Saturday, September 7, 2013

Spinning Plates and Acting

I really shouldn't complain - we appear to be on a fairly even keel in the house right now, in spite of the inevitable, predictable ups and downs of Safety Guy's anxiety related to going back to school.  But, appearances can be deceiving.

The kids are managing okay, but I'm just keeping up a nice facade.

Have you ever felt like your life was a series of spinning plates in a circus act, and you were running around trying to keep everything going at the right speed and balance so that nothing fell, crashed and broke around your head or under your feet?

Yes.  Like that.

I'm afraid I've been very good for many years at hiding my struggles.  I'm a decent actor in that respect, although I would rather die than be on a stage.  I keep my cool most of the time, especially in public.  I smile, I do my job, I get stuff done.  I try to appear competent, in control, and ready to deal with everything.  I work hard at it.

The problem with that life-long lie is that sometimes, sometimes more often than I'd like to admit, I'm not in control.  I'm not well-balanced.  Things are crashing and breaking all over the place, and I'm just picking up the pieces and hiding them and moving on to the next crisis, where I do damage control all over again.

But that kind of act can't be kept up forever.  Eventually, the facade cracks, the mask falls off, and everyone who's paying attention can see that I'm just a mess, and my life is in massive disarray.  By that point, it's a real crisis.  (It's like a cat, who will hide that it's sick until it's desperately ill and just can't hide it any more.)  The trick I've needed to learn is to ask for help BEFORE all hell breaks loose.  I'm a slow learner in that respect, often held back by the fear of judgment by others over my struggles.

This year has been the peak of trouble after many years of troubles.  Some friends and family knew some of the difficulties in my life over that time, but nobody knew the worst hurts, the deepest wounds, or the hardest battles, or how often I struggled.  Things have changed since earlier this year, and finally I'm sharing what I need to share with people who need to know, and who can help me.  People who will be gentle with my heart, or tough on my misperceptions, or kind about my regrets, or angry on my behalf, or wise in their advice, or quick to weep with me, as the situation dictates.

It's taken me a long time to learn to ask for help.  And I've learned that I have to be honest with some people in my life to really get help, with the ones whom I can really trust with my broken places, my screw-ups, my sins, my hurts, and my worries and my fears.  There are people that don't need to know my deepest hurts and hardest struggles.  Either I don't know them well enough, or I don't think they want the additional burden of knowing my troubles, or I'm not sure how they'd handle the knowledge.  But everyone needs a few people they can be honest with and trust with their heart.  Thankfully I have a good handful of people like that in my life.  They wonder why I waited so long to confide in them, but they also haven't heaped judgment on me about that.

Everyone needs people to lean on in their life, but that kind of vulnerability requires trust, and when your trust is already broken, it's hard to reach out for help.  But I'm learning.

Last night I spent hours "talking" with my sister using a chat feature.  We covered a lot of ground, from baking and making chocolates, to our cats, to our hurts.  It was such a relief to talk to someone who truly understands what's going on my life right now.  That acceptance and understanding was priceless to me, and by the end of our rambling chat I felt that my burden had been eased and shared.  THAT is what we all need from time to time.

Thank God for professional counseling help from someone who also shares my faith (but is much wiser than I am).  Thank God for friends and family who have been willing to listen and be here for me on this road.  Thank God for everyone who has been praying for the kids and I, and for my husband.  There is hope after all, and healing, and grace like water in the desert.  This won't be an easy road, but it's a necessary journey.  It's good to have friends along the way.

There is hope.