Amazing things were happening with us; the trip to Europe, the seed of change in our hearts, more hunger for God, and a life which seemed to be moving forward without any further pain or grief. It seemed that all the suffering was behind us, and for the most part, it was. Yet there were tell-tale signs which said all was not right within me. I would still have twisted knots in my stomach at any hint of sickness in Mike. A simple cold or flu would trigger a flood of anxious torment inside of me. I knew in my medically trained head he had a simple virus, but my heart and gut were torn up with fear. I was unable to relax until he was completely better and I was sure he would not die. This happened every time he was sick, and even though he was now a teenager, I still had to remind myself that he did not have the same disease which had taken his brother and sister. Yet I knew other diseases and illnesses killed just as readily. I tried to balance it with the knowledge that God had promised me this child, yet He hadn't given me a time limit on my promise either. Fear and anxiety, calm and faith in God. Back and forth the battle in my mind would go. It never ended, but as I would later understand, the conflict would go into hiding.
We all have things we do to cope with life's stresses. Some people drink until they are numb, others seek out drugs to release them from their internal pressures. More commonly, many of us have friends we confide in; those dear people who let us spout off and blow off steam, or vent our greatest irrational fears to, without the concern of retribution or putdown. Those are true friends. Others get lost in watching television or going to work out in the gym. There are a myriad of options out there; each person consciously or subconsciously choosing the things which best bring comfort to their afflicted inner soul. My chosen method of coping, besides friends, was shopping. "Retail therapy"; the best balm for my inner turmoil. Thankfully I was never like other shoppers who would calm their inner beast by bringing home a new $70,000 BMW; although who wouldn't like that idea? But the lack of funds, and the reckoning I would get from my ever practical husband, would have required its return anyway. I was more a "nickel and dime" girl; thrilled with a super discounted item for a buck, whether it was needed or not.
Most of the time my psyche faired very well; but on other days, I would have an underlying, unsettled, nagging, inner "stirred up” feeling which nothing seemed to satisfy. I could never identify what it was other than an icky feeling I wanted to be rid of. So I would hop in my car and head to the store. I had a clear mental map of where all the discounted and clearance sections were in my favorite places, and that is where I would head. The thrill of the hunt was half the fun, but the uncomfortable feeling would not go away until something I really liked was safely purchased and in my possession. Some days I could not find an item deemed worthy to buy, and I would go home feeling worse than I did before, and other days, even shopping success left me feeling empty and perpetually miserable. Something was definitely unsettled inside of me, but with no clear answers, I continued my normal routines without confronting the unknown and unwelcome annoyance, only having to cope with it on yet another day.