I may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article. Full Disclosure
Hi beautiful soul,
Here is Part 2 of my story continued from yesterday.
If you missed that, go HERE.
To watch me tell my story click the FB Live replay below,
I had never had any health issues. Just the normal chicken pox and wisdom teeth stuff. So when I had my very first panic attack, I made my future husband go straight to the ER because I was sure I was dying.
We were in Chicago. Had taken a trip there, I don’t remember why. But that morning we had breakfast with Byron’s parents—yes them. And the night before we drank—a lot. So the combination of a hangover and tons of unresolved emotional stuff, and my body revolted.
If I wasn’t listening to the nudges, it was going to hit me with a brick over the head.
At the ER, they took several tests and found nothing. They recommended that I go home and make an appt with my doctor and suggested that it could have been a panic attack.
Wait-what???! Not me. I am in perfect health. I don’t take any medicine. I’ve never had any mental health issues, no depression. It couldn’t be. Of course, as a healthy 20-something, I didn’t even have a doctor.
After that first panic attack, they were so often and so severe that I’d have to pull over on the side of the road because I knew for sure that I was going to stop breathing. My heart would race. I’d check my pulse with my finger to make sure I could still feel my heartbeat. I couldn’t fall asleep and if I did I would wake up drenched in sweat from a nightmare which would trigger another panic attack.
So here I was, living in Green Bay, WI, having just moved there after getting engaged. I had just started a new job, was starting to make new friends and plan a wedding. And hiding my dark secret. Debilitating panic attacks.
I can’t even imagine what people were thinking when I had to leave a huge engagement party because I was having a major panic attack.
Another really vivid one was on our honeymoon. We went to Kiawah Island, SC. We went golfing one day and in the middle of the round that old familiar feeling started creeping in. First, your breath starts to quicken, then it feels like your face is going numb. You are powerless. You are CERTAIN that you are going to stop breathing. Then you PANIC.
I made my husband drive the cart out of there, through all the other golfers all the way to the clubhouse. I was desperate to breathe. And checking my pulse to make sure it hadn’t stopped. I’m sure that I went right to the bar to order a drink to start to calm myself down.
I finally went to see a doctor because I couldn’t manage this on my own. See, it doesn’t look good when you are planning a wedding and start to get debilitating panic attacks. She sent me to someone who taught me some relaxation techniques and she gave me a prescription. While I really did not want to take that prescription, it helped me get through a very dark time in my life.
Even though I was still not getting at the true root of the panic attacks…my unhealed hurt, loss, etc… at least I had some help.
It took me a good year to manage them to where they weren’t debilitating. I slowly weaned off the medication and never needed it again. The anxiety wouldn’t leave me for several years though.
After about a year of being in Green Bay, and managing my anxiety, we got the news that we were getting transferred back home to MN. We were both very excited. The company I worked for in Green Bay would even keep me on board and let me work from home. So we moved to Woodbury, MN and found a cute little townhouse. And life just kept going. I would say we were more surviving than thriving.
Then we decided to have a baby. Because that’s what you do. We got pregnant quite quickly, within the first 3 months. The pregnancy went well and God blessed us with a healthy baby boy.
After several months we decided to try to get pregnant again. But nothing happened. It was so easy the first time. Was my body letting me down again? We kept trying. Nothing.
Around this time my parents gave me the book, “Eat to Live.” They had found it in researching for help with my mom’s MS. I read it and it opened up a whole new world for me. I had no idea how the food I was eating or the personal care products I was using, were affecting my body. I made several changes and took better care of my body. This was one of my first steps toward self-love. I eventually had another healthy boy 3 1/2 years after the first.
I was actually really shocked that this was my life. I NEVER thought as a little girl that I would get married or have children. I wanted to, yes. But I just didn’t think it would happen for me. I wasn’t good enough. So, even though we had our fair share of issues, I just thought, this is it. This is life and I never even thought I’d have this much.
Then my body started talking to me again. Which I can reflect on now, but at the time, remember life was just happening to me. I had some post-baby blues. Yuck.
I now know that even though I was taking better care of my body, it still has some unresolved issues with me. Like the self-hatred. Yep. And the boyfriend who died, but instead of feeling the pain and tragedy of it, I numbed it out. Yep. The only survival technique that I knew.
But my body wanted to heal it and release it. I kept wearing it around like a badge. Poor me. This was my story. Feel sorry for me. I have been dealt some crappy cards.
At this point, I was a stay-at-home mom and had a good group of friends through moms groups. Again, life was pretty good. I got to stay home and raise my babies. I had supportive girlfriends to talk to.
My first hint that I could have control over my life, that I could really choose my emotions, that I didn’t have to live with this pain, was when I read Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth.” Oprah did a whole book club about it, and let’s face it, Oprah is my superhero. This book BLEW MY MIND. It gave me hope. I didn’t have to live as a victim. My mind had been opened and I could never go back. I re-read that book I don’t know how many times.
Then I found Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Neale Donald Walsh, and many others. I read whatever I could find and I started to work on me. Loving myself, being in the present moment…I was a self-development junkie.
My other passion, clean living, was still going strong. I was just starting to design a life I loved. The post-baby blues lessened. I still hadn’t healed my old wounds, but I was starting to love myself. I could see a light. I could feel a joy that I had never felt before.
There were still pieces of the puzzle missing, however. I still had insomnia, some anxiety, as well as some codependence issues, to name a few things.
Then the Universe sent me another Angel. I brought my youngest son to a mommy and me class. There was a great group of women, but there was one I was immediately drawn to. She had this magnetic presence. And she knew about astrology, and she did energy work…a self-improvement junkie’s dream!
We started to become friends, but I also started seeing her for bodywork and breathwork sessions. Again, very woo-woo, but something deep in me told me this was perfect. And I was finally learning to trust my intuition.
We did several sessions to release old stuck energy…and remember how much of that I had? We also talked about my bookmarks. Where my body got stuck because I hadn’t healed something. And do you know where my body was stuck? Yes, at 23. When my boyfriend died.
I was starting to feel stronger, more confident. I started loving myself, scars and all. I began to let go of my story, let go of victimhood. After several sessions of dragging the ugly demons out of the dark, I was completely exhausted. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that I could never go back to that dark place that I was in for so long. ANYTHING was better than that.
I had hope. And if I had to air all my dirty laundry to heal it….that was way better than a panic attack any day. And if I had to sit in a bathtub breathing underwater while my healer held space for me….. bring it on. I was desperate for peace.
We worked through major insomnia, heart palpitations, and a bit of that anxiety that never went away. I would be trying to fall asleep, then all of a sudden, I would sit straight up choking to get air. I couldn’t breathe. Then my heart would be racing so fast that I couldn’t fall asleep. I can’t count how many hours upon hours of sleepless nights I had.
We worked through family stuff, looked at my birth story. Saw the patterns that I got from my parents and was continuing on. Brought my demons to the light.
My body was screaming to be healed and I finally knew how to listen. I learned to feel my feelings in the moment instead of stuffing them down. I cried and cried and cried and screamed. It was far from easy. But as I saw things shifting, I was hooked. First, my insomnia slowed down then eventually was very few and far between instead of almost every night.
Then one day I got a call that would put me up for one of my biggest challenges so far. I got a call from my old boyfriend’s (Byron’s) dad.
Now, I had become very close with him and his wife over the last several years. My husband and I had stayed with them for a weekend in Chicago. My boys and I had stayed with them for a long weekend in MT. We had gone through something so tragic together. We had a deep and loving bond.
The call that day was a punch in the gut. Margaret, Byron’s mom was on life support. I had just talked to her the week before. She was strong and healthy. She was my connection to that family and to Byron.
This wasn’t happening again.
I got the call 2 days later that she had passed away. I sobbed so hard I couldn’t breathe. And no one could know my pain. My husband was there to hold me, but he didn’t know how to react, couldn’t know how to console me.
I went to Chicago for the funeral. By myself. I was right back there, with this same family, right back in that church and funeral home.
I was 23 again.
I had to explain when people asked me how I knew the family. Yes, I was Byron’s girlfriend when he passed away. But this time I was stronger. I felt every emotion. Every single bit of pain, anger, sadness, loneliness that came.
It was ugly. But it was better than numbing it out. I was getting a second chance to heal. I survived that weekend. With his family, relatives, and his friends, I wept for that 23-year-old who couldn’t have known how to handle such a tragedy. I wept for the what-ifs, the might-have-
The sadness and darkness stayed with me for a while. My husband just gave me my space, which I thanked him for over and over. I allowed myself to process this tragedy. I made it through and the cloud started to lift.
Every day got a little easier, a little lighter. I was healing it all. Now when I think of Byron and that dark time, I don’t get that sick-to-my-stomach-I-can’t-breathe-feeling. I am so grateful. I’m grateful for the lessons and the love. I never could have known the light shines this bright if I hadn’t known that darkness.