Just like in the movie "Fievel Goes West"... (if you don't know this movie you are too young to be reading my blog...nah just google it and catch up to speed)...I am headed on a journey westward. Now you are probably thinking that I am headed left to enjoy a much needed time away from work, life, and children. Ah but you would be mistaken. I am headed to the West...the West coast of California. But not for soulful journey to find joy and dig deep in my soul for purpose. I get the upmost privilege to travel across the damn country with my 2 little hooligans and spouse to Yosemite National Park. Now read that sentence again...Yes I am privileged to travel as I work my ass off for my paid time off, and make enough money to support my family of 4 while traveling. Yes it is across the country, but did you read that part about the 2 little hooligans???!?!?!
So let me tell you how this mother gets through traveling across the country with her kids and husband. But first let me give you a short back story. We traveled this way last year...2020 in June during the pandemic. Yeah yeah judge all you want. Remember from my first post...I don't care! Or do I? That is still to be determined. This 2020 trip ended up changing my life.
We are all aware that last year was rough, tough, shitty, the worst, fucking terrible, and down right hard. I'm not here to tell you any differently, but remember I am a nurse leader at my local hospital. Being a nurse in a pandemic is rough, but attempting to lead a team of nurses through a pandemic was also very tough (more on that later). Before our trip we had so many what ifs going through our head. Nick had to worry about his works COVID policies for travel, and I was...well just worried. Worried about...well honestly everything. I consider myself a worst case scenario worrier. I blame nursing school for that....and maybe a little bit of genetics. You have a headache...well then you have an inoperative brain tumor. You have a child...well then you have skull fractures...broken bones...and lost children. My mind always goes to the worst possible situation I can think of. I am a nurse, so most of the time it goes to the goriest of possibilities often ending in death. Yep this is my mind in a nutshell. So, picture me preparing a family of 4 to drive across the country during a pandemic.
I will give you a second to think about the worst things that could happen on this trip...go ahead...think about it.......Seriously...think away....I dare you.
Yeah I thought about all of those things too. Ok enough about the bad things that could happen and more about the actual bad things that did happen on this trip and how it changed my life. That is why you are reading this right?
Skip ahead a week, we are in California, Nick and I got a day away from the kids. We headed towards Modesto to visit a mutual friend for lunch and his new girlfriend. The drive was beautiful; passing by orchards, farms, and rolling mountains. Most of the way I was silent, silent in my own thoughts. Then one statement rocked my whole world.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?"
Nick was driving and I now know, he had been looking at me for most of the drive. I think he even attempted to talk to me too. But I was in a different mind space, where was I you ask? ANXIETY, that is where I was living. Hard core anxiety...life altering...debilitating anxiety. Nick continued to pry me away from this space. He asked me questions, told me that everything was ok, stated the kids were safe, and said he loved me. But then he said the one thing that turned everything around for me "I think you need to get some help." "I see that you are struggling."
In this moment I broke...fully broke deep in my soul. I cried, not cried like "wow my husband is an ass and thinks I'm crazy crying". But I cried for me, I cried tears of relief, a release of emotions that had finally been noticed by someone. Someone saw me. I no longer needed to hide. I no longer needed to fake my smile and pretend I was perfect.
I sat in that car in the 100 degree heat in California and made a promise to myself and the man that I consider my "person", that I would get help. I would acknowledge that the anxiety had gotten the best of me...and 40 pounds of me too. So I would get back from vacation and reach out to someone...get some help, and answer that life altering question, "What the fuck is wrong with you?"
So, fast forward back home, what the fuck was wrong with me? I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.
At first I thought this was where my story ended. But in fact, in the most cliche way ever, it’s where my story begins. Over the past year I have worked through counseling, medication, and straight up anxiety. I have overcome thinking of myself as weak. Thinking of myself as crazy…this one I think might still need to de determined (see next blog for more).
see this trip to California allowed us the time to slow down and for Nick to actually see me. To see me…not doing well. Over the year of 2020 I lost over 40 pounds…I wish I could tell you it was because I started a nice fitness routine. I just didn’t eat…it is a side effect of anxiety.
So why am I telling you this?
Well I did start a blog…and I never said I wasn’t going to tell all. Also, writing is a way for me to cope with my anxiety. I want anyone who is reading this to know they aren’t alone in their anxiety. You are not alone. I am here for you.
I am currently sitting in California a year later drinking a cocktail, and I can’t help but be proud. I’m not perfect…and I’m working on being ok with that. I still have anxiety, that will never go away. I handle it well some days…and don’t on other days. But that’s what makes me imperfectly joyful…and I’m learning to be good with that.
May the imperfectly joyful force be with you!