The Eternal To-Do List

I like to make lists. There - I said it. Are you happy? Maybe some of you are because you realize the joy of taking one of your favorite pens and jotting down things that you need to take care of... then (hopefully) accompanied by the pure bliss of crossing things out, checking them off, erasing them, scribbling them away, etc. Then you get to throw it away and start a fresh new one tomorrow! It's like the gift that keeps on giving - a game that never ends - a party on a notepad!

I give myself a label that I'm not sure many others would ever give me... but because I'm the person who knows me the best, I can openly say that I am a control freak. I'm not your typical control freak type - I don't critique people's outfits, or get mad when things get put out of place, or alphabetize people's placements at dinner parties. I just have an incredibly difficult time with the unknown, and with giving up control. (Read: control freak.) 

I have battled off and on the last few years with depression and anxiety. And although I am not incredibly high on the spectrum, I still struggle. I'm sure that this was a problem that was going on much longer than when I realized it, but it took physical symptoms for me to wake up and be aware of what my body was trying to tell me - to just let go a little bit. I had just taken my youth group on a huge mission trip to San Francisco, and when I came home to my toxic roommate situation, I just could not handle it. I was convinced that I was having a heart attack - that my heart was doing something terrible to me. After 2 ER trips and much reassurance, it was determined that I was having anxiety attacks. I started medication and counseling, and eventually started to notice the signs of my anxiety levels rising, and was able to deal with them. I was surrounded by wonderful friends and a great family who helped me out as much as they could, and I'm forever grateful for their guidance and support. 

But there is still part of me that has such a hard time giving up things to others. And the silliest thing is that I'm not giving up something major, or life changing. It is usually really small things, and it would be given up or assisted by people who are my closest friends and family, but I still struggle. And part of the reason is the vision that I've built up in my head of the task at hand... I know how I want it to be and go, but what if it's a little different? Well, then I am convinced that it won't be as good as I've dreamed it to be. I know - stupid, right?

These blogs always taken an erratic turn I feel... Writing is so cathartic for me -- I can just blah it all out and hope for the best. :)

Planning a wedding when you have a hard time giving tasks to others or getting help from others is probably just about the stupidest thing ever. I have NO doubts about the abilities of people in my life, nor do I question their motivations for offering their help. So why can I not just say "yes! that sounds awesome! I would love your help - let's do it ______.?" Again - it's that dumb control freak in me, and the fear that the vision that I have will pop. So, so silly. Even typing it makes me realize how dumb it is. 

I have come to realize that one thing that is impervious to my control issues is being in love. No one wants to be in love with someone who wants to micromanage their every move. I know that I certainly would not want that for myself - so how could I expect anyone else? People don't generally think it's "cute" when you are running their schedule, and are poo-pooing activities because you don't know how they will go. Falling in love is one of the most amazing things that I have ever done. But also (for me at least), erratic and at times a little scary. You are literally exposing every inch of your heart and self to another person -- and you HAVE to do this in order to make it work. But what if you expose it all and then they shy away in horror, or they decide it's not worth it? These are the fears that would keep me awake before I found David. The idea of putting myself out on the line like that and having no control over the outcome TERRIFIED me. And for good reason - it's a monumental thing! But I found that the more we progressed in our relationship, the more I was able to start loosening my grip on my reigns, and then eventually cautiously started to hand them to David. I had to let him drive sometimes... and I had to trust that he wasn't going to steer me into an embankment or off a cliff. But I found that the more I sat back and let him drive, the more comfortable I became. And I knew that he would not hurt me... And I wasn't in charge, and that was okay. It nice sometimes to give up the control so your mind and soul can take a little breather, you know? A little TLC, if you will. 

My fear of giving things up can only take me so far. I realize my limitations, and realize what I hold onto - and I have to just let them go. I can't think about it, or make a list of pros and cons - if I don't just go cold turkey, leaps will never get made, lines will never get crossed, and world peace will not be accomplished (that's obviously the next thing on my to do list.) So I vow, from this point forward, to give up the reigns more often. I pledge to let people help, and be aware that even if it's not like the picture in my head, it was made/created/done/dreamed up/accomplished/assisted with nothing but love and care by the people who I hold the most dear. And that, my friends, is worth a little bit of anxiety, don't you think?


Sometimes it's a bit of a blur...

I have a confession to make... Sometimes I get myself worked up. Big shocker here if you know me, I'm sure. But sometimes I just get so wound up about something that I cannot just let go like a normal person. I know that lots of people struggle with this, but sometimes it just gets in the way of my life and it's so frustrating. Some of you know that I have struggled with anxiety and depression the last few years. I have taken medication, I've done counseling, and it hasn't been incredibly bad in the grand scheme of things. I have learned a lot about myself through this process. But still, little and strange things get me worked up.

This weekend was a classic example. I had planned a small get together with some friends at my house to celebrate my birthday. Other than my family and my best friends, I hadn't really had anyone over to my house. And I have found that as the years go by, my hosting anxiety gets worse and worse! I don't know how much to buy, I don't know what people will want to drink, what if this happens? What if I run out of this? It's ridiculous the scenarios I come up with. And numerous people will tell me not to panic - that it's my friends, that they love me, and they will love whatever we have and do.

But still, I found myself getting more and more panicked and nervous about it. David was amazing and did so much to make sure the party went well, and I found myself snapping at him about completely dumb things in the hours leading up to the party. I worked myself into a sweat about the smallest things. And then when my friends started to arrive, I was so happy to see them! But still I found myself asking every few seconds if everyone was okay, or if they needed anything. I wasn't sure about when to put things out for our next course, and hemmed and hawed so much about that. I felt like I looked like a trainwreck. I sure felt like one.

Lily (who is almost 3) commandeered my phone at some point and took some pictures, which I feel like totally captured what I felt like for most of the evening. See below for the first half of the party through Lily's eyes, and subsequently, Mandy's brain:



About an hour or so before everyone left, I felt my worries slip away. I was surrounded by amazing friends, people I care about so deeply, and who I cherish with all of my heart. They were all in my living room, eating ice cream happily, and laughing hysterically at the game we were playing. And I just soaked it all up and felt great.

After everyone left, and things were cleaned up, and I stopped and slowed down, my emotions hit me like an anvil in an old-timey cartoon. Out of nowhere, I got so teary-eyed and sad. And as David was reassuring me about the party and about how loved I am, I tried to explain that I realized all of that. But I was just so anxious and weird that I didn't really start to settle until right before people left. I just didn't feel fully present for most of the time.

And this is my take-away from that whole experience. I want to be present for all of the moments in my life. I want to be here, fully and whole-heartedly.  And that means making some changes in my life physically and emotionally. I think I am on the right track, and it feels good to know that the path ahead may not be easy, but it will be so, so worth it. I'm in a great place now, but with a little elbow grease and perseverance, I can be in a magnificent place. Even with all of those crazy emotions that I pack around with me. :) (I've always been a bit of an over-packer.)