Anxiety, Grief, And A Glimmer Of Hope

I have been trying to write this post for nearly 2 weeks now. Dozens of drafts have been started and discarded during a series of late nights and early mornings and who-knows-how-many declarations of “I’ll get to it later”. Since I can’t seem to force these thoughts into any sort of outline, I’m just going to do this stream of consciousness style, so please, bear with me.

Tonight, I can’t sleep. A million thoughts are running through my head at full speed. The bills are piling up, as is the housework. I need to get something written for the blog. I need to get something written for my book. My trip to Beatlefest is coming up. I need to decide on clothes. I need to get packed. I still need to find a sitter. I need to pull some spending money out of thin air. I have 2 appointments tomorrow. I need to go shopping. I have a dentist appointment next week, I can’t forget. Did I write it down? I think I wrote it down. I need to catch up on all my emails. I still haven’t unpacked my office. I just applied for a new job. I hope I get it. I hope I like it. I hope I don’t have to quit the blog because of it. I hope my daughter is okay at daycare. With her attitude she might get kicked out. How did I raise such a brat? I suck at this motherhood thing. I suck at everything….

On and on and on it goes. The list of worries, tasks to be done, appointments to be made and ridiculous self-criticisms is endless. It is suffocating. It drains me of all my energy, making it impossible to complete even the most basic of tasks, which in turn adds fuel to the inner chatter.

Life with anxiety is difficult, even when you are taking the necessary steps to control it. Sometimes, it still shines through. This is one of those times.

It makes sense, of course, that I’m dealing with this right now. I’m not good with change. I’m not good at unexpected events. Try as I might, I’m not a roll with the punches kind of gal. And there have certainly been a lot of  changes lately.

Moving into our new house and getting our puppy were two big changes. While I was mostly prepared for them, it did require a period of adjustment. Our whole routine was upended and it took me quite a while to find our rhythm again.

Unfortunately, as soon as I was back on a somewhat even keel I got a devastating phone call from my best friend. One of our dearest friends, who we have known since the 6th grade, had passed away suddenly. Dropping everything, I jumped in my car and took the half-hour drive to my hometown where a few of us gathered. The weekend seemed to drag on as I sat with my grief. Guilt consumed me as I thought of how long it had been since we had last spoke. The last time I had seen him in person was when he came to visit me in the hospital the day The Princess was born. I berated myself for letting so much time pass. How hard is it to pick up a phone? Why hadn’t I tried harder to stay in touch? I thought I had time. I was wrong.

The following week brought the visitation, the funeral, and my class reunion, which featured a tribute to the friend we had lost. On top of mourning someone dear to me, I found myself mourning the loss of a simpler time. I mourned the loss of friendships. I re-experienced grief for my grandmother and for others I have lost. I mourned the loss of the child I was, of the teenager I was, of the young adult I was. For the first time, I was confronted with my own mortality.  My tears came in waves, broken only by grief-induced sleep and the demands of my child as I adjusted to this new reality.

I would be lying if I said that I was one-hundred percent okay right now. These things take time and I have a lot of thoughts and feelings to sort through. On top of an anxiety flare-up, it’s been a mess.

However, I will say that I am steadily getting better. During this time, I have had to be gentle with myself. I’ve had to remind myself that all the busy-work of life can wait. I just have to get through each day as it comes. I have to remind myself of all the good things in my life and remain focused on the positive, even when the only positive I can see is that it’s close to bedtime. I have had to be honest with those around me and let them know how I am feeling, instead of hiding away, which has been rough since my instinct is to disappear when I am in any kind of pain.

Most importantly, I have become more focused than ever on changing the things that I can. I am relaxing my standards a bit as far as housework and my writing go to allow for more time with family and friends. I am trying harder to really be in the moment and enjoy whatever it is that I am doing without allowing my mind to dwell on the past or the future. I’m trying harder to control my to-do list instead of letting it control me. We are all here on borrowed time. I want to make the most of it while I can.

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