(I’m almost embarrassed to post this today after my recent Facebook post stating that in my own part of the world, there was peace in my mind and in my heart.)
Today didn’t start off very well. I stopped for gas on the way to work and pulled up to the pump on the driver’s side. I’d forgotten that my gas tank is on the passenger side. I turned the car around. Then as I started pumping gas, I also started to cry.
Another aunt passed away recently. And we lost another classmate. In one part of the world farmilies are being separated by war. So much loss of life.
I’d felt a heaviness all weekend and now that feeling was coming out in tears.
Since I was starting to let my emotions get the best of me, after pumping gas I pulled into an empty parking space. I took out my phone and called my counselor. I told her I was sorry for bothering her but told her that I felt overwhelmed with my emotions starting to spin out of control.
“Did you use your tools?” she asked.
I knew what she meant. Not tools like a hammer and screwdriver, but actions I can take to helm me manage my emotions. Tools that I talked about in previous posts last summer when I was doing well.
You’d think by now these actions would be engrained in me so that when emotional moments come up, I can put them to right away.
Instead, I try to do everything on my own. To push my feelings inside and handle life’s struggles. Then when it becomes overwhelming, I fall apart.
After a mini breakdown a few months ago in my car on the way to work (which seems to be the time when I fall apart), I wrote down these actions on index cards and put them in my car.
Some of these tools are standard for anyone who is dealing with the anxiety and depression, but these are the order in which I have them in my vehicle. Some I came up with or personalized.
Take a few deep breaths to slow down my thoughts.
Listen to or sing, “It is Well with my Soul.” (My favorite rendition of the song is in the video link below.)
Tighten all muscles, then relax.
Remember: “Feelings are not Facts”.
Feelings affect our thoughts which affect our actions.
Remember this Bible verse:
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”James 4:8
Picture myself in a serene place.
For me it was the lavendar field where we went in July, overlooking the lake. I remember how relaxed I felt that day, how utterly at peace my thoughts were.
How fleeting peace can be!
I know I have a lot of ups and downs, and sometimes all in the same day or in this case, the same weekend. Living with the challenges I face is not easy. Sometimes I say half-jokingly that “It’s so hard to be me.”
For some reason, unlike “normal” people, I don’t handle my emotions well under stress or during grief. Or maybe I’m one of the few who seek outside help with managing my emotions during those times.
I’m not too embarrassed to be real and honest here. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. We all have our ups and downs. None of us go through life untouched by grief.
After I reviewed my index cards and listened to the song, “It is well with my Soul,” I was able to grab hold of that peace and go on with my day. I didn’t cancel any clients. I made it through the day, and actually enjoyed socializing with the people I was working for.
So the tools that my counselor taught me and that I expressed in posts last summer do really work. Progress is being made. In January, I had a mini breakdown and took three days off from work. Today, I had a mini breakdown and didn’t miss any jobs. I don’t know what is possible, but as another card:
Live one day at a time. Un dia a la vez.
Sadly, none of us is promised tomorrow. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Life is frail, and it can be gone in the blink of an eye.
A heart can stop beating at any time, and for so many, death came unexpectedly.
This hymn is one of my favorites and its message is so powerful. “Whatever my lot, God has taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul.”