At the beginning of the month I had what I’m referring to as a breakdown. My version of a “breakdown” is characterized by an overwhelming and all consuming feeling of failure. Seemingly triggered by nothing in particular (although I’m suspecting pre-menstrual hormones might have something to do with the timing) I will start getting insecure about almost everything. I start having thoughts like, “Everyone is annoyed with me.” I start questioning the simplest of things. “Was that too harsh?” “Was that too weird?” “Should I have responded differently?” are the questions floating around my head after random interactions and insignificant conversations.
After a couple days of intermittent doubt, it overtakes me, again, seemingly triggered by nothing, and I end up collapsing in sobs and tears, convinced that I am a failure at everything. That I’m a failure of a teacher, a friend, a daughter, a dog mom, and a Jesus follower.
The thing is, I KNOW those things aren’t true. I know I am not a failure. But these things FEEL true in these moments and it’s terrible. To overcome these breakdowns, I look to others for affirmation. I rely on my friends and family to convince me, or more accurately, remind me, that I am not a failure.
It’s really not cute. And I’m not trying to make this a habit or routine.
So last time I had one of these breakdowns and cried in my pillow convinced that I was a terrible, selfish daughter (and after I messaged my mom asking her to assure me that that wasn’t true), I made a commitment to myself to get ahead of these breakdowns, to stop the lies in their tracks and not allow them any space in my heart and mind to grow into all consuming lies.
Just making that commitment to myself and being intentional about checking in with myself about what I am believing about myself and how I am thinking about myself has been a game changer. This week some of the lies have started to creep in and I have been able to shut them down with the Word of God and truths that I have hidden in my heart. But also I have been able to focus on the good things that are happening all around me, some of which are a direct result of my hard work, which means I must not be a failure after all.
I’m listing the good things here as an act of worship and acknowledgement that nothing is worth doing if you’re not doing it for and with God, including self assessment and growth. Gratitude is a form of self care and a way to remain emotionally and spiritually healthy. So here I go.
Last year while working for the hostel one of my tasks was to create and maintain social media platforms. The hostel has a Facebook page and an Instagram and I run them both. This week randomly the hostel gained like, 70 followers in one day. I don’t know why, and the hostel owners don’t care a ton about social media followers, but it means that I am successfully managing an Instagram and that’s kind of cool in 2018.
Setting a goal of writing 500 words a day of whatever is on my heart and mind means that I have a ton of random Google Docs about random things. This week was my week to share on the With Her Heart blog and I found myself scrolling through my Google Docs looking for words I hadn’t yet shared with anyone. I found something I wrote called “Lessons I’ve Learned from My Dogs,” that was actually pretty good. I shared it on With Her Heart and got some really great feedback. I love being able to share my words with people and it makes my heart soar when people interact with something I’ve written by commenting.
Two of my friends blessed me in huge ways today. One friend of mine is always sewing things for me because I’m a mess and she’s a great seamstress. We actually have a pretty good system. I teach her kid English and she sews my leggings back together once a month. A couple weeks ago I sent my duvet cover to her to patch up and shrink down (she actually made it out of a sheet set and it was a little too rectangular). I came home from school today and the mended and hemmed duvet cover was on my front porch! She went out of her way to get it to me today even though I’ll see her son tomorrow.
After getting excited about the new and improved duvet cover, I went into my house, opened my fridge for some afternoon cheese and saw something in there (the fridge) that I had not placed there. On the bottom shelf on my fridge there was (and still is) a big ol’ ice cream container that had been re-purposed as a SOUP CONTAINER and it’s holding a bunch of broccoli cheddar soup that my friend Amanda sneaked into my house to leave for me. This week I’ve been super weird and whiny about providing lunch for myself and now I don’t have to worry about it because I have a soup fairy. #blessed
This past weekend my English class students and I painted our English classroom. It doesn’t look great but it also doesn’t look terrible and with a second coat it could definitely look pretty good. I got a little impatient with the kids because they kept doing things I told them not to do (like dripping paint across the floor and not cleaning it up) BUT THEN after we had painted the three boys I’m closest to were playing (they were at my house for about five hours on Saturday) and one of them stepped on a thorn and it went into his foot. I am not one for feet or splinters but I was the adult and he needed this thorn out of his foot. Without hesitation I took his grubby little foot in my hand and tweezed around. We ended up soaking it in apple cider vinegar for 10 minutes after which the thorn came out easy peasy. I was proud of myself for jumping to action and handling the situation in a very mature and caring way.
The day after we painted the English classroom I painted my kitchen the same color. Then, the day after that I gave the kitchen a second coat and it looks great. I love making little adjustments and improvements in the house to make it feel more like home. And to make it more colorful. 🙂
On Saturday I went to get some flowers with two of my gal pals. On the way back from the flower nursery (which is my new favorite place and where I want to get married because there are just flowers and green and leaves and flowers) we stopped at a friend of one of the gal pal’s houses. This friend recently had neck surgery (terrible, right?). Before we left my friend prayed for her in English. Since the friend who recently had neck surgery is Dominican, I figured I better pray in Spanish, too. I tell you what, Spanish never comes out of me faster and clearer than when I am praying. It is such a picture of the Holy Spirit at work in me. Remember when Moses was like, “God, I am not a good speaker!” And God said, “I’ll be your words.” God is my words when I pray in Spanish.
I could go on. I might go on later in a Google Doc that might never be seen by another set of eyes. It’s a good practice, this gratitude thing. It’s good and healthy and helpful to focus on all of the ways my life is full and good and on all of the ways that I am NOT FAILING. It’s also good and healthy and helpful to look at the ways that I have failed so that I can apologize and grow and be sanctified and be humble. Both/And. This week I need to focus on the not failing.
I’m not letting lies take root. I’m focusing on the truth. I’m listening to my body and my soul and giving it what it needs. In this way. And in the vegetables way thanks to Amanda’s broccoli soup. I am practicing gratitude. I am not failing. I am not a failure.