Humility and mental wellness

art carving close up crown

I read the fourth chapter of The Book of Daniel this morning.

I wondered if King Nebechadenezer had immediately humbled himself before God, as Daniel suggested, if things would have  been different for him. Specifically the dream he had (a prophetic picture of him ‘going mad’ and his kingdom being taken from him) — could that prophetic dream have been avoided?

Well in the end, King N didn’t listen to Daniel and the dream came true. Quite suddenly too. One minute the King is on his palace roof gloating over all he accomplished and the next minute he is out of the palace and out of his mind eating grass and letting his fingernails grow like eagle talons.

After a long time of that King Nebuchadnezzar ‘looked to Heaven’ and ‘his reason was returned to him.’ As was the kingdom and his humility before the one true God.

I have written several times now about a book I am reading, by Patrick Carnes, called The Betrayal Bond. 

He goes into some detail about the role of hubris in forming a trauma bond. An example being a child believing she is special because daddy has ‘chosen only her’ to have a special (abusive) relationship. I could relate very much. I just shared with my therapist that as distrustful as I was of my own family I believed the world ‘out there’ was what I really couldn’t trust.

It is difficult to admit but when I look back at my childhood, no matter what happened in my home, I believed we were better than other people. I’m not sure if that was an unspoken rule thing or just my own sinful nature trying to hide from feelings of shame.

For much of my life I was like a queen, walking the rooftop my ancestors had built, surveying all that was going on and still having the hubris to declare that it was better than anything else on earth.

In light of that delusion I was under, I am actually thankful that my mind broke. There probably wouldn’t have been any other way for me to see the truth of it all.

Gods Kingdom is the only good Kingdom. The things man builds are rife with betrayal, abuse, hubris and all sorts of other madness.

 

When the exhausted mind lies. Like an overtired toddler: but I’m really not tired!

adolescence adorable blur child

Life with an overactive mind: I have a strange pain in my back and I start to obsess that it might be cancer. Or, the muscle twitch in my chest could be the beginnings of a heart attack. Or, right before bed I think of a minor irritation I had with my BHH two days ago and I bring it up with an accusatory edge in my voice; even though we are both tired and it wasn’t that big of a thing.

It is sort of a ‘somatic’ thing, but not really. The medical term for body pain originating in the mind is: somatic (or psychosomatic symptoms). I’ve mentioned several books and theories about somatic symptoms in the past. Dr. John Sarno coined something called TMS — wherein the mind distracts a person from painful emotions by causing a random pain in the back, or neck, or leg. Thereby distracting you from that which is even harder to bear. Like the emotional heartache of grief, stress, or an unsuitable-to-you career choice. Those deeper issues can disappear when your mind is focused on whether or not you will be disabled by the pain in your neck, leg, back, etc.

During my thought processing time today–wherein I was again going over old journal notes  — I came across something intriguing that I had written down. I think it came from my therapist originally. She likely took the note down from someone else.

“An overtired child will insist it is not tired. In reality you KNOW the child needs a nap. But the more tired the child is, the more the child will declare she is NOT tired. A wise parent ignores the child’s protests, removes the stimulation from the child and gives her a space in which to rest and sleep.”

My notes continue to say that I need to treat the obsessive thoughts popping up into my mind, usually about health concerns or my marriage or that I am not doing enough with my life, just as the parent treats the overtired toddler. Ignore them. Don’t give them air. Consciously give my overactive and extremely tired mind the rest it is actually telling me that it NEEDS.

I’m not sure if there is a word for that kind of thing either… Some might call it ADHD, or OCD, or PTSD or C-PTSD. All I know is that I know my mind, my emotions, shoot — even my spirit…is tired. And that it keeps insisting it can ‘still do this’. This being: maintain a high intensity, high stress, highly productive existence. In reality, my mind has been overworked by years of trauma, and then years of denying trauma, as well as some addictions to control and intensity–things which I keep fueling. I have listened too many times to the inner-toddler insisting she wasn’t tired and made myself even more exhausted as a result. I fear that what has resulted is a middle aged crank case who desperately needs a break but won’t give herself one and thereby makes everyone else around her…miserable.

This morning I do recognize that my mind is overworked, overtired, in need of a break. But just like that toddler I can also see how it is STILL insisting right back to me, “I’m NOT tired!”

This is what it looks like when I fall for that lie: I google what a heart attack feels like and get even more concerned about this weird pain in my chest. Or I watch that thriller murder story at 8PM instead of reading a subduing book so that my sleep cycles can maintain their regular-ness. Or I start another round of the WWIII fight I had with my husband last week.

I do all those things over and over because I allow my mind to fool me. It tells me in this excited you-can-do-anything-you-want voice: you are not tired of this emotional roller coaster you’ve been on your entire life! You actually love it!

Yeah. Right. 

A Cracked Christmas…and why I am addicted to being in control.

blur close up crack cracker

My mom was a hoarder. Although I didn’t have a word for it in my childhood as the TV show, Hoarders, didn’t exist. I just knew something wasn’t right with her. We had two deep-freezes full of outdated butter and other things. Mom bought more boxes of butter (and fish sticks and ice cream) on every grocery run. When a freezer got too full, she added more freezers.

Each December I would beg to decorate. My school friends’ Moms put their trees up the day after Thanksgiving. Eventually Mom would nod with a dramatic ‘fine’, and I would climb into the attic to the boxes marked x-mas. I would sift through them and only put out the newer decorations. The cracked silver bell door hanger and the dusty choir boy candles from the 1950’s  stayed at the bottom of the box with the burned out lights, broken tree ornaments and stinky wax poinsettias things. Mom hoarded everything she ever received that had anything to do with anything; and especially Christmas. Yet it also seemed she hated everything to do with Christmas–at least when I was around.

I am an artistic type and so I enjoyed the entire process. All alone I would put the tree up–pushing the stacks of hoarded stuff to the corners of the living room. Mom stayed busy in the kitchen. Dad would come home and declare it looked good; and then now you just need to leave it that way. Then he’d turn to mom and tell her she always over did it and put too much stuff out. I would sing inside at the rare praise, hoping that Mom would listen to Dad.

A few days later, I returned home from school to the harsh reality of my life. Mom had oodles of cookies piled up in the kitchen. She’d already done her work in the living room. The tree sagged, overwhelmed with too many ornaments, many cracked, glued together, and dirty. The bookshelves overflowed with grimy candles. The counters in between the two rooms were covered with nut trays and waxy poinsettias (with layers of dust– too old to come clean). She had redone my decorating; putting it just as she wanted it–and how she wanted it was to have the entire house overflowing with broken, old, fused together…stuff.

I didn’t actually process what that felt like, until I started therapy a few years ago. Yesterday I found my therapy notes about my childhood Christmases. It was insightful to re-read. I could still feel the raw emotions that I felt when I first penned the ‘exchange’ between my younger self and my adult self. But the hard feelings were subdued now; less painful.

I also realized, as I read through the memories: this is why I am addicted to control. This is why I became co-dependent.

There was no submission to one another in our household, and no respect. Boundaries were non-existent. There were ongoing power plays and codependency followed by reluctant obedience followed by retaliations to prove who was really in control. Mom hoarded and ignored. Dad screamed and hit. The uncles molested and assaulted. They were all perverse with one another. And they lived, willingly, with all of it. Controlling their own little worlds, oblivious to the damages done to themselves or others. Just so long as they remained in control of something and/or someone. (Children being the easiest to control).

I decided that most things were my fault, or my responsibility. Now I see that was a form of maintaining some sense of control. In reality, I was in danger. I was abandoned and neglected and outright abused. That truth was too scary to realize, though. I chose the easy lie–that I had deserved it all for being bad.

As an adult my efforts to be in control of the narrative did double-duty each Christmas season as the stress and expectations mounted. I tried to make the holiday into a Hallmark movie for the entire family; hosting gatherings and making nice. I had my own boxes in the attic marked x-mas–yet Mom’s tired junk made its appearance anyway in my own home. She reminded everyone of what a fussy baby I had been. She asked catty questions about how much ‘that new bedspread had cost’ (even though my bedroom door was kept closed, and eventually locked, during family gatherings)…but…. So long as the house and the decor looks nice I can make everything inside of me, and others, be nice as well!!

Nope. I could never control my family. They won every time. Sadly, I still let them win sometimes- even though I have estranged myself now.

As a child I fluffed out that fake tree and made things pretty and believed it could work. I thought Mom would let me have some say, that she would honor my need to have a pretty home, that she might honor ME. She let me get by with it for a day or two. Then she showed us who really ran the house. I’d return from school, see those cracked silver bells on the front door and knew I couldn’t win.

Mom sat wordlessly during dinner, ignoring my dad when he yelled, veins popping in his head, because he couldn’t find his reading glasses with all the bleeping Christmas $*^! on the countertops.

I barely touched my dinner. Then I ate cookie after cookie, their rotten butter and outdated flour putrefying with everything else inside my guts. The next day I’d likely have to skip school, again, due to stomachache.

Dad hit with his hands and cut with his mouth. But in her own way; Mom won the fights. She got what she wanted and what she wanted was to hang on to every old thing she could and to insulate herself from everything. Misery loves company; as they say.

But some things are actually better cracked — like nuts. So the real question is: can I let go of my own need to insulate myself from pain; letting the cracked parts of y life reveal the tender flesh within?

I think so. Probably for the wrong reasons though. Oh, I think I have healed a lot in my recovery process. All I have to do is read some old journal entries to realize that. But, well, mostly I think I am just stubborn enough not to let my mother ruin another Christmas.

 

 

 

Some things were easier when I was living outside of reality.

rear view of a boy sitting on grassland

So my son lost his job. He was fired the week before Thanksgiving. His dream job… Well, all right, perhaps it was not his dream job. Let’s just say it was my dream job. One that I would have loved to have had myself. My stomach is still in a knot as I write this post; a week after first hearing the hard news.

He seems ok with it. It seems he’s learned from the mistakes he made. The work wasn’t fulfilling him anymore. He would have quit soon anyway had he not gotten fired. Still. I felt like I’d been smacked in the gut by a bear.

After a day or two of pain, I found myself longing for the foggy dissociative haze that was once my brain. A numbed out holding place where nothing hurt deeply. Everything could be minimized (well, he was going to quit anyway!), spiritualized (God’s got this! Surely this was meant to be!), or blamed (those dirty pigs, firing someone right before the holidays!?!?), OR, (my unique speciality), DOING ALL THREE AT ONCE.

I no longer deny the reality of my abusive childhood, nor my present mental-health-struggles. Living in those truths is changing my brain. One might think that things would get easier when one is getting healthier mentally. It is a bit trickier than that for me. I denied reality (as an unhealthy coping tool), for so long that there are consequences. Bad news is harder to handle than it was prior. The pain is sharp. Foreign. It tempts me to return to the emotion-less-void that is still so familiar to me. On the flip side, exciting events can, literally, be overly stimulating. I also have to enter into those slowly and with caution.

All of which makes the holidays, err, interesting.

Very early in the morning on Thanksgiving day, I put a turkey in the oven with my heart heavy over my son’s situation. The feeling of loss had eased some, but not enough for me to host a gathering with a smile on my face. I knew I had to pull myself together before the turkey was done. The familiar ‘place’ in my mind was waiting for me to return. I entered into the numbness with relief, because, well, have you ever hosted a Thanksgiving dinner at your house?? It is a ton of work!

The scary part is I didn’t even notice, or feel, the burn on my arm that happened when I put the turkey in the oven. An hour or so later I saw the ugly red gash and only then did the wound begin to throb.

That’s when I realized that it is better to be in reality after all. Because to harm yourself, or to have another harm you, and not even feel it, is scarier to me, now, than anything else. Denial is not a place I want to be anymore.

I thought of Jesus weeping outside of Lazarus’s tomb. The shortest verse in all of Scripture: John 11:35. A mere two words: Jesus wept.

Dead Lazarus–whom Jesus knew would be raised from the dead in mere moments. Why the tears? Why not  focus on the miracle, which was literally about to happen, and which Jesus alone knew was about to happen. It seems strange–why He would cry. Everyone else, who had no idea Lazarus was about to come back to life — sure — it makes complete sense that they would cry and wail and mourn. But why was Jesus crying over something He was about to fix?

Perhaps it is because Jesus didn’t deny any truth. Not for a second. And in that moment, wherein Jesus wept, there was death and loss and hard changes and grieving people all around Him–and so He cried too. He felt the pain. The God-man who is full of Grace AND Truth… stayed in reality.

Scripture doesn’t record Jesus’ reaction when Lazarus emerged from that tomb moments later. But I suspect Jesus was shouting, laughing, dancing, hugging and crying happy tears along with everyone else. I have a hard time believing that He was just standing there, aloof and removed. I think He engaged fully in the celebration which likely ensued.

Living outside of reality works to escape the pain of life, in your mind at least. But the body knows when an injury has occurred, even when the mind is somewhere else. The body always knows. Books have been written about that (The Body Keeps the Score. When the Body Says No.). I’ve read them both in my recovery. They make some very good points; I dare say: chilling points about the importance of living in reality. Indeed, just like my Thanksgiving day oven-burn, it can’t be ignored forever. The body will get the mind’s attention eventually and then it will hurt. We think we can ignore it as a way to deal with it, but it won’t disappear like a salesman at the door. It waits and waits, even though you never invited it in, the pain doesn’t leave. The saddest thing is that a whole lot of restorations and resurrections might happen while you are ignoring the door.

It would be a tragedy to miss those while hiding from pain. And so, while part of me still wants to numb out, a bigger part of me wants to experience all of life. The pain and the joy. The sadness and the celebration. So I placed the good china on the table with a gash on my arm, tears in my throat, and a smile on my face. I felt it all that day. My emotions looked like the heaping bowls of sides, the platter of turkey, and the four kinds of dessert. Or was it five?

There was too much of everything.

But it was good.

pastry on cake stand

 

It’s Tough Being Switzerland, (even though I #believe survivors)

 

alpine beautiful bloom blossom

I have mixed emotions about the #metoo and #believesurvivors movements. I empathize with and support other survivors through prayers and well wishes but I really just want to ‘be like Switzerland’ (neutral) in regard to the whole worldwide movement thing.

As an assault survivor I do not want my name, or my trauma, to be made into public fodder.

I know that many other survivors also don’t want to go public with their stories using their ‘real’ names (fearing for our lives is a reality for some of us). Add a bunch of public attention…and victims who wished to remain anonymous are often nosed out by reporters.

From the start I feared this would end up being all about the ‘left’ versus the ‘right.’ Religious versus heathen.

It pretty much has now. And that’s painful to watch.

On the one hand, I appreciate the awareness and the support of so many survivors coming together. I know how desperately victims and survivors need to hear three simple words: “I believe you.” Those three words can be the difference between recovery and an even darker hole.

Others see the pain the family members of accused perpetrators are going through and get angry at the people coming forward with past claims of abuse.

I suggest feeling empathy and sadness instead. Because the reality of sexual abuse is that there are MANY victims, never just one. Perpetrators’ children and spouses suffer greatly as well, even if they were never perpetrated upon themselves. Spouses and children of victims suffer too. This is a testament to the horror which is sexual abuse.

Now that this topic has been pushed into the public conversation, many feel they can give their own opinion…whether or not they have lived through it themselves, or whether or not they actually know the people paraded about in the news.

I live in Middle America, where it is more red than blue. My Facebook feed is full of memes about alleged perpetrators being innocent and alleged victims being liars. There is even a ‘joke’ going around that George Strait sexually assaulted Emmylou Hayes…and other memes urging me to ‘support Kavanaugh’s family’. One minister I follow referred to Kavanaugh’s accusers as ‘harlots’. That was very painful to read.

So today when a Facebook ‘friend’ shared a photo of Dr. Ford’s lawyer walking behind Hilary Clinton with a ‘does this surprise anyone’ headline…I thought to myself:

Nope. It doesn’t surprise me. I saw this coming. I suspected the me too movement would become a toxic political ‘football’ and that the ones hurt the most by that thing flying around would be survivors (who may be triggered by public vitriol).

Plus, I went through a big ‘end times’ phase before I got sick with PTSD. During my studies I learned things like thesis + antithesis = synthesis. I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it’s probably already too late for that. So: I sense the Hegelian Dialect is at play here.

What is the synthesis we are being pushed toward?

Hang on, I’ll get there. First of all, I believe the escalation of sexual abuse, particularly in the Christian church, is an act of pure evil. It is by design. It is one of the ways the enemy is seeking to destroy Christians before his time is up. And it’s working. Because not only is this evil damaging victims of abuse. Ministers and church goers are being swayed by their emotions (through well-placed memes and photos) and taking up the mighty sword of ‘the pen’ in hasty response. (Things we post on Facebook and blogs are ALL self-published materials–by us, even shared memes from others become our property and responsiblity when we share them). Engaging in public battles we can’t possibly know the real facts about is not normally seen as Christ like behavior. But yet it is applauded tine and again by Christians. As in most things; there is a proverb for that.

Therefore, I am afraid that we are collectively being ‘synthesized’ (thesis+antithesis=synthesis) to accept chaos and lies as normal.

Liar. From the one side.

Liar. (and: harlot) Shouted from the other side.

What to believe? Who to believe?

Everyone’s trust becomes ruined. Which is why I have a hunch this is a battle that Satan himself encouraged just for the love of chaos and the churning out of more lies.

John 8:44 When he (Satan) lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Oh, I’m not some kind of saint here. A part of me really wants to get personal and use my own sword in the debate, since I have also been called ‘crazy’ for claims I have made about my own past abuse.

But I don’t know Kavanaugh or his accusers, I don’t trust any media outlets right now, and so I cannot opine one way or another. A ‘that is really awful’ and ‘I am going to trust God to sort it out’ response seems the only wise Christian response, to me. So I hope to remain like Switzerland, even though its getting tougher all the time. As long as I have Jesus as my rock though, I don’t need a view of the Matterhorn.

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.

Matthew 7:14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

 

 

What’s in your fridge?

pickled jalapenos preserve preserved
Photo by JÉSHOOTS on Pexels.com

Top shelf: a jar of homemade pickles, half gone and short on cucumbers, but still heavy on jalapeños and dill. A dozen cage-free eggs. Miyoki dairy free butter. Bubbies sauerkraut.

Second shelf: a Tupperware container of garden-grown watermelon. Lettuce. Cashew milk. Welches grape juice. Treeline cashew ‘cheese’, scallion flavored. Leftover sweet corn. A gallon of maple syrup. Two new york strip steaks in butcher paper. A bottle of rosé wine. Homemade lavender simple syrup.

Pull out drawer: salami. Antibiotic free pepperoni slices. Dairy free mozzarella cheese. Middle drawers: a bag of garden beets, a bag of garden cucumbers, green peppers, and lemons. Bottom drawer: a bag of carrots and a bag of celery.

Do you feel any calmer while reading that? Did you go through your own fridge in your mind?

Going through the contents of my fridge (in my mind), top to bottom, during panicky moments, was a suggestion I heard from a mentor. She had recovered from complex PTSD which, like me, had struck many years after surviving a traumatic childhood.

The fridge exercise brought my mind into the present moment and out of fight or flight. It was especially helpful if I ‘smelled’ (in my head) the pickle jars and the green peppers. I believe it’s called ‘grounding’ techniques.

But I am trying to make a greater point with this fridge stuff:

Many people can tell you about healthy eating, implying they watch what they eat. Take a peek at their refrigerator contents, and you will see for yourself what their belief system actually entails (regarding food anyway).

Before the PTSD hit, I was already being careful with what I ate due to various health issues. These days I am even more careful.

As a result of my special diet(s), some years back I was invited to attend a trade show by a friend who works in the natural food industry. I walked around gobbling free samples of dairy free cheesecake. I drank green juices that (thankfully) didn’t taste like green juices. I chewed gummy collagen samples to erase facial lines. It was great fun. (Though I still have wrinkles). After the last night of the show, several of us gathered at a swank West Coast restaurant, eager to indulge in more food and knowing we would put the expensive meal on a company credit card. I was thinking I would be amidst kindred folk at that table.

Not so much.

I was the only wierdo avoiding the bread basket and asking the waitress if the butter being sent out with the lobster was clarified.

The man across from me, who had invented a dairy free health product for ‘people like me’, buttered his bread and ate the cheese in his salad. He put his order in and didn’t question a thing on the menu. Once his own health issue had cleared up; the inventor of dairy free products went back to eating what he wanted and helping others heal; while he saw himself as already healed.

The two brokers ate and drank whatever they wanted as well. Oh, they expressed a bit of interest in my vigilant eating habits. So I thought they’d want to know the thoughts of someone who bought all those products they were hawking.

Their eyes glazed over at that, and I welcomed their changed subject.

Considering that I was the demographic they were selling their wares too, I found their disinterest a bit odd. And, even more strange, I would have thought that their own dining choices would better reflect the things they were inventing and selling.

It finally hit me. They were selling.

I was the one buying in.

My diet that evening reflected my status as a believer. Meanwhile the things they were putting into their own mouths did not match the things they were espousing.

But I’m not here to judge that. It is just food after all.

When it comes to being a Christian–it’s obvious when people are giving lip service to God. Perhaps they bought in a while back but now that they are ‘better’; they do whatever they want again or they go off to heal others based upon their status of already arriving at good health.

Again, I really don’t care that much what people eat. I mean, it’s interesting to me. But it is Jesus’ church, and the gathering of the saints–that’s where my main interest lies.

When it comes to Christianity, I believe it is best to buy in yourself. Really buy in… Before you try to sell Jesus to anyone else. Because when more of us are willing to take it seriously, it discourages the posers and wolves and abusers from finding shelter amidst the flock. Someone needs to show up fully sold out and ready to do business with a stick in hand, considering that wolves are a given in the church.

I believe the sixth chapter of John gives us the perfect ‘instruction’ on how to take Christianity seriously. In that chapter, the disciples had just seen Jesus do miracle after miracle and ended up asking Him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

Great question.

Jesus answers in a profound statement found in John 6:29

‘Believe in the one whom He has sent

That’s all there is to it.

Believe in Jesus.

That’s the work that God requires. And it is so simple! We don’t have to turn water into wine like He did. We don’t have to raise the dead like He did. We just need to believe that He did those things.

It felt so freeing when I first discovered that verse years ago.

In time, though, I really began to understand what it entails to believe in something.

It’s tossing things into the trash which others might still want to eat. It’s seeking out alternative sources to buy hard to find items which can cost you a lot and make you feel like an outcast or a weirdo when you are out with others. It’s when nothing looks the same anymore from what it once was: not the contents in the fridge nor your heart.

If we believe in Jesus, it shows in our words, but that’s merely the beginning. Our actions show it. The way we interact. The way we pray. The way we conduct business.

I am examining myself, lately, to check for such inconsistencies. I know that it is time to toss some things on the shelf. To stop taking short cuts and prep food myself. To take stock and to make homemade stock. To tweak my life and to take out some trash. To plant a bigger garden and scatter more seeds. To stop filling up on junk, and to find contentment in the meat of Proverbs and Revelation.

I don’t want to be selling something I don’t use myself. And while the ones ‘buying in’ may still be benefitting from what I am hawking (or handing out for free), what a sad state of affairs it is — if I, myself, am not benefitting the most from my belief in Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Genius of Napping; (and the faith it requires to actually do it.)

close up photography of sleeping tabby cat
Photo by Ihsan Aditya on Pexels.com

Taking a daily nap is frowned upon here in Middle America. 

Where I come from people often get chided for taking a nap. (Unless you work night shifts; are in cancer recovery; or have influenza.). If you roll in somewhere or other and it’s already past 9 am, you are likely to hear ‘and where have you been this morning? Were you sleeping in again?’ Or, ‘Sun’s been up for hours, in case you were wondering.’

Taking a daily nap is part of my required homework for PTSD and Anxiety Disorder recovery.

A few years ago (when I started my convoluted recovery), my therapist explained, ‘You may feel guilty or like you have better things to be doing. But it really is a silver bullet for recovery. Schedule in a non-negotiable, daily nap, every single day. Try not to sleep beyond twenty minutes. That’s the golden time frame for healing your mind. You may need to set a timer.

At that point I was nearly incapacitated with an anxiety disorder and couldn’t work full days anyway. I trudged through mornings at work and ducked out at lunchtime. Then I sat at home staring at the walls and hoping no one knocked on the door until my BHH came home.

I thought I may as well try napping, it would pass some time (time which was excruciating to live through). My hesitation was that I doubted I could actually fall asleep.

I had no capacity for sleeping during the day in my former life, unless I was sick or already behind on sleep. A lifelong insomniac, I hardly had the capacity to sleep at night! I couldn’t even go to nodds-ville when bored in church. There was no relief for me on long car rides either. I’d always envied people who fall asleep on airplanes, and stayed that way from wheels up to touchdown. I was too vigilant. As if I could help the pilot were an engine to blow.

When I first tried to implement the new non-negotiable-nap-rule, I felt nothing but a racing mind and heart. My brain latched on to things, like, what if one of my abusers takes a gun and comes after me while I’m lying here defenseless, to, what am I going to tell my coworkers if I keep only working half days. I was living in near-constant fear from past traumas being awakened. When I got up again, after those first nap attempts, I didn’t feel refreshed. But I forced myself to listen to youtube relaxation videos and to be as relaxed as possible for the required time each day.

Then one magical day of rainbows and unicorns, after weeks of forcing myself to lie still at the same time each afternoon, my mind quieted… and I fell asleep. I had done it. I had napped. And I naturally woke up about twenty minutes later. For a few minutes, right after waking, I even forgot to be anxious.

I was sold. I started to look forward to nap time. I didn’t always fall asleep. But that hour or so of lying still and allowing myself to relax became a time I craved each day. In time, I started being able to fall asleep in cars (and…airplanes). I listened to youtube sermons and also found myself falling asleep listening to preaching.

I still haven’t found myself falling asleep in church, though. But, it is a goal of mine. If I were able to fall asleep in church it would mean I had stopped being hyper-vigilant around clergy and other church leaders. It would mean I finally felt comfortable enough amongst other believers to let myself be that vulnerable…and it takes allowing yourself to be vulnerable to fall asleep; especially in public. And, for me, especially in church.  (An ordained pastor abused me in my childhood).

As I improve, my therapist continues to stress the non-negotiable-daily-nap. I’ve stopped asking when I can quit doing all this ‘homework’. I know, now, that all of it will be lifelong changes I need to make.

Now that my stamina has returned and the anxiety has quieted– like a dog in the corner chewing on a bone–it is tempting to skip the daily naps. I mean, I let my entire life slide for a few years. I’m seriously behind on ‘things’. Do I really have time to take a daily nap?

Or, perhaps I ought to rephrase that question.

Do I really have time NOT to take a daily nap? 

At this point a relapse is always in the back of my mind. I do not want to go there.

So I’m reminding myself of the value of naps today. And hopefully, those reading this can find value in this as well. Many famous people, inventors, artists, and world leaders, were avid nappers (see here for a longer list of famous men who were nap-takers) :

Churchill. Edison. Ronald Reagan (though his wife and staff denied it, and he ‘joked’ about it),

And Jesus. Yes, Jesus.

He was fast asleep in the middle of a storm. (Ok, it may have been nighttime when that storm hit. So technically His slumber in that boat may not have been a nap.)

But the point remains: it takes a lot of faith to sleep in the middle of a storm.

I pray that God increases my faith. I want to be able to take a daily nap for the rest of my life. Eventually, I also want to feel myself falling asleep in church. I’m not too worried that I’d sleep longer than a second or two because just to get to that point of comfort with myself and with others would cause me to jump up and shout Hallelujah.

I really want to live life relaxed. Sleepy even. No matter how much the storm of life still rages around me.

Just like Jesus did.