Well, This Is Embarrassing

My brother doesn’t get the blogging thing. While watching television, the Progressive commercial where Flo tries to gain access with a secret code word came on which led to the following conversation:

“I wrote a blog post using this commercial, did you read it?”

“Yeah” the brother replied, “but I don’t get it.”

“Get what?” I asked, not sure I really wanted to know the answer.

“The personality type that feels it necessary to tell the world embarrassing things. Who do you think reads it? Who do you write for?” He was genuinely perplexed. I don’t think he meant it as accusational as it sounded. I surprised myself by having an immediate and polished comeback.

“I write for myself, and if what I write, and the experiences I’ve had help someone else, then a little public humiliation is worth it.” I could tell my explanation did nothing to help him understand why I’m driven to do what I do. But that’s ok. I’m finally beginning to accept my “weirdness” and that in that difference, I have something to offer. If nothing else, I crack myself up on a regular basis. Silence is isolating. Sharing builds community. If I can persevere past certain things then so can you. I’m nothing special.

It isn’t only the funny or goofy things I want to share. I want to share the darker side of being me. I struggle with anxiety and depression. This was not diagnosed until I had been through some tough places but in time to save my life and allow me to have the life I have today. I hope this helps someone who has felt as I did in a time of great stress or crisis.

The past two weeks have given me much material to contemplate as I mindlessly scroll through posts on various forms of social media. Hurricane Harvey left a path of wind and water destruction throughout much of the coastline of southeast Texas. Rockport, where the hurricane made land fall, is one of my happiest places. We owned a small home there for a while, and the degree of devastation there left me heartbroken. Living in suburban Houston my neighborhood did flood, but our home was not damaged. We were blessed beyond belief. 

When the county judge issued a mandatory evacuation for our area, we decided it was time to go. Our daughter came closer than ever to telling her parents what to do. She was very concerned we would be those folks determined not to leave then end up being rescued with their dog in the middle of the night in their underwear. Not ever pretty, but survival doesn’t care about pretty. We navigated our way out of town and stayed with friends about fifty miles south of here. We will be forever grateful for their hospitality. 

Once we got home and life for us began to return to normal, I noticed that I was not right. I know what those of you who know me well might be thinking about now, “How could you tell you’re not right…you’re not right on good days.” That’s OK, sometimes the truth hurts, but in this case, I own it. One of ways I deal with my anxiety issues is to talk…and talk…and talk. When I’m not talking these things roll through my brain like the perverbial hamster in a wheel. I try to spread the joy, but know that I wear folks out. Sorry to those I have burdened with my long winded diatribes. Sometimes to protect you I just withdraw. So, don’t take it personally. I’m really just taking care of both you and me.

But, I digress. I was trying to figure out what was going on with me. So many people I know were suffering and I couldn’t force myself out of the house. All the rationalizations only sounded like hollow excuses. Why didn’t I go help move and clean? Why didn’t I reach out? What kind of lousy person am I? Instead of doing that I sat at home watching the devastation on television feeling overwhelmed and sad. 

People who had lost everything were thanking God. I laid on the couch. I donated some money but never left my house. Stories all over the news of the selfless giving around me…and I laid on the couch.

Then Thursday night Chey called me upset because she desperately wanted to go with a church group to help flood victims. She said, nearly in tears, “We just sat here during the storm doing NOTHING while people were suffering.” We continued to talk and ultimately she was able to go help and had a great time doing it. But this conversation made me really think about somethings about being authentic and unapologetic. 

I believe that God gives different gifts to people to be used to help others and show them His love. For many years I forced myself to do things foreign to my gifts and personality because it was what I thought I was supposed to do. I was miserable and I’m pretty sure my efforts were not as effective as if I had waited for the thing I was supposed to do. I don’t understand Chey’s activist personality. She will be the person marching for social justice and fighting the system so that things will be fair. Bless her heart. God has given her an incredibly strong sense of right and wrong and the drive to do something about it. I don’t have that. It doesn’t even cross my mind to be upset. But I do have other gifts and abilities which would go wasted if I spent my time chasing after the wrong things. 

Suddenly yesterday the metaphorical clouds cleared and sun shone through my fog. I left the house gathering with friends for a small knitting group. One had been flooded and one had been in the thick of things helping her and other folks as well. I was embarrassed and a little afraid they would ask me why I hadn’t been around. They didn’t ask that, they asked how I was doing. It was simply a time to support friends. A huge group of National Guard soldiers came in for lunch and we applauded them for their service and sacrifice. It was a good afternoon.

Tomorrow I’m helping someone who is moving into a new house after flooding and bringing food for her family so she doesn’t have to cook. Why now? Why am I able to do this now and not in the thick of the suffering? I think it is partly how my brain is wired. Despite the fact that nothing bad happened to our house I was overwhelmed by evacuating and being out of control of my life. I needed time to heal myself before I could do anything for anyone else. God was providing for folks in need with the people like Chey who respond in the moment of the crisis while he was helping me heal. Now, I can step in to help carry the load. I’m OK. I’m where I need to be and I am thankful to God for helping me learn this lesson.

Be gentle with yourself. Love yourself then you can love and help others.

~Sheryl

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