You know those 2 am post traumatic stress moments? You know, when the “worst case scenarios” come out of their closet, throw open all the tidy drawers you kept closed in the light of day, strewing the folded ‘what ifs’ and sullying the newly laundered, ‘maybe we’re past the worst’?
Last week I was this basket case, wondering if the physical therapy my daughter was now engaged in to help strengthen her muscles, was doing damage rather than good. She had come back from an appointment earlier in the day complaining about how sore she felt. Usually, sore muscles are a sign of pushing beyond one’s comfort level or norm. But in the recent past, too much stress on her physically (trying out a new sport) had most likely led to a relapse in her illness. Now awake and thoroughly surrounded by those guilt tripping needlers in my mind, I was giving in to my fear.
How did I not make myself more anxious than I already felt?
I had to get out of bed so as not to wake my husband, find my notebook and write down those fears. Also, I wrote down the facts of what had happened that day and in so doing remembered what her physical therapist had told me about how long she might be sore. 3 days he said, (and he was right), but I had to live through those days and see for myself, all the while listening to her “ow’s” and needs for neck or back massages, (which I was glad to accommodate). Each day the pain subsided a bit and I kept this, and my 7 years of experience, as my mantra.
Writing has been one of the most important things I’ve been able to do when I can’t do much else. I was able to go back to bed and sleep. And in the morning I went to look for a poem I remembered by a woman named Anne Harrington. The opening stanza is piled like a stack of laundry and reads:
Emotions piled in a corner
One on top of another
Too busy to get to…
I could get to them, I just couldn’t make them behave until I could put them on paper.