I called the crisis line tonight.
I called Laura first. I called her and I cried and she hugged me through the phone as well as anyone possibly can.
But then I hung up and I was alone again. And hysterical. And I realized two things in the midst of this:
1) No matter how much anyone loves you, you can’t take people and shove them into the empty an aching parts of yourself.
2) What’s left empty and aching is meant to be brought to God.
I knew this, even in the midst of my hysteria, but I also knew that the place I was in emotionally was absolutely no good.
So I paced the house, panic heating me up from the inside, tears running hot down my face. I paced and tried to figure out how I was going to fix what I was feeling. Because certainly enduring it wasn’t an option. (I’m saying that last sentence with something like a wink. But also I’m dead serious. If ya feel me.)
And then I grabbed my keys, without knowing where I was heading, kissed Arlow, and left.
The me of the past would’ve done one of two things:
1) Called Laura back and been like, “No, but wait. I’m really not okay. Fix me! Love me! Do you still love me!?” or
…Because apparently my status quo is taking a bad situation and making it worse. Praise Jesus for growth, amiright?!
Anyway, I ended up at Starbucks. I had my book and my laptop and was still actively sobbing, but I figured I could go in, take a seat, and let some green tea (and the uncomfortable stares of others) help me pull it together.
But then there was nowhere to park.
Isn’t it funny how something like that can just really throw you over the edge? Because suddenly it isn’t even about the stupid parking spot. Or at least it isn’t entirely about the parking spot. And that’s how you end up bulldozing over every car in the parking lot to “teach them a lesson” or something, (“How dare you get here before me!”), and then the cops come and you’re all, “There was nowhere to park!” And they look back at you like, “Well, you handled that well. Way to go, problem-solver.” But really, that was just the final straw. The whole unfortunate series of events actually began much earlier.
Don’t worry, I didn’t actually bulldoze any cars. That’s not really my style. I’m much more the “park my car in the middle of the aisle so no one can get around me, curl into a ball on the backseat, and cry” kind of girl. Although, really, either way probably ends in cops, so tomato tomahto.
But anyway, back to my story. So, I was sobbing, my brain was on fire with unhelpful thoughts and fears, my insides were all knotted up because “how am I going to survive this night!?”, and then, in a last ditch effort to keep myself afloat amidst the tidal-wave of my emotions, I reached out to Starbucks for a hug and it (metaphorically) slapped my arms away.
So I called crisis.
Because sometimes what you need in the moment, the people who love you can’t provide for you. The amount of crazy I was about to bring to the table could only be handled by one person: a stranger.
And you know what he said? A lot of not helpful stuff. But then he said, “You know, a lot of people struggle with being alone, especially at nighttime.”
And my next thought: “Bull. Shit. I am NOT going to be one of those people.”
So I thanked him, hung up the phone, drove my butt home (without getting my green tea, for the record), marched inside, kissed Arlow, looked up at the ceiling and said: “Okay, God. It’s just You and me. Let’s do this.”
And I lit candles, and made tea, and got some nail polish out and decided that I’m done. I’m doing being afraid of being alone. I’m done with the panic. I’m done.
Whatever inside of me is broken, whatever it is that is making panic a recurring theme, I’m not running from it anymore. I’m not running from it, and I’m not going to try to take anything else and fit it into that place inside of me that is broken. Because that isn’t the solution. All it does is keep me spinning in circles, looking to the wrong things to fix my hurt, and completely oblivious to why I’m hurting so much in the first place.
So tonight I hunkered down. I told myself I’d breathe deeply and that any thought I had or activity I did that made me feel even the slightest twinge of panic, I’d stop. I would be gentle with myself.
I told myself I’d give this night to God, letting Him speak to me in the quiet moments- through the things that made me feel fear, the things that brought me peace, the things that made me feel hope. And I would, in that way, find out what it is inside of me that is broken, and also, what is holding me together.
You know what I’ve learned tonight? If you let your brain fill up, and then trust yourself to sort through the thoughts to determine what is true and what isn’t, you’ve already lost. You have to catch the thought on the front-end.
Like a bouncer.
“How does this thought make me feel?” you have to ask as the thought shows up at the door in its party clothes, smacking its gum and twirling its hair. And if the answer is: afraid, panicked, hopeless, defeated, depressed, anxious, etc., then it’s not a thought from the Lord. Send it packing.
You know what else I’ve learned? When you approach uncomfortable emotions with a “how do I fix it!?” mentality, you’re essentially setting yourself up for a panic attack.
At least that’s true if you’re me.
Because most of the time, there’s no immediate solution. And if you’re looking for a solution, and no solution exists, you’re going to feel like a person gasping for air underwater. Enter: panic.
And so, it might feel irrational, but the best way to cope with whatever bullcrap emotion it is that’s causing you so much turmoil isn’t to fix it, but to let it be. You just have to ride it out, breathing deep, and letting the bouncer stand with its hands on its hips at the door of your mind.
And then you can endure without inviting panic in to complicate things.
Your mind is guarded,
you’re breathing deeply,
and your heart is safe because it’s in its Creator’s hands.
There’s nothing to fix.
There is only this moment in which to be present.
And when possible, drink some green tea.