Yesterday i spent a good portion of my day mired in anxiety. on the one hand, this is really hard. on the other hand, this is how i spent most of my days from august to march, so it is good to have a reminder of the contrast. and good to have a reminder to keep up with my workbook from my treatment group~to stay on top of how I'm feeling.
Yech. All this death and tragedy obsession, it is not fun! For years though, I have felt like many other people around me live in denial of the possibility that tragedy and death may affect their lives, and felt it was positive that I had a more realistic awareness that life includes suffering, trials, and unwelcome events. I don't quite know, now, if that assessment is still true, or if it is possible to maintain this awareness without feeling a certain fatalistic dread? I hope it is, because I don't really know that I CAN live in denial. Undoing knowledge is kind of like trying to stop yourself from thinking about elephants. When you want to stop, you can't. My textbook from my PPD/A treatment group says this fatalistic dread is a core belief, and that
"Negative beliefs about the world are more common for people who have witnessed or experienced trauma...powerful negative experiences can help create negative core beliefs at any age."
What I realized when I read that was that I have witnessed an incredible amount of trauma in my 6 years as a paramedic, and it has changed the way I view the world. [which begs me to wonder; am I more sensitive? or are all paramedics changed in this way? are we all existing with a negative belief about the world, or are others better able to balance what they see in their work with what they experience in their individual lives? i dunno] I have a sense that tragedy and death are inevitable. Which, actually, they are. But I have MORE than a sense of inevitability: I have a sense of imminence about them. I have a great sense that most of the things I have seen WILL happen to me or my family, it is simply a matter of time. Which is not a statistical likelihood, at all! I also had a very deep sense of responsibility for the continued safety of my family. Like a giant kharmic bargaining scale: if I remember to correctly fasten my children into their car seats every time, they will not die. If I forget or a belt is loose or Riley's infant seat isn't snapped in all the way, that is when we will crash and one of them will surely die. If I keep vigilant watch over Riley when he sleeps, and never let him sleep with a blanket or a toy or on his tummy, he will stay alive. If I forget and leave a toy in his playpen, or if he turns onto his tummy and I don't notice or I leave him there, he will surely die. If I don't remember to pray for my husband's safety at work, he will surely be shot.
I don't think this line of thinking is actually any closer to reality than a fog of denial that tragedy or death could ever touch my life. The more I read, write, and think about it, the more I see that this is true. Death is not imminent. And in the end, it is not my responsibility to keep everyone alive by balancing a great spreadsheet of actions I must take to balance the universe and keep God happy enough to convince him to allow me to keep my children...
So there are two major battles for me here. (1) Realizing that death and tragedy are not imminent, and (2) relinquishing responsibility for the health and safety of my family to God. Which is hard, and kind of like disordered eating, in that one has to learn to live in a balanced state with the very thing that tosses you into disorder! Because I AM responsible for the safety of my kids, and it is good and healthy for me to pray for my husband. But in a qualitatively different way than I have been functioning for years. Because I have realized I've been struggling with anxiety for years, without knowing what was wrong. Deep anxiety regarding how I could logistically function with two children and an inappropriate sense of responsibility for Matthew's transitional process and future happiness is what tossed me so deep in dysfuntion when we adopted Matthew, and guilt over that dysfunction mired me for years afterwards. By Riley, the anxiety was at a low level. Once Riley was born this preexisting, lower level anxiety was highlighted and worsened by post pregnancy hormones. It is all jumbled together; work, past experiences, a predisposition, and post partum hormones. Grown up life is so much more jumbled and messy than I thought it was going to be!
At any rate I am thankful that a day like yesterday is no longer the norm. And I'm hoping to find a balance between denial of and obsession with traumatic events.