I started this blog to record Baby Girl’s life. I wanted to remember each and every day, each detail of her life – I have so few memories of my childhood that I wanted a platform for Baby Girl to recall memories of her own childhood. Especially since she is an only child, there won’t be any siblings to bounce memories off of.
But, this blog quickly became about me exercising my demons (so to speak). And in a way that’s okay – Baby Girl will truly know who I am. And very often, if fears or insecurities or anything is passed onto the next generation, understanding where these fears or insecurities come from is half the battle in walking beyond them.
And often I ask myself, “Why?”
Why have I gone through all? And this is how I tend to think of it: some people are born with strong personalities. From the get-go, they know what they want in life and what they’re going to do to get it. Others are born with softer personalities that need to be nurtured and taken care of – these are usually your more sensitive individuals and are more easily influenced by outside forces. And then you get those that are born blank slates – their personalities develop over time from their families, life experiences, etc. I was in this latter category. I was a blank slate – I was this insecure, sensitive little girl who, I think, from the word go had to develop my personality in life. I have no problem with that – I think we worship a God who is creative.
However, I was born into dysfunctional family with a dominant mother figure and an absent father figure. And this dominant mother figure controlled and bullied every aspect of my life. And this only loaned itself even more to me developing anxiety issues.
It has taken me a long, long time to realise that God did not create us to be anxious.
He created us to be peaceful and loving.
Anytime as a child that I felt anxious (which was often given the amount of fighting in our house) I stopped eating, and so my focus became this fact that I hardly ever ate. If I had someone who nurtured me, and protected me, perhaps they would have then pointed out that not eating isn’t the issue. In fact, anxiety actually isn’t even the issue, as that was purely a response to my circumstances. The issue was growing up in a dysfunction home, filled with fights, and yelling and swearing, and being bullied and controlled by my mother, and forgotten by my father that the only voice I could develop against all this was to feel anxious. And growing into adulthood, those well-worn neuropathway’s are all that my brain and my emotions really knew.
But, I have made such huge progress.
And I think the most important lesson I have learned is that I have to change how I think. I have to be disciplined and consistent about thinking the thoughts of God. And slowly, over time (Rome wasn’t built in a day) those well-worn neuropathways will start to change.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Just last year this time, I was still taking Paxil. And I can’t believe it’s been a year – a whole 365 days – since I stopped taking Paxil. And I remember the moment so clearly – we were travelling to Cape Town and I had taken two Paxil in the morning because I was so nervous about the trip. We had stopped at a restaurant for dinner, and hubby, Baby Girl and I were having a wonderful time. I looked at hubby and thought, I don’t need Paxil. I am done. And I was.
Four years ago I started the job I now have and I was so nervous and so scared; I never thought I would cope. My go-to to sooth and calm myself was to make sure that I am eating. In fact, I would wake up at 04:00 to eat some toast, then again at 06:00 to have breakfast, then again at 08:00 once I had arrived at work, then again at 10:00 (I would eat my lunch at 10:00) and then again at 14:00, then still have supper at night.
Oh. My. Word. I have come a long way.
Now, I eat at 08:00 for the first time and it is a healthy sized meal. Then at 10:00 I just have a cup of coffee, and only have lunch at 12:00 (which is again a healthy portion size and a healthy meal). I have a smallish snack at about 14:30 to see me through and then supper with my family. So much better, so different to four years ago.
You see, four years ago I believed I would die – now I see that for the lie that it is. I was scared that if I didn’t eat this meal, and the next, and the next and try eat as much as what I could, I would eventually get to a point of just not eating. And die.
It sounds ludicrous when I type it here or even think about it, but that is what I lived with. I was plagued by fear night and day. And I turned to food to soothe myself.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
And I love my job. Okay, the pay isn’t great, but I work with amazing people and I love what I do. I’m just a secretary, but I’m really good at it and I even won an Employee of the Month award.
And I never exercised – I was too scared of losing weight and falling prey to anxiety. Four years ago, I didn’t want to walk up and down the stairs at the office too frequently in case it meant I’d lose a kilo or two during the day.
I am also sleeping better now – and if I do have a bad night’s sleep, I find myself quoting 2 Timothy 1:7 over and over again to myself. Four years ago, I would have looked at the lies, analysed them, believed them, internalized them and felt like I wanted to run away because I couldn’t cope with the anxiety or what these fears may mean. And I truly believe that is the Holy Spirit bringing that verse to mind to remind me that fear and anxiety isn’t from God.
And I’m running. Oh, boy – that, I think, is the biggest miracle out of all of this. You see, even before I had Baby Girl and was naturally skinny; I was a certified couch potato or bookworm. I played at going to gym, but I never really accomplished anything. And hubby has tried to get me to exercise since Baby Girl was born. But, I couldn’t see past the lies to know that this is what I needed. God has really performed a miracle in my heart where this is concerned. Just yesterday (during my lunch break at work), I ran 5.10 km. ME!!!! Seriously, and I do the park run on Saturdays when I can. I’ve just completed my fourth park run and you know what? I love it.
This shows God’s grace and His power at work.
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Do I still feel anxious?
Not as often as before – but I do still have my moments. I have learnt though that no matter how I feel, or what I am thinking, I can still choose to trust God and love my husband and my family. No matter how scared I may be feeling.
Is it easy? No. It is getting easier. But, it isn’t easy. Being soft and gentle and being born as a “blank slate” I think makes me a very easy target for the evil one. And that’s also okay. Because God has already defeated him in Christ Jesus and God is for me.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
What do I need to do? Trust God. There are many days that I feel particularly anxious and I’m scared I’m to choke on my food and embarrass myself.
“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
And I will need to deal with those days and moments as they happen. But, I cannot allow myself to go back to fear – it is not what God has called us to do.
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
So, I am trusting God. I am trusting Him that even if I have to live with anxiety for the rest of my life it will never impact my life again the way that it has over the last couple of years.
And I thank God from the bottom of my heart that He heard my cries, and came and delivered me and is continuing to do so and will continue to do so until I see Him in Heaven.
Thank you, Lord, thank you.