She’s translucent again, as it steals her away, tearing down the resilience we had toiled to build. And I am consumed by trying to shoo her worries away, if only I could. Instead, it feels as soon as I patch one area of her heart another seam opens.
I never thought I would need to be a motivational speaker to mother her through the courage it takes just to leave the house in the morning, this is certainly not the vision I had in my mind of what her seventh year would look like.
I personally remember sneaking away to eat sweet grass growing where the rich soil lay at the side of my house. I remember singing out loud in my backyard to the trees with my walkman. I remember bible school and popsicles and Jem and the Holograms. And she has lots of those good days too, when she doesn’t need to be running on overdrive to manage her emotions. But these days, her seven is a very messy scrapbook of assorted highs and lows.
Some mornings around here it’s as if a thunder storm sneaks up on our home and strikes her down from the moment she wakes up. Other times, you can almost smell the thickness of the air coming a week beforehand, and we brace for impact. No matter, the shockwaves take our family along for one messy ride.
And when we’re down, we are out.
At seven, she’s worrying with such intensity she is nauseous from that dark, growing pit in her stomach and the pounding in her head, begging her to fear. And at seven, she has to cope.
How’s the baby doing, people will ask me. And I am at once relieved there’s not much to say about him, and also guilted for there not being much to say about him. Yes, the baby wakes me every 45 minutes to feed, but he’s not the one keeping me awake at night. Nursing a baby is a simple fix at 3am, it’s the cleaning of the vomit bucket that lays at her side that pains me for the day to come.
I teared up at her Christmas concert to see her sing because an authentic smile returned to her face, in amongst an overcrowded school gym. I realized not just how hard she was working for that moment, but also how long it had been since I’d seen her true joy in that setting.
The teacher calls and the kind-hearted gestures all help, they do, to solve her daily game of Tetris. But does anyone understand this anxiety unless they live it? I certainly don’t. I can only imagine how it must be for her, at just seven.
She has anxiety, and I’ll spend my lifetime trying to figure that piece of her out, I have come to know. But I must remind myself that even though there are days, weeks even, when the anxiety fog rolls in and takes her down, it is not but a tiny piece of who she is as a whole. She is tender and loving and sensitive and sweet. She is creative and heartfelt and complicated and deep.
Anxiety came back for her this December. And though we’re getting lots of those semi-sympathetic shrugs from people when she breaks down in public once again, this time it’s not just a phase. This time, it’s robbing more than an hour, an afternoon or a day. But I can play that Christmas concert video and remind myself there are things we’re figuring out and doing right. Because she works so very hard, and she is strong.
Though she may seem meek to you, she is oh so brave to me. And because she is, I can be too.
Christmas came and went and that made things both better and worse for her, because after all, anxiety has no rhyme or reason. It doesn’t celebrate holidays.
This fog won’t stay. It won’t.