My neck, my back, my anxiety attack

I haven’t written something for a personal blog in years. And oh, how I’ve missed it. There are many reasons for this: the chief one is that for about four years I had a job that required me to write two to three original articles a day. Yes, a day. That sucked out all my creativity and I had nothing left for myself.

New shirt, who dis?

However, I left that job about two years ago and I still haven’t found my writing voice, despite some lite freelancing that should, in theory, have left a lot of room for creativity.

The truth is, once I could write again, I muzzled myself. There were people I didn’t want to know all my business, and those people had a habit of religiously reading every word I ever wrote. Also, in the years since I last blogged (did you know I was once, with my cousin Emily, a mediocre successful mom blogger? Read it all at my old blog. My kids were cute and did crazy things! Now they’re beautiful and don’t want me to write about them on the internet. Read this one if you’re gonna go over there, it’s my fave.) I got OLD. Truly I’m only 43, but wooooow have my 40s changed me. I am now the proud owner of a chronic back issue and generalized anxiety disorder. Because anxiety is fun, I also have some specific triggers that are really, really, NOT GENERALIZED that will send me into a spiral real darn quick. I am happily medicated for the generalized stuff but currently on the hunt for a therapist (why is it so hard?) for the specific stuff. I struggle to keep my triggers from controlling me, and some days I want to be a full-blown agoraphobic because most of the triggers are outside the confines of my home. (Not all. Text me back immediately, husband or child, or I am sure beyond an un-reasonable doubt that you are dead in a ditch.)

Ahem. Maybe this has gotten off track. All that to say, anxiety is straight up exhausting and it has interfered with my ability to write. It takes a lot of effort for me to skirt my way around it as I focus on parenting my three children every day and doing what they need me to do for them. (For context, if you are just now discovering me, they are 17-year-old Joshua, 14-year-old Sophie and 10-year-old Jonah. My husband of 21 years is the long-suffering and amazing Bobby.) After all that effort there hasn’t been a lot left over, because…

…in 2020 we had a pandemic from hell and an election from hell, y’all. I may not have blogged for awhile, but I was very open about my feelings about both on the old Facebook. In my gross naiveté, I was legit floored when members of my Christian community disagreed with me about the pandemic’s seriousness, legitimacy, and about following the public health rules set forth for us. I still do not get it. I took a lot of crap about it, but my family was committed to being as careful as possible to protect others and chiefly, my husband who has asthma and no paid sick time and is our primary provider. I am not a pessimist, but I have never, ever, ever thought “this couldn’t happen to me.” I’ve always been aware of the mortality of my loved ones. Perhaps this is because my mom’s dad dropped dead of a heart attack at age 44 with no warning, (before I was born), or that the same happened to my very healthy 3rd grade best friend’s dad when he was 42, or that my beloved cousins’ mom died of cancer at age 36 when I was a child.

I was going to do whatever it took to keep my family safe, including my parents in their 70s (my dad is immunocompromised.)

And then, COVID proved me right: none of us are immune. My mother’s dear friend died of it on November 30, 2020 and my beloved father-in-law’s wife on December 9. I hate to say this, but it’s true: my father-in-law’s wife was the ultimate cautionary tale. She didn’t believe it was real, she didn’t change her behavior to avoid it, she is exactly the person with health issues who could not survive it, and she didn’t.

You would think people would not come at me when I posted pro-public-health stuff after this, but NOPE.

Through all this, I will say that it was hard for me to have my kids in in-person school all year and yet I am very thankful that they were able to be in all year. For various reasons, that is really all I can say about that…but it was a challenge that affected both me and my older two children. We are working through it.

Man, I’m all over the place again. Okay. Back on track.

The pandemic changed me, A LOT. I will never be the same, and in some ways that is good, and in some ways that is sad. But the other thing that changed me (speaking of jadedness) is the militant support of my Christian community for the 45th President of the United States, whose name I can’t bear to type. I never voted for him (and I do request that that fact goes in my obituary when I go. I consider it essential.) OOOH GIRL people did NOT like it when they found out I wasn’t who they thought I was and I lit up my Facebook with posts and articles in opposition to him. I got unfriended a lot, I also unfriended anyone who called me a baby-killer. That’s where I draw the line. Yes, I’m pro-life from womb to tomb, no, I won’t vote for an evil person who says he is too. No Supreme Court appointment is worth it.

And then on Memorial Day, we watched a big, strong, Black man get murdered by a police officer. And it was a long, slow, torturous death, in which the man’s strength could not help him, from which the pleading bystanders could not help him, and he left this world in the most public, cruel, and evil fashion. His name was George Floyd, and his death literally lit the nation on fire. And yes, I do think the murder was much, much, much worse than the riots.

I’d been quietly pursuing learning about racial justice since about 2015. God changed my white heart and white thinking through several books, from hearing Black people speak at conferences at churches, listening to their podcasts, LISTENING! Listening is key, my friends. I still have a lot to learn but after George Floyd’s death, I stopped learning quietly or silently. A lot of people in my life didn’t and don’t like it. {Too bad.}

Then the insurrection of January 6, 2021 came. And I knew it would. He TOLD US it was going to happen, why was no one believed the madman when he showed his true colors? So I waited on my couch, sick to my stomach, too scared to turn on the TV, for it to unfold. And it did. I kept tabs on my phone when it did. And I raged.

And then I lost about 15 Facebook friends the week after.

BYEEEEE.

I got active on Twitter because it’s a safer space for me. And because I was told, so many times in both direct and indirect ways to SHUT UP, I resolved to continue speaking out.

YES, for the unborn. But ALSO YES for my Black American brothers and sisters, who my Christian die-hard Republican community seems to just want to accuse of causing trouble, and whose systemic oppression in this nation they just want to straight up deny. For the poor and marginalized, which the die-hard Christian Republican community doesn’t seem to want to help through legislation or with tax dollars, or by getting their hands dirty (again, a generalization you guys, but I know so many people in real life who won’t leave their suburb.)

All this to say, I have changed. I am hurt, I am confused, I am jaded. I am older and wiser and sadder, too. But I am also more determined. And one thing that has never changed is my unwavering belief in the person, holiness, work, and salvation of Jesus Christ. Christians may have hurt me, but Christ never has. So all that I say and do, I do with Him and for Him—and all He does through me, He does in spite of me. He makes my weakness my strength. I may mess up, but I am never mal-intentioned. All my outspokenness is filtered through a pursuit of His teachings, of what I’m learning in scripture. A lot of my Christian community has a hard time believing that. But see, I refuse to fight against the culture. I am too busy fighting for my neighbor.

So here I am, writing again. Opening myself up. Not shutting up. Wanting to learn and process what I’m learning. I hope you’ll walk this journey with me, and share what you’re learning, too.

8 Comments

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8 responses to “My neck, my back, my anxiety attack

  1. I am so excited for this!

  2. Becky

    Love you. Love this. Speak truth. Love justice.

  3. Mary Carver

    I am SO excited that you’re writing again. And I am SO proud of you and inspired by your refusal to shut up. Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for speaking truth. Love you.

  4. Donna DBrewer

    Jenny your words and feelings are appreciated I applaud you👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. Your voice as a white Christian woman speaking out is so very important. There may be many things we support that are different but that T-shirt is a statement to your belief system, it is gold. #45 in my opinion the worst person to ever hold that office and yes the evangelicals have sold their souls to the devil in my opinion. Not all but most. He is deranged, disgusting, with no moral compass whatsoever. Keep your words coming they are strong and important. ♥️♥️♥️

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