As I set about my intention to sit back a bit from life, I find that old patterns return, clamoring for attention. It can be hard to stay calm when situations arise where I used to consider myself totally responsible.
I’m beginning to ponder, seriously, maybe for the first time ever, that perhaps I am not responsible for the emotional state of every person who comes into my life – and especially for those I consider, for one reason or another, family.
It’s quite shocking to sit back and feel myself panic as some old anxiety arises to take care of situations that are not mine. I have such a long history of attending to the panic of others that I feel panicked when I do not immediately respond to take away their panic.
This does no one any favors, I’m realizing. If I make myself responsible to take away someone else’s panic or anxiety, I’m really increasing my own. I realized today after a conversation that involved someone else panicking about something that really wasn’t my problem, that I felt as if I were being physically pushed up against a wall and the air squeezed out of me. Except – the old pattern is that I believe I deserve that treatment.
Outwardly I remained calm, took the children for a walk, ended up getting an apology for the blahblahblah of anxiety that was never my business to hear or deal with in the first place.
And hours later it’s sinking in. This is about me. If I take on other people’s stuff, as I’ve done for – I guess my whole life? Yow… If I do that, now, as a fully grown woman, then I pay a very high price. No one’s anxiety is allayed. Panic increases exponentially. And I can literally, at this age and with the self-knowledge I’m developing, I can literally feel my blood pressure rise. I know that sounds a little crazy, but I swear I can feel it.
It can be difficult to triage a situation when I’m accustomed to stepping in and dealing with it. But I had a test of a different way to handle something tonight. My daughter burned her fingers on my iron (awww – she was trying to see if it was hot enough yet for me to iron her perler beads for her). I looked at her little red fingertips and I could see pretty quickly that this was going to hurt like the dickens for a while but it wasn’t going to blister or require medical attention. So I explained that to her while I helped her soak it in ice water, and we spent some time together talking while she soaked her fingers, took her bath, and helped me walk the dog. This was a real mini-emergency. It required attention. It required assistance. And I stayed calm, and everything was fine.
So – this is really how most, if not all, of my life works. Stay calm, remember that just because somebody with a loud voice is panicking at me doesn’t mean it’s my problem, and remember I am as free as I want to be. Because the very very worst thing about trying to be the person who makes it all better for everyone is how completely trapped I feel. I literally feel myself asphyxiating.
Time to do even less, then. I suspect that about the time I start to consider myself lazy, if I dial it back about another 50%, I’ll be at about the healthiest level of activity, intention, and action, for my body and my spirit.
I think the fact that this makes me nervous is probably a sign that I’m right about that.
But – it also feels really nice. It’s not about neglecting my chores or my children or my passions or the people I love. Not at all. It’s about giving myself where I freely choose, and completing my daily tasks with a view to self-care more than external pressure.
Scary peaceful. That’s how this feels. Ha.