Sunday, June 12, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole

OK, I have to admit to myself that the past few months have been a bit stressful. As I have acknowledged in earlier posts, I tend to worry.... alot. Knowing that I trust in God and that He is my strength, worry should not take such a hold on me. But sometimes, it just does. So this post is about the events and circumstances that have led me to this bottom of the rabbit hole feeling. That being said, it is obvious to me that God is not the problem here, just my human failing to pray, trust, and listen when He speaks. For this, I will ask for forgiveness - again - and because He loves me, I will be forgiven - again. But also, I am hoping that writing about the process will help me not sink this far again. God does work in wonderous ways!

One year ago, I retired from teaching. The right thing to do and the right time to do it. That given, it was a major change in my life that required a restructuring of my life.The bulk of my interactions with people were no longer primarily tied to my job and the bulk of my time was not spent preparing for and doing my job. Since I loved the majority of my students and the people with whom I worked, there was a major hole left in my life.

Our son and daughter-in-law separated and in the fall, he came back home and has been living with us while trying to put his life back together. Because he is also the father of our most wonderful and exceptionally smart (read genius =) grandson, we have reaped the benefit of having him here often as he visits his Daddy. Lots of love and time filled with happy activities. However, the more love, the more concern for the well being of the person. Watching those you love flounder and make questionable choices is awful. Figuring out the fine line to walk as they are doing those things is no picnic either.

My Mom is in assisted living and has been in a steady decline since 1998 when my Dad began having physical and mental issues due to the onset of dementia. From the beginning of this horrible process of dying, I have been there for them. I wanted to be there for them. I love them so much and they more than deserve all of the time and love I could give them as they went through this difficult time. My Dad died in 2001 and my Mom has continued her decline. She no longer recognizes who we are, although I think she knows we are someone special to her. I know she doesn't even recognize herself. Bottom line here: I no longer visit her regularly and feel tremendous guilt because I can't get past the sadness I see and feel there, especially since she and I no longer have any real interaction. Guilt is a bummer.

My wonderful husband retired in November and in most ways, he was dealing with the hole left by it just as I was. For the first time in a long time, we were around each other 24/7 for long periods of time and not surprisingly, we got on each other's nerves. I thought he was doing things that were just off the wall - no rhyme or reason- and the fact that he tuned me out when we were talking just about convinced me that all he cared about was himself. Well, anyone who knows us and our relationship that has been around since we were in seventh grade, knows that Ray loves me more than he loves himself. His "man-thing" of not listening was not new, it was just that I was confronted with it more. And, my lessening of interaction with others had deprived me of lots of the meaningful conversation I was used to. He accused me of not having a sense of humor any more because I was overly touchy about things he would say and do that he thought were just him being him. And he was right...

Add money issues to the retirement mix, and worry can take center stage pretty fast!

Now we have done some awesome trips around FL and a month long one to GA/NC/VA, that pretty much made me confront all of this worry and relationships issues. And guess what I discovered? Well, the problem is me.

We have wonderful friends that we love, trust and have known for 40+ years. Reconnecting with them has been a major bright spot. I am a reader and we often discuss what we have read and share titles. Well, they recommended "Blue Like Jazz", by Donald Miller. What a blessing! This book spoke to my own insecurities and my personal beliefs about what my relationship with God looks like. He just has a way of letting you into his head, and amazingly it is alot like what is going on in your own head.  He is one of the most original writers I have ever read. AND he is funny!

So, having said the problem is me, I realize that too often I thought about me first and foremost. My doubt, worry, insecurity, and jealousy, stem from an "everything is about me" mentality. "Whoa", I thought to myself as I realized that I blame myself for everything and constantly doubt that anyone could really like, much less love me. This is a form of self-centeredness that had never occurred to me. When God said, "Love your neighbor as yourself..", He meant I was supposed to love myself, as well. I am just not very good at it. To be good at something, you must practice it. I haven't, but I have decided, that with His help, I will.

So,hopefully, my "Rabbit Hole", that I have retreated to on so many occasions will be a place that resides in my past. My future will be spent in the sunlight of the love of my family, friends, and God.

(The link to Ray LaMontagne's song is a shout out to both the song and to him.)

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