Best When Stressed?

 

I’m coming upon the seventh anniversary of this revelation, and to be honest, I still furrow my brows, face palm, and experience “eyeroll.”  It was September 12, six weeks after I realized I would never again be divorced, and less than a month after I became full time homesteader, physical therapist, treatment specialist, home health aid, and permanent family black sheep.  What a happy time it was.  Someone in his family called daily to check progress, but nobody came to help.  My family on the other hand, was all sorts of assistance and for that I’m grateful, but it came at a cost.  Mr. B had been released from the hospital three weeks prior to this big day.  Oh, the heaviness of all that burden is still so real, as I type this.  It was still not known, or no one had heard, that the air conditioner in the car had broken in July, so I had been making two trips daily in temperatures above 100°, traveling for 3 weeks, doing morning and evening chores between day and night shifts of sitting vigil at the hospital.  I still thank G-d for an amazing neighbor.  She truly was a blessing beyond what I could ask or imagine.

So, it was September 12, 2007, and Rosh Hashanah [Yom Teruah] began at sunset.  Mom and Daddy had come down to “help” and were watching me bustling between chores, taking a shower and getting dinner, so they could hit the road when my mom suddenly said, “Elizabeth, you look great; better than you have in years!”  I stopped for a moment, puzzled; when she said, “Oh I bet it’s the weight you’ve lost, you look thinner.”

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To be honest, as the thoughts of any potential reply collided in my brain, I simply could not dignify her stated observation with a response.  Please, pull up a chair, grab your reading glasses, and let me share the day in which I looked my best.

 

Those days began early, and this day was no exception.   There was a hospital bed in my living room, and I was sleeping on a loveseat with a couch in my kitchen.  It was truly a relief to get up and stretch out the kinks.   That day, I did the morning chores, came in and showered, knowing my parents were on their way.  They were coming later than usual, so as not to disturb Mr. B’s morning routine.  Mr. B’s morning routine involved assistance to the bathroom, covering the dressing and assistance to the shower, a complete change of dressing which took one full hour, one tube of aloe vera gel, a bale of 4 X 4 gauze pads, 2 curlex bandages, three taped dressings, a specially designed and crafted covering, by yours truly;  to redress the 4 surgery sites, not to mention dealing with the C-diff and MRSA he got while in the hospital.  By then it was time to fix breakfast including his specialty shake and supplements.  As I was preparing the food, the phone rang.  It was Daddy telling me not to fix breakfast for them, as they had stopped to eat and should be arriving in about an hour, if that worked for Bob . . . Fine, I said, and hurried to get everything finished so I could have dishes done before they arrived.

About 10:30 they arrived, and I poured coffee.  They got the latest on the progress of the patient, and my mom was sure to ask me about this and that and to inform me of all my sister had to offer on the subject.  Now, my sister’s pending prison term was none of my business, yet I digress.  They were going to help me do some outdoor work and get ready for winter.  Daddy had brought me some sort of craftsman cultivator with additional implements which was nice, and he also brought his tiller, which was wonderful.  My okra was still doing beautifully, but Daddy decided it must be tilled down while his tiller was here, so . . . it was tilled down and to be honest, it felt so good running that tiller in the garden dirt, barefooted I forgot all about the loss of the harvest.  It was a moment of shalom . . . Then it was time to do some mowing, but the ethanol gas had ruined a part in the fuel line, which turned into a disaster.   Daddy went to “mower medic” while mom decided to bleach the front siding.

Daddy returned to start working on the mower.  The next thing I knew, in frustration, he had wenched it up the light pole, while mom wanted more bleach and I should keep as good a track of things as Bob did, and oh by the way, maybe I should get a part time job in home health care . . .  I facepalm as I write this, and shake my head.  

When the replacement part came up missing, Daddy gave me that look I remember as a little girl, and my mom turned around from 50 feet away and asked me what I’d done with it!!!  I prayed.  I prayed quickly, hard, and sincerely.  Wouldn’t you know it, the part was right where Daddy had dropped it on the mower deck!  We got the mowing done, then it was time for evening chores, which I did while they kept Bob company.   Slung mower parts were still being discovered in spring of ’08.  The mower ran by the miraculous power of the Elohim of Israel, that fall day.  I got finished with chores, took a quick shower, and proceeded to prepare dinner.  It had been in the oven all day, so it was basically just grab condiments and serve, which I did . . .  Every cell in my body was screaming in pain.  It wasn’t physical work, it was the emotional stress of it all!  Then the phone rang.  It was Mr. B’s mother calling to see how he was . . .

As Daddy was asking for something to put on his sandwich and I was getting Bob to the phone to speak with his mother, it was then, that my mom told me, how great I looked . . . I hadn’t looked that great in years.  Apparently, from her perspective; I do look best when stressed!   The next morning, Daddy called a little after 7 to see how Bob was doing and make sure the day hadn’t worn him out.  Later, long after noon, when mom had awakened, she called to make sure Bob wasn’t worn out from the previous day’s activity.

Truth be told,  I don’t look best when stressed . . . I look classy when fat and sassy!

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Butterflies or Nausea

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Most people with mental health labels process feelings differently.  I’m not sure that’s always wrong, it’s just different.  In this particular case, I was very wrong.  Many of us learn to read body language very early, for various reasons, but based upon a feeling of self-preservation.  My personal struggle was the reference others made as to butterflies in their stomach, as it related to love/care and/or performances.  Sadly, I confused the horrible nausea with butterflies, I felt when performance was required.  I thought nausea was what everyone else was talking about when they said they had butterflies in their stomach, and it related precisely to the two times I heard it used.

My parents never used the word love, or at least I didn’t hear them use it.  Later they would reference the word that the word didn’t need to be spoken, I should just know it . . . and the nausea would hit.  That same feeling also hit when going to the doctor or performing solos.  The one thing I did realize was how heavy this feeling was in my stomach; not like butterflies at all.  It was easy to dismiss that, as I was already told I didn’t understand things properly.  So, I figured I was misunderstanding my body’s reaction.   My feeling of misinterpreting my own intuition was intensified, especially when performing, because people would use the term love, in that they “loved the song” or “loved the way it made them feel.”  As I got older, I just came to believe my nausea was the butterflies, everyone else experienced.

Needless to say, that made for some horrible situations regarding intimacy.   When I became a believer, things changed in my marriage, and to be honest, as a young believer I was zealous, which did not help the already strained relationship.  He and I were already sleeping separately when we split up, and I remained celibate until I remarried.  So the butterfly/nausea issue had never been addressed, until I found myself completely aware of all the details of my life, in an intimate setting, and that feeling of nausea washed over me, completely over me.  Since this was supposed to be true love, I once again assumed the nausea was butterflies.  Since any attempt at intimacy was a true test of tedious endurance, we both happily went our separate ways on that topic and I embraced my celibacy.  Stupid me, though, still thought this horrible heavy nausea was somehow “love” and I struggled with it for a time.   The misunderstanding of nausea for butterflies resurfaced when I began doing my radio show.     That was when I realized, this feeling of “love” was the same feeling as stage fright and yet there was an element of “mixed emotions.”  I did love doing the radio show and my producer was wonderful, but every Thursday morning, I would awaken to a very upset stomach that lasted until my intro, “Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs,” began.

I then saw the connected memory of those bits and pieces of childhood.  I did love my parents and I knew how much they wanted me to be a perfect performer, so, in spite of the nausea, the show went on.  The various memories flashed through my mind, and I soon realized people whose minds are different actually process everything differently.  In every situation, my attempt at a “perfect performance” was the way I showed my love, and the nausea was not butterflies at all.  The nausea was indeed the sick feeling that I simply wasn’t good enough.

I write this because I know there are several folks with “labels” and those labels alone can make some feel less than acceptable.  When a child has a misconception that is never corrected, or worse, is fostered, that does become their reality.   Of course, no one knew to tell me, being sick at your stomach is not butterflies of good excitement.   This fact continues to confirmed by the comments of those who have known me the longest.  The next entry I’ll share how my perspective was based on the KUDOS I received.  I think many of us do that, whether we realize it or not.

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Regular Doses of Reality

My family struggles intensely against my walk with Messiah and my healing.  It’s changed all the interactive family dynamics, and change isn’t welcome when it comes to family traditions.  The past couple of weeks have given me wonderful insight as to how much about how being a “new creation” is truly new . . . and different.  Sabbath keeping and Torah observance, all these years later continues to be a point of contention for loved ones, but my stand on health has brought some horrendous accusations against me.  I don’t really know, yet, how to share those within the criteria of Exodus 20:12.    So here’s an interesting little scenario that has unfolded for the past couple of weeks that has left me profoundly grateful for the understanding that it really isn’t me.  Since it isn’t me, I have no need to try to defend or explain myself.  I just have to speak truth and then keep my tongue bridled.

Daddy took my nephew on a fishing trip.  My nephew had a summer cold and within a few days, Daddy was feeling it coming on.  He refused mom’s insistence to see a doctor, so she called me for natural remedies.  We discussed a formula for an herbal tea.  I shared what I knew and reminded her of some of the essential oils I’d given them and which ones should help, how and where to apply them, etc.   She ended the conversation with, well, I’ll see if any of this helps, Axl; went to the doctor and got antibiotics.  I’ll let you know if any of this works.  And yes, my nephew, Axl; is named for a the “rockstar” . . . yet I digress.

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I called that evening to see if she had carried out all the remedy plans.  The conversation was short.  “She thought she’d done everything we talked about, but he just needs to go to the doctor.”  I got off the phone.  I called the next morning, after 10am to see how he was.  I woke mom up and Daddy was already up and gone to work on fence or something at one of his places.  But she had advice and a recommendation for me as to how to take care of my husband . . . He should go to the doctor, but probably doesn’t because of my beliefs.  To that I said, my beliefs don’t alter any of lifestyle, I’ll call and check on Daddy later.  I called back that afternoon and woke her from a nap, but Daddy was home, so I talked to him.  He said he thought he was going to get it “shook off,” before it took hold.  He wasn’t up to par, but didn’t think he was losing ground.  I suggested more of the teas and oils and he said he was fixing his tea and applying the oils.

I called the next morning, late again, just to check on him and again, woke mom and Daddy was gone.  She then had menu suggestions for what I needed to prepare for Mr. B’s breakfast and mentioned again that I should do more food preservation by freezing rather than canning.  I shake my head and roll my eyes and get off the phone as quickly as possible, keeping my tongue bridled.

Now, I have an hereditary issue that my Dad has and his Dad also  experienced.  I have discovered a reflexology point that greatly relieves the issue, so I called to share it with Daddy.  It was mid afternoon, and I woke mom from a nap . . .

As I tried to explain what I had discovered she insisted upon telling me what I needed to be doing for my husband.  Bridled, bridled . . . It then hit me like a ton of bricks.  She doesn’t realize I can connect the dots.  She is still trying to have authority over that broken little girl who would just keep jumping through hoops trying to please and meet demands.

Still at this age, now in ministry for 20 years, she has continuously recommended jobs for me, outside of ministry.  She is relentless in her push for mainstream medicine in my life, and she has let me know, the books I’ve authored are unclear to her.   This poor woman is still looking for the disconnected awareness in my former mental health.  She has actually verbalized on more than one occasion that I’m weird . . .  Sadly, she uses the terms disloyal and dishonoring regarding the discernment I’ve been given when YHWH healed my mind.

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