Ruminating…..personal torture

The dictionary defines ruminating as “to meditate on; ponder”. That sounds nice and in a lot of cases it can be. But when ruminating is what call a VCR on a loop (yes, I am old….VCR…haha), it can become a personal form of torture.

I believe that God intended for us to live the day as it comes. We handle what is thrown at us, and then move on. I believe that now. I used to replay the past over and over and over again until it was starting to drive me insane. Things that had been done to me 20 years ago by people I did not even know anymore. Some people replay what they have done and their regrets, wishing they had done something differently. When I write it here, it seems ridiculous and an easy thing to stop, but it is not.

I spent years doing this. Many bad things have been done to me. I would think of things I should have said, or done. I would feel the anxiety of the event all over again. It would just play and play. I would turn on the tv, or the music to make it stop. No way to truly sit and be quiet, so forget meditation or spending time in prayer….nope, “play” is hit on the VCR and it starts playing. Therapists would do their best to either help me forget the event or give me tools to stop the ruminations when they started, but no luck.

At the age of 51, yes, I am 51, I realized another part of life, what my life should look like, and we can talk about that in a different blog. I also started a steady, dedicated time with the Lord in that prayer closet. I now spend an hour in the morning in there, reading a devotion, a few pages of the Bible and then in prayer.

In that time, I read that the Lord did not intend for us to replay things that had happened in the past. I cannot quote the chapter and verse, I have never been very good with that. Maybe someday I will get better so others can look it up. But for now, this was not His plan. He teaches you something with an event, or He uses you to teach someone else a lesson, and we never really know which. But if you did not learn that lesson, there is no reason for you to keep playing it over and over to find it, He will just give you a new lesson to learn the same thing…..until you learn it. I didn’t realize that.

I also thought that in some way I could change the past. But the person who wronged me, doesn’t even know I am thinking about them. What is the expression? “Don’t let someone rent space in your head for free” They do not know or care about what they did you me, or if they do, that is between them and God.

So in the end, I decided when the ruminations come, and they still do, because some of us are just built that way, I just say in my head “I trust you Jesus”, and if they continue, I go back in my prayer closet and I read a little in the Bible and spend some time with the Lord and when I am done…..poof, the thoughts are gone, the VCR is turned off.

As I have been saying a lot lately, we may live in a prison but we all have our own keys. The storm even rages in my own head but I can calm the storm in me, with the help of the Holy Spirit in me. Anyone can, this is God’s promise.

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My prayer closet

In other houses, when things got to be too much, and as a mother of 5 kids, with a panic disorder, that could be quite often, I would go in the closet just to cry. No matter how small the closet was, I would go in there so I could cry, truly ball my eyes out, and then come out all composed and the kids would never know. The kids are all grown now, and they are not disturbed to see me cry now anyway.

But this closet has become my prayer closet. I have part of a shelf dedicated to my devotional book, my Bible and an older pair of glasses that still work, so I can leave them there. My husband now knows that if I am in the closet, there is nothing to worry about, and to just let me be quietly alone in there. He does not knock.

I had heard others talk of a prayer closet, and I fully understood the need to for a place to “hide”, but I did not know how much change this little 100 square feet would make in my life. How important it is to stop and be completely alone with God in a place where no one will disturb you, and you are not waiting to be disturbed (I know you parents know what I am talking about).

I have been going in daily now. I start with a devotional reading from a book my friend Cheryl recommended and I had my husband buy me for Christmas this year (which I think will become a new tradition, a new yearly devotional under the tree for me). I read the devotional, and look up each Bible verse at the end on my phone, only because the phone apps are so much quicker. I think on what I read for a few minutes. Then I pick up my Bible and continue reading from where I left off. I am working on rereading Psalms and Proverbs. I think I will read them a few times through this time, just because someone recommended choosing a book of the Bible and reading it over and over until some of it stuck. Seemed like a good idea. My friends Cheryl and Kim had also recommended reading Psalms when I was in a deep depression, so pick a book….I pick Psalms, and Proverbs.

Then I curl down on my knees, putting my head on the floor and pray for a while. Some about what I read, some about what others need, some about what I need, but I just pray. And in that quiet little closet I can stay focused. Focused on God and my prayer and staying in His Light and Love during that time. When I am done praying, I just spend time in that same Light and Love, I just soak it in, like the sun shining down on me after days of dreary weather.

This is all a rather new practice for me, relatively. But it has changed so much in just the time I have started. I have seen things so much more clearly after two years of being lost…..lost so far down a deep hole, I though I would never see light again. My outlook has changed, my self-talk has changed, rumination have stopped, and our actual circumstances in life have been getting so much better. God is amazing. And He just wants to spend time with his children. As I parent, I think…..”Imagine that, wanting to spend time with your children”, which of course I do.

There is no thunder, or storm in my closet. The storm cannot penetrate my closet. The thunder can roll outside but in my closet, it is silent, and the sun is shining.

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Finding my purpose vs. the worldview

I have been struggling for a while, into a state of depression, over what my purpose is. Somehow, in the current way of thinking, people are supposed to have a purpose, like it is divinely stamped on your forehead and you just can’t read it. We also, somehow think it is something big, such as you will save the world, or be CEO of Tesla.

Two years ago, I got very sick. I was diagnosed with gastroparesis after months of testing, and a feeding tube was put into my intestine. I had been so sick I had lost about 20 pounds in 2 months. They originally thought I had cancer, but quickly ruled that out. Gastroparesis is a condition, where the stomach does not work properly, and does not digest the food in timely manner. It makes the patient very sick. I have had it all my life but did not know it.

I spent almost 2 years in bed between being sick and the surgeries. My wonderful husband took care of everything. Living in Colorado at an altitude of 7000 ft, in a desert, I could not keep enough water down, even with the feeding tube and was in the hospital getting IV’s every month. We decided to move to Florida, in the humidity and sea level. I gained back the weight and started to be able to do things but could not seem to get off the couch.

My husband has “retired” at 47 to take me to Florida. He was still taking care of most things around the house. I had convinced myself that I had chronic fatigue. The formula that goes through a feeding tube is not food, it is corn syrup, milk, soy and vitamins. I had been through a lot in the past two years and I kept listing them off in my head. Of course I was tired, who wouldn’t be? And the friends and family I spoke to and listed these things off to, would only agree with me that I needed rest. The doctors even agreed with me, anesthesia can take as much as a year to wear off, especially if there were many surgeries. All the excuse I needed to lay on the couch and watch tv.

But I was depressed. Normally I have anxiety, and a panic disorder, but not depression. I blamed it on the side effects of the medications they give me for the panic disorder. It is one of the main side effects. In the depression, I could not think. I just kept feeling worthless, absolutely no value. It was a constant attempt to get off the couch and find something I wanted to do but the motivation was not there. It was a struggle to do anything. I could force myself, but then, right back on the couch.

Staying home at 47, was starting to depress my husband as well. We had plans to do things together but we really just watched tv together and did nothing. He decided it was time for him to go back to work. He needed a reason to get up in the morning as well. But he could go back to work, I can’t, I am on disability. A part time job just was not feasible since I have to take my son to school and work.

My husband and I sat down and had a long talk. He did not want me to feel like he was leaving when I needed him. But I told him that I actually did not need him anymore, not physically to take care of me. I could do it myself. I did not want to hurt his feelings by saying I did not need him. This was a long conversation, and we came to the realization that I used to be what I called a “homemaker”. I made a home for everyone and was the linch pin for the whole family. When my children grew up and my father passed away, I felt like my husband did not need taking care of and my job was over. But my husband did like to have me making a home. We liked that he went to work and I would do the chores, run errands, do repairs, whatever needed being done. I had always found satisfaction in keeping things neat and tidy and making sure everyone was comfortable in our home. No one ever yelled for a roll of toilet paper for 12 years. Everything was kept stocked.

I had let the world get in my head. People believe that if you stay at home, you are just a housewife. Just? No, I make a home. I taught my children, I am available when I am needed. I am not sure we wouldn’t have less problems in America if we had a person at home. People think this is sexist, but I do not make distinctions about which person would stay home, or if it were a grandparent. A linchpin. Don’t get me wrong, if this does not work for any family, that is between the people in the family. But the sacrifices are more than worth it, and sometimes it is less sacrifice than most people think.

But I let the world get in my head. I HAD a purpose all along. I should have been fighting to get back to it, instead of looking for a new purpose that did not exist. God gave me a purpose. One that fits our family well. I was depressed a feeling like I was in a prison, when I had the key all along. Isn’t that usually the way? Trusting in God the whole time that I was where I was supposed to be, but I didn’t. I am so glad that I have found it again.

This is going to be a whole new year, and I see it being so much better.