I’ve struggled with anxiety for my entire life.
Over the years, I’ve learned various methods for dealing with everything from basic unease to full-blown panic attacks.
In my experience, the latter have been far easier to cope with. They come and they are frightening and truly terrible, but then they pass and they eventually release their grip on me.
The anxiety that latches on and slowly, but surely, nearly pulls me under, is the most difficult for me to overcome.
When that anxiety creeps up on me, it tugs at me when I should be happy. It pokes at me when my mind is still for even a second. It nudges at me while I’m sleeping.
Over the past few weeks, the tugs, the pokes, and the nudges have been increasing. Each day, they are just a little bit worse.
I’ve struggled to put my finger on exactly what has been bothering me. I have been on the edge of tears, afraid to let them fall, becomes sometimes, when they start to fall, they are nearly impossible to stop. Once I have lost that tiny bit of control, it can be so incredibly difficult to regain it.
In my attempts to figure out what has been bothering me most, I have felt as though I have been trying to hold onto water. Every time I have tried to grab a handful of thought, it has leaked through my fingers, leaving me with empty, useless hands.
Then, the other night, I finally realized that the thing that’s bothering me most is the fact that my children are growing and I just long to stop time.
I’ve joked about it before.
But it isn’t a joke and I’m not really laughing.
Sometimes this feeling borders on desperation.
What am I afraid of exactly? So many things. And when I entertain those fears and try to make sense of them, I often uncover new, frightening possibilities to add to my list of worries.
It is truly a slippery slope.
I just have this feeling of doom…like the best part of my life, my beautiful life that hasn’t come easily, is slipping away.
I have written about this before, about my fear of growing old and losing these precious memories.
Although I know that there will be beautiful and breathtaking moments as my children grow and change — proms, graduations, weddings, grandchildren — just thinking of those beautiful and significant life events somehow makes this feeling worse.
Because for those things to happen, my babies will no longer be small.
They won’t be right here, by my side, to hug and to hold.
They won’t give me sloppy kisses and ask me a million questions.
Their idea of a perfect afternoon won’t be sitting and reading books with me.
They won’t be within my reach so that I can protect them.
I worry that the closeness that we’ve built will slowly slip away.
And the weight of their childhood is always there…the realization that they get but one childhood and I get only one chance to make it everything that it should and could be for them.
What if I fail to give them all that they need before they grow into young adults? The list of things that I have yet to teach them is so long and it is ever growing.
What if I run out of time?
What if something unthinkable happens to them?
What if the hole that they leave behind when they grow up and move on is just too gaping?
What if I smother them too much in my attempt to hold them close and savor the tiniest of moments?