Question: “What’s it like being a single mom?”
Actual Response: “Oh, it’s great. There’s no parent splitting in our house.”
What I want to say is this:
I live in anxiety. Not with it, in it. Like I have literally packed up all my crap and made anxiety my state of residence.
Have I always lived in anxiety?
I don’t know.
I think I used to vacation there but I lived in calm. Lately, I live there and vacation in calm. So, yeah, it’s great.
The moral of this story is to take more vacations. Which I am sure we can all agree is the moral of every story.
Back to anxiety, it’s terrible. There are so many terrible things aren’t there? Orphans, cancer, the 2016 Presidential Election, hot Cheetos, we could go on and on. Let’s just add anxiety to that list and agree that maybe it’s not the worst thing ever, but it certainly does not help make life any more fun.
Anxiety is terrible.
Have you tried therapy? Yes.
Prescription drugs? Yes.
Eating well? Yes.
More prayer? More yes.
Does anything work? Yes. Yes. Yes.
It all works. Differently, and at times one strategy is a better fit, but a hearty YES; all the things work.
Do you still have anxiety? Yes.
A well-meaning friend once told me, “Shaena, you have to stop saying you have anxiety. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy”. I’m not sure he was really clear on how that works, but let me be clear; admitting that I live in anxiety has not caused me to live in anxiety. I don’t believe I’ll always live here, but I’m here now. While I’m here, I’ll do the heart work necessary and gain some skills that will help me on my way. The alternative is moving to a small mountain cabin, growing out my leg and armpit hair, and surrounding myself with pictures of cats and tiny hamsters eating burritos, and… I think the kids would complain and that would give me anxiety… so probably not.
Instead, I’ll hold these three things in my heart and be thankful for the lessons, coupled with the Truth, that get me through. Maybe they will help you or someone you know avoid their own recluse cabin.
- Don’t be afraid to admit where you are right now. Until you can do this, you wont be able to process how you got there or where you are heading. Nothing is wasted. (2 Corinthians 1:4).
2. Change always comes. If you want to move, you will. It might take longer than you hoped but you will. Don’t lose heart. (1 Peter 5:10)
- Gratitude helps, but time is what heals. Be patient with yourself. Prolonged struggle doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful for the progress you have made. You are being strengthened and that process takes time. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
I have a beautiful life. I am loved well. I am thankful above all else, and I spend more time in joy than most people I know. I am also really proud of the progress I’ve made in the last two years. But, I will not strip this journey into single parenting of it’s emotional consequences and pretend that I have magically managed to remain unscathed. I live in anxiety. It is what it is.
Good days look like prayer, and baths, and playtime, and laughter, and sweet sweet calm. Bad days look like nervous energy, fingers raw and bleeding, and a thousand distractions.
I have to fight for the calm in my heart that used to come so easy. Most days I win and I go to bed feeling like a bad a$$. Some nights though, I climb into bed surrounded by anxiety, breathe out a sigh of disappointment, and agree to fight again tomorrow.
I guess, in a way, that’s winning too.
Praying for you friends. For all the battles you win silently.