Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Ugly Truth

This is the day that I dread before any trip. I like to call it "anxiety day" for lack of a more creative title. It's the day that my husband knows is coming long before it hits, my kids find things to do to be out of range of my panicky orders to bring up a suitcase or find my headlamp. I wish I could say that I've gotten better at this but for the sake of transparency, I'm going to tell you the truth here. I know there are many for whom anxiety keeps you from living the life you want. It's an incredible hurdle that I continue to struggle with regularly. So here it is...despite all my attempts to show you the beauty of living the life I do, I'm spilling it here.

Anxiety day is ugly.

I usually wake up with a to do list a mile long in my head and no pen and paper at hand. I try to settle my mind, follow the usual morning routine, knowing that there is some comfort in sitting for a coffee and walking the dog before I tackle the dreaded tasks. Halfway through my walk with the dog, I make a u-turn and shortchange her the long route. Anxiety says that she is disappointed in me. Reality says she's a lab and happy for any moment with me that she can get...even if it's following me up and down the stairs all day, searching for my passport.

I make lists and lose them. I throw things in a suitcase and then sort them out again. I pack toiletries too soon, with a week ahead of me to have to use them. I chase down converters and chargers, cursing my procrastination in not having created a designated spot for them all despite my regular schedule of travel. I begin to dread having to leave the house and drive around town to pick up malaria prescriptions, travel insurance and a photograph for an international driver's licence for which I've never been asked.

I play Candy Crush.

I look in the fridge for inspiration.

I try to calm myself by sitting outside in the autumn air for just a few moments with a pen and paper, in case I'm forgetting something.

And then, I go back to what I know. That on the far end of the to do list, is a community of friends that I can't wait to be with. While I'm running around trying to check things off my list, they are walking the dirt paths and sitting in dark homes, listening to the stories of their neighbours. They are cooking for 100 children and then going home and cooking for their own. They are organizing their stalls at the market and their siblings to man them, while I wonder about packing down the size of my sleeping bag and mosquito net.

I want to stay in the space where I remember why I go and not get caught up in the anxiety of going...but it's never easy. I'm so glad Easton is coming with me but it brings another level of obligation and anxiety as well to wonder about his needs and his experience.

It's Wednesday. A week from departure. It's anxiety day. Tomorrow is Thursday and if I get this out of the way today, I am hoping that I can set this anxiety behind me and begin to get into the proper mindset for my time in Zimbabwe. I know this....that when I'm walking the dirt paths and sitting in dark homes, listening to the stories, none of this is going to feel like anything I should have worried about in the first place.


Brett Glanzmann said...

I appreciate your transparency here, as I struggle with similar "anxiety days". They are for different reasons, but I can relate to the paralyzing low-grade stress you describe here (especially checking the fridge for inspiration). Thanks for doing what you do!

Shelly VanB said...

Thanks Brett. I appreciate the empathy. : )