When Damocle’s Sword Drops

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Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. Henry Ward Beecher

Have you ever wondered whether you did something to tempt fate? Well, I wrote about anticipatory anxiety and shortly thereafter my employer closed his business. And, after absorbing that naked truth, I learned that I had a serious staff infection. I almost felt singled out. What did I do to deserve this?

Of course, I don’t really believe that the universe is out to get me. But, “why me” still comes to mind. Of course, no one can answer that question. I know that. And, I know that two crises can happen at the same time just as two waves at the surf can hit one after the other.

But, looking at my situation philosophically doesn’t do much for decreasing my anxiety. Neither does, “Good luck buddy.” I appreciate the good intention but what, really, is good luck and can you give it away?
But, the worst “cheery” statements go something like this, “Suffering leads to understanding and suffering builds character. You’ll appreciate this later.”

At this moment, I don’t find myself particularly interested in character building. Neither am I particularly interested in increasing understanding. I’m not unhappy with my character or my understanding. I’m unhappy about my income and my health. I need assurance that things will work out and that I will be okay. But, no one can honestly give me that assurance.
I’ll have to live with uncertainty, and good luck with that! Dealing with anxiety is a little bit of a task like trying to roll a boulder up a mountain. It’s hard to move the boulder and one could be run over by it.

Now, as a matter of fact, nothing terrible is happening. The infection is responding to treatment. And, I’m still earning some money. But, although things are okay, my mind can perversely wander to from to “The business isn’t stable; I still could lose my job,” and “This kind of infection could kill me.”

Fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, shallow breathing, disturbing dreams, and irritation still occur and it’s annoying. At times I feel myself somber, walk with my head down, and have a strong desire for chocolate and chips. Preoccupied, you know; like the wheel is turning but the hamster isn’t running very fast.

At this point you might say, “Well, my good psychotherapist, why don’t you do something, help yourself? My response is, “It’s easy to teach; hard to practice.” Uncertainty brings out in me the same emotions that everyone else feels.

Okay, so, what did I do? Well, I did review what I’ve recommended to others –

Take time to talk things out and accept comfort.
Replace negative thinking with positive thinking
Use inspirational material and positive prayer.
Breathe slowly to promote relaxation.
Exercise.
Eat nutritionally.
Control anger.
Be aware of the good in life – good people; nature; work.
Consider humor.
Use psychotherapy and medication as-needed.

 

Here’s what I found to be helpful to me (keep in mind that we’re all different. You might find other things more useful) –

1. Talking things out with my wife helps. I’m concerned about losing money, needing to apply for another job, and losing contact with people I’ve worked with for years. My wife’s attitude and comments are helpful. So is snuggling.

2. Outdoor time helps to clear my mind. Morning and evening with nature is delightful. I particularly enjoy watch watching the birds and hearing them sing. I’m ambivalent about the squirrels that scoop up my bird seed with their busy little paws.

3. Meditation and prayer give me a sense of living with an Ultimate Reality/God/Jesus who is loving, wise, and strengthening.

4. Friends from church ask how I’m doing; it’s nice to know somebody remembers and cares.

5. Humor. I’ve been going to work and coming back from work with Bertie and Jeeves. They are a creation of P.G. Wodehouse. It’s understated British humor that I love.

6. Our children, grandchildren, and Mazie, our dog, lead me into the delightful areas of play, discovery, and beauty.

Yes, progress is being make at work and with my treatment. I’m not quite as uneasy. But, the business train isn’t moving very fast and, the infection isn’t completely gone. So, I’ll say a prayer, get a hug, grab a cup of coffee, and keep the chocolate available. Is that wrong?

A talent is formed in stillness, a character in the world’s torrent.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I Like Christmas

IMG_1356 Nativity Wall Hanging 2

Photo by Christian Mosemann

Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.
Washington Irving

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

To me, Christmas means beautiful lights, music, food, and laughter; the look of anticipation in the eyes of young children. My church will have it’s Christmas breakfast. We’ll sing the wonderful old traditional songs. Our minister will remind us of our reasons to be hopeful and that giving blesses both the receiver and the giver; that love and compassion still exist and that we can, with help, be transformed into compassionate, loving people.

But it can be a lonely time of the year. Avoid loneliness by joining people who are helping those in need. Find a way to help a religious group or a community organization assist those in need. Let them enjoy Christmas too. Consider the gifts and abilities you have and what the community needs from you. You’ll feel more connected as contribute. It feels good to contribute to the well-being of others. Isolation only leads to bitterness.

The focus of the season is still love, peace, and giving. You can be part of this. You can choose to compassionately love and give to others. The amazing thing is that we can choose to give no matter what our circumstances might be. You can know that you connected, helped someone else, and in the process, helped yourself.

Christmas is a reminder that we can find beauty and good in this world of ours. May you have a truly merry Christmas.

IMG_1365 Bears and Tree

Photo by Christian Mosemann