Tag Archive | Fear

The Sad Crept In

I managed to hold it off until the day before Christmas Eve, but the sad sat down hard on my chest this morning. Driving  in to the office about 7:45, alone in my car, Paul Anka was on the radio singing “Rudolph,” all the Christmas lights were shining through the gloomy fog in Centennial Park, and the SkyView ferris wheel was lit up and spinning.

And suddenly it felt like everything joyful and festive and hopeful and good in me was sucked out and only an incredible emptiness was left. I was suddenly acutely aware of my aloneness.

What is it about Christmas that does this? I’m no more alone than I am any other time of year. And I’m not “alone.” The office is full of people today. I’ll be with my family tomorrow. (And for me, gratefully, unlike some, I love being with my family.) But when I could’ve left the office this morning after my 9:00 meeting was over, I didn’t want to. The idea seems cold and empty and dark and – alone.

I tried to alleviate the “alone” this year. I invited someone to come to Christmas Eve at my mom’s with me (and to various other Christmas events as well) – but… well… yeah… you know. And maybe that makes me feel more alone too, when you try to not be alone and those attempts are rejected.

I know there’s got to be more to this feeling that descends on me this time every year. And I’m so glad that it’s only happened a few days before Christmas this time. (For the last couple of years, it hit at Thanksgiving and didn’t let up until Christmas was over.) But even a couple of days of feeling like this sucks!

I read a great article yesterday that feels very true to what I’m feeling. (And I can’t remember where it was so I can link to it, dammit!) But basically it said that feeling anxious about being alone is evolutionary. As cavemen (and women), if you were alone, you weren’t safe.

That’s very much what my aloneness feels like; the emotion feels like vulnerability and insecurity and danger.

I always feel guilty when I feel like this around the holidays. I have so much and I am so blessed. I’m not a big evangelist or testifier, but I truly believe if God hadn’t interceded in my life, I could very well be homeless, whoring, or dead right now from my alcoholism. I have found an amazing church that fits my incredibly liberal beliefs socially and theologically – five blocks from my house. More importantly, that church has become a home and a family for me. I have an amazing family of birth and amazing friends. I have stumbled accidentally into a comfortable career that allows me to provide for myself. I could go on and on.

There are people who ARE homeless. Children who are hungry. I have a friend who’s sitting death watch over his mother right now. There are people who’ve been disowned by their families. There are people wrestling mightily with addictions. There are people in prison. There are people in sexual slavery. There are people in abusive relationships. I could go on and on.

I don’t feel like I deserve to feel sad, but still I do.

I guess one of the hardest things is that (at least most years) I don’t want to just wish away the holiday. When I’m sad or upset about some event at other times of the year, I just tell myself that it’ll be over soon. But I really like Christmas, particularly Christmas Eve at my mom’s where my immediate family eats ham sandwiches in front of the TV, then opens stockings, then move to the living room where we listen to Christmas music on the stereo while we exchange gifts one by one. So I guess I feel very conflicted about loving it and wanting it to be over (or maybe just wanting to not feel sad) at the same time.

I think if I could ferret out exactly why I feel like this, I could make it better. Meanwhile, I have a man pinging me on eHarmony. He sounds interesting. We have a lot in common. He has pretty eyes. But when I get ready to respond to his questions, I’m terrified and can’t bring myself to do it. So maybe I DO want to be alone.

Can you simultaneously want to be alone and want to not alone at the same time. I can’t decide which one is scarier.

I’m living in a limbo of fear and anxiety. Ho ho ho.

I Wish…

  • I didn’t think I can fix everybody.
  • I didn’t think I can help everybody.
  • I could accept things instead of trying to control them.
  • I didn’t fear that no one will ever find me worthy of romantic love again.
  • I wasn’t terrified to grow old alone.
  • I hadn’t been inculcated with the promise of finding a magical romance at the holidays.
  • I didn’t feel like I’ve failed at something competitive when I can’t make someone fall in love with me.
  • I would stop trying to get involved with men who aren’t available.
  • I wouldn’t feel so disappointed and angry when people let me down.
  • people could be depended on to do what they say they’ll do.
  • I could let people go when I’m doing lots of giving and not getting anything back.
  • I didn’t feel like I have to chase men if I want to find love.
  • someone would chase me.
  • I didn’t give too much and too desperately.
  • I didn’t feel so needy.
  • I didn’t keep thinking that a man can finally make me feel complete.
  • I wasn’t afraid to stop pursuing someone for fear they might be my last and only chance.
  • I wasn’t afraid of other people and other possibilities.
  • it were easier to figure out exactly why I’m sad when I’m sad.
  • I knew what would soothe me and comfort me when I’m feeling empty or sad or needy or whatever this is.
  • everything weren’t so complicated.
  • I could be stronger.
  • I could afford to be weaker.
  • I wish I had the courage to give up.

Admitting It

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I was sweating my recurring holiday anxiety the night before Thanksgiving. I SO want this year to be different. I really, really want to enjoy the holidays again.

But I drove to Thanksgiving lunch Thursday with a sense of dread in my stomach.

Anxiety is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. You worry about the possibility of feeling anxious which makes you feel anxious and you think, “Well damn! Here it comes again.” Which makes you feel anxious.

So as I tooled down I-20 West with a knot in my stomach, I finally took a deep breath and said to myself, “OK. You’re smart. What is it that you’re really dreading? Be honest.”

So I thought for a while, and I realized that going to my grandmother’s house makes me feel anxious, first, because the whole atmosphere at her house is a bit cold and tense. She’s not a huggy, “make you an apple pie” grandmother. She’s a “get mad at you for sitting on her bedspread” grandmother. She’ll tell you you’re fat. She’ll tell you she doesn’t like your hair. After all, wearing it that way makes you look manly. *sigh*

Secondly, half the people there don’t WANT to be there and spend the whole time making snarky comments about my grandmother. And that makes me feel bad.

Finally, as Grandmother’s gotten older, she can’t hear much and so my mom spends the whole day yelling at her trying to communicate. It’s not intentionally confrontational, but they start to get irritated with each other and between the yelling and the frustration, the tension rips the scab right off my confrontation anxiety.

I thought about those things after I let myself admit them and said, “You know. Hating those things doesn’t make me a bad granddaughter, daughter, or Southern woman. It makes me human.” And I felt better.

Then I asked myself what made me uncomfortable about going to my mom’s house – the house where I grew up. And that one was easy. Although I’d never really admitted it, I feel such an yawning emptiness there since my dad died. My mom is amazing and I love her and I like spending time with her. But there is a gigantic love and laughter and warmth hole in that house since Daddy’s gone.

I thought about that for a while and realized that it doesn’t mean I don’t love my mother or that I’m a bad person for feeling some negative emotions when I’m at the house. It only means I love my daddy, that I was blessed to have a magnificent father, and I miss him at the holidays. There’s no shame in feeling that. And I felt better.

I realized that it doesn’t make me a bad person or a Scrooge to have things about the holidays or my family that make me uncomfortable or sad. It’s OK to feel negative feelings. Feelings can’t make you a bad person. The world is not perfect; the holidays can’t be perfect; my family isn’t perfect; and I don’t have to be perfect. “It’s OK,” I thought. “It’s all OK.”

Then it felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I took a deep breath. My heart didn’t race and there was no hint of hyperventilation.

I went on to grandmother’s and had a good time. I let it be what it was. And we ate good food and we had good conversation. My cousin and I put up Grandmother’s Christmas tree and we watched a little football. And I felt satisfied and relaxed, not like I needed to escape.

Then I went to my mom’s for a while and hung out. And my dad wasn’t there. And I didn’t like that. And it was OK. We watched TV and fed the cats and put her big, light up, plastic Nativity scene on the front porch. Then we kicked back in our recliners and watched the lighting of Macy’s Great Tree. And it was OK.

Back home last night, I decided to put up my two-foot tall fiber optic Christmas tree and my tiny figurine of Snoopy and Woodstock decorating their Charlie Brown tree. I was hurting so much and feeling so bad last year that I never put them out.

And as I turned off the living room lights and watched my little tree spin and change colors, I was content. It was beautiful. It was a little tacky. It made me smile. And at least for the moment, I didn’t fear Christmas coming.

I’m Tired – So, So Tired…

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And then this happened…

Run Away

One day I just packed my car and left my life behind. It didn’t turn out well.

But today I have a very real urge to do the same thing.

I don’t want to face this day.

I hate conflict. I hate argument. I hate feeling like I’m in trouble even if I don’t know why.

I want to jump in my car and drive as far in the opposite direction from my office as I can possibly go.

I am not brave.

I am scared. I am sad. I am angry.

This is why I drank. I would give anything to not have to “feel” this day.

What Color Are Your Monsters’ Eyes?

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“After one or the other of my parents had kissed me good night and turned off the light by my bed, there was always a moment of bliss under the tent of my sheets while my eyes adjusted to the low light coming through the window….

Once the smell of my parents had faded away along with their footsteps; once I could feel their protection dissipate as they moved away from me; once it became apparent to me that they had checked me off their list for the night and had turned their attention to other things, then all the loose darkness in that room started to collect in the closet and under the bed, pulling itself together with such magnetic malevolence that i could not keep my mind away from it.

Without the benefit of maturity or therapy, I had no way of knowing that the darkness was as much inside me as it was outside me, or that I had any power to affect its hold on me….

Since I am only five years old in this memory, there is no telling what I might have said if they had asked me what color the monsters’ eyes were, or what the witches were planning to do to me. If they had, I might have learned to become more curious about what the darkness inside me was dishing up. I might have learned to look more deeply instead of looking away….”

Learning to Walk in the Dark – Barbara Brown Taylor

Last night my Theology on Tap book group began discussing Learning to Walk in the Dark, and Barbara Brown Taylor’s take on darkness and its place within spirituality. She writes that culture, and religion in particular, has traditionally held light and darkness as a dichotomy of good and bad, rather than as a duality of two integrated and necessary parts. She talks about “full solar churches” that consider any period of doubt or personal darkness as being preciptated by a lack of faith, and those people who would encourage you to simply have a more positive attitude and more trust in God in order to step into the light.

She says:

There are days when I would give anything to share their vision of the world and their ability to navigate it safely, but my spiritual gifts do not seem to include the gift of solar spirituality. Instead, I have been given the gift of lunar spirituality, in which the divine light available to me waxes and wanes with the season.”

Taylor goes on in the first chapter to discuss amazing things that can only happen in the dark: we can see the moon and the stars, we can hear crickets and nightbirds, chickens chill out for the evening. “Go into the chicken house at night…and it is like they have had two martinis.”

So besides the overly used notion about all we can learn from times of darkness, Taylor shows that darkness itself is not inherently bad. That’s where our group’s discussion will take up next week.

But I share all that just to give some context. What I’m really interested in thinking about is the concept of looking more deeply at the “color of my monsters’ eyes” instead of looking away. And what do I have to gain by staring into those eyes?

I initially thought I’d identify the monster I live in fear of as “disappointment.” Then I thought more and wonder if disappointment is actually born of failure. Are they two separate things, or interrelated? I’m not sure. Maybe failure is only related to the ways you’ve disappointed yourself, while there are other disappointments that are more accurately pinned to things others have done to hurt you. Either way, maybe I need to do as Taylor suggests and look more deeply into my darkness at the failure and disappointment I fear so much there.

I often feel ungrateful when I ponder all the times I’ve felt like a failure or been disappointed. I know there are times when I’ve had success. I know I have talents. And I know I have been extraordinarily lucky to have so many things go right in my life.

But there is no way to discount how much pain I’ve had in my life from the failures and disappointments I’ve experienced and how much fear I have of experiencing those feelings over and over again for the rest of my life. And it seems with each disappointment, the pain has gotten worse and worse.

I felt wonderfully blessed as a child, and although I had both sexual molestation and bullying in those years that probably profoundly damaged me and my ability to love myself and relate appropriately to others, I don’t view those occurrences as my monsters. Maybe those are the hells from where my monsters emerged. I need to think more on that.

I never really felt like I’d failed at anything until I choked at the region track meet my senior year of high school and didn’t qualify for the state meet despite being rated one of the best shot putters in the state. Yeah. It was just a sport, but it was the first time I was absolutely devastated by a personal failure. I still feel bad about it to this day.

But things still went along fairly well during college. The wheels didn’t really start coming off until I went to my first year of seminary. I got there and I wasn’t smart anymore. I felt like one of the stupid people. I had no idea how to be a little fish in a big pond. I was ashamed. I started chasing an older man. I started drinking with him to prove I was cool. I finally lost my virginity to this man and then was incredibly confused that he wasn’t my boyfriend afterwards. I was crushed. RIDICULOUSLY hurt and disappointed. But the feelings were very real. I was deeply depressed for about a year. I started drinking lots to stop the hurt. My best friends asked me to move out of our apartment. I quit seminary. Fail and fail.

Things finally got better after a few years. I got married and thought the life I’d been destined to live had finally come together. I thought my husband and I would certainly live happily ever after – forever. Then I failed to get pregnant. Then I had an affair and got divorced. Then I got dumped by the man I left my husband for. Fail, fail, fail. Shame, shame, shame. Disappointment, disappointment, disappointment.

So much hurt. So much vodka. A tenuous five-year relationship that ultimately failed and cost me a lot of money. Started a new job that I thought would be exciting and open me up to valuable work experience. Disappointment. Sobriety. Started my twelve-steps. Stopped in the middle of step four.

Fairy tale date with a man I tracked down after a chance meeting at a bar. An awesome night! And another date with him the very next night. And then I didn’t hear from him again for months.

Then the best first date ever! A motorcycle ride hugging an incredible man close to my chest on a cold night. He offers me his arm as we stroll through a lonely city park and he picks me a flower. We go out five times in the next ten days. I’m feeling so excited and hopeful! And then he falls off the radar. I’m confused and sad and disappointed.

I fall for someone else who can’t make a commitment to me. My own fault. But still I’m disappointed.

And there’s the one who causes me to get my hopes up over and over to no avail. The one I feel like I’m supposed to be with. Again, my own fault for digging in my heels and being stubborn. But the pain and disappointment and sadness again and again are very real.

It seems like the last 19 years have been nothing but a string of failure and disappointment. I’ve turned into a person who isn’t afraid to quit. I’ve turned into a person who makes terrible decisions. I’ve turned into a person who can’t seem to have a viable romantic relationship. And prayer hasn’t seemed to help. My spirituality is a lunar one that has often waned to the thinnest of crescents as God seems to ignore my prayers again and again. I wonder if he is punishing me for all the ways I’ve failed Him.

If I could just stop hoping for things and wishing for things and praying for things, I could probably stop being disappointed. But for some reason I seem to be ridiculously, perhaps even ignorantly and foolishly, resilient and hopeful. Even though I’m starting to believe that the effort and the hurt that come with the quest for love aren’t worth it; a hope and need my cynicism just can’t seem to quench keeps burning deep in my heart because I want so much for the right person to love me and care for me.

I thought as I wrote this I’d come to some conclusions about why I fear failure and disappointment so. Why do they hide waiting to jump out of the shadows under my bed? I’m sure the failure is about pride. I worry too much about what others think about me. But I’m also too hard on myself. Why do I still care about how I did in a high school track meet 30 years ago? Nobody else cares. Why do I feel like such a failure for not finishing seminary? Because it makes me a quitter? Because I felt so stupid when I was there and I don’t want people to think I’m stupid? Nobody else cares.

The rest of my disappointments, except for this job, are all related to relationships. Certainly I have made some bad, bad decisions and used lots of bad judgement. But maybe the part that frustrates me so much is that I can’t control the way other people feel about me. It’s ironic how the personal failure and the disappointment intersect there at the place where I want to control how other people feel about me.

It looks like the hell my monsters spring from – no surprise – is that addict’s best friend and character flaw, control issues. Must be time to get back to a meeting. That’s another thing I seem to have quit.

So what do I have to gain by staring into those monstrous eyes I fear so much – at those monsters that have torn and raged for so long at my mind and my stomach and my heart and my soul? Maybe at this point, I just gain self-knowledge. Maybe the ability to identify past poor decision-making and behavioral patterns will help me build a suit of armor around my heart. But frankly, right now I’m not sure that looking this one in the eyes is going to help. I’ve realized that just keeping my eyes shut and pretending nothing’s hiding there feels much better than being brave.

Honestly

The Facebook hiatus continues. The month-long break from Boo lasted a week.

Deactivating my Facebook account is still proving to be an incredibly positive move. My mind seems much less restless. I don’t feel like I constantly have to check in to see what I’m missing in other people’s lives. I don’t feel like I have to make every feeling I have public. And the blue message notification light on my phone isn’t constantly blinking at me anymore.

I’ve discovered that calming my mind has helped me start thinking more clearly about myself. I’ve started making some lists like the one in my last post about anxiety. My hope is that getting these things down on paper in one place will help me see the patterns in my thoughts and behaviors, and find the places I need to make changes in my life.

I DVR Andy Stanley’s program “Your Move” every Saturday night. He has great messages that always make me think about myself and my behavior and attitudes. I don’t always agree with him 100%, but it’s good, Biblically based, not too conservative, food for thought. I’ve gotten behind by several episodes and finally watched the first one in a new series about decision making yesterday. Stanley talks about how good we are at deceiving ourselves and selling ourselves on bad ideas. He said that the most important thing to do in your decision-making process is to be brutally honest with yourself about your reasoning and intentions. “Are you being honest with yourself – really?”

That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do these past several days. Andy just reinforced it a couple of days later. I’ve had some great insights already just by having greater mental focus and calmness and getting my thoughts organized in one place. I’ve realized how many things there are that make me happy. I’ve seen how much my control-issues contribute to my anxiety and unhappiness. I’ve seen there are things I enjoy that I can’t free myself to or allow myself to enjoy because of fear.

Already, I feel more free and, ironically, in control of myself after this honest self-examination. I even feel less bunged up about all the stuff with Boo. I want to keep working on this self-awareness effort and see where it takes me – how it changes how I think about myself and what it teaches me about what I need to be doing with my life.

As far as my “month-long” discovery period without Boo, it didn’t take me long to realize how much I enjoy his friendship. I’ve been focused so much on the ways I can make him care for me romantically, that I didn’t realize how much I like talking to him, hanging out with him and just knowing he’s “there” in general. I missed him so much as a friend that I broke down and texted him on Friday. And he didn’t even give me a hard time about it.

I’ve had some epiphanies about the Boo thing too. I’m not going to go into it here. In the spirit of trying to learn that I don’t have to spew everything I know all over the internet, I’m just going to keep that to myself. But trust that no matter what happens, he’s always my Boo, he’s always my friend, I believe in him, and I’ve always got his back. I think that’s a great place to start.

This Poison Arrow

Is there anything more exciting and yet more excrutiating than those first hesitant and hopeful steps into a relationship? It’s so breathtaking! The getting to know each other. The tentative first hours together. The sometimes awkward small-talk because you don’t really know each other yet. The titillating flirting. The late night texting. The will he or won’t he. The heart racing anticipation, but at the same time, the constant dread of humiliation.

It’s a treacherous obstacle course of anxiety, insecurity and impatience. How’s my hair? How’s my ass? Why must I have these stretch marks on my hips? Why can I not carry on a conversation that’s not awkward and nervous? Am I cute enough? Am I womanly enough? Am I too much of a tomboy to be desirable? When’s he going to make his move? Should I make a move? What if nobody makes a move?!? Should I start going to therapy more than once a week? Should I play hard to get? Should I be more aggressive? Should I be inscrutable? Should I be an open book? Should I share my feelings? Should I play it cool? Should I be one of the boys? Should I grow my hair out? Should I cuss less? Should I cuss more? Should I act sweet and innocent? Should I be dirty and suggestive?

Have I texted too much? Should I have kept that freak out to myself? Oh my God! He thinks I’m insane! He took me to breakfast before he went to the airport! He must like me! I haven’t heard from him in six hours! He must hate me! Oh my God! I think I’m insane!

What does he want? What do I want? Should I increase my Paxil dosage to 40mg a day? How do you keep God in a grown-up relationship without being boring and prudish? Do you tell him he’s cute? Is that emasculating to a grown man? Do you tell him he’s super hot? Is that slutty of a grown woman? What if he doesn’t like me? What if he does?!?

Lord, it’s so hard. I have no idea what I’m doing. I feel like I’m twelve years old. Wasn’t that really easier? “Do you like me? Check ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”

I don’t want to get hurt again. My heart has literally ached from disappointment. But I can’t build anything with somebody unless I risk the pain. It’s so scary. It triggers every bit of insecurity and anxiety and fear and neediness I have inside me. Can I try again? Every disappointment cuts deeper than the last. Am I good enough? Is he worth this? Can I ever make a relationship work? Is there hope?

It’s all I have.

(And would it be wrong for me to ask for prayers about it?)

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The Unbearable Heartbreak of Flightless Birds

I recorded “March of the Penguins” the other night. I lay down to watch it tonight, but because I was so afraid of all the bad things that were bound to happen in a nature documentary, I couldn’t relax. You see, I was afraid of feeling sad. And sure enough, it was 50 minutes of heartbreak punctuated by 10 minutes of “awwwwwwwww!” (Well, actually it was punctuated by 60 minutes of commercials. Thank God for DVRs!)

But I was determined to watch it. I felt like this was a safe, non-threatening way to practice feeling again. You see, my feeler’s broken. Bad feelings make my heart physically ache. And good feelings make my heart physically ache. And it frightens me.

Something happens in life when you get clinically depressed. It becomes easier to feel nothing than to feel any more sadness or hurt. But you can’t just turn off the bad feelings. The exchange is that you turn off all your feelings. No more hope or excitement or joy or anticipation either. All your emotions leave and all that’s left is brain-static and apathy and lethargy.

I think I can properly define my anxiety as the fear of feeling. I don’t know how it happened. Maybe I drank so much I broke the thing in my brain that regulates emotion. (I’ve certainly huddled over the last Sweetwater 420 at a party like a mother penguin protecting her chick.) Or maybe when you reach childbearing years as a woman, some overgrown sense of protective empathy pours in. (That’s quite enough of ALL of that, thank you. Nothing to see here. Move along. Stupid biology!) Or maybe I just got tired of feeling disappointed by so much in my life. But however it happened, it surely didn’t help anything in the long run.

When you start getting better and begin feeling again, or at least trying, sometimes you can’t match up what you’re feeling with an emotion anymore. Or maybe you feel way too much of what you’re feeling. Or maybe your feelings just threaten your sense of inner-peace. It’s incredibly and surprisingly tough to sort out!

So I watched about 45 minutes of “March of the Penguins” through my fingers. Why does that help? That baby penguin is still being carried off by a predatory bird even through that tiny slit between my index finger and thumb.

But, after all that, I tell you, those put-upon penguins were pretty inspirational. It was the story of life, after all. There was struggle and love and birth and loss and sacrifice and triumph. And they kept on marching. Life went on.

I’m glad I made myself watch, even through my fingers. And even when it made my heart hurt, it didn’t kill me. I think it helped point my feeler in the right direction.

I know that I can lay in the safety of the darkness seeing nothing and feeling nothing. Or I can risk the threat of the walrus and set out to see the Northern Lights.

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How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

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OK. So there wasn’t exactly a Christmas vacation, except for the National Lampoon movie I watched five times. But the entire month of December is kind of a vacation, whether you take time off or not.

In a previous post I talked about how I always struggle with anxiety and depression at the holidays. So I made a concerted effort this year to combat those feelings. I tried to pay extra attention to how I was feeling, what I felt like doing, and what I DIDN’T feel like doing.

My mom went to a counseling conference once where someone talked about the concept of “musterbation.” (And every time she says it, I want to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend I’m some place far away. Ain’t nobody got time to hear their mother say anything that sounds remotely like that!) But as much as it tweaks at my delicate, feminine, southern constitution, it’s actually a really useful concept. We’re so caught up in all the things that we think we “must” do that we don’t take the time to think about what’s actually necessary and what’s just people pleasing and false expectations and most importantly – what we REALLY WANT to do.

Did I want to send Christmas cards? Yes! Did I want to put up Christmas decorations? No! And Christmas came anyway.

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I sang in my church’s “Advent Lessons and Carols” program. I bought presents for a needy kid. I bought some cookies at a dessert auction to benefit students at Hope-Hill Elementary School. I went Christmas shopping with my mom. I visited my elderly aunt. I went to the choir’s Christmas Party and took silly pictures wearing a silly sweater.

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When the blues and anxiety started setting in closer to December 25th, I put on my biggest hooded sweatshirt, my Dr. Martens and my Braves cap and went to the “Longest Night Service” at church. I was anointed and wound up with the wonderful essence of anointing oil permeating my cap. I turned down an invitation to a party when I was starting to feel overwhelmed. And when the night of December 23rd came and I didn’t think I was going to make it through, I reached out to my friends for prayers and support – and it came in overwhelming fashion.

We do our family Christmas on Christmas Eve, so when I got to the 24th, I thought I was probably in the clear. And then my car broke down in my mom’s driveway. Why does Christmas hate me so?

My mom, my brother and I debated how I was going to get home. I could drive the beat up old Chevy pickup truck they keep for hauling stuff. It’s usually kind of dependable. My brother offered to let me take his Mustang. But I was so afraid I would wreck his beautiful red convertible. My nephew finally looked at me in the midst of these conversations and insightfully said, “I can tell you don’t want to drive that stuff. We’ll take you home tonight.” My heart grew three sizes that day.

Maybe Christmas didn’t hate me after all. Maybe it just wanted to show me how much I have to be grateful for. I handed my car keys to my brother who took care of getting my car to the mechanic; and my nephew and his girlfriend brought me home to Atlanta and then turned around and drove all the way back to Douglasville. And I never cried. It only counts as crying if a tear actually runs down your cheek. I had incredibly huge lower eyelid capacity that night, I tell you!

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I spent Christmas day at home alone. Which wasn’t a bad thing. I made a huge breakfast and watched about eight hours of Ken Burns’ “Baseball.” I went back to work Thursday, Friday and Monday and then was off New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I came soooooooo close to road tripping to Cherokee, NC for New Year’s but never could quite get a plan to come together. (But just CONSIDERING doing something like that is a huge step in my fight for fearlessness in 2014!)

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I spent New Year’s Eve watching “The Twilight Zone” marathon, and made a ribeye steak and baked potato for dinner. At some point I decided to do a photo diary of my evening with all my companions. (I’ve always said that if you can make yourself laugh, you’ll never feel lonely.) Then New Year’s Day I made a perfect Spinach and Mushroom Quiche, watched more “Twilight Zone” and slept through the Georgia game. Thank God.

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So I made it through the holidays in pretty good shape except for that evening of the 23rd where I fell deep into the pit of emptiness. But I learned that I can do Christmas however I like – there are no “musts.” I learned that I need lots of sleep to combat my holiday anxiety. I learned that it’s not wrong or weak to ask for help. I was reminded how many people I have who don’t mind helping me if I just ask.And finally, I learned that Dale Murphy LOVES Red Velvet Pop Tarts. I am wonderfully blessed.

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Happy New Year, friends!

Fearless in 2014!

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