Friday, December 20, 2013

the holiday season is hard for a lot of folks ... for a lot better reasons than mine

i find the holiday season difficult. i didn't always but i do now. it's hard to see people struggle like i have and it's just as hard that i don't see much joy in the season itself either. i loved Christmas growing up, truly loved it. we never did have much and i don't actually remember ever being "rocked" by whatever amazing gift i received or gave. it was still a fun time of year though. maybe it was the idea that i didnt have to be in school for a period of time and i could go play street hockey. maybe it was that i could go skate and play tag in the frozen ditch where saplings had grown amongst frozen water that had collected there over a long and wet autumn. we'd chase one another amongst frozen trees in some deserted and undeveloped subdivision near our house. i remember it as a completely genuine and hilarious experience.
i did love the holiday season though. somewhere there is still a germination of that feeling.
i find "get-togethers" difficult nowadays though, or rather get-togethers that require me to help host or prepare for the hosting of it. i freeze up and find it hard to know what i should be doing in order to prepare for the party.

it might be the expectation of it all.
it might be the thought that if it all doesnt come off like it should then i'll be standing there with egg on my face.
there was one Halloween where my sister's friend invited my sister and me over to her house for a party. we actually got dressed in costumes where my sister and i tried to coordinate ourselves, we showed up as Raggedy Ann and Andy. we were set up pretty well by my recollection. i remember being dropped off for the party and running up to the door (somewhat self-consciously) with my sister in preparation for a fun celebration. the mother of the house answered the door and looked at us with a puzzled look since she knew nothing of what we were talking about.
i can't tell you what happened after that. i honestly don't remember a single thing about the incident. we may've called for our parents to come pick us up again and take us home. i may've walked home (although i doubt that i did that all decked out as Raggedy Andy). we may've continued to hang out at the friend's place after something like that. i can't believe that i don't remember a single thing that happened after that. the incident was either completely uneventful or i guess i repressed whatever embarrassment i endured after that.

Wendy and i hosted our seed group for a Christmas potluck last week. i didn't find the prep work for the party to be an easy experience for me. Wendy actually gave me no chore to do that was difficult or anything that i had not done as part of any regular cleaning of our home on any given day ... and yet i was anxious, grumpy and near an anxiety attack. once the work was done i sat in our dining room and tried to think of why it is that i find such things hard to do.
it's a stupid story. i was embarrassed in an incident as a child. i do wonder if it has prevented me from putting myself "out there" over the years since. i attend and take part in parties, and for the most part i enjoy them ... if i don't have to stand in the limelight.
i still enjoy the holiday season. i also find it difficult. i suppose i don't put myself on the line much anymore, not like i would've as a preteen. i'm less creative than perhaps i could've/should've been over the years.
is it just about wanting to avoid embarrassment? maybe it is. i can't discount that idea. it has been a sticking point in my life though. maybe its just an example of something stupid that happened to some kid. having said that though it's certainly not a hurdle that cannot be cleared. feeling the fear of a situation and doing it anyway is still a viable approach to dealing with anxiety situations. i've seen that work in my own life.
i'm still not at all sure that i want to be the center of attention or the one responsible for seeing a major task to completion however.
maybe i'm just trying to process my own way through some of my own anxieties. maybe i'm just looking for excuses to cover for my own foibles.

ah, the joys of repression.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

birthday addendum

Wendy suggested i buy some vanilla ice cream on my way home from work so i did that and came home to a kickass supper of chili cheese fries and the most amazing sort of cherry crumble i've had in forever. we hunkered down to watch a movie and to hang out. overall it was a wonderful evening for which i'm very grateful. she had gotten my an amazing Maple Leafs hoodie which she came out modelling herself. i almost insisted that she keep it on because she looked wonderful in it but it would've been much to warm an experience for her to spend too much time wearing it.
i shared with her a little of my struggle that day and she understood me.
i love you dear.

Monday, December 2, 2013

wishes and regrets

today is my 47th birthday.
i'm struggling today actually. struggling with my "issues". i have an anxiety disorder and it could just be that my struggle is over a little "undigested potato" as a MUCH better writer once phrased it. i do wonder if too much sugar and caffeine really does affect my sleep at night or whether my soul just comes out from its shell and points to regret and pain that the rest of me has ignored.
Wendy gave me a huge smile and a hearty wish this morning and that is no small task at 7am when you have no real desire to be awake to the world in the first place. she has class today though (she's the lab instructor) and she said that she wanted to be present for whatever reason and was a bit concerned about getting ready to be there on time.
i woke at 1am with a horrible forboding, lost in my own anxiety.
it is completely impossible to see the goodness of life in those moments. i have felt completely alone and unloved. i cannot find God and my heart is completely unsure that i'll ever be able to know him again. much of my spiritual journey of late is anchored in community, in the church and not in my search for God. when i see God i see him in those around me but i have wanted more.
i am no longer convinced that God is faithfully involved in lives. that doesn't affect my own efforts to involve myself in serving others but it gets to the point that i used to do such things in my search for closer unity with God while now the argument can be made that we do such things because we are simply good. i do good things because i'm a good man. i have my flaws, they're more like significant chasms in which once can get lost for life actually. don't go thinking that i'm a "works" guy though, i know fully that there's nothing in this chest that is really all that good in the first place.
a friend in my church community, a Jeremiah archetype, spoke to me yesterday of sorrow and mourning and it's place in our lives. he and i have both known our own wilderness experiences so when he speaks on this topic i tend to listen more intently. on some level i relate although my struggle is not his. he could certainly accuse God of being unfaithful to him but i have never heard him say those words. he has known loss and he has sat in the dark amidst his own sorrow and tears for far too long. i don't really want to relate to that. i would much rather say, enough pain already when do i get to see some light?
don't get me wrong. there is abundant goodness in my life. i am truly blessed in that i have luxury galore and a secure life. it certainly seems like the height of presumption to ask for the absence of pain on top of all the grace i have seen in my 47 years. when i am stuck in my own anxiety however, i can see none of that.
i tried to express some of that at worship yesterday. i spoke of Joshua crossing the Jordan and how i wished to take the stones around me to mark my spot as i came to another marking point in my lifetime. i chose as my song to sing in celebration of another birthday "Here by the Water" because the words of it resonated with me. i hoped to suggest that i was coming out of my own wilderness experience just as Joshua did.

Here by the water, I'll build an altar to praise you, out of the stones that I find here. I'll set them down here, rough as they are, knowing you can make them holy.

and yet, my perspective is more about the fact that i have survived my wilderness this far and i hope that i have indeed come out on the other end of it. i don't know that i have come out on the other end though, and that may be where my anxiety lies. i've got to think that my experience is vastly different than Joshua's since the focus of his prayer is in thankfulness for the faithfulness of God ... and my heart yearns to be consoled and to know that experience. i know that God is faithful, i just don't KNOW it right now.
i'm certainly not promised an easy ride, and i also have not experienced one.
so i still feel a bit lost in the dark. my experience with my community as i tried to express some of these thoughts has been one of overflowing love and support. those who have known me best expressed their love for me as they recognize my struggle. they have missed me as i wallowed in my own resentment and bitterness and they have told me so whenever they got the chance.
i have missed my community, and i also have not missed them. the introverted me prefers to be left alone to sort and to try and address my own things in my own manner but the community me wishes to contact, to be together, to play and laugh and wrap my arms around those closest to me and tell them of my deep affection for all that they are to me. i suppose i'm just looking for someone to love me. i'm always looking for that. it's a neediness that embarrasses me but is also very much necessary for my own ongoing growth.
i do know that you love me though. i do know that. i suppose on some level i'm talking to God there. i'll struggle on.
peace to you my friends. peace to me too.