Well, if there was ever a year to get back into a hobby, 2020 might be it. Maybe. So here we go.
As we all know, 2020 is a hot mess. A string of catastrophes and explosive tensions. Most commonly referred to as a dumpster fire. A giant burning bin of garbage.
But what if it wasn’t?
I am well aware of the various vices of 2020 including but not limited to a global pandemic, unpredictable natural disasters, violence against people of color, a twitter-happy president, and an election to top it all off. The bad and the ugly are clearly evident.
What if it wasn’t ALL burning garbage?
Growing up in Kansas (leave your Dorothy jokes behind – I’ve heard them all), I used to drive by these fields and at times they were burning. Yes, quite literally on fire. As a child I was very alarmed because fire never indicated a good thing. It was a problem. I didn’t understand why there weren’t a million fire trucks and a farmer with his bucket of water out there trying to put the fire out. Seriously, who was in charge here?! What I later learned was, the fire was intentional and controlled.
The fire wasn’t bad.
It was meant to burn away leftover crop/ plants and renew the soil. It was meant to help the upcoming crop thrive.
The fire was destructive still, yes. But destructive with the purpose for renewal.
What if 2020 was a little more like that?
As we neared the end of 2019, Will and I kept talking about 2020. We had a really great feeling about the next year. It was going to be OUR year. Clearly our intuition was way off and if there was a way to check it, ours should have been checked.
Shortly after getting married in 2016 we moved to Nashville and checked off pretty much every other major life change in about 2 years.
New city – check
New jobs – check
Purchase home – check
Purchase new (to us) vehicles – check
Have a baby – CHECK
All of these were great things and we knew that. I knew that. We have been so incredibly fortunate since moving to Nashville. All of these things were also big changes. In 2019 we thought things might slow down but the year was filled with health scares and loss for Will and exponentially rising levels of anxiety for me. I felt like we were in a years long swirling vortex of mess and chaos.
So. Many. Changes.
So. Many. Anxious. Thoughts.
So. Much. Mess. Everywhere.
I was okay at times.
Other times the sight of dirty dishes could send me into a full blown anxiety attack.
Most outside my home did not notice. Unfortunately, having experienced various effects of PTSD over the years I generally appear calm in public situations – regardless my actual experience in that moment. Although helpful at times, it is not always a good thing.
Finally, after saying I should for years, I saw a therapist.
Not my first rodeo with therapy but my first time since getting married and the changes that followed. My first time going to someone trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) as opposed to the CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) based therapists I’d worked with in the past. Both methods have their pros/cons.
But I finally went.
What a freaking breath of fresh air.
I finally had a safe space to share. To talk about all the changes. All the feelings. All the bizarre and intrusive thoughts I’d experienced since becoming a mother.
All the anxiety.
There was validation that all of these things were normal. I was not a “crazy” person (I’d begun to convince myself maybe I was). There was also work. To manage the anxiety and calm the constant feeling of being overwhelmed by everything.
Manage, not control.
Part of the reason I felt trapped in a tornado of mess and chaos was because I wanted to control everything. I was raised being told control was good, important, even essential. I had so little control of so much as a child and teenager. As an adult, I thought I’d have more.
I thought control would give me peace.
And yet, I had been a part of effecting all these changes and still felt I had no control. There was no peace. Control made it all about me when my life had so much more than just me in it. With therapy came clarity.
Grasping for control left me whittled down by anxiety.
It jumbled priorities. I had neglected spiritual health and for me, when spiritually unhealthy, everything else suffers. The pyramid of priorities needed to be re-stacked. Absolute control of everything had no healthy place to reside.
And so, with clarity and ongoing work through therapy I headed into 2020. We as a family headed into the year we thought was ours for the taking. No foreseeable big life changes. We were fairly settled, fairly stable.
We soon realized 2020 was anything but.
2020 has been repeatedly unsettling and unstable.
And honestly, thank God I’m still in therapy.
2020 was not ours for the taking.
But 2020, THIS YEAR, can be more than a dumpster fire. There’s a lot of garbage, yes. The fire doesn’t have to be destructive solely for the purpose of destroying everything. Maybe, it can burn away the remnants that do not encourage health to make way for new, revitalized life.
Yes, there is still much about this year that is a painful mess of chaos. There are many who have been trampled, beaten, and have nothing left to give this year.
This fire is not without unnecessary casualties.
Perhaps though, for those with any kind of capacity, we can embrace the mess.
We can hold in tension devastation and the possibility for something better.
Step into the chaos with compassion and conviction.
Lift up those that have been ravaged by the fire because it is not a neat prescribed burn.
Put forth the work so this fire brings forth renewal and reconciliation.
I know there is more to 2020 than meets the eye. I believe there is a greater story of redemption on the other side. Right now in the midst of it, although it will be uncomfortable and maybe even painful, I’m going to do my best to the embrace the mess.