This morning, I woke up after a particularly difficult night (Austin didn't come home, and I never sleep well when I'm not sure where he is or what he's doing). I remember being awake in the middle of the night in what felt like a full-blown anxiety attack, feeling on the verge of a heart attack or something, my blood pressure no doubt skyrocketing and my pulse racing. Everything feels that bad in the night; every night has the potential to be a dark night of the soul for me, though not all of them are. So, I wake up in no fit state to do anything, but I do drag myself to church with Dwaine and Andrew (the dragging being more literal in Andrew's case, lately), because that's what we do of a Sunday morning. Plus I am liturgist this morning, so I have to actually stand up and do a tiny piece of the service.
My family gets to hear zero out of me on the way to church, not one word, because I am cocooned in my own personal misery and heartache. I also rush my husband, who is habitually the last one out the door of a morning, which can cause us to run late. But thank God for all the people at church, because they all lovingly greet me and -- surprise! -- they want me, expect me, to be concerned and interested in them, in all their problems! It is hard to be concerned for someone else when you feel buried under the rubble of your own emotional wasteland.
Anyhow, I was definitely doing better by the end of the service (though periodically teary-eyed throughout), and by brunch, I felt actually human again. I had a good conversation with Lou R. about his ailing wife and his adolescent daughter; heard about poor Bill G. who has a severe infection (complications of diabetes) that has gone untreated too long, and now is facing a major surgery to amputate a toe; we said goodbye to our wonderful, semi-retired interim pastor; and are preparing to say hello to a new pastor next week. In the Methodist church, what that translates to is FOOD, and lots of it. We had a brunch today and will have a lunch next week.
This afternoon, just because the Lord does love to pile it on, I also attended our wrap-up session of Companions in Christ, where we got to share around the room just what we thought of every person there, and name each one's spiritual gifts. We quickly discovered that in this regard, it is much easier to give than to receive! I only broke down one time, when Shelley named prophecy as a gift of mine (i.e., speaking the words of God). This is a gift I claim, but it's not an easy one to have and it is completely beyond my power to control it.
Back to the panic attack for a moment. I know the description sounds perhaps almost clinical, i.e. needing medical attention of some sort, but seeing a doc would mean I'd have to give up my drug of choice, which is caffeine. No way! I need that hit like a heroin addict needs it, so I am willing to accept the side effects, which do not happen often enough to disrupt my life completely. Sounds like a rationalization, and it is. Which reminds me of a lovely Buddhist story that James Finley told us last week. The water buffalo (a favorite animal in Buddhist tales, apparently) is enlightened enough to pass through a lattice window. It is so enlightened that it passes through effortlessly, with not even the lattices blocking the path -- until it gets to its tail, and gets stuck. We all have that part, our tails, that most vulnerable and broken part, where we get stuck.
I get tired of being an emotionally overwrought Enneagram Type 4. Oh, and if you think I'm tired of it, you should talk to my family, especially my teenage boys! Ay-yih-yih. As this link describes,
Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
Yup, that's me! I thought I was so over that, back in my 20s ... or 30s ... now past the midway point and on the downhill slide from 40s, and that is still how I am, at the core. Way too many tempests in a teapot still happening here. What would ever happen if I had to face a real crisis?
What helps me now, and is a new revelation to me, is that I am a tool in God's hands, and I have important Godly work to do here on earth. I can't just dissolve in misery about my petty little problems (70% of which are self-created), because I have meaningful work to do that will be of real help to other people. I haven't always let my light, and my gifts, shine as brightly as they should. I still don't quite trust in God, that God really loves me and forgives me. But I'm getting closer. The tail may yet come unstuck, one day, and I can see the potential for Buddha-hood or being Christlike. Not just in myself, but in everyone else, too. Hallelujah!