Just when I think I am so carefree I get reminded that as with most things in life it is going to be a constant challenge to live authentically without worry what others think of my decisions and actions. I didn’t learn to worry about what others thought of me overnight and I won’t stop caring overnight. I am learning that with each challenge I get one more opportunity to grow and become freer from these thoughts.
Last month I experienced some physical challenges related to my Multiple Sclerosis. This began my ritual that I go to when “handling” health challenges, anxiety. It’s not a good ritual to go to, but it’s the only one I have ever known. I am getting better and quicker at overcoming it, but I spend far too long living with it before realizing I need to do something about it. It took almost a month of not sleeping and wondering why I wasn’t finding joy in everyday life before I realized I had a problem. I never even got the chance to attempt to overcome it when I watched my oldest son have an episode. I am still not sure if he fainted or had a seizure, but all of a sudden I was thrust in to a deeper, darker anxiety than I have known in a very long time. Hubby and I are taking all of the right steps, he had an EEG yesterday and will have an MRI tomorrow. The pediatrician and neurologist have both made it clear that they are not concerned it is anything serious because of his quick and full recovery.
That’s great. My logical brain registers this. My logical brain also registers my anxiety attacks and believes that they are ridiculous. My logical brain has been telling me I am being dramatic and that I know all of the right tools to look at the positives and to be grateful for those. My logical brain is clearly not in charge.
My emotional heart has been telling me to stop thinking all of those horrible thoughts about what could happen to my son. It has been focusing on all the ways my body is failing me. It has been focusing on the pains in my chest and the lightheadedness I feel during the anxiety attacks. While my logical brain has been telling me these are anxiety driven my emotional heart has been screaming, “you don’t know. you don’t know what it could really be.” My emotional heart has kept me up at night and kept me from sharing my fears with my hubby or my friends because that would be too painful. Besides, what would they think? They may tell me I am being irrational (my logical brain would agree). They may tell me to stop thinking that way (I am trying). They may say, “you really think you have it that bad? other mom’s are dealing with so much worse.”
I am an emotional person. As hubby tells me time and again it is one of the reasons he loves me so much. It compliments his analytical self. When I don’t allow myself to be vulnerable by expressing my emotional fears with others I am denying the very essence of who I am. As I have learned, denying myself causes me actual physical pain.
Fortunately my desire to find joy again is stronger than my fear of being vulnerable. I cried to hubby, I cried to my friends. Do you know what they said? “of course you feel this way, this is your son.” “what can I do to help?” “I just want to be here for you.” So, I cried some more. I expressed my fears especially the deep rooted one that must never be said, “What if he dies?” Expressing that created more tears than I have cried in a long time, but it didn’t kill me. Instead I was able to get a good night sleep. Finally. In the morning, the anxiety was still there but not as strong. I saw a trail through the fog. The trail led me to exercises I have used in the past to rid my anxiety, but forgot about in the chaos of experiencing it.
The best part about allowing myself to be vulnerable is that I have hugged and received hugs. They are like a lifesaver in a sea of disjointed thoughts. Have I learned to be carefree and allow all of me to be vulnerable all of the time? Not likely. But, I will practice, practice, practice.
In the meantime, please hold my son in your thoughts. I expect that everything will be fine as the doctors have suggested, but the more healthy, positive thoughts sent our way the better off I know we will be.
Please accept this blog as my virtual hug to you.