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2020, as sh!tty as it has been, has not been the sh!tt!est of years that I’ve ever had so on that scale I feel quite fortunate. I can quickly recall a couple years way worse for me. Covid19 struck both my teenagers several weeks ago, but they fared well and recovered quickly as young people tend to do. Somehow, unless we were a-symptomatic and got false negatives, my husband and I skated past that plague….so far, but I mean there is still plenty of time left. I’ve dealt with normal adulting stress and drama, but who hasn’t. That’s an every year thing that I can’t blame on 2020.

I get all ragey. I’m lucky enough to have a small group of women deemed “my people” who get my rage texts and respond back with affirmations and more rage. It’s the only thing that gets me through. What causes this rage you may be wondering? Face-freaking-Book. When I started Facebook 10 years ago it was a happy place. But in 2020, it’s not that. It’s where I open to discover a person I thought of as a lovely, kind human is actually a racist, disgusting person. In the words of Michael Scott, “Well, well, well….how the turn tables.”

I teeter between wishing I never knew the inner workings of people I used to admire to being grateful I know their truth, so I know who I’m really dealing with. Grateful. Key word. 2020, while admittedly not as bad for me as I’ve witnessed it be for others, has pushed me into an ungrateful mindset of which needs to be remedied. I present to you my list of current counted by number, but in no particular order, blessings.

1. That my dog smells like a dog now, instead of the skunk that sprayed him in the face last month.
2. The steady rain, the sound of light thunder and sitting next to my guy as we both stare at our open laptops under blankets on the couch tonight.
3. For Life360 (I’m not trying to sell you this app, won’t be giving you a promo code. I just genuinely feel blessed by it) for letting me have the comfort in seeing that my son is at a pizza place presumedly having fun with friends and that my daughter is in her sorority house presumedly laughing with her gals on their university campus.
4. That the previously mentioned son and daughter attend the same school and live close to each other giving an added layer of support.
5. The reheated, homemade tomato soup I just had for dinner.
6. Serial Killer/Murder/Scandalous documentaries on streaming services to be watched at my leisure.
7. Deep breaths of air. The slow kind I can feel fully inflating my lungs when inhaling. A friend from high school is battling cancer and it literally hurts her to breathe tonight. Deep breaths of life giving air are a gift I take for granted daily.
8. The candle on my kitchen counter makes the whole place smell like “hot cocoa and scream.”
9. The icy coldness of my sheets when I slip into bed. The way they startle my senses and allow the warmth of the blankets to feel blissfully soothing.
10. How cute it is when my dog rings the little bell installed at the bottom of the front door to signal that he wants outside.
11. When my elderly neighbor called last week to tell me she thought she needed a ride to the dermatologist, but now she doesn’t, but she’ll keep me posted. Then ended the call with “you know I love you.”
12. Facetime
13. Hilarious and mostly inappropriate memes, both sent and received among friends.
14. Taking walks that require a light jacket.
15. The way coffee feels when it hits. That awake and new day vibe.
16. I can pray to Jesus, have a conversation with him, without an appointment. I just show up and he’s waiting. It blows my mind someone that big cares about what I have to say and is available to me. It’s amazing when I take a minute to really think about that.
17. Pinterest for giving me endless examples and the confidence to try craft projects that I don’t have the skills to do.
18. Text group chats. They stay in continuous mode, never ending. Group of co-workers, with the women in my family, with friends…. the connection stays even when 2020 keeps us apart.
19. Halloween decorations I have out even though I’m the only one who will see them this year.
20. That this isn’t it. This isn’t all there is. After this body wears out, there is something more, something bigger and better.

Now back to rage.

A few days ago, first thing in the morning, I had my first ever anxiety attack.  I was sitting on the couch, eating my breakfast and watching the local news when my heart began racing. The Fitbit I was wearing on my wrist clocked that my heartrate jumped from 57 bpm to 189 in a matter of seconds. I sat there for a couple minutes debating on if I should “wait and see” or call 911. Since I was still in my sexy lingerie I’d worn to bed the night before (sweatpants and sloppy t-shirt) I opted to monitor the symptoms from home. Exactly 7 minutes later, my heart had returned to my normal resting heart rate, my hands had stopped shaking and I was relieved that the EMT’s didn’t have to see me in that ratty 2012 marathon shirt I’d stolen from my husband’s drawer.

Amanda Waggener, M.I.D. (medical internet doctor) went to work. I began my degree work about the time we went from dialup to broadband. I was top of my class thanks to my proficiency with Mayo Clinic, WebMD and Google searches. I graduated with honors. Gold star stuff. Anyway, according to everything I read, what I had suffered from that morning was a full-blown anxiety attack. Anxiety is something I know. I’ve had it since I was a teenager, but an anxiety attack is new and not cool, at all.

I prescribed myself a month-long break from the stresses of my life in effort to keep it from happening again anytime soon. Step 1 was to identify the stressors. After a brief staring off into space session, I discovered that many of the stressors I can’t ditch or social services would be at my door.  However, there was a short list of my stressors that I could eliminate, short-term at least.

So, I began making a list:

Things I Need a Break from Before I Completely Lose My Sh!t

1. Facebook
2. Instagram
3. Sunday Morning Church Services
4. Volunteer Roles
5. Counting Calories

And, then, I began making another list:

Things I Need to Focus on To Retrieve My Sh!t

1. Read
2. Write
3. Pray
4. Only communicate with people who infuse love into my life.
5. Schedule an appointment with my therapist.

I prescribed my treatment commence on August 1st.  August would be the month long Zen party that my body was physically screaming at me to attend.

I accepted the invitation to my own party.

I’m only 2 weeks in on this break, and so far, I have learned that without Facebook reminding me of everyone’s birthdays, I forget them. I remember birthdays, but I forget when the day comes without that little nudge from the Facebook. I’ve not seen engagements, weddings, gender reveals or endlessly-perfect via overly-edited selfies on Instagram lately either. I have no idea what sex your baby is nor have I read the inspirational quotes below your selfies in a few days now. But, I did schedule my appointment with the counselor. Hoping, when I get there, he doesn’t tell me I’m crazier than last time we spoke. I’ve been reading and, obviously, writing. I’ve been checking things off my lists like it’s my job.

The biggest change I’ve noticed so far is the difference an emphasis on prayer makes. I’d highly recommend it to anyone.

Just sitting still. Being open. Listening. It’s like Zoloft to my heart.

Prayer not only has a calming effect on my soul, but also inspires epiphanies. Like the one I had yesterday about how a large majority of what I know about Jesus comes from men standing on a stage at a church. Here’s what I know about men (ok, I’ll concede, women too), they are flawed. The light bulb moment I had was that maybe the hang-ups I have, aren’t even the truth at all. Maybe those hangups all came from the ideas that grew in me from men who went to seminary (also mostly taught by men, all 100% flawed, again, like me). This is not a feminist epiphany. Although, being female, I am pro-female, because duh. I’m also pro-lots of things. Besides the point.

The epiphany was that I need to dig deeper to discover MY truth, from my own digging and researching; independent of other’s convictions or opinions. A truth based on the Biblical findings unearthed with my own God-given eyes by using my own God-given brain in my own time.

Week 2 Update: I’m digging. My break may need to extend beyond 4 weeks as it seems like I may need some time to investigate what people have discussed for hundreds of years. I’ll keep you posted.

Excited about week 3 and week 4.

And I’m sorry about the birthday thing. When I get back on Facebook I’ll catch up on that, but until I’m back, Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, Sorry for your Loss, I can’t believe your kids are already so big, Get Well Soon and Congratulations!