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"For The Love Of God Woman, Tone It Down!" - Everyone I Ever Met

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"For The Love Of God Woman, Tone It Down!!!"

Confessions Of A High Strung Woman

 

Lord have mercy. Try as I might, there is no way around it. I have been “high strung” every single day that I have walked upon this earth, and it’s only seemed to grow worse the older that I’ve gotten.

I can’t turn it off, I’ve never found a fader switch, and most of my life, it seemed like everyone around me wanted me to, “For The Love Of God, Woman, Tone It Down!”

Let’s be honest here- I’ve never NOT been high strung. I’ve known one speed since day one- full throttle, ya’ll.

 

I was absolutely, without a doubt, the highest strung 3 year old little girl you have ever seen. I had a heavy Texas accent, a HUGE imagination, and opinions about EVERYTHING, and I talked ALL THE TIME.

 

No one taught me to be this way, it was just who I was: A very small, loud person with big eyes, full of spunk and ideas, and an appetite for life that would weary any mother’s heart.

 

For as long as I can possibly remember, to as tiny of a person as I can possibly remember being, I remember feeling things DEEPLY- I mean, I felt them in my bones.  Everything was a big deal to me, and unfortunately for my sweet Mama- I felt and expressed my passion in equal proportion no matter the cause.  My Cheerios, what time I had to go to bed, someone being mean to Grover on Sesame Street, or even a much deserved spanking for sassing my Dad- all mattered the SAME to me in terms of passion and feeling. Having to go to bed early and miss out on fun hurt my little heart just as badly as slamming my finger in the door.

 

Think I’m just being ridiculous? You try reasoning with a toddler about why it’s irrational to have your heart broken when the apple juice has run out and there’s just no more. No really- I want to hear how that goes.

 

I’ve tried it, and if there’s anything I’ve learned in my I’m-just-an-aunt babysitting- it’s that toddlers can be completely irrational, emotional terrorists. They will break your heart with their little sobs and treat you like you’ve wronged them in a way they’ll never forgive nor forget. It doesn’t matter why there’s no more juice- they don’t care, but they will hold you personally responsible. Yes they’re adorable, and so precious- but there is no way to reason with them when they are upset, and they do NOT negotiate with grownups.

 

Now in all fairness, I do remember feeling things so deeply in my own tiny toddler heart that it just escaped from the inside of me to the outside of my body through shrieks of joy, shivers of excitement, or sobs of disappointment- never to be consoled again. Scarlett O’Hare had nothing on my dramatics. I had game.  

 

In fact, we have family photos of me as a toddler with a giant grin on my chubby little face with tiny clenched fists in the air standing next to my sweet smiling Mama. Believe it or not, those tiny fists were not clenched out of anger or frustration: according to my Mom, that’s just what I would do when I was really, really excited and happy. I was so overwhelmed by the feelings inside of me that I couldn’t help myself, my fists would just rise into the air and shake as I shrieked in joy.

 

Now, let’s be honest- that kid scares me.

 

Like, are you happy little girl? Or are you sad? Are you mad? Are you happy about being mad? You sure do look mad…. Are you going to kill me in my sleep little girl?

 

If I was babysitting that little girl, I would have been legitimately scared to death, and rightfully so.

 

Now, I am one of the first of a generation who has been able to watch ourselves as children through the wonder of “home videos”, something my parents never had the opportunity to do, and those videos of 3 year old me have challenged my adult self to the very core. One in particular was a video in our old living room of me “performing” through dance, song, and dramatic monologue, and I almost didn’t recognize myself.

 

You see, 3 year old me, didn’t know to alter her personality, smooth out her dance moves, or tone down her passion and excitement so people would like her better.

 

No, she was unapologetically wild-eyed and full of imagination and big ideas. She also, unfortunately, liked to mix 4 square dancing with hip hop back spins and ballet, but homegirl didn’t care a wink what anyone thought, and today I think she’s a badass because of it.

 

I was so awestruck by that little bundle of energy and passion and her awful dance moves the first time I saw that video as an adult- that I just cried. Who was that little girl? Where did she go?

 

That little girl was free. That little girl knew who the hell she was, and she liked herself! That little girl loved to perform, and although she had some maturing to do- she was brilliant and one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.

 

For the first time in my entire life, I saw myself FREE. Free of caring what people thought about me, free from hesitation, and free to be and express how I truly felt.

 

That video and image of the wild-eyed 3 year old haunted me all through my 20’s as I searched desperately for who I really was, and who I really wanted to be. I wept often for her- convinced I had lost her forever. I was jealous of her freedom, and I ached for her JOY.

 

Little did I know, that video would be a catalyst and instrument to one of the greatest works in my life- learning to accept, love, take care of, and celebrate the real ME- ALL of me.

 

“Why Do I Feel So Much All Of The Damn Time?”

 

I have A LOT inside of me, and like many of you, I have never been quite sure of just what to do with it. This depth of emotion, passion, and strength as a woman has caused me countless losses, fights, and problems. The world can be a highly dangerous place for the sensitive heart of a high strung woman.

My heart grieves for the far too many “casualties of the soul” in my fellow high strung women that were intended for greatness, but have been silenced and sidelined by rejection, misunderstanding, and the pressure to force themselves into the narrow black box of female identity today. I believe that for these women to lose their brilliance of spirit has been a tragic loss for our world. For these women have insight, creativity, and strength of the soul that I believe God intended to use to change our world in amazing ways.

After 30 years of inner turmoil, loneliness, and fear of my own self, today I say NO.MORE.

No more walking in deep shame and loneliness because we are misunderstood. No More mistreating ourselves and trying to force ourselves to be less passionate, to care less, or to be more “stable” women so that people will like us better. No more being afraid of our own strength. No more shame. No more believing that everything about us is wrong.

No, instead- we will learn to celebrate the rare and incredible gift God has given us in a passionate personality. We will learn to harness and master our emotions and passion for incredible things, and no longer fear them. We will learn to repent of the unkindnesses we have done to ourselves and others out of misplaced passion, and most importantly, we will learn to love ourselves well. Not a begrudging love as if we have no choice but to accept it, but a real love that fosters deep respect for ourselves, an unbounding satisfying internal connection, and a dedication to care for this mysterious and powerful gift that God has given us.

 

The journey of a High Strung Woman is in many ways an undocumented and unsupported one, but my heart here is to at least start the conversation. I’m so incredibly humbled and honored that you would read this little blog. It certainly isn’t an expert manual or guide for how to be a great woman, or even how to be a great High Strung Woman. It’s NOT about overcoming your high strung spirit, but it is about finally respecting and caring for one of the greatest gifts God gave you. I promise you: you will need the strength of spirit you have to do the amazing things He’ll call you to do. So it’s time we learn to care for it.

 

This is just the story of a 4th Generation Baptist Pastor’s Daughter with a wild heart and high strung personality trying to find her way. I pray that in some way, God uses this book to break loose some chains and heal wounds on your beautiful, wild soul my sister.


 

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The Blog That Started It All...

The Blog That Started It All : Confessions Of A High Strung Woman

Lord have mercy. Try as I might, I have been “high strung” every day that I have been upon this earth. I simply care… really care… about EVERYTHING. Now, that can be a great thing, but it can also wear you out, as well as those around you, and get you into some trouble. I grew up as a Pastor’s daughter, and no one loves to throw around the “gentle and quiet spirit” Bible verses about real Godly women quite like the Baptists do. I heard that verse more than I ever wanted to… and it always seemed so condemning, so shaming for someone wired like me- confirming that even God Himself thought I was too much! Mercy, that’ll mess you up… that’ll mess you up real good.

Anyways- after a lot of good therapy and more than a few “Come to Jesus meetings” with the REAL Jesus- you know the One who created me in my Mother’s womb and knows every part of me, I have finally embraced my “High Strung Spiritedness”.Yes, it’s true, many people, especially the “churchies”, as I call them, are much more comfortable when I’m trying to force myself into the box of what they see as a “gentle and quiet spirit”, but the way I see it, they can just take that to the Good Lord Himself. He’s the one that gave me a wild heart, a passionate soul, and I believe He intends to use it to reflect some parts of Him that this world must need to see, by being 100%, genuine ME.

That being said - there are some things I have had to work on, and some skills I have had to learn in order to handle a long life filled with “high-strung-ed-ness”. It’s taken me a long time to figure some of this out, so if you’re a fellow high strung person, especially a lady, read on for a few things that you might find helpful. :) 

The first resource I found was actually several meditation podcasts. Lawd have mercy, yes- MEDITATIONS! Now, if you grew up in the church house like I did, your upbringing probably taught you to think that meditations were only done by the crazy monkey in The Lion King. It was just New Age nonsense straight from the Devil himself….. FALSE. 

I gotta tell you, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this meditation podcast. You can lay down, put a pillow over your eyes, and throw your headphones in as someone in a calm, soothing voice talks you through slowing your mind down, relaxing your body, and releasing fear and worry. I am not overselling this when I say- it changed my life, and I cannot over-recommend it. Becoming intentional about managing our emotions in a healthy way is some real work, especially for those of us who “feel” a great deal about everything, BUT it is SO good and so good for you. Heck, anyone who lives with you will be glad you’re doing it. It seems to improve everyone’s quality of life! ;) 

  • One of the best things I learned, is that it IS our responsibility to deal with what goes on inside of us, and we are held accountable for how we take it out on those OUTSIDE of us! We must be as diligent to work out our insides to be healthy, just as much as our outsides. 

These two meditation podcasts are my favorite:

The one by STIN https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/my-meditation-station/id123885923?mt=2

And Secondly http://www.themeditationpodcast.com/ which can also be found on iTunes by searching “The Meditation Podcast” 

  • Here’s an example of how relevant these little suckers are. Right before Christmas, Stin released a podcast specifically for preparing for seeing FAMILY over the Holidays. I mean- COME ON! How helpful is that? Seriously. There’s not a person I know who doesn’t get stressed out at the thought of family and the Holidays. This is some GOOOOOD stuff. Now, if you’re all perfectly balanced and never get worked up, stressed, fearful, or overwhelmed, this probably isn’t for you. Let’s be honest, I probably don’t want to talk to you either, but if you’re a hot mess express like me, then take heed friends. This is some gooooooooood stuff. 

My friends and family laughed at me when I first told them about it. Those people are now all subscribers to these podcasts. That, in my home, is what we call a BOOM.TOWN. 

insert Spiritual Note Here: Crazy thing about these so called “New Age” meditations, is that Jesus often meets me there. He is the one I can see and hear from when I am finally still and quiet enough to open my heart and mind! Fear not good church people! God is not mocked, lost, or defeated in this practice of emotional health! You often find Him in the most unexpected places… :) 

Another helpful thing is a new skill I have had to learn called HAVING BOUNDARIES. Good grief, if there’s one thing the South and the Bible Belt produce are over-worked, tired, run down women who think one must always be sweet and sacrificial… in order to “always” be sweet and serving, one can ever say “NO”. NEVAAAAH Dahlin. NEVAAAH.

Crazy thing is, that is guaranteed to produce obligated, resentful, and uninspired women…. You want a room full of those? Nope. That makes me nervous just to think about it. Better yet, you want one of those as a wife? I can tell you from personal experience, it ain’t pretty. I have been that wife. Poor Ryan- God bless him. Thank the Lord Almighty for the Boundaries books by Townsend! It has been such an incredible help in a very challenging journey for this people pleasing eldest preachers daughter! In one of the chapters in “Boundaries In Marriage”, I heard the verse of “Give with a cheerful heart”, taught in the most ENLIGHTENING way…

Instead of the dutiful message of “you better be happy when you give this!!!! or else!” that I had heard all those years in church, Townsend teaches this revolutionary simple principle…. 

If you can’t give with a cheerful heart, then do not give. 

For if you do, you are giving with strings tied to it, and it is not a gift indeed. Worse yet, if you give and will resent it later…. HERE’S THE CRAZY PART… it is not the fault of the person to whom you gave to or may have even asked you to give, it is actually on YOU! For it is our responsibility to guard our hearts, and if we give when we cannot give freely, happy in our hearts, then we alone are to blame for our resentment!!!! Holy Moly. 

That rocked my little church-going, VBS singing, pew sitting, obligatory missionary giving world. You mean, I am responsible to make sure and give only when I can give freely??? Oy. 

Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself this… BUT WHAT ABOUT WHEN THEY ASK ME???? What about when the ladies ministry coordinator tells me that they desperately need someone to cook for the women’s retreat, and she believes God has called ME to do it? Alright now. Ya’ll take a deep breath, it’s about to get real. Here’s what you do. You do NOT immediately tell her yes. You take some time, look at your life and your current responsibilities, your family, and gauge how much you HONESTLY have to give, can give, and WANT to give. If you can’t give freely and without resentment, or even more you just don’t want to, you tell that sweet church lady, “Thank you so much for asking me to help, but I simply cannot do it. I am praying and trusting that the Lord will provide exactly what you need for this retreat.” And sistas- He is MORE than able to provide without manipulating anyone to do things out of guilt. He can create mountains out of NOTHING. He can handle the Women’s Retreat 2014 just fine. We just better give Him room to do so, and quit muddling it up with our compulsion to never say no. :) 

Finally, I have learned that there is unmatched worth for a high strung person, in a good, hard workout, and I believe it has to involve resistance training. I don’t mean a little walk around the block- I mean sweating like you mean it, like you need it. Because you DO need it. Before you go all crazy on me- here’s what I mean- NOT working out to lose weight, but working out to clear your mind and find your sanity. Working out is something no one can do for you, it’s not something you can buy, and it is something that you do for YOU. It’s inherently self serving and self healing. It is absolutely essential for a high strung woman in my opinion. I do not function well without it- my husband and family can vouch for this. 

Now I have always been somewhat of a runner, eh, reaaaalllyyyy more of a “jogger”. A couple of years ago I was extremely stressed, unhappy, and had gotten pretty chubby (if we’re honest here- stress will do that to a girl). I complained to my doctor that I ran/walked at least 10 miles a week (because of my crazy dog that would tear my house apart without it) and I still wasn’t feeling good or dropping the extra weight… After a few questions, she told me I HAD to incorporate resistance/weight training, that there was no way around it.

Well, that pissed me off-  I was already bulkier than I wanted to be, and I didn’t feel like having to work out that much harder… I mean, what woman wants to bulk up like some linebacker? I’m a ladaaaaay for crying out loud! Shouldn’t I just do jazzercise or something? (I can’t even help it- I am dying laughing as I type that…)

Well, I finally got so fed up that I broke down and bought the Chalean program from BeachBody.com . It is an at home resistance training DVD set that was supposed to take me through 90 days of getting LEAN. I bought a set of 5lb and 10lb weights and prepared myself- at least my body would be firm, even if it was going to be big. I might become the size of a female football player, but nothing was going to jiggle. ;) 

But as I kept with it, the craziest thing happened- I didn’t bulk up, and I didn’t turn into a man oozing with testosterone. I had to work hard, and I sweat A LOT. But I felt AMAZING, and I grew to LOVE the work and how I felt after it. More than I had ever experienced with “runners highs” and such- resistance training made me strong, got me out of my “I’m a victim of my own life mindset”, got me lean, and most of all- I FELT great mentally!!!!! I didn’t do the entire program in 90 days, I did the first two DVD’s for about a YEAR before I was ready to move into the hardest one… I paused the DVD when I couldn’t go on right away, I drank a bunch of water when I needed to, caught my breath, hell- I am sure I had more than one snack in the middle of those workouts too! 

The point is- if you’ve got a lot going on, you HAVE to have some place to work it out, and not just mentally, emotionally, or spiritually… Sweat does great things for the body and the soul. 

There are MANY other things that can be helpful for the high strung woman, but these three have made a major difference in my lie. I hope they’ll be helpful in some way.

It would be a great tragedy, if rather than learning how to care well for ourselves as passionate, high strung women, we choose to numb ourselves , become lost in obligation and perfectionism, or God forbid, let our emotions get out of health and hand, and wound those around us. 

A high strung woman who does not care well for herself, and refuses to see herself as responsible to manage what God has given her often explodes by showing too much “strength” in inappropriate places, and wounding many. If we want to get honest, she’s often seen as a “bitch”. I don’t mean to offend with that word, but that’s the best definition I can think of in terms of what the world sees. 

Just as any thing, any gift can be distorted and misused, so can strength in any man or woman. To whom much is given, much is required. 

If you’re a high strung woman, I pray you will begin to see your temperment as a gift, a wonderful thing that must be properly cared for and looked after, so that it may shine in all of the glory it was intended for. Shame no longer has a place here, nor condemnation. Be all of who God has called you to be- and be faithful to care well for what He has given you! 

Honest As I Can Be.

Abbi

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