This past weekend we all went upstate for an overnight trip to visit my parents and for Easter Sunday dinner. My sister and her partner also live near my parents so we got to see them too.
And it went fine. It was really nice. And I am so grateful I went. But as usual my mind was all over the place in the days leading up to the trip. My mind tried to make the trip into a big deal – something that would be very hard to bear.
This was the first time our whole family has made the trip since before the mess of last summer.
The mind stuff went something like this: This trip is going to suck big time. What if Bob will behave rudely and who knows what my family even thinks of him now. I know they tolerate him, but I also know how pissed off they were at him last summer for what went down. And the car ride up- I hate how he drives. He speeds and tailgates. What if I can’t hold it together in front of the girls and start screaming at him and ruin the whole trip?
For me, thinking about something significant before it actually happens in real life is ALWAYS worse than doing it.
This is because I have conditioned myself to think negatively and worry about things. I do the What-if game until I am convinced whatever it is I have to do will be impossibly hard.
Worrying is such a complete waste of energy. And it is exhausting too!
This is where my little practice of sitting in meditation for 6 minutes a day helps. For 6 blissful minutes every morning, I sit in peace and let myself watch clouds of though passing by, but I don’t engage with them. If I have a worry thought, I focus back on my breathing and sense perceptions.
Also throughout the day I watch where my mind takes me- and when I catch myself, I watch a worry thought, but don’t react to it or take it further. I just see it as a thought – this is what the mind does, it makes up tons of thoughts- and I don’t have to listen in to them. In fact, it’s incredibly liberating not to take my mind so seriously all the time.
This doesn’t mean I am all Zen and perfect of course. God I wish! I had a restless night the day before our drive up. I woke up for good at 3 am and the worry stream of thought was on full force. But I didn’t want to medicate it away. What I did instead is to just lay there and feel my feelings completely. I pictured myself as a little version of me- that scared, anxious 7 year old who didn’t feel safe in the world.
While I lay there I pictured soothing my younger self. I let her feel her fear in a safe and loving space. I told her she was safe and I would take care of her. That felt right. I imagined I was holding her lovingly and helping her to rest and relax. I connected to my breathing and just did the best I could.
When I got up the next morning I was really dragging, but I just went about my morning and did what I had to do for me. I took the dog for a good walk so he would be good in the car. I went to the gym and did a half hour on the elliptical to burn off my nervous energy. My plan of action was to be thoroughly tired in the car, and therefore far less likely to be backseat driving and dealing with crappy dark thoughts.
I stayed out of Bob’s business and did my best to stay in my own business.
Now Bob switched medications last week and I can tell he is a little manic. He wanted to plant vegetables before we left. As in set up our back deck container garden (this is not a small job!). So he went off to Home Depot and when he got back announced how he got in an argument with the checkout lady.
I did my best to just listen and not say something to make the situation worse, like “I’m sure the lady didn’t mean to upset you”, or “You know I can tell your meds are making you act manic.”
Now the old me would have lit into him – about doing a big project right before our trip, about how he should be doing this or that, about how poorly I slept and can’t he just not do this now?
So thank God for the grace to be silent. And to go back and focus on me. On my breathing. On what I was doing and NOT on the actions and behaviors of my husband.
Despite Bob planting the entire container vegetable garden and taking his shower 15 minutes before we left, we still were able to leave at our planned time of noon. It was fascinating actually, to see that it worked out just fine without me having to nag, comment, criticize, or be a jerk.
And at one point, I am sure as a result of me being in a fairly peaceful and nonjudgmental space, Bob admitted he was in a bad mood. That was huge for him!
And as soon as we got in the car and started the trip I felt fine. All that worry for nothing. It melted right away. What a cruel thing worry is!
How nice to notice when I have negative thoughts and NOT act on them. As in not be bitchy, whiny, or argumentative. That is one of the gifts of mindfulness! 🙂
So as I said we all ended up having a really nice time. It was a lot of laughs, the kids got to see the Grandparents, I got to see my sis, we all had good food and no drama.
Thank you Lord!
While my life situation may be in a pretty unsettled place right now, I am doing my best to keep my focus on myself. And to keep it light with Bob. I know I have so very much to be grateful for:
My marriage, my kids, my family, my health, my job….
Thankful that I remember to pray when I need help, that I put kindness out in the world, to myself and to my husband as well.
I know that even a few years ago I would have ruined this happy weekend or cancelled it altogether. I would have started a fight and then felt like shit for being so reactive.
And I feel so immensely blessed to have power over my thoughts today. This is something i used to beg my psychiatrist for when I was in my 20s. I used to say, Please make my racing mind stop.
Today I am learning how to step out of those thoughts and be more fully alive in the present. Negative thoughts, feelings, and impulses are still there. But I know today I do not have to listen in to them, act on them or live them out. I can just be in the present, in the Now. And life is becoming very easy in that sense.
I don’t know if I’ll ever think all the suffering I had because of my anxiety was a blessing, but it sure put me on a path of massive self care, where I am continuing to heal and grow. If I hadn’t suffered as much as I did, I wouldn’t have learned so much about getting well, and I wouldn’t be living as well as I am today.
How are you doing? Hoping your week is going well!
I wish you peace,