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?