Monday, May 5, 2014

The sense of serenity is like the foundation of a fortress

“The sense of serenity is like the foundation of a fortress — strong, unwavering.” – Margarita Tartakovsky

Since I’ve already had two miscarriages, I can’t help but feel nervous for this little one as well.  But something I want to put into practice right away is overcoming the “useless anxiety” as Fr. Stan Fortuna used to say.

Chronic worrying is the result of trying to control things that are out of your control.  And the anxiety it produces can be debilitating.  Pregnancy is one of those things that can generate quite a lot of worry, stress, and fear.  But, worrying doesn’t do any good for anyone.

I don’t want to live my life in constant anxiety.  I committed to that goal when I went through Lucinda Bassett’s tape series, “Attacking Anxiety and Depression”.  I wrote several posts about the series; you can read Part 1 here.

It is a good reminder for me to go back through my notes about what I learned and what I wanted to implement in my life.

Debilitating anxiety is the result of habits.  You can’t just get rid of anxiety if you’ve practiced living with it your whole life.  It took years to create the bad habits of negative thinking, constant worry, and worse-case scenario thoughts; it will take a while to change for those into good, healthy habits.

Something that I’m reminded of again is that anxiety and depression are part of life.  One person’s life is so full of ups and downs and everything in between.  I can’t change that fact that there are going to be moments in my life where I’m going to feel anxiety.  What I can do, however, is change how I respond to those feelings.

Instead of letting anxiety rule my life, I can choose to accept the anxious feelings and move on.

Like with this pregnancy so far, I am tempted to spend my waking moments (and my should-be-sleeping moments) worrying about the future.  “Am I going to miscarry again?  Am I harming the baby?  My stomach hurts a little, what if the baby died?  I ate Subway before I knew I shouldn’t eat lunch meat, what if I hurt the baby?  What if the baby will be born with birth defects?  What if the baby dies after it’s born?”  There is no end to what one could worry about.

And because of my history with miscarriages, I’m finding myself worrying more and more.

So I don’t give myself a panic attack, I have to remind myself that, in actuality, I’m doing everything in my power to prevent another miscarriage.  I’m taking extra hormones to help raise my estrogen levels.  In which case, having low levels could have been the cause of the first two losses.

When I find myself in a tornado of worry, I try to remember the fact that I’m doing all I can do, I have great doctors, and I’m in good health.

It is true that anxiety can be a good thing if it leads you to positive action or a search for peace.  When you find fleeting glimpses of that peace on earth, be reminded that it is a taste of eternal life – you will never be ultimately happy (or peaceful) until you are in Heaven.  St Augustine once said, “My heart is restless until it rests in thee.”

I want to respond to the pregnancy anxiety by putting it in God’s hands.  There is a lot I can’t control (understatement of the day).  If anything bad would happen, I know that God will help me get through it and bring a greater good from the tragedy.

I don’t want to be a chronic worrier.  I want to live out the words in St. Paul’s letter to the Philippines, “The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by praying and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests know to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil 4:5-7)

I want to start practicing this habit of offering my worry up to God so I will be better able to handle all the stressful situations that are bound to come up at some point or another.

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