Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mommy Anxiety

This past summer my daughter (7) crashed on her bike and fractured 3 of her front (new adult teeth). We brought her the ER and they basically gave her a bandaid and checked her for any other injuries. The next day, we took her to a dentist and they x-rayed and put on some temporary fillings. Since then, the the fillings have come off twice.  This last time, the dentist noticed an abscess and informed us that she would need a root canal.  Something about that term "root canal"  seems so awful.   The nerve had died unbeknownst to us.  No one wants their child to be hurt.  It is one of the most painful feelings looking down at your hurt child.  The tooth that died was a new adult tooth. If the accident had happened a year earlier, it would have been a baby tooth lost rather than a permanent one.

I have been struggling with my worry over her.  The infected tooth.  It is not over even after the root canal.  Next week, the second part of the root canal will be done.  It involves her being numbed again, and having a special filling placed into the tooth.  Hopefully this part will be easier.  It was not as bad as I thought, but I am still worried about her and the infection; not knowing how long it had been infected.  The abscess is not completely cleared yet.

It makes me think of those who have worries that are more long-term.  (I am hoping this will be mostly resolved next week, although we/she will have to keep an eye on that tooth for her whole life.)She will never be able to bite into an apple or a carrot ever again with those front teeth.  There are so many people with chronic pain, chronic worries about themselves, their children, other loved ones.  Worries that go on for years and years.  Short waves of worry wear me out. I lose sleep.  I am filled with this feeling of dread. I cannot think as clearly.  My stomach hurts. I do not want to eat.  Things that I normally enjoy and look forward to seem trivial and uncomforting.

Through the days I feel this way, I find myself seeking out ways to cope.  I find a part of myself does not want to let go of the anxiety, because I feel it helps keep me alert to her needs..keeps me from lapsing in paying attention to her, making sure she gets her antibiotic on time, check her gums for any changes.  The anxiety melts away the trivial things in life and reminds me of what I most value.  Little distractions suddenly seem shameful and I find myself praying that I might strive to be a better person, more focused on what is "real"  Even knitting is unimportant compared to taking care of my children.  Sometimes I "live" for that moment at the end of the day when I can sit back and relax and knit, but when I worry my child is in "danger", that moment I long for, dissipates into nothingness.  It is unimportant. If I lost a child; I am afraid I would never recover.  I would have to survive for my other children, but the thought of losing one of my children is devastating to even imagine.

In any case, the anxiety, helpful at times, is not helpful chronically.  My feelings of "appreciating the moment" is not realistic  24/7.  We cannot always be hyper aware, always appreciating, never taking life for granted.  I think we also need to "relax" and not worry that we could lose "everything" all the time.  We cannot always be "nice" to our loved ones.

How does one cope when worry is a part of everyday/every year?  What do those sweet enduring souls do when things are "not okay".  When they have to fight cancer?  When the person they love so much is going to die?  When there is a chronic illness that forces them to always have to "pay attention"? Or are one of those parents who learned their child was shot and killed in a school shooting? How do people survive that?

When I have "waves of this"  I wonder at what skills are needed to survive that.

One thing I think is "not stopping too long"  and getting out of the house; finding other things to "worry about" that take your mind off of the big worry.  Keep going.  Embrace the moments you forget to worry.  Realize you can put the worry to the side; that it is ok to let go of it.  You do not have to constantly "hold onto the worry"  to be present for that person.  If you have done everything you can; realize it is out of your hands and it is okay to let go of it for a day, a week, a year.  There are many things that are out of our control and holding onto worry does not fix the problem or help that person.  Prayer is so helpful. Give the worry to God.  Give the worry as a gift/an offering up to God. Place the control into God's hands. (if we have done all we can already)  and even if we haven't done all we can yet.  We can still do what we can and give our worry over to God.  Worry is not going to help that person get better. Prayer might, but worry and anxiety will not help them. It is okay to let go of "worry".

What do you do to let go of anxiety??


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