This is what my eyes look like after a long night:
I had been up many times, in the bathroom, not in the bathroom, thinking about loss, and what happens if, and what happens if not, and why isn't the treatment working, and when can I REALLY go back to work, and S just committed to a college, and G is learning how to drive, and E will be going to high school in the fall, and did I forget to do the dishes last night, and how many times have I asked my kids to put their stuff away, and how will they learn to put their stuff away if I can't I put my stuff away, and what will I do if my brace isn't fixed by Monday, and why is the dog breathing that heavy, and how many rolls of toilet paper did we go through this month...
It was a long night.
Now the sun is shining brightly, and the sky is blue, and I spent some time talking and listening with my son, and ate a yummy lunch. And all the thoughts and worries from the long night have passed. Will they come back tonight? Probably. But the heavy thoughts are not as prevalent as they once were.
Creating positive experiences, recognizing the good, and making note of them have really helped alleviate the anxiety that comes at night. It began with my friend teaching me how to be positive. Beyond the month of November when the masses tend to focus on the things they are thankful for, this friend does it all year long. She does them as an affirmation of what is good in her life. I remember reading about her thankfulness and wondering, is she a positive person because she is thankful for the little things, or thankful for the little things because she is a positive person. Egg/Chicken. Didn't really matter. I needed that type of affirmation in my life.
So I began posting what I was thankful for on social media, which was my way of putting the positive out into the universe. (Granted I also posted other things, probably some that were not so positive, but I am human after all) And then that egg/chicken thing began to happen to me. I was having trouble keeping track of which was coming first. Did I always notice the way the trees bent over the roadway to make a natural bridge, or was I just noticing it because I was focusing on the good things in my life? Was the cashier at the supermarket always friendly, or was he being more friendly because I was kinder to him?
December 2015 came upon us. I was out of work a lot, in the bathroom a lot more, and just feeling very run down. I knew I was having a terrible flare of my ulcerative colitis and I tried to fight through it. January I went out on disability, and my husband lost one of his jobs. Soon after I spent a week in the hospital. The mood in our home was less than positive. We were all feeling less than thankful. I was trying desperately to hold onto the good, and see the good, and reflect on the good, but it was getting more difficult everyday. I needed a way to bring "today's good" into our home, to change our mojo. So this is what I did:
This was our "today's good" board on the very first day. I started it with "blue skies and bright sunshine", and immediately my son mocked me. I didn't care. I really felt that way. It had been cloudy and rainy and just generally miserable outside for days - a true metaphor for what was happening inside our home - and the weather outside was life changing! And soon everyone in the house began to add to it. And to top it all off, our last entry of that day was "this chalkboard", an addition made by my slightly cynical son. My heart was so full of happiness and hope, that maybe this little board was going to give us the boost that we all needed so desperately.
We don't write on it every day. And there are some days that we don't erase it. I think about erasing it, but then I don't - I want to hold onto those goods just a little bit longer. There are no rules. I can if I want. And it isn't magic. There are days when we are grumpy and scared, and feeling lost.
However, I know having the board and making note of what is good in our lives is one way I can get over the hump and alleviate some of the anxiety.