, the morning that Grace and I had to go to an early GI appointment at CHLA. Just like he used to when she was in treatment. He cries almost every day before school though he loves it and loves his teacher.

A week ago I was reading, Hand, Hand, Finger, Thumb to the kids at bedtime. On one page Jack, the big monkey, and Jake, the little monkey, "shake hands, shake hands, shake, shake, shake." Then the monkeys say "Goodbye Jake, Goodbye Jack, dum-ditty, dum-ditty, whack, whack, whack." Jack then exits to the left and Jake exits to the right.

Luke was really upset. "Why did the big monkey leave the little monkey all alone? Who is going to take care of the little monkey? He can't take care of himself, he can't be alone by himself."

How do we heal from that?

Mostly I've been trying to be strong, because that's how I've always coped. Today I remembered the first step in CR and admitted that I am powerless and my life has become unmanageable. And with that I was finally able to ask God to be strong for me so I could take time to just be broken. That's what this blog is about tonight. I needed quiet time to sit and think and to hurt.

"...accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will..."

I can't accept His will if I am being "strong," because for me, strong is denial. I desire to be strong instead trusting God who has allowed pain in my life. Life is so chaotic and out of control that I am in denial to assume I can be stronger than it. That I can control it. That I can pretend it doesn't hurt. That is all denial. And keeping my hands and head busy is also denial. Just because I can't feel it, doesn't mean it isn't happening.

And just because I choose to stop being in denial doesn't mean I've stopped. I've built up this coping mechanism for so many years that I can't just shut it off. I fall back into denial as quickly as I've come out, dozens of times, even as I write this one blog.

"I admitted I was powerless over my addictions and compulsive behaviors, that my life had become unmanageable..."

I'm even powerless to stop being in denial. I am powerless. I say that over and over during the day. It's amazing how it comforts me to not have to be strong. Mostly because I know step two follows, "I came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity," and step three, "I made a decision to turn my life and will over to the care of God."


  1. Melissa, I often look to see if you have updated your blog. I enjoy seeing a new entry and writing. Your writing is real and personal. I suffer from a life-threatening endocrine disorder and have been on Palliative Care for two years. Your writings often give me new ways at looking at my own health hurdles and relationship with God. You are touching others with your writings. You are doing God's work in your writings. Blessings to you and your family.
    - Karen -

  2. I'm glad to read that both Grace and Luke are still alive. It hurts, but could hurt more. Luke...little monkeys grow up fast!

    I wonder if anything can feel completely "safe" to little people living with a big worry. Recently remembered a safe, not at all scary, funny comic book where the prospector left a dead horse, drawn as a vague gray blur, behind on the trail and plodded on to the next silly adventure. It was funny except during a few weeks when my mother was ill. Then I started losing sleep at night, praying that I wouldn't dream about that completely non-threatening image of the dead horse, because somehow that had become the barely tolerable symbol for the intolerable image...I don't think I ever actually *had* that nightmare. I just thought I might be *going to*.

    A few months later, never having talked about it to anybody, I thought this fear was long-past and silly. Kids go through these things..."through" being a keyword.