This is the post in which I bare my heart to ask for your help. You should be afraid. I am.
Mother’s Day is approaching, and I am freaking out. Wait, I said that wrong. I am F.R.E.A.K.I.N.G. O.U.T.
Last year was fairly simple: I was not a mother. I was very, very sad. (Although I did cheer up when my mother left me a voice mail in which she wished me a happy mother’s day and then apologized because she forgot. She actually said “Oops.” It made me laugh (ok, ok, it made me cry first). Look up well-meaning-miss-the-mark in the encyclopedia. There’s a whole volume on my family.)
This year I have many challenges, the biggest of which is myself. My freak out has clearly revealed to me that I have three main coping strategies, all of which are problematic.
1) Avoidance. Ignore the problem and it goes away. I know, how emotionally third grade. I can’t believe after decades of therapy I am still using this one. (Who I am kidding, of course I can believe it, everyone uses this one.)
2) Food, aka Emotional Death Grip on Chocolate. This makes a healthy balanced approach to nutrition never-gonna-happen. Also, it is expensive, and hard on my knees. Don’t take away my chocolate.
3) Focus on Other People. This is really good for depression, which in my case manifests as a narcissistic spiral of despair about my inability to be worthwhile. The downside is that it results in unconsciously placing my need to escape my current emotional quagmire on the unsuspecting focus of my attention. In other words: it results in ERH.
In our household we don’t just like TLAs (three letter acronyms), we believe they have magical powers. ERH is Emotional Responsibility Hell, in which one person’s emotional well-being becomes the responsibility (implicitly or explicitly) of another person. It is never, ever good.
The best antidote for ERH can be summed up by this little girl: You Worry About Yourself.
In this case, worrying about myself led me here, to you. Help! None of my coping strategies are working…mostly because I don’t use them in moderation. A little bit of ignoring the problem (like for 10 minutes while you drive) is ok. A little bit of food is, well, what other people eat. A little bit of focus on others, like soup kitchens and thoughtful gifts, is great. But more is definitely worse.
Back to Mother’s Day. Last year was simple and sad. This year is joyful and complex. I’m not quite brave enough to list all the reasons why I’m dreading next Sunday. Like you, I am shocked to discover that I’m not purely blissfully happy, disgusted that I’m mired in self-absorbed-angst, and disappointed that I had to show it to everyone.
But I’m an enneagram 6. This means that I need my people. So, people, share with me your best strategies for navigating emotional-messy-and-complex. I’m ready to try something, anything new.