Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'm a Side Plate or a Saucer

About two months ago, I had an anxiety attack.  Actually, I had two.  The first was a milder one during a work meeting.  I don't think anyone noticed, but I was struggling with controlling my breathing, my hands were shaking while I was trying to type the minutes, and I felt like just yelling, "SHUT UP!" and running out of the room.  The second was a bit worse and happened two days later at church!  It involved more breathlessness, shaking, clamminess and a feeling of being out of this world.

I've had them before...but not for quite some time.  Sometimes they have been triggered by a stressful situation.  Otherwise they come seemingly out of nowhere and I suddenly can't cope with normal, everyday tasks.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because it was my own personal experience of my previous post.  I didn't choose to drop my mask.  I have my pride; why on earth would I want to be seen as weak?  But I found myself in a situation where I didn't have much choice.  At church, people noticed and in this moment of weakness, I received some wonderful care.

I hear a lot of women say that there are different levels of friendship (close friend, casual acquaintance etc) and friends for different reasons and seasons (the friend who loves to party with you, the friend who you discuss literature with, the friend whose shoulder you cry on...).  I agree that we can't be best friends with everyone.  That is not my intention, and even if it was, I'm a seriously limited human being who wouldn't have enough time.  My point in the previous post is that sometimes you can find yourself in situations where the friends who you may WANT to be around you cannot be there, and sometimes if you need help, you need to take a risk and ask.  When I had an anxiety attack at church, none of my close friends were around.  We've been at our church for less than a year, so we're still getting to know people.  But, on that day, two fantastic women came to help me.  One made sure I was alright.  The other laid her hand on my arm and prayed for me.  They didn't say, "Sorry we don't know you very well and this is really uncomfortable for us.  We'll call your close friends for you."  They saw a need and stepped in.  Both of my relationships with these women have deepened a bit as a result.  One suffers from anxiety attacks herself so I guess she can relate.  Sometimes our friendships can't always be neatly compartmentalised.  And when we're willing to put ourselves out there, wonderful things can happen.

I have found the latter half of 2011 to be a bit of a rough ride.  After feeling like I was getting somewhere by the middle of the year, I have realised that that no matter what is happening in life, I need Jesus...more than anything...all of the time.  Things started to go a bit pear-shaped when I went from doing admin work at home to working in an office in town again.  I struggled in ways I never thought I would.  Coupled with a very busy October full of event organisation for work (which I hate with a passion), it was all too much.  I have enjoyed November and December far more as everything has gone back to a more slower pace.

This has made me realise something...I don't have a very big life 'plate'.  I cope better with a smaller plate of one or two things, rather than a large plate crammed with everything imaginable.  Some women are dinner plates.  They thrive on busyness and having their fingers in many pies.  I'm a side plate or a saucer.

For a long time I've felt ashamed of my 'side plate or saucerness'.  Women are very good at being discouraging by making busyness and suffering some kind of status.  What?  You're finding life hard?  I have 10 children and run all of the ladies/kids/hospitality ministries at church, plus I work part-time outside the home and I'm president of the P&C, soccer club, tennis club....  My life is HARDER than YOURS.

I'm a side plate or a saucer.  That doesn't mean I want to be a slacker.  I just want to be a side plate or a saucer for the glory of God.


Anonymous said...

Have a Happy Christmas Sed.Cast and keep casting all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.Be happy with where you are.

Jenny said...

So sad to hear you've had a hard couple of months Sarah. But that is such a helpful analogy. I think we can also have different sizes plates at different stages in our lives. So it can be tricky if you've been a dinner size plate person in the past to have your plate size reduced because of health, family, other things. As you helpfully say, all for the glory of God. He's not that interested in the amount you achieve. More interested in how/why you live life.

Karen said...

Hey Sarah, sorry to hear things have been a bit difficult for the past few months. Thanks for popping in and reading my sleep deprived ramblings even though you've been doing it tough yourself :)
I think my plate size has a tendency to get too big sometimes, ie. I bite off more than I can chew (or should that be that I fill up the plate a bit too much??).
So I have decided that keeping things smaller isn't such a bad thing. Like Jenny said, it's all good as long as you're focused on the important things...
Hope you guys have a lovely Christmas :)

Karen said...

Oh, how frustrating....just left a comment and think something went haywire on the word verification.

Just wanted to say sorry things haven't been easy for the past few months. Thanks for reading along with my fairly mindless ramblings and throwing in a comment every so often...I do appreciate it :)

I like your analogy too. My tendency is to overfill my plate/bite off more than I can chew. Being forced to take life a bit more slowly and not fill it up with busy-ness and activity is hard for me, I think because it often challenges me to connect more deeply with other people (something I don't always find easy).

As Jenny says, as long as you are focused in the right direction ie. God's glory, that is the most important thing you can do.

Sarah said...

Thanks Anonymous, Jenny and Karen for your kind words. :) Merry Christmas to you all.

That's happened to me too, Karen! It must be Blogger being a pain again. Oh well, both of your comments came through so I published them both. ;)

Yep Jenny I reckon you're right about coping with different sized plates at different stages of life. I could cope with a lot more activity when I lived in Perth. Since I moved away from it all, I've found it hard to cope when things start getting that way again.

I think some busyness is self-inflicted and can be more many reasons (approval, pride etc) and some is unavoidable (sickness - either yourself or family). I know I definitely struggle with the self-inflicted side. I've also realised that the city people being busier than country people thing is often a myth. Some people here are busier than my city friends but then they often choose to get involved in lots of things. Stay tuned for more posts on the subject...

Things are a lot calmer here now and I've been feeling HEAPS better since November began. I'm not even remotely stressed about hosting Christmas which is surprising. I'm looking forward to January which is my 'eye in the cyclone' month. :)

Iris Flavia said...

You are really tough. Yesterday night I had to call one of my Uncles to tell him his Sister is dying. I don´t know him well, he lives in Mallorca/Spain.
I so failed.
Maybe it was some sort of anxiety attack, too?
Like those women in Church he just took it and was there - for me!
Guess... when we find the power to let our masks down, people around us do recognize a "naked" face and step in.
I don´t like sauce, but count another Side Plate beside you.