When creating this blog last week, I wondered to myself when I was going to get to the heart of the matter here on Crazy Catholic Mama. Yes I am Catholic, and yes I am a Mama. But my heart for this blog is mainly to share my struggles and triumphs living with anxiety and bipolar disorder – and most importantly, how our God redeems all situations for good.
I won’t get into a whole lot of background here today, but suffice it to say, these mental health issues have been my cross to bear since I was a teenager, and probably even younger than that. Social situations scare me. Not just intimidate or make me nervous – they down right terrify this girl. Every time I’ve gone off my meds (for whatever reason), I fall into a pit of depression. We’re talking stuck in bed for days at a time sort of stuff here. And when I am on medications, there’s a good chance I’ll have some pretty nasty side effects to deal with: memory loss, inability to concentrate, inability to sleep as much as my body needs, racing thoughts and words, weight gain. But I’d rather be a rambling idiot than so someone who can’t physically get dressed each day to face the world.
Which brings me to the heart of this post – community and stepping out in faith. I moved out here to the Rocky Mountain West a little over two years ago. Up until a few months ago, I could count the number of people I knew and could call a friend (or even an acquaintance) out here on one hand. But when I stopped working in my third trimester with Stephen, I knew things had to change. Staying home with him all day every day with no friends to call up or planned activities to look forward to was a recipe for disaster. Please don’t get me wrong here – I L.O.V.E. being a wife and mama. My two boys are my entire world. But man (and certainly woman) was not meant to live alone. We were made for community, for relationship, for people.
So back when I was rocking my ginormous baby bump, I took to the internet in search of local moms groups. I found one for a neighboring community on Facebook and joined up. I began following all of the playdate posts longingly, to the point where I’d RSVP yes then back out at the last minute with some sort of a lame excuse. I couldn’t very well say, “hey, I really, really, REALLY wanted to join y’all today but my social anxiety got the better of me so I stayed home and slept for ten hours in the middle of the day instead.” Or, “I’m so desperate for friends, but the thought of showing up and meeting a whole group of strangers makes me sick to my stomach.” So I just don’t show, and use my pregnancy or new mama title as a cover-up.
But eventually I did step out in faith. I showed up to an event and was welcomed with open arms. That combined with new meds was the impetus for me to not only attend gatherings, but to organize and plan events of my own. After reading just a few short chapters of Shauna Niequist’s wonderful food memoir and cookbook, Bread & Wine, I tossed out the idea of a cooking club to the ladies in my moms group. The response was overwhelming, and on a warm July night, this scared-silly mama opened her home and heart to nearly a dozen other mamas, all relative strangers.
The night was filled with chopping vegetables, simmering a homemade sauce, overflowing pots of boiling water and frying up batches of chicken cutlets. And by the time dinner was served, we had each found ourselves immersed in conversation with somebody new. You see, the ladies that showed up that night, most of them did not know each other either. We were a house full of near strangers that became friends over bruschetta, chicken parmigiana, and cheesecake.
I thank God for the courage to put myself out there and open my home to a dozen new friends. And I thank Him even more for putting just the right women on my doorstep that night. I pray that as we continue to meet monthly, each of us will be blessed by friendships and community and a homecooked meal.