Whether you reconcile or go your separate ways, at some point during the rollercoaster ride of separation, you start asking yourself terrifying questions.
Here’s a sampler: “What if I never have kids again?” or “What if I die alone, while my kid is with her dad, and no one discovers my body for days?”
Hello, my name is Kat, and I have my own Crazy-Making Inner Monologue.
I always thought I’d have three kids, or at least two. Of course, I also didn’t think I’d have fertility issues before I turned thirty, so it helps to factor that in. But I’m turning thirty-five in a few months, and that’s only adding to my stress.
I can tell myself that everything is going to be fine. I can totally deal with my anxiety. I actually consciously strive to balance it. I think I’ve got something of a formula down. The unrealistic and happy qualities of my positive fantasy scenarios grow in direct proportion to how morose and tragic I let my negative self-talk get. So, for example, after a bout of wondering what state of decay I’ll be in when forensics finally examines my forgotten corpse, I switch gears to a happy-ending vignette like this: Hubs and I will be friends and get along famously. He’ll meet a nice woman named Trish, who’s got a sexy accountant thing going on, and they’ll have a five-tier-cake wedding. Baby Girl will grow up, discover her superpowers (telepathy, levitation, etc.) during puberty, and become a neuroscientist/actress/the next Oprah. I’m sure I’ll be ok eventually, too.
But hold on—cue intrusive thoughts—it doesn’t matter! None of it does, because no matter what my super future holds, my ovaries still want three kids. NOW.
Crazy-Making Internal Monlogue: 1, Kat: 0.
I don’t think in this vein all the time, but the other day, while we were having some Play-Doh fun, Baby Girl turns to me and says:
“Mummy, I want you to make me LOTS of brothers and sisters. So many of them.”
“There should be Mummy Worm, and 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 . . . until next-teen of them.”
“Oh, you mean worms.”
“Ok, well let’s make some together.” I started rolling little balls of dough out in front of her, and made a worm cutout from one of them.
“Niiiiiiice, Mummy. Very nice. Now I have a sister. Can I have another please? Can I have her?”
This cycle repeated itself until we had six little worms. Each one I kneaded life into made me exponentially crankier.
“Awwww, they love me! I am such a happy girl with sisters and brothers and babies. And look, Mummy Worm is hugging them all, and kissing them. Mummy, you should maybe make a Daddy Worm. He can just be your friend.”
Really, Kid? Did you have to? For the love of . . .
“Mummy, why you crying for? Here you go. Worm-babies will make you feel better.”
So, I sat there snivelling, eyes swollen, snot pouring out of my nose, hugging six little Play-Doh worms in the crook of my neck, lamenting my sad future.
I snapped out of my pity party to see Baby Girl purposefully squeezing my surrogate children into a big messy ball with her tiny hands.
“And now, it’s a burger!”
I stared at my kid quizzically, as she made loud ‘CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP’ noises.
The next time you feel overwhelmed by anxiety, your inner voice, your internal clock, or just feel you have enough spare time to really torture yourself into imagining the ‘what ifs,’ try this:
- Stop asking 'What if?' Start asking 'How?'
- Remind yourself that you are in the driver’s seat.
- If you don’t think you are in the driver’s seat, ask yourself who is.
- Kick them out of the car.
- Laugh. There is humour in everything.
- Listen. There is wisdom in everything.
- You never know what is going to happen next. No one does. (CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP!)
And most of all . . .