Healthy, Vital and Strong

One of the mantras on my guided wellness meditation says, “I see in my mind’s eye a picture of myself that is vital, healthy and strong.”

When I hear this line, I can see her, but damn she’s easy to lose track of.

My health has been an ongoing struggle this year. I am literally still working on my New Year’s Resolution.  It’s September. I should have met the goal or given up by now.

Perhaps I should be proud that I’m still trying to lose weight.

Mostly I just feel angry.

I’ve tried a lot of new things this year – exercise, food, approaches to food, mindsets. I should be a damn Jillian Michaels by now.

I am by no means Jillian Michaels.

In fact, during my last three months of trying to lose weight – I gained 25 pounds. How is this possible? Well, I started a new medicine that has a side effect of weight gain. It has definitely played a role in the weight gain. My doctor even said he was impressed it wasn’t worse given how quickly we increased the dose.

But damn it.

I know I could have done better.

And I’m angry at myself. The picture I hold in my mind’s eye is heavy, pissed and unhealthy. Maybe meditation is over-rated.

The truth though, and I think this is what the writer’s of the meditation had in mind, is that we can view ourselves in a way that will lead us towards a better future. The girl – the healthy, vital and strong girl – does exist inside of me. She spent over 80 hours on her rowing machine. She ate her servings of vegetables 5 out of 7 days for months. She quit Mountain Dew (that’s huge for me)!

She exists.

I can focus on her or I can focus on lazy-ass heavy girl. Well, that’s not a hard decision.

Candidly,

Ash

Please, Don’t Watch Me Sweat

This year, I’ve been on a bit of a health journey. Nothing serious, but just simply trying to make small, healthy changes. Drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising.

The last one is the thing I struggle with the most. I’m not a lover of running. I do not understand the running craze. People who love running are anomalies to me, though they seem to be occupying greater and greater percentages of the population for some reason. Just know this – If you see me running, then there is probably a child in danger or a mass murder following me. Those are reasons to run. My health? Meh.

I think its okay to not love every form of exercise. I mean, not everyone loves every sport – so why should I love burning calories in every single form there is?

Yet, sometimes I feel like this anti-running thing is precisely the problem. Surely, because I have no interest in running a 5K or mini or marathon or tough mudder or ragnarok thingy….surely, that’s not the reason I’m over weight? Right? Right?!?! Somebody, quick! Reaffirm me!!!

Okay, this is probably denial. I will admit it.

The truth is…I don’t like for people to see me sweat. Literally, even when I was in shape, people would comment on how red my face was when I exercised. The worst part is that it was usually one of those muscled powerhouses checking in due to liability.

“No, I am not dying, thank you. I am just part Irish and we get red in the face when we drink…and when we exercise, apparently.” I would say and then feel total mortification. I am a serial over-discloser. A “fine” would have been perfectly acceptable here.

I truly only have two memories of the gym/workout place that I enjoy. The first was when I lived at home with my parents. Maybe it was tenth grade? I had a gym membership and a license. Some mornings or some very late evenings, I would hustle to the gym and workout in bliss…I mean, solitude. Hmmm….

Solitude = Bliss

No surprise there! Perhaps my introversion extends to physical exercise too. It probably does, because I don’t even want my kids around when I get my sweat on. Though, in my defense, the eight year old tends to say things that aren’t so tactful. Like, “Mommy, why do your boobs jiggle so much?” Invariably, I end up screeching through gasps of air about not pointing at people’s private body parts. Then, the child will say, “Mommy, are you dying?” Because obviously, if I can’t talk due to exertion, then I must be dying.

Thank you, eight year old. You are a bright, shining ray of affirmation.

The only other time I have enjoyed working out was when I was at boarding school. I had a friend, actually two of them, who would randomly be in the gym when I arrived. Jimi and Shane. Both of these guys were hardcore gym dudes. What is a hardcore gym dude? Ummm….anyone dude at the gym more than I am.

Anyway, they were just these really nice guys who said nice things like “You can do it!” and “You are going to have abs like Shakira!” This sort of thing was really good for me. I did get pretty good abs by the time I hit 500 situps on an incline bench, but they were never near Shakira range. Still, the votes of confidence were incredibly appreciated.

So here I am, thirty-three years old, trying to like exercise again or at least tolerate it enough to be able to do it on my worst depression/anxiety days. I’m not sure that my depressive days are the problem though. The days I am high strung? Now, those are the days I struggle to exercise.

You would think that there is a certain level of energy surrounding anxiety. Perhaps I could just channel all of the angst into a turn on the elliptical or a few reps with the weights? One would think something like that if they didn’t have debilitating anxiety.

Now, I’m medicated so it should be fine, right? I wouldn’t say my anxiety is well-medicated at all. I could probably find something that works better or is preferred, but that is not something I’m ready for right now. Honestly, it took three years to figure out the medication for my depression. I really just want to maintain for a year or two and I’m giving myself permission.

So yes, when I workout, especially around other people, it usually goes something like this…

Anxiety Goes to the Gym

I walk into the gym. Someone makes eye contact with me. My brain cycles through whether they are thinking any of the following things…

“She is fat.”

“Bet this is her first day here!”

“Oh my god, why is she wearing that?”

“Oh my god, why isn’t she wearing (insert some item here – likely, a girdle)?

“Does she really think working out is going to help *that*?”

I scan my check-in card and turn towards the workout area. Five thousand machines are in front of me, as well as more people with eyes. My brain begins sorting the various eyes turned toward me – malicious or kind? Additionally, now I have these thoughts.

“Oh my god, which machine do I use?!?!”

“Which one is the furthest away from anyone?” (Because I can’t yet determine which eyes are malicious or kind.)

“Treadmill or bike or elliptical? Which one will I look less awful doing? My feet will be insanely loud on the treadmill, because of my poundage. The bike isn’t really full body exercise so the gym rats will know I’m a noob, even though my fat ass probably already gave it away. Eliptical it is! Now, furthest from anyone!”

Locating the elliptical, I hop on and try to get the thing going. It beeps loudly and I do this weird stop/start combo thing that probably looks like I’m having a seizure. Now,I’m thinking…

“F*ck!!! F*ck! F*ckity Fuck!”

“Everyone has now definitely stopped to look at me!”

“Yes, those are definitely malicious eyes!”

“Screw it, I’m just going to look like I know how to work this thing!”

I begin vigorously pumping my arms and legs, willing the machine to just cooperate. It does…sort of. Now, I’m thinking…

“Oh my god, is this thing set to mountain mode or something?”

“I can’t breathe….I can’t breathe…I can’t breathe….”

“What would my therapist say?!?!? Something about the moment….something about the moment…stay in the moment.”

“This moment f*ing sucks!!!! Damn it, therapist, why do I pay you so much money!”

“What’s that you say? Oh, breathe in/breath out? Do you see that I’m climbing mount Everest here? Breathing is a little tough right now.”

“Oh my god, I’m having an anxiety attack AT THE GYM! Oh my god. Oh my god…what do I do? What do I do?”

At this point, I glance up from the elliptical machine from hell and discover a floor to ceiling mirror. Said mirror reveals my bright red face infused with a mixture of horror and confusion, as well as the eight malicious sets of eyes looking at me.

“Who puts mirrors in a gym?!?!?”

“Hot people who are in shape and want to look at themselves – that’s who!”

“Damn, I’m not hot OR in shape!”

“Why is that hot, in shape lady looking at me?!?!?”

The elliptical decides that the warm up is complete and switches into actual mountain mode.

“Oh my god, oh my god. Malicious eyes. Malicious eyes. Mountain mode. Mountain mode. Can’t breathe. Can’t breathe.”

At this point, I decide that nothing is worth keeling over on the elliptical and being resuscitated by EMTs while the malicious eyes look on from their various perches in front of the reflecting glass.

Stumbling off of the elliptical machine, I beeline for the locker room, only to discover a naked, hot chick strutting her stuff. I pretend to be looking in a locker, even though I didn’t bring anything in here, because lord knows I don’t want to see *that*. Determining that I’ve stared at the locker for an acceptable amount of time, I rush out trying not to note how many people are probably watching me head for the exit.

I collapse in my car and notice that its 8:35.

I worked out today – for 7 minutes.

Solutions?

Well, after all of this reflection, I’m going to try working out at home. Did you know Amazon sells rowing machines, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, etc.? I put the power of Prime to use (shipping a machine to me definitely makes up for the yearly membership fee). I’m also going to listen to affirmations while I’m exercising. In fact, I’m actually considering having my husband read them while I record him. Things like “Your so sexy. Keep going. Shakira has nothing on you.” Ha!

Do I have social anxiety? Probably. Am I introverted or do I have social anxiety? No clue. It doesn’t really matter, as long as I don’t let it make my life too small…or my waist too large.

Candidly,

Ash

Help from My Friends

We moved here with so many expectations. As my husband and I did the rundown on our last six months, we were both completely dumbfounded at all that has happened. One of us said something about “expect the unexpected” followed by sardonic snorting. (I am an excellent “snorter”, by the way. Not of drugs or anything, just laughing snorts and sarcastic ones too.)

We are so jaded.

First, the whole idea of expecting the unexpected is a sham. If you expect the unexpected, then doesn’t that make it expected? I am not the first one to point this out, nor will I be the last.

Second, no matter how hard we try, humans make assumptions about the future. It’s healthy in so many ways – planning for the future, taking next steps. It’s also a sure fire way to anxiety. I literally have anxiety about my anxiety about the future. Why can’t I just let it lie? I mean, I can visualize the next thirty years of my life in the span of 30 seconds. If I tell myself to stop thinking about the future, then I just think about not thinking about the future – which is really just thinking about the future.

Oh yes, anxiety is a bitch. Sigh.

At points in my life, I have been so depressed that I had no dreams. In fact, I remember several seasons of my life in which I listened to Dar Williams’ “I Have Lost my Dreams” on repeat. Each time I hoped it would help me find a new dream, something to hope in. Sometimes, when the past and present are so bleak, we need a quality hope for the future.

I think the wide majority of my suicidal ideation is tied to a vicious combo of depression and anxiety. In those moments, when the thoughts of harm come to me, I usually don’t want to feel the pain of the past, present or future.

Growing up, I just turned music on and sang it out. I don’t know when that became socially inappropriate, but it did. I turned to fiction novels, specifically fantasy and sci-fi. Why? Because they have nothing to do with reality. I wanted to be as far from reality as possible.

Sometimes, I still do.

Honestly, I think a little bit of that is healthy. I need breaks from the onslaught of depression and anxiety. Taking breaks can be healthy, as long as that is all they are. You see, for a long time I took hiatuses (the exaggerated term for breaks) and I would return to the world, the onslaught, and the breakdown would be even worse.

I cycled like that for years and years. Shit happened. Sang myself out of reality. Shit is still happening. Read myself out of reality. Shit will happen. Try singing and reading myself out of reality. Fail. Maybe I should end it all? How can I end it all? When?

Stop.

I don’t do that anymore. I try not to at least. Now, I have this thing called a safety plan, in which I have to confess to my husband that I want to take my life. We’ve been at it for three years now and it is no easier than day one. Well, maybe it is actually. I mean, we’ve been doing the dance of communication for a lot longer now. He doesn’t ignore comments like, “I can’t handle this anymore.” And I desperately try to understand when it takes him an hour to get to me or he tells me that I need to call my sister or my best friend.

It’s been three years now. I have some dreams – things like maybe becoming a therapist or fostering kids. Yet, I know, deep down that the paragraph I just wrote likely disqualifies me from those things. How could I ever help someone else when sometimes I can’t even help myself? (Right now, I want to stop writing this shit and go eat 25 cookies.)

Yet, truth is an evolution and the truth that I am learning is that everyone needs someone. No one gets by without a little or even a lot of help every now and then. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if my dreams will ever be made reality. I do know that if I expect the unexpected from people?

Then, successfully managed mental illness would stop being a disqualifier to helping others. Rather, it would be a qualifier for helping others. Because I know one thing, those that have known the deepest pain have been the best helpers in my life.

No, not just helpers.

Healers.

Candidly,

Ash

Overcoming Survival Mode

Sometimes victory seems hollow. For the last few months, I have been in survival mode. Our recent move proved to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. I mean, no one expected the school system here to refuse full day classes to my son with autism. No one expected the bus to randomly not pick him up or not wait for him to make his slow progress up the driveway. They were common ordinary things basic student rights for which we fought.

Being at home with Evan is simultaneously enriching and exhausting. Just imagine all of the things your third grader might do when you are not at home and had no internal safety alarms. Things that toddlers might not be able to do, but would if they had the ability. Right now, I’m struggling to put into words the constant energy, the constant vigilance that goes into caring for Evan.

Nothing is Autism-Proof

Our home is “child-proofed”- locks on doors and cabinets, refrigerator and stove. Really, they should call it “toddler-proofed”, because that is the only age group those locks and latches protect against. Despite all of these efforts, I constantly worry that my son will eat something poisonous/harmful or escape from my home while I’m moving the laundry. He’s a nine-year-old. You can’t child-proof for that ability. They can figure out locks and mechanisms just as quickly as any adult. Our only saving grace are alarms that we mounted above all exterior doors. Literally, it sounds like a bank has been robbed every time I open the door. (Note to self: Video tape our safety measures so other parents can see what we’ve done. Also, how freaking ridiculous that alarm sounds.)

I’m still not sure I’ve given a glimpse into the taxation of daily living with Evan. I love him so, so dearly and sweetly. Yet, the three hours I was getting each day of the week was not enough to care for myself or the needs of my family.

I was in survival mode.

Today, I get to emerge from survival mode as Evan starts his first full day of school.  Yes, I need this desperately. (Mostly, I need it because later today he has a dentist appointment – no picnic, I assure you.) For weeks, I’ve been wondering, considering what I will do with this prolific freedom. Yoga, exercise, bake homemade bread, actually mop the floors (Swiffer can only do so much), file our taxes, go to the doctor, find a therapist, take the babe to the park, grocery shop, run errands, write fiction (that sounds fun), finally watch that last episode of Scandal…

I mean, really, the list is endless. Time has opened up before me like a cool, spring morning. Refreshed, relieved – those are things I might feel.

Overcoming Survival Mode

Instead, I slump around like a sloth in pajamas, fixing copious amounts of coffee and scrolling Facebook. As usual, my mind starts the barrage of insults about my productivity, my ungratefulness at finally being offered that precious diamond called time. I shake my head at my perceived awfulness.

Then, a voice pops into my head (metaphorically speaking, of course). It’s the voice of my very best friend in the whole universe. She says it’s okay to stare at your phone for as long as you need, to play candy crush for hours, to ignore that giant to-do list. This is only day one. Recovery from survival mode takes time.

Here is the lesson I have been learning for the past seven years:

When your basic needs haven’t been met for a long, long time, then you forget what they even are. Coming back into myself, learning to recognize what I need? It doesn’t happen overnight. Remembrance is a tricky thing, because you can’t control it. Its pace and path are valleys and oceans sprinkled with twilight.

All I know is that today, I don’t know what I need. I do know that my pajamas feel really, really good and that the coffee feels very, very warm. I start there and honor those feelings. Perhaps tomorrow or in three weeks or five months, I’ll emerge from pajama kingdom and remember that makeup exists and hair dryers are for straight-haired people. Husbands are for loving and laughing and dating. Children are breathtaking when they try something new. Spring unfolds like fresh wind on dry, packed earth.

This is just one season – overcoming survival mode. There are other seasons coming too. Hopefully, summer, but one never knows….

Until the season changes, I’ll be here, remembering….remembering what is I need.

Candidly,

Ash

Your Future Self Will Handle It

I have goals. Lots of them. Dreams, too.

Yet, I find myself disconnected to them more than I’d like to say. By disconnected, I mean that they don’t seem worth fighting for in the moment. The desire is gone. The push to make it happen? Absent.

I know I’m not alone in this, but I do think that I’m more susceptible than others. I’m a ‘feeler’ much more than a ‘thinker’. My emotions are too often my guide. Ignoring them is like devaluing them to me. I can’t put them on pause and press play later. I do think, maybe, there are people who are able to do this.

I am not one of them.

I also think that, as a parent, I don’t get as many opportunities to feel my emotions as, say, a non-parent. When all four of my children are home, I am constantly in a dialogue with myself to keep things steady, calm. It’s that holding space thing. I do it for my children and sometimes that means I don’t do it for myself.

I’ve spent all my energy mastering the monster within (AKA Scream Mom) and the brownie calls to me with it’s sweet relief. Yes, I have that long term goal to lose weight. I am so very tired though – of not giving into myself, of choosing the right thing, of pressing pause on my desires.

The brownie is gone. Eaten.

I gave myself something, I try to reason. Yet, inside I know.

I know that I also stole something from myself – something from my future self.

My future self…

In my therapy program, there was a phrase that we often said to deal with anxiety.

My future self will handle it.

It was a way of recognizing that in this moment, I could do nothing to change the outcome or sway the future. So many times, there is nothing to be done, but wait for the inevitable hammer to drop. Yet, while we wait, we destroy the present with fictional pain from the future.

Sometimes, too, there are things to be done, ways to prepare for the future. In my scenario above, I could have NOT eaten the brownie. It would have prepared me for the future – a future with a healthier me in the spotlight. Damn, she’s hot!

Yet, sometimes, in fact most times, I find that valuing the current me is more effective. Here is what I mean…

As I ate the brownie, I reasoned that I had given myself something, but it felt suspiciously false. I knew that all I had given myself – was a pudgier gut down the road.

“My future self will handle it.” I automatically reasoned. Oh, well there it is. How will my future self handle a pudgy gut? With debasement and internal angry dialogue of course.

Damn it, future self!

And then, like a dawning morning, a light presented itself. My future self could find ways to meet present desires that don’t include brownies.

Things like watching my own TV show while the children are school. A TV show with romance, swearing and adult themes – something I NEVER do during the day.

I could also go online and find a flourless brownie made with protein powder and applesauce. I could give myself the gift of making something ONLY for me. (And yes, even chalk flavored brownies can be a gift!)sf

I could light a candle and honor all the things I gave up for the small people in my life.

I could spend 15 minutes distracting myself from the brownie urge with something else that I like – something like a game on my phone, one of those cool adult coloring books or knitting a winter hat in spring.

The point I am trying to make is that sometimes giving into your short term feelings is a good way to move forward. If I hadn’t gifted myself that brownie, then I would never have thought of all of the things I could have done instead. I just would have obsessed about the damn brownie that I didn’t get to eat!

(Or maybe I’m just reasoning my way out of my current brownie guilt? Quite possible.)

If today you are struggling with disconnect from your goals and dreams, then maybe find a way to honor it, to give in. Sometimes, it’s exactly what you need to move forward, to reroute your map into the future.

And if not? Your future self will handle it.

Candidly,

Ash

 

 

A New Type of Revolution

Sunday, I was at Target entirely as a means to be out of the house. We needed absolutely nothing. Sharing a car with my husband has given me serious cabin fever.  If I get a chance to leave and spread my wings, then I better go – somewhere, anywhere.

My latest Target finds were two $3 square wood plaques, painted in spring colors. The first says, “Every day is a fresh start.” And the second says, “Wash your worries away.” When I saw them and their price tag, Oprah boomed over the load speaker, cheering, “She FOOOUUUUND IT!”

Not really.

It felt so good to find those little items. Target is like that. When you walk in the door, you can feel the gods of peace and tranquility descend, as you grab a cart simply to lean on while you walk. I mean, rarely do I actually need a cart at Target, but I always get one. It’s what you do to prepare for “The Item” or “The Items”.

“The Item” is the thing you have been looking for your entire life. You have never ACTUALLY seen it before, but you know that somewhere, out there a fairy godmother is blinking it into existence. Think “I Dream of Jeannie” with crossed arms, a precise head nod and full wink. Sometimes, if you are very lucky, Jeannie creates a SET of “The Items”. If this happens, then you will invariably stand in the checkout line with guilt. I mean, finding “The Items”? Your girlfriends will for sure be jealous. Your husband? Anxiously moving money around in the budget.

I cannot tell you how many times “The Item” has been a water bottle. I don’t know how Target does it, but their selection of water bottles is a verifiable phylum in the animal kingdom, of which there are innumerable species. I swear to god, they discover a new one each week and every damn time I think, “This is it!!! I’m going to drink 64 ounces everyday for the REST of my life! I’ll be like the Jillian Michaels of water drinking!!!”

Except the next time I go into Target, I can almost guarantee that I will be dehydrated from the steady caffeine drip that is my Mountain Dew.

Why the Target Rally Cry?

I don’t know how many memes I have seen about moms in Target, but it’s a lot. In fact, as a socially awkward mom, I find that talking about Target is a sure fire way to make a friend. I mean, in the rare event that that they hate Target (I’ve never actually come across one of those moms), then what would you talk about? Aldi? Whole Foods? Costco?

I think there is more too it than just shopping. I think there is more to it than buying things for ourselves – more than finding “the item”.

I think moms are desperate for self-care.

Independence, alone-time, pursuing an interest, buying something for yourself without hearing about the 87 things your child saw that they wanted – these are things we don’t get very much. I don’t think people talk about the hidden burdens of parenting enough. Sure, we complain about poopy diapers, messy kids who refuse to do chores and squabbling siblings. Those aren’t the real, draining factors. They are just tips of the iceberg. Underneath, lies a hidden, colossal anchor.

Someone is dependent on you.

You are responsible for someone. Just existing in that context is weighty.

I have had days when I just needed to exist. I did the bare minimum for myself and for them. I have had days when I closed the bathroom door to go potty (do people still say restroom? Huh. I guess that word isn’t in my repertoire anymore), as I listened to the small being wail and thrash against the door. How dare I tinkle for 30 seconds by myself!

The worst part for me (I’m sure not everyone feels this way), is that I feel guilty for that 30 second tinkle.

Which is fucking ridiculous.

Then, there is the matter of pursuing interests. People talk about how you forget to connect with your partner when you have children. Then, suddenly, one day you have an empty nest and you are fumbling your fingers, looking to the other person like they are a stranger! But the real problem isn’t that you don’t recognize the person across from you. The real problem is that your don’t recognize yourself. Who is that looking at me in the mirror?

It’s the caring for children and ignoring the care of ourselves that leaves us unhappy. We are desperate to fit one more thing into Suzy’s schedule so that she can grow up, hopefully get a scholarship and live a full life. While the entire time, we fail to live our own full lives. And what kind of example is this to our children? This failing to live full lives, it only teaches them to do the same when their own little angels arrive.

A New Kind of Revolution

In Target, by myself, I can walk up and down the bedding aisle 87 times and find every endcap clearance shelving in the store, without a child begging for toys or a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino at Starbucks. I can fulfill my wants and desires for the hour and a half that I roam the store and emerge a human once again.

THAT is why the Target craze exists.

But what if, nobody freak out now, we liked being in our homes just as much? Now, there is an idea that could change the world. There is an idea worth fighting for.

But also, I just need to run to Target and pick up a few things to make this home more enjoyable… Shop on, sisters!

Candidly,

Ash

 

Revisiting Neck Lumps

After a round of antibiotics, the lumps in my daughter’s neck were still their humongous size. I waited and waited, just hoping they would disappear. Then she woke up cranky as hell and complaining that she was too tired for anything.

Helicopter parent descending.

We found ourselves at the urgent care this time, because my daytime vehicle is down for the count so an evening doctor visit was in order. The really kind doctor lady with great makeup and blond hair said that she really didn’t think it was anything to be concerned about. She then offered to run a CBC to rule anything out, speaking in code so the child would not panic. To my horror, I said, “Yeah, I think if we are here, then we should just rule anything out.”

The really kind doctor lady nodded and said she would let me break the news to the small one. Thanks, really kind doctor lady. Thanks…

I then told my daughter that she would be stuck with needles. She responded with the appropriate level of screaming and crying, “Why, God?!?! Why?!?!”

I said that we just needed to be sure that everything was okay. In my mind, I felt insanely guilty. The truth was that the CBC was for mommy, to alleviate all worry and concern.

What kind of horrible, terrible, no good, very bad mothering is this?

I mean, what kind of parent subjects their child to needles simply to relieve niggling anxiety? God, that is f***ed up.

The whole thing is over now. On the way home she wisely said, “I’m just going to remember the frosted lemonade and not the blood drewing.”

Yes, forget the blood drewing. Please.

In recounting the story to her older sister, she said it was “no bid deal” and “not that bad”. Older sister, God love her, had the appropriate amount of awe and respect, offering her a piece of candy out of deference. She was proclaimed a superhero and donned her band aid like it was a cape and mask, smiling with pride.

I still feel guilty, but mostly I feel relieved. Relieved, because the blood work came back normal, but also because the child is clearly not scarred for life by the experience. Will she still need therapy later on in life? Absolutely. Will this incident be the worst thing she recounts to her therapist? Probably not.

And then, the familiar anxiety besets me again.

“Hello, old frenemy.” I say to her. “What do you have for me today?”

“Someday, your precious daughter will need therapy or, at the very least, a monumentally awesome friend. Someday, bad things will happen to her. In fact, maybe they already have. Maybe those bad things are you. Maybe they are your family….”

I let the anxiety drone on for awhile, but then I remind it of something.

“Maybe pain isn’t the enemy. Maybe it’s a teacher, a mentor, a guide, a shepherd.”

Maybe, the best word in existence.