Pages

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Note to a Friend

Dear Friend,

I deliberated a while on how I should respond. A 'life really sucks, doesn't it?' wouldn't really cheer *me* up, a 'my life is lovely' is fairly accurate though not the whole truth and not exactly helpful, and you might want to whack me over the head if I went for the annoying 'you can do it, rah, rah, rah' cheerleader routine. I decided to go with an (endless) conversational tone. The downside is that you won't be able to get word in edgewise (which kinda defeats the 'conversation'), but the upside is that you can quit reading at anytime without hurting my feelings. Grin.

It isn't silly at all, wondering how people maintain a positive outlook in this world. I can completely relate to the discouraged and beat-down feeling. I think we're just experiencing it from completely different angles. Which makes my life look good to you and yours to me. Wry grin.

My blessings: 1. I have a good marriage. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination , but GOOD. And I know how lucky I am. Russ is my polar opposite, which is exasperating at times, but we also create a nice balance together. 2. I have an *amazing* family. My parents live two miles down the road, my sisters (best friends) just 15 minutes away. Even my extended family is amazing. I am just beginning to realize the magnitude of that blessing. 3. I also don't have any adolescents (yet).

My struggles: 1. I am an emotional person and wish I could be more logical/matter-of-fact/suck-it-up. My mom would tell you that she had no idea what to do with me as a child. The sky was always falling. I was shy (but talkative... she got the short end of the stick on that one) and self-conscious. I wish I had confidence and verve. I wish I were witty/humorous. I want to be audacious. 2. I'm low on energy and self-discipline. Always have been. I could sleep 10 hours a night. I *envy* people who can make it on 5. I *envy* people with self-motivation. I am amazed by the amount of stuff some people accomplish. Ahem. 3. I love food + I can't resist food (we aren't talking veggies, here) + I'm always hungry + I'm terrible about exercising = Less energy and other physical problems (headaches...) and being frustrated with myself. Let's see, are we on #4? I'm not adventurous/independent/capable. I wholeheartedly admire women who can travel and do big things. I want to go places with the boys without being anxious or overwhelmed. I admire my adventurous, no-fear sister. She just makes it up as she goes along. 5. I want life to be painless and perfect. Which is just setting myself up for failure.

I know that having adolescents will be tough. Tougher than I imagine. But I don't really want to go there. Right now, I struggle with the physical exhaustion that comes from daily life with three very rambunctious little boys that leaves me at the end of the day feeling like I've been wrestling with an aligator for hours. I grew up with two sisters and a quiet dad. I thought I had parenting all figured out before my first son came along. Now, many days, I feel like I just don't have what it takes to raise well-behaved boys. Honestly, I wonder constantly what the balance is between giving boys independence and letting them be boys and expectations for volume/activity/attitude. Where do I find that happy in-between place with laid-back un-parenting on one side and uptight control-freak on the other side? Add to that the sleep-deprivation. I have no idea why God gave 3 bad sleepers to a woman who needs 10 hours a night. Surely they will sleep well (or take care of themselves in the middle of the night) in a few years, right?!

So, the depression story.... September was the month from hell. It started out with a weird pain in my chest/back/arm and went downhill from there. I have always had anxiety over health stuff. My 'big fear' is that I will get really sick. Now that I have little boys, that fear is magnified. How can I take care of them if I don't feel well? What will happen to them if I die? I looked around and could see all the blessing in my life. But everywhere else, I saw hurting people. I was always sure that my 40s would be my best decade, but suddenly I couldn't find someone in their 40s without health problems. *Everywhere* I turned, I heard stories of people whose children were sick or in trouble. I couldn't find a single person whose life I would want to live. Basically, I wondered how long it would take for the ball to drop in my life. How long can one go without anything in their beautiful life being taken away? I have no idea which came first, but I had tremendous anxiety over how I was feeling physically. I went to the Dr. and he did a bunch of tests, but also suggested depression. He said that all of my physical symptoms happened to be symptoms of depression/anxiety/OCD. Terrific.

How did I make it out of that spiral? Medication. It changed my life. (And a chiropractor for some of the back/arm pain.) By the end of October I was a new person. We went on the most amazing family vacation, and then I reveled in the holiday season. Okay, I also had to start ignoring how I felt physically rather than paying attention to every little ache and pain. I (at least for right now) have to leave/change the channel/avoid stories about hurting people. I don't read stories/blogs about babies/children in the hospital. I leave the room when my dh is watching House on TV. I don't watch the news. That is tough for me, because it makes me feel guilty, but it is just where I am right now. I am hopeful that eventually I can find a balance and be a sympathetic, concerned person while maintaining sanity.

I am a very, very visual person. Blogging and photography have become a very valuable therapy for me. I am able to block out the mess, and focus (mentally, emotionally, and visually--through my camera lens) on what is beautiful and uplifting in my life. It is like being in labor and I use my blog as my focal point. Imagine my youngest on the kitchen counter, naked of course (we're working on potty training), pouring himself a glass of orange juice. About 3 ounces make it into the cup. My oldest is using the couch as a gymnastics apparatus and singing (he doesn't have a mute button). My middle child is taking something apart to see how it works. I'm holed up in the disasterous school room in front of my computer. Ah, look at that adorable picture of a little boy holding a lamb. Hee-hee-hooooooooo. Hee-hee-hooooooooo.

Unfortunately, my blog probably gives many people the idea that I am calm, cool, collected, and content. Grin.

I'm still battling the feeling that *I* am the thing wrong with my life. I don't have anyone to blame but myself when my day goes badly. (See list of struggles above.)

Oh, I don't know if you saw the YouTube video on my blog a while back, but I was really struck by The Beckoning of Lovely. It was real, it was uplifting, it was empowering. I've used it as my new focal point. I don't know how to explain it, but I felt like, suddenly, I had a mission. And it wasn't about being perfect, or witty, or adventurous, or thin and beautiful, or wealthy. There are so many things, little things, that *anyone* can do to make life lovely, for themselves and others. I felt a lot of angst slip away. Now I'm the one who feels silly, typing that out. But there you have it. Smile.

Yes, there are a million things on my 'list' of things to do to improve myself and my life. Be consistent with Bible reading/devotions/spending time with God. Be diligent in daily tasks. Don't yell at the boys. Eat well. Exercise. Stop drinking Dr. Pepper. Be content with the person God made me. And I'm working on it, but those things are *hard* for me, and come very slowly. I'm constantly falling down, picking myself up, and starting all over again. Luckily His mercies are new every morning.

I have no idea if anything I wrote is remotely helpful, but I felt led to share it.

33 comments:

Diane said...

I think your words ring true for a lot of women. We need to remember we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Emily@remodelingthislife said...

beautifully stated, heidi. I know not who your friend is or what led you to share it but I wanted you to know that it struck a chord with me, too. I struggle and battle to find the good, and my lens often finds it better than my naked eye does. And finding the beauty is harder but more rewarding to seek.

Hugs,

Emily

GodSeeker said...

Honey, you have no idea who I am. I'm one of those unknown subscribers. Your lovely posts drop into my RSS feed on my Mac. I adore your creative photos of your children and daily life. Your book lists are incredible (we're enjoying some of the very same books at our house!). My dh is a pastor and I'm a stay at home, homeschooling mom to 5 kids who are nearly 11 to age 4. *bong!!!* You hit my chord!! Yes, it's life. But at our house we're becoming more and more convinced that it's life at "the end of the age." Time has to come to an end sometime. And for so many of our friends the crunch is on. Emotionally things have been extremely difficult. The pressure is increasing. Please know that you're not alone. There are other moms here with you. "Fix your eyes on Jesus. . the author and perfecter of your faith. . . " *hugs* from my Pennsylvania farm house rental to your sweet Oregon bungalow

mimi said...

I admire you for your honesty...your transparency. Thank you for sharing all that. I share your struggles. I'm pretty sure every.single.one of them. The last couple of weeks have been pretty low for me. I often wonder if the enemy chooses now...right before homeschool gets swinging again...to strike? Whateve it is, you are not alone!!

Anonymous said...

This beautiful and brave post is so particularly relative. I am the homeschooling Mom (of eleven years)to one precious but independence seeking sixteen year old boy. I applaud you for being bold enough to address what we all face at some time during our life - humanity: feeling overwhelmed, feeling "not enough" feeling fearful. Thank goodness, this world is not our home. We can have and enjoy beauty, but it is temporary, and not where we should be laying our treasures. In heaven, we will not be consumed or cluttered by dust, noise or dirty lenses that change our perception because we will be blinded by the perfect glory that is an eternity praising Jesus Christ.

Thank you for following the leading that led you to write and publish this post showing us your true beauty by exposing your imperfections. Reading it was like looking into the mirror for me and I'm so grateful... Destiny D.

Heasleye said...

Heidi,
I feel like you're a kindred spirit I've never met. Bless you!

Elaine

Kathy said...

Isn't it funny how we can have an impression of a blog writer one minute, yet not really know anything at all about them? I have often read your blog feeling so much like a failure b/c in our homeschool we aren't tackling nearly as much as you are with your 3 boys, we don't read great lit - but instead silly chapter books and you seem like such a confident person ...

But now that you've shared I feel so much more at ease! I can relate in so many ways! I struggle with many of the same things, lack of self discipline - loving food and hating exercise - feeling worried about dying too young, etc....

I'm so thankful that you shared your heart. I think it's helpful to know that others share in many of the same struggles.

And I also agree that happiness, joy and choosing to see the lovely in things is most definitely a daily choice. And we do not walk this road alone ... there are many others along with us - and more importantly our loving Heavenly Father guides us on this journey.
Many blessings, Kathy

Prairie Chick said...

Dearest most precious Heidi...

I saw glimpses into these truths of YOU before you ever shared them explicitly... and loved you the more for them. Because you represent hope and beauty and life rising from the ashes, and girl... I've lain suffocating in those ashes too. I feel such a fierce and beautiful bond with you and thank God for the good work He is doing in you.

3busybs said...

Heidi! So much to say that I cant really put it into words at this moment because, you see, it is time for my three kiddos to get into bed. However, you are amazing and an inspiration to so many that is why you have so many followers. I am so EXCITED to meet you next week! Take care of you and the yours part, youve got down really good.

~Aimee

Renee said...

Thank you so much for your vulnerability, Heidi. I know God will continue to grow your faith and contentment b/c of your humble attitude. He is so good to take us when we are broken in spirit and humbled and show us the lovely and beautiful thing He's redeemed through His Son. I can relate to several things you have mentioned. Especially balancing the freedom to let my boys be boys with the discipline that I want for my sons. And falling down and starting over again over and over again. And I've reminded myself, too, that His mercies are new every morning. Then I fall in love with Him more and more and the little things matter less and less. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

Angela said...

Thanks for this post. I am a pretty new reader but spend much of my time convinced that other people are so much more in control of their lives than I am (both online and in real life). I always forget we never see the whole of someone's life from the outside. Thanks for sharing some of your interior also, it was so inspiring. BTW, I am just starting homeschooling my 1st grade daughter (with a very busy and needy toddler) and anyone who teaches their child anything intimidates me at the moment.

Susan said...

Heidi, your words could have been mine---parallel lives, your boys to my girls. I feel like I fail daily, but am convinced it's to keep me humble and relying on God. I've been in your shoes, with the depression. I know what that is like, the spiral, the hopelessness, anger, and fear of never coming out of it. I thank God for leading me to a medication that saved my life. I hope to see you again soon.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Heidi.

Brenna said...

Thank you for sharing. I have sooo been there.

Christi said...

Heidi, thanks so much for your words. I have spent the better part of a year struggling with a depression that seems much like what you described. I'm now on the other side of it, and only looking back have I even realized what was going on.

I still struggle every day, but in a way I'm thankful for that because hopefully being aware will keep me from falling into that hole again.

Bless you, Heidi - & I hope that if this was intended for anyone specific they've read it.

Have a great day~

Barb said...

Sometimes I think blogging allows you (me) to be (or project) the person I truly desire to be - confident, funny, articulate, witty, etc.

When I compare myself to others (in my real world or the blogging world I read) I always come up short and slam myself down. It does no one good - especially myself which in turn irritates my emotions which in turn my family bears the brunt, which in turn they turn around and annoy one another and then the step outside the house and...(kind of like the butterfly flittering its wings in the rainforest). So the solution - keep my eyes on my Creator and love and live into how He's made me - with all the gifts He desires me to use. Sounds super-spiritual and easy but it isn't and I'd be a hypocrite if I said I have that down pat. It's a life-long journey of moving into holiness.

You have a wonderful blog - beautiful actually. But I think your vulnerability does come through and that's what makes it such a wonderful site to visit. I read from a lot of political places and get irked. I come to mt. hope to unwind and breathe fresh air, drink in clean water and purge my soul of ugliness.
So Thank you Heidi. As the genie said to Aladdin - "Beeee yourself!"

Ruth said...

Thank you for sharing. Thanks being real. It's nice to know that I am not alone in having struggles of depression/anxiety.

I tend to only see the good that others get and can't seem to get past the hardness of my life. Depression really bites, just when I think I have it under control I get whipped again. You know, I've been avoiding the news for several months now and it has REALLY helped. I am also trying to hold onto Jeremiah 29:11.

Anonymous said...

eyeballs full of tears. THIS post is one of the many many reasons i visit your *home* each and every day. i never miss *visiting*. this blog entry: me in a nutshell. i adore you. you're amazing. have a great weekend. much love...

jamieguest4@hotmail.com

Timi said...

Thank You for your post! It's really touched me.

Heidi said...

Thank you, all of you, for your comments and emails, commiseration, and encouragement. I wish I could respond personally to each and every one of you!! I chose to share this note because I *knew* that I wasn't the only one who felt this way and hoped it would encourage even just one person. Your comments make me hope and believe that I am able to make a difference in other people's lives by sharing my own. I am saying prayers for each of you struggling with this frustrating, beautiful, terrifying, lovely life.

SKELLER said...

Oh Heidi. I like you. I really really do. I wish we were neighbors. I wish we had a little connecting gate in our adjoining backyards. And I wish we could throw all our rambunctious boys out in the adjoining yard 2x per day to be rambunctious with each other. So long as I'm dreaming ... during one of the boys' outdoor times we would sit together and drink our refreshment of choice and talk girl talk. The other recess? We would each stay in our respective abode and revel in the relatively quiet (because all the "din" will be outside, right?!?) solitude.

I think you have a beautiful way with words and a beautiful way of being "real" here on your blog.

God is so good, and, like you, I am grateful for His new mercies every day - because, goodness, sometimes it's just plain hard being a sojourner.

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing this. I've really enjoyed your blog--I know I can always count on it for something beautiful. Thanks again.

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing. It means more than you could realize & you've been successful at being lovely;)

It is always sooo nice to know that we aren't the only ones with these types of feelings, and that we aren't alone in these struggles.

I've enjoyed your blog from the 1st day I found it about a year ago now. You've helped me with homeschooling, inspired me to keep my camera out more (well all the time now- there was a time that I used to almost sleep with my camera & had sort of put it up).

You've also helped remind me of things I had forgotten & reminded me to cherish & attempt to recapture what I love and what I wanted to be. It's very easy to get lost as mothers.

And as I read this today, I see we have even more incommon than even I would have thought.

So just know that you aren't alone & you are lovely

Have a blessed day!

For the Love of Learning said...

Thanks for being real! Really enjoyed your post and appreciated all you had to say. I've been there too! Is there any woman who hasn't? I'm looking forward to more of your insights into homeschooling and to many more of your gorgeous photos. I wish you lived closer - we're in Ontario, Canada.

Karen Anderson said...

Hello dear Heidi, it's your long lost 2nd cousin-in-law, Karen (Anderson) up here north of Seattle. Of all the entries you have posted, this one rang truest to my heart and I had to finally write you a note and say that I've found your blog! Your Grandma Pietsch told me about Mt. Hope Academy & Chronicles over dessert here at my table in July and I have eagerly visited quite often since that day. Thanks for getting real with us readers through this particular post, To A Friend...it makes all your previous -and future too- photos and comments and scripture that much richer. You are lovely in the Lord and I have always felt such a kinship with you, your Mom and Shannon. (I know that Holly is pretty incredible too...just haven't spent as much time with her.) Bless you dear lady!!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post...I think any mother who hasn't felt the same as you at some point in her life would be lying. Medication will help, but keep working on forgiving yourself of your "weaknesses" and loving yourself for who you are. God made you a certain way and you are a very special woman. You have touched and inspired so many people with your photos & your blog (myself included!).

Remember...if you weren't surrounded with so much love, you wouldn't have so much to fear.

Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

I'm here from Darcy's blog hop and decided to "look around" I'm so glad I did!
I loved this post. I feel your blessings and struggles paragraph could have been written by me. Your openness and honesty with what you're thinking and how you feel is very refreshing to read. Doesn't feel refreshing I'm sure, but so much of what is out there in blogland is superficial and it's nice to read about a mom who goes through the same struggles as me.
I don't have three boys but I do have one and like you was raised by a quiet dad and I have only one sister ( I also have a step-brother who's 17 years younger so I wasn't raised with him). The volume level of only one boy can get to me so I can only imagine three. My husband is the middle of three boys and had two other sets of three boy cousins so it doesn't faze him. He's my steady head when I feel I'm losing it!
I look forward to getting to know you more here.

heather said...

Just got to this. I am a little behind on my blog reading-imagine that =). Thank you for opening up, for sharing your heart, we all have our fears and struggles. You are an amazing woman. Even more amazing for your willingness to be real.

Louisiana Laura said...

out of all the blogs on the homeschool calendar from 3boybarians, I have enjoyed reading yours. I've revisited you many times already. You're reading has inspired me, as well as many other things. Can't wait to read more. Your 'dear friend' letter was so well stated, thanks for showing the less than perfect side we all have...I'm working on focusing on what is 'true, noble, right & pure' the truth part is sometimes the hardes, leaving behind the speculation that brings us down.
Here's hoping you have a wonderful tomorrow- I'll be looking forward to your next post- pictures - blessings to you and yours, Laura

carole said...

Hi Heidi,
I love your blog - both for the amazing beauty and thoughtfulness that you bring to it, and for the glimpses into another "side" of you as well. As a fellow low energy person I have often commented on your "real life" posts in thanks. But I wanted to say that I enjoy all of them. And I am grateful that you've been helped by your many different strategies. And I am inspired to remember at times when my boys are jumping off the windowsills that there is another low energy mom doing this homeschool thing with three special boys of her own.

Plus I just had to laugh at the "hee-hee, hoo-hoo" labor analogy. Ah, so true! People often ask me how I can be so laid back with my boys. If they only knew....
:)

Todd and Lori said...

NEVER have I read words so accurately describing the anxiety I feel each day about aches, pains, fears, etc. I have 2 boys and the last thing i want to do is transfer my fear to their lives. I want them to be boys and just live without fear, but then again I just want them in my bubble of safety. It's a constant struggle to focus on the reality of my life- that we are all fine RIGHT NOW, instead of focusing on what I'm convinced is coming right around the corner. It's a daily struggle. I will be printing out your words to share with my doctor so that I can find a medication that fits my needs better. Thank you for your words.
Lori

Jodi said...

beautiful - thanks for being real!

Basia said...

Hi Heidi, I know you wrote this post almost 6 years ago. I have been one of your anonymous readers for some time now and have decided to read through your archives. Then, I came across this post. It really resonated with me. It's almost as if you were describing parts of my life! I just wanted to let you know that I find your blog real, inspiring, and very helpful. Even your posts from the past reach out to people (like me) and make a connection. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your life through this blog. Its beautiful.