But that’s the whole premise of Lysa Terkeurst’s message in her book, Unglued, and the devotional. It’s okay that life is messy sometimes and it’s okay that I don’t necessarily finish something I set out to do when I intend to finish it. The goal is progress. And progress is what I’ve made. So while I didn’t finish the devotional – okay, I’ll admit I didn’t even make it a third of the way – nor have I finished the video I bought to watch that goes coincides with the book (Unglued) – what I have done is kept her words and concepts in my mind and heart and made progress with it. I have kept her words (and yes, the Word of the Lord) in my mind during conflict much, much more than I ever have before. And that has kept me from becoming Unglued in moments where I know, before, would have set me off in the past. I am less loud less often. That is progress, no matter how imperfect it may be.
I am trying hard to remember what Lysa teaches. I do not have to be perfect in making my changes to call it progress. My past does not define me. Our history is not what our future must hold. We are all capable of imperfect progress.
So I will continue. I will work to learn how to react better to stress that surrounds me just as it surrounds most of us. I will work to learn to relax and not worry so much. I will continue to make progress in responding more and reacting less. Reading the devotional (and God’s word) is just part of this.
What do you do to keep yourself on your journey of Imperfect Progress?
I've realized over the past few weeks of reading, self-observation and observation of others, that there is certainly more than one way to experience being "unglued". I think when I read the book the first time, I only considered my, well - full tilt 'explosions' so to speak.... the yelling & screaming moments. Or the tearful moments (um, usually accompanied by the yelling).
But really, there's a lot of ways that we experience or display 'becoming unglued' isn't there?
grumpy or snarky responses to others
shutting down and not doing ANYTHING
quietly (but angrily) withdrawing from others
Really, this IS covered in Lysa Terkeurst's book. But I think I sort of glossed over the other things the first time because I so heavily associated myself with the 'exploder', it was really the only part I focused on. The only thing I worked on. Now I realize I need to look at it all. Because all of those other things precede the explosion.
Lysa specifies 4 categories of unglued reactions -
The Exploders who Shame Themselves - (my book has a LOT of underlined and highlighted lines and comments in the margins in the chapter covering this one - another sign that I so closely identified with this the most)
The Exploders who Blame Others
The Stuffers who Build Barriers
The Stuffers who Collect Retaliation Rocks
I remembered that there were various categories and that I had identified with all of them but it was the first one that really stuck. But really I'm getting ahead of myself. I haven't even re-read all of chapter 2 yet, let alone chapter 3 where she discusses these categories. But in rereading chapter 1 and 3, watching the videos and making observations of myself and those around me, I found myself looking ahead at my old notes and thinking, "Oh yes, now it's all coming together...I can see clearly now". And now what I need to do is stay focused on making it better and asking for and accepting God's mercy and grace in doing that. And accepting imperfect progress. That's the hard part.
But I AM MAKING PROGRESS.
I'm recognizing again the signals in my body and the circumstances that bring it about. I recognize the tightness in my chest and muscles, the agitation growing within and my breathing patterns.
And I know, after completing session one on the video and the workbook, what my absolute biggest triggers are. They weren't surprises, but they reconfirmed what I need to do to avoid the triggers and that I need to speak up for myself in trying to make those closest to me understand these needs. NOT that I feel others are responsible for whether my triggers occur - but if they understand, it has the potential to help. So here they are:
SLEEP - I can say with absolute assurity that my biggest explosions are closely associated with the amount of sleep I've had. This is better than it used to be, but there are still nights I have insomnia for one reason or another, and it really has an effect on my mood and ability to handle stress.
HUNGER - I can say with just as much assurity that hunger is equal to sleep in relation to my explosions. Now that we primarily use the paleo diet, I do so much better with this issue. While I can now usually (not always) go for longer periods of time without eating and don't always have to have major meals by a certain time, I do know that eating well-balanced meals in a timely fashion really do affect my ability to handle day-to-day life stuff well.
NOISE - I like the quiet. I really do. And soothing sounds like the breeze, songbirds, ocean waves, and low volume soft music. Put me in a loud situation and I'm stressed. Does that always make me unglued? No. I can handle football games, loud rock music coming from my daughter's bedroom, a concert - but mix it with the other factors that I've mentioned or in a stressful time or event? yeah, not so much.
TOO MUCH GOING ON AT ONCE - The mornings are bad.... I'm usually hungry and trying to keep up with my morning routine to get the day off smoothly and I panic if I'm behind. Add an unexpected phone call, the dog getting sick, my child not being able to find shoes and needing to get somewhere that's on my list of things to do that day and it gets hairy. Throw in someone asking me to do something extra or having a computer or some other technology problem and well, I'm not always the most patient. Mornings of course, aren't the only time for this. The week we moved was crazy.... unexpected problem after unexpected problem on top of needing to cook in a unpacked disorganized kitchen, handling phone calls on top of phone calls, meeting the needs of my youngest and older son, finding things for everyone - well, there was a lot going on and it's a miracle I still have hair. It's a miracle there's any glue left.
INTERRUPTIONS - This is less likely to be a trigger if the other ones aren't occurring, but one I really need to stay aware of and work on. It can be the smallest thing for me too. Example:
I'm here at the computer, in the middle of a great train of thought, really getting the words out and, "Mommy I need to go potty." (He's 4, why is he telling me this?)
"Okay dear, go ahead." I go back to the keyboard.
"Which one should I go to?" (We have three bathrooms and he's in this phase where he seems to need me to tell him which one to use)
"Uh, it doesn't matter. Just pick one."
"Tell me which one!" he yells, which I find annoying when I'm trying to get something done, you know? Actually I find it annoying anytime.
"Yours." I answer in a huffy voice. "Go use yours." (It's not his, but he identifies it as his as it's the main bathroom that he uses most often and where the bathtub is that he uses.
"No- K_____ is there!" (his brother). Ugh. I rub my temple. The tension is building within me.
"Just use the middle bathroom then."
But now my focus is gone. Did I scream? No. But inside I am unglued and I have let this interruption ruin my focus and my mood is on edge for several minutes, sometimes longer paving the way for another interruption to totally set me off. I really need to find a better way to handle little interruptions. I really need to learn to call upon God even in these small situations. I need to learn to call upon God in all situations.
So these are the main things I have learned thus far in my journey of raw emotions and making wise choices while going through them. I have recognized my biggest triggers and in what ways (there are many - my list above only scratches the surface really) I become unglued.
And I've realized I've left God out of these situations. Rarely do I call upon Him until the situation is so totally blown out of proportion that I see no way to crawl out of the hole. Then I cry out to Him. THEN I get down on bended knee and ask Him for His hand. Why do I wait until then??? Why, when I first feel those physical changes in my body, or when I realize the triggers ar occurring,don't I reach out to Him then? That, I believe, will be my first biggest step for true progress.
I believe He has led me to this journey. The books that I've chosen (see my first original post on this subject) and others I have recently stumbled upon are seeming to be gifts of grace sent by Him. I must listen and follow.
I'm using Lysa Terkurst's books and companion materials "Unglued".
And I'm sitting here feeling a little unglued to tell you the truth. Last night I read through part of the personal study portion for the first session. In it I need to keep written observations of my 'unglued' raw emotional moments over the upcoming week. I must observe what happens before the moment (physical and emotional state), what happened to prompt it and how did I react?
Well - right now I can identify the main trigger. It's the most obvious one for me. Hunger. I really need to watch I eat (and drink ) appropriately. Since going on the Paleo diet (there's other posts about this - I won't go into it here) this happens BY FAR less than it used to. My body seems to be able to handle longer periods of time without eating but I've also realized the importance of balancing my proteins, fats and veggies. And I really MUST eat within an hour of waking in the morning. Weekends are usually a fail for this. I should probably keep something in my bedside drawer since I know this pattern. And once I've gone too long, even after eating it takes awhile for my system to readjust. So then I really REALLY need to work even harder at keeping my inner raw emotions at bay.
So right now I'm hiding from the world. Seriously. So I don't make it worse.
Here at my computer.
In the dark room.
And sharing with you.
I'm hoping (and praying) the feelings pass and that I can go on to having a better day.
I'll finish the food in my dish, post this for the day and move on. AFTER I write down my observations. And AFTER I ponder over some scripture verses that I've been trying to keep as my focus the last few days:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be always pleasing before you O Lord, my helper and my redeemer. ~ Psalm 18:15
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13
and of course - my favorite 'Orthodox' prayer -
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
Last year I wrote just a bit about reading the book Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst. I really only touched upon it ever so lightly in various posts such as this one, this one and a great thought from the book I shared in this one. I didn't even do a book review though I should have. But I was being, well...... private. I've come to the conclusion, though, that I need to reach out. Because after reading Lisa's book and, now, viewing her video, I've FINALLY come to terms that I am human and there's a whole lot more humans out there experiencing the same thing and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Something to change, yes. But nothing to feel ashamed of.
And to really face something head on....to really really take the bull by the horns, to really try to change...I've decided to share it with you.
I become emotionally unglued. Sometimes often. Sometimes it's ugly. Most times it's hidden from the 'public' and comes out in moments of stress and chaos around those I love the most - my kids and my husband. I suppose I've hurt their feelings quite a bit. Isuppose I've overreacted and taken what was a seemingly small problem in their eyes, if a problem at all, and blown it up into a war zone. And the war zone intensifies when I realize what I've done and am too ashamed to admit it. I'm not the calm got-it-all-together superwife/supermom I want to be. And realizing that in the heat of the moment unglued me even more.
It's those high expectations I guess. I expect myself to be PERFECT.
Do you do that? Do you hold yourself to standards that are just too high? Do you expect yourself (and maybe everyone around you) to be perfect???
I'm afraid I do....especially myself. And I expect everything that I've planned to go perfectly - otherwise, well.... I become unglued. I'm not so patient. I'm not calm. I'm not stress-free. I truly become unraveled.
And then I suddenly see myself. Or hear myself...yelling..sobbing..being rude...being stubborn and selfish.
Oh, the agony.
I read the book last year. Honestly I felt I needed it and honestly I did. I wouldn't have known about the book if a friend hadn't posted about doing the study group on Facebook one day. I didn't have a group. So I just bought the book, hesitatingly....I usually don't purchase books that are in any way 'spiritual' if they are not written by an Orthodox author. But I was desperate to change a life long habit of....well....becoming unglued.....becoming overly emotional and , well, a bit loud, maybe when frustrated, hurt, angry.... you know... don't you? So I bought the book....thinking it might help a little. It helped a lot.
It helped me identify what kind of reactor I am ( a bit of all four types really) and helped me identify what I was doing when I was doing it, which in itself is a huge step to changing. And mostly, it helped me realize that I CAN change.... but that I also need to be kind to myself. I need to not expect PERFECT overnight CHANGE. Lysa calls it imperfect progress. And she does a really good job at guiding you(me) through it in her book.
But a year has passed and, as I've written in past posts, I'm under quite a bit of stress. I find myself sinking fast into those holes of darkness where I unravel quickly and feel almost claustrophobic from the tension within. So I need to climb back out of the darkness and set myself right(with the help of the book and most of all...GOD).
I decided to reach for that book again.
But then I wondered.
Last year, my friend had posted about the video that came with a study guide. So I looked it up....then I placed it in my cart, but before I did that I checked with my friend. She definitely recommended it. She said it really helped her put things into practice on a day-to-day basis. Just what I was craving. So I pushed the purchase button and got the devotional as well! So here I am on yet another challenge.... to remain glued. To keep myself together....at least more so than I have been. I'm aiming for the imperfect progress that Lysa talks about. I want to find peace in my relationships. I want to improve my communication skills. I want to be able to respond to situations without that lifetime habit of stuffing or exploding. I want to be more calm. More laid back. More God centered.
And He is the key, isn't He? I can't achieve change without Him.
I'm sure that's why I'm off-center. I've let my time with Him slide. I've let myself get wrapped up in those worldly 'needs' and stresses and haven't let Him in. Oh sure, I've gone to Liturgy (though even that has been skipped a few times over the last couple of months due to being out of town, illness and yes, even once because I allowed myself to believe I just needed a morning in bed) but I haven't really focused on Him.
I have, though, finally in the last two weeks gotten back to my morning time. I force myself out of bed at 5:30 to get a half hour with Him before I work on my writing (the blog and my writing on children's books). And I make sure that I'm focusing on studies that will guide me in this challenge. While I was waiting to decide on rereading Lysa's book, I started a bible study on 1 Corinthians 13. When one is focused on loving others, it does help one to stay patient and calm...not perfectly, but it helps. And now I have not only Lysa's book in hand, but the video, the participant's guide andthe devotional. Overkill? maybe. But I'm really really dedicated to doing this.
It won't happen overnight.
I will fall.
But I will let Him pick me up again and set me back on course.
And I will forgive myself. Because after all, if He does.... so who am I to judge harshly against what God does not?
So along with my reading on Stress Management and Relaxation, I've added God to the mix....pretty good call, don't you think? So my plan is to keep posting about this. To share the tidbits on the tools I'm using to face my inner world of chaos in which I unravel upon those I love and start changing to a world of peace filled with His love.