It sure would be nice just to flick a switch and turn this off sometimes. Finally take some of that time out, that people tell me I need, and actually let myself relax. Feel the knot of anxiety in my stomach loosen a little.
Do I mean turning off my husband’s PTSD? Clearly that’s not an option. And even if it was, would I actually choose to flick that switch and risk missing all the important life lessons that adversity has taught me? Risk losing the person I have become?
No, I want an off-switch for something much more universal. Something you probably want to switch off yourself, from time to time. Something that I’m sure I can do without. How much would you pay for a switch that would turn off your worries?
Worrying. It’s simply an innate part of who I am. I really cannot remember a time when I couldn’t find something to worry about. But since PTSD came into our fold, I realise I have come to embrace my nature of worrying as a protective mechanism. A futile way to prepare myself for what might be in the wind – because experience tells me to fear the unforeseeable storm.
And then Worrying meets Hindsight; my dear friend who loves reminding me how ridiculous it was that I used to waste my precious time worrying about such petty crap, because just look at all the legitimate stuff I have to worry about now!
I need a good slap of wisdom. A wise saying that resonates with me.
“ACCEPT THE THINGS YOU CANNOT CHANGE, HAVE THE COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS YOU CAN, AND HAVE THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.”
It makes complete sense. It’s entirely logical. It’s a wonderful motto to live by. But even though I really love it, I really struggle when it comes to living it. I want to embrace it, but I’m not always sure quite how.
And so I continue to worry, and unnecessarily torment myself with my past naivety…
I would innocently worry about keeping things quiet and calm in the house so the baby wouldn’t be woken up. When now I worry about keeping things quiet and calm so my husband isn’t triggered by the elevated noises of our children living their lives.
I would worry about moderating the rocky relationships my husband has with his mother and sister. When now I worry about ameliorating the relationships my husband has with our children.
I would conceitedly worry about how my large babies had left me with separated abs. When now I worry about how readily PTSD separates families, and if we’re strong enough to fight this relentless battle?
I would worry about my fulfilment at work and finding the right balance with family commitments. When now I worry about how on earth we’re going to move forward in a world where PTSD has robbed my husband of his entire career?
And before I can even collect my thoughts, Pessimism begins to weigh in, suggesting that maybe this is isn’t even the pinnacle, maybe there’s still bigger worries to come…
I suffocate with worry. But for what gain? Worrying may have changed my perception of the journey, but has it actually changed my destination? Could it have really all been for nothing? And so, with that in mind, I have found a better slap of wisdom.
“DON’T FOCUS ON THE WHAT IFS, FOCUS ON THE WHAT IS.”
It gives me the practical advice of what to do right now, no matter what right now looks like. If I can embrace this, it might just work. It might just be the off-switch I desperately need.
Off goes Worry, off goes Hindsight, and off goes Pessimism. Farewell my troubled friends, I have two new besties called Here and Now.
(original post published 16th May 2016)