Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Time and Tide Wait for No Man

coloring helps with my ocd, anxiety, and depressionI colored in public today.  In a coloring book.  The only people I've actually seen coloring in public are preschoolers, but I didn’t really care.  My fellow patients in the very busy dentist's office waiting room may have given me weird looks, but I was too busy coloring in those flower petals to notice.

Because today has been a rough day.  Not super, super rough or debilitating…just kind of rough where the intrusive thoughts enter my brain and just linger there for awhile.  I really want to make them go away, but they just hang out.  

One of my weird obsessions is time.  Obsessions and compulsions can be about absolutely anything, and time and I have a complicated relationship.  I almost don’t want to even write about this because I’m afraid it might make it worse, but here goes.

My days are pretty predictable: get up, get us all ready for the day, feed the kids breakfast, do an activity, lunch, naps for kids (devotions, finances, blog, etc., for me), activity, dinner, activity, bed.  Everything is pretty flexible, but there is some structure to our day.

I didn’t always used to be this flexible.  In fact, I used to be so terrified of free time that I would completely over plan my day.  As long as I had something planned, I felt okay, but if not?  High, high anxiety. 

It took until age 23 when I met my husband to start to let go of the compulsion of a crazy busy calendar.  My husband is very laid back.  He enjoys his free time and relaxation.  He doesn’t want to be super busy all the time.  He appreciates leisure without being lazy. 

I have changed a LOT in the past 10+ years since we've been together.  I now enjoy being flexible.  I like having a fluid daily routine that isn’t exhausting.  Sometimes, though, that obsession about how to fill my time comes back.  Like it did for this afternoon.

Today is a rare day when I have childcare for several hours.  Now that I have less professional responsibilities, I don’t need nearly as much help with the kiddos.  But I had a dentist appointment and another doctor’s appointment this afternoon with what I estimated to be an hour in between.  You would think I would welcome this time out of the house by myself.  Most stay-at-home moms would be ecstatic about this, right?!  But take a look at my thoughts:

"So two appointments with an hour in between.  How will I fill it?  Uh, oh, is this going to become a problem again?  I need to resist planning anything so this doesn't become a problem again!  Why am I this focused on something that other people would undoubtedly enjoy?  This isn't normal.  Why can't I just be normal?"

That anxiety caused more anxiety.  Instead of just worrying about filling time this afternoon, I started focusing on how I would spend the rest of my time before I had to leave for my appointments.  

It's not like I don't have enough to do.  Laundry, dishes, quality time with the husband and kids, blog posts to write, meals to plan and prepare, shopping, decluttering, connecting with people, exercising, working, gardening...the list could go on and on.  But I so don't want this to become a problem again, so I worry about it becoming a problem.  And then it becomes a problem.  So very frustrating.

Back to this afternoon.  As this post's title says, "Time and Tide Wait for No Man," and this afternoon inevitably came.  My first appointment went 30 minutes over.

"No problem, I'll just drive the 20 minutes to my next appointment and be a little early.  I can hang out in the parking lot and start my blog post or something."  

After having a relaxing few minutes starting this post (surprise, I had nothing to worry about in the first place), I went in to my appointment.  And found out there was a scheduling mixup (my error).  I had no appointment.  And the doctor was double booked for the afternoon.  And the nurse practitioner couldn't see me.  So...more free time.

Coffee and computer at Starbucks - blogging and relaxingBut I was fine.  Even though my plans were changed, I didn't get irritable or cranky like usual (a side effect of my OCD).  I rolled with it.  And I have a chance to finish this blog post - at Starbucks, which is never bad!

I wish so badly that things that (I assume) are so easy for other people would not cause so much anxiety in me. Free time?  Most people wish for more.  I'm working on what it means to have balance in my schedule.  Balance so that I don't overextend myself and wear myself out.  Balance so I don't pass on this free time obsession and compulsion to be busy to my kids.  Balance so I can be a good steward of the life that God has given me.

And we won't even talk about my other time obsession with how it works and figuring it out and we all only live in this moment and then it's gone, and I feel paralyzed when I think like this, and...that's a story for another time.  :)