Email to an old therapist

I’m not sure if I’m going to send this email. I don’t want to bug you. But I started to write it last night as I was going to bed, and it stuck with me until morning. So here it is. 
We move across the country in five days. I’m still excited, and have peace of mind about the decision to move. That’s what we always pray – for God’s sense of peace in our decisions. And we have that. 
I didn’t think I’d feel anything about leaving VA. But I’ve had an impact here – in bringing and starting and leading the Fresh Hope group (support group for those with mental health challenges and those who love someone like that – freshhope.us), and in my volunteering at the Daily Living Center (adult daycare). Both groups gave me farewells this week – they said very affirming and humbling things. I’m really going to miss the friendships and the leadership opportunities that they afforded, as well as the relationship aspects. I’ve said goodbyes to friends at church – did I even know I had friends at church?!
We’re going to a farewell dinner tonight – with people my husband used to work with, and my two other friends here. They’re not long relationships like I had in WI, but friends nonetheless. Which is more than I’ll have when I get to CO. I know some people there, so it won’t be a completely blank slate. But the pressure is on me and me alone to make friends – there’s no job or kids to provide an introduction into a new situation. 
You know me and change – I always find it hard. And I’ve had to move so many times in my adult life. Each move has begun with a mild depression, except the one that started my entire journey with depression – that one was deep and dark and long. That move, which should have been simple since I was moving back to a place I had lived before, was the impetus for years of the battle with depression. Of course, if it hadn’t been for that, I never would have met you. And you counseled me through all those years to a healthier me, for which I am forever thankful.
Seems my thoughts always turn toward you, and the safe place of your office, sitting slouched on your couch, when my mood is down. And despite my excitement for the move, my mood was down last night and this morning. 
I’ve really liked my most recent therapist – she understood me quickly, though we didn’t go through depression together. I’ve said goodbye to her, but she’s offered to counsel me if I need her before I find someone out there. Until her, I feel like I’ve never really had anyone besides you, so this is new. Maybe it means I won’t call you in distress, if I have distress. Will I have distress? I’m trying not to assume so. 
Anyway, I wanted to touch base, as I always do when I’m facing change. So maybe I’ll hit send after all. 

Marriage

I wish for other people to have what I have, specifically when it comes to marriage.

I have a husband who helps around the house. He’ll throw in a load of laundry if he needs something washed. And he’ll include my dirties, too!

He loves to cook, so all I have to do is buy the ingredients for the meal. He wants me to come up with the menus and buy the stuff, but he’ll do the cooking. I usually do the cleanup, but he’s done the dishes countless times.

He listens. He often perceives when something is bugging me or bringing me down, and he’ll ask if I’m ok. Then he listens, without trying to fix it or even offering advice. He simply listens, which is often all I need to feel better.

He expresses affection. He used to make a big deal of kissing me in front of the kids as they were growing up (their response? “Ew! Gross!”). He’ll go out of his way to give me a hug. Or he’ll wrap his arms around me if I tell him I need one.

He supports my passions, like facilitating Fresh Hope and volunteering. He wants me to have hobbies. And girl friends. He wants me to be fulfilled and happy.

Things weren’t always this way. After 32 years of marriage, we’ve grown into this. I’ve learned to not assume, and to ask for what I need. He’s learned my moods and body language, and how to respond to them. We’ve both learned to listen more and argue less.

We’re still learning to express ourselves to the other with respect and without angry words. We’re learning to speak in terms of “I feel…” instead of “You make me feel…,” keeping it personal and in first-person. We’re learning to navigate the proper timing for discussions – not after a business trip nor right before bed. We’re learning to laugh together again, like we did when we were dating, before all the stresses of family and life. We’re still learning to talk about the hard things – money, the kids, mental illness.

I don’t write this to make anyone jealous. I write because I see other marriages that are one-sided or lacking love or respect of the other spouse, and it makes me sad. I want them to have more.

I’m left wanting for my friends who don’t have this. I wish everyone could have someone who is a kind, thoughtful, responsive, and supportive spouse, like I do.

My husband loves me as Christ loves the church – sacrificially, generously.

Sure, he has his faults. In all of the above examples, there are times when he doesn’t do. When he assumes I’ll do the laundry, or won’t ask about my mood. Ours is not a perfect marriage; none is. But he tries, and “hits it out of the park” most days.

I feel treasured and valued. I long for that for others.

I hope that we can model what a Christ-centered marriage looks like. I hope we can improve our communication, and our relationship – as a couple – with the Lord. I want even more for our marriage, and am willing to work so it will continue to mature and improve as we grow old together.

And I’ll keep praying for my friends and their marriages, that God will transform them into all they can be.

Scary thoughts

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” ‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’ve been having flashes of fear. Sudden bursts in my mind of catastrophic situations. It’s been going on for a month now.

Several weeks ago, I was in town with my daughter; we were in her car running errands, and I had a flash of being broadsided by a black truck. The glass was shattered and flying, the car was crumpled and spinning. Like slow motion from a movie scene. I was shocked by how vivid the picture was – like a daytime dream.

And like a dream, I came back to reason and shook my head. I then quoted the above verse to myself.

Today, I needed to run to a doctor’s appointment, and my husband was on the phone, working from home. It flashed across my mind, as I walked into the garage, that I hadn’t kissed him goodbye, and what a shame that would be if I died while I was out. Again, I shook my head and quoted part of that verse: “we have not been given a spirit of fear…”

Those are the two examples that stand out the most starkly in my mind, but I know there have been more, because I’ve quoted this verse to myself nearly a dozen times in the past month.

I’ve had nightmares lately, too. The kind where I wake up in a cold clammy sweat, afraid to get out of bed, in case the monsters are real, and afraid to close my eyes again, lest I fall back into the scary dream. I reach over to be sure my hubby is there, and I try to focus on his breathing, inhale and exhale. I wake enough to realize I’m safe, then pray my way back to sleep.

What is this? Why the sudden fear?

It started in a joyous time – celebrating family and friends at a wedding. Am I dreading the future of what might befall my loved ones?

I’m in the process of moving across the country. Am I fearing the isolation of being alone?

My mom was very sick this Spring. Am I afraid of the past repeating itself?

The last time I had major catastrophic thoughts, I was badly depressed. I’ve determined that I’m not headed there again!

Actually, it probably doesn’t matter what it is. Or even why it is. Because God’s truth is still truth:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” ‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I need not fear nor be timid. I have the power of the risen Christ in me (Ephesians 1:19-20), I am surrounded by God’s love (Romans 8:39), and I can be self-disciplined to take every thought captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), even the scary ones.

Moving Again

We’re moving to Colorado Springs, CO, in four weeks. I’m so excited!

When my husband and I were first married, we lived in Utah. We fell in love with the wide sky, the craggy mountains, the desert climate. We’ve always said that we’d like to retire to the West.

My husband’s new job allows him to work remotely, so now seems like a good time to relocate. We’ll be near an airport so he can travel when work requires it. We’ll be near the mountains. We’ll enjoy the out-of-doors lifestyle: biking, hiking, camping.

I admit that I feel a little “unqualified” to live in Colorado. I’m not in shape, by any means. And Colorado is known to be a place of fit and healthy people. I weigh more now than I ever have in my life, and I’m embarrassed by that. I’m hoping that I’ll get moving on the trails and paths, and start to lose weight or at least get fit and healthy. (So why didn’t I do that here? In these mountains of the Shenandoah? I have no idea.)

I’m looking forward to being back in the Rocky Mountains. To explore and discover a new city. To make new friends, find a new church, maybe begin a new Fresh Hope group.

I’m nervous, too. Starting over is hard, and it’s all on us to make friends. There are no work companions to get to know, no child’s parents to connect with. Its up to us to “make it happen.” I realize that several of my stressors will be triggered, and I’ll need to be careful to not succumb to depression’s call if it makes an appearance.

My son lives in CO Springs, and I’m excited to be near him. Of course, he’s in his early 20s, so I don’t expect that he’ll necessarily stay in the area – he’s young and adventurous and may decide to explore the country with his job. But it will be fun while it lasts!

I like the look of the apartment complex where we’re going to start out, but I’m looking forward to finding our forever-home. I’m hoping it will be a place where my husband and I can grow old together. I don’t want to move yet again; I really want this to be the last time!

Sleepless

What. is. going. on?

We went to bed 3 hours ago, and I’m still wide awake. I tried chamomile tea. I tried warm milk. I tried Advil. This all in addition to the sleep med that I take. But it’s no use. I’m still wide awake.

Contrast that to other nights this week. Hubby was traveling, and I found myself bored and tired by 9pm, collapsing into bed and asleep by 9:30 at the latest.  And I’d get a full 10, even 12 hours of sleep! This happened all week long, until tonight.

Now here I am at 1:09am, typing a blog because I’m too awake to even close my eyes. They keep popping back open!

My mind isn’t racing with a long to-do list.  I’m not worried about anything. I’m not anxious for anyone. I’m just awake.

There are two variables to which I might be able to pinpoint a cause. One – I had a glass of wine right before bed. But I’ve done that many times, and have rarely had a problem falling asleep. Two – my husband is home and back in bed with me. Hmm. Perhaps I’ve gotten comfortable having the bed all to myself!

This second scenario would imply that I’m sprawling out in the middle of the mattress, hogging all the pillows and blankets, and taking over the bed. But this is not the case. I sleep on my side of the bed, even when he’s gone. I might occasionally pull the blankets my way, but I’m not sleeping down the center.

So what has caused this nighttime wakefulness? I haven’t had insomnia for several months – is it cyclical, and it’s time for me again? Is this going to be a repeat pattern, every few months? I can’t draw that conclusion from just one night of wide-awakeness.

The cat just wandered in, wondering why I’m awake. I’m sure. She usually has the house to herself at night! She sniffs my computer and then saunters off to explore another corner of the home. Maybe out to the garage, where she can hop through the open window and curl up in the seat of the car and nap. Oh, that sounds nice!

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. Psalm 4:8 NLT