I am learning how to be less afraid. This is not an easy task since anxiety is so omnipresent in my life that I often don’t recognize I’m responding to it. This year I’m trying to take daily small steps to confront the anxiety and see it for what it is. To help with that effort, I’ve got a page in my journal where I write down small things I do to confront my anxiety. Here are some examples from the last three days:
1/2/18: I did not go back to speak with my son’s service coordinator after my son left. It would only have served to vent my fears, not provide the coordinator with additional useful info. The coordinator and my son will build their own relationship. I need to stay out as much as possible. If the coordinator has questions, he’ll ask me. But I really wanted to go back.
1/3/18: I donated a hardwood dresser even though the likely replacement will be IKEA pressboard. I don’t need to be the keeper of historical dressers. Particularly not partially broken ones from 1980 that I picked up at a garage sale. It took an hour to convince my brain I had not made a terrible and life altering mistake.
1/4/18: I sat with the anxiety of not knowing how my son is doing at his school. And I didn’t contact him or his service provider to resolve it.
1/5/18: I could hear Howard and my daughter’s voices upstairs, but not the words. Tones told me that Howard was in lecture mode. I did not go and check to make sure that Howard wasn’t making daughter upset. She’s an adult. They have a great relationship. If he was annoying her, that’s between them. No point in me showing up to referee. It is not my job to make sure all conflicts are prevented or resolved, nor my job to ensure that my loved ones always have good relationships.
1/5/18: I started the day with a vague feeling that I wanted to cry or curl in a ball. There is no reason for it. My son is not doing fine at his new school. He called and told me all the ways he is struggling, but he is struggling in exactly the ways he needs to struggle in order to grow. If I try to step in to make him feel better, I will only prevent that growth. Instead, I took hold of my own brain and focused on something that distracted me from want-to-cry, until after the feeling faded.
These are only a few examples. Many more things made me slightly or significantly anxious during each day. Keeping the list is helping me notice how pervasive anxiety is in my life. Noticing the anxiety and naming it is a step toward not letting it win.