Last night as I got ready for bed, anxiety slunk into the room, a menacing shadow. I had had fun five days with the kids, enjoying Eden’s birthday, a beach outing, and a special day with Eden rock climbing at the gym. The kids were sleeping peacefully in their beds, and yet I felt overwhelmed by terror at their next-day impending departure to their father.
Every muscle in my body screamed to jump out of bed, go to the computer, read a book, watch a movie, anything so that my mind would not fester with paralyzing thoughts about my failure as a parent, irresponsibility about money matters, or my bogged-down writing. I tried to describe my feeling to Dar. “You should do something about it,” was his practical response. “You should try to spend less money.”
My first reaction: You’re judging me!?! Then I tried to understand my upset. In the last few years I’ve done much to become more financially responsible. Chris comes once a week for an hour, keeps records of my spending, and generates monthly reports. I realized that I actually feel good about how much my attitude to money has changed.
Parenthood is a more touchy topic. I try to cram 365 days’ worth of love into 182.5 days with activities, one-on-one time, moments of listening, and homework. I give emotional support and take care of the children’s physical needs. Is it any wonder that I hardly ever succeed in giving the children everything that I would like to give? I reminded myself of the Hand in Hand class I recently took, the parenting book I am reading, the special times the children and I shared, the fact that I’ve been more patient with them. I feel good about how much I’ve grown as a parent in the last few years.
My negative thoughts almost disappeared. But what about my writing? Am I not exactly where I was ten years ago when I began? I finished one novel and started several others. I received one full manuscript request (no answer yet). I attended several conferences and received encouraging critiques. I took writing classes and interacted with writers. I started my blog. Without doubt, I am in a different and better place than I was ten years ago.
The shadows, the terror, my anxiety, all melted away. I felt better able to breathe. I had just had a moment of enlightenment. Instead of judging myself, I had taken an appreciative look at what my achievements were and found pride in my work. I am not at the beginning of my way to become a writer, a parent, a financially responsible adult. I am well on my way and will continue throughout my life. I thanked Dar for listening to me and closed my eyes, feeling relief, gratitude, and contentment. I fell asleep, sleeping the sleep of the just.
What tricks do you have to relieve anxiety?