First, a little disclaimer:
I’m finding that even though I’ve been given the assignment to write about my life with five kiddos, I am hesitant to post anything because I don’t want to sound whiny! In one sense, I know “war stories” help us know we are not alone. But I think there’s a fine line between sharing struggles for the purpose of encouraging each other and just plain old complaining. I’m reminding myself that I have way too much amazing in my life to spend my heart energy on grumbling. (Grumbling comes quite naturally to me.)
So, in that light, I hope that any self-incriminating stories and/or tales of woe will be received for what they are: shared experiences for the purpose of encouragement, not complaint. Because I truly am so overwhelmingly, crazy blessed – in the tough stuff and the fun stuff.
Disclaimer over. 😉
One of the most liberating concepts I’ve ever learned has been the idea of the “new normal.” Transitions are tough – even good ones – and there is definitely grief involved in letting go of the familiar. We just want things to go back to normal. Embracing a “new normal” means that my situation may never look like it used to. And that’s OK. There’s a new normal now, and it has the potential to be really, really great.
As a trauma survivor, transitions can be particularly difficult for me. In childhood, discovering patterns was a means of survival. If I could learn what certain causes led to certain effects, I could mitigate the damage to some extent. Predictability (even negative predictable outcomes) meant the difference between being able to mentally handle something and falling apart. In the world of my abusers, a deviation from the norm typically meant something very bad was coming. So, I tried desperately to learn routines and remain as compliant to those expectations as possible in order to keep as much “peace” as possible. (By the way, if you need a course on how to intellectualize trauma, I’m your girl.)
Now, all of these years later, when the predictable patterns get disrupted, those feelings of panic sometimes return unwanted. (Hi PTSD, how’s it going?) In my adult life, my kids grow up, new ones are born, we move, change jobs, grow and develop, and our routines are interrupted and mixed up. Through these transitions, my senses go on high alert and I spend massive amounts of subconscious energy trying to determine whether or not I’m safe.
But I am. I’m safe. And welcoming a brand new life into our family is the most amazing blessing. Our newest normal has the potential to be such a sweet season of overflow and joy. Getting through the anxiety means constantly reminding myself of the truth – I am sheltered, I am covered, I am carried.
Some days, I have to get alone (even if it’s just a quick shower) and refocus my eyes. Ann Voskamp writes about the life-transforming power of gratitude in her book, One Thousand Gifts. I used to get so upset when well-meaning people would tell me that the cure to my debilitating depression was to “think of all of my blessings.” Ugh. If only it were that simple!
I’m finally learning, though, that gratitude is simply a way of reality testing. By considering all I have been given, I’m replanted in the reality that I am a safe adult surrounded by a loving family. I have safe and supportive husband. I have a beautiful home that my husband and I “own”. I have five super healthy, well adjusted, energetic, talented, loving, brilliant kids who love me unconditionally, even when I’m in a PTSD fog. I have literally thousands of choices every single day – to choose what I want to wear, what I want to eat, what I want to do with my time, whether or not I want to go out or stay home. And, most importantly, I have a Father who has given me the gift of the Comforter to speak to my soul when my brain refuses to obey. He calms the storm inside when nothing else will.
So, I will do my best to embrace this transition and ride through the anxieties. I really am so truly grateful.