Fear and Anxiety vs Strength and Confidence

Day 15.

15 days of working from home and pretending everything is status quo. It’s not though. I am sure it isn’t for you either. Maybe it is, I don’t know. From the look of things on social media, I suspect things are not okay for you either. I received some good news at work today and until I heard those words, I didn’t realize how much fear and anxiety I was carrying. No wonder it has been difficult to do my work or provide comfort for family and friends. This shit is hard.

I am wrestling with a lot of “you should do this..” messaging in my head. It is as if Good Robyn is fighting with Bad Robyn. I have a Good Donald Duck and Bad Donald Duck that I can wear on my shoulders. They adhere with magnets and remind me of the old cartoons with the devil whispering bad yet fun things to do in Donald’s ear. That is what has been happening in my head this week.

Good Robyn thinks I should keep busy, there is an endless pile of tasks to do from cleaning out the junk drawer to washing baseboards. She wants me to take advantage of this “extra time” everyone is talking about. Bad Robyn wants to watch Disney+, read trashy novels and let the housework pile up around her. I have been forcing myself to do extra things but to be fair, my routine isn’t all that different until the weekend.

I work a 7.5 hour day and sometimes it stretches to 8 or 8.5 hours. There is work to do, granted I am lucky because I can work from home and this helps keep me and my famjam safe and healthy. I save time on a commute and I don’t have to pack a lunch. Honestly, this is the best thing ever. I go upstairs and make lunch. Yesterday I blistered fresh tomatoes and laid them on a bed of ricotta. It was delicious. This is a lunch I can’t normally do on a work day. It isn’t a portable snack and it would get soggy. I love not scraping my windshield and sweeping off 15 cms of snow. You heard right, it is still winter here in Edmonton. March came in like a lion and out like a lion. Weather is broken but I can only focus on one bad thing at a time, sorry climate change, but don’t worry, I am still practicing single use plastic avoidance and recycling.

Evenings are pretty much the same as well, except the family makes an effort to connect before and during dinner. This is hard with 3 introverts and one extrovert. But we do it because social interaction is important and reassuring for each other. We watch tv or youtube favs and read. Sometimes we call people because keeping in touch with family and friends is also important.

Weekends for me start at 5:00 p.m. on Fridays. I go upstairs and we make dinner, chat and decide on a family night movie. Well, the daughter decides because Friday is her night for media control. We only have a single tv. I know that’s odd, but that is how we roll. The basement tv is for video games. I miss adventuring and exploring. Instead I spend my weekends stress baking. We love the results of that. No butter this week, so that might be problematic but I have a pound in the freezer for just such an emergency. Bad Robyn wants to stay in bed until noon, eat garbage and read trashy novels. Good Robyn wants chores done, books colour coded, spices alphabetized and virtual dinner parties organized. Bad Robyn wants to not shower for two days and have hideous hair. She wants to cry and rage, then eat doritos. She thinks about drinking all the wine and sending hate mail to politicians. She wants to yell at people to go home and behave and do what they’re told for once in their goddamn life. She wants to say “fuck off and do it yourself” when someone asks for a favour. Good Robyn sighs and does what is expected of her…mostly.

As a mom and a responsible citizen, it’s a fine line between doing what I want and what I need. I am beginning the practice of Saturday is for Bad Robyn and Sunday is for Good Robyn. Weeknights after 7:00 p.m. Bad Robyn is going to rule the roost because Good Robyn holds the fort all damn day.

I think the key to getting through this new normal is being kind to ourselves. Stir crazy is normal. Sadness is normal. Happiness is normal. Fear is normal. Confidence is normal. The point is, no matter what you are feeling it’s all okay. Do what you need to do to get by. Just like you do in regular life. We do what we need to do, it just feels a little different.

Hang in there friends. We’ve got this. And maybe, just maybe, we will come out of this better for experiencing it.

Alone

I was sitting at the bank the other day, when a man somewhere around my age, perhaps on the closer side of 50, came in with his dad. He walked up to the desk and asked the receptionist if she knew his father and pointed to the elderly man on his right. The teller smiled with sad eyes and said,” yes, we all know George.” I could tell be the look of pity on her face that this man had some serious struggles with his father.

The two gentlemen took a seat beside me and the father kept saying “They stole my money”. The son sighed and said “dad, you are confusing the issues. There is no record of you purchasing a money order and why do you think you bought one? You have no need for a money order. These people are professionals, they are not out to steal money from their clients.” He leaned his arms forward on his knees and placed his head in his hands and just sighed. I could tell he wanted to be rescued. I wanted to place my hand on his shoulder and tell him it will all be okay. But that would be a lie.

It’s not going to be okay. That moment when the child becomes the caregiver is painful. I watch my aunts and my parents go through those same frustrations. I know one day it will be me and my siblings going through the same thing. I watch the stress levels of everyone rise, from the parents to their children. One can’t help feel it too. I worry about my parents and they worry about their children and their parents and I worry about my kids and it all becomes a vicious cycle.

I wonder about how it happens. That very moment where my grandparents went from being in charge, being strong, looking after my great grandparents, to relying on others to help them get through, needing someone to make choices for them. As a child, I was shielded from the struggles my grandparents had with my great grandparents. I remember my great grandma living at my grandma’s house. I remember when she went from looking after little details, cooking meals and being an active member of the household, to being cared for. Meals brought to her, medications lined up and eventually the decision to move her into a care facility. I don’t remember being aware of my grandparent’s struggle, their stress or agonizing over decisions about what to do. What likely had happened was my grandfather made the decisions for my grandma. He took care of her like that. He would rescue her and make her feel safe. I’m sure that is what she misses most about him. Because seriously, that’s all any girl wants. Women are capable of making decisions, being strong, holding it together, but that one person who can make them feel safe and protected is the ultimate.

When I looked at that man who was my age, I had a moment of clarity. Although I am removed from caring for my parents, I am in a different situation. I am still feeling that at this very moment. I want to be rescued, made to feel safe. I knew that son had wanted go back to the time where is dad was the protector and made everything safe. I long for a simple time where I could crawl up to couch and snuggle between my parents. I am lucky that I am not alone like that man in the bank. I have my family supports and the clarity of mind from both parents. I understand that everyone has the sense that the future is unknown. It makes it hard to plan for, but it is one of those leaps of faith that anyone who has a desire to do great things must take. It just happens to be my turn to face the unknown.

Why do I go to work everyday?

I hate my job.

It is only Wednesday and I have more emotional overload in 2 days than most people have in a lifetime. The stuff I dealt with today alone would make well adjusted grown men cry.

Last year I hated my job too. Last year I suffered from mental stress. This year is emotional stress. What is the difference you ask?

Mental stress keeps you thinking until your brain is numb. It has you repeating yourself endlessly like a broken record to no avail. It makes you sleep for ever.

Emotional stress keeps you awake at night worrying that little ones are okay. You fear for their health and safety. You try to plan a way to keep them with you so they are safe. Your heart gets broken on a daily basis. You cry in the bath tub and in the car on the way to work. You get angry and smash your head against the wall because you think you are crazy.

I sat in the chair tonight and my daughter said, If you hate your job so much, why do you do it?

Me – Sometimes you do a job because the little souls need someone to care and love them so they won’t be alone in the world. But I did see a job posting for Assistant Manager at Dollarama and thought about it seriously for 2 seconds.

I was at my Life Coach’s office today after work. We talked about emotional intelligence. Over a year ago I wrote about wanting to be emotionally intelligent. I have achieved that goal. I wish I never did. That is not true, I wish I was surrounded by emotional intelligences. I am to some degree – no offence friends and family! – but I am also surrounded by emotional sluts. You know the kind, connect to the one you are with rather than who is right for you.

It is no secret I connect better with children than I do adults. I see it, feel it and experience it on a daily basis. Ask Liam. He is a stranger kid I met on the playground the other day. It was obvious to me that he had some special needs. Talking to him briefly I could tell he had sensory processing disorder, a cognitive delay and fluency issues. I walked past him to sit on the bench, smiled and made EYE CONTACT. He smiled back.

I forget how the exchange started but within 5 minutes I had connected with him so well, he thought I use to be his teacher and kept saying “Remember when…” I would play along because A) everyone wants to feel like someone remembers them because that means they are IMPORTANT enough to be REMEMBERED and B) none of his peers would engage him in conversation, he was a loner or more to the point, lonely.

I see him occasionally now around the school and fields and he always waves. I have made a new connection, for life I suppose if I continue to keep running into him. I can connect with every child in my classroom. Some stronger than others, but all of them just the same. Every single one of them knows they are important to me and I care. I cannot say the same for the adults in my life.

Part of it is my fault. I do not connect with adults because I protect myself. I am sick to death of being hurt. Apparently this has to do with me not forgiving myself for something in a particular relationship. Fair enough, I can see that. I connect very strongly with emotional sluts. Then they break my heart. It is a pattern I repeat because I need to feel punished. Isn’t THAT interesting? Emotional sluts, I recognize them at 50 paces. I connect with them. Have them need me. Then I need them, and because they are emotional sluts – I get left. It sucks. I pick them KNOWING it won’t last, yet I engage in the emotional exchange. I haven’t done this in a long while. I recognize it for what it is and keep a distance. That sad part is, I am still connected to those emotional sluts of my past and feel loss. They are no longer connected to me, they have moved along to the next one.

My next goal is to connect with adults who are emotionally intelligent. I know who you are, you are well adjusted, stable, goal oriented and do not rely on others to boost you into the next realm. I have quite a few of you in my life, you have just kept me at arms length while I figure this out. You are smart enough not to get caught up in the drama of an emotional slut.

Oh Edmonton Tourist, you are such a different person then you were August 15th, 2010 when you started this journey. We are getting there one step at a time.

Baby Chicken Hawk is my Idol

I think I had a nervous break down today. I cried, I was cranky and…No – Wait a minute – I didn’t have chocolate!

I was watching Oprah tell Barbara Walters that Gail is the friend everyone should have. I don’t want to be Gail’s friend, but a friend like Gail would be awesome. Oprah talks to Gail everyday to debrief her day. They laugh and cry etc, etc, etc, bask in each others friendship glory and then move onto the next day.

I have AMAZING friends. I can call anyone of them up and ask a big fat huge favor and each and every one will say yes before I finishing saying “I need to ask a favor”.  I can call them for a minute and end up yapping for an hour or two – Gail & Oprah style! Just to have that moment in my day to debrief would be amazing. That would be huge! Seriously, who has the time? My schedule is tight. I need to fit sleep in there somewhere. I thought having my courses done for the semester would ease it a bit, but HA! No such luck. I am so incredibly thankful for Facebook! Facebook keeps me up to date with my friends, lets me know about the chaos in their lives, lets me see the MOST ADORABLE pictures of their kids, pups and vacations. When I say adorable, I really mean Baby Chicken Hawk. There was a picture today of her looking all ambivalent and with her fingers innocently arranged, flipping the bird to the world. The Babe is 4 months old and has serious ‘tude! This is THE BEST PICTURE EVER!

It is the best because A> She is EXACTLY like me – and when I say me – I mean my evil twin Chicken Hawk and B> She has no idea what it means, and by the look on her face she doesn’t really care anyways.

I want this picture to be my new Facebook Profile Picture. I want this picture to hang on my mirror to remind me about what’s important and what is not. I want to have this picture on my iPhone so I can remember to flip the bird metaphorically when I need to not care. This Baby is rocking my world.

Thanks Baby Chicken Hawk I needed this picture today. Between you, chocolate, coffee, my best girlfriends, my best guy friends and my family – I don’t think I need a friend like Gail.

Good News! It wasn’t a nervous break down after all!