My daughter once called me “chill.” Ha! I am the least chill person I know.
I’m uptight, neurotic, anxious, overbearing and oversensitive. Oh, and have I ever mentioned I worry too much?! 🙂
Still, on some level, I actually am kind of chill. I’m learning to take things one day at a time. This phrase has some weird connotations. It doesn’t always imply “living in the moment.” It does sometimes sound like you’re just slogging through the slush, “getting” through, fighting your way inch by inch through the snowdrifts of life. No, that’s not what I do. By “one day at a time,” I mean I’m learning how to live with surprises, not taking things for granted, and when the unexpected does happen, I go with it.
Because really, how can you do otherwise? I never never know what each day will bring, and while I love order, routine and stability, and while I try to plan a lot of details of my life, I’m learning how to not be surprised when I get the text that says, “Mom, I failed my geometry class.” or, “Mom, I got busted on 4/20 by my gym teacher,” or whatever. (Neither of these scenarios is true, btw.)
I don’t ever enjoy these surprises.
They make my stomach sink into my knees, as I suspect is just the way of parenting. Your kid messes up or gets in trouble or has some sort of calamity befall them, and you feel kind of sick. That’s just the way of it. The same way we celebrate when things go well.
Despite those heart-twisting moments, there’s part of me that, after the initial shock of whatever, is already racing to the logical and the illogical conclusions. It’s amazing how fast my mind can come up with an outcome. (“She’ll get kicked out of school and end up on the street, and how will she support herself?” or “She’ll end up pregnant and we’ll have a bigger family and which room would we convert so she can still go to school while we help?”) Seriously, I get this from, “Mom, I’m dating so and so.” My mind is a weird and twisty thing.
That habit of projecting the most outrageous possible scenario is often unpleasant. I can send myself into some pretty big downward spirals of worry, and that does no one any good whatsoever. At the same time, whatever I fear is usually far more desperate and unpleasant than anything that actually comes to pass. Playing the “what-if” game can sometimes help me relax a little about what is actually going on. She’s just going on a date. She got one bad test result. She fell off the self-harm wagon again. We deal. We move on, and she learns, and she figures out what works in her life and what doesn’t, and she learns.
And I learn, too.
I learn that I still have my kids with me. They’ve got challenges. We all have challenges, and while mine may be different than yours, everyone has them.
You seriously just never, ever know.
And oddly enough, learning to figure things out as I go along helps me to be way less judgmental. Because no matter who I meet, I am learning to be aware that maybe their day has been full of those kinds of surprises, too, and I don’t have a monopoly on “things I wish hadn’t happened.”
I am devoted to finding ways to help prevent and treat anxiety and depression. Those sneaky, lying bastards are debilitating for the people who have them. They destroy. And, like other diseases like cancer or heart disease, they should be eradicated. (**Disclaimer: I am not entirely certain that depression, as a disease, should be treated as purely physical while glossing over the situational, but that is a whole other blog post investigation for another time.**) This is, I hope, going to have a positive outcome, meaning that I hope to do some good for my daughter, and in turn I hope that it translates into doing some good in the world.
Also oddly enough, depression and anxiety have taught me a LOT. There are lessons I wish I hadn’t had to learn, but hey, these lessons may just help me be a better parent. These lessons might possibly just help me figure out My Purpose In Life, whatever that may be. I have no way of knowing or predicting what my future or my children’s future might bring. I’ve said it before: I can’t predict, and so, while my own anxiety wants me to plan for every scenario and outcome, at the same time, in some weird and roundabout way, it helps me to just take it as it comes.
Figure it out.
So when I’m so anxious I can’t breathe right, and when I get that phone call at 2:00 a.m., these are things that can turn a person’s world around. Finding the ways to keep breathing, finding out how to get through the darkness, is just sort of what people do. It’s not extraordinary or unusual. We all do it. So, I’m learning to roll with it.