Coping Strategies.

It’s been a very challenging year and I haven’t written much about it because the events are more my mom’s story to tell than mine. Also, I don’t want to leave the impression that my time spent caring for my mom this year was a burden. While it was hard, I also feel fulfilled to have walked many parts of this journey with my mom and sister.

As soon as school got out, the kids and I headed to Humboldt to spend time with family and care for my mom. This trip coincided with another hospitalization due to an electrolyte imbalance, but it also led to finding some important answers in her ongoing healing. We came home in late June and then I flew back up to Humboldt in early July to spend another week helping my mom, including taking her to her pre-op appointments before her surgery, which was just yesterday.

I’m so gratified to say, the surgery was a wonderful success and she’s on the road to recovery!

During these months of making many visits up north to nurse my mom, I found myself using coping strategies that weren’t very healthy. Drinking wine routinely, zoning out on social media, and after a couple very stressful days, eating several bowls of potato chips (with wine!) while watching TV. At the time, I joked about eating my emotions, which was certainly the case.

Now, I could be all perfectionistic about my habits and berate myself, but honestly that’s just a very human response to acute stress. But, now that I’m able to reflect on it, I see that there were many emotions that I didn’t let myself feel during this hard season. In many ways, I felt present in the moment, but I didn’t give myself space to feel the emotions of fear, anxiety, and overwhelm that were certainly happening.

Coping strategies involving food, alcohol, and distraction are numbing, in the short term. But, what I want to do with my emotions is be present to them, feel them, turn to God for support, and lean on my wonderful family and friends for connection. Repressing my feelings just cuts me off from authenticity and my deep need for God’s provision and care.

As we gear up for another trip to Humboldt in a week, I’m prayerful that I will be more present and in touch with my feelings, without the need to numb or distract myself. I’m not making any drastic rules about my eating and drinking habits, though the reforming perfectionist in me keeps trying to set them! Instead, I will ask God for his provision in being mindful about my behaviors so that I don’t turn them into coping strategies that don’t help in the long run.

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