'When in doubt,… panic!'
This idiom is a local one, coined by my Dad.
The words are well lodged in my brain, down deep and entrenched. The White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland is my twin. When you see a woman running around in circles, flapping her hands and repeating 'oh dear me,' that in fact would be me, or rather it would be, if I had allowed the idiom to rule my response. Instead I ignore it, stomp on it and resolve to vanquish it forever.
I haven’t always been a nervous type, despite this early introduction to the concept. Nor would I describe myself with that delightful term ‘laid back.’ I’m somewhere in the middle, or at least I used to be, until I found I was surrounded by children and outnumbered.
I receive sage advice from other people in the trenches regarding OCD. I remind myself that this is familiar territory. The difference is just that this is a different version from the one I'm used to. I’m used to a three or four year old’s version. That version was his little brother. I need to dig up and brush off those strategies to apply them to his older brother.
In the meantime, I resolve that whilst I may not be able to help him immediately, I can work on my own attitude.
During the course of the average day I am 25% annoyed, 25% irritated, 10% cross, 10% frustrated, 10% dithering, 9% grumpy, 5% confused, 5% switched off, and 1% falling about with hysterical laughter. This little glimmer, lights up the whole day and makes the other percentages dissolve. I believe this to be a fairly typical, moaning Minnie, British type.
That said, I have also noticed that as we simmer, bubble and boil during the average day, it's like existing in a high octane tank. Any stray spark is enough to ignite the whole caboodle. They are so volatile. What triggers a meltdown this minute may be of no consequence on a different day or a different time. As a result I am hypervigilant too, waiting for the shoe to drop, or rather be hurled across the room. Lets face it, shoes are torture for some people.
I spend my waking hours chanting 'om' in my brain. I string together a whole slew of lies, 'you can do this, I know you can,' 'remember to breath, this is easy,' 'concentrate, don't lose it now,' ‘try, try, try again.’
The words I say to myself are generally the same words that I say to my children, which is convenient but a little patronizing.
When that moment comes, as it so often does, instead of spontaneous combustion, I find I drift and rise into a state of balmy calm. The petty irritations and annoyances bleed away. I am almost weightless. I am left clear headed and untroubled. I can suddenly see that everything really is fine and that all is well. I becomes easy to make the right decision, to prioritize and cope with whatever it is this time.
It is a very reassuring ability to have acquired. The first time I felt this response viscerally, was when I lost one of them in a park. The family we were with, were in a state of panic, bless them. Not me, not externally. Rushing around like a headless chicken wouldn’t help. There was an emergency broadcast system, why not use it and lock the place down? It sounds so cold blooded and maybe it is? Same as when the house caught fire. What to save? Why the children of course and then start the hosepipe once I heard the fire brigade were on their way. I could list any number of ordinary domestic and family disasters over the years. What do you do if an acquaintance sits on your chest and tries to strangle you? Well yelling isn’t possible and she’s almost double your body weight. Tickle her of course.
A clear head, that’s what you need, and when you need it, there it is.
I’ve had my fair share of days of being a blubbering heap on my own kitchen floor, incapable and incompetent but when that next feather floats down, the little chip or straw tips the balance, we have no option but to cope. I don’t care if it’s adrenalin or laughter, it’s always enough to part the foggy clouds.
Now, what I need to do, is to artificially import that attitude to the other 99% of my day.
I wonder if there is a 'step by step' guide on-line? I'm sure I can find something to download.
Maybe I'll upload instead?