Anxiety keeps me busy. I’ve been feeling anxious since Saturday. When I get anxious I clean things. So far, I have emptied a closet and turned it into a secret hide-out under the stairs for Tiny-Small.
I have cleaned out and reorganized the refrigerator. I have folded and put away piles and piles of laundry. I have vacuumed all of the furniture. I have deep cleaned the kitchen, including the oven. I have packed up all of the clothes Tiny-Small has outgrown to make space in her closet. I am in the process of moving a bed, a couch, and some chairs…but I am not supposed to lift anything heavy for a few more days so that is sort of in limbo as I wait for Jim to help. I’ve pushed and slid things as far as I could without having to lift them. My house is beginning to resemble a very clean, shiny corn maze.
I just don’t stop moving from the moment I get up until I fall into bed exhausted. It’s been the only way I can through the day.
I am getting a lot done, but it’s not reducing my anxiety. I am just moving through it. Running from it. Running, running, running. It’s been difficult. I’ve had to answer questions I just didn’t know how to answer. Tiny-Small wanted to know what had happened to the baby. “Did she get a boo-boo, Mom?” she asked, “Did my baby brother die? My baby isn’t in your belly anymore? Where did she go? Is she in heaven with Cleo and Rosie?” She is just trying to make sense of it all within her limited experience with life, death, and where new babies come from. “Can we go to the baby store and get a new baby, Mom?” she asked once. Now, she just pats my leg and says, “Don’t worry, Mom, we will try to have a new baby later. Then my new baby will have a birthday party and I will be a big sister.” I just nod. Everyone says we can try again. Tiny-Small can still be a big sister.
Yesterday, I spent hours outside in the yard. I cleaned up weeds. I raked, swept, stacked, and finally, I planted. I dug in the dirt. I put flowers and vegetables into the ground. I watered them. I transplanted them. I felt the cool, leafy plant life on my skin. I practically fell asleep standing up last night. All of that physical work and fresh air was like a lullaby.
On some level I know I am trying to punish myself. If I push hard enough my body will feel my disappointment in it. Through hard work and aching muscles my body will redeem itself. If I get everything in order I won’t be a failure. If I just keep moving the pain will sort itself out and I’ll be able to get on with my life. If I keep moving the anxiety won’t cycle into depression. If I fill my mind with dimensions, storage option ideas, and keeping everything running as smoothly as possible I won’t have time to obsess over the what-ifs, or if-only-I-had’s. It’s all a silly distraction fueled by myth and denial, but it’s part of the process I am going through. I have to acknowledge it and let it be. This too shall pass.
I woke up this morning and I felt a little lighter. I didn’t feel so anxious. I could breath. My muscles had loosened up. The tightness in my chest was gone. My first thought was “coffee” and not “I am no longer pregnant.” I could sit with myself and just be a bit. That is progress. Gardening is therapeutic. I wish I had done it sooner, but I wasn’t ready. I had to go through the anxiety first. I think working in the garden allowed me to nurture new life in a way that I’d felt robbed of. To be part of helping something grow gave me some relief. Maybe I just needed a place to put that energy. It was bouncing around inside me without anything to focus on.
Today I think I will make some time to get back into my art studio too. I feel like I might be able to paint today and painting will, hopefully, be even more therapeutic than gardening. I need a place to put my creative energies. I am still in that mode. I need to create something. Jim does too. When I cleaned out the closet under the stairs he found some memorabilia from his youth. He’s already turning it into a collage. He said it makes him feel better.
I am hoping tomorrow I will wake up feeling a little less anxious than I do today. I just have to allow myself to go through the process.