[Not] Grateful

Discover Prompts threw me into a rage simply by suggesting the word “grateful” yesterday.

I wasn’t grateful yesterday. And that simple fact drove my entire being into a self loathing state. I could hear that voice in my head telling me to look at my family, and chastising me for being a brat. The mom guilt that followed threatened to swallow me whole. I had a rough feedback meeting with my supervisor yesterday. My production lately hasn’t been up to par, and I’m facing corrective action if it doesn’t essentially double this week. Since COVID 19 flipped upside down my anxiety has run rampant and wiggled into the one place I have never allowed: my work. I can’t contain it, I can’t control it, and I can actively see it destroying my life. I hung up feeling like a piece of garbage employee, and when I clocked out for the day and tried to settle the baby down, he just wanted his daddy, so now I was a piece of garbage mother because I spent too much time being a piece of garbage employee.

The inner angiush was torture that led to the neglect of my kids as I barricaded myself in the bedroom with Amazon Prime Video’s finest collection of soothing baby music, a bottle of formula, and an angry baby, because the person involved with the night night routine is irrelevant for my son. He is mad at whoever is making him lay down. He cried, I cried. He flailed his arms and hit me, and I cried some more (seriously, how can a five month old hit this hard!?). He finally snuggled against me and drifted to sleep, and I just continued to cry.

I woke up to my girls cleaning up the kitchen counter as a surprise and not a word from my SO about last night. This is why I love them. This is why I know the family I created and then chose to blend with my SO was the one I needed. They understood who I was and how my mind sometimes attacked me. They deserve all the props and all the love.

But, I want to revisit something. This entire episode was launched by my not feeling grateful. On top of everything that led 5o me being ungrateful, I was then slammed with guilt for feeling that way. Self inflicted guilt that has been engrained into me through my southern raising where “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit,” and the word ungrateful was equal in comparison to any four letter word you could call someone. I do the same to my children. I stress go them how lucky we are and how they should not take it for granted, because that is an important life lesson they should learn. I grew up in a family where alcoholism and addiction didn’t run anywhere. It unpacked and moved into the spare room until the next kid was old enough to indulge. By the time I was in high school I was very familiar with the Big Book and the core values taught to me were mantras repeated at meetings: Let go and let God, it works if you work it, The Serenity Prayer, etc. I am thankful for all of these things because it did not stop me from going down that road, but the path to recovery is easier when it’s familiar, when it feels like coming home.

One of the things I learned as an adult in recovery is to allow myself to feel how I feel. I have a terrible habit formed out of anxiety to push my feelings, thoughts, and needs to the side in order to maintain peace or avoid conflict. I still do it when my anxiety takes over, I did it last night. I went to bed because I did not want to continue the conflict within myself. This type of behavior for someone with a drug problem is dangerous because it inevitably leads to using a substance to continue to avoid the things we don’t want to face.

Preventing the cycle continuance of unhealthy coping mechanisms largely hinges on my ability to identify and fight them myself. Starting with this grateful word, I am choosing to allow what I call “idle complaints.” Which have been banned until now. Normally, in my home, you are not allowed to present a complaint without also presenting an example of something you’re grateful for. As of now, that is scrapped. Instead, you will be allowed idle complaints, under the expectation that a solution to said complaint would also be presented within a week, because wallowing in self pity is just as damaging as swimming in anxiety.

There you have it, my thoughts scattered and closed on how all that mess ended up being used to evaluate and improve my parenting style. Which is what I want you to take away from this, especially if you’re an anxious mom. We cannot change the condition we are stuck with, we can’t control when it will decide to sideline us, but we can look back on the episode, analyze it from a different angle and choose to bring some light out of that dark moment.