Survivor Anxiety

Sunday, 20 September 2020

This morning I woke up like most mornings. I woke up with a heavy heart, overwhelmed by all of the tasks I have been putting off for days, maybe even weeks. They keep piling up. It’s a never-ending cycle. When I look around at the toys, shoes, and blankets strewn across the floor, I feel like being swallowed up by a black hole. I become paralyzed as the anxiety washes over me like an angry ocean wave. It’s suffocating. Before I know it, 4 hours have gone by, but I haven’t moved. The mess gets bigger. The anxiety increases. I think to myself, “I’m so glad no one can see this.” Surely if someone saw how the chaos inside my brain has manifested itself as food stuck to the dining room table or the smelly laundry that has piled up, that person would think I’m a terrible mother.

While I finished my coffee, I decided that today would be the day I would cut the grass. So I made a video to encourage others to get off the couch as well. Then I put on some shoes and walked outside. I walked out the door, and the yard was flooded. The pipes for the pool pump came apart and dumped hundreds of gallons of water everywhere. I began to panic. The seemingly endless list of things that need to be fixed began to race through my mind. I turned around to go back to the couch. I didn’t take a step toward the door. I turned back around and began filling the pool back up with water, making sure to reclose the fence behind me. I decided to focus on the task I set out to do. I mowed the backyard.

I know people probably think, “This chick has a lot of broken things.” My husband did not fix things as they broke. He just left it. He kicked in the front door once. He did a crap job of repairing the frame. He kicked in the bedroom door but never bothered with fixing it. Every time I see the broken wood, I relive the night he kicked it in. The kitchen cabinet doors are falling off. When he left, he left not only a heartbroken, traumatized family but also a long “honey-do” list that he refused to fulfill. He would not even pay anyone else to fix the things that needed to be fixed. I’ve been doing my best to fix the things that were left undone. I’ve been doing my best to fix all of the things that keep continuing to break.

While I was mowing, I just kept thinking about the people in my life who love me. I thought of the loved ones of other domestic violence survivors. I thought about how helpless they must feel. I kept thinking about how they always say they are here for me. They are here to support me. They tell me that I’m strong and that I’ll make it through this. I appreciate their love and support and encouragement so much. I know that they really want to help in a way that will be impactful, but don’t know how to do so.

People say, “If I had the money, I would be able to help.” Sure, money is helpful. Money would help pay the bills that my job doesn’t cover. Money will not solve my problems. Money is not the life preserver that I need when I’m drowning in my life. I need your time. I need you to take my kids and dog for a walk so I can have a moment to breathe. Come fold my towels or sweep my floors. Help me fix things. Keep my kids entertained while I try to fix things and fold my own towels. You can come to my house with wine or coffee, or even have a video chat. Sometimes, I really need someone to just let me cry it out.

Often, I find that what I need most is a safe place to share my feelings. I need those who love me and care for me to allow me to unload my anxious feelings. I need to be listened to. I need my loved ones to call me on the phone anytime between 5 and 7 to check on my sanity. From 5-7 pm is our witching “hour.” This is the most difficult time of the day. The kids are hungry. I’m hungry. We are all exhausted and cranky. From 5-7 pm every single night, I am overwhelmed with crying kids, the occasional barking dog, and dinner that has to be finished.

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