Stop This Train

How do I shut off the interior noise?

How do I ignore the gritty, tacky texture of frosting on my fingertips and ringing the ring on my finger?

How do I remember that the ashes on my forehead are an outward sign that everything I do is in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

How do I stay focused with the distraction, the inability to focus, gravity pulling me elsewhere, my eyes to the side when they need to be focused front and center?

My brain feels fuzzy.  It has that detached feeling that comes with being unhinged.  “Unable to prioritize” as the postpartum/anxiety literature says.  That’s a nice neat term for what I’m feeling.  A gross oversimplification of the split between my rational and emotional selves.  I can prioritize.  My mind can still order things, ranking them in order of importance.  But my [free will, stubborn mule, FU factor, overwhelmed stressball of anxiety – pick one or all of the above] ignores that list, places it behind a film so the suggestion of it is there, but I can’t quite grasp it.

In the sleep-deprived days following the birth of my third, I finally came to understand what my grandmother and other relatives described as a futile searching for a word in conversation.  You know what you want to say.  The idea is fully formed in your head, but you cannot transmit it out your mouth and to the understanding of those around you.  Grasping, pinching, clutching, coveting those words, like a linguistic Scrooge, you can’t pull the one you need down from the clouds in your head.  You would share if only you could.  Being at a loss for words truly brought home how sleep deprived I was.  With the birth of the second, third, et al, child, you don’t have a choice but to continue on with the routine of your family as if nothing happened except a new addition to your family and sleepless nights.  It’s easy to ‘forget’ or repress how damn tired you are – until you stammer like a blithering idiot because you truly cannot form a sentence.

That’s the sensation I get now – only not with words, but thoughts.  I cannot light on one particular thought before being pulled to another before it’s fully formed, and another and another, ad infinitum, until I write obsessive lists because I’m so desperately afraid that one most important thought will fly out of my head.

With my three year-old chatting next to me and the priest’s microphone shut off for the second half of mass so his words only slightly permeated the walls of the cry room, I actually did get some peace.  Before the microphone went off, a handful of most important words permeated the walls of my heart.  Everything we do is in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Comforting and terrifying at the same time.  The ashy smudge on my forehead, at least for today, gives me a tangible reminder to hold my tongue, cull my words carefully, not let my obnoxious, self-absorbed anxiety-ridden self rule my role as mother, wife, human being.  I want to ooze peace, love, and hair grease (well two of the three anyway).  I’m in my own miserable little world lately, but I need to relate to the greater world and try to improve at least my little corner of it.

It’s hard to break out of rotating loop of mindchatter, though. – especially when it comes at you like the feed from a manic channel surfer.

So how to do it?  Shut off the TV by going to sleep?  Prayer?  Beating my head against the wall?  Go on vacation?

Any suggestions?

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4 Comments

  1. My advice to you…acknowledge how amazing you are. No, seriously! You have three small children, a home, a husband AND you are a writer. That’s akin to being a one armed plate-spinner! The fact that you make it through a day and still have the ability to write these beautiful streams of consciousness is a major accomplishment. Go make yourself a warm beverage, watch your beautiful children run, talk, and play and think to yourself, “I am amazing.”
    Because you are!

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  February 15, 2013

      One armed plate-spinner. Now there’s an image I like. And that makes me laugh. That always helps, too! As do your words of encouragement. Thank you.

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  2. b. butler

     /  February 14, 2013

    Put the three year old in front of her favorite movie, etc and take 20-30 minutes(set timer in beginning) daily in your special corner(make one with meaningful objects, flowers, candle) and focus on your breathing to clear your mind and meditate. If you want to read a brief inspirational message first that is often helpful ie Jack Kornfield. . Sit in yoga position or on a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor(without shoes if practical), arms supported by arms of the chair and thumb and forefinger connected. Start with in breath (count 1-1000,2-1000,3-1000.4-1000)hold to count of 7 and than let it out slowly. If you repeat even three cycles your BP and heart rate will decrease and you will start to relax. Reference The Relaxation Response. I had a friend with five children who would do something similar for herself every morning and the children knew not to bother her until she was finished. Taking this time as a young mother with or without anxiety is life saving.

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  February 15, 2013

      The Relaxation Response. I actually can hear those words in your voice from when you introduced them to me in New Hampshire. Thank you for some ‘sound’ advice. xo

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