Being a [Step] Mom: Just Look Up. One Way to Manage Anxiety

Black Forest, Germany by Carlye Pina

I’m not a very religious person.  I was raised Catholic.  But, I don’t practice regularly.  And to be honest, the entire concept of faith scares the shit out of me.  It’s not that I don’t want to believe in God.  It’s that I don’t know how to.  Yet somehow, I can’t stop thinking about the conversation I had about my anxiety with my mom the other day.   She told me the simplest way to pray is to speak out loud; or she said, “just look up”.

Trying to Find Faith

Let me back up a bit.  I’m not sure I even realized it was happening, but over the last few months, I was becoming increasingly anxious.  The incident with my husband’s FB post apparently really affected me.  Which is laughable that I didn’t realize it had affected me so.  While we were in the thick of it though I didn’t really have time to process.  One thing I kept feeling throughout was this feeling that I wanted to go to church.  But I didn’t know how.  And I ignored it.  What I realize now is that feeling, was the feeling that I needed to find some faith.  I needed to look up.

I was in survival mode; making sure my husband was okay, making sure the kids had no idea anything was happening.  Eating, showering, sleeping all took a backseat.  I couldn’t look up.  I didn’t realize this was fear, anxiety, but I swear I kept my head down for a solid month.

Anxiety

Things settled.  And in settled my anxiety.  I started to have these thoughts all the time about worst case scenario.  I was terrified of my kids dying or getting hurt, my husband… even the dogs.  Nothing specific had happened to cause these thoughts.  At no point did anything violent or threatening happen.  Yet, I was terrified constantly.  Never looking up.

I tried expressing this anxiety to my husband.  But quickly realized that he was not yet in a position to help me.  He felt responsible for my anxiety.  Speaking it out loud to him I could see the pain it caused him.  So, I shoved it down further and just sort of moved along.

Figuring out how to Cope

This obviously didn’t work.  How could it?  That’s a terrible coping method, “moving along”.  Don’t try it.  Trust me.  Because in the weeks to follow I became this horrible pissed off illogical woman.  The entire family felt like they were walking around on eggshells.

I realized I needed to do something.   So I started working with my hands; coloring and making dream boards.  I stopped watching TV.  Started reading again.  Reading led me to the idea of making bagels.  I made bagels.  They were delicious.  Then thought, maybe I can make bread.  So, I made a French loaf.  It was bomb diggity.  Next, I thought I’ll make sandwich bread.  And I did.  It was heavenly.  So on and so forth.

Time to Process

What I started to realize is that I never really gave myself time to process.  I simply survived this difficult thing.  Realized I was anxious.  Made a lot of bread.  And hoped for the best.  What I failed to do was allow myself to feel the anxiety.  Had I done so, I would have realized this: coping with anxiety is a process.  It’s not going to go away, but if you can remember to just look up sometimes, you can move forward more clearly.

When I am feeling particularly anxious, because this is a process and that will happen sometimes, I am learning to own it.  So this past weekend when I was completely freaking out that all 4 kids to include Ella were sleeping at their cousin’s house, I decided to talk about it.  I had to call my mom about something completely irrelevant and this anxiety falls out of my mouth.  Now if you know me, for me to confide in my mom, that should tell you everything you need to know about the level of my anxiety.

Advice from my Mom

But the funny thing about life is that sometimes it shocks the heck out of you.  Never in a million years did I think my mom would ever comfort me.  Not for lack of trying, but for lack of a true grasp on reality.  But here I am writing a post entirely inspired by her.  She took 52 minutes to say what she could have said in 5 minutes.  But somewhere in all that junk, she said something really amazing.

She told me that because I’ve already dealt with the really scary stuff, the rest is just continued practice.  Every time I deal with things that make me anxious, my process for handling it with get smoother… less scary.  And she told me that even if I don’t really practice a specific religion, I can still pray in the simplest way- by speaking out loud.  And when it’s too scary to say out loud, or I’m not sure how she told me to just look up.

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4 Comments

  • Lisa says:

    Prayer helps me a lot with overcoming anxiety. So does talking myself off the ledge. I shared how I get through it on this blogpost about flight anxiety a while back. I hope it helps you the next time anxiety rears its ugly head.

    • thecompletemama says:

      Anxiety certainly has a way of rearing its ugly head, oof. Nice to know others find themselves in similar situations. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Chickbag says:

    Shoving it down and moving forward should be the only way to deal with “feelings”

    All that bread ain’t so good for the paleo diet

    If your looking up too much you don’t know what kind of shit you might step in

    Go Bulldogs!!!

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