I love the word maelstrom, even though I don’t use it in conversation. I don’t get the opportunity, not being a sailor, which, I suppose, is a great thing for me. Or not, if you consider that I really would have liked to have been a sailor (in theory, at least). This week, however, is a maelstrom of stress. Sucking, swirling, drowning, whirlpool of stress. I’m back to therapy after more than a year away which feels necessary but also disheartening. There is not one thing that isn’t looming, pressing, pulling, or flattening me.
If it’s work, then home is an oasis. If it’s home, then work is an oasis. A long walk is a vacation from them both. But I know things have gone into a full tailspin when even a walk cooks up anxiety. For example:
Breathe. Focus on the world around me. Again. Let my mind empty. Just walk. Is the dog limping? Just walking. Not watching the dog. Why is he limping? Do we need to stop? If we stop I’ll never get ten thousand steps in. Breathe. What does it matter, the steps. Clear my mind. When the dog dies I’ll have to walk alone. I’ll never want to walk again. It’ll be fine. He’s young. He’s not dying. I’ll die too, of heart failure from sitting on the couch weeping for my dog. Can’t breathe.
Right, then. Back to therapy. I’m also registered for a class called Meditation for Stress Relief beginning today. Ridiculously, one of the jabbing, nagging, frustrating things has been the lack of communication until yesterday. No confirmation. No idea of what the first class will hold. No real directions. If it were me and I knew I was leading or organizing a class that had stress relief in the title I’d probably go out of my way to get information out as fast and as fully as possible. What will we do, exactly, for two and a half hours?
I feel tremendously guilty for snapping at RR because she was putting too much glue on her valentines. I feel sad because I feel frustrated that she cannot figure out potty-training. I feel disappointed in myself for going back to therapy and embarrassed by the privilege of using a therapist for something that feels less than important. I feel inadequate for not connecting with my wife in the evenings and instead feeling my heart race and falling asleep paralyzed. My parents are back and while my wife is a subtle reminder to be grateful for them, I still can’t fully relax while they are around. How long until my mom lays down eggshells in her path? How long until their teasing goes too far? How long until another formal dinner sends my wife over the edge?
Work deadlines are looming too close. Planning is taking too long. There is nothing there that can’t be knocked out relatively quickly and yet I seem to be paralyzed. I’ll go in tomorrow and the same pile plus some might still be sitting there, waiting. And then there’s the snow forecast for tomorrow evening. It may keep us home. With my parents. Having a lot of togetherness. By the way, my head has hurt off and on for days. I can’t think. I can’t even breathe.
I know all of the coping skills are tied in together. If I could de-stress, I could relax. If I could relax, my head might stop hurting (or it might not, that’s the fun of migraines for you). If I were more relaxed, I would be less inclined to crumble under stress. My wife keeps asking what’s causing it. Everything, I say.
Things will straighten out again but, in the meantime, I’m nailed to the floor, not breathing.