anxiety, medication, parenting

Solitary Confinement


It’s not that I didn’t believe her . . .

My therapist told me that, while I may have had underlying anxiety for years, it hadn’t presented itself until I had one, two, three children because up until that point, it had been manageable. I could handle it. I’d organically and subconsciously found coping mechanisms. The fact that I could no longer manage it didn’t signal failure, but a new tenor to my life that was above and beyond ‚Äď and that wasn’t going to change anytime soon. I balked at taking medication to control it, but she pointed out that there is nothing I can do to control the level of stress that accompanies three children – while I can assist my bodily systems and psyche with medication.

Intellectually, I understood it. I trusted her and her care. But there was a part of me that didn’t truly want to buy it. The control freak in me raged. I can do this! Even while popping the pills, I thought somehow, someday, I’d overcome this. I’d whip that three-kid schedule and lifestyle into shape and surmount the odds.

Then one day, four years, ten months into the anxious maelstrom that had become my life, I found myself alone. There was movement, noises on the edges of my consciousness, but it was gentle, distant. My husband came to kiss me goodbye before leaving for work and then I was truly alone.

I debated going back to sleep, but figured I’d be in that half-conscious state that would leave me feeling worse than if I’d gotten up early. I did roll around in my head various scenarios of what I might do with my time, but more mind blowing than my options sans kids was the quality of the time sans kids; that is, unfettered. There were things I wanted to do, things I should do, but nothing I absolutely had to do. For several hours, the majority of this fine day, I had to answer to no one.

I could eat when I felt like it. Nap when I felt like it (which I did end up doing to counteract the non-sleeping-in). Pee when I felt like it. I could open that new bag of crispy treats at midday and eat as many as I wished without vultures swooping down upon me. I could concentrate unencumbered on the tutorial for a new software program that’s been languishing on my desktop for lack of time (and be inspired to take said nap before returning to it ūüėČ )

There’s no such thing as perfection. I did need to intersperse my chosen activities with household duties due to the threat of family members coming to see the house for the first time. But even that may have been a blessing in disguise, as I finally found a home for the mound of summer attire that had taken over a chair in my room ‚Äď which, again, would never have happened had I not been alone.

It was at some point during all this alone time, however, that I sat on the couch and stared at the gloomy scene out the rain-speckled window. I was still tired, I was still mushy-mush. I wasn’t channeling Gene Kelly in all my solitary resplendence. I was still the non-prioritizing, neurotic perfectionist able to unravel at the drop of a hat if things didn’t go according to plan.

The thing was ‚Äď the plan was much more likely to stay stuck without three little whirling dervishes to spin it apart from the inside out. And if not, I could adjust accordingly, changing course according to my needs and neurosis. Or just chill out for the day until my thin skin thickened up accordingly.

It’s so much easier when things fall apart for one person than a whole tribe. And much easier to put the pieces back together. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that the whole tribe does not fall apart; in a poignantly fortunate way, I suppose, just its leader. And when it’s up to the leader to keep the tribe together, her own loose pieces rattle together until she has a day alone.

And since those days are few and far between, medication it is. At least I don’t drug alone.




It took me a moment upon waking to realize I would not be pounced upon by little people; that there was a depth of silence, solitude that would stay; the kind I hadn’t felt in over a decade; the kind that resonates deep within the soul and allows me to remember who I am – or better yet, allows me to¬†just be.



Identity, Living, Uncategorized

Two sides of a coin.  Yin and Yang.  Juxtaposition.  Oxymoron.  Paradox.  Jumbo Shrimp.

Just call me an illustrative thesaurus of harsh contrast.

I went to the beach today.  Amidst the flying flakes.  The frigid temperatures.  The howling wind.

Photo Jennifer Butler Basile

Photo Jennifer Butler Basile

As I looked at the caked snow curved across the sand, looking like the negative of the waves that rushed up and left the graceful arc of its crust, I thought how perfect it was that I was there on this stormy morning when my children were elsewhere. ¬†When I already felt suspended in some surreal alternative reality. ¬†It is truly bizarre when the nonstop duties of mothering fall away. ¬†Like going to that place of sun and refreshing surf when it’s overcast and chilling to the bone. ¬†There is a void not unlike the cupped depressions in the sand where the winter waves eat away at the coast. ¬†It’s gorgeous, but it feels so foreign it’s unnerving. ¬†I’m reminded of the needed buffer that comes with vacations – the time it takes to unwind before you can truly enjoy the relaxation of vacation. ¬†But there is no time here. ¬†I must embrace this as swiftly as the sand that sweeps across the snow drifts leaving a fine layer of brown sugar. ¬†That is what I must remember. ¬†That there is always a bit of sweet and beauty atop even the harshest landscapes. ¬†You just have to train your eyes and heart and mind to work in concert – and do so allegro.

A Study in Contrast