Thursday, March 14, 2013

Storm Warning

March 12, 2013

         Experts have suggested that people under tremendous stress can create alternate personalities to help them cope with unresolved trauma. I wonder, would they have such issues and need so much medication if they could just use the internet and create a new personality for themselves in the virtual world? Who knows-maybe the cure for Multiple Personality Disorder is literally right at our fingertips!
        Well, I'm not sure if I can convince the panel for the American Medical Association, but I've decided that I'm going to be the lab rat for this theory. Because that's what I am. A second personality. My name isn't real, but my heart is, and the life that I will be sharing with you on these pages is brutally real. I have to do it this way. I have to protect myself and everyone I love. But I am carrying a secret that is going to kill me, and there is no way, just no way I can carry it alone. We weren't meant to, you know. Carry our secrets alone. Maybe that's another cure for MPD. Good friends. I better be careful or the pharmaceutical manufacturers might come looking for me!
      Satellite images and dopler radar allow us to track the movement of clouds and predict the arrival of storms up to the hour. I saw a report on the weather channel recently where they were showing all the possible scenarios of snowfall for the Northeast, just by modifying one tiny little piece of input. It was impressive, and pretty vital, because the difference in a few little numbers can give people time to prepare and prevent them from being stranded somewhere when the storm hits.
      Have you noticed our personal storms don't work that way? We don't get that kind of tracking device, I mean. We just wake up, drink our coffee, and go about our day, never suspecting that in a matter of hours our whole world will be changing. There we are, debating whether to get cheap dog food or name brand, when the phone rings. And just like that, the storm begins.
      Another difference about weather storms and real life; when a physical storm hits, there is evidence all around you. Wind lashes the trees, rain pelts the rooftops, and snowburies everything. Not so with personal storms. Very very often, there is no outward indication that our lives are turned inside out. The dog still needs us to make that dog food decision. People still need to wear clean clothes, so the laundry still has to be done. At work, there is laughter, small talk, and the same responsibilities that existed yesterday. And although none of those things deserve the priority that the did yesterday, life has to go on.
     The thing is, it's exhausting to act normal when you aren't. When a storm hits in the physical world, we stop. We drive slowly, or we stay home. Schools delay or close. Businesses shut down. Flights are cancelled. I know that if a genie popped out of a bottle and granted me three wishes, my first one, no contest, would be a magical pause button. It wouldn't mess up anyone else's life, but it would allow me the peace and time I need to process.
    Since I haven't found a genie yet, (and I've rubbed every bottle I've encountered, believe me! The closest thing that I got was a Diaper Genie, probably from rubbing my son's baby bottle!) I guess we have to construct our own shelters. We have to ration our energy, both physical and emotional, wisely. For instance, I have some serious researching to do. I need to know facts, choices, and available resources. So I guess I'm not gonna show up on Facebook for awhile. Or volunteer for the nursery duty in church like I've been doing. Please understand, I still care. I recognize the importance of your needs, your mission, your responsibility. Please don't be offended if I don't take your calls for a few days, or ignore the fact that your daughter is selling girl scout cookies. If you knew, you'd understand. I know you would.
           So the survival message that I offer you today is this. Take shelter. Find areas in your life that you can close off for a bit. Maybe you can't quit your job, but you can stop volunteering for overtime. You certainly don't want to be rude to your customers and coworkers, but it's okay to hang a "Do not Disturb" sign on your office door for 1/2 an hour so you can close your eyes and just breathe. Cancel appointments that aren't crucial. Let the kids watch an extra half hour of tv so that you can unwind.
And don't berate yourself for things that you forget because your mind is elsewhere. Or don't have the energy to do because managing your emotions has taken all your strength. Order pizza, grab McDonalds, eat on paper plates. You wouldn't judge yourself if you were handling a physical storm. Give yourself the same love and grace for the inner storm. The rain may not soak your hair, but it is hammering your soul. The wind may not lash your face, but it is buffeting your mind, threatening to blow away your sense of peace, hope, and security. Someone wise and dead once said that it is better to do a few things well, than most things poorly.
       I'm going to include a a link to a wonderful story, written by a beautiful woman with tremendous insight. Sometimes, when I read stuff like this, I think that angels speak through people. Stories like this are so helpful to me. They make me feel like someone handed me an umbrella, or at least a towel to wipe my face and glasses. The purpose of sharing my story like this is to be an umbrella to someone else. When the power goes out, and someone else has candles or a flashlight, people band together for support and shelter. So if this is the path that life has set me on, I'm going to find any opportunity for good that I can. The Spoon Theory
             I don't know who is going to read my blog. And they may not even be impacted by what I say. But perhaps one of the links I share will lead them to truth, hope, and support. That's all I really want; is to take something that doesn't make sense or seem useful, and turn it into something that blesses my life and the lives of anyone who takes my outstretched hand.
              I have to leave now. My two-year-old son and I both have doctor appointments this morning to get bloodwork done. Mine would be a miraculous scientific anomaly if it were negative. I know that. But please be gentle with me today. Because I won't be able to breathe until a few days from now, when I know if my sweet precious baby has HIV.