Teetering

On the edge of sanity. Finger in the crack in the dam, holding it all back. Missing my hermit days.

I am not handling the stress very well at all lately, and it is getting worse. I feel the anxiety, fear the out of control thoughts, and have a wall up against my own negativity. I am wearing out and afraid what will happen my defenses falter.

My kids all have some minor health and dental issues that require multiple doctors and multiple appointments and multiple medicine/treatment regimens and multiple rearrangements of the calendar. Nothing serious or life threatening, thank you  thank you thank you, but everything needs attention – my attention. I’m running out of attention to give, and going into hiding mode to reserve what I do have for emergencies.

When life gets hectic, I get social anxiety. I lose the ability to make simple decisions. I feel stupid and inept and frightened.

1 kiddo has bronchitis that requires an inhaler every 4-6 hours. I kept him home from school for 2 days to administer it here, and sent him to school today hoping he makes it all day. I don’t have it in me to go to the office and turn in the meds and doctors slip for him to have it at school. I feel panic imagining that conversation for some reason. Not like the elementary school secretary is scary herself, but somehow the interaction terrifies me today.

So I am at home.

I have a neighbor that is trying to be my friend. We’ve been watching each other’s kids all year long, but she is trying to be friendly with me now, texting me, and horror of all horrors, wanted to carpool with me to a school event. Instantly I feel trapped. I’ve been managing school events fairly well because I am invisible. I slip in and out and avoid eye contact. I watch my kiddo and get out of there, ignoring the chatter all around me. This neighbor wants me to go with her, meaning the chatter would be nonstop and I would have to leave when she wants, not leave early if I want. Why is this so uncomfortable and scary to me?

So I am at home.

Today is another school event for another kiddo. It starts in about an hour. I am trembling thinking of going. I was hoping it would get rained out and postponed, but it didn’t. I can go and add this stress to my already shaking nerves, or I can stay home and bear the guilt of disappointing my daughter when I am not in the bleachers. Guilt sounds easier right now than having to shower, dress nicely, and plaster on a smile. I don’t recognize people well, not sure why, but people come up and start talking to me and it takes me forever to figure out who they are, even people I talk to often appear to be strangers at first. Does anxiety do that? Or do I have some facial recognition disease? Like I can see my next door neighbor grocery shopping and she comes over and starts chatting and I use her conversation context to figure out who she is. I start sweating, mind racing, searching for clues to tell me who this is and how to respond. I hate it.

So I am at home.

I will get my work done, alone in my dining room, safely converse through a computer where each coworker has a name listed and I clearly know who it is and how to respond. Here I am brilliant and confident. Out there I am stupid and anxious.

My head is telling me that it is my fault the kids are sick, or have cavities, or whatever other issue. It says I should take better care of them and not work so much and my promotion is a mistake and hurting them. It says I shouldn’t have had kids, passing along all of my genetic health issues was cruel.

An old lady at curves has gotten too friendly and I find myself avoiding going there too. She follows me around chatting while I work the machines, while I pant and sweat. She goes on and on about her cats and grandkids. She is very sweet but I can’t stand her and I don’t know what to do. She made me touch her nose. SHE MADE ME TOUCH HER NOSE! You can’t take someone with social anxiety, a fair amount of OCD and germophobia and make her touch your nose. No. Just wrong. She had been in air conditioning for hours and was feeling cold. She grabbed my hand off the workout machine and placed it on her nose so I could feel how cold it was. I nearly died. The back of my hand became a red alert and I wanted to go wash it, but knew that would be offensive. So I kept my eye on that spot, it seemed to be red and pulsing with alarm bells, throughout my workout, and kept my hand off my face. I always do anyway, I only touch my face with my shirt and wash them when I touch public items.

I know this reaction is funny, but it is also true. I know it is irrational, but it is my reaction and so difficult to control. I know I’m not going to die. But the adrenaline pumped into my system sure felt like I was going to die. I know statistics, and I don’t think touching and old lady’s nose has ever been listed as a cause of death, unless maybe she was the queen and secret service gunned you down or something. I know I am ridiculous – and yet here I am.

At home.

I drown my thoughts with junk food and alcohol and marathon TV watching and here I am teetering on the edge of something, so afraid to fall in.

Now I know I can get back out if I fall in. But we still avoid the puddles, ditches and ponds, right? If everyone jumped right into every pond because they knew they could get back out, we’d all be wet all of the time. I don’t think avoiding the fall is a bad thing as long as we don’t start wearing floaties every day.

I’m struggling to voice this thought. I’m trying to explain my hiding behavior, and say in the grand scheme of things, it seems to be an ok way to keep me healthy right now. It’s ok to ease up on the things that cause fear and anxiety as long as I don’t avoid them completely. If I handle myself gently, maybe my tolerance will increase over time. This is just something I still need to do for myself. Maybe I always will? No, I won’t harbor that thought, not helpful. I’m throwing out thoughts today like going through the mail – read now, throw out, keep for later.

Like mother’s day. Notice I didn’t post about that yet? keep for later.

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6 thoughts on “Teetering

  1. Different perspective: You have had your perfectly healthy boundaries violated, repeatedly. No wonder you’re stressed. Having a sick child is stressful. Having several increases the stress exponentially. You have your own issues with feeling helpless. Now had not being able to make the little people you’re responsible for better. That one simply requires time. Having had the hospital nightmare not so long ago it’s probably adding to the stress, not because you’ll have to take them to the hospital but that little awfulizer in your head whispers what if. This is all normal for you. I HATE CARPOOLING! Unless it’s with my sister. She understands the weird stuff. I struggle enough with keeping track of myself, but now I have to be responsible for another adult. Ummm… No. You’re not unreasonable. Not intentionally, she violated one of your healthy boundaries. The woman in the gym EEEEWWWWWWW! THAT was a total violation of a VERY HEALTHY boundary. As to the job being the problem, it sounds like the old habit of self-sabotage is attempting to return. Actually, that’s also normal for us survivors. We sabotage our own happiness because if we don’t the abusers in our life will. Sabotaging it ourselves actually gives us a little sense of control. What’s happening now isn’t nearly as bad as many of the other things that have happened in your life. The feeling of being piled on is horrible but also a reminder why it was a straw that broke the camel’s back. The good news is: You got this. You may not handle it all with the beauty and grace you want to, but you WILL make it through. Praying for peace and inspiration for you.

    • This comment was powerful for me Judy. It cut right through the crap and helped me understand the feelings and triggers. I cried after reading this, because it was so spot on. I wasn’t allowing myself to see the awful what ifs, only feel the stress of them. I also was trying to be perfect again, and not allowing myself to handle it in a real way. I will make it through, even if I make some mistakes or don’t make the best decision every second.

      My kids getting sick is a huge trigger for me for many reasons. I think I’ll dig into that today, time to take some of that power away.

      And then, I do not trust that I can do my new job for long. I know I can do it, the actual tasks, but I’m not sure how long. I’m afraid I will wear out or flip out like the last time I had a full time job, 12 years ago. So I am so conflicted right now, wanting to do well, wanting to get this prize of a job, but then wondering if I can do it, should I do it – back to ‘Am I enough’?

      But I’m still going forward and back on solid ground ground today. Thank you.

      • Reminder: You most definitely are not the person you were 12 years ago. You’ve overcome so much, made so many healthy changes. And if you have to walk away from the job… so what? If you walk away, you won’t walk away because you can’t do the job; you’ll walk away because you have other priorities that rate higher.

  2. Breath. It is not your fault, it is natural your children get sick. Remember that and Breath.
    Do not allow what is natural invade your space with negativity. Just breath and remind yourself, this will pass and what you are experiencing is simply life, just like every parent experiences it. Not your fault, not anyone’s fault, just life. Pick your priorities and take them one at a time.

    Breath. All will be fine. Really.

  3. I agree with the two above comments: remember to breathe and you are not completely overreacting. Sometimes, some moms become too friendly. It’s OK if you don’t want to be best friends. It’s OK if you want to maintain the relationship you have and not go further. She’ll have to accept that or she won’t. You don’t have to tell her why you don’t want to carpool (I don’t like it either), but just that it won’t work for you. I bet you’ll find she’ll be a lot more accommodating than you think. Also, I think you’d be surprised how many other moms get anxious/nervous/intimidated by going to their kids’ events. Not everyone is happy to be there (even though they are happy to watch their kid). And although I understand that anxiety (I get it too), maybe remembering that lots of other people are just as uncomfortable as you might help?
    The old lady at the gym: no matter how sweet she is, if she’s following you around, prattling on when you clearly are trying to do other things, SHE is out of line. She’s not being respectful of your time at the gym and, even if she’s lonely/sweet/oblivious, it’s not unreasonable to expect to not want to be her audience. Maybe you could tell her that you would love to chat, but right now you really need to focus on your workout? And the nose thing, YUCK. That was out of line too.

    I’ve had moments like this, where I’ve been feeling great and then it gets to be too much again. I think learning to deal with the anxiety and all of this stuff takes time. Endurance. You wouldn’t just go out and run a marathon after starting exercising, and you can’t expect to be able to climb over emotional mountains easily at the beginning either. But you are getting there! Hang in there and sending hugs. XXx

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