Saturday, September 1, 2012

My Collapse-in-the-Shower Moment

I've been putting off writing this post.  I'm anxious about it.  I worry I won't capture this important experience properly.  That you won't understand.  And I'm scared to find those feelings again, to be in that moment of intense pain and fear so I can write it.  But I must.  It needs to be told.

Seven years ago my life was very different.  I was working.  A lot.  My kids were younger (7, 8, 10, 12, 14) and involved in many activities.  My husband and I were in therapy.  I was just going through life, trying to stay afloat.  My husband finally saw that he was abusive and was trying to change.  He was questioning the church and trying to decide if he believed in God.  I was learning how to set boundaries and choose for myself.  I was trying to figure out who I was.  Who I truly was and who I wanted to be.

And then I got a headache.

I'd had headaches before.  Bad headaches.  Headaches that lasted for days.  A headache that made me go blind.  And headaches that weren't severe but just made life hard.  Headaches were nothing new.

So when I got this headache I figured it would be like the others.  I would wait it out, treat it with Excedrin, and eventually it would go away.  But it didn't.  Some days it was so bad I couldn't work.  Some days my vision and dizziness were so bad someone else had to drive me home from work.  Some days it was more subtle and I could go on.  But it was always there.

After a few weeks, my husband started to think I was faking.  He even said so.  No one has a headache that long.  You're just using it as an excuse so I have to do everything.  I'm so sick of this stupid headache excuse.  Yeah, me too.

After I'd had it six weeks, two of my toes went numb.  This made me nervous.  When you get a headache that doesn't go away that long, there is a tiny tickling in your mind that says, "What if it's a brain tumor?"  That tickling got stronger.

I told my husband.  He freaked out and immediately made an appointment for me to see the doctor.

We went to the doctor together.  He did a regular work up.  Then he did a neurological screening.  Looking for signs that it might be a brain tumor.  He didn't find anything that pointed that direction, but he was bothered by how long I'd had it and the numbness in my toes.  He talked to me about migraines and said that's what he thought it was; they can cause numbness, too.  He gave me some meds to try and said if it didn't break in a week I needed to come back.  After this appointment Bill said, "At least I know you're not faking."

It didn't break.  I went back.  He repeated the neurological screening.  He still didn't find anything, but he was concerned.  He suggested we do an MRI. 

By this point I was getting nervous.  My headache should have broken by now.  I'd never had a headache like this.  What if this is for real?  What if it's a tumor?

We couldn't get in for the MRI for a few days.  Waiting for that was so hard.  And that's when it happened.

It was the night before my MRI.  I was taking a shower so I'd be all ready in the morning.  And all the walls I'd been putting up to protect myself and my family from the fear came crashing down.  What if it is a tumor?  What if it isn't something that can be fixed?  What if I die?  What about my children?  What will happen to my children?  Although he was finally aware of being abusive, my husband was still mean a lot of the time.  He was learning to be more kind, but his natural tendency was still to strike out when he was stressed or angry.  What would happen if I wasn't there to protect my children?  If I died, they would be alone with him.  Who would protect them?  And I knew he no longer believed in God or going to church.  How would my children remain close to God?  How would they be taught all they needed to know without the gospel in their lives?  How would they know how precious they were to God and how powerful they were and what they should do if I wasn't there to teach them?  I was living with a man who'd made our lives hell for so many years.  These children were his.  I didn't trust him alone with them.  How could I go away and leave them to him?  This is too much for them.  How can they go on without me?  He would put the older ones in charge, make them assume many of my duties.  They would no longer be able to be children.  This isn't fair to them.  It's too much.  If I'm not here to guide their lives, they could become lost.  My death would push my husband to a very dark place; what if he takes it out on the children?  What if he goes into a depression again?  How will they deal with it without me?  How will they get through it?  Who will take care of my children?  Who will love them?  Who will make sure they know they are God's children?

The weight of all of this overwhelmed me.  I crumpled to the floor of the shower in a ball.  Hugging my knees.  Rocking.  Sobbing.  In so much emotional anguish.  In so much pain for my children.

I began to pray.  I wanted to beg to be spared, for my children.  I wanted to plead for my life.  But that wasn't the prayer that came to my heart.  I knew the prayer I needed to offer.  And it was the hardest prayer in my life.  I couldn't do it.  I couldn't say it.  I knew I needed to, but I just couldn't.  The wrestle in my mind and heart was great.  I fought with all I had.  Until I could finally say it.  And mean it.

"Please.  I want to live.  I want to raise my children.  I want to protect them.  I want to love them through the difficulties of life.  Please.  But . . . thy will be done.  If it is not to be, if I am not to live, I know that they are thy children.  I trust that thou wilt love them and protect them.  I know you want the world for them, too.  I know you love them in a way I can't even understand.  As much as I love them and want to stay, I trust thy will."

Meaning it was so important.  In that moment, I fully surrendered my will to God in a way I never had before.  I understood that all would be well even if I weren't to live.  I understood, more than I ever had before, that He watches over and cares.

There was still some fear of what would come.  But there was also an underlying peace.  A knowledge that my children wouldn't be alone.  An understanding that if I couldn't be there, He would bring others into their lives who would meet those needs.  He loves them.  He watches over them.  They are His.

And to this day, that is a knowledge that gets me through.


Update:  My husband went to therapy for a long time.  He's doing much better.  He still slips occasionally, but we both know how to handle it in healthier ways.  There is no tumor.  They still have no answer for my headache, but all tests indicate it isn't life-threatening.  Yes, I still have it.

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Blogger Carolina Diez said...

Thanks for sharing. It must have been really hard, but you did it! I understand, and will keep you in my prayers. How did the MRI go? Did the doctors find out what was triggering and keeping the headaches?

September 1, 2012 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger Rebecca Rider said...

Wow. This is very bold of you to write. I remember a time when my husband and I were at a crossroads in our marriage - no abuse was going on though - but I remember praying that prayer, letting God's will be done. Today things are very good between us. Our pastor's counseling has a lot to do with it.

How are things for you now? Is your husband still abusive?

September 1, 2012 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

Been in similar places. Trust really is the key. I've often thought that the issue isn't to have faith in God; it's to trust him. You have to know someone to have trust in them. The weight of long association. Love you.

September 1, 2012 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Rina said...

Wow. This is a very personal and very powerful post. I am so glad writing (and prayer) has been therapeutic for you. Stopping by from SITS.


September 1, 2012 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Sarah Evans said...

You can't still have the headache though? I have occasional sinus problems and the headaches then are unbearable to me, but by the sounds of things still not as bad as yours.

Here's hoping you feel better and that you and your family grow stronger together.


September 1, 2012 at 2:47 PM  
Blogger Linda Jordan said...

Wow, what a deep post. I am so sorry, but happy that you were able to be strong through it all! I'm sorry about your headache, I get horrible migraines but couldn't imagine having one that long!!


September 1, 2012 at 5:44 PM  
Blogger agapewoman said...

Robin, trust with prayer..that's how you continue to get through it. You are a very strong woman, take care.

September 1, 2012 at 7:30 PM  
OpenID mirandasmania said...

Hey. I'm dropping in from SITS. I have chronic migraines, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and lots of other awesome health issues. I know what it's like to be in pain ALL the time. I don't know know if I could handle a migraine for that long. You are a soldier. I am so glad I found your blog. I haven't found any other active LDS bloggers. :) I'll be back! Have a good weekend.

September 1, 2012 at 7:48 PM  
Blogger Jessica Ambrose said...

Wow, what an amazing, open and honest post! I have tears in my eyes as I am typing this. I get headaches often and migraines that practically incapacitate me. They are not fun. I can't imagine it never going away. My dad had a migraine that lasted months and when he finally went to the doctor he ended up needing triple bipass..but it seems to me that they've done lots of tests so I'm sure they've figured out it's not that :)Thank you for your inspiration to trust God's will. It is sometimes the hardest thing to do. And thanks for stopping by today :) -Jess

September 1, 2012 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Thank you for this, I wish my husband would go to therapy...that is what I pray for. This gives me hope.

September 1, 2012 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

You are very brave! I admire your trust in God. I'm glad your husband is in therapy...and I pray that he finds his way back to God, too. I'm sorry you are suffering so much with the headaches.
Have you ever considered going on a gluten/dairy free diet? I don't know where you live, but have you ever been tested for Lyme disease?
Hope you feel better soon and find a doctor that can find the source of your pain.

September 1, 2012 at 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Emily @ TheBusyMomsDiet said...

I'm praying for you right now... <3

September 1, 2012 at 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Chris Carter said...

What a miraculous moment for you! In such extreme pain, you surrendered your will to Him! I can only imagine the anguish you felt before your lifted it up to Our Heavenly Father. All the questions you asked in fear and mistrust...and then,God whispered into your heart: and you heard the call, to honor, trust, and surrender your will to Him. What a glorious and liberating peace you must have felt! Praying for your husband to allow God to transform him...praying also for those horrible painful headaches!

September 1, 2012 at 10:38 PM  
OpenID barefootmeds said...

A really touching tale. You STILL have the headache now though? That sounds awful... I get headaches and migraines and I can't imagine having one for so long...

September 2, 2012 at 3:29 AM  
Blogger SouthMainMuse said...

Wow. That is so very real and powerful. Reading that all you were dealing with -- I started to feel anxious. Maybe it is some chronic nerve pain like some people have it in their back? Thank goodness your husband has been diligent to work through his anger issues. Hope you have a great rest of Labor Day weekend..God Bless.

September 2, 2012 at 6:03 AM  
Blogger Laura Wells said...

All those issues, piled up. They are enough to make anyone collapse. Thank goodness you have faith. I pray that your trust will deepen daily and that peace will rule in your heart. Does your husband not care if you share this stuff?

September 2, 2012 at 9:06 AM  
OpenID said...

what a heart wrenching post to write back, brought tears to my eyes. I am sorry you still have headaches, but life is better with your hubby. We have big fights and I try to understand him, but seeing that it can get better has helped me.

September 2, 2012 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Savvy WorkingGal said...

Your story is so moving thanks for sharing it. I think you were undergoing more stress than one person can handle. You still have your headache – that is horrible. I used to get these horrible headaches when I was a teenager. I would come home from school and go straight to bed. After sleeping for an hour or two I would feel a bit better and would get up to do my homework. My mother became convinced I was faking it to get out of helping around the house. I was the oldest of six and it was my job to help with the dishes and get my youngest siblings ready for bed. When I was in college my headaches subsided, but returned in my 30’s and I still get them to this day. Actually I have one now, but taking ibuprofen allows me to function.

My niece started getting terrible headaches when she was 8. Her parents took her to the doctor, but luckily nothing is seriously wrong with her. My SIL puts cold wash clothes on her forehead when they occur and has her lay down in a dark room. To help prevent them she keeps my niece on a strict bed schedule. When talking about my headaches growing up my mother remembers them, but she doesn’t recall accusing me of faking them – hmmm – selective memory.

I am curious do any of your kids get headaches? Also glad to see things are better between you and your husband.

September 2, 2012 at 1:27 PM  
OpenID Ilene, The Fierce Diva Guide to Life said...

It isn't easy to have unswerving faith - especially when life tosses us those curve balls. But the faith provides comfort that we can't find in external circumstances. And I am so glad that you are OK!

September 2, 2012 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Letting go to allow God to heal what's broken in your life is so tough. Thanks for sharing your deeply private but thoughtful post. I hope your headaches subside and that you and your husband continue to heal together.

September 2, 2012 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Godspeed. Well done!

September 2, 2012 at 7:17 PM  
Blogger Blond Duck said...

That has to be the worst ever. I know how hard it is when you know something is wrong in your body but no one else believes you!

September 3, 2012 at 5:02 AM  
Anonymous Mothering From Scratch said...

{Melinda} Wow. What a vulnerable, powerful post, Robin. Total surrender is SO hard. And it's not a one-time event. I find that I can surrender an issue to God and then take it back again five minutes later. It is a continual process.

I am SO sorry about your headaches. I have chronic migraines, as well as other autoimmune conditions that are invisible, but incredibly debilitating. As I pray for my own physical condition each day, I will pray for you as well.

September 3, 2012 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Young Yoga Masters said...

I can't imagine what it would be like to live with pain everyday.

Glad you have your blog to give you an outlet and inspire others.

September 3, 2012 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger OMG! Yummy said...

A moving, gut-wrenching post. Bravo for sharing.

September 3, 2012 at 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Diane | An Extraordinary Day said...

I am so very sorry for your continued pain. I pray healing and restoration for you.
Isn't it interesting there is often blessing in the pain? Your husband's desire to care for you is a big one. And it sounds like through your surrender you found the peace that passes understand. And you are still here for your kids. May your hope stay strong.

September 3, 2012 at 12:20 PM  
Anonymous sandra @ the sensible mom said...

Thank you for being so open and honest about your struggles.

And I'm glad to hear that your headaches are not life threatening. I humbly want to say that changing our diet has relieved many of the issues our family was having.

God bless you.

September 3, 2012 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Carli Alice said...

You have shown tremendous strenghth. To submit to Gods will in the most difficult time. I pray that both you and your husband get well. Thank you for sharing such an intimate moment with God.

September 3, 2012 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger anotherjennifer said...

Wow. This post is beautifully written, and I'm sure it was hard to write. Thank you for sharing. I so wish I could take your headache away. I am sending a few extra prayers over to you and your family.

September 3, 2012 at 3:24 PM  
Blogger Miz Dinah said...

Having an undiagnosed illness or condition can be scary. I really hope that they can find the cause and that it is something easily treated! Get well. :)

September 3, 2012 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger Masshole Mommy said...

Wow - you are so brave for sharing that. So sorry you still have your headache, too. That must be so hard with the kids.

September 3, 2012 at 6:15 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

This is an incredible story. You are such a strong woman.

I hate that you are still having headaches...have you seen a specialist recently? Or was it just when you started having them?

September 4, 2012 at 5:14 AM  
Anonymous Missy | Literal Mom said...

I am so glad to hear there's no tumor. But I'm sure it's still scary, even if the answer is "not life threatening!"

September 4, 2012 at 8:48 AM  
Blogger Joyness Sparkles said...

Very interesting. Have you tried alternative healing? I have persistant headaches, but it is due to a back injury...not much anyone can do about that. I don't take medication as it would most likely hurt my internal organs and also turn into some sort of addiction. I don't want either so I have learned to cope in my own way.

I hope that it does get better for you! :)

September 4, 2012 at 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Gillian said...

Wow, never have I been so moved by a post, so much so that I wanted to cry. I felt the pain of what you felt your children might have to go through, it reminded me of what an enormous responsibility it is for us to have children. I'm hoping in time the cause of your headaches are found, I pray for you and your family. Take care.

Thank you for connecting from SITS.

Supporting you in getting your fitness and nutrition back on track

September 4, 2012 at 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Kristiina said...

This is why I love your blog. Even though we are so different, I love the authenticity and openness you bring to your writing.

Thanks so much for sharing. I can't imagine having a headache for that long but hopefully it gets so you don't notice it.

September 4, 2012 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Amarie said...

Thanks so much for sharing! I often feel that the only way to calm my worries, my fears, my anxieties, is to surrender it all To God. In the end, it IS his will that will be done, and the only way to live a life without fear is to believe that. But it's not easy. I'm still a work in progress.

September 4, 2012 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Suz said...

I love you.


September 4, 2012 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger Ugochi said...

God's will is the best for us, and they are all written in His word. God is your strength, and thank God all you are and have are His.

September 5, 2012 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Christina Morley said...

Hi Miss Robin! Thanks for leaving your kind comment on my blog Amanda's Books and More. I've read your two posts (Sept.1 and Aug.10) about your headaches. I think you are leading a very brave life. I will pray that any and all demonic oppression that has magnified your stress and caused you ongoing pain will cease in Jesus' name. If there is any root of unforgiveness, that you will be able to forgive and let go.

I have a mom blog that offers Christian spiritual keys to wholeness in all areas of life and came about from my own life of stress at Happy Moms, Happy Homes

September 7, 2012 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Jenn and Casey said...

Wow. Thinking of you, and hoping for answers.

September 7, 2012 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

Your posts are always open, honest, sincere, brave and that's why I love reading them. You never cease to inspire me. My prayers for you and your husband.

September 8, 2012 at 2:45 AM  
Anonymous OneMommy said...

What an open and brave post! Fearing for our children's safety, wanting to be there for them always - that is something all mothers can identify with. The fear that you have something that may take you away from them - that is a very personal fear...and sharing that with your readers could not have been easy.

I am sorry that you still have the headache. I can not imagine! And they still have no cause for it? Wow.
I pray that you and your husband continue to work things out, and that your headache is able to go away soon.

Stopping in from SITS

September 8, 2012 at 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Co-Pilot Mom said...

Such a brave and honest post. Hope that there is some relief from your headache soon. I can only imagine how difficult it has been.

September 8, 2012 at 7:22 PM  
OpenID said...

What a brave post - so powerful. I'm sorry you still have headaches but glad it's not something worse. Here's to you sharing so others will know they're not alone.

September 8, 2012 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger Tandy said...

Robin, have they ever checked your CSF flow? An old roommate from college suddenly began to have this unbearable, relentless headache and it took them forever to figure it out--she was also afraid for her life--but it was a rupture in the dura of her spinal column and CSF was leaking out. Aaron's condition for which he had brain surgery also involved CSF and for most people who have the condition (chiari malformation) the main symptom is a headache.
You've probably been through the run of just about every possibility, but I thought I'd throw that out, just in case. You just never know.
I also know what it's like to have a debilitating illness for a long time, to be accused of faking it, etc.. It's really awful! So glad you're in that sweet Springville family! And to be surrounded by people who love you and trust you no matter what.
We think of you and the kids all the time.
Love from MN!

September 11, 2012 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Tandy said...

P.S. Aaron's neurologist in Salt Lake looked at his scans and didn't even recognize the Chiari. If it weren't for Aaron's uncle, who is a radiologist and also had a related condition himself, we would never have figured it out!
Love you!

September 11, 2012 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

A brave and honest post. Thanks for sharing your story.

September 11, 2012 at 9:23 PM  

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