Sometimes You Just Have To Press Pause
I cried because my daughter ate my breakfast. Then I cried when she yelled at me for ruining her picture. And again, I cried for something equally ridiculous. Sure, I knew my period was coming and that always makes me a bit weepy. But this was different. This felt way too familiar. The fear and hopelessness was settling in and I knew we had a problem. Hiding a panic attack from a four-year-old is impossible. So, I called my husband and he came home.
While I waited, sitting on the stairs, crying, I quickly started to cancel everything I had on my calendar for the next few days, all via text. There was no talking to anyone. And when you tell people you’ve had a panic attack, they don’t question you. And you don’t really care if they do. It happened and all you can think about is crawling into bed and shutting the world out. So, that’s what I did.
Of course, when the dust settles, it’s important to think about what brought this about. I know my triggers and some of them were definitely the culprits this time. I had overwhelmed myself with work. My marriage was a wreck. My daughter was sucking the life out of me. I felt like a horrible mother and wife. Your usual stuff.
Except for one thing. Something unusual had happened and I didn’t know until it was too late that it could have ever been a trigger.
In October of last year, I started the process of writing a book. I’m working with a publisher and editor. It is a collaborative effort with a small group of yoga friends and mentors who played a huge part in my journey toward motherhood. They taught me how to manifest my dream of becoming a mother, even at the ripe old age of forty-four. My first draft is due on April first and the release date is November first. The working title is Kula Talk.
Sounds great, right? It has been. What a treat it is to look back over the last ten years of my life and see how far I’ve come and the amazing things I’ve accomplished. When I remember who I was then and see who I am now…mother, wife, writer, artist…the transformation is amazing.
But, what I didn’t realize in doing research into my own past was that I would be reliving it. I’ve read through old journal entries, found old books I read, looked through old pictures, and struggled to remember intimate details, many of which are painful. My path to motherhood was not an easy one and although it all turned out beautifully, the way I got there was physically, emotionally, and mentally draining.
Psychologists talk about the ‘Anniversary Effect’, which, according to Psychology Today, is defined as a unique set of unsettling feelings, thoughts or memories that occur on the anniversary of a significant experience. Now, the actual calendar date of my panic attack holds no significance that I’m aware of, but I strongly feel that the dredging up of past experiences for my book played a large part in my feelings of fear, hopelessness, and anxiety. I felt like I was there again and I was scared. Not a terribly ‘happy’ anniversary.
It’s really no wonder. I’ve been reliving bad relationships, fear of never being a mother, fights with my husband, the pain of fertility shots, pre-natal and postpartum depression, and a few other struggles to finish the long list. I’ve never been one to hold my feelings in and the evidence surrounds me in books, journals, pictures and letters.
Needless to say, I have pressed pause on my book for now. I tried to take a look at it a few days after my incident, but only felt the sadness rising again. The words looked disjointed, the story seemed incongruent. I know that it’s not and it certainly has the strength and merit deserving of a quality book, but to my eyes and heart right now, it doesn’t feel right. And that’s okay. For now.
I know I’ve got a story to tell and I will tell it. It is much too important. And I feel sure that it will touch others in a way that will make my struggle worth it. I’ll be back on track very soon.
Pressing pause, working on identity, and dealing with unsettling feelings and memories are all things I wish my brother would do to recover from alcoholism and his Co-occurring Disorders, anxiety and depression. Many times over the years, we have tried to help him through this problem, but we can’t. He needs professional help. And until he finally realizes that, nothing will change.