White-knuckled around the black leather steering wheel, my hands tingled. Nerves hummed and twinged, vibrating against my will.
Silvery cables flicked by in my peripheral vision as seven lanes of traffic buzzed around me.
As I sped up high over the fat gray river into upper Manhattan, neither of these flashes were faster than the potential scenarios racing through my mind.
My stomach was hard and tight, roiling in acids brought on by building internal tension.
This weekend my husband was away and I still hadn’t seen my mom since her back surgery, so I packed up the kids for the 4-hour drive up to see her.
I think I do a decent job of hiding my anxiety issues, but they are there. They wait for times like this.
Which means I spent Saturday morning being terse with the kids and shaking with my nervous stomach while getting the truck all packed up.
Which means I spent the first part of the drive to Massachusetts wondering how bad traffic could be, how bad the kids could be, how awkward the family get-together could be.
Wishing it was Sunday night, so I’d know how it all went.
Know whether I enjoyed it.
Gee. Way to live in the moment, Kim.
My husband calls this Controlfreak-ness.
I just know it’s my old OCD combined with my newer anxieties.
People who peeked in my truck’s window as I drove through New Jersey and New York likely only saw a blond blur behind the wheel. Silent psychological warfare raged beneath my skin, as I attempted to seem poised in normalcy.
By the time I got to Connecticut, I was putting up a real fight. I was coming into focus.
I hit Massachusetts as a solid mass, demanding my Crazy just Go Away. To let me see what happened with the weekend, as it happened.
Somehow the weekend managed to go…well.
At my brother’s house, I got outside with the 5 kids and followed them in the bright September sunshine. They ran in loops around the house, rode bikes, kicked the ball, laughed, plotted adventures.
The sun glowed in the buttery long hair of my willowy niece, sparkled in the flecked hazel eyes of my nephews, warmed the fair skin of my own kids as they tumbled down the expanse of grass before me.
A quiet breeze brushed the stray hairs I can never pin quite right, and tickled my forehead. The same sun surrounding the kids I was watching, massaged my shoulders.
I heard nothing but distant birds calling, the rustle of leaves swaying far overhead, a chance peal of giggles from the kids.
My pulse was gentle. My hands were calm.
And I was smiling, from head to toe.
So many big decisions I’ve made in Life that led me to that happy moment – like motherhood, marriage, nourishing frayed family connections – did not give me any anxiety at all.
It seemed to be the little decisions that ate me up. Which all seemed so stupid, as I stood there feeling embraced by my own love for these kids.
It felt so clear to me that I need to spend more time when I get home fighting the issues inside me, so I can have more free time in the future to chase the wonders before me.
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This post was written for Write on Edge’s RemembeRED memoir writing prompt.
The prompt went like this:
Choose a moment from your personal history and mine it for sensory detail. Describe it to us in rich, evocative details. Let us breath the air, hear the heartbeat, the songs, feel the fabric and the touch of that moment.
I’m pretty ok most of the time, but when my anxiety creeps up on me, it is sensory overload.
All of this happened just this past weekend. It began with my issue getting its claws deep inside me, and ended with my feeling washed clean of it.
A moment’s appreciation can do wonderful things for an occiasionally messed-up girl like me.
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