Dangerous curves up ahead

I have a very busy couple of weeks coming up.  Busy is always a bit tough for me because I desperately need time alone to recharge, and with more on my calendar, that simply gets harder to do.  These next few weeks also have several things that I know are going to trigger some stress and anxiety.  And with that comes lots of nasty depression symptoms and a general inability to react in emotionally healthy ways.

In the span of two weeks or so, I will have enjoyed (endured?) all of the following:

  • A weekend away, which is always a stressor with the kids.  Sharing a hotel room with three kids?  Not exactly a fun time, especially with managing the noise and the jumping.  Always with the noise and the jumping!!  Why is it so hard for them to understand that there are people all around us???
  • A celebration with my husband’s family – which isn’t a difficult thing in and of itself, but there are definitely some triggers there in terms of my view of myself and my role in the family.
  • Not one, but two functions at the kid’s schools.  Normally one of those in the span of a month, like lunch with my daughter, would take a lot out of me.  But two?  That’s asking a lot of my critical self.
  • Visits with each of my sisters.  Like me, they have more than their fair of Stuff from my mother and my parents’ obliviousness to emotional health.  But yet they’re not like me in that I’ve spent more hours than I can count in therapists’ offices wading through the crap so that I can function better and maybe be healthy.  Time with them usually drains me because I want them to understand what I now understand, and to help them see things differently – but that’s not for me to do.  They have to travel their own journey – IF they choose to do so.  It’s frustrating for me.  Also, I get tired of how they never care enough to reach out to me except when they need something.
  • The arrival of a new puppy!  Yes, we’re getting a dog (again).  This is both exciting and terrifying for me.  It’s a well thought out decision for us, and I do think that now is the right time – but it scares me nonetheless.  What if the addition of One More Thing on my plate ruins whatever delicate balance I might now be developing?

I’m sure I’m missing something but that’s the general gist of my next few weeks.  I can say all of it now very flippantly, but I can see the potential for all of this to be a sharp turn up ahead that I can’t manage.  And, like many of us, I fear that this curve might be the one that really throws me off the road, that takes away whatever progress I think I’ve made recently.

So what to do?  Normally I would stick my head in the sand, becoming more and more anxious until I’m in reactive mode.  I suppose I have to admit that this hasn’t exactly worked for me, despite my repeated attempts.  🙂  I need to manage things differently this time.

First, I guess I give myself some kudos for recognizing these stressors in advance and for trying to be proactive about managing them.  This may be second nature for many but this is a new approach for me.  I want to avoid reactive mode and then spending crucial emotional time and energy wading through the aftermath.

I guess the next step, then, is to figure out what tools I can use to help.  Sufficient sleep, exercise, healthy eating, mindfulness.  Maybe self-compassion too.

But I still end up wondering what else I could be doing to prevent me from driving off the road.  What do you do when you recognize difficult times ahead?

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9 thoughts on “Dangerous curves up ahead

  1. Yes, I validate your kudos for recognizing the stressors in advance! Well done. Congratulations for also thinking about ways you can deal with them before the event! There’s one battle fought and won already.
    When I have tough times ahead – argh, I dunno. It depends on the type of tough time 🙂 For me, given the number of ‘public’ engagements, I’d schedule extra solitary time, but that might not be an option for you. Also, for me, given the amount of contact with relatives, I’d prepare specific supports for those times – talk to my husband, talk to my therapist, make sure I’ve got appointments at helpful times – but again, that might not be an option for you.
    I don’t feel as though the things I might do would necessarily be helpful for you! But I will be thinking of you. Take care x

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  2. Oh wow! I’m in the same spot as you right now! I relate to your needing “alone time to recharge” and also have a busy few weeks coming up that I’m a little anxious about. I’m happy that I’m aware that it could be difficult tho because it’s allowing me to mentally prepare for it a little better and come up with plans to deal with it. Good job! Thanks for sharing, I’m glad I’m not alone (:

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    • Thanks for reading! You’re definitely not alone. 🙂 I don’t usually come up with plans ahead of time but I’m hoping that this new approach will work better for me. I hope that you’re able to find some strategies to help you, too!

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  3. Ohh, that sounds a hectic stressful time ahead. Good luck to you.

    As you asked for strategies, here’s my stream of consiousness, for what it’s worth.

    First off, can you work out what you have control over and what you don ‘t? Then try and minimize the impact by controlling the things you can, and mentally resigning yourself to the things you don’t.

    Eg, I know I find visiting my inlaws stressful, so we try and plan timings and mealtimes carefully. So, we don’t stay too long (which annoys them but boy is it less stress for us) and my husband vetoed one of their eating out suggestions recently as the venue would cause stress for us (same chain as the venue of my Worst Mealtime Ever, when they took us out once before when they were visiting us). And when they planned to come and visit us on 31st October we put them off a couple of days (perfectly reasonable as we’d just got back from travelling) because I know my kids want to go trick or treating and I know this would really uspset them (as they feel strongly it’s not Christian).

    So, can you tweak things a little? Are you visiting your sisters or they you. Would it be less stressful to eat in, get takeaway or eat out. What about timings. Are you going to go on an outing? How about pre arranged signal with hubby if you’re feeling overwhelmed. One of the things I find most stressful at my in laws is that I’m no allowed to do anything at their house, I can’t hide in the kitchen and wash up for 5 minutes peace and busy hands (I once got shouted at for washing up wrong – hence hiding in my room) – but hopefully your in laws are more understanding. What will make you feel at ease? Helping out, reading to the kids, sitting quietly in a corner?

    As for school, just remember how much fun your daughter had last time. Ask your kids what’s important to them about the funciton. Seeing you in the audience, having a photo taken etc, and focus on that as your goal, rather than the other parents. They wont be looking at you, they’ll be cooing over their own precious darlings anyway.

    Good luck with it all!

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    • “Cooing over their precious darlings”…that makes me laugh. Thanks for the amusing image.

      Also, I appreciate your point about separating the things that I have control over – and working on creating things for myself to make those easier for me. It’s much more proactive than what I’ve ever done before but your examples give me some ideas.

      It seems ridiculous to say but I think it might even be helpful for me to sit down, visualize each of these situations, figure out what stresses me out – and then write down ideas of things I can do to help myself.

      Thank you. 🙂

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  4. Yes, just remember, the fellow parents at the school function are actually all ginormous cooing pigeons so they won’t give a damn about what you’re wearing etc.(but seriously, they’re not there to see you, they’re there to see their offspring).
    And don’t forget you already did the control analysis thing. When your mum was visiting you realised that you don’t have control over her negative comments but you do have some control over how you react to them. And if you can make progress in how you cope with your mum, surely coping with your sisters will be a walk in the park in comparison!

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    • You’re right – I did do some of that with my mom. My sisters pack a bit of a wallop in their own right, but certainly the buttons they push aren’t nearly as intense as with my mom.

      Pigeons, pigeons, pigeons. Love it! 🙂

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