My 16-year-old daughter asked, “Mom, do you want to go for a walk with me?”
The short answer was, “YES! Absolutely! WOW, thanks for asking me! Let’s Go!”
With that thought came a million more, all at once, and the thoughts spiralled into anxiety before The Walk ever commenced.
She wants to go for a walk with me, that’s awesome. NOW? Of course I must take all these opportunities because she’s not going to be here forever and she doesn’t always want to go for a walk with me. So, *decision* yes, I want to go for a walk with her. *feeling conflicted* If I go with her now, then I’ll need to work later on this thing I’m doing now. Later, hubby will be home, and I’d like to hang out with him because I’m kind of missing him. This or that, there is always a CHOICE. Do I go, or do I stay? Go? Stay? I need to go for this walk with her, for us, for she and I. I need to go outside. I even set that as a goal for today. I need to walk, every day, right? So, yes, of course, let’s go for a walk. Yes, of course. OK, Settled! But… Before we go I need to close this program and log out of here. Make myself a note to remember where I left off. I need to pee before we go. My son is in my bathroom. *conflicted and random* I just had a bath this morning – I felt so refreshed, and now I’ll feel all sweaty after the walk, because I can’t do anything without sweating these days. Nice. Hence my not currently wearing a bra… I suppose I have to put one on to go out. *sigh, ok whatever* WAIT… When did I eat last? Do I need a snack before we go? Getting jittery and hangry wouldn’t be good on the walk or right after. I had some coffee a while ago. I’ll need to be sure to drink at least that much water. *conflicted* If I drink that water now, I’ll have to pee somewhere along the walk. Oh, right, I need to pee before we go…*decided* OK, so just a little water before the walk. *random* I have short socks on – I’ll need to put longer socks on so I don’t get cold as fast. Why do I get so cold when my ankles are cold? Weird. Where are the longer socks? Why do I have 14 pairs of unmatched socks in my drawer and none of them are LONG? *frustrated* Why can’t I find anything? Where’s a bra? I have to wear a sweater or a hoodie anyway, so forget the bra. OK, which shoes? The new runners gave me a blister last time I wore them. Where are my old ones that give me shin splints? Maybe they won’t be so bad this time. *indecisive*
HOKY DINA, Woman! Will you catch a breath?
Will these socks work with those shoes? Why is there only 1 of my shoes on the shoe rack? Oh right, I still need to pee. The boys went for a walk – do they have a house key? Why does my son insist on stinking up MY bathroom? *incredulity* Should I change my jeans? No. Deodorant? None of the stuff I have is really working in that department, and I keep reacting strangely, and stinkily, and I’ll sweat like crazy anyway. No deodorant. Earrings? No, just go; it’s just a walk. *voice of reason* Never leave the house without earrings, mascara, I.D. so they can identify the body, and your cell phone. Oh well, I’ve got my phone. What time will it be when we get back? Who’s on dinner prep tonight? How far are we going to walk? Is my phone recording all my steps when I have it in my back pocket? *important!* I know there was one time it didn’t record my steps when it was in my pants pocket and I can’t remember if it was these pants or if it was a front pocket or what.*confusion, uncertainty* I really want to record my steps, just for me, because, yah just because. Jacket, hoodie, sweater? I don’t want to wear this fleece jacket I’ve been wearing all around the house because it doesn’t zip up. Need a hoodie or jacket to zip up. How cold is it really? OK, jacket, phone, shoes, I didn’t even look at my hair. Forget it. Is this jacket too long so that it will hinder my step counting?*finally getting out the door* Keys. Do the boys have a key? I peed already right?
Ridiculous, right? All just to go on a walk? I know.
I think, as a woman, I’m used to almost always having lots of details flying around in my head. Anxiety just seems to blow them up in my face, all at once, like what I just wrote above.
I wish I could graphically represent this one-sided conversation in terms of intensity. It’s a roller coaster. Most of these thoughts smash together, many happening at once, always overlapping. (Even reading back through this now I’m aware of even more thoughts that were going on during this timeframe!) They come fast and furious, demanding full attention for each and every detail, and just when something is settled on, there’s MORE.
Each THING looms larger than the last, ANOTHER thing to deal with, MORE details to figure out.
I thought I’d write this down today, to somehow indicate what anxiety feels like. This incident felt ‘mild’. I was able to talk myself through a lot of ‘stuff’ to make good decisions and keep myself moving forward. It’s not always like this. Sometimes it’s far more intense, and rational thought is much more difficult. It can be absolutely paralyzing. Fight or flight can kick in. It can be utterly terrifying.
I’m an intelligent, capable, high-functioning adult. I’ve dealt with crises of many types myself, and have walked others through the hardest times of their lives, without flinching. I have a wide breadth of life experience, and have been able to ‘roll with the punches’ through some very strange, interesting, and even intense situations.
And yet… the anxiety surrounding a simple act like DECIDING to go and then GOING on a WALK with my daughter can nearly paralyze me on some days.