I struggle with panic attacks. They are heavy-duty, crazy, mind-altering, nasty attacks that make me totally forget what is true and what is false. In fact, I don't just forget. I confuse the two. What is true becomes false in my mind and what is false becomes true. This is a really bad situation as, considering the fact that Jesus calls himself the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life, you can imagine that the TRUTH part becomes obscured and I really, really feel unable to cling to Christ on my own.
I think the attacks are triggered by some memories of the things that happened at Eastman that caused my CNS injury to bloom into the oh-so-lovely thing that it is now. I won't go into detail or discuss the people involved because I am choosing to forgive them. (Note: "Choosing" is present tense. I won't claim to have forgiven them- some of it hurts too much. But I will say that my goal is to forgive them more and more every day.) Basically, who I am as an artist was called into question and challenged in ways that were unjust. I am telling you: justice, even in the small things, matters. Do what is right and just by those who are in your life. Do it. This injustice that I suffered at Eastman has left an emotional scar on my life and I cannot explain it to anyone. It doesn't make sense to me, even. So, every time I try to explain to someone else, it comes out all jumbled up and, well, I just sound crazy. THAT is what leads to the panic attacks. This horrible feeling of aloneness- I CANNOT EXPRESS MYSELF AND I AM TRAPPED INSIDE THIS HURT AND NO ONE GETS IT AND I'M CRAZY AND I'M GOING TO END UP ALONE BECAUSE I AM WORTHLESS. This becomes my reality. No really. In this alternate reality of mine, I AM WORTHLESS.
I follow Jesus, so I know that this isn't true. BUT, remember what I said before? Everything True is replaced by everything False in my mind and I cannot even begin to decipher the mess inside my head.
So, what does Ty do when this happens? He waits. He waits for me to calm down. He calmly tells me that he is here and will talk to me as soon as I want. He lets me be crazy. Then he listens. And through all of this- even though it happens about every week, he still loves me.
This week, my panic attack was triggered by a few students crying in their lessons. Heavens, I know little girls cry and I know I am not mean and I know it is not my fault when this happens. Oh, Dear Lord, though, it brings back terrible memories. Jesus, I do not want to be like the people who made me cry over the course of my clarinet education. Of course, I must be firm and push my students to achieve their best and, when I do this, 12 year old girls may get frustrated and cry. So, I soften my voice and talk very calmly and tell them it is all okay! They are beautiful and wonderful students and I am so proud of them! They will never disappoint me, but they must understand that I sometimes get intense because I KNOW they can do this. The tears fall, then dry up, then smiles come back because a good cry is sometimes all that is needed to move to the next artistic level. I know this...
But when I cried in my lessons, (or wanted to, heaven forbid I actually cry...) the opposite happened. I was "weak, incapable, lacking." Oh heavens, tears began to equal shame! Tears were a mark of weakness. But tears are a part of me- as they were a part of David! A part of Jesus! A part of God Himself! So, the truth of tears became twisted into a shameful falsehood and I began to break on the inside because my emotions were being mashed and pounded and smeared all over with gestures of cruelty and words of pure unkindness. Oh, Justice! WHERE WERE YOU?! What is a small-statured girl to do when so many bigger, more successful people are demanding she fit a mold that simply does not fit? That mold forced me into a shape that is not me and I am still trying to regain a true understanding of who I am and what I'm meant to be.
Tears are not shameful. Tears are not weak. Tears are an outward symbol of inner strength. Jesus cried. Jesus wept. I will weep the tears in my heart because I know they burst from my heart that knows this world is not its home. I will not suppress who I am, and I will choose to let my voice cry out because God asks me to speak. Sometimes God's sadness seeps out of my eyes, and my tears are a symbol of His.
My husband let's me cry. He is a good man who let's my woman's heart be exactly what it is and NEVER shames me for it.
Precious students, little siblings, future children,
CRY YOUR TEARS. I will never shame you. If I have wronged you and I cause your tears, I will seek your forgiveness with humility. You are God's precious child and I have been appointed to watch over you. I will not ever, EVER break your spirit. Your spirit belongs to God and I would not dare harm it. Know that you are safe with me and that I love who you are and who you are meant to be.