Sadly, I was informed this week that I should try cutting back on my caffeine intake for health reasons. I’m trying to hold myself to only one cup of actual coffee a day in hopes that it will be enough of a cut in caffeine to make a difference. Even so, I still long for several cups of coffee a day, to imbibe in its comforting warmth, an to bask in its caffeinated goodness. My husband shares my love of coffee but instead of being understanding and sympathetic in my coffee-deprived laments, he thinks it’s funny. He likes to sip his coffee in front of me and sigh in contentment or make comments about how amazing his coffee is. Usually he isn’t like this but for some reason my coffee cutback is hilarious to him.
To deal with his tomfoolery, my new plan is to reenact a scene from The Princess Bride. The next time he starts teasing me, I’m going to shout out “You mocked me once, never do it again! I died that day!” Then I’ll push him down a hill. I realize that I skipped part of the scene, but I think he’ll get the picture.
The goal of every seminary family is to move as little of their possessions as possible. This is often done in several different ways. Sometimes they store some of their things at their parents’ houses (this is more common for younger couples). Sometimes they find another seminary family to hold onto a piece of furniture that is difficult to move. Most commonly, there is a perpetual season of purging. We hold off on buying big furniture items (Do we really need a guest bed and a piano?), we don’t buy as many trinkets and decorations (Yeah, having a giant Christmas display in our front yard would be festive but then we would have to move those decorations), and we give away or sell anything unnecessary (Goodbye clothes I hardly wear, goodbye specific kitchen items that I might use someday, goodbye books I bought and only read once).
However, sometimes the lives around us don’t follow our spartan seminary furnishing plan, making it difficult (perhaps impossible) not to accumulate stuff. This month serves as a fine example of our best intentions gone awry. My grandmother moved to assisted living last March and her house was just rented out. Consequently, most of her possessions needed to be given away and she desperately wanted family members to have her things. Consequently, my husband and I now own two end tables* and a foyer table–all are items that we want but dislike having to move.
Likewise, my father-in-law is working on emptying out his house. We are now receiving several framed pictures and a spoon collection. These things obviously have sentimental value and are things that we can’t wait until after seminary to keep, so I keep telling myself that it is reasonable to gather such items. However, you can be sure that come July I will still be in a state of dismay and asking myself, “Why do we have so much stuff?!”
*In a funny, only-at-the-seminary turn of events, my dad managed to leave the end tables at the farmhouse that we rented last year and will return to next year. I was 650 miles away and my dad had never met the current tenants. Good thing the current tenants are our friends and weren’t too put off by my random phone call starting with, “So, really weird request. . .”
Here goes a very rambley post:
My brother called me last week to ask why I haven’t been writing here (yes, my family reads this–they’re probably my biggest following. Yay?) Anyway, I decided to tell him the full truth, the truth that I have been slowly letting others know: I have been struggling with anxiety since we moved here in July and it has taken a terrible turn in the last two months. The anxiety makes it difficult to write for two reasons. First, sometimes I can’t write, the my world is too obscured and foggy to clearly write about. Secondly, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about the anxiety on here. It’s extremely personal and I’m ashamed of it. Since the anxiety can be all consuming, if I couldn’t write about it then I couldn’t write about anything at all.
To be clear, when I talk about anxiety I don’t mean feeling slightly worried about a specific event or having moments of stress. I’m talking about panic attacks, fixating on a troublesome thought for hours or days, and being unable to interact with others socially. Likewise, signs of depression come and go: extreme tiredness, inability to concentrate, anger, guilt, self-deprecation, etc. (this last week has been a brighter week, which is part of the reason I can write now). Church has become a big trigger of my anxiety: the crowds of people, the noise, the unknown social expectations, and the general feeling that I don’t belong and don’t know how to belong. Sadly, after having panic attacks while trying to leave for church two Sundays in a row, I gave up going to church. I can’t do it right now and I don’t know how long it will be until I’m able to go again–sometimes it feels like I’ll never be able to go (which is probably my broken brain talking, but my brain is still pretty convincing even when it’s broken).
So what does the vicar’s wife do when she quits going to church for over 6 weeks? For me, it certainly makes it harder to go out during the rest of the week for fear of seeing someone from church around town (how do I explain to someone why I haven’t been in church?). There are days I don’t leave the house because of this fear, rendering my home an imprisoning sanctuary. I get angry a lot. Sometimes I’m angry at my husband for dragging me out here, sometimes I’m angry at the synod because I feel like I don’t have a pastor to go to (the pastor here is my husband’s boss), sometimes I’m angry at God for letting me go through this, and most of all, I’m often furious at myself for being unable to cope with what every other seminarian’s wife goes through.
Practically speaking, my husband has been diligently working on getting me help (he wins Husband of the Year Award). I’ve seen a doctor and while she didn’t give an official diagnosis of whatever is ailing me, she did prescribe me an anti-depressant (anti-depressants are commonly prescribed for anxiety problems; it has something to do with anxiety being on the “depression spectrum,” whatever that is. How I feel about taking the anti-depressant is another post for another day). I started seeing a counselor last week to hopefully learn how to cope with the anxiety.
So why write about this? Like I said, it is personal and I’m upset with myself for functioning like this. Why post it on the internet for the world to see? As I mentioned earlier, at this point if I can’t mention the anxiety, then I can’t really write at all–it’s part of my daily life. Secondly, I’ve always used this blog as an outlet and writing gives me the opportunity to clarify how I am feeling, something I very much need at this time. Finally, I try to write about the nitty-gritty details of being a sem. wife, and learning to deal with something like anxiety would certainly fall under the category of “nitty-gritty.” Surely I am not the only seminarian’s/vicar’s/pastor’s wife to struggle with anxiety, right? *crosses fingers*
*Sigh* I think it’s time to admit that I am currently incapable of making a readable post. Hopefully I’ll be back next month. 😦
I’m thinking about starting a list entitled “Quintessential Parenting Moments I Manage to Achieve Without Having Children.” Today’s quintessential parenting moment would be listed as “football carrying a screaming toddler through a parking lot.” Of course, I would also have to add “cuddling with a sleepy toddler as the sun rises.” I suppose it all balances out.