Sunday, June 7, 2015

On Being Afraid

So, I'm back in school.

It's been an interesting journey.  Just a short three weeks, but full of so many things.

Let me back up first.

About a week before school started I facilitated a DBSA group meeting.  The before, during, and after of that each deserve a post of their own.  But life has been so busy, I have written many posts for this blog in my head, but they've never made it to the computer.

So, a quick sum up.

Before:  I was sick with anxiety for about a month leading up to the meeting.  I mean, really really REALLY bad anxiety.  But, after an appointment with my therapist, he helped me see that it was my perfectionism at play again and advised me to begin the meeting by telling everyone how nervous I was and why.  I knew that would be scare in and of itself, but I also knew it would help tremendously.  And that knowledge and plan gave me enough peace to survive the next two weeks until the meeting.

After (I know I'm jumping around here, but there is a reason):  I was on a high.  It had just gone really well.  Everyone had been so kind and positive.  And I was so proud of myself for doing it!

During:  We talked about relationships and commitments.  For the most part, this was good.  But there was one part in the conversation where pretty much everyone who has been dealing with this mental illness for longer than I emphatically gave me the same statement, "Just don't commit to anything.  Ever.  It's too hard to know if you'll be able to follow through or not."

And that was it.  We were mainly talking about commitments to other people, like babysitting someone else's kids, or something.  But, we talked about commitments in general as well.  And this statement was something they applied to pretty much everything.

So, I tucked that in my back pocket, forgot about it, and rode my post-facilitator high for the next couple days.

Fast forward a couple weeks to school starting.

It turns out that being a student again has brought my perfectionism to a heightened state.  I feel like I have to do everything and do it all perfectly.  My online class has several optional assignments.  They are optional because we don't have to do every single one, but we do need to do a certain amount.  I am having a hard time not doing everyone for fear that the teacher will think I'm lazy and a poor student.  Even though she specifically set it up for us to NOT do every assignment.  I missed 1.75 points on the first quiz and I was devastated.  There goes my chance at 100% in the class.

And then there are a few "big" assignments due at the end of the semester, but it's making me crazy that I haven't completed them yet.

I just want everything done.  Done perfectly.  And done now.

But (obviously), I can't.  And so I'm constantly fighting the feeling of being a failure at school.

And that statement from my peers keeps just runs around in endless loops through my brain.  "I never commit to anything ever."

And I just keep feeling like this whole thing is a mistake.  How could I possibly presume to commit to two and a half years of school when I myself avoid commitments as small as "sure, I'll watch your kids for you!"  I'm never going to be able to see this through.

And it's not just the school work.  It's the rest of my life that I was already failing miserably at before I decided that going to school for 10 hours a week, plus at least 3 hours of studying a day seemed like a good idea to add in.

My house looked like a bomb went off and then someone let loose a whole clan of baby chimpanzees to play in the rubble.

Dinner planning happens about 15 minutes after we should have begun eating.  If we have real food on hand, we eat that.  Otherwise, we eat out.  Bleh.

And I'm having to say, "Hold on.  Just let me finish this (fill in the blank) and then I'll listen to your story" waaaaay to often to my kids.

And for the first two weeks I was more of a monster than a mom or a wife or a human being.  I think the only reason I was nice last week was because HH was sick for the first half of the week and it was his birthday over the weekend.

There's a lot of negativity pent up inside of me right now, but it pretty much just boils down to one thing.


I'm so so very afraid.

I'm afraid that taking this on is going to result in the exact opposite of what it's supposed to.  I'm afraid I'm not smart enough, don't have the time, don't have the willpower to make it into and then through the program.

I'm afraid I'm failing my children by not being as available to them and by being so short on patience lately.  I'm afraid they'll take this as a sign that I don't want to spend time with them.

And when I'm being totally honest inside myself, I admit that it's nice to get a break.  To get away and associate with other people and to not deal with their tiresome fighting, whining, and incessant questions.  And I wonder what kind of broken mom feels that way.  And I feel guilty for bringing them into this world if I'm just going to waste these years by trying so hard to get away from them.  And I hate myself for not want to just be with them and soak up every moment of this privilege that I have of raising four beautiful children.

And then I look up from my textbook and see my house and my chest gets so tight I can't breathe.  It's so messy!  What happened to me?!  I used to be obsessive.  I used to have a cleaning schedule that included vacuuming at least twice a week, all of the laundry being done in one day, dusting at least once a week, cleaning out the fridge at least once a week, cleaning out the dryer house regularly, etcetera etcetera.  Now it's whatever HH has time for.  After he cleans up dinner and puts the kids to bed.

So, you can probably guess how I feel I'm doing as a wife.  Epic FAIL.  Not only is he doing everything I'm supposed to be doing, but I'm super mean to him about it too!

Our diet is a mess.  My workout routine has completely fallen apart.  I'm supposed to do a triathlon in 10 weeks and the last time I swam laps in a pool was during the triathlon last year!

Everyone keeps asking me how things are going.  I just put on a smile and comment that school is definitely hard, but I'm loving it!

Because I should be.  Right?

I mean, so many people have sacrificed to help me.  Not the least of which is HH.  And he has so much invested in this beyond his time and money.  This is his ray of hope.  His light at the end of the tunnel.  This is what is giving him the strength to persevere through all my nastiness and drama.

Because he thinks this going to fix things.  To fix me.  (My words, not his.  He is much more delicate and politically correct.)

But every day I'm hearing that voice in my head, "I don't commit to anything.  Ever."  And I'm wondering what on earth I think I'm doing.  How can I possibly do this?  I'm so afraid I'm going to fail.  And think of all the people I'll disappoint.


But even more than that, I'm afraid of what comes next.

This feels like my last chance.  Like if I can't do this, then I'm destined to a life of endless cycles of misery.  With frequent stays at the hospital.  And all of the other mess and madness that comes with my decent into that dark abyss.

Sorry, this one is a bit of a downer.  Maybe that's why I haven't posted in so long.  I've been wanting to have something to say that is inspiring and uplifting.

The best I have is this.  Yesterday, I was driving the kids home from their counseling appointment and we were talking very candidly about life.  I was telling them why I wanted them to go to counseling in the first place.  So they can learn that life is about learning and about making mistakes and about trying again.  And I found myself using me going back to school as the example.  And asking them if it would make any sense for me to drop out of school just because I didn't get a perfect score on my quiz.  Or because it feels hard and I'm afraid to submit an assignment because then the teacher might judge it to not be perfect quality.

All of this kept tumbling out of my mouth effortlessly.  All the while, inside my head I was thinking, "What?  Yes.  Yes.  This is right.  Why is this so hard for me then?!"

So, at least the concept is there somewhere inside my brain.

There may be hope for me yet.


Christy said...

I just wanted to say that although you feel guilty for wanting to run away from your kids and house to go to school, it makes me feel better to hear that I am not the only one to feel that way too.

Amy said...

I just wanted to let you know that I think you are so brave. To feel what you feel, but to go to school anyway, to keep trying even when you feel like you might fail, is incredibly brave. The Lord needs men and women of COURAGE.