Friday, November 11, 2011

Walking In the Light

Over the past several months, even before we left for China, I've been feeling like I'm wandering without direction.  For almost an entire year leading up to the adoption, our lives were consumed with paperwork, homestudy, grant applications, budgeting, selling a house, moving, unpacking, more paperwork, and waiting.  A lot of our schoolwork and anything resembling a "normal" schedule went out the window during those months.

Once we had settled into our new place, we also reached the end of our paper chase and began the couple of months of just waiting.  During that time, I purposed to get a lot accomplished, but didn't.  I think that waiting time began my season of wandering.  (Yes, I mean wandering and not wondering, although a lot of that was going on, too.)

Almost immediately after we started the adoption process, I started dumping outside responsibilities.  At the time I was serving on the board of our amazing homeschool co-op, facilitating our monthly homeschool support meetings, teaching a for-credit ASL class, and co-managing the kids' summer swim team.  I ended my summer commitment with the swim team and let them know I'd slowly bow out over the year and that someone else would need to lead the summer '11 season.  I wrote a letter to our co-op board to say I could no longer sacrifice the huge time commitment it required. I began looking for a replacement to take my ASL students that wanted to continue one more semester.  Our homeschool support group went through a transition during the time I began seeking a replacement to plan and facilitate the meetings and I slowly reduced my involvement with that group.  In addition to all of that, I stopped going to my boot camp class I had been attending three times per week.  (In 2010, "boot" and "camp" were in my top 5 most-used words in my Facebook status updates.)

Letting go of those things was the right thing to do.  I have no regrets!  I needed that time before our China trip to pour into my birth kids.  We spent a lot of time (aimless as it might have been) taking trips here locally, playing outside, and just hanging out together.  Once we moved, then after we brought the boys home, it was crucial that I had nothing going on other than focusing on my family.

However, now that our family is getting settled, I'm feeling disconnected form outside life. 

Because of the season of life I'm in (nearing 40, newly-expanded family, major life-changing move, and weight gain that ticks me off greatly), I've been experiencing days feeling very low.  I've blogged before about how I don't like using the word "depressed" lightly, so I don't think I'll use it here.  But I've been feeling dark, low, melancholy, aimless, and tired.

I know a few naysayers are thinking, "Why did she adopt 2 kids?  She's too overwhelmed."  To you, I say, "Ppppht! This is real life.  I had short seasons of this type of feeling all through my life at different stages.  I adore my family, my husband and ALL FIVE of my kids.  I've known myself all my life and the number of kids I have has nothing to do with my own moods I'm having at the moment, thank you very much." (I know naysayers are out there because these very things have been said to me directly, so I wanted to make myself clear.)

I have an excellent husband.  While I've been sitting back, hoping he'd just read my mind and my moods, he's kinda been clueless.  He travels.  A lot lately.  When he is home, I don't want to be cranky and whiney (trust me, I've played that game before and it's no fun for anyone), so I just buck up and deal with my feelings on my own.  Since I didn't tell him how I've been feeling, he didn't know.  Go figure.

The problem with not telling him or someone is that is the feelings just fester and grow.  Due to the festering, I've been feeling, really for the first time in my life, bouts of not only aimlessness, but anger.  Real anger that I physically feel burning in my chest.  For me, I spew ugliness out of my mouth when I'm angry and my older kids have gotten to receive the brunt of my anger, especially this last week.

My kids keep me in check and humble me to my knees.  Just today, after having a much better couple of days, I told the kids I was sorry I had been in such a bad mood over the past few weeks.  They said, "You haven't been in a bad mood! You're the nicest mom!"  Hannah sent me an email card that told me I was the best mom ever and she was lucky I was her mom.  *heartbreak*  I sure hadn't felt like the best mom.

So what am I going to do about this darkness I feel I'm walking in right now?  Well, first of all, I did tell my husband what I've been feeling.  I made sure he understood that none of the feelings I have come from anything he or the kids do.  It's just how I'm feeling.  I almost wish it was something he or the kids were doing.  Then they could just quit and I'd feel better, right?   

Ken encouraged me to get out once or twice a week, whether it be to work, attend our monthly support group meeting (which I am beginning to facilitate again), exercise or just have some time alone to blog, work on school plans, or have quiet time to seek God's direction.  Along those lines, I took a day last week to fast and pray about what God wants me to do and how He'd have me do those things.  That prayer led to an answer just today when a friend emailed me about going to boot camp.  She's willing to drive an hour to attend and that put my 15-minute drive excuse to shame.  It was just the support I was praying for.  I know God will provide the same help to me for homeschooling, time management, and other areas in which I'm struggling right now.  Ken is right here by my side as well and I need to lean on him more than I do instead of trying "not to bug him."

Here are some encouraging reminders from God's Word related to some of the feelings I've been having:

Darkness
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Aimless
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.

Hopeless
LORD, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.
When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

7 comments:

  1. This has helped me tremendously, Sarah! I'm right there with you and can truly relate with everything you are dealing with! My husband has been working nights for the past 6 months and works most of the day as well. My weeks consist of being OK on Monday, Tues-Thurs, very emotional with uncontrollable sadness, and finally crazy anger on Friday and Saturday. Everything seems to even out on Sunday when our family can just be together and rest, but the cycle starts over on Monday again. In Soul Sisters we have been studying about being in our wilderness and this is definitely mine! I see the end in sight but just trying to hold it together till then. Thanks for the encouragement! I love Ephesians 3:20 when I feel hopeless:)-Jenn Sweet

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  2. Sarah,

    I can SO relate to this post! Much like you, I cleared my calendar in preparation for Hayden coming home and the transition that would be for all of us. The very night before we got her referral phone call, I naively told Darrell that there were two non-negotiables on my calendar: CBS (Community Bible Study) and my monthly bunco group. The very next night I missed bunco because we got to introduce our older kids to Liu JingShu through the pictures and information we received in the referral. The next week, I told my CBS friends that I would not be returning the following year.

    Like you, I have no regrets for the changes I made. This journey has been larger than I could've ever imagined. Toward the end of the first year (Hayden has been home 16 months), a friend sent a link to a blog about post-adoption depression, saying it made her think of me. It never occurred to me that I might be depressed, or even have a reason to be depressed. Because, as hard as it has been, I feel so blessed and thankful.

    I remember so well the day this summer when I felt the "fog" lift. McKenna says she remembers, too. All of a sudden, I felt better. There was no magic reason. It just lifted. Funnily enough (Does that phrase remind you of Nan Harrison? That's where I first heard that word.), Hayden has been more difficult in the last few months than she was before, so that's not why I feel better.

    All that to say, I'm so glad you blogged about your feelings. I'm sure I'm not the only adoptive mom who can relate and probably someone just needed someone else to talk about it to recognize it in themselves.

    Hang in there!

    Love,
    Tracy

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  3. Hi Sweetie---Im so not a morning girl--but if after one of your boot camp sessions--Id love to meet for starbucks and girl time. I started attending Soul Sisters (jennifer your song was in my head this morning and yesterday--thank you for YOU) If you can't commit to every week--come when you feel up to it. There is a lady at our table who interprets and maybe the boys can sit with us if there is no one that signs in the child care area.
    I don't think your depressed at all--but physically your body chemistry is changing with the weight--So great job at starting boot camp again. Don't look at it as the "weight"--look at it as part of your life. The time you need that has to take place for you to be in balance to care for the fam. It will take time...and you will not always stay on track...but if you go at least two days a week...all the time....A change will happen...and happen forever...If you can believe it ....I walk 3X per week ( in the afternoon..chuckly..) for 3 miles or one hour which ever comes first.. You will feel accomplished after a few weeks of sticking to it. The Lord is such a big part of your life too..He's waiting !!!! I love you sweet sister...Im always here...no matter what...The drive to copell is nothing for me...Im happy to come over any time you want to take a walk or need a starbucks infusion !!! It's the little things in life that make it so sweet---and you are a sweet spot in mine. Join us Wed at Soul Sisters---9:30 or 9:50 if you want to avoid the pastry temptation (that's when I come) It's the last session---there is no formal study--but I know MANY ladies would love to see your sweet face in person...Im #1 on that list!!

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  4. Just lost my whole comment....what jumped out at me here is the idea of asking for what you need. As you said, Ken didn't know till you told him. I think when we ask (of others or of G-d) WE become clearer about what we need rather than being stuck.

    Not sure if you can get out early morning (could the bigs cover for you with the littles if Ken's away?) but my treadmill time is also my spiritual time. Could you get in an early morning walk/spiritual refreshment?

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  5. Big thanks to all of you for your comments, encouragement and empathy. I've gotten so much response to this blog here, on Facebook and via email from ladies telling me they feel these same things. I almost didn't post it thinking I would sound like I was complaining or dissatisfied. So glad I did, because God has used it to bring out so much encouragement from others. Penny, I'm sorry you lost your original comment. I hate that!! My oldest told me she *wants* me to go out and doesn't mind at all getting the boys if they happen to wake before I'm up. Why is it so hard to just ask for some help? I will definitely use my mornings alone to talk to God.
    Kellie, I love women's bible studies! It's certainly one thing I miss right now, but feel like that's something I'll have to add later on. Maybe I ca pop in to SS sometime. Either way, we gotta get together. You're always so thoughtful and I just love ya!
    Tracy, it's nice to hear from you because you're about a year ahead of me. I'm glad to know the fog does lift. Does schooling get better, too? :) You guys are an inspiration!
    Jennifer, I can totally relate to your weekly "degrading" throughout the week. It's hard when our husbands aren't around. Makes me appreciate our military servicemen's wives even more! Maybe we can meet at the park sometime before it gets too cold. Or at the Ark playground when it IS cold. :)

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  6. Sarah, I can really relate to many of the things you wrote. I have had some of the same feelings lately, and I think having gone through the adoption process, survived the first few months, and come out on the other end with our family (and our sanity) intact, I have found myself feeling a little empty and quite irritable. Everyone else in the family seems to be doing just fine - but I have this nagging "What now?" feeling. I need to spend more time in prayer and figure out the answer to that question, and mostly keep in mind that even though things can be a little overwhelming at times (and more than a little monotonous, at least for me), I am doing what God has called me to do. If I can do a few things here and there to keep myself in a better frame of mind for my family's sake, all the better. Good luck with boot camp and whatever else brings you some much-needed respite. :)

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  7. I'm a little late here :o) just catching up on my blog reading...
    Your words are such a blessing to me, Sarah... I'm in this place right now too. Thank you for sharing from your heart.
    (((hugs))),
    chris

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