Friday, June 26, 2015

Finding Rainbows in the Rain

I feel like I need to write a disclaimer for this post before I begin.  I typically do not share personal information.  I do not like to open up and bare my soul, especially when there is the risk for criticism or judgment.  I am not sharing this to gain sympathy.  I am sharing in the hopes that someone going through this will have peace that they are not alone.

Have you ever had a day where it seems like it rains nonstop?  You look outside and the sun is shining, your kids are playing happily, nothing specific has gone wrong, but inside you feel like it's raining.  That's the kind of day I was having...actually that's the week I was having.  Small things seemed insurmountable, everything my kids were doing made me feel hot and itchy and irritable, my stomach felt like snakes writhing inside, I was struggling to keep my emotions capped.

It started Sunday at church, sitting behind my mamaw...she just seemed so small and frail, she reminded me of her older sister who passed away last year, and it broke my heart.  When she stepped up to the pulpit to sing - Lord it's just another hill that I'm climbing, Lord it's just another tear to wipe away.  If I can just hold on a little longer, I'll be rejoicing in Heaven someday - I could barely contain my tears.  She sang the first few bars alone, and then the pianist, pastor, and two guitarists joined her.  I have listened to my mamaw sing since I was born, but it just tugged my heart strings that day.  That song in particular gets to me anyway, and when I'm having a rough time I ask her to sing it.  I didn't ask this time, but I needed it.  Sunday was Father's Day, and I was already feeling broken-hearted.  The day just picked the scab trying to cover the small/huge hole in my heart left by someone I love who I never had the chance to meet.  To say it was a rough start to the day would be a slight understatement.

This week has been stressful, rewarding, full of blessings, but stressFULL.  We are wrapping up Vacation Bible School, and this was the first time I have ever been asked to plan and execute the week.  When I was asked I thought about declining.  In fact I never formally accepted the request!  I asked for time to pray about it and talk to my husband, but as soon as I sent that email an idea popped into my head and it snowballed from there into this amazing week.  I felt like God was leading me to what He wanted me to do, gently nudging me by giving me a lightbulb moment that made it impossible to say no.  Amazing as this week may be, and as easy as the week was to plan, it has still been stressful.  I tend to be a perfectionist, feel like I have to be in control of every single thing, and overthink and analyze every little detail until I make myself sick.  

We began VBS on Tuesday.  I managed to have everything organized and a lot of things completed before Monday.  Still there are certain things you can't do ahead.  Each night I have tried to prepare the next day's crafts for four age groups - I had them planned from the beginning, but I wanted an example to show for each individual craft, and I wanted only to take the supplies for that particular night's crafts so I didn't get confused about who was supposed to be doing what.  

On Tuesday my husband's Fatherversary gift arrived - our 10th anniversary was earlier this month - and the box was perfect for the kids to make the rocket they wanted to give to Daddy.  While he fitted the new roll pan on his work truck and drilled holes outside, I helped the kids remake the box into a really nice rocket inside as a surprise for him.  They decorated it with stickers and marker drawings while I made VBS signs and got craft supplies organized and ready to walk out the door.

Apparently the hundreds of stickers the kids used on Tuesday weren't enough.  Wednesday while I was trying to get sample crafts made and supplies together in the dining room, the children decided to decorate the rocket some more.  They were being well-behaved, having fun, using every sticker we have...and we have a lot of stickers.  Earlier in the day we had been in the pool with my mom and our cousin, and the conversation had turned to my upcoming gallbladder surgery.  That put me on edge, because I am terrified of surgery.  Until that point I had been able to distract myself for a couple of weeks - the pain had subsided right after I made my appointment for surgery, I had been able to eat normally for the first time since Easter, I was no longer having the referred pain in my ribs, and I was crazy busy with summer activities and VBS prep.  Talking about the surgery brought it all back.  

After I got Wednesday's sample craft ready, I looked at my pre-admittance testing and surgical orders to see if there was anything special I needed to do based on the information my cousin gave about her surgery.  On the list of things to bring to the PAT appointment was a letter of clearance from your cardiologist.  I started getting the ants-in-my-pants feeling.  No one said anything about clearance!  I have a cardiologist, and what if I was supposed to call him and get an appointment so he could check me out and be sure I'm healthy enough to undergo surgery!?  They're doing an EKG and blood work at my PAT appointment, isn't that enough?  I haven't seen my cardio in a couple of years because after my initial need to see him was explored I was released as an as-needed-basis patient.  What if they won't let me have the surgery because I don't have the paper saying I'm ok, or what if I'm not ok and my heart stops while I'm under anesthesia and I die and my husband has to try to raise our kids without me.  Would they still remember me when they're adults if I die now - they're still so young.  Will they remember how much I love them...  Oh, I tell you, if I was still in pain 24/7 it would be so much easier NOT to have this train of thought.  With the absence of pain driving me toward the surgery comes the influx of depressive anxiety-filled thought processes, which makes me feel like a weenie because it's such a simple procedure that I feel like I shouldn't have any qualms at all.  Back to finding rainbows...

I looked up from my papers when my daughter walked by to get yet another sheet of stickers from the drawer.  I looked into the living room where she was taking the stickers, and I see empty sticker sheets lying on the floor and hardly a bare spot of cardboard remaining on the rocket.  I lost it.  I didn't yell, but I sternly instructed them to stop using so many stickers because they were going to use them all and I wasn't going to buy them anymore because that's not what they are meant for and what are they going to do when all their stickers are gone and they don't have any for the other projects they wanted them for and the stickers are all going to fall off anyway when we put the rocket in the attic because that's where it's going and it's hot up there and the sticky won't last in the heat and don't put another sticker on pick up your mess and put the stickers up.  Even as the words were coming out of my mouth I realized how ridiculous I sounded, how unreasonable I was being, but by that point I was like a runaway train that can't be stopped.  I reached for a bite-size Snicker's (which didn't make me feel like myself, by the way), and the second it was in my mouth I started to hyperventilate.  My nose is highly unreliable right now due to allergies, and the bite-size Snicker's took up all the room in my mouth...I couldn't get it chewed up and swallowed fast enough, and the lump in my throat was growing by the second.  I felt like I was choking.  I walked to the back of the house, and tried to calm down, but it suddenly started raining.

Hot, salty rain poured down my face.  I walked back to the dining room, squatted beside my chair, and tried to get a grip.  By then the kids had done what I asked - picked up the empty sheets, put away some of the stickers, and taken off the excess stickers that were already falling off - and then they came to check on me.  I couldn't squat any longer, because my energy was gone, so I sat in the floor and it continued to rain.  I held my kids close and it rained on their heads.  I lost count of how many times I told them I love them.  Then my son went and got every stuffed animal from his bed and brought them to me to hold in my lap.  When he decided that wasn't good enough, he traded the bears for his Spider Man blanket.  My daughter tried to cheer me up by eating gummy worms, because my kids eating candy always cheers me up (?), and they kept telling me it was ok while they patted me.  When I could finally open my eyes, I was a bit stunned by what I saw.  Our solar-powered rainbow make was throwing the most vibrant and stunning rainbows all around the kitchen.  They were racing across the floor at my feet, soaring across the ceiling, running up the walls.  Rainbows were everywhere.  It has been so overcast, and we've been so busy for the last month or more that I've missed the rainbows, I'd forgotten that little spinning prism in my window, I'd forgotten how beautiful it could be.  *These images are from April*

Eventually my daughter disappeared into her room, where she made me a necklace.  My son covered me head-to-toe in his blanket and got under it with me, where he kept saying, "It's Mommy and brother time, isn't Mommy.  No one else is allowed because it's just Mommy and brother time."  I tell you, that four year old kid is wise.  Being in the dark, under a hot fleece blanket, helped.  I laid back on the floor, and I didn't have the strength to raise my head off the floor.  As I lay there, getting my breathing under control, two things occurred to me:  1) rainbows are God's promise that the storm is over and it will get better, 2) you can't have rainbows without rain.

I've dealt with depression and anxiety since I was 7, and being in stressful situations tends to bring it out - the upcoming surgery combined with trying to make sure everything was perfect for VBS built up the perfect storm for an anxiety attack.  Just remember, even in your darkest storm, when the rain won't let up and the clouds make it hard to see, the Son is out there, and a rainbow is coming.  Don't stop looking for the rainbows in the rain.

"Behind the Clouds"
- Brad Paisley -

When you're feeling lonely, lost and let down
Seems like those dark skies are following you around
And life's just one big shade of gray
You wonder if you'll see the light of day

Behind the clouds, the sun is shining
Believe me even though you can't quite make it out
You may not see the silver lining
But there's a big blue sky waiting right behind the clouds

I've heard it said that this too shall pass
Good times or bad times, neither one lasts
But thinking that your luck won't ever change
Is like thinking it won't ever stop once it starts to rain

Behind the clouds, the sun is shining
Believe me even though you can't quite make it out
You may not see the silver lining
But there's a big blue sky waiting right behind the clouds
Yeah, there's a big blue sky waiting right behind the clouds