Here’s the thing. I am in a good place right now. I love my life. I love my kid. At the same time, I have been super hypersensitive lately, tearing up at the drop of a hat, and am more of a tightly wound ball of anxiety than I have been since giving up the anxiety meds six years ago. I’m trying my best, but lately it seems like a losing battle. I’ve been thinking very seriously of going back on medication. I don’t know…
So tonight I did something incredibly embarrassing to me. Well, embarrassing isn’t the word, I just don’t know what is right now. My daughter knows I have anxiety. She has anxiety too. The difference is that I have Social Anxiety Disorder and she has General Anxiety Disorder. She likes people. She can march herself into a room full of people and ask any one of them any darned question she pleases. I am in awe. I can’t do that. So for the last few years I have been making a pretty good show of having my crap together. I’ve always been aware that my social anxiety harms my child. It doesn’t harm her in the “I am a bad mother” way, or the “I cannot take care of my child” way, because I am a good mother. A damn good mother. It harms her in the way that I’m not friends with the other moms. I can’t call them and invite their kids over. I’m not comfortable at school functions. I just want to hide in a corner and make a fast getaway. Here I am feeling all anxious and jittery anyway, when she comes home today and tells me something about a Fun Night at the church center. ALL her friends are going. She has not brought home one flyer from school and I have not heard the first thing about this event. She wants to go. Her details are sketchy. I tell her if she had brought home something about it so that I’d know what it was all about would be great, but she didn’t. She frowns at me and tells me that ALL it is, is a couple hours on Wednesday nights where the kids can go to the center and play sports or whatever. She swears it isn’t a big deal and ALL I have to do is go in, sign her in and leave and then come get her two hours later.
I know I will regret it, but tell her I will bring her. Now here’s the thing. I hate – absolutely HATE walking into something that I don’t know anything about. I CANNOT walk into a room with other moms that look like they have all their ducks in a row and ask what an event is about and how it works. I do not like going somewhere when I don’t know exactly what I’m doing before I get there. We get in the car and my heart starts to beat faster. I pull onto the road and now it’s hammering. I’m starting to sweat. My hands are shaking. I’m starting to cry. My daughter is looking at me like she is wondering if I’m about to have a heart attack or something. We get close to the church and there are maybe three cars in the parking lot. I tell her there CAN’T be anything going on, no one is there! Now tears are streaming down my face. I can’t go in there. I just can’t. She looks at me and says, “Don’t worry. I’ll go in and find out if they are having it tonight.” She hops out of the car and is gone. She’s back less than a minute later. “All my friends are already here. All you have to do is come in and sign me in. I promise that’s all.” I am about to lose my mind. Then I get angry. Not with my daughter, but with myself. Why is this so hard? Then I said something I wish I hadn’t said. I’m swiping at the tears, trying to look some sort of normal so I can go sign her into the youth activity, and I growl, “I just wish I was normal.”
My daughter jerked her head up and said, in a crazy mother kind of voice, “WHAT did I just hear you say?” I mumbled “nothing”, like a chastised child. She grabbed my arm. “I don’t ever want to hear you say that again. I’m GLAD I’m not normal and I’m glad YOU aren’t normal.” I just look at her. “You think I don’t understand? You think I haven’t cried over stuff that other people would think was dumb? I’ve cried a lot.” I sigh. “Yeah, but at least you like people. At least you aren’t a grown woman crying because your daughter needs you to walk into a room and look a nice mom in the eye and sign you into the church center.” She patted my arm, she smoothed my hair. “It’s okay, mom. You can do this.”
We got out of the car and she held my hand. She held my hand all the way up to the table where I signed her in. She said hello to the mom and the dad sitting there. She spoke to them while I filled out the paper. She gave my hand a squeeze and said, “See you at eight,” before she ran off to join her friends. I took the walk of shame back to my car. How could I have done that in front of her? How could I have gotten so worked up that I allowed that whole storm of Anxiety Disorder crazy to get to me? I became angry at the feeling of shame that filled me. Why CAN’T I just be normal? Why am I the way I am? She doesn’t deserve that. Then I realize that I’m lucky to have her. If I can’t show her when I’m fragile, then how can I show her how to be strong, too? That’s all I want for her. I want her to grow up strong and confident in her own abilities. I don’t want her to ever let her Anxiety Disorder or her OCD or her ADHD to stop her from doing what she wants. All my life my Anxiety Disorder kept me from doing things. I was always the outsider looking in, wishing I could join the fun, but not knowing how. I don’t want that for her. I have to show her that she can control this. I have to show her to never be afraid to be vulnerable, but never let her disorder stand in the way of something she wants.
It’s not always easy, but together we can do this. We ALL can.