- High anxiety
- Struggles with transitions
- Rigid in routines
- OCD like tendencies
No, I'm not talking about my boys right now. I'm talking about me. Me all my life me- not just grown up me. Chemical me. Brain me. It's how I'm wired. There's some good that comes with it- I'm organized. Efficient. Prepared. Observant. Empathetic. But it's also exhausting up here in my brain. I know there are simple adventures I am meant to partake in- if only I would stop talking myself out of them.
Right now I am talking myself into embracing Summer. Every beginning and ending of a school year this happens. It’s fear of the unknown- fear of change. Fear of forgetting a new schedule when the old one was tattooed on my brain. Fear of the clutter of what ifs that scatter to the ground and chase me daily.
Fear of the thing is always worse than the thing, is what I always say.
And what I always forget and remember and forget again. This has been true in 100% of the things that give me anxiety. It always works out. I struggle with generalized anxiety disorder and take Effexor and exercise (and on the weekends, sometimes Titos) for it. It sounds so white room and clinical, when in reality it’s constant red hot fiery thoughts zagging haphazardly through my brain, while a hundred bowling balls lie on my chest. Acid rises in my throat when it's really bad. Rapid heart beat. The big things I can usually do- I can speak at a Board meeting or give a speech in front of 1,000 people but the small things, cause a thoughts tug of war in my mind.
I’ll go to the grocery store Tuesday. Oh wait- I should go Monday. I won’t be in that part of town Tuesdays and we’re almost out of hot dogs. I should just go now and get it over with. But it’s too busy on Saturdays. I hate going when it’s crowded. I always see people I know. And Monday I only have 30 minutes and I don’t think that will be enough time.
Sometimes I just want to slap myself —SHUT UP. It’s the grocery store, not brain surgery (but anxiety turns the grocery store anxiety into brain surgery anxiety) .GET IT TOGETHER WOMAN, I tell me. (Isn’t that a great plan? Add abusive self talk to the anxiety. Such a great plan. Didn't I say I was organized?)
Recently I pulled a fast one on my anxiety. I totally ignored it and went to speak out against the segregation of kids with autism in our District. I wrote about it HERE. The board didn’t pay much attention to me, or even look up while I was speaking, but afterward I was approached by someone who was paying attention. She introduced herself as a reporter for our newspaper, and asked if I would be interested in doing an interview with her. Anxiety (and probably my face because I have no poker face) said, HELL NO, while my mouth said, “I’ll think about it.”
You see, I am a story teller. I am also a control freak. Put those two things together and it’s hard to hand someone else your heavy and precious story. Especially when it involves your children. Especially because speaking up comes at a cost. I've been approached by the media to discuss some Special Education struggles we've had,- and I declined, because I wanted to fix things myself- with face to face discussions. (How did that work for you, Chrissy. Not so good, thanks for asking).
I discussed it with a few people who are more media experienced than I am. The bottom line was- I had to speak out publicly if I ever wanted change to happen. Nothing I had done on the inside over a period of years had even moved the needle a millimeter. (I don't know what kind of needle I am talking about but I think that's a thing you say about things that stay the same.)
So I thought. And I thought and I thought and I thought. I discussed it with the husband. And finally, we agreed to do an interview. There have been so many nights I've cried until my eyes were puffy, all hope drained out of me. I was afraid to say yes- but for the first time in so long...I was finally hopeful. We have to do it, I realized with every ounce of me. For my boys and for all the kids that will walk this path after us. For how hard it's been but shouldn't be.Honestly, I was more afraid to say No. The topic of segregating kids because they learn differently and have a diagnosis is too important to be ignored. It keeps me up at night.
And so we did it. After two years of trying to handle it in what I thought was “the right way”, we instead talked to a reporter. And the next morning after the interview, I woke up right by my soul for the first time in so long. I didn't hit snooze, feeling overwhelmed and heavy. I felt like me. I am no longer afraid to tell the truth. God that feels good. People will talk about you no matter what you do- you might as well do things you are proud of while they are talking about you.
And you know what- the article turned out better than I had even hoped. The facts speak for the story in ways I don't need to. There's right and there's wrong- and this is so wrong. Turns out Mrs. Appleton is a story teller too. Her's just happen to be a little factier- while mine are a little gushier. The world needs both.
Here it is- I'm proud to share it with you. I hope it insights change. Read it HERE.
And you know what? Summer, I am ready for you. By week two it will be my new favorite.
Some adventures can be in your own backyard. When your brain is free, your body is free too.
Jack is totally ready for Summer and sunbathing.
Adventure is out there. Little and big ones. All Summer long. (Thank you for making the boys these amazing shirts Momma Cardey!!!! We love you).
How lucky I am to have something worth fighting for.
Don't talk yourself out of your own adventures. Don't talk yourself out of speaking up for the things that matter most to your soul. Together, we must speak up and shine a light in places where the dark has permeated too long. And in the process, you might just find yourself becoming more you.
So much love,