On dropping expectations

It took me nearly 3 days to recover from my anxiety attack from last week–I was in an anxiety hangover. I felt like I was sitting in a fog of letting go and holding on to all of the emotions that I had felt. It was a weird coming-to-terms feeling–like, i had to accept that what I tried to make a reality, was never a reality. My husband never did anything to hurt me while he was away  at his conference. He made the choice to work with me and text/call when he made it back to his room every night and tell me everything, even the unnecessary little details. Nothing bad happened. I had to process that. It took some time.

Last Friday I went to yoga, chatted with friends for a few minutes afterward and giggled and realized that–as much as socializing brings me anxiety, it fuels my happiness. My weekend was full of kids activities and I spent Monday catching up on administrative mom/wife/career duties. Then, last night, I went to yoga and put so much ease in my practice and made it a point to start conversations and put my anxiety-free self forward. Even if all I did was give someone a hug, I took so much much from that connection. I attended a workshop at the studio and made sure to create connection there too. It felt great to give myself space to just be and enjoy the company of others and to give others the space to be open to me. I left glowing and lit up. I called my husband to ask about dinner and we decided sushi, The Walking Dead, and beer were good choices. I stopped by Kroger on my way home and got sushi and smiled the entire trip in and out of the grocery.

Then I got home and the kids hadn’t put away their video games, there was laundry scattered off of the laundry couch (don’t they know laundry stays disorganized only on the laundry couch?!), and it just felt messy in my house. Generally speaking, I would have flipped out on my husband, but I made the choice then and there to simply go upstairs and lovingly tell him that he needs to make sure he has the kids put away their video games if they get them out. It’s not our responsibility to clean up that mess. He agreed and apologized (even though an apology wasn’t necessary) and we moved on. I didn’t point out any other messes or dwell on the messy feeling of our house. It wasn’t worth it. Instead, I asked him if he would get our set-up for dinner ready (grab plates, grab beer, and head to the bedroom) while I showered, because i was beyond gross after two yoga practices. I got out of the shower, we watched a really unsettling episode of The Walking Dead that made me cringe and almost cry, and we cuddled. It was spectacular and free of any expectations.

Here’s my take-away from all of this. I stopped expecting and just let life happen. I dropped anticipation and just went with the flow. I did this while socializing, I did this with my husband, I did this with my kids this morning. I wish it were easy to remember to drop this nonsense, because life would run a lot more smoothly. I felt so much ease from just not expecting perfection from myself, from my husband, from my kids. I felt so much ease in my body when I stopped expecting everyone to be judging every word I said to them and just accepted that I am accepted.

Life is crazy. I have a halloween party to prepare for my daughter’s class, a halloween party to plan for our neighborhood halloween block party, and I have two doctors appointments tomorrow, a house to clean, laundry to do, and it’s my wedding anniversary tomorrow and we have a night out planned. I have all of these plans and I am usually so stuck on making sure they are followed through “right” instead of just letting things happen. Let me tell you all something, dropping control feels absolutely fucking freeing. I am sitting here writing this NOT freaking out about all these plans. Socializing last night and not controlling my conversations and just being me felt amazing. Not giving a shit about pointing out all the things my husband didn’t do last night and just spending time with him felt like love. It felt like LOVE! Shortly after I got home last night, we were putting leftovers from the kid’s pasta dinner away, I said “Our refrigerator is disgusting. I think some of these leftovers are from two weeks ago. Our house is like that too. I think some of the junk piles are from a few weeks ago.” I said it with ease. I wasn’t frantic. My husband calmly said, “it’s okay, we will work on it together tomorrow and Thursday while the kids are at school. I’ll help you.” I said, “I love you.” Who is this person and where has she been the last few months? I love her.

The thing is, I love my anxious self too. Without anxious Britt, the Britt that is surrounding her life with ease and dropping control wouldn’t be here. If it hadn’t been through me sitting thorough my anxiety attack last week and feeling those feelings, I wouldn’t of had my anxiety hangover and I wouldn’t have learned a damn thing. Those feelings are important. Sitting with those thoughts and experiencing those feelings means you can do hard things and are doing hard things. It means that I am strong. It also means, that all of the fears I had, meant nothing. There was NO meaning to those fears. You guys, feel your feelings. Feel them. Take them in, but don’t take them on. When you take those feelings on and make them mean something negative, then you take on that negativity. When i take on that negativity, I drink or I binge and purge. I do this because my feelings become out of my control and I have to find control some how. Stop expecting so much from yourself and know you are strong and capable and that there’s very little in this world that you can control. Let that shit go. I can’t control anything, but I do have choices and I choose to be happy. I choose to feel love and acceptance of myself and of others.

Share some love today, folks. Give someone a hug. Take on all the good feels. You deserve it!

 

Advertisements

We are Lucky

 

image1

My husband sent me this text in response to me sending him one about the kiddos. He gets me.  I needed to read that. I needed the simplicity of, “we are lucky.” Because we are. We are so completely and utterly lucky to have the children we have and the support we have from each other.

 

I sometimes get caught up in how hectic our life is (actually, it’s far more than sometimes). Like today:

CAB stomps his feet and yells at me, OKB whines over why he can’t wear yet another halloween costume, for whatever picky reason he’s giving me this time (most likely because he’s insecure about the last two costumes being too big or because his sister told him they were cute on him), and HRH, while getting her flu shot, kicks the nurse and screams so loudly that she’s heard in the waiting room of the doctor’s office (it took three of us to hold her down), and I want to pull my hair out. I want to fucking pull my hair out. Inside of my head i’m cussing and crying. I’m thinking, “why the hell did you kick the nurse and why the hell did they stop doing the nasal spray for the flu vaccine?!” Then I think, “we are lucky.”

When CAB stomps his feet and wants to be stubborn over what seems to be nothing, you still see this smile on his face  that’s ready to burst into a giggle at any given moment–depending on how i choose to handle the situation. I choose to make a joke and turn it into something hilarious. OKB has no idea how to handle his insecurities and really just doesn’t know what he wants, so i talk him down and I find a cheap Storm Trooper costume and all of sudden he’s happy (3rd time’s a charm, right?). HRH has no idea how to handle her anxiety and we deal with it how it comes and move on. When i dwell on it, it shames her and nothing positive comes from that. So, i tell her it’s okay. I tell her we will work on it. I tell her that i love her. I wanted to be negative all day, but I kept screaming over my negative thoughts, “WE ARE LUCKY!” To be breathing, to have children who are healthy, to have each other to turn to.

I can easily get caught up in the negative. I overwhelm myself with questions of what could be wrong with my kids or what’s wrong with my parenting, but the honest answer is: NOTHING. Nothing is wrong with me or my kids, because we are human and shit happens. Moods happen. Life isn’t perfect. So, when they fall apart, I need to be there to hold space and let them know how lucky I am to be able to hold that space and how lucky they are to have that space to break down and let it out.

My life is full of love and I learn more love and acceptance through every rough moment I experience with the kiddos and the hubs.I am strong and I can handle the rough patches with grace and lots of internal cussing (sometimes I say fuck out loud and don’t even realize it and I accept that). Our family is messy and perfect. Our mess makes us who we are. We are damn lucky.

When you become a werewolf

Recently–like 6 days ago–my husband took a trip to Las Vegas for a work conference.

I went bat-shit crazy.

I say that with all the love to myself, but it’s honestly what happened.

He and I have a history, as most couples do. We went through some bad times where my trust was compromised by his actions. Together, we decided to stick it out and did couples counseling before we married (which was also after we had kids, got a dog, and grew a garden…we’re nontraditional forever). I thought this issue had been addressed enough in counseling together, that i was “fixed.” Ha!

Long story short, we’ve known about Vegas since he started residency almost three years ago, but the reality of him going didn’t sink in until a few months ago, at which point all my regressed feelings that I thought I had “fixed” came up, especially when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to go with him any longer because, ya know, those kids we have.

As the time until Vegas became less, I became crazier. I was creating fights and anger in our marriage. I threw (we threw) the “D” word (divorce) around like it was magic glitter that would surely fix our problems. We yelled, stomped, threw things. I/we created severe unhappiness in our relationship. During this time, I had gone off my anti-depressant and gone back on when i realized my body couldn’t handle it, so that made the situation even more ridiculous. I was getting angry over everything. I was cold every time he touched me. He was beginning to hate me.

Finally, I returned to my therapist after a year hiatus. She talked me through coping mechanisms to deal with this trauma that I had never addressed. I was feeling good about things, even though we were still rocky, i had all these tools in my tool belt to go to that would work without a glitch. WRONG!

He left for Vegas. I ugly cried. Despite filling my days with friends and activities and having people to reach out to, I got depressed. The filled space wasn’t the problem, it was the empty space and the idea that my husband was in Vegas and he could be doing something that would hurt me.

***REWIND: He cheated on me seven years ago–that is what i’m referring to when i say “our history.” I was taking care of the kids in a snow storm and he was at the bar he was managing sleeping with another woman. It was a one time thing, but the way that it happened left me unglued and extremely hurt. Now, here I was at home with the kids and, although he has changed and is a much different person, I was faced with those feelings of betrayal from our past. He was in a place where drinking was happening, where partying was happening, and I couldn’t control anything.

My therapist told me the only thing I can control is the way I think. I can’t control him or what he does. She also told me trust is a choice we make. Daily, I had to choose to trust him in Vegas and most days I chose to not trust him and then chose to trust him over and over again. I had no control when he stayed out until 4 a.m and gambled and drank (because he was in Vegas–that’s what happens). I had no control when he didn’t have cell service and didn’t text me immediately back. I had no control. So, when I had down time to think, I had to think. I had to be in my thoughts and I had to handle them. I couldn’t binge and purge,  I couldn’t drink away the problem, I couldn’t rely on him to pacify me by coming home right that second. I had to sit and deal.

It was fucking hard. I ugly cried. I shook. I had to sit there and face my fear and choose to trust, but not trust. I slept. I processed ugly, defeatist scenarios. It was like when i first stopped binging and purging for the first time and had to essentially feel my food. It was uncomfortable and icky. I really can’t describe this feeling with words, but it was like when you see a werewolf turn in a movie: this uncomfortable, painful, intrusive, happening where, when the werewolf turns, another evil, ugly being is forcing its way out of the human form, probably like this. This really ugly creature called anxiety and panic was coming out of me and I had to let it happen. I had to completely fall apart and sit with it. Thankfully, the kids were asleep and when i ugly cry, it is what it sounds like–this wretched ugly face, but really no sound. My werewolf came out. It was angry. It was ugly. It said really mean things to my husband. It felt defeat and hurt. It was a deep, pit-of-your-belly pain. My bones ached. I thought to myself this is an anxiety attack. This is a depressive episode. I haven’t felt this since I was 19 or 20 and at that time , I turned to sex, alcohol, or binging and purging, so I never actually felt it like this. I was feeling it now though and it was messy.

Then I had this moment of calm and picked up the letter my husband had hidden in the book I was reading before he left. I reread it. It said, “I love you. I am yours. You are my everything.” Then I remembered the letter I wrote him that said, “I trust you.” I began to breathe and calm down. I didn’t address the feelings. I just went to bed. The next day, I journaled before taking the kids to school and then hiked with my friend for the rest of the day. We hiked over 12 miles and didn’t stop talking the entire time. It was amazing. I talked about what happened and was able to be my own observer and rationalize. I saw myself breaking down and then I saw myself beginning to close a wound ever so slightly–just one stitch at at time and only one stitch that day. I saw progress in the middle of a breakdown. What I didn’t see was my husband letting me down. He called me when he got to his room to let me know, although drunk, he was safe and faithful. What I saw was, although frustrated by my messages to him, he still loved me and accepted me for what I was going through and told me he was sorry I was having such a bad day. What I saw was that I don’t have to repress my feelings anymore. That it’s okay to sit in the muck and grow from that–like the lotus flower. That night I grew a little and I began to kill off some old demons. I saw my werewolf change back to human with grace. I didn’t see the bottom of a bottle, or the porcelain of a toilet. I didn’t see a stranger in bed next to me questioning what had happened. It wasn’t perfect. I did create ugly scenarios. I did get mad at my husband for no reason. I did become irrational. I didn’t resort to poor choices, though. I worked through what was happening.

It made me think, “what the hell have I been pushing down for so long?!” Sitting there, in your shit, in the mess you think is happening is okay. Working through it is okay. The truth is that no matter how messy it is, if you work through it, you are still alive at the end. You are still being true to yourself. I was and am lighter because I am no longer carrying those feelings anymore. I held space for myself. I didn’t numb the pain. I let go. Holy moly, I let go. I made a choice to work through something and then made a choice to be happy about the progress. I chose. I had control over my thoughts, even if it was a process. I let go of control everywhere else. Damn it, did it feel good.

I know it’s a long road ahead, dealing with this. I know my husband will travel a lot for his job. I am willing to work through it. I know it won’t be easy. I know this to be true, though: If I keep working through this and we continue to love each other, good things will happen–even through the bad.