My Old Friend, Panic

I remember my very first anxiety attack. It came out of nowhere. I was lying on the couch watching a movie with my now ex-husband. I felt fine, and then I suddenly lost my breath and began to cry hard, with body shaking, choking sobs. I felt panicked and afraid. I cried so hard that I could barely breathe, let alone talk to explain to my panic stricken husband who was staring at me with shock in his eyes what was suddenly wrong. And the truth is, I didn’t know what was wrong. I didn’t know why I was suddenly terrified and sobbing uncontrollably. I didn’t know where it came from. I didn’t even know yet what it was and that there was a name for it. Now, 14 years later, out of the blue, they’re back.

I’m dealing with some incredible stress right now. I’m not talking I got a flat tire on my way to work kind of stress. I’m talking I don’t know how my entire life is going to work right now kind of stress. The other day, as I was trying to get ready to go run some errands, I was having a difficult time getting dressed. I have recently lost a lot of weight and while that’s great in many ways, it makes getting dressed frustrating. As I searched through my closet seeking something casual, yet put together, I began to get upset. I put on the first pair of jeans and a tight tee and then decided I didn’t like how the jeans looked. I put on a second pair of jeans that somehow was baggy in the stomach and still was tight in the waist. As I looked in the mirror, I knew I needed to change the shirt now as I clearly had a “muffin top” going on and the shirt was too tight. In the middle of all of this, I was getting upset at the idea of feeling frumpy and looking unkempt. I worried that if I went to the store in my small town and was seen looking less than put together in combination with my dramatic weight loss and the skin condition I’ve been battling from working almost 60 hours a week in the sun, that people would make assumptions that I was on drugs. I was overthinking and worrying over nothing, but in that moment, it felt like a big deal, and I was upset.

As I sat on the foot of my bed thinking about the clothing problem, feeling uncomfortable in my clothing (a big deal for those with sensory issues) and starting to tear up, I began to feel a familiar feeling of panic rising in my chest. And just like that, seconds after recognizing the feeling, the tears began to pour and choking sobs began. Panic took over and the world felt like it was ending. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t control it. I knew I just had to ride it out. After a few minutes of intense crying and shaking, I could feel that I was over the worst part of it. I was upset and hot. I stood up and stripped off the clothes that I knew contributed to how uncomfortable I felt. Kicking them onto the floor and climbing back on the bed, I laid there and let the rest of it out knowing intellectually that it would feel better soon, but not truly feeling it yet.

When it was over and I had more control again, I thought about how it had been more than 10 years since I’d had an anxiety attack. Calm tears rolled down my hot cheeks now over the feeling of grief over the fact that I was staring my past problem in its ugly face. I thought that I would never have to face a panic attack again. Yet, here I am, stressed to the max, crying every day, wondering how I’m going to get through, and battling demons I never wanted to be familiar with in the first place. My old friend, panic, I have not missed you.

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A New Path

My life lately has been rapidly changing, and I know I’ve mentioned this several times, but that’s because of how incredible all of this change has been. One hurt started it all in motion, and with the snowball effect, there’s suddenly rapid change in all areas. Not only have I realized that I need to be focused solely on my kids, God, and my health–mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically, but I’ve had many realizations and change in my behavior and choices.

I’m not looking to date and realize that I need to be alone right now. I need to clean up my life first so that I’m able to truly bless my future partner in the ways I’m wanting him to bless me. I know that I’m a prize, but I’m not ready to be the wife I know I can and should be yet, and until I know I can, I’m determined to keep focusing on me and reaching out to God in my loneliness instead of casual relationships that only make the void feel bigger. I’m not just not looking to seriously date, but I am intentionally living a celibate life. This is necessary to keep my focus where it should be.

I’m going to church every Sunday and bible study every Thursday because I need to grow out of the baby Christian stage I’ve been in my entire life. I’m wanting to grow in my knowledge of the word and grow in my spiritual gifts. I’m watching what I’m allowing into my heart with television and music because of this too. One day, I was leaving work in a great mood and got into my car to drive home. I turned on music and a sad, angry song came on. I suddenly was filled with sadness and anger at the people that have recently hurt me. It made me want to lash out. I realized though that it was the song that made me feel that way, so I kept my behavior in check and decided not to allow those emotions to bog me down. Soon after, I had thought about how I had my church class that night and was suddenly filled with love and hope. Man, how powerful it is to realize that outside influences had that much control over me and that I could control what I allowed those influences to be! This reaffirmed for me that I need to be mindful of what I allow into me.

In all of this, I’m also learning better life coping habits too. I’m reading my bible more. I’m praying over and over every day. I’m writing more and setting new goals with that. I’ve cut out the connections to others that I would previously reach out to in my need for attention and am reaching out to God and other Christians instead. I’m unwilling to waste time talking with others in a way that is not only meaningless but also those that can take me down the wrong path. I’m focusing on my self-care physically right now just as much as spiritually. I’m being loving with myself, making sure to get my water consumption in, tracking my physical activity and making new goals, and watching what I eat and drink. On top of all of this, I’ve stopped drinking alcohol.

I have gotten into the habit of using alcohol to cope with stress and pain. As life has been harder lately though, I had realized that I was drinking more and I didn’t really like the person I was becoming with it. While I’m trying to take much better care of myself than ever before, I don’t want to add the poison of alcohol to my body. I’m not saying I’m never going to have another drink again, but I need to reset. I need to go back to healthy coping mechanisms and not drink out of habit. My body deserves to be treated better than I’ve treated it before, and naturally, with all of these other changes, it just makes sense to commit to zero alcohol.

I am headed to great places. I’m learning so many life lessons. I want to become strong in my faith and knowledge and want to live a life that allows for me to be a good role model to my children and to others. My ultimate goal is to become an author of books meant to speak hope into others’ lives. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and how I don’t have to stop there. I can figure out a way to reach out and minister and speak to others. The possibilities are endless, and in order to reach those goals, I have to keep up with all that I’m doing now.

I am inspired! I am happy and full of hope. I know that I’m on the right path now, and while I wish I could have pulled it all together before, I take comfort in knowing it’s never too late. I’m so very thankful to be on this new journey because I know it’s going to change my entire life.

My new favorite song. If God can reach me in the middle of a life filled with ugliness, casual sex, booze and bar hopping, and various other ways I was rebelling and running, He can reach you too. ❤

 

The Things I Fear Sharing…

I have to admit that I watch the people’s lives around me and I often feel jealous. I watch people so in love and I’m happy for them, but I want that for myself. I see women that are supported in life by loved ones, and I’m happy for them, but I want that for myself. I have friends that are so secure in themselves and completely happy and content alone, and I want that too. My own life is a mix of chaos and work and often times, pain. Lately, I’ve been working 7 days a week between both jobs, and I’m simply burnt out on top of everything else.

Every day, my alarm goes off at 3:30am, and I know that no amount of snooze button hitting is going to make me feel like getting up while still getting out the door on time. I make coffee and use it and music to pull me out of my sleepy stupor. I get ready, defrost my car, and drive to the plant where hundreds of us file in like cattle herded in for slaughter. My day job is physically demanding and even with coveralls, multiple layers of coats, and hats and gloves, it’s not enough to keep out the cold of the day I spend most of my hours in. If I have nothing going on after work, I come straight home, cold, dirty, and exhausted. I don’t have much energy to accomplish much in the evening. On a good day, I’ll cook, maybe do some laundry, shower, and get everything ready for the next day. But some days, it’s a minor miracle if I can even get myself into the shower. Because my kids are in after school activities at a school in another town, I’m lucky if I can even see them for a few minutes before I have to go to bed. It’s all so very lonely.

On the weekends, I work a second job. Even though the hours are far fewer than a full day at my day job, that job is also physically demanding. I come home from that one in more pain than any person should have to endure just to make a living. Chronic pain, plus working physically hard jobs 7 days a week, plus extreme loneliness is a perfect recipe for heartache.

When I work late at night on the weekends and the people I want to see are unavailable and I come home to a quiet, messy house, my feelings are… I’m not sure I can even easily describe them actually. In my moments alone, where my mind and heart can ramp up with sadness and anxiety… it’s not pretty. It’s downright ugly actually. As human beings, we are meant to have more than this in life. We need genuine connections. We need things to look forward to. We need love (in many ways, not just romantic love).

Sometimes, I crawl into bed and I can’t hold it together anymore. I take off the mask I wear for the world, and I cry. I do the ugly cry with body shaking, soul quaking sobs. I think about how fast my children’s childhoods have gone by. I think about how little time left I have with them in my home, and I’m working and otherwise wasting the remaining time away. I think about how badly I wish my family was closer and how my brother is going to have baby that will likely be no closer to me than my sister’s child is. I think about the things and people I desire. I think about every failure and hurt and pain in my life, and I cry until my pillow is soaked and I no longer have the energy to do anything but give in to sleep.

I post a lot on Facebook about being empowered and strong and taking care of myself, which is all true, but this stuff is the ugly truths that I don’t speak of. Even when I’m having a Facebook meltdown and dropping F-bombs like candy on Halloween, I still keep my most inner pain to myself. Even in this post, I hold it all close. I can weep as I write and think of all of the things that pierce my heart to the very core, but I don’t dare speak of them. This is why I have written less lately. I’ve been afraid. I’ve been afraid that if I write, I’ll tell you……my whole heart.

Hard Times, Harder Fight

This last week has been one of the hardest I have endured in a long time. As I have been fighting hard to make my life better, it seems that for every step forward I take, I am knocked back two. While I’m working hard to keep making forward progress, this last week made me feel like what little light I had going on at the end of the tunnel had been snuffed out.

I have written over and over again about hope, positivity, and choosing to focus on the good in life. I struggled this week though for a variety of reasons. It was like life needed to knock me on my butt, and once I was there, the blows just kept coming.

I got a new full time job. Yay, right?! Wrong. For one, I’m not thrilled to be back to living the two job life. Working 6 to 7 days a week is exhausting. It pretty much takes away any kind of personal life I can have and makes it seem like I just live to work. Two jobs is temporary though, so I can get over that. For the first time in my life though, I’m now in a factory job. The work is hard, the days are long, the rules are extremely strict, and my position is outside in the elements all day. Coming into winter now makes me cringe at the thought of having to spend 40+ hours outside in it each week. I was devastated when I realized my position assignment for this. It was definitely not what I had wanted.

On top of the work stuff, it seems that my entire personal life decided to fall apart at the same time too. While I don’t want to go into much detail because it’s not just my privacy at stake, but many others too, I can say that this week was nothing short of a shitshow. Every single day, life was throwing punches that were pummeling my heart. I cried, I screamed, I yelled, and then I cried some more. I even had a full on meltdown. Let’s just say that life was not kind to me over the last several days. I had several moments where I felt like this is all just too hard, and I wanted to throw in the towel. Exhaustion, adjusting to major new life changes, getting my feelings hurt deeply, dealing with parenting rebellious teenagers, and more all at once was enough to leave me crying like a little baby every single day. It was just an incredibly hard week.

As I’ve been thinking about all of this the last couple of days though, I am reminded of one thing. I can’t change a lot about my life circumstances right now. The one thing I can control though is my attitude. I have a choice in whether or not I crumple to the ground and let my entire world fall apart. I have a choice in whether or not I want to start this new job with a positive outlook. I have a choice in whether or not I want to wallow in miserable self-pity or if I pull myself up by the bootstraps and push forward with a smile on my face.

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It is okay to have those occasional meltdowns, especially when life is throwing the amount of crazy curveballs it has been throwing me lately. It is okay to cry and scream and lose it. Go ahead and meltdown. But then, when you’ve cried it all out, dry your eyes, wash your face, and then get back up! If life is going to throw punches, then throw some punches of your own back! You own your life, you own your reactions and choices, and you own your behavior. Focus on what you can change, and let go of what you cannot. These were the big lessons I was reminded of this week.

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And lastly, if you are struggling to the point that you are considering suicide, please reach out. There are many resources available and you are not alone. Your life is worth living.

Hang in there, my friends. Life is all about seasons and if you are going through an incredibly hard season right now, take comfort in knowing that a good one is coming soon.

Much love,
Moonshine Niki

Erroneously Fallen

It’s funny how we break, we heal, we break again and repeat…
*Repost from an old blog site*

You stole my heart away too quickly,
I tried not to allow it, but I failed.
Your sweet kisses made my stomach flutter,
And all my hopes against falling suddenly sailed.

Then you told me you couldn’t do it,
Couldn’t start something with someone living an hour away.
And ever since, I’ve fought to not bug you,
Fighting to keep my mouth shut every day.

I try hard to keep my feelings to myself,
Though they occasionally slip out no matter what I do.
You ignore those texts and move to the next,
Leaving me frustrated and a little hurt and confused.

I try to remind myself there are others,
That you’re not the only one who could kiss me the amazing way you have.
But it’s just your smiles, sneaking glances, and tender touches,
I seem to still want so bad.

It is what it is, unfortunately.
That’s become my new catch phrase.
But I’d be lying my ass off if I said,
I wasn’t completely captured by your ways.

The feelings will go away, I know.
Things will end up alright.
But for now, it’s not going away quickly,
And it’s you I dream of every night.

Life Lessons In Death Dreams

Years ago, after my daughter passed away, I was diagnosed with PTSD. Sadly, my worst symptom is nightmares. Over the years, it has gotten better, and I don’t suffer from the nightmares nearly as much as I used to, but when they happen, they have a big impact.

I had one last night that was so intense, I thought I was going to throw up from the intensity of the feelings that I woke up with. I had a very detailed dream that I was going to die. In the dream, I knew I had a date coming up that I was going to be killed. I didn’t want to die, but somehow it was going to happen, and I didn’t have a choice. I scrambled trying to get my affairs in order. I dreamt of taking my middle son shopping for all of his favorite clothes. I remember thinking that it didn’t matter how much money I spent because there was nothing I needed money for once I was gone. It brought me joy to see the happiness in his face, and I was trying to memorize every second of our time together hoping I could take it with me in my afterlife. I dreamt of holding my daughter and bawling my eyes out, trying to tell her what was happening and teach her every life lesson I could think of that she would need living without her mama. In the dream, I stayed off of my Facebook until it was time to do my final status to say goodbye to the world, wanting to leave words of wisdom behind. I remember desperately not wanting to leave and not wanting to be without my children, and hoping that in Heaven, the time would pass quickly until they were with me too. I was terrified and full of sadness. In all of this, I was suddenly faced with the fact that I had wasted so much time in my life. My focus hadn’t been where it should be, I hadn’t cherished my children enough, my life was wasted, and it was too late to change anything.

I woke up in tears and breathless this morning, praising Jesus that it was just an awful dream. Even as I write this, there are tears streaming at the memory of how it all felt. I got out of bed and just wanted to hold my kids tightly. As I was driving them to the bus stop this morning, I was thinking about the lessons here. I’m NOT dying right now. While I have wasted time in my life, I can change that now. I can refocus and make the time I have count. I can’t go back and change any of my yesterdays, but I can change today and keep that change up for my tomorrows. Life is not guaranteed, and this nightmare was a lesson in being present here in the present.

A friend of mine posted a status on Facebook this morning talking about similar points as this post, and she said, “You’re sitting there banking at the hope of your tomorrow; an uncertain future. Live your life, now, while there’s time. Stop putting your happiness into a savings account. Spend it, daily, while you still can. Love, now, enthusiastically. It’s the investment with the largest return.”

I can make my time count now. I can watch less television, spend less time on social media, spend more quality time with my kids, spend less time waiting for the weekend and more time finding happiness in each day, and spend less time wallowing in misery and more time working towards goals. We’ve all heard that saying that life is short, and this is true. The older I get, the more quickly the time passes, and I want to make the most of it.

So, okay, Universe, duly noted. Thank you for this necessary reminder. In this death dream, I’m reminded that I need to live life.
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I Deserve Respect

A few months back, I wrote a blog called Do I Deserve Love? In this blog, I talked about deserving self-love and love from others. Since writing this, I’ve done much thinking about how I deserve more than just love; I deserve respect.

I think we all know that relationships start off great or there wouldn’t be a relationship in the first place. What blows my mind though is how much I didn’t have enough respect for myself that, as quickly as my last relationship went downhill, I didn’t walk away. I knew that I deserved respect from him, but I didn’t demand it. Instead, I cried. Pretty much every day. He walked all over my emotions, and I allowed it. He didn’t respect me, and worse than that, ~I~ didn’t respect me. I would often look in the mirror with tears flowing, watch the brokenness on my face, and know that some day I was going to write this blog.

This whole respecting myself and demanding respect from others is apparently a current theme in my life. I’m often stubborn and it takes a lesson a few times for me to get it. So right now, I’m under a wave of this current one. From the ex that I let hurt my heart repeatedly, to the “man” that couldn’t respect me enough to keep his hands to himself after I’d repeatedly said no, to so many more I don’t wish to list here, I have allowed disrespect. Looking back on all of this hurts my heart deeply. No matter how broken I’ve felt from the pains of my past, I’ve not deserved the treatment I’ve received. I haven’t deserved hurtful words, I haven’t deserved crying myself to sleep wondering and questioning my worth, I haven’t deserved to be strung along and let down. What I do deserve is respect–from others and from myself.

While I didn’t see it initially, respect and love go hand-in-hand. It is impossible to truly love without the respect. I get this now, and it’s the first step to gaining any kind of a meaningful relationship in life. So now I’m at the beginning of a new chapter once again, and I know that it starts with respecting myself and no longer allowing giving my attention to anyone else not first giving me respect.

I don’t know when love will enter my life again. It could be next week or it could be years down the road, so for now, I’ll be loving myself knowing that the right man isn’t going to hurt me and make me question my self-worth. Never again will I lose myself in disrespect. Instead, I’m losing the losers. Adios, baby!

I choose respect. I choose love. I choose me.

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*Image has unknown source*