This is the post I didn’t think I’d ever write.
This is the post I needed to write right now.
This is the post that I’m petrified to publish.
If you go back through some of my posts, you’ll see hints, but here I am, full disclosure.
No one can get into anyone else’s head, but it doesn’t hurt to try. So, here goes. Let my racing heart commence as you read on.
Behind Every Superhero is a Secret…
I’ve been told that I am able to hold everything together. And that’s how I want it to appear. I guess I’ve succeeded at preserving the image of Indestructible Balance Woman (that would totally be my name if Incredibles 3 centered around Helen Parr AKA Elastigirl forming a group of SuperMoms).
The truth is, though, I’m afraid to fall apart. Everything is held together, because a lot is held in.
I’ve never been diagnosed with anxiety, but I know I have it. Plenty of it. I know depression runs in my family, but I’ve been lucky enough to just experience bouts of sadness.
I don’t go to a therapist. I tried going to one in graduate school and it just wasn’t my thing. Sure, I could search for one that jives with me, but I don’t have interest in expending time, energy, or money on finding the right doctor.
I prefer to cope in my own way. I am a control freak with my emotions. I am not saying that it is the healthiest approach, but it works for me.
I choose to perseverate silently, mulling over worst case scenarios, so that I’m mentally prepared for anything. I try to persevere as long as I can without thrusting my worries onto others, but there comes a time when the truth just spills out of me during a panic attack.
My Latest Anxiety
I’m scared of the road that I may have to walk with my third and final baby. I may need to return to work when she’s only three months old. I don’t think I’ll be ready to return to work so soon.
I love the infant stage. I love watching the baby’s face change on a daily basis. I love listening to the coos. I love how my body naturally starts to sway as I cradle a baby in my arms. My baby. My last baby. There’s so much to witness and absorb and savor. The guilt and sorrow of potentially not having enough time staying home with her as I had with her sister (4 months) and her brother (5 months) is anxiety-inducing.
So I worry now, prepping my heart to withstand the sadness of leaving the last one. Prepping my mind to accept that it’s not a choice I want to make, but one that I know may be necessary for financial reasons. I worry now, so that I can work through my anxiety before she arrives. I worry now in hopes of making the most of however long my maternity leave is later.
The Elusive Nature of Personal Strength
Although I know I can’t prevent whatever emotional struggles may surface later, these preemptive coping mechanisms make me feel better. I pre-grieved my father’s death from the moment he went into the ICU through the weeks he was in hospice. Of course I still broke down when he actually died and on the day of his funeral. I still am saddened by his absence, but my early coping mechanisms have helped me function in the long term.
These mechanisms make me feel in control. They make me feel like I am strong enough to get through the days ahead. They provide me with a choice, one others may not agree with, but a choice nonetheless.
For what it’s worth, I’ve chosen to open myself up more frequently and to more people. (Ummm, hello, the blog!) Fewer panic attacks have ensued. I let myself cry calmly in front of friends. I voluntarily offer real answers about how I’m feeling (without tears!) when people ask. It’s taken me years to get there.
My mantra is something along the lines of “expect the worst and be happily surprised by the best.” I secretly make wishes and whisper hopes about everything turning out the way I’d like.
This is one story inside the head of one (in)destructible balance woman. And it’s not a very tragic one.
This is the post that I’m happy I published.
This is the post that I hope reassures the other SuperMoms battling their own anxieties.
Seek the help you need, so we can save the world together in Incredibles 3!