Just Breathe

Today we had a busy day scheduled. And then the day got busier.

Before I talk about our day, I’d like to describe something else. Be patient. It relates.

I have found that when a person describes difficulties or abuse, people often seem to not accept the reality of it. They often act as if the situation is “not that bad” as described or that the person is just seeing the situation negatively. The abusive person is “just wounded,” or “no one is perfect,” or “she probably really loves you,” or the victim just “needs to forgive and love more,” or “people are like that everywhere,” or “you should stop being so judgmental.” People don’t really listen with understanding to what is really being said. They just assume things are not that bad–and they try to cheer up the “complainer,” encourage him (or her), and advise him that he just needs to have more faith, love, contentment, or positive thinking.

I think it is probably a human tendency to want to believe the best instead of the worst of a situation or person. We all know there are evil people and situations in the world–we hear terrible things in the news–but we can’t believe we, or someone we know, are actually encountering it personally so we try to explain it away. EJ believes people are this way because of “normalcy bias,” which is defined on Definitions.net this way:

The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.

The problem with having a normalcy bias is that it can prevent a person from recognizing or escaping from bad situations because he–or someone he knows–believe it’s “not that bad.” I’ve read that one of the “gifts” of narcissistic abuse is that a victim stops seeing everyone through “rose-colored glasses” and begins to see things more realistically–understanding that there are both good and bad people in the world.

Anyway, the major reasons my family has moved north was because of abuse and stress. We encountered various forms of abuse and very difficult situations that left us emotionally and physically exhausted. I believe that we encountered each difficulty with faith and courage, but JJ’s cancer pushed us over the edge of endurance. We all began to exhibit signs of PTSD, which not just soldiers experience. Those with serious illness, their caregivers, and victims of abuse can suffer from it. We were not being negative; it was “that bad.” We asked God to move us to a good area, a beautiful area, where we could rest and recover. And He did. This move has been very good for us in many, many ways, getting us away from abusive people, enabling EJ to work at a good company, helping JJ begin to get his life back after cancer, and allowing us to live among beauty that refreshes our spirits. We are doing our best to get things set up here and to cut ties downstate, but it will take time to get to a place where we can rest and just enjoy our surroundings. Mostly, right now, we are tired and stressed from trying to get stuff done here and there.

And that gets me back to talking about our day.

I found a counselor who works with young people to help JJ to deal with the emotional effects of cancer and, we hope, to help him find young people with his interests whom he can socialize with. I tried to help him find a support group downstate last year, but was unsuccessful. The Cancer Support people who I have found here in the north have been awesome. JJ met with the counselor for the first time today and really liked her. He felt encouraged after he talked with her.

At his request, I was planning to go with JJ to his first meeting with the counselor, but instead I took EJ to our new doctor. Ever since our last drive to our old house, EJ has struggled with episodes of dizziness, numbness, and almost passing out that are increasing in frequency and severity. We were afraid he was at risk of a heart attack or stroke or something equally serious, which made me feel very anxious.  Even though his initial New Patient appointment isn’t scheduled until early September, the doctor agreed to see him today. She has a sense of humor, seems very caring, and we quickly established a rapport with her. She actually went to college in a town near where we used to live so she knows the area where we are from, and she also knows our previous doctor. Small world. Anyway, after listening to EJ describe what has been going on in our lives and asking questions about his symptoms, the doctor strongly suspects that EJ is suffering panic attacks caused by high stress. The years he spent working at a terrible job, JJ’s cancer, getting a new job, buying a new house, repeated trips trying to get stuff moved from our old house so we can sell it, the battles with the insurance agent….all this is exhausting and stressful and it is beginning to affect his health. The doctor said that she will have EJ undergo other tests to make sure that something else isn’t going on but she really believes prolonged high stress is the culprit.

We had planned to drive down to the house this weekend to try to finish moving and also to list our house with the realtor. The house is a financial, emotional, and physical drain on us and we’d like to list it ASAP, but we think we are going to have to postpone our trip so EJ can rest. We desperately need people to help us get our remaining possessions north, but we don’t really have many people in that area to call on for help. I’m praying for more miracles. Like, “G-d, please bring us people to help us finish moving. And please sell our house SOON so we can be done with down there and start restfully enjoying life here.”

Since we didn’t think EJ would have time to drop me off at home before heading to work, JJ met us at the doctor’s office after his appointment with the counselor so he could take me home. He was concerned about his Dad and got all stressed out, which was….stressful. We are all tired and stressed and wound up. We are easily overwhelmed, don’t sleep well, and get discouraged.

We got stuck in heavy traffic so JJ didn’t have time to drop me off at home so we went together to his next appointment. Although he enjoys the people he works with at his current job, he is hoping to find a job that is full-time and closer to home before winter. He applied for a job on-line and had an interview today, but he thinks it didn’t go well. He was stressed going into it and also wonders if he will be seen as too young for the position. He said he feels stupid, but I tried to remind him that I’m proud of him for trying and at least he got an interview, which is not nothing. Also, he won’t get every job he applies for because he’s competing with others–some of whom might have more experience or be a better fit. However, this doesn’t mean that he is “not good enough.” I reminded him that his counselor told him that he is actually progressing very well after his battle with cancer.


2 Comments on “Just Breathe

  1. I’m sorry that things are still getting so very stressful for all of you and I do hope and pray that it will soon come to an end and you can really enjoy your new life. Tell JJ that in my country you’ll have even when you are young sometimes 40 times applying for a job before you even come as close as an interview. Mostly you are turned down. So he did very well. And I hope EJ and you will find also time to heal and rest . Blessings for you all ❤


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