Running…

I am a runner. Not of the athletic sort (although, I have been working on this as of late). An emotional runner. Discomfort is a quick que to my heart that something is wrong and I need to take off.

Hagar was a runner too. Not always by choice. The slave mother of Ishmael, Abraham sent her and her son into the desert at the request of his wife Sarah. I cannot imagine the depth of her shame. She bore a child for Abraham at the request of his wife only to be sent away – alone – with nothing but a skin of water and some food to carry on her shoulders.

Can you comprehend the weight? Not just the physical weight of water and food, but the weight of wandering aimlessly with limited supply, a child to care for, no plan, and no one to help her figure out the next steps.

I envision her mentally reviewing each and every choice she made. Could/should/would she have done something different if she had a redo? And the shame…the thought that not only had she done something wrong…but she was bad enough to be sent away…the feeling that she was something wrong. All of this rolling around in her mind and dripping off onto her shoulders. Smothering her more than the heat of the desert ever could.

At some point the wandering wearied her to the point she left her son under and bush and withdrew. She could not bear the death of her son at the hands of what she saw as her own mistakes. So she did what she does, flee and break, privately, where no one could see.

But then there was God. Not just any God…but the God who sees. The God who’s plans for a nation would not be undone just because Hagar needed to run from perceived failures and pain.

Sweet friend, I wonder if you, like me (and Hagar), are a running wanderer. All the aimless yet unshakeable thoughts inside your head have left you weary. You retreat to try and sort things out, but sometimes the sorting only leads to a heavier weight of shame. Because when we are inside our wilderness without directing our attention to the Lord – we are left in an uncultivated place. A land where crops could be grown and developed, but only with the proper labor and attention.

“What is the matter Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw the water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

The same God that allowed her to be sent to the wilderness now provided a way where there seemed to be no way. Hagar heard the voice of the Lord, God opened her eyes, she saw the water, and she chose to get her and her son a drink. 

Hagar made a critical choice in that moment. To abandon all that was her nature – flee – and to face her uncertainties with God by her side. She did not know what would happen next. She did not understand how God was going to make her son into a great nation. But in that moment she chose to allow God’s voice to be louder than her uncertainties. She put her shame aside and decided to drink the water God offered to her – not only for herself, but for her son.

And I know how it feels to be Hagar sitting on a rock. The situation looks hopeless. The only thing present is fear. Fear that cuts your heart out like a thousand knives wielded by the hands of pain and shame. But God did not give us a spirit of fear. The wilderness is never the end. There is, and always has been, a promised land. We may not have the answers to how or when – but we know how the story ends.

God – show us the water. When we feel parched and bare and dirty and shame covers us like a thick smothering blanket: redeem us, call us by name, show us the drink, and give us the will to take it. You are the remedy. Always. We will cling to you. No more fleeing unless it is straight into your arms. We may run – but let it be the run that doesn’t grow weary. The run with purpose. The run with you. Towards grace and joy, abandoning shame, because it was never part of your plan for us in the first place.

Transformed…

Photo Credit: http://pin.it/SNOEQ9r

To honor God with my life. Nothing more or less. This is what I want and what I need. But my body and breath often betray me. The pieces of my flesh – in direct contact with my spirit – create a mishmash of confused decisions that leave me feeling broken and damaged.

The past week has been a whirlwind, which is how my ADHD brain functions anyways (at warp speed), but this week took hectic to another level.

Sunday at church God challenged me to make some alterations in my posture and dialogue. I left church on fire and filled with the Holy Spirit…yet consumed with anxiety.

The anxiety started the week before. My past got triggered and nightmares robbed me of sleep. Shame sat on me like an elephant. So after the sermon Sunday, I decided to just stare it in the face. To look at what was making me anxious with both eyes and give it the what for. Seemed like a good idea at the time…but I’m not certain that’s what God meant when he asked me to change my posture and dialogue.

Lord knows I am a fan of talking about your trauma. I work with trauma for a living. But there is talking about your trauma, and obsessing over your trauma. Two very different things. Bringing it out and processing further could have been helpful, but as my hyperfocus race-car brain does, I could not stop thinking about it. 24/7. Intrusive thoughts. Hello PTSD – I thought I had left you behind – but here you are again. I was unraveling at the seems. All it took was one small drop of redirection from someone I love and care about deeply – and I lost it. I unleashed anger on her in ways I didn’t even know I was capable of. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.

I felt horrible. And because my body was already in full PTSD hypervigalent danger mode – I did what I do…cut and run. Cut the ties. Run away. Pretend you didn’t mess up. Hide. And  maybe it will all disappear.

Oh…but then there was God…and his dang word for the year…GRACE.

All night He ran around my head. Don’t run. This is not how you grow. You told me you wanted a challenge. Growth. Healing. Redemption. You told me you want to honor me with your life…well here is an amazing opportunity. But you are choosing to run away…and I won’t give up on you.

I swallowed my pride, rolled up my sleeves, and stepped back in the ring. But the girl that stepped back in was not the girl that ran out.

The girl that ran out was ashamed. She focused on her insecurities, magnified her pain, and saw grace as evidence of her failings. She wanted to use her voice, but forgot the reason God had called her to use it in the first place. She wanted to change her posture and grow – but refused to let anyone show her how it could be done.

And when she went back in there was fire in her tongue. Not her own. But the very breath of God. She might speak of her pain – but in the same breath would be a declaration of freedom and change. She might trip on her insecurity – but would accept the boundaries and redirection others offered her because freedom never comes from doing more of the same. She’s made new alright. Human. But with the power of God not just in her Bible or whirling around her head – but spoken over her life with power and authority.

That’s what God meant when He said change your posture and your dialogue. He didn’t mean give your anxiety a voice both in and outside your head. Or take your lame ass body and try to start running a marathon. He meant acknowledge your pain – but don’t you dare stop there. Tell it where it belongs and where it can go. Get your lame self moving – but also be willing to acknowledge you might need some help re-learning how to stand. Speak life and posture yourself in such a way for things to be different.

You can’t create change by beating the past into the ground. Growth happens under His direction and power for the present. That’s how you honor God with your life. You allow Him to blow the winds of change. You speak life until you run out of breath. And when you get tired, you get on your knees, confess your humanity, and get back in the ring once again.


 

 

When your shoe and your soul simultaneously get run over…

I love me some Tieks. Whoever thought a pair of flats could be so awesome? They are freaking expensive. But I wear them just about daily – so for me – it’s been worth the investment. I suppose ripping a hole in the nice soft refined leather with a gigantic steel door corner is probably the best metaphor for today I could have. Because I’m not even gonna lie…it’s been a tough one.

And I’ve challenged myself to put it all out there. Not just the pretty. Not just the healed. But the rawness of life that we all experience – but rarely talk about.

I’m good at doing it with large audiences – like on my blog. But struggle to apply genuine vulnerability to my closest personal relationships – the ones that really matter.

And true to what God does…when I say I want to work on vulnerability in the intimate spaces…He gives me more than enough opportunities to work it…and work it well.

The nice pretty leather? Ripped wide open.

#whydidIpraythis?

Under the leather sit 5 sensitive little toes. Had the shoe not provided protection, there would have been bleeding. And although my toes are sore, no wound is visible. I suppose I’ve walked around with a beautiful pair of Italian leather Tieks – per-say – on the entirety of my person. Sensitive areas never seen by the eye or susceptible to wounding – because a nice soft shade of protection covered them up. And that’s been ok. It’s worked for a while. Like I said – I like my Tieks.

But wouldn’t it be weird if I never took them off? If I came home and continued to wear them rather than transitioning to barefoot (my fav mode at home). Or wore them in the shower? Or to bed at night? There’s a time and place for shoes, and a time to take them off. Even the very most comfortable pair of shoes gets cumbersome sometimes. Especially when toes feel squished and start hurting.

And my emotional toes have been squished lately. In every way-shape-form. I’ve kept the leather covering in tact, because if I let the sharp edge of the door hit things just right – I might bleed. And I don’t like bleeding. No one does. But reality is, sometimes fragile places need to breath. And sometimes while breathing, the edges might hurt. And I’m not saying run barefoot through a parking lot full of glass. That’s just crazy. But in the safety of our own homes – in the intimacy of our closest relationships – it’s ok to take the shoe off and let your soul breath. To accept a few sharp edges and trust those you say you trust to manage and sit with you through any bleeding.

It’s not only ok, in fact it’s necessary.

And through this process of life’s ups and downs we have all sorts of opportunities. To look tough. To accomplish things. To make people proud. And it’s all well and good. But most of us would admit those aren’t the things we value in our loved ones the most. We value the time spent with our shoes off. That’s where the meaning lives. That’s where true friendships and relationships are born and maintained. In the raw real places of a raw real life. So imma go home after a long day and take my shoes off, and let my toes breathe. Because barefoot vulnerability is what life is made of.

Grace, trauma, mindfulness, and humility…

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I share office space with one of the wisest women I know. Her spiritual maturity vastly surpasses my own. We do therapy very differently. And that’s a beautiful thing. But sometimes my stuff meets hers, or hers meets mine, and I have to rethink some things.

I am a huge fan of mindfulness in therapy and in life. It has made a huge difference for me and for many of my clients. Most times I teach it minus all spirituality as to be sensitive to my clients individual beliefs and needs. But when it comes to my own way of mindfulness…she said something to me that will not let go.

“You know Steph, mindfulness is great, and I use elements of it all the time, but here’s the thing. What happens when we fail ourselves? When despite our best efforts we can’t breath? Or we can’t ground ourselves with the environment because we are in the midst of tremendous grief or a horrendous flashback? Trauma can be overwhelming. It often is. And that’s where we need the power of God…of the Holy Spirit flowing through us. So I’m all for mindfulness, but it must be centered with Jesus.”

I’ve let this simmer a few days and sitting in church this morning a definition of trauma plopped itself in my brain:

“A traumatic event or situation creates psychological trauma when it overwhelms the individual’s ability to cope, and leaves that person fearing death, annihilation, mutilation, or psychosis. The individual may feel emotionally, cognitively, and physically overwhelmed. The circumstances of the event commonly include abuse of power, betrayal of trust, entrapment, helplessness, pain, confusion, and/or loss.”

By very definition, she was spot on. Yes mindfulness is an amazing tool for healing from trauma. The research is profound. And for those who do not ascribe to Christianity – it often works fairly well. But for those of us that do, what a huge disservice we are doing if we limit mindfulness to our own ability to center and access strength.

The sermon today was about pride and how Satan uses it. It had a large scale collision with my word for the year – grace.

“And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” James 4:6-8 NLT

Your loyalty is divided between God and the world…

It’s hard to be a therapist sometimes. I embrace theory. I love research. But it’s not everything. So often research centers itself on the world. And in my practice I vacillate to be ethical and meet my clients exactly where they are. But in my own life, and my Christian clients lives, there is room for so much more.

Pride says I can pull on my own strength, my own resources, humans around me, and my coping skills to get through an incredibly difficult time…and it will pass. And more than likely it will. But trauma again – by it’s very nature – surpasses ones abilities to cope. It’s what makes trauma traumatic. And in my own life God is hammering me over the head with grace harder and stronger because He knows I have knowledge of His divine power but have refused to access it. And it pains Him.

Maybe it’s out of fear that He won’t be enough. That I will be disappointed. I’m not really sure. But I do know this…

I wanted strength for the year. I wanted power. I wanted overcomer. Which are all good things…but I was focused on pulling them from inside myself.

Thank God He sat on me like a ton of bricks and said no. I believe He is telling me I will have these things, but not until I humble myself and stop relying on my strength, and the strength of those around me, and choose Him.

Relentlessly recklessly choose Him. Over and over again choose Him.

Because when I do, He will wrap me in His grace and unending power. He loves me too much to let me rely on anything but the best. But perfection. His power is made perfect in weakness. And all the mindfulness in the world may not heal trauma, but God will. He is the Prince of Peace. He will never fail.

grace warrior…

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Brown. Nothing special. Just plain. Boring…kind of how I viewed grace.

I wanted a cool word for the year. A word like warrior. But God would not leave me alone about it.

Grace. Plain brown grace.

“Grace is weak,” I thought. That can’t be the word for me. This is a year of change. Of growth. Of strength. But here I am, with grace.

To me grace equaled mistakes. Weakness. Incompetence. And I hate feeling incompetent. It terrifies me. I wasn’t sure why, but then it hit me. I hate feeling incompetent because it’s how the dude who raped me made me feel.

Incompetent.

And it wasn’t just a rape. We dated for about a year. A year of feeling sexually incompetent. I was never enough. Physically incompetent. My boobs were little and my butt was big. Emotionally and mentally incompetent. He would constantly threaten to shoot himself because of my “mistakes” or “lack of effort”.

The mistakes I am referring to were centered around things he would do to control me. Things like write him a note every day, talk dirty to him in notes and on the phone, wear a certain thing, or look a certain way. But it was never ever enough. I was always incompetent.

With him, incompetence equalled punishment. Maybe with words. Maybe with threats. Maybe with actions. But it was never forgiven. And the sad thing is, I hadn’t done anything wrong in the first place.

What does that do to a person? Constantly feeling inadequate. Unable to measure up. Not to a reasonable expectation. But to an expectation that was just plain jacked up and weird.

It creates an unbelievable amount of anxiety and shame. I would not leave him because I firmly believed no one else would want me and I was a mistake of a human. Eventually I did get out…but the damage remained. I needed to be everything to everyone. I had to. For self protection. I repeatedly lost myself out of a need to remain safe.

And that’s where grace comes in.

Turns out it has been non-existent with me for a while. Oh…I had it in infinite amounts for others. But none for me. And I didn’t want it. Because grace meant I had not met the expectation – and not meeting the expectation induced panic.

I hid negative internal states, failures, and mistakes over and over again out of fear. I even hid them from myself. Looking at them was too scary. Too painful. If I acknowledged them someone else might too. And then it would happen. My incompetence would permeate the room like a nasty fart that no one wants to smell and everyone would be disgusted and run away.

But it’s not true. Even though I’ve held myself to a jacked up frame of reference, I have never been incompetent. Not because I’ve never made legit mistakes, but because of that brown so-called boring word, grace.

Turns out it’s rather dynamic. Not necessarily pretty. But actually kind of warrior like. It goes to the wounded bleeding broken places. The places others refuse to go…and says yep that sucked and it was far from perfect…and your loved. Not in spite of your crap. But because of it.

Grace is unmerited favor. Not pitty love. Not a bandaid for incompetence. It’s love for the whole person – free of expectations – out of choice. And that’s the choice God made for us in sending Jesus. The choice of grace. And it’s not brown or boring or weak. It’s warrior grace that says yep you fall down a lot, and you can’t be everything to everyone, but you are loved by God and that’s freaking amazing. And you’ll never have to measure up ever again because grace bore the measuring stick for you.

Art by Valerie Wieners Art and available at valeriewienersart.com

Girls, women, ADHD, trauma, and Jesus…

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It’s a chicken or egg thing. Or maybe a chicken AND egg thing. ADHD – trauma – abuse – neglect – genetics – nurture – nature: all players in the game. And not that one has to occur for the other to occur, or that one necessarily comes first or second…but it’s interesting to look at the research about how trauma and ADHD play together.

One study shows that “among women, 34 percent diagnosed with ADHD reported having been sexually abused before the age of 18 while 14 percent of women without ADHD reported childhood sexual abuse. Also, 44 percent of women with ADHD reported childhood physical abuse. In contrast, 21 percent of women without a diagnosis of ADHD reported the same type of abuse.”

Again…chicken or egg…but either way when a chicken and and egg exist, something is going to hatch.

ADHD wasn’t part of my life narrative until recently. Looking back, it was always present, but I used the word failure. It felt like shame, embarrassment, inadequacy, and confusion. Why did I do the things I did? Why did I fall into the same patterns over and over again? Why couldn’t I see what was sitting right in front of me? Why did I give up on things I really was good at and/or loved? Why did I run when things got hard or I felt afraid? Why were my emotions so strong that eventually I learned it was better just to numb them out? I never had answers to these questions until the past few months. And it has been liberating and frustrating all at the same time. And considering my own trauma narrative a whole bunch of puzzle pieces finally fit.

ADHD often looks different in girls than it does in boys. It’s not always the kid bouncing off of the walls that can’t sit in his chair. It’s the girl that get’s bored and tries to find stuff to do. And in trying she may run across someone new that seems interesting. He may offer her excitement. He may be her age and he may not, but she doesn’t really have the skills to process that in her tunnel vision brain. Yep, it was weird and awkward, maybe wrong?, but it felt good. And it was adrenaline, and it was stimulation, and in some ways it was kind of good. A feeling that hasn’t been found elsewhere. So why tell? Why block off that person and go back to the boring lonely reality of before? This may be messy and painful at times…but there is oddly a reward.

Fast forward into young adulthood. He treats me crappy. Yes. But he likes me when everyone else thinks I’m weird. I need a constant emotional boost and even though he drags me through the mud sometimes, when he’s nice he gives me what I need. I don’t feel in control of my emotions anyways, so I will take all the good moments I can squeeze out. And maybe I do things with him that I’m really not comfortable with, and maybe he pushes or even forces, but again it’s exciting. And it feels good in a weird way. So I guess I’ll keep going because leaving him seems impossible. I don’t want to be lonely and bored again. I can’t.

The story of my life. The push and pull of emotions. The “Did I want this to happen?” factor when it came to things that were not ok. Why tell. Why let anyone know. I assumed they would just reassure me that all the awful things I thought about myself were true.

And I have come a long way. Lightyears from the girl and woman I was before. But she is still very much a part of me. And for that I am incredibly thankful. Because I get to sit in the office with these different yet the same versions of ADHD and trauma that need someone to explain to them how their brain works and how all of this stuff that happened really wasn’t their fault. That what was not okay was not okay regardless of how it seemed or felt. That they are not dirty or shameful or to blame. I wouldn’t trade my history for the world for that very reason.

And I have a passion that burns inside of me that could not be ignited any other way. The awareness of how ADHD looks in women and girls is low…really really low. People get misdiagnosed and overlooked all the time. And not that every trauma survivor struggles with this, they most certainly don’t. But when they do-  it’s real. Their brains work in ways that need to know and understand how this whole chicken and egg thing went down. Because once they understand…things happen. The God that loves them says hey – see what I have been speaking to your heart all along is TRUE…and there’s this moment of freedom that is absolutely amazing.

how to jingle all the way…and get other things done…

img_4065I am like the queen bee of starting things and not finishing them…so this kitchen towel totally cracked me up. It’s not that I’m a half-ass jingler. When I jingle – I jingle with all my heart – for the moment that is. Then something happens (attention shifts or I get overwhelmed) and I forget that jingling was ever important to me in the first place! My sparkly bells  just sit there, unjingled, and lonely.

Now clearly I’m not just talking about jingling bells. In fact, the last time I really put effort into jingling bells was in high school show choir. I’m talking about all the other projects and things I pour my energy into like a gargantuan waterfall, only to quickly leave behind a lake of pieces unfinished and undone.

So how does an adult that struggles with ADD sustain a nice full ass jingle throughout the completion of a song? I am still in the process of learning that…but here is what I have discovered so far.

  1. Focus the attention waterfall: Those of us with ADD often have multiple waterfalls flowing in our head. We are constantly inundated with information and easily sucked into things that are unproductive. I can spend HOURS on Facebook doing absolutely nothing if I don’t choose to harness up my waterfall – meaning set a period of time and focus on a productive task. Jingle your bells with a full ass jingle for so many minutes a day.
  2. Let the waterfall move on: Sometimes we get so focused on working one set of bells, and can have difficulty shifting focus, that we neglect other sets of bells. So set your time period, but don’t overspend time doing one thing. It will still be there tomorrow, your brain will be refreshed, and there are other things around you that are important.
  3. Jingle in the direction of your values: If you don’t value it, don’t spend time on it. Facebook is cool, but it doesn’t move me towards my values. I am way better off working on something that involves committed action towards things that are really important. Don’t know what you value? Take a second to think about it and figure it out.
  4. You are capable of and worth a good jingle: If you have a habit of leaving things undone, starting and not finishing, or feeling like you constantly fail…it’s easy for interest to peak with a great idea only to be shot down by our own negativity. Some jingles will work out and others won’t. But that’s not because you are incapable or a failure. You deserve to give yourself time to work on that jingle. Sometimes the best ideas come out of those who process a bit differently. Shut the negative committee down and jingle till they move out the way!

I hope those things are helpful for you. I’m certainly – and will likely always be – in the process of figuring out what’s helpful for me. And process is a beautiful thing. It means growth. So get out there and jingle sister…the world is waiting to dance to the tune only you can provide.

don’t be a sloppy lovahhhhhhh……

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I love me some Saturday Night Live. Especially the old stuff. One of my favs (I know it is so inappropriate but I can’t help myself) is Will Ferrel and Rachel Dratch playing the Professors Roger and Virginia Klarvin. They are so over the top with their hilarious PDA’s. I almost pee my pants every time I watch. Here’s a link…but warning…like seriously inappropriate adult humor…don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I feel weird even trying to bring an SNL skit like this and Jesus into the same blog post, but hey, now that I know I officially have ADD – I feel a little more freedom to do weird crap. So how did I draw a connection between the two? These three words that popped into my mind last night…

Don’t be a sloppy lovahhhh……

Jesus? SNL? A combo of both? I’m not really sure…but Jesus took it and taught me something.

I like to love people. Not in a weird ewwwwwwwww kind of way. Not that at all. What I mean is…I like to care for people. I crave doing it. God put a little bug in my heart that desperately wants to make sure others know they are okay. Even if they did the unthinkable…or experienced someone else doing the unthinkable…we learn, we grow, and we move on. I like to help people figure that out.

But at times…I like it a little too much. The consequence? I provide awesome lip service with little follow through. And I know it’s not just me, I see other lovahs struggle with the same thing.

So what is Jesus teaching me? That the best lovahs need good boundaries. Otherwise their awesome loving skills never get a chance to be properly used. The love-ah feels unfulfilled and like a failure and the love-ee feels like they are were misguided and perhaps not good enough. (and yes I just made up those terms)

But how on earth do we go about setting those boundaries?

1. Recognize it may go against everything that is within you. Your heart and mind will long to say yes, but your physical limitations sometimes have to scream NO…even if it feels awful and like you are letting people down.

2. Recognize there are other awesome lovahs and network with them! Despite your mad loving skills, you are not the only one who loves to love and care for people. If your love plate is full…pass on the next portion to someone else who can love well!

3. Have someone hold you accountable to your boundaries. Why? Because lovahs love to love and we are not good at keeping them!

4. Relish in the awesomeness of being able to fully invest in those God lets you love…and love the crap out of them. Love them like Jesus. Love them beyond what they deserve. And do it well because you of all people are not a sloppy lovah!

Looking back on my life the people who made the biggest difference were not famous. They didn’t write books, or flash up on the TV screen, or make millions of dollars. They were regular people who chose to love God and love people. They were and are amazing lovahs. And they stay that way and sustain their love because they also recognize their boundaries and limitations. Brene Brown does an awesome job of explaining this in this video. Worth the watch if you have time. But either way, remember this…

God did not call you to save the world. He had a son named Jesus who already did that. Love those whom He entrusts you to love. Let others love those whom He entrusts them to love. Making the choice to set boundaries in a love opportunity may just be the best thing that ever happened to them because it opens the door for the right person for that season to step in. And above all know that Jesus – the ultimate lovah – has got this. He’s got them. And He’s got you. Do your best. Love with your whole heart and leave the rest up to Him. He’s a good good father. The very best.

hypersensitivity, fear of failure, cocktail waitressing, and the making of a therapist…

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Hypersensitivity to failure, disapproval, and criticism. I never knew this was a “thing” until I started researching emotions and ADHD. ADDitude magazine describes it like this…

“The emotional response to failure is catastrophic for those with the condition. Perceived criticism and withdrawal of love and respect is just as devastating as the real thing. The term “dysphoria” means “difficult to bear,” and most people with ADHD report that they “can hardly stand it.”  ADHDers are not wimps; disapproval hurts them much more than it hurts neurotypical people.”

I always thought this was something to hide…some sort of character flaw. But no matter how hard I fought, I just couldn’t get past it.

Over the years this hypersensitivity has come at a great cost. For me…it often led to lies.

I hated lying, but I was terrified of disapproval.

As a CPS worker fresh out of college with a toddler and a baby, I failed miserably. I couldn’t keep up with my files, I was emotionally overwhelmed, and would say that I got things done that I hand’t which eventually led to me looking irresponsible and negligent.

Was I?

It was never my intention to hurt or disappoint anyone, but while my heart was in the right place…I couldn’t get my brain to follow.

This has been the story of my life. A huge heart wanting to do and be everything to everyone. Passion that bleeds endlessly but never has the stamina or skills to implement.

So I left CPS quickly with my tail between my legs. At that time I was accepted into the Master’s Program in Counseling, but that was not all…

Cue embarrassing story…

I decided to cocktail waitress and bartend at night to make sure I could pay the bills. I didn’t even know how to make a margarita or the names of any other drink…but that’s what an impulsive spirit running from her hypersensitivity to failure and criticism will do to survive. Just about anything.

I went to grad school and I was successful. Looking back I have no idea how. It must have been the grace of God. There is no other way. Apparently He knew someday my particular take on life and set of experiences would be beneficial to the children who grace my office. To those sweet little souls with unspeakable traumas and behaviors that everyone else misunderstands and sees as ugly. My own mistakes have given me the perspective to see past their messiness into their hearts. Because God did the same for my own.

I feel their pain. I know what it’s like to come undone. To feel like you can’t quite harness up your brain so you can use it. It’s my honor to help them figure out how to take what they have – though it may be little – and rock it.

And I sit here tonight with my intellectually disabled son napping by my side, my ADD daughter (who didn’t fall even a centimeter from the tree) crafting her little artsy heart away, and my amazing husband cleaning the kitchen because he knows cleaning just isn’t my thing. I am blessed beyond measure. I have found what it takes for me to be able to slow my brain down enough that I can keep up with things like files and notes so that the part of my practice I excel at (loving people) can be successful. I am still sensitive. I still want people to like and approve of me. But I know if they don’t, it doesn’t define me. I have learned to handle rejection and that it really is okay to mess up sometimes and just be human. And above all, with Jesus I continue to find that not matter what, it is well with my soul.