I learned not long ago, in a counseling session, that in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder lingo, this state of being, of interacting with the world, has a name: Hypervigilance.
I am a seasoned Hypervigilante.
(Yes, I just made up that word…*smile)
For a long, long time, I managed to be a fairly high-functioning Hypervigilante…
- I stepped into a leadership role in our local Mothers of Preschoolers group when my four girls were 6, 4, 2, and 5 months.
- I was an uber-volunteer at their school when the oldest hit elementary age.
- I coached their volleyball and basketball teams through the middle school years.
- I owned and operated a small, home-based business.
During those years, I also battled a host of health challenges and fought to keep my head, and heart, above water while the Riptide of Crazy that came with being married to an abusive addict** threatened daily to pull me under.
I sincerely believed it was my job to do everything in my power to make sure all of it looked bright, shiny, and normal…to everyone on the outside, at least.
And, I did that job well.
Until I couldn’t anymore.
I can’t tell you when I hit that wall…when I stopped being so successful at playing the High-Functioning Hypervigilante…when all the tightly-bottled-up anxiety refused to be contained a minute longer.
I just know it happened.
I found myself forced to admit that all my attempts at keeping the panic at bay were ultimately failures.
The most recent evidence of this vain attempt has been numbness.
Specifically, numbness that started in my lips and tongue and has since spread to my whole face.
It comes and goes as the levels of anxiety and panic ebb and flow.
The first time I experienced it, the numbness scared me a little. I wondered, ‘What new health challenge is presenting itself now?’
In fact, I was so worried about what I might find, I asked the Mister to look it up for me…and made him promise not to tell me if it was Something Really Bad. I just couldn’t take the thought of facing another Something Really Bad.
So, he looked it up and let me know that it, the numbness, was likely linked to anxiety.
I was relieved and frustrated at the same time.
Relieved that it wasn’t Something Really Bad.
Frustrated that it was something I hadn’t been able to master…my tendency toward anxiety…my Hypervigilantism…my horrible record when it came to managing stress.
And, I know I would’ve felt totally hopeless…helpless…if I hadn’t found a kindred soul who’s actually written a book about anxiety, panic, PTSD…a book about finding spiritual whitespace…soul rest.
There are no words to convey how very grateful I am for her bravery, her words, her invitation.
Because when your face goes numb, you need some solid ground to stand on.
Because when your face goes numb, you need some compassion and empathy and encouragement.
Because when your face goes numb, you need some dear soul to point the way to Rest.
Reading Bonnie’s book does all of that and more.
Even as I’m tapping these keys to form these words, my face is numb.
But it doesn’t scare me anymore.
It simply brings home to me that being a Hypervigilante can no longer be my gig.
Living as the Beloved.
Those are all part of my new gig.
And I believe that as I lean into each of those inviting but unfamiliar things, the numbness will wear off…like it does after a novacaine-filled dentist appointment.
With some odd tingling.
I’m okay with that.
**The Mister and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary this winter. He is in recovery and is actively pursuing tools and strategies that can enable him to be more healthfully engaged while taking responsibility and making amends for the damage his addiction and abuse caused.