I dropped my kids off today. All of them. We had been very happy about this. After laboring towards patient parenting for 7 years, I was also looking forward to today. I’d never had all three out of the house at once, and the strangle squeeze on my insides grabbed me by surprise.
We used to have this black cat when I was a kid who would hide in our plants. In the middle of the night when I’d occasionally wake up and go to the kitchen to get a drink, she’d jump out at me with her claws. While walking today between preschool, kindergarten, and 2nd grade, life jumped. What left me breathless was how easy it was to get rid of my kids. Appropriately by social standards. School you know. They’re doing what they need to do. And just like that, if I wanted, they could be mostly gone. I suddenly felt how it could happen to us, easy like that. Like a body returning to dust. My spirit, my soul, my essence yelled a loud “Wait!”
My reaction can be confused by some as a hidden desire. Sure, I acknowledge the obvious need for parents, including yours truly, to get space from their kids. But that wasn’t the slap I felt. It was fear.
I’ve treated many mothers, but one in particular comes to mind. She voluntarily admitted herself to the hospital because she was afraid she would hurt her baby. She wasn’t fantasizing about it. She was having specific vivid imaginings that cut into her consciousness. After enough of those, she lost confidence in herself and hid. She confused these day-terrors with a fear that they were really some unconscious desire she didn’t understand. Common for panic disorder. It is the medical disease that historically gave us the phrase of “I feel like I’m going crazy!” With medication therapy she returned to a capable woman who trusted herself.
Have you ever noticed that in the Bible, whenever God or an angel is talking, they almost always start out by saying, “Fear not for I am with you,” or some version of that? I didn’t, until my kids came home from Vacation Bible School 2 years ago, and the refrain for the week was “Fear Not!” They still scream it at each other with glee. I love that about God.
However when I hear that Bible verses or prayer or God should make us overcome fear, I am more than bored. I’m angry. Fear comes for many reasons. It isn’t a spiritual thermostat.
Today I did several things to deal with my fear. I cried. I prayed. I went to work. I felt better. However, my patient did not feel better after doing those things. What should God have done for her fear? I knew that she came to my hospital. I knew that what she felt were symptoms of a medical illness affecting her human brain. I knew that medications could play a part in helping her. Maybe that came from God.
Question: What do you think? Agree? Disagree?
Self Care Tip #31 – Fear not! Be a friend to yourself.