Since I was a kid I’ve been more of an observer than a participant. Given the choice, I’d choose reading a book on the porch over any kind of activity and I’m a people-watcher all the way. I earned my degrees largely sitting under old oak trees, book in hand. Being a person of stillness has served me well, especially in my chosen field.
But there was a period in my life in which I could not be still. My marriage was struggling for survival amidst four kids, one income, and zero connection between us. We both wanted desperately to be happy together. We just weren’t. I woke up stressed and afraid. I went to bed stressed, afraid and sad…so sad. I was definitely being carried back to my childhood experience of watching my parents’ marriage disintegrate. They divorced amidst lots of fighting, infidelity and absense.
That’s not what we looked like though. We were lots quieter, more controlled and highly avoidant. We just didn’t know how to name what we were feeling. Each thought the other should know us so well that those conversations would be unnecessary. After all, I thought, if he loved me he’d know what was bothering me. Right? Wrong.
That’s where we were nearly twenty years ago. My insides felt as if they were vibrating with anxiety. I wasn’t sleeping well and had lost weight from lack of appetite, and wasn’t even aware of it until someone asked me about it. I said I wasn’t losing weight with all sincerity and went home and stepped on the scale for the first time. I was shocked to be sixteen pounds lighter in just a couple months. I was desperately trying to shield our boys from the tension between as much as possible so for their sake, I “scheduled a breakdown” every afternoon as they were off riding bikes, skateboarding and a myriad of other amusements they enjoyed with the neighbor kids.
From one to two o’clock each day I would hurriedly escape to the running track behind the elementary school and indulge in a furious cry while have imaginary conversations with my husband, releasing upon him all my fury, listing my grievences and sorting all my feelings aloud. Then, I would yell at God asking him where he was while we were in agonizing pain and confusion. And when all the dark, confusing feelings had been relinquished, the anxious vibrations inside me were quiet. Miles were walked each day. First brisque and impatient, then exhausted and submitted to my reality. It’s funny that until I was emptied of pain I could not hear wisdom speak.
That’s when the listening started. In my exhausted stillness, I heard God’s voice, first comforting me, then directing me how to respond to my situation. One of the names by which God identifies himself is Wonderful Counselor. He became that to me each day during my scheduled breakdowns. He became that to me each day during my scheduled breakdowns. I’d always heard people say that they talked to God, implying they heard him talk back to them too. But for me, this was a first. I felt such comfort and nearness to Him on those walks. Even during the yelling, crying parts. Especially during the yelling, crying parts.
Thousands of years ago, a man named Job was suffering in profound ways. He’d lost all of his children in a natural disaster and all his livestock, which was his source of income. On top of all of that, he got a painful, skin disease. He wrote about his sadness and pain in a book of the Old Testament of the Bible. I find that his words resonate with me when I am suffering. He said, “Those who suffer [God] delivers in their suffering, he speaks to them in their affliction (Job 36:15).” This was definitely my experience on the track.
This is where I learned Soul Care Truth #1: A soul emptied can receive what a full soul cannot. When I vocalized my thoughts and feelings, I was emptying my soul of its pain, making room for truth and fresh perspective.
Many times we keep our muddled thoughts and feelings inside, swirling in an endless loop, actually increasing our anxiety. You may fear that you’ll look crazy yelling at the air. To that I say a hearty ‘who cares?’ It doesn’t have to be yelling though, it can be conversational in tone. But for those of you who just don’t think you could ever do that, then the written word can be almost as powerful. Writing utilizes both sides of the brain, activating neural connections as you express your pain through your pen. Note: studies suggest that using a keyboard is not as effective in this regard as is the use of an old fashioned pen. After you’ve written it all down you can read it aloud in your bathroom or your car.
Either of these methods is a powerful tool for reducing stored stress and sorting out your thoughts. It may be just the thing needed to enable you to return to work or to give your full attention to your little ones the way you’d like. Maybe you’d like to empty your heart with an actual person. You can give me a call at 855-255-5993 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a time to come into the office.
Ever felt like your “insides are vibrating”? Have you found either of these methods to be effective in reducing your stress? Share your experience in the comments section below.