Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Panic! At the Airport

My life experiences have left me with many scars, both visible and hidden. Some, like the one on my knee, remind me of fun times (though jumping from the swing to the wood chips isn't recommended). Others, like the ones on my abdomen spark memories of difficult choices. The most painful scars, though, are the ones whose stories I still struggle to tell in person. So, in honor of my one year survival celebration, today's blog tells you a little more about one of my more private struggles: anxiety.

A loud, crowded airport is not the ideal place to discover that you forgot to pack your anxiety medication. To make matters worse, I was traveling alone. No chance to leave luggage with a friend and go collect myself in the relative privacy of a bathroom stall. Nobody with me who could help talk me through it. (Though I will note that an amazing friend helped talk me through it via messaging.)

Nobody around me noticed. I doubt any but my very closest of friends could have seen the change in me. My heart rate increased, breathing grew shallower and more rapid, I felt my muscles tense and begin to shake as waves of nausea rose wet higher in my throat. On the outside, though, I was just a very quiet, shy fellow passenger. At worst, perhaps a touch nervous about flying. None of my airport neighbors would have guessed that I was experiencing a panic attack.

So, how do you know when someone around you is having a panic attack? Here are the common symptoms. If you think you notice any of them, ask. 

Now that you know your friend is having a panic attack...what do you do? Check out this great article on ways to respond. For my part, I'll just say that I like being touched by certain people, encouraged to talk, and even reasoning through the things that are causing me anxiety. But, if you're not sure what to do, ASK!! 

Hope this is helpful. Drop me a line and let me know of any topics you'd like me to cover in the future!

Friday, March 14, 2014

I Will Not Tell My Daughter She is Pretty

Now, before you join the lynch mob, hear me out. And know that I truly believe that my daughter and sons will be beautiful and handsome, respectively.

I will not tell my daughter that she is pretty or my son that he is handsome because I do not want their self-worth to come from their physical appearance. Likewise, I will not tell them that they are fat, slow, too short, too tall, etc. (Something tells me you're okay with that last part.) Instead, I will tell them that they are smart, that they are good at things, that they worked hard, but most importantly that they are loved, forgiven, saved.

See, I firmly believe that my children's sense of identity and worth should come from the fact that they are saved, that Jesus chose to die for them, for me, for all of us. There was a time when I argued against the articles saying that you shouldn't tell your daughter she is pretty because her worth should come from her faith. There was a time that I believed they could coexist. There was a time that I believed that I was successfully drawing my worth from both my faith and my beauty.

Then, my counselor asked me why I had never (with one notable exception) physically fought back any of the numerous times I was sexually assaulted, even though I do not fear pain and have physically defended friends. I was stumped. Why hadn't I punched, scratched, kicked, bit, any of the hundreds of self-defense options I'd been taught in school? In fact, why had I repeatedly allowed myself to be alone with men I did not trust? I couldn't answer. Then, he asked me the most important question I've ever been asked: "Aren't you worth more than what your body can offer?" 

That is why I will not tell my daughter that she is pretty. I want her to know that she is worth more than any boy (or girl) looking at her outward appearance could ever know. Even more, I want her to want people to see past her appearance. Mostly, though, I do not want her to believe so deeply, so innately, that her worth stems from what she can offer physically that she may say no and refuse to consent, but also refuse to physically fight back against sexual assault.