Diary Page Fifty-Nine
August 2, 2005 - Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dream....

Life isn't perfect but sometimes life can still be WOW. Those good WOWs can send you in the right direction. It really is true that one day you can think it isn't possible, and the very next day you start to realize that it is.

I've turned a corner. I've turned this corner and I'm feeling happy and confident. Happiness doesn't last, nor does confidence, but I am grateful for the knowledge that I can experience these things. I'm not STRESSED, and it's been a long time since I had so many days with so little stress. I'm much less critical about myself, and here is the strange thing. The less critical I am, the more I actually WANT to improve myself. All of the harsh thoughts and caustic recriminations did nothing but erode my self-esteem like hurricanes against my tender shores. But it was Jehovah who made these shores, and He made them to last, no matter what we try to do to them. And it was in Jehovah that I finally found strength.

Months ago I started to pray a lot. I've had difficulty praying because I felt so guilty, felt like I was unclean and could not approach Jehovah in that state. But of course, I was never going to be perfect, so when would I get around to praying? I just could never think that I, Danielle, was good enough. Good enough for Jehovah to listen to, good enough for love, good enough for friends, good enough to exist. There was a CONSTANT refrain in my head, "You're no good, Dani you're no good". NOT GOOD ENOUGH NOT GOOD ENOUGH NOT GOOD ENOUGH, over and over and over and over, every single day. Every time I thought I might be getting somewhere worthwhile, the doubts would come back. And every time I made a mistake, which was daily of course, all that did was confirm just how BAD I really was, and how I'd never be good enough just to get by.I was hyper-critical of myself, yet I could be so lenient and understanding with others.

It might have been the "Draw Close to Jehovah" book that opened my eyes just enough to see more possibilities. I learned that Jehovah is looking for the good in us, not the bad. He's looking for the ten righteous men in Sodom. He's looking for the good, and when we go to Him, He reinforces that. It is with praise and understanding and LOVE that someone wants to change, not harsh criticisms and hate. Okay, so I understood, FINALLY, for the first time in my life, that Jehovah is looking for the good in people. I thought that was so wonderful, and I resolved to do that with others. But wait, that means me too. Jehovah is looking for the good...in ME? Yes me. WOW, that was a wonderful feeling. But then it dawned on me. If Jehovah is looking for the good in me, then how can I be so arrogant as to only look for the bad in myself? This realization made it OKAY for me to start loving myself, because Jehovah loves me and showed me the way.

And that made all the difference...

Not right away of course. I had to make efforts and make changes and most importantly, I had to pray. And I prayed and prayed. I came to really like praying. I started to do it at random moments, not just when I was feeling bad or when I was "supposed" to pray (like mealtimes). Then I got an email from my Aunt Neine that really got me thinking. We put a lot of emphasis on praying to Jehovah as well we should. But praying is us talking to Him. Isn't it even more important what He has to say to us? So I started to read the Bible every day. Every single day without exception. Eventually I created an exciting schedule for myself. I really look forward to reading the Bible, and have started to do that when I have "nothing to do", rather than watch TV or get on the computer. And I also started to study. Study what I wanted to study, and study along with the congregation, "just in case" I ever got back to attending meetings. I'd be prepared, if that could happen.

My relationship with Jehovah began to strengthen, my relationship with myself began to get better, but there was still more before I got to this happy place. I attended a meeting or two, but the anxiety was still there. In fact, I became more anxious then I had ever been. I became so anxious that I was frightened in my home. If my father walked into my room while I was deep in thought, I'd be so shocked it could send me into a panic attack. A thousand fear missiles would assault me daily. Well, at least the depression was gone, thank you Zoloft, my wonder drug. But the anxiety, what to do about that? I went to a therapist or two, I read a bit, I prayed a lot, but it was still there. I knew that the only way to really fight it was to face it, but how could I do that when I had failed so many times? I didn't know the answer to that question, and I couldn't bear the constant failures and ensuing panic attacks.

Then some things started to happen. By chance I found myself on a path to greater understanding. I started learning some things about my personality that I did not know. I thought I was something that I was not. I thought I was decisive, and organized, and present-oriented, and always practical and conscientious, and responsible and dutiful. But I'm not decisive at all, it's really hard for me to make decisions because there are so many facts to be considered and there are new facts every day. And I'm not organized at all, although I really want to be, but it stresses me out to be so organized. A lot of responsibility stresses me out as well and causes me to be super-critical of myself when I make mistakes. I don't seek greater responsibility at all. I can't focus on the present much at all, I'm always thinking about the future, and where and who I am going to be. I thought about who I was as a child and teenager, and realized that I wasn't being true to myself now because I wasn't accepted then. I was trying to be something I'm not. Once I stopped artificially adding responsibilities to myself, and focused on understanding myself, I became so relaxed, WOW, it was incredible. My mind became very active, I was energized, I was excited. At the same time I was walking the dog every day, and encountering people. And it dawned on me that I wasn't anxious, I was able to deal with people and I wasn't self-conscious the way I had been. My steps were lighter. So I thought, "maybe as I grow confident the anxiety is lessening. Could I try going to a meeting?" And I did. And then I went to the next one. Any anxiety I felt I was able to quickly fight in a way I couldn't before. YAY! FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY! I'm going to my meetings again. Yippee! I'm becoming a butterfly, but I won't forget being a caterpillar.    
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