Anyone who has been reading my blog for the past two years knows that the annual visit from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law each summer is usually a giant source of anxiety for me.
Without going into the details out of respect to my husband, let me just say that while I love them both very much, it’s very challenging for me when they are here. They don’t come for a weekend — because they live in El Salvador, they come for 3-5 weeks (though we’ve put the kibosh on those long visits the past few years). There’s a language barrier — my Spanish isn’t very good anymore and is about as good as my mother-in-law’s English, which means a lot of communication gaffes and a lot of me tuning out the situation around me once I lose the train of the conversation (even with my husband translating, it’s hard to keep up). My mother-in-law is a lot older than my own parents, and far more traditional so culturally there are some major differences. And finally, my sister-in-law is sweet as can be, but 37 and severely mentally challenged, which just adds to the complexity of the situation for a variety of reasons.
And though I haven’t mentioned it yet here on the blog, they’re coming for their annual visit and arriving at O’Hare around 2 a.m. Monday morning (the only direct flight from San Salvador to Chicago).
I’ve already decided I’m just sending the hubby this time (usually they arrive on a weekend but this time it’s a work day and in addition to being pregnant and genuinely needing rest, I have to be cautious now with my va-k time). But unlike each other time … my anxiety levels are — dare I say it? — “normal.”
In other words, I don’t feel any pre-emptive fear of the situation … usually I’d be panicking months in advance, driving my poor husband insane (after all, this is the only family he knows, and their prolonged presence is hard for me to handle). But with what I’ve learned in therapy — especially reframing — I’m able to look at the situation pretty objectively now, and feel like things are going to be OK this year, as they were last year. Maybe even better?? (Attitude is everything, isn’t it?)
I almost feel like maybe I hit the proverbial tipping point with respect to this situation.
I’m not going to go out on a limb here and say it’ll be a perfect three weeks (my own parents would drive me nuts after that long!), but the very fact that I’m not stressing over it or dreading it is a huge step in the right direction. I don’t know if it’s being pregnant now and being able to focus on something else … or if it’s I’ve become desensitized to the annual pilgrimage or what … but whatever the case, I feel like a better person for it and am just hoping to keep up a positive attitude.
And as my husband already reminded me — if I need a breather, or to lay down, or miss a night out … no biggie. I have a legitimate excuse, and need to be –above all else — listening to my body.
I just wanted to share this today because I think it’s moments like this when I realize how far I’ve come. We’ll see how I do … but right now, my top priority is the health and well-being of our unborn daughter (whose heartbeat was a beautiful 144 bpm this morning and she’s kicking as we “speak” — guess she liked the delicious grilled cheese and tomato sandwich that her mommy had for dinner ;))
How about you? Have you hit an anxiety-related tipping point that you’d like to share? How did you cope?