Trapped Inside My Racing Mind

Dear Punky,

Mommy is so in love with you. So in love with your smile and your laugh. With your imagination and your creativity. Mommy is so in love with being your mom. So thankful to have that chance. But, while I sit here and think about all the things I am so thankful for and so happy to have, a weight lays heavy on my heart.

I will never be the mom who participates in school functions that involves ‘fitting in’ with other moms. I won’t be the mom who chaperones your dances (I’m sure you will be thankful for that). I won’t be the mom who is actively involved in a play date group. My mind doesn’t allow me to feel comfortable in any of those settings. I hope that when you get older, it will not weigh on your heart as heavy as it weighs on mine.

As you get ready to turn 3 and a half, AND A HALF (where did the time go), I wonder what I have done to facilitate friendships for you – or have I contributed in isolating you. I try. I hope you know that I try. I intend to do so many things with you.

Even a trip to the park makes me uncomfortable. Makes me tired. Makes my hands sweat and my mind blur out of focus.

Will that strange mom I don’t know try to talk to me? Did I encourage her to come over with some look or something? What is so interesting about me that she has to come over here and talk to me? What do I possibly have in common with that woman? What does my face look like right now? Oh my god, I know I must be the most awkward person on the planet. This woman thinks I’m weird. Oh look, I’m the weirdo who came with her kid to the park by herself and doesn’t make any attempt to talk to adults, just her kid. That mom says you are adorable, of course you are. Did that come out snotty? Shit, I didn’t mean it to. “Your little girl is brave!” Is she secretly judging my parenting, letting my three year old climb this gigantic damn tower. A tower that the sign clearly says is made for 5 and up! Is she waiting for me to fail. Am I waiting for me to fail? Do I look fat in the shirt, I probably shouldn’t have worn this color, the pattern is too much. Maybe I can go sit on this bench over here, oh, now the whole park can see all my rolls. You’re the kid with the fat mom, awkward mom.

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All these thoughts go through my head, in a matter of mere minutes in the park. I want to enjoy my time with you. I hide behind the camera instead, so that I don’t have to engage with random people. Oh, but look, now I’m the mom on the cell phone, not paying attention to her kid. The park is exhausting.  So when you ask me to take you, I want to say yes, and in most cases I say, “Yes, baby, we can go later.” Because I have every intention of getting off my couch and out of my laptop and taking you outside to play with other kids. But, my dear one, Mommy buries her head deeper into her own thing, so she doesn’t have to think about what will happen when we step outside the door and greet the day you are sure to have a blast in. SO we don’t end up going.

Let’s don’t forget the ride to the park.

Are you buckled in right? Is the carseat proper? Oh jeez, don’t post that picture, someone will surely have something to say about the way she’s sitting in there. It’s probably wrong. Look both ways as we drive across the street, what if someone side swipes us? What if she unbuckles herself back there? Those M&M’s you just had to have at the store and just couldn’t wait til we got home to open, I opened it. But then all I could think about is – it could choke her and then I won’t be able to get back there fast enough. Then I will have a wreck and I will kill my kid. Knowing my luck, I’ll be the one to live. I can’t live without this kid. And if we don’t crash, what if I leave her in the back, no baby don’t stop talking back there, I zone out sometimes and I don’t want to forget you back there. Sing me a song, tell me a story, and though I don’t sound like I’m listening, I am. Oh I am. It is reminding me that you are back there – because there are so many times that I have looked in the back seat and expected you back there and you aren’t. It only takes one slip of the mind. No matter how precious you are to me.

Sweet girl, I know you get sad when I go to work, I get sad too. Believe me – it takes every ounce of my energy to push myself out the door every morning. A battle, a war inside my mind. And I love this job. Don’t you know, this job is the best thing that could have ever happened to Mommy. But I still war with myself about leaving and driving there and being gone and not seeing all the things you are doing here. I would rather be sitting on our couch, watching you build a fort or serenade with a new made up song. But mostly, I would just like to zone out and not be in a car on my way to work, away from you.

What happens if someone tailgates me too close in the morning traffic? What if I sneeze too hard and close my eyes, veer to too much to the right and cause a wreck? What happens to you when I die? What happens to your mama? If I don’t make it to work, we don’t have the money for the new house we live in. If I don’t make it to work, you don’t get food in your belly. If I don’t make it home, who will tuck you in at night? If I don’t go to work, I can’t get you presents and fun stuff. But why go to work, it doesn’t pay enough to get you into preschool, where you could socialize, where you could be with other kids and not be sitting at home, bored and stir crazy. But to work I must go.

My mind is not that of a calm and peaceful stream. Instead it is a raging rapid of thoughts and worries. irrational thoughts. It should probably only get worse as you get older and though I am so thankful for all the things you bring to my life, I’m sorry you got me for your mom. Because it won’t be easy. It will be frustrating. For both of us.

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We will butt heads, we are similar in that way. Stubborn, strong willed, whatever you want to call it. My psychiatrist (that’s the fancy doctor who gives me medication for these thoughts that don’t quiet) just says I might be made to be irritable. Basically, this moodiness, this reactive nature I have is not going away, it’s not something we can medicate. It’s his clinical way of saying, your Mommy will always be a bitch. Always lash out and always react to the most ridiculous of things. So in some ways, I’m a lost cause, in that way. Something we just have to live with – work together with. My patience is thin, my nerves are short, my worries are plenty.

But I will always wrap you up in my arms when you are hurt. I will always tell you that your drawing is beautiful, even as you beat yourself up because you “messed it up” or “ruined it” because to me, all the things you do are beautiful. You are the beauty of my world. You bring the bright spots to my mind. I will always hug you and kiss you as I tell you that you can’t lock your Mommy out of your bedroom. Not because I don’t respect your need for space or “alone time” or even privacy at three years old; but because the only thing I can think about when I can’t get to you is that if you get hurt, I can’t be there at a moment’s notice to kiss it away, make sure you are alright.

When you jump off the side of the couch, I don’t scold you because it’s wrong, or that I don’t want to encourage your adventurous spirit. My heart catches in my throat every moment. And while you are having the time of your life, flying through the air, the end result for me is seeing you face first on the hardwood floor, bloody lips or worse.

I’m not the mom who will toss you up in the air and catch you. I’m not the mom who will encourage you to swim in the deep end. And for that, I apologize. Its selfish of Mommy, it’s not fair to you.

May you always keep your creative spirit. May you always keep your adventurous spirit, in spite of me.

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May you always know that I love you in the best ways I know how. May you always know that I want to keep you safe from harm, but I recognize I’m not able to do that. I also recognize you aren’t as breakable as my mind makes me think you are. You are a strong little girl. A smart little girl. Sometimes too smart.

So as you grow, let’s grow together, love. And hopefully, I won’t damage you. I won’t break you down to where I am. My hope is not to teach you to be afraid of the world. My hope is to help you venture out and see the world. My hope is not to teach you to mistrust everyone, to second guess a compliment or a friendship. I hope you don’t grow up to wonder what your friends really think of you when you aren’t around.

And maybe, just maybe, even when we fight and butt heads, because we will; oh we will, my love; you will know that I love you more than any person on this planet. In the whole universe. I keep you with me, you lighten my burdened mind and my worried spirit, even if it doesn’t appear that way.

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I’m a mom with agoraphobia with associated panic disorder and PTSD. It’s a part of who I am. It’s who I will always be. I’m the mom that is described in this letter and so much more that I can’t put into words. My mind doesn’t stop, my world doesn’t stop spinning, but my sweet sweet little girl keeps me grounded, here in the present and as light as my mind will allow me to be.

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4 thoughts on “Trapped Inside My Racing Mind

  1. One of the hardest tasks we have as parents is to not project our own issues, big or small, rational or not, onto our children. Keep up the good work, Rachael, and keep on believing in that beloved child of yours. May you both make each other better, more capable people.

  2. Friend, you are the best mom that Punky will ever have. SHe will know, that despite whatever flaws you have (as parents we ALL have flaws) that everything you do it for and about her.

    Have you ever tried a therapist that specializes in CBT or DBT? My mind used to function in similar ways to yours, almost like a snowball effect when I got to lost in thought. My anxiety manifested in OCD. I would look into finding a a therapist that specializes in either…it makes the world of different, and even though they may not be able to “fix” it 100%, they might be able to give you a little better advice then your therapist did. That comment from him didn’t sit well with me…thinking of you and sending you love…

    • Thanks for the suggestion. I’m seeing a new therapist tomorrow, so we will see how that goes. My psychiatrist, who was the one who said that – left the practice, so maybe the next one will be better LOL. Thanks again!

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