Anxiety = Distraction = Stupidity
That’s usually the formula when I get super-stressed.
Nearing the end of my pregnancy with Julia and a hectic school year, I rushed from my teaching duties to get Bella at daycare. A tractor-trailer truck making a delivery pulled off the road just enough to make me think in my altered state of mind that I could squeeze through, but not enough for me to actually do so. My side-view mirror thwacked against the bottom corner of the loading shelf at the back of the truck, leaving an ugly black gash. The truck was none the wiser, my little car a gnat flying by in great, stupid haste.
A year or two later when I was stay-at-home mom leaving the house solo for the first time for an extended period of days for a writing institute, the mornings were harried to say the least. I zipped to the adjacent capital city and through the busy streets, late of course. On one particularly narrow street always lined with cars, I again misjudged my time/space continuum and thwacked that poor mirror. I’m surprised that poor thing hasn’t just shriveled up and fallen off the car in protest (though the automatic adjusters are not quite as precise anymore). Perhaps it would have if it’d happened a third time.
Luckily, it didn’t. This morning, it was almost the front end of the car that got it. And it was not an inert object on the other end of the deal. Fortunately – for the mirror, the car, and my marriage – all that occurred were many angry faces directed at me through two windshields worth of glass.
What is it about anxiety that makes my mind go elsewhere?
Postpartum, it was intrusive, irrational thoughts that invaded my consciousness. My thoughts are no longer reaching those levels of irrationality, but the fact that they’re more ‘normal’ is almost worse. It’s easier for the distractability to fly under the radar until it’s nearly overwhelming, until it’s almost too late.
Except for the moments when I freakishly self-aware. The moments when I can feel my thoughts spinning out of control; an energy boiling up under my skin threatening to force its way out and roll on down the street; my mind grasping for one singular thing to hold onto and coming up empty. At those moments, it’s like I’m at the center of a maelstrom of thoughts, worries, ideas swirling around me with no one stationary object to use as a marker.
Planning meals for the week and writing a grocery list? Choosing which household chore to do first in the limited amount of time before the kids get home from school? Prepping the house for a realtor’s evaluation? Aaahh! I’m supposed to prioritize in this state of mind? Choose from myriad options and lists of items? No wonder I drive into things. I’m driven to distraction. Unfortunately the next stop is stupidity.
I must get a grip – maybe it just shouldn’t be on the steering wheel till this storm passes.