What if ____?
Why even ____?
Is ____ worth it?
I’m not going super in depth with some of the thoughts and emotions from this day—partially because they’re hard to effectively describe, and partially because I don’t want to think about them right now, but here’s a little sneak peak into what a day sometimes is like.
It’s often better to only have one major event at a time because that means recovery time is shorter. But, sometimes multiple big things land on the same day. And it’s not that they’re bad things—sometimes they’re really good things—but they’d sure be better without anxiety tagging along…
For me, Sunday was quite a day. I try to keep my bedtime fairly consistent, but sometimes I stay up a little late because if I’m extra tired, there’s an increased chance of sleeping okay-ishly. So, Saturday night I went to bed at 11pm. Close to midnight, I finally fell asleep, only to awaken too many times to count. At 5, I was awake for quite a while but then drifted off. At 6, I just couldn’t get back to sleep, but I knew I wouldn’t make it through the day on that little, so I tried moving to my couch and got another 45 minutes before the day began.
There comes a point where you’re so anxious, so much that you literally can’t worry about everything; I didn’t think I was that anxious about Sunday when I was trying to sleep, but maybe that’s why I slept so poorly. However, sleep and I aren’t tight the way I wish we were… I’ve tried and tried to improve our relationship, but sleep just doesn’t seem interested in being friends, so maybe it was unrelated.
I left for church at 8am, and 28 miles later, I arrived. I don’t usually go to a church that far away, but this Sunday I did. On the 45 minute drive, I mostly was able to focus on the roads and the music I had playing, but of course, there were some anxious thoughts that I had to shoo away like a fly—and like a fly, they kept coming back.
I had been there once before, so it wasn’t a completely new place, but much of the new place anxiety was still present. Pretty much the instant I sat down in the pew, I could feel how tense my muscles were. It’s been a couple days, and I can still feel the soreness that resulted from it.
I smiled and chatted with a few people before service started and also during the greeting time, and as far as I know, I didn’t leak much. Afterwards, there was a potluck, and I wasn’t sure what to do during the getting-things-ready time. I would have liked to be doing something, setting up tables, placing chairs, getting food out, etc., but 1) I didn’t really know what was going on and 2) I figured I would get scolded because my wrist brace provides visual evidence that something ain’t right. So, I anxiously stood by a wall. And then a pleasant older gentleman came and started talking to me. We chatted about this, that, and the other, and he told me I have a beautiful personality, which was surprising but helpful to hear.
When I got home, I got to talk to sibling number four on the phone for half an hour. Then, I played my guitar and sang worship songs for a while. After that, I cooked up some chicken two ways and worked on meal prep for the week. As I was doing that, my mind was running seven hundred miles an hour. There was some over-analyzing of the morning, but I was mostly thinking about the evening.
I have a friend who helps take care of her grandparents. She’s away for the summer, and the family needs a little extra help. Last week, the grandma called me and asked what my schedule looked like Sunday and if I might be able to take them to dinner. I said yes.
Brand new place? Check
Multiple new people? Check
Things I’ve never done? Check
Why did I think this was a good idea? What if they don’t want me? What if they don’t like me? What if I am supposed to call beforehand? What if there’s something I was supposed to do in preparation but didn’t? What if I totally mess up?
Self pep talk: Tina, this isn’t about you. They sound like great people, and it probably won’t be that much. Your friend wouldn’t have recommended you if she didn’t think you could do it, and besides, it’s just a couple hours. Do it for your friend.
The couple is in their 90’s and has been married 71 years. Grandpa has dementia, and grandma is blind, but they’re doing pretty well. They are an amazing couple and lovely people. They had a conversation and decided they would like to go somewhere to eat dinner rather than having me go pick something up and bring it back to them, so I got to drive to another place I’ve never been in another city I’ve never been to. Despite being blind, grandma told me step by step how to get there, and we arrived with no missed turns or scenic routes. It’s impossible to explain, but there’s something incredibly humbling about being given directions by someone who can’t see. I could see what was around us, but she knew where we were and where to go.
Two hours later, dinner was finished, and we returned to their home. The weather was pleasant, and some evening exercise was in order, so with my left arm as her support and her husband trailing behind with his walker, we made five trips up and down the driveway. Just as we were finishing, the daughter who lives next door and is the primary caregiver got home and came over to meet me. The four of us did crosswords for a bit and then it was time to help them get ready for bed.
All throughout, I was anxious. Driving new roads. Ordering food. Fetching little things many times. Making our way back to the car. Walking the driveway. I was illogically scared, but I enjoyed the time too. They’re super sweet and easy-going. We laughed lots, and helping people is something I love. It was simultaneously terrible and wonderful.
I finally got home about ten, but I was so on edge and tense that despite being wiped out, I wasn’t sure I could sleep. I spent about an hour and a half winding down, and then I crashed into bed. I fell asleep in less than 15 minutes and only woke up a couple times in the next 9 hours. Then, another day was upon me, and I needed my tuckered out brain for an online class. But, I went at it a little more gently and took plenty of breaks throughout the day—because sometimes, “it’s not about leaning in harder, it’s about trying softer” (Aundi Kolber).