This probably won't be very easy to read. I know writing it won't likely be. I promise to follow up soon with something more light-hearted!
As most of you who know me well are aware I've had a couple health issues over the last few years. Most recently anxiety issues and I was diagnosed with a panic disorder. Before that I got Bell's Palsy, from which I've recovered somewhat. Most people say I look like I did before, but I know I'm still not the same.
Anyway when I was in the hospital they'd done a lot of tests and in the end the neurologist said there wasn't any reason they could find for my condition. Without doing far more extensive (read: expensive) testing, the best she explanation she could give was that this was a result of stress.
Which brings us to the real topic of this blog entry. We all have stress in one way or another. But I would say most of us likely have a particular stressor that when we experience it, something just kind of snaps within us. I believe I've discovered mine.
While you all know I've gotten sick, most of you don't know what happened shortly before the outbreak of my symptoms.
Only a couple days before I felt the first few twitches in my face that precipitated it breaking down completely, I had to physically get between my daughter and my husband. She'd done something that made him mad, and I saw him chase her down and knew instantly if I didn't intervene it'd be bad. I'm not going to go more into what happened, because, well, I don't want to. The rational part of my brain also feels compelled to point out that the timing of events does not necessarily prove that this incident is directly responsible for the problems I would have later, but c'mon, I'm sure it didn't exactly help things.
Fast forward a couple years later and I'm coming home from the beach with friends. We're getting into our car and overhear a father screaming aggressively at his child in the back seat. The Mom sits there seemingly coolly while I'm eyeing the situation. My heart is pounding and adrenaline is going through my system. I've never felt like the fight or flight expression is more accurate. I either needed to get out of the situation immediately, or I need to go protect the kid. Protecting the kid won't really help anything however since in reality I'm powerless. So driving away is my only option. I hate that I can still hear that kid's voice begging his daddy not to hit him.
The most recent incident is kind of what cements the idea in my mind that this is a pattern for me.
Last Saturday I went out to eat with friends. We were sitting outside the restaurant, it was just us and some other family.* All of a sudden the mom pulls her little boy, around my son's age, away from the table and shoves him face first into the wall of the restaurant. She beings aggressively telling him something, at this point my ears are ringing and I'm just getting snippets of what she's saying. She leaves him there and goes back to the table. He starts sobbing and she tells him he can rejoin them when he decides to act "like a human." Right because crying over your face getting shoved into a wall by your own mother, is totally in-human. Again fight of flight. This time I couldn't get away. Nor could I fight no matter how much I wanted to smack this woman in the face.
I don't know if it's what's happening that's so deeply disturbing, or is it the powerlessness I feel?
I also want to provide the disclaimer that I know I'm not the parent of the year. Part of why I think these situations get to me the way they do is that I understand what it's like to reach those levels of frustration with your child. So while I now trust myself not to go too far, I know how easy it is to snap and push that line.
I need to stop now because getting this far was pretty unsettling, but if you've made it to the end with me, again you deserve cookies.
But I leave you with these questions: How do you handle situations that make your blood boil? Are there ever ways you can choose to fight and have it end constructively? What if you're in a situation where neither option is available to you? How do you cope without it reducing you to a totally panicked state?
*With the exception of my husband I don't know personally any of the people mentioned in his entry. They were all strangers to me.