The Chains of Nervousness, Day 12

Yesterday I wrote that sometimes I just don’t feel free, but after writing about it this last 11 days, I think I am starting to feel it more, like I can breathe easier, without being so self-occupied. I can go about my business and respond in wisdom a little more, and I sense that everyday, electrically-charged nervous anxiety loosening its grip. Nervousness seems to be the noose that comes in the motherhood package.

I had had no quiet moment to sit and read or write or breathe, and I didn’t cling too hard it. I let it roll forward how it does, building like a snowball of to-dos.

Our dog ate some of the carpet straight up off the floor. Titus spilled a bottle of shampoo, and then the dog tried to lick it up and in turn, started making yack sounds. Sometimes my head spins, and it starts feeling dramatic quickly, like the house is being sucked into a cyclone, and if I don’t make some guttural mother huffs (my own little fits), everything will fly out the window. I have these crazy moments of headless panic because someone is always eating something that isn’t food and taking our food and turning it into “art.”

Most of the day, I spent time scrubbing away some of the virusy smell, and then while I was folding clothes, Titus began pulling a toy behind him with a string. He looked back at me with his brown eyes, and I had to catch my breath. Ian turned the corner then in his mop of hair and comic boxer shorts, and suddenly I felt like an old lady inside myself, like I was recording one of those scenes I’d replay on my deathbed, the one I’d go out smiling on.

My house is beginning to smell clean(ish), and the writing finally came. The writing came while I had the toilet wand in the bowl. I thought: the sickness is gone already, and nothing magical has happened in my search for freedom, but I feel inklings of it. I feel like I’m becoming who I was made to be even while scrubbing the toilet and even while I’m wrestling these chains.

So I put the wand down, washed my hands, made some tea, and came here to say it out loud again, because I must.

Our front porch had a swing on it when I was small, and I’d like to have one again when I finish growing up. My daddy was the one who fastened the chains to the ceiling, and the chains were thick and taut, trustworthy. There are photos of my sister and me there with our hair long and our bangs straight across, teeth missing. I remember plain as day. It was safe, and it sang, back and forth and back and forth.

I know that rest, chilling out, has much to do with freedom and getting out of the chains. I know inside deep we can take rest even when chaos sits ready on its haunches. This may be what it means to tuck up under an eagle’s wing or in the cleft of a rock. Both sound high and dangerous. Another scene on my deathbed will be of our toes straight ahead of us, me and my sister lunging together, laughing, lurching that slow swing high as we could get, the wind in our ears, Mama inside cooking supper.

Sometimes I feel like I’m in a dangerous place, the place of chaos and of losing self and of cleaning barf, but there is a high place, strangely low, I can only go with God. It’s exactly where the joy is, the only place from which I can see with greater perspective while sopping shampoo up off the floor. Today I’ll acknowledge it, take it as a chill pill, call it “inner peace,” “the cleansing breath.”

I know I’m held to freedom by a wing, by a rock, by the chains on the swing. I am not a slave of my nerves.

There’s a freedom I hear about that I just don’t always recognize in my life. I long to be free so much that maybe I’ve built a habit of feigning it. I would love it if you would like to join me in exploring this path to true freedom, A Study of Chains in 31 Days. You can follow along on Facebook or subscribe to these posts by email or in a reader. {Thank you so much, by the way, for walking with me.} Are you ready to shirk these chains?

About me


What a Concussion Taught Me
March 25, 2016
When You’re Not a Precious Thing
February 03, 2016
Where Healing Begins: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Sarah Jo Burch
November 23, 2015
When Home Is Within: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Mandy Mianecki
November 02, 2015
Dear Seth: A Marriage Letter on Your Sobriety and What it Looks Like to Come Clean
October 27, 2015
Out in the Wild
September 22, 2015
Learning to Bend: A Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Diana Trautwein
September 14, 2015
What I Knew In My Dying Day: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post by Tara Owens
August 19, 2015
Standing Among the Flowers at Midnight
July 13, 2015


Jessica Y
Reply October 12, 2012

Like an exhale.

Reply October 12, 2012

"gutteral mother huffs"...I know those fits. And the guilt (conviction?) that comes when I'm huffing about and my son says "Mama? Are you happy?" I so relate to the cyclone feeling, and am so glad to be reminded that "there is a high place, strangely low, I can only go with God. It’s exactly where the joy is, the only place from which I can see with greater perspective. "

Reply October 12, 2012

Wow. The power of release and of beautiful chains. Moved deeply today.

Lynn Morrissey
Reply October 13, 2012

This is so beautiful, Amber: "but there is a high place, strangely low, I can only go with God." Our God is a topsy-turvey God. I wrote this years ago in a book, and may it encourage you: "From the world's perspective, motherhood's repetitive ministrations tally in life's debit column. Compared to acquiring an education, pursuing a glitzy career, and outdistancing the "Joneses," wiping sticky hands, bandaging scraped knees, and saying no for the umpteenth time, result in decided loss. Yet God keeps a topsy-turvey scorecard where loss is gain, high is low, last is first, and dying to self is living for God." seems to me to only make sense, in the topsy-turvey perspective, that living in chains (in the best sense of being chained to God's will at any time in our lives) is living in freedom. That's what you are experiencing it with every rise of the swing......the exhilaration of flying freely. And you brought tears to my eyes. My favorite picture of Daddy and me is of both of us sitting on the porch-swing at our old house, since razed, and my beloved father since gone. He was a big, burly man, so surely those chains were strong enough to hold him, just like his brawny arms were strong enough to hold me through all life's pain and longing. We used to sing together on that swing. (He had an incredible voice, and his signature song was Old Man River). That's a freedom song. And I realize that whenever Daddy sang, despite much pain in his life, he was being set free. I realize he was setting me free, too! Bless you for the depth of your sharing, Amber, on this unique and difficult topic. I don't know many who would have tackled it!

    Diana Trautwein
    Reply October 13, 2012

    YES! Singing as an act and experience of freedom. I've been singing all my life and those words capture why. Thank you. I need to do it more, even it is old and quavery - the voice needs exercise. :>)

Reply October 13, 2012

Ahhh, I want to wrap up in your words sister. I know deep deep down this feeling. Like I was looking in or out fragmented viewing of life and self when mine were little and it go chaotic and the nerves were frazzled. Oh how I walk out your healing words with you. Yes and when mine were older they shared even more of what "I missed". Oh the protection of missing out on a little. They shared recently they ate the pet's food once when they were little, cat/dog. I think I was supposed to laugh as they did. They are older souls 16, 17, 22 but your words remind and heal. I love walking this series out with you. Yes, under His wing and in The Rock of protection.

Reply October 13, 2012

Lot's to think about here. Looking for that high/low place of peace and safety today. Thanks, Amber.

Diana Trautwein
Reply October 13, 2012

Oh, Amber. I do know these chains so very well. The anxieties that 'sit on their haunches' (one of the BEST descriptions ever) and threaten to devour the joy of the moment. I'm carrying anxiety right now about our littlest grandchild and need to turn and look at it and shout, "GO HOME, you nasty cur! You cannot stay here." Because --- these worries about the future, about whether or not we're doing enough, or doing it right, or doing it at all - well, they are chains, pure and simple, accomplishing no good whatsoever. Thank you for admitting yours and writing against them so beautifully - and for inviting me to do the same.

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