Mind Overload. (Learn Less. Do More.)

What starts out as excitement and hope, quickly spirals out of control. Blog posts, articles, books…myriads of valuable and relevant content. But how much is too much (the advice, knowledge, and how-to)? Personally, I love and appreciate all the advice and encouragement floating around cyberspace: comfort for the brokenhearted, courage for anxious souls, hope for the hopeless… For someone like me, though, moderation and balance is essential. Vital. 

Because I’m feeding myself with an abundance of knowledge, my mind is gaining weight. Ugh. I need more mental resilience! Better yet, I need to cut back on consuming the daily knowledge, putting what I already know into action instead:

1) Healthy recipes-I need to stop placing new ones into my virtual folder, and start making the ones I already have!

2) Self-care tips-I need to put them into practice before searching for new ones.

3) Blog more often. Since I’m too busy reading every post that appeals to me, I’ve only written three blog posts. Make that four, counting this one. LOL!

6) Clean and organize your house-another addiction I need to overcome.

Like too many ice cream flavors to choose from along with the webinars/email courses/Facebook lives that’ll benefit me in various ways, causes me more harm than good. What I need to do is prioritize what matters the most and then implement all the wonderful tools I’ve already gleaned. I’m all about self-help, but too much of it increases the anxiety. Ah! (A catch twenty two of trying to alleviate the stress.)

So if you have this problem too (addicted to learning and growing), I’ll spare you with another post that offers tips and advice. But, I will leave you with this: Just Do It! (Thanks, Nike!)

What are you passionate about, but need to cut back on? 

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Tribe, Where Are You?!

I just wanna belong. 

But no matter where I go, or who I’m surrounded with, connections always fail. They either get fused right away but then quickly fizzle out. And sometimes they never get the chance to spark. I don’t know what hurts more: being noticed and then being dismissed. Or, not being noticed at all. 

They both hurt just as much, in their own ways. 

Visibility may seem like the better option, but not always. If you’re like me, it seems when others become aware of your existence, it feels like they’re seeing through you, noticing all your flaws and weaknesses. Sitting or standing, clasping your hands or crossing your arms, erratic or steady breathing, tense or not…you and I know what’s coming next-the threat of being judged, misunderstood, or worst of all…being rejected-the dreaded self-interrogation:

Is it the color of my skin? Is it my non-brand clothing? Is it because others view me as an easy target, picking up on my tender heart and vulnerability? Could it be because of the personal stories I’ve shared with them (that I shouldn’t have)? Did I say too much, too little?

Hm? Maybe it’s something completely different-something I shouldn’t be offended about. Something I’ve always wanted but never found: a place where I belong, a place where like-minded people exist.

What kind of acceptance am I searching for, though? Acceptance from everyone I come across? Oof! That would be a YES, which kinda hurts to admit. You know what I mean (the realization of how unrealistic that is concerning others)? Where did I get these LOFTY expectations from, anyways? I don’t know the answer to that yet, but what I can see are the traits of perfectionism, obsessiveness, and self-issues oozing through my words (the words hidden underneath this post)! I’ve got more soul searching to do. But not right now.  

Jesus himself was not accepted, or liked by everyone. His chosen people mistreated and abused Him. In fact, they’re the ones who led Him to the cross! So who am I to expect any different? Walking out the Christian faith, being Christ-like, can be REALLY hard, frustrating, scary, lonely and disappointing. Some of my deepest wounds have come from within the church. Not every Christian is accepting, kind, or supportive to other believers. Grr…I hate to say it! But it’s the truth. And to keep myself from obsessing over as to why-along with losing hope, becoming bitter, and losing faith-I have to remind myself that we live in an imperfect world, with imperfect people.

Sorry for the last paragraph. Kinda trailed off topic. You still with me? I hope so.

The desire to be accepted or approved by everyone we encounter is NOT reality. We can’t belong to everyone’s tribe. There are many reasons why this is not healthy or sustainable, and one of them is because there’s only so much fellowship, support, and time we can give to others on a daily basis without neglecting ourselves and other responsibilities. Don’t get me wrong, it would be awesome if everyone accepted, loved, and respected one another. But until Eternity arrives, we need to use wisdom, clarity and focus, finding where we belong. For now.

Although I thought my desire was to be liked and included by every person I’ve met, it’s really not. It’s about finding others who I can relate to. And vice versa. Those who understand, who are compassionate, when it comes to the visible and invisible illnesses. The ones who have gone through, or currently going through, similar struggles. The people who share the same goals and passions. 

Does this sound like you? If so, wanna be part of my tribe? There’s plenty of room. So far, there’s only two members-me and Him. Or, I can join your tribe, if that’s cool with you? *Winces while holding breath*

The person who leads the tribe I belong to, truly gets me. Completely. I don’t always understand His thoughts or ways. And even though He never leaves my side, there are many times when I feel so alone. (This happens a lot.) Other times, I feel like I’m the one doing all the talking. He doesn’t always answer my questions either. Still, He has never failed me. Never. 

What holds our relationship together? Faith, Trust and Loyalty. 

You Hurt me. Why Should I Forgive You?

When it comes to betrayal-from a spouse, family member, friend, co-worker, or stranger-it HURTS. And whether or not it’s your fault or somebody else’s (or both) forgiveness is vital. Not sure about you, but the word ‘forgiveness’ causes me to feel anger and anxiety. Most of the time, anyway. It’s human nature, after all, to have the desire of wanting to take matters into our own hands, defending our causes.

I have been through SO much. And because of it, I have been conditioned with negative/false belief systems about myself, others, life, and even with God regarding certain things:

Why is this happening again?” and “Did I say or do something wrong?” These are some of the questions that plague me all the time. Can you relate? The obsession of searching within, trying to find the blemishes, weaknesses, and inabilities. The never-ending cycle of looking for possible reasons as to why you keep getting hurt-whether it’s betrayal or some type of offense. It’s exhausting, isn’t it? 

Searching and evaluating your mind and heart is not negative, in any way. In fact, it can bring about self-awareness, clarity, honesty and accountability. What is negative, however, are the attacks on your self-acceptance, self-esteem and self-worth. If you’re like me, you have allowed the pain, fear, loss…to shape you. You’ve become your negative experiences, emotions, thoughts-your pain has become your identity.

Injustice has made me bitter, depressed and discouraged. *Sighs*

However, I’ve learned that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re excusing what you, or someone else, has said or done. It also doesn’t mean that you’re condoning or denying the wrong (s) you have experienced. I have forgiven many people, even the ones who have repeatedly and intentionally hurt me. But, I’m still struggling to forgive those who have caused the greatest pain: family, so-called friends and other Christians.

If I could create my own world, it would consist of authentic love, acceptance, loyalty, support, peace, joy…you get the idea. Actually, this place does exist, but we don’t live in it-yet. (Heaven? Yep, that’s what I’m referring to.) So, I have to keep it real, reminding myself that I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect, and that everyone and everything on this earth is not perfect.

Anyways, as I continue to work on forgiving others, including myself, maybe this will help you too:

Forgiveness IS letting go of the mental and emotional poison that has been inflicted upon you. (From yourself or others.)

Forgiveness is NOT allowing a person, or situation, to have control over you anymore.

Forgiveness does NOT mean you have to remain in a dysfunctional or one-sided relationship (because you can still love and support others from a distance).

Forgiveness CAN be the key to restoring certain relationships.

Forgiveness IS the first step in your healing.

Breaking Through My Internal Prison

My security, independence and dreams were taken from me the day I decided to experiment with drugs-at a party I should have never went to. I was seventeen years old when this happened, the day I thought I was going to die. The day when I had never-ending panic attacks: racing, out-of-control thoughts and terrifying physical sensations. (At the time, however, I didn’t know there was a name to describe everything that was happening to me.)

What scared me the most that day…was thinking I would never see my grandparents again. They were more than my legal guardians, they were my parents. Even though I didn’t know anything about God or the Bible, I knew He existed. And when I thought I was going to die, I prayed, “God, please don’t let me die. It would kill my grandparents.” They loved me more than anything and I couldn’t bear putting them through the loss of their beloved granddaughter. Yes, I was terrified of going through the scary and painful process of leaving life behind. But I was more scared of being separated from the two people who loved me the most.

I didn’t know what to expect on the other side of lifelessness, except for the darkness and loneliness that awaited me.  

Looking back, that is when I developed the phobia of never wanting to be alone, especially without my grandparents (my safe people) at my side. All the time. Not wanting to be alone was the first component of creating what is referred to as agoraphobia. When I think of the word ‘phobia’ there’s a better way to describe it: it’s the false and unhealthy beliefs/mindsets I created when I thought I was going to die and never see my grandparents again. Which led to other phobias that became a part of the agoraphobia. Any place outside of my home (my safe spot) was not an option, either. I even feared going to doctor appointments, which was never an issue before, thinking they would tell me something horrible about my health. Like I was dying! The thing is, I still had panic attacks with my grandparents at my side, and inside the safety of familiar surroundings. Still, it was less terrifying than being alone, away from home.

My social life was small to nonexistent, so was my space. My entire existence felt as if it was shrinking, day after day. Although somewhat comforting and secure, my home was my prison. My grandparents, although loving and supportive, were my bailiffs. There was another cell much worse, though. A cell that was dark and lonely-my mind. My phobias (beliefs/mindsets) had taken me captive. All because of that day when I made a very unwise decision, a decision that could have cost me my life. With that said, unforgiveness toward myself for what I had done, grew and strengthened the agoraphobia. I was seventeen, for goodness’ sake! I was human, and last time I checked, I still am. So why was I so hard on myself? (Low self-esteem, feeling of no value, rejection…I’ll save that for another blog post.) The phobia of being alone, being out in the world, scared of doctors and others, and not forgiving myself had continued to follow me throughout the years. Thirty, to be exact.

Had I only sought the mental and emotional help I needed as soon as the unfortunate cycle of fear and trauma first began. No one had mention it to me from what I remember. Anyways, I may, or may not, had been completely set free from the agoraphobia. I think it would have made it less severe, nonetheless.

I did go to the doctors to get checked out after the drug episode, but it was a few days after telling my grandparents what had happened. They were devastated as I knew they would be. But more grateful than anything that I was still alive. The doctors prescribed me medication for an ulcer that had developed along with putting me on a heart monitor. Not until a couple years later was I prescribed anti-anxiety medication. Ugh. To my dismay, the medications made the anxiety and panic attacks worse, and more frequent. Again, wish I had gone to see a therapist, psychologist…someone to help me deal and overcome my issues. But because I didn’t, the phobias grew and grew like the most disgusting and incurable infection ever.

I’ve lived being agoraphobic for a long, long time. More accurately, I’ve lived with the fear of being alone, being out in the world, the fear of fear itself (all the sensations one experiences in a panic attack), and not getting over/forgiving myself for making the worst mistake of my life. Despite all the suffering, loneliness, shame, and discouragement the agoraphobia has caused, I have lived my life without always having a trusted person by my side, and being outside of my home too.

Here are some of the things I’ve accomplished: being by myself at home, working at hotels and grocery stores, and volunteering at churches. I’ve attended a community college, had my own cleaning business, traveled far from home with family/friends, and DRIVING all by myself! I know, right? Do I still have agoraphobia? That would be an unfortunate YES. But instead of letting my mental prison of fears keep me locked up inside my head, or in my house, I live doing it afraid. And every moment that passes, I become more resilient. My bravery, determination and perseverance gets stronger every day.

No matter where your fears and agoraphobia stemmed from, or how long you’ve been struggling with them, I want to encourage you that there is always HOPE to break out of your mental prison of fear and isolation. When it comes to internal bondage, you and I are pretty much the same, even though our anxieties and phobias may differ, how often they occur and how intense they are. And the ones who find the freedom they’ve been longing for, may not be the same way others find theirs. 

As for me, the road to HOPE took place when I was nineteen years old. I picked up a little, black leather Bible-that I cannot recall where I had gotten it from-and pressed it against my chest as I curled up on the bed, silently asking God to save me from the torture. From myself. The TV was on as well, and as I gazed at the preacher, tears streamed down my face. Somehow, somewhere, from my teenage years into adulthood, God really did rescue me. More than once. He spared my life at the age of seventeen, the age of nineteen, the age of twenty-two and then again at the age of thirty (the time when I wholeheartedly gave my life to Him). Every day He looks after me. He truly is my Savior.

If you need to talk, or just want someone to listen, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Pain, trauma, unforgiveness, fear, and hopelessness are no respecter of persons. I pray God’s comfort, peace, safety, courage, strength and HOPE over you, my friend. It doesn’t matter that we haven’t met-because I get you.  

~Jannette