Wednesday, December 16, 2015

But I do know that it's not for me to worry about or to figure out. That's the joy and the promise of Christmas.

Hi. I'm Kristi and I am a slip-covered furniture thief.

I never considered it thievery to take old furniture finds from someone else's trash pile ... but today I spied a beat up old chair with a possibly useful slipcover on it.  But it was in the Marshall's parking lot out by one of those catch all donation boxes - the ones that ask for clothes and toys, but people throw whatever the heck they want out of their houses out there kind of places.

So I parked up next to it, got out, incognito in my dark shades, and poked all around the trash pile flowing out into the parking lot, trying to decide if it was wrong to take it or not. 

But gosh there was so much traffic and people everywhere and one lady in her car may or may not have been videoing me to send it to the local news about bad people at Christmas time stealing from the poor.  So I didn't take the entire chair.  I removed the slipcover only.... and shoved it in the front seat of my car.  Then for good measure I took the seat cushion.  Which I consider to be a reservation placed on my interest in making that chair something wonderful. I actually tried to look as if I may have been the one dropping off said donated chair, but with a puzzled look on my face and a slight head tilt of consideration, if I may have changed my mind about donating it.  I have obviously all these years been hiding a sneaky streak deep within.   But my plan is that if the slipcover doesn't fit what I need it to fit, I can take it back and no longer be a thief.  That makes me feel better about the whole thing.

Poor decisions are often made on far too little sleep.  Such wise words to describe my entire existence for the last few weeks.  I definitely put on a good face at work because I'm busy and I forget how tired I really am, but y'all.... all I want for Christmas is a good night's sleep, a good night's sleep, oh a good night's sleep.    

Husband gets super irritated with me because on the nights when he's home from work, he snores so ridiculously loud that he ends up on the couch and then he's grumpy the next morning, too.  It's just a vicious, sleepless cycle of grumpiness around here.

And the dog threw up this morning.  Which I didn't witness, but Kid 1 did and those were the only words he could muster this morning in the car on the way to school... describing the awfulness of what awaited me when I got back home and walked into the kitchen.  Before that?  All I got from him was a scowl and a murmured grunt/frustrated hand motion as I accidentally blocked his view of himself in the full length mirror.  Lord.  We need a vacation.

And... speaking of Kid 1...

Here we are ready to go to his first ever high school athletic banquet. In real life we weren't blurry. 

And here I am after I got to the athletic banquet and he ditched me for his friends and made  me cry.  Just a shell of the woman I was an hour before.  But still wearing a cute dress because happy or sad, fashion still speaks volumes. 

Husband was meeting me at the school, running a little late and by the time he got there, I had been sitting by the water fountain all alone in the high school cafeteria for long enough to realize that my boy may no longer need his mom at his special events.  So I exited unannounced, and broke down somewhere between the cafeteria and the freshman biology room.  Granted, it had already been an iffy sort of day.  And had this particular instance not made me cry, something else was surely gonna.  I know myself well enough to declare a meltdown warning several hours in advance. 

But husband found me sad and alone, whimpering in the hallway,  and took me out to eat so I could cry outside the view of teenagers.  Kid 1 did call to see where I went;  I'll give him that.  And he was sorry for turning me into Lonely Mom.  And he, in all honesty, admitted that he didn't know what to do.  Friends or mom... friends or mom? 

This is a school where I would dare to say that 95% of all kids attend every function without parents. And most of them have probably never known anything different.  Even the teachers act surprised to see parental involvement.  So I either have to see this as the time to step back our interests... or as a time to step it up and be there to support not only my own kids but those whose parents can't be there.

It's common knowledge around these parts that the Walters' run a makeshift before and after school child care center for the tween and teen set.  Kid 2 is the first one to get up and get to the bus by 7:15 each day.  Then the 6th grade crew starts to arrive at the house for playtime with Kid 3 and a safe place to wait till they leave for school at 8.  And at that same time, screams can be heard for Kid 1 to get his act together and get to his bus stop in the next 7 minutes or it's gonna be an unexcused absence for you young man and Mama isn't writing you a note.  Then after school the kiddos come rolling through again for snacks and video games and for several of them, a safe place to wait a while for parents that are still at work.  Now... that being said, I did just dis-arm one of our little guests with a loaded air soft gun headed to the elementary school to play.  Mom eyes wide open around here ALL.THE.TIME. 

We really struggled with the choice of what school to let Kid 3 attend this year for his first year in middle school.  We ended up choosing our local middle school and lucky for us all, he loves it.  But a lot of people don't/won't use that school - it's our first year to step out on faith and courage and give it a try.  My friend Debi said recently that our school choice may turn out to be our own little neighborhood ministry, showing several kids what a traditional family looks like on an unrehearsed daily basis.  It looks like me trying to feed everyone and get dressed for work.  It looks like three boys trying to find pants.  It looks like kids who can't find their shoes or backpacks and forgot to do their homework.  It looks like Fireman Dave rolling in from the station in time to help me get some control over the battle of chaos.  It looks like lots of people in a smallish sort of space, trying to be nice to each other and still get out the door on time.  It looks like craziness wrapped in a bow.   Maybe a Christmas bow. 

Three years ago this Christmas we took a short trip to Galveston, just for a couple of days.  We stayed at the Tremont Hotel, a lovely place housed in a beautifully restored historic building.  And there, on our second morning, I sat alone, eating in the lobby restaurant ready to enjoy a day to myself, and experienced my very first panic attack.  

I tried to breathe and the harder I tried, the less air I could get.  And I was both hot and cold all at once -  and at the same time, had this incredibly energetic need to run away from something,  overwhelmed with genuine fear- just that I didn't know what I was afraid of.

And I tried to have Fireman Dave paged at the indoor water park where he and the boys were spending the day, but never could find them.  So I tried to ignore what my mind was tricking me into believing might actually kill me .... and I went shopping.  I made it about two blocks and into one beautiful shop that I would've otherwise enjoyed, and there I doubted that I would be able to make it back to the hotel at all.  

And y'all, I sat outside that store on a bench, and cried what should've been an embarrassing public display of near hysterical tears, but I didn't have enough focus or strength to know anything else around me existed.  I ended up back at the hotel - on the treadmill in the gym, and I ran for what seemed like hours.   When I could settle down a bit, I slowed down my pace to a walk.  But when the fear came back, the only thing that made me feel like I was going to walk out of that place alive, was to keep running.  I don't know how long I was running, but at one point I finally turned around and saw Fireman Dave walking into the gym and for the first time in hours, I felt like I was going to be okay.  I still cry every time I remember that day.  

This was me the day after that ugly business started.  I'm either hanging onto Fireman Dave's arm because I was freezing to death or afraid to let go.  I think both. 

Panic is a disease.  Panic attacks, panic disorder, anxiety attacks, ... call it what you will.  It is a mental health condition that has no one size fits all explanation.  But it's fear of the unknown, fear that all  you've trusted to be normal - the simple act of breathing, the normalcy of a regular heart beat, may never be normal again. 

It went on that way the rest of the day, and it began to happen regularly at home, and eventually it happened at work.  Which was the big STOP sign for me.  I knew at that point that I wasn't in control of the attacks.  I couldn't predict or stop them, but I also knew I didn't want to rely on other people or tranquilizing medications either.

So I learned how to  recognize the signs of approaching panic.  I've better learned to remove myself from situations, places and people who may cause my symptoms to show up again.  Because they will.  And they do.  But smaller and up until this writing, anyway, a lot less scary.   

A lot has changed in three years.  The thing is that I don't know what comes next.  I have no idea if I'll battle this particular monster my entire life, or if new and more interesting monsters may come my way.  

I don't know what my relationship with my estranged family will ever be again.  I don't know how much longer my kids will invite me to be their date to anything.  I don't know if this blog will grow into all my heart has dreamed.  I also don't know why things have to change right when they're going along so nicely.  

But I do know that it's not for me to worry about or to figure out.   That's the joy and the promise of Christmas.  

post script.... here is how the nativity scene turned out on my mantle.  

Which is all well and cute... but not for me.  Turns out I am completely anti-glitter.  In fact I may be the kind of gal that calls the glitter police if I ever see anyone trying to bring glitter crafts into my home.  I had forgotten that since the boys are big now and have outgrown the age of shiny preschool crafts.  But for what it's worth, the scene turned out pretty and Fireman Dave is once again, AMAZING.  He is full of hidden talents still yet to be discovered, I think.  You can read that post here if you missed it.

But this is what I ended up using.  

It's more me.  It's simple, colorful and I did it all myself.  A round of applause please.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Hello there. I just stumbled onto your blog today and after reading your post about panic, I just had to say hello. I had my first panic attack at the age of 34--about 10 years ago. I had no idea what it was. The whole family and I were sick with a flu-cold-from-hell and my ears were plugged up, my nose was plugged up and I had a cough but not a real deep chest cough. I remember I was sitting on the couch and all of the sudden I couldn't get any air. Or at least it "felt" like I couldn't get any air. I was breathing, in and and out, but I felt like there was no air. I remember getting up and walking around--starting to freak out and not wanting to scare my kids. I really thought I was going to die. I thought that there was something really wrong with my lungs all of a sudden and they just weren't working anymore. It was the strangest feeling in the world. I actually had a friend watch my kids and drove myself to the ER--my husband wasn't home. I remember telling myself not to pass out. They couldn't find any real problem, of course but game me an inhaler and told me that I might have bronchitis but that they didn't really see anything too bad. Thankfully, I had a friend who was a nurse and she started talking about panic attacks one day. I asked her what the symptoms were and BINGO. I have had a few attacks since then but now that I know I am not REALLY dying (it only feels like it, LOL) I can usually talk myself down (that's what I call it). Anyway, just wanted to make sure you knew you are definitely not alone. The attacks are scary as hell, but we can get through them. Take care!

  2. Dessa, thank you for finding me and reading and sharing. Bless you on this journey of health and strength and courage. I'm not sure anyone can completely understand what panic feels like till he/she has really experienced it themselves. But you and I speak the same language on this. Now we're like twins that got the crazy panic disorder gene from weird uncle Bob's side of the family.

    And I thank you for reminding me that there are others, and not just me feeling all weird sitting on a bench crying. For now I have it under control and I feel great. But I am also very aware that it can come back as quickly as it came the first time. The mind is an amazing, complicated and frustrating machine. However, it is our minds that allow us to choose confidence and faith that we are good, that we are strong and okay. And if we have a little incident every now and then, we can take it. Keep in touch any time and let's support each other in this. Kristi


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