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A Season of Scared

A Season of Scared

I live in constant fear.  Walking on eggshells, whispering my first words in a conversation and bracing myself when I hear the door shut from their arrival have become the norm.  It started about 2 years ago when my oldest turned 13.  My household now includes a 15 ½ year old and a 13 year old – thus the reason for my perpetual state of panic. 

I worry about them driving.  I worry about what is happening on their phones.  I worry about why they don’t talk to me.  I worry about when they do talk to me.  I worry about if what they wear is appropriate.  I worry about if they are where they say they are.  I worry about them being seen for their authentic selves.  I worry about them in the face of a culture of social media, sexual assault, bullying, and school shooters.  I worry about drugs and addictive substances that now taste like bubble gum. 

There is not a day that passes that I don’t experience distress from these thoughts.  The last time I felt this fear my children were 7 and 5 and I was in the midst of divorce.  I was a newly minted single parent with the weight of seven worlds on my shoulders. 

My worries were many.  Was the divorce ruining them?  Would I have enough monthly income to support my household?  How would I pay down the debt? How was I going to survive a Christmas Eve without them?  Where were we going to live?  The constant stream of scary thoughts overwhelmed me daily.

I learned how to cope with my many fears in that season. I set up a budget.  I made magic happen during the holidays for my children – even if it wasn’t on the exact day.  I was present for all of our feelings around our changing family structure.

In hindsight, I see that I learned to shift my focus to those things that I could control.  I no longer fell captive to my spinning thoughts but instead moved into action to prepare for and prevent the worries.  To-do’s provided a balm to my rattled state of being. 

During this season of scary, I see that now I can schedule a driver’s ed class.  I can set limits for phone use.  I can insist on meeting their friends and getting those parents’ phone numbers.  I can choose to be present and listen when they talk.   I, once again, can shift my focus to that which is in my control and set my fears aside.

Angela Dunne