“What did you do to me?”
It’s the question I’ve found myself asking for months. I didn’t have the words to ask it out loud. I didn’t have the words.
That doesn’t happen to me. I am a writer. I always have words. They may not be the right ones, but I’ve got some offering of nouns and verbs always at hand. But not lately. Not over the past six months.
What did you do to me?
I wanted to ask it to anyone. The barista who made my coffee. Did he add an extra pump of hazelnut to my latte? Is that what threw everything off? My friends. Did we have some sort of rift I wasn’t aware of? Was my soul picking up on tension which bled to all the parts of me? The clerk at my grocery store certainly didn’t have the answer, but I would have loved to ask anyway.
I was desperate.
I asked God. He met me with grace but not any answers. Which was probably gracious of Him at the time.
Eight months ago life was good. Not perfect, but good. I was launching a business and in talks with an agent about a book. Dreams and goals spewed out any time I opened my mouth and my fingers couldn’t type fast enough to catch up with all that was going through my brain. I had a plan and clarity. I was going somewhere. I was getting ready to say something.
September rolled in and with it came the panic attacks. Out of the blue and unwelcome. Two weeks later, a doctor told me that he suspected a heart defect. For five months I talked to cardiologists in four different cities trying to piece together the diagnosis of this apparently broken heart. January came with a clean bill of health, but that brought no relief.
My laptop would open about once a month and I’d sit for hours. Trying to slice together thoughts and words. But really? There wasn’t anything to say. There were no words. No thoughts. Only sudden sensations of panic and dread.
The undeniable sense that something was wrong.
I’d watched friends walk through depression, but this wasn’t depression. I’m sure in the coming months I will begin to unpack further all the things that rolled through my mind. For now though, just know it was hard.
What did you do to me?
God, what is happening? Where did I go and who came in to take my place? Who is this frantic person that can’t stop with all the wrong thoughts?
I started meeting with a therapist and my physician. Turns out my life has had significant layers of stress these past four years. My family, friends and God were solid. Everything else was huge question marks. I have been unable to plan beyond three months in advance because every variable in my life was constantly up in the air.
The past four years we have lived in three states. Our adoption has shifted for five years and we have been waiting for that “life changing” phone call. It still hasn’t come. I’m still not able to plan much more than three months ahead.
Add some health scares into my inability to live beyond short-term plans, and my body made its home in the flight-or-fight mindset. Living there for so long created a form of addiction to that level of anxiety. And that is what happened to me.
Anxiety. It had become like a drug of sorts that my body craved. It took over. I had literally lost my ability to live outside of flight-or-fight mode.
Yesterday I had a phrase rolling through my head : This isn’t your story. It is just a chapter.
And today – at 4:45 am – I woke up with words stringing themselves together and arranging themselves into ideas. For the first time in over six months, I felt compelled to write. I finally had something to say.
You come here, to my corner of the web, because you are a dreamer. An idealist. The kind of person who knows in your gut that you were made to be a part of something great.
So, dreamer. Know this. Your story will have really hard chapters. You will feel jumbled. That breakup may send you spinning. Being passed over for the job will make you question if you really have it in you. And sometimes things will creep up inside of you that begin to choke out the very things you love most about yourself.
You will look around asking God, yourself and everyone, “What did you do to me?”
But it is just a chapter. It’s not your story. And we are gonna get through it all you and I. ‘Cause we will hold on to the faith that made us want to step out of the boat in the first place. And we will extend to ourselves a rich grace in our most frustrating moments.
Don’t lose heart when you catch a glimpse of yourself on the ugly days. And when those days turn into months? Don’t walk away. Stay. Fight the urge to run away from all the things you carry in you. Stay. Wait for the storm to pass. You are in good company here. We are all blends of dreams and reality.
This is me looking you in the eyes and saying, “Me too”. I am a jumble of imagination, ideas, hope, fear and failure. And we will get there. Grace has got us.
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