The last several months have been really hard. It seems that the hardness is all I have been talking about/writing about for over a year now. But that’s because it was really fucking hard. But, finally, what I have been praying for has happened. The part where it just gets less hard… The part where it feels like the heavy burden has been lifted… The part where living, where taking the next breath seems totally doable again… The part where the whole Emmanuel (God with us) thing seems like a real thing… That part is finally here. Exhale…
At this time last week I thought I was going to die. Literally. I went for an emergency session at my therapist’s office (not that all my sessions aren’t pretty much an emergency), and she was more direct with me than she has ever been. Almost to the point where I wondered if she had crossed a boundary. She said, “Brittanie, stop talking and listen. You cannot go on like this. If you continue to live this way you are going to die. This work is destroying you. You have been destroyed. You have to choose. Brittanie or the girls. Choose. Choose right now.”
It felt like a brick fell from the sky and landed on my heart. I swallowed hard. Crying was not an option. I didn’t want to give her that much power. I was offended. I was shocked. I was afraid. I was in denial. I wanted to remind her that we pay her $70 per session to listen and not to talk. I was hurt. But mostly it hurt because I knew it was true. So I gave in and let a single tear fall. Surrender… exhale… Then for the first time in what felt like forever, I exhaled, and I said, “You’re right”. In that very moment I decided that I needed to make some drastic changes and made them almost immediately. It was as if, even though they hurt, those words set me free. They gave me permission to save myself from drowning. Before I felt as if even though I felt like I was drowning, that couldn’t really be true. I’m a badass. I’m a soldier. I love Jesus. I don’t drown. So maybe I was making it up. Maybe I was being dramatic. Maybe I was being a baby and needed to stop it and put on my big girl pants. But usually if you can’t breath and the water is rising higher and higher, you probably really are drowning.
I love my children. I love them dearly. But I love me too.
I chose me.
I can’t love them well if I don’t love me first.
So I sat and thought about the last time Brittanie alone was really truly happy. And that was at a time when I didn’t have so much responsibility and I didn’t have so much stuff. It was when I didn’t have to know all the answers. When I didn’t have to come through for everyone. When I could say “I don’t know” and “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you”. I wanted to get back there.
I started with the stuff. I just started getting rid of stuff. I let go of my house. I let go of all my furniture. I let go of some clothes and electronics. “Where will the kids sleep when they come home from school? Where will you live?” Those are the kinds of questions I got as I was doing this. My answer was simple, “I don’t know”. I DON’T KNOW!!! Ah. Every time I said it, it felt as if the load got lighter and lighter.
I then started decreasing the amount of programs we provide for now. I had been trying to offer more help than what was financially and emotionally possible for me to too many people. I put the after school program on hold. I spent several days without stepping foot into our slum. I stayed home and ordered in. I put meetings with children on hold. I let go of some staff. I drastically downsized for a season. And even though that was really hard, it was invigorating. The pressure was off. I had some breathing room.
This is all just the beginning of the “choosing Brittanie” journey, but already I feel so much better. I am rising above the water. I am catching my breath. I am breathing. I am living and not dying. I even catch myself smiling often. For the first time in almost a year today this thought crossed my mind: “I am happy”. I am not happy because of my children. I am not happy because my work is flourishing. I am happy because of Brittanie. I am nourishing Brittanie. And it feels really, really good.
So I have decided to devote the next two months to filling up my emotional and financial bank accounts. I am tired of operating out of a deficit. It’s crushing. What does that mean? I am investing in the emotional well being of Brittanie. I am also spending less time with the girls over these months and focusing on fundraising so that when we resume all of our programing I won’t be distracted by thoughts of “how am I going to feed these kids tomorrow”. So please be praying for me and even join me on this journey. You are so worth investing in!