But, that's never going to happen.
I have also wrestled with what should remain private as opposed to sharing on the invasive internet, but God has already used our testimony a dozen times over the past 6 months to glorify Him which tells me He can and will honor my attempt to share a small portion of our story here.
So, here goes ....
Anxiety has become common place in our home. Wait .... that's not right. Dealing with and confronting anxiety has become common place in our home and let me tell you, our home is a calmer, healthier place to be. (Please don't interpret that as perfect.) We're learning more about what we're dealing with and although it's been tough to say the very least, we don't feel like we're drowning any longer.
I'm saying 'we' a lot. There's a reason.
My girls have many qualities passed down from Eric and myself. For instance, Olivia is a mini-me. She's straightforward, sarcastic and uses humor to make herself feel more comfortable. Emma has my same mannerisms and has a tender heart.
But, both deal with anxiety (in different ways) on a daily basis. And as cliche' as it sounds, they get it honest.
Let me backtrack a little ...
From August until March, one daughter got into my car after school and broke down crying. Every single afternoon. The causes varied somewhat from day to day, but the result was always the same - hold it in all day while in class and then lose it in the safety of our car.
The other daughter started her day (or anything new) with so much anxiety, she couldn't rationalize 'safety', often thinking something bad will happen or she will get hurt.
At times I was compassionate. At times I was sensitive. At times I responded with patience.
And then there were the times I responded in frustration and anger.
I'm a 'fix-it' kind of girl and the bottom line is: I couldn't 'fix' my daughters, nor 'guilt' them into feeling differently.
So I sought help.
I wanted to understand why I was having such trouble parenting such compassionate, funny, beautiful, special children. At the end of every day, I would tuck my sweet girls in bed and want to bang my head against the wall because of (false) guilt or feeling like a failure.
And, then there was my own anxiety over a long list of issues.
Something had to give!
I won't go into all the details here because my girls will have their own (wonderful!) stories to tell, though I will say that after seeking help, bells started going off. Everything clicked and my eyes were opened. I have learned SO MUCH that I believe I could write my own book about the subject. As I learned more about Emma, I learned more about myself and then ... ding, ding, ding .... I learned more about Olivia.
I have studied each girl more closely and have come to understand the different manifestations of anxiety they have - and they ARE different. What's even more confusing, it manifests itself in me differently from the two of them.
Whew .... talk about a whirlwind.
As I walk this road, I've learned a few crucial things that are making our lives easier. I feel like we have been set free and what's even more wonderful is that my girls would say the same thing. So, here's a list to document the lessons learned at this stage of the journey, with surely more to come! (I'm well aware some of these will not sit well with a lot of people. I'm okay with that).
** I can't talk them into feeling different any more than I can convince myself of the same thing. Their feelings are real and legitimate.
** Though memorizing scripture that addresses our fears is helpful, it's not a cure. What I mean is reciting "When I am afraid, I will trust in you" or "God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and of sound mind" is fantastic and certainly a part of what we do, but will not flip a switch and make me feel at peace.
** A person dealing with anxiety isn't without faith. It's not a direct result of someone taking their eyes off Jesus. I'll never again be convinced of that.
** No longer will I long for and expect a day when I don't have to deal with anxiety. God is not punishing us because we haven't prayed enough about it or haven't believed Him enough to remove it. God loves me, period. He intends good for me, period. His grace is not about 'if I do _________ enough, he will do ________________'. That's not grace.
** My anxiety keeps me dependent on a Savior. Perhaps that's the point.
** When anxious, all logic is gone. Understanding more about how the brain works (and I know very little!), I know it's not physically possible to think logically when stressed or deeply anxious. As a mother, this has been eye-opening. My frustration came when a daughter couldn't rationalize what seemed 'minor' to me. Now, I get it.
** I'm learning to be quiet and listen. Perhaps this has been the toughest lesson and one I'm working on the most. I'm learning to stop asking questions, wait until she is ready and then let her voice it in her own way.
** Let.it.go. Instead of running a scenario in the ground and trying to rationalize an action, let it go and see the good.
** Being physically active is crucial .... no exceptions.
** Celebrate how God made us. We are all a workmanship of a very capable Father and He will consistently walk with us through anything. He is so very good.
** Watching my girls put into action what they've learned has been amazing to witness. I can visibly see them work it out for themselves.
** It has become even more important for Eric and me to teach our girls about grace versus perfection, grace versus legalism, grace as a standard. Perfection cannot be attained and should not be a goal.
I feel like I'm treading on new territory with the Lord. I'm understanding more of His heart and how He must 'parent' me and teach me to 'parent' my girls. It's exciting and I'm hungry to learn more!
(Side note: no, we did not seek the help of medication. That is not what this post is about.)