I have pretty much been sick since Thanksgiving. On and off, of course, but really I’ve just been trudging through. I haven’t had a winter like this in…well, ever. I’m feeling my age, I’m feeling my stress, and I’m feeling the loss of CONTROL.
Ah, yes. Control. My nemesis.
To me, there are clearcut things I can control:
*My house being clean
*My desk at work being clean
*My to-do list getting neatly checked off one box at a time
And there are things I cannot control:
*My kids’ weight
*My kids’ behavior
*My students’ behavior
*The fact that people still buy LulaRoe
and that list could go on…and on…and on.
When I was a little girl, I developed anxiety. My father was a yeller and an “almost hitter.” So, he never actually hit me, but he would scream and cuss and throw things and then lift his hand like he was going to, but then he wouldn’t. Also, I got yelled at for things I couldn’t control (i.e. the dog escaping out the door, accidentally burning the garlic bread, crying because I was called a little crybaby).
I’ve been told by a physician that when you have that kind of stress in your life, your body gets stuck in that “fight or flight” mode, and then your body secretes the hormone that is meant to deal with stress (you know, like a mammoth storming toward your or something). So since I’m stuck there, I feel stressed all the time, even when there is nothing especially stressful happening.
When I first moved in with my husband, I lost control over the things I knew I could control. Suddenly, I couldn’t keep the kitchen counter cleaned off, and the cap on the toothpaste and the bottles turned toward the front in the refrigerator. This was an issue, but we made it through (with a lot of talking and a TON of compromise).
Last year I made the very difficult decision to start taking anxiety medication. It has helped in SO many ways. I feel so much better about my ability to handle stress and how I interact with people. But, it doesn’t change the over-arching problem which is that in my life right now, I have so little control.
I always have “that student.” The one who is one of my favorites, who is super smart and respectful and funny, but the minute he/she leaves my classroom, he/she gets into trouble. And when that happens, I have to “deal with it.” Meaning it’s my job to handle the behavior even though I wasn’t there. Sometimes I just want to scream, “SHE IS A CHILD AND THIS IS HOW SOME CHILDREN ACT AND I CANNOT CONTROL IT I CANNOT MAKE HER STOP LEAVE ME ALONE.”
I don’t, of course, and so I sit in meetings and develop plans and we try different things and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but in the end what I am left with is: I am a failure. I can’t get this kid to act right.
Then, of course, I come home and I have my own children. They are not perfect, by any means. And you definitely can NOT control them. Same as above–I work out plans, we talk, we give consequences if needed, we model good behavior, we set expectations, but in the very end, they are CHILDREN. We can’t control them. And as adults, I think we step in WAY too soon and end up making the situation worse. But when I feel like someone is judging my kid or me, that losing control feeling starts to come over me.
This semester I’ve taken my very first student teacher. Turns out that is crazy hard, yo! To lose control of my classroom, but be sitting right there in it…that’s a new one for me. It’s good, though–it’s a good challenge, but definitely hard.
I bet you can see what I’m getting at. All day long I try to control things that I can’t. And the things I can control I can no longer control because I have a husband and kids and my house is messy and I could go around screaming “PICK UP YOUR SOCCCKKKKSSSSSS” or I can just accept it and move on. And 94% of my co-workers wear those leggings every day (BAHAHA!).
It’s not that easy for me, though. So I’m stressed. All the time. Sometimes, I feel like my head is going to explode. I feel so lucky in this life, but right now there are so many people with so many expectations of me and I’m scared because it all feels so ridiculously out of reach.
I walk into my house and see junk all over the kitchen table and I have an actual physical reaction to what I see. Those of you reading who don’t have anxiety, I know this may sound weird, but it’s true. And I cannot control it. It’s not the stuff that’s making me anxious, its everything else, but that counter is like the physical representation of it.
I have decisions to make all day long. And not just for me. Not just for me and my children. Not just for me and my children and my students. It is non-stop and overwhelming and some days I just want to hide under my covers and not THINK. Not worry about how much sugar my kids are eating or how I have tried anything but this boy is never gonna learn how to add mixed numbers and did I let them have too much screen time today and what is a healthy dinner I can make tonight because I need to take out the chicken and is that person angry with me because she just walked by without smiling and what do I still need to do to get ready for that meeting?
All of this is making me sick. I’m not sleeping, I’m stressed all the time, and my immune system is crap. I’m too tired to exercise, which is making it worse. I tried to take proactive steps here, and I quit the spelling bee and switched a committee I was on. It didn’t help much. Because what it really is when you get down to it, is that there are just so many factors that I cannot control and I’ve “known” I was a failure since I was a little girl. And losing the twins certainly didn’t help anything about feeling like a failure.
I beg for reminders that I’m not failing. That I’m doing ok. I get into a place where I need attention and extra love and I want to feel special. It’s not a part of me that I am especially proud of. (Hint: I’m there now, LOL!)
My goal for this year is acceptance. Acceptance of myself, of who I am. Acceptance that I am not perfect and that I need help to get most things done in life. This is where my work is headed.
Also, sleep. I need a lot more sleep. 🙂