Monday, August 17, 2015

;

Project Semicolon - perhaps you've heard of it? Someone posted a link a few months back and I began to research. This organization, represented by this little symbol ";" struck a chord with so many, especially me. I could relate to the stories I read. It was beautiful. And it gave me courage to write this.
I have written and deleted this post about 100 times (maybe a little more). Why? Because it's the most honest post that I've ever written. It's a post that discusses things about me (the real person behind the blog) that only a few people know.

So, after talking with my mom and one of my very best friends, I decided to finally post this blog. It's cathartic for me to write (errrrr...type) and I'm not looking for sympathy. I just want to share my story.

I am someone who lives with anxiety. I'm not talking "nerves before a huge final" or being nervous about starting something new (although those are completely legitimate cases of anxiousness). I am someone whose mind hyperfocuses on one thing and will stay focused on that one thing. I will continually worry about the smallest thing, no matter how insignificant it seems to others. I am someone who occasionally feels as if there is a 1,000 pound man sitting on my chest and he. won't. budge. But, I am someone who now recognizes these things and is able to live and breathe.

My mom and I were discussing this yesterday. Those who suffer from anxiety present it in different ways. Some lash out, others live with constant fatigue, and still others act manic. My anxiety presents itself by me pulling away from those around me.

Let me backtrack a little.

I have never been someone who expresses my emotions well. Like, ever. My face may tell you what I'm feeling, but I am not one to really open up about feeling anything other than happiness. I feel uncomfortable sharing those feelings. Senior year of high school, I was taking a pretty heavy load of classes and was involved in several activities outside of school. I was one of six leaders of a retreat in Memphis. I was involved in retreats at my school. I was involved in my youth group. I had a part-time job that I loved. And yet, I wasn't happy. At all. I entered a very dark period in my life. I am being honest when I say that there are a few weeks of my senior year that are blurry - I was constantly anxious and sad. I couldn't sleep or really look my friends in the eye. I began to self-harm as a coping mechanism. The only way (I thought) that I could get rid of the anxiety was that. Anxiety can play cruel tricks on your mind. I am a perfectionist and part of my anxiety was believing that I was letting everyone else down when I didn't do A, B, or C. Was that true? Not a bit.

I opened up to a total of two people; yet, others around me knew something was going on. Finally, these brave souls spoke up for me when I couldn't, when I didn't have the strength to say "help." I entered therapy and was diagnosed as having Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression. Neither really came as a shock to me. Instead, it was more comforting. There was a reason I was feeling this way. There was nothing wrong with me and it was workable.  I don't say fixable because anxiety is always going to be a part of my life. Life was doable again.

But now, I knew that. I'm not saying that life turned around 100% right then. It didn't. It has taken me a lot of work to figure out what triggers my anxiety and how to deal with it. Anxiety is always going to be there. It's a part of me. It's a part of Rachel.

Fast forward to my mid-twenties. Hi. Still here. Anxiety? It's still there. But now? Now, I know what to do. I know how to remove myself from situations that could give me anxiety. I know how to recognize when I'm beginning to tailspin into that anxiety. Does that mean I'm always able to stop the panic? No. But, I'm better at recognizing it. I'm better at recognizing myself begin to give in to the anxiety.

I have the best support system there is. My mother? Yeah, she's pretty great. And honest. She has this sixth sense and she knows. If I begin to talk super fast or talk about the same thing a lot, she'll pause and say, "Rachel. Breathe. You're letting the anxiety talk. Not you." So, I'll slow down. I breathe. I breathe again. And when I'm done, I take one more breath. I go for a run. I bake. I read a book. And I breathe.

So, why am I writing this post? Because, like Sylvia Plath so wisely wrote, "I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am. I am. I am."

And I will continue to be. Because my story isn't over yet; it's just beginning.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Worthy. Loved. Wanted. Desired. Adored. Enough.



The words of this post have been floating around in my mind for the past few weeks. Worthy. Loved. Wanted. Desired. Adored. Those are hard words to accept. For me, at least.

Confession: I rarely feel worthy of God's love. I rarely understand that He, the One who created it all, wants me. He desires me. He adores ME. He wants the absolute best for my life and He doesn't ask much in return. At Mass a few weeks ago, I prayed that God would show me that I am worthy of His love.

But my little human mind has a hard time accepting that. Why? Maybe it's the anxiety of not being in absolute control. Maybe it's the idea that's been whispered by the Enemy that I am not good enough. Some days, it feels almost easier to believe THAT load of bologna than to think that the One who gave His life for mine and my sins chooses to love me in spite of my continual sin. Maybe it's easier to buy into a world of "no God" than it is to say "Thanks, but no thanks, I'll take Jesus." Maybe it's easier to think that there is no way at all that God could continue to chase me while I'm running a thousand miles away from him.


That's me in a nutshell right there.

Then, the unthinkable happens. For those who know me, I despise, with every fiber of my being, driving in thunderstorms. They terrify me. The winds, the rain. No thanks. I love watching storms from the safety of my couch. But driving in them? NOPE. So, today, where do I find myself? DRIVING IN A THUNDERSTORM OBVIOUSLY.

WHAT. THE. HAY. GOD?!?

So, I did what made sense. I prayed. While driving about -5 down the road and gripping the steering wheel with every ounce of strength that I possess, I begin praying to Our Lady for safe travels through the storm. Our Father after Hail Mary after Glory Be after the Fatima Prayer all. the. way. home. And the funniest thing happened (I kid you not) - every time I passed beneath a ginormous tree or power line or what-have-you, the winds would die down, the tree would stop thrashing in the wind, and the rain would slow.




I began to cry. My little feeble prayers were being heard and answered like right then. THAT NEVER HAPPENS. I was in complete awe. God was hearing me! My heart rejoiced like it never has before. Here was the proof that I had asked for weeks ago! Here was a previously whispered prayer joining with my litany of prayers being answered right before my very eyes. I was reminded of Jesus calming the storm in the Gospels. A sense of peace like I've never experienced before flooded over me. I am loved. I am wanted. I am desired. I am adored. I am worthy.

I am His beautiful, loved, worthy, desired, adored, and, yes, messy masterpiece. But more than anything else, I am enough.


It's that simple.









Sunday, May 3, 2015

Waiting...Still Waiting...

Lately (as in since November), I feel as if I've been in a loooooooong period of waiting.

Waiting for Thanksgiving.
Waiting for Christmas.
Waiting for my laundry to be done.
Waiting for the coffee to finish brewing (Every. Day.)
Waiting for spring break.
Waiting for Easter (best week in the Church, amirite?!?!)

You get the point. Always waiting.

Finally, the week after Easter, I realized what I was waiting for. It wasn't really any of the things listed above (except maybe coffee), but something bigger. Something more. I was stuck in a rut, waiting for my life to really begin. Let me be clear, I have a job I love, students that I absolutely adore, friends and coworkers who amaze me every day, and the best family in the entire world. I have a great life. But, still...I had this nagging feeling that I was missing out on something, I just could not put my finger on what. And I was letting it drag me down, slowly but surely. I was becoming irritable and complacent because I was waiting. What was I waiting for? What am I waiting for? I don't know. I mean, if I was in the one in charge of this show, one of the following would be my life:

Option A: Married and pregnant with baby number 20,000,000 (only a slight exaggeration)
Option B: Graduating with my third PhD in Astrophysics and I'd be off to live on the space station
Option C: Become a self-made gazillionaire at the ripe-old retiring age of 21 and travel the world constantly
Option D: Be an Academy Award winning actress whose best friends were Jennifer Lawrence and Theo James
Option E: Receive my Hogwarts Letter a few years late, attend Hogwarts, graduate with Honors and work for the Ministry of Magic (I'm still secretly holding out for this option...the owl must have just gotten lost, right?)

Okay, so maybe these are just a tiny bit embellished, but you get the idea. My life, at this point, would mean something - I would have accomplished something. Yet, the week after Easter, it hit me - I have accomplished a whole heck of a lot. Case in point: this note from one of my precious students.


Every time, I read this note, I cry. It's beautiful. It shows me that what I've perceived as a period of waiting is actually a period of me becoming the woman that He created me to be. He is using this time to shape me. To mold me. To grow me in ways that I could have never imagined.

That is not to say that this period of waiting isn't painful. It is. Trust me. There are plenty of nights where I cry out for Him to take the pain of waiting away. Because waiting can be painful. But He is using that pain to grow a heart that yearns for Him. That desires to know Him more. A heart that wants to accomplish His will, not my own human one. Not one of those options above would make me happy on its own because none of them included Him. Not. One. That's not His plan for me. So, yes, this period of waiting and the unknown can be painful.

But more than that, it is beautiful. Let me say that again, waiting can be beautiful. The not-knowing can be beautiful. That's a strange thing to say because I am one that likes to have control and know what's coming next.Yet, there is beauty in the waiting. That's what He's teaching me. And that beauty is getting to know him more. That beauty is being held and comforted and whispered to in my darkest moments of doubt. That beauty comes in knowing that He waited for His Father's will to be done, so I know that I can wait. I have grown to appreciate this time of waiting because I have never felt closer to God than I do right now. I have never felt more sure that He has put me in the right place than I do right now. Do I have tough days where I doubt? Well, duh. I am human. But, He is right there, holding my hand and my heart. He is right there, right in front of me, waiting for me to turn to Him with my pain, my heart's longings, my desires. And He whispers His desires for me, the great plans that He has for me, right to my aching and curious heart, one little step at a time shaping it to be His heart. There is nothing more beautiful than that.

So, like Mumford and Sons sing, "I will wait...I will wait for you."

Because the waiting is beautiful.