Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Limits of Escape

On January 6, 2009, over seven years ago, I showed up at this unfamiliar place on the internet, entirely alone, and started typing. That's a long time and a lot of words - 1,666 posts, to be exact, but for the past year I've been telling people I've been blogging for eight years. Woo hoo! I'm younger than I thought!

We're legit friends at this point, you and me. Blogging has made me a more open person. I've felt the exquisite beauty of truly beginning to live outside the shadows. It's made me reconcile certain things within me and wrestle with who I really am. If there's one thing I can promise, it's that the "me" you get here is the complete Shannan. It might even be the realer me, because I'm never more aware of the beating of my truest heart than when I'm sitting here with bedhead, tapping these keys.

(It sounds like I'm bidding farewell to blogging. I'm euologizing myself, and I don't know why! I'm not going anywhere. Just feeling a little nostalgic.)

The past couple of weeks have been a major downer.
Let me be more clear - the past couple of weeks I have been a major downer.


It's all so boring, especially when I happen to be a work-from-home, introverted woman with a bent for self-analysis. I'm sorta sick of myself.

I could blame a lot of things, and trust me, I've tried. We've had house guests (the kind the move all of their stuff in, wrinkle their noses at what I cook for dinner, then move all of their stuff back out a few weeks later. Times three.) We've had a short kid who has been struggling in ways that make me very tired. I've watched from close range while someone I love slips back down the drain of addiction and I've feared for her life. I've had doubts about church. Doubts about God. Doubts about the whole trajectory of my life and major doubts about my new phone, which autocorrects "Calvin" to my boss's email address from nine years ago and won't let me just be me, dangit.

 



The problem with these scapegoats is that they aren't really anything new.

So I tried convincing myself I was just feeling the pressure of writing a book and all the associated anxieties. I said I'd worked too frantically for too many days and just needed to completely decompress.

I took to wearing many layers of gray-grayish-black comfy knits, gave myself permission to work slow, and inadvertantly created a situation where I became unable to categorize what "work" even was. I spiraled into the mind-numbing terror of endless, meaningless busy work, where every day ended with the realization that I'd accomplished exactly nothing. I dreamed my eye tooth crumbled from my mouth by the root while I was out on a speaking tour and woke up stiff with worry over how it would be fixed.

I became a closet cynic for a short while. No one met my expectation, most of all me. The glass was three-quarters empty and everyone was in my way. I dreamed I was in prison with Cory, only it looked like a coal mine. I kept trying to hide behind him while a chipper psychopath threatened to cut off our pinkie fingers for no good reason. I woke up at 5 am, wiggled both pinkies, and curled myself around Cory.

I stopped making my bed.
I let a $10 coupon expire because the ten-minute drive felt insurmountable.
I threw out my back.

"You need balance." "You need margin." "You need to rest." 
"Your family needs a break."

Those are phrases commonly said to me, and I finally conceded they were right.

So, I read lots of books and drank lots of tea.
I didn't go anywhere.

Without meaning to, I nurtured myself into a low-grade, situational depression.

I saw it with sudden clarity in the shower - the most productive think tank known to man or at least to me.  I depend on the bang and clutter of community and the warp-speed of the everyday. I pulled on jeans, raged at my lifeless hair, made the bed, and re-entered the world around me. I drove to Target and bought $13 eye cream. I played "art class" with Silas, and let him teach me how to paint.

(print by katygirl)




 

I don't know how or when I'll ever be able to truly accept that my life feels best when it's cranking past capacity.

Last night, Calvin trudged upstairs around 8:30 like he does almost every night, seething with the injustice of a ten-year old who doesn't get to choose his own bedtime. "Goodnight. Enjoy your 'relaxing time'." (He actually did the air quotes, because daaaang, going to bed makes him grumpy.)

He wasn't two stairs up before I saw headlights pulling into the drive.

Just when the Littles end their day, our biggest kid shows up. It happens all the time. And though it sometimes makes me feel like <insert every exasperated emoji here>, I looked at him for thirty minutes last night in full-blown amazement. He nailed his evaluation at work. He bought a janky sword (a real sword!) for ten bucks and brought it in to show us. He's kissed dating goodbye. (For like a minute.) He's kind and handsome and good and maddening and so, so lovable. Just like the little ones up in their beds.


This is my life, and it really does look weird if I step outside it.

So I guess I'll just stay wedged inside. I'm at my best when I'm all-in, finding breaks and rest as they come without trying to manufacture them on my own or believing I'm entitled to anything at all. This is my tension, and it pulls me from every side. I need it.






Today marks blog post #1,667 and as a child of the evangelical 80's, I'm relived that I've steered this ship past the dreaded 666 marker. But more than that, I'm grateful I can still come here and lay my thoughts down, brick by brick. The road is turning out to be more winding than I thought, but I'm not a fan of straight lines after all.

And you know what? I didn't know that about myself seven years ago.


*Here's what life looked like 7 years ago!

32 comments:

  1. I just adore you!!! I know the struggles of life and of fighting back depression. They are real, no they aren't the battles that everyone faces, but they are real. And hard. And long. And...well they suck.

    Hang in there! God is good all the time, even when we think it doesn't make sense!

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    1. I have to think we all hit these walls from time to time. I guess I'd rather do it together than alone, you know? Thank you for rooting me on and I'm doing the same for you!

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  2. The Indiana weather is kicking my booty. I don't know if I wish we actually had snow here to make the cold worth it...or if I wish we could actually have some snow days to completely shut everything down. I feel "meh".

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  3. Oh that Ruby slays me!
    I have suffered from depression for about 20 years. It's no fun and kudos to you for realizing it so early. You cheer me up so much! How would we ever make it without our hope in God,doubts and all! (Please excuse excessive use of the !) Xo

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    1. I'm here with you, Deb.
      And never apologize for over-!!!'ing! :)
      XO

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  4. I so get this. That unmade bed can be a key indicator of being in a funk, can't it? Thanks Shannan for sharing the real you. You inspire me. I think I'll go make my bed this morning.

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  5. I love your writing! You make me think, make me laugh......LOVE this line: Today marks blog post #1,667 and as a child of the evangelical 80's, I'm relived that I've steered this ship past the dreaded 666 marker. Bwahaahaa! A question....where do you get the night cap that Ruby is wearing? I have one with stick straight hair, but she rocks herself and wakes up looking like some evil elves came and teased it in the night! I wonder if the cap thingy would help?

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    1. We get ours at Wal-Mart!
      They're usually with the ethnic hair supplies.

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  6. I don't have the words to tell you how impressed I am with so much about you. Your writing. Your mothering. Your selfless commitment to improve the lives around you. Just the part about the oldest coming home at an otherwise inconvenient time, yet what shines through is the good way in which his life is turning rather than the not-great time of his visit. YOU have made that difference in his life. If only one life is changed because of your efforts, then you're already done!! But you've already done so much more as well! God Bless You! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and letting us know that there's imperfect in all of us. Even those who make such positive changes in others.

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  7. No! you weren't alone. Funny thing is -I had just looked up when I first started blogging (when my very first blog post was..) and it was on Jan. 6, 2009. And - then I saw your post here today!!

    You're probably older than me by a few minutes... but who's counting. :) Here's to all our brave, and words and sense of community. Amen? You've done well. Keep up the good work!!

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    1. You've been such a good online friend for so long, B! Looks like we're pretty much blog twins. :)

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  8. Oh wow. I'm just discovering how bad I was feeling because of how good I'm feeling now. I've dealt with anxiety and depression in the past and those times I needed to learn to baby myself, to set reasonable boundaries, and accept that I can't do everything. I've seriously been working on my health (eating well, taking supplements) and recently started dealing with it again. And the annoying thing was I had to relearn what made me feel better. Since my physical health was better, I needed to keep going, fill my days with activities, and hang on for dear life. Resting made me cryier. So for the first time ever, I can actually relate to someone who needs lots of things going on in order to thrive. Wow. Sometimes I get tired of having to learn, unlearn, and relearn everything. :)

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    1. "Resting makes me cryier." I finally know there's someone else who gets this!! I remind myself of this on days & times when life is beyond nuts & it really does help to know I wouldn't want by it an hr other way. Shannan, in so glad you blog!

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  9. What Shannan and Mari Jean said :)

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  10. There is an awful flu making its way through our home for the second time. I have six children so this can mean days of isolation. The weather is messy and school schedules are irratic. Church is good but challenging. My husband is working two jobs. I have been feeling depressed. And then I came here and read this. So comforting that I am not the only one
    And inspiring! Going to choose joy now!

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  11. I'm sorry about that low grade depression. Seems 'tis the season. Well, at least: your living room still looks great; your kids are still darling (your girl, that face); you have new eye cream (funny, I bought eye cream after the holidays, too, but then I'm really old and needed it decades ago); and your oldest is making good choices (a sword?) You stick with us and make us laugh. And you walk with us on our own crooked, winding, what in the world? pathways. Thank you, Shannan.

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  12. " the shower - the most productive think tank known to man"..... Absolutely! I thought I was the only one! Thanks for your post.

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  13. This might be one of my favorite posts that you've written. And I have a lot favorites. I can hear your voice as I read it, and I can see the light creeping in. Love.

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  14. girrrrrll, feelin' all the feels can wear a body OUT! and, add to that, winter in Goshen, and there's the perfect storm. thankful that you sat, then walked, then jumped back into life, and i can't wait to read all about the BIG WIDE WORLD out there that you're about to go forth and see. thanks for being R.E.A.L. that's why you're loved like the Velveteen Rabbit, woman.

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  15. Onwards and upwards my friend….you have loads of love and support from this crowd!

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  16. I'm a child of the evangelical 80's myself, and loved that! Girrrllll....I was just starting to think you were like Wonder Woman. Thank God you're normal. :-)
    Love your writing and am supes excited about your upcoming book!

    Lynette

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  17. Please keep keeping it real. Reading your posts feels like inhaling fresh air, if that makes any sense. You inspire me. =)

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  18. Those are some beautiful people you have surrounding you there!

    I'm glad you blog Shannan. Keep keeping on!

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  19. "This is my life, and it really does look weird if I step outside it.
    So I guess I'll just stay wedged inside. I'm at my best when I'm all-in, finding breaks and rest as they come without trying to manufacture them on my own or believing I'm entitled to anything at all. This is my tension, and it pulls me from every side. I need it." All-in. Exactly. thank you Shannan. thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.

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  20. When (ok...IF) I grow up (I'm 45), I wanna be more like you and your precious, janky heart. Your words...oh, your words...they soothe and convict me at the same time, and I love it all. Thank you for speaking into all of our lives like you do...and please don't ever change. Mucho love being sent your way today...xo.

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  21. Just listened today to you on "Influence Podcast", Shannan! Looking forward to your book...glad I found your blog:)

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  22. Okay, so what I really want to know is...the story of how you almost poisoned your family with fake rhubarb!!! I clicked on the link to your past life and read a few of your gems from the archives. There is one in which you reference the rhubarb story from your xanga days. OF COURSE I tried to hunt it down, but your xanga is hidden from the world, and now you must find a way to make this story relevant to a future post. ;)

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