Like most people these days, I spend a good amount of time reading online. Blogs and online news articles have replaced books and magazines for me to a large extent. I follow a lot of blogs and pages on Facebook, and have some sites that I visit independently. I'm on my iPhone mostly when I'm nursing.
Lately, I feel like every article I read is either about a terrible tragedy, a child getting molested or otherwise abused, horrible and extremely rare accidents, which chemical is going to kill me and my family today, an “expert” telling me I’m parenting all wrong and alienating my husband and messing up my kids for life, or (and this is my least favorite), a judgmental, negative rant written by one mom criticizing the methods of another.
I often joke about being neurotic, but I definitely have anxiety with varying intensity based on what is going on in my life at any given moment. Little things like crumbs on the floor or forgotten tasks can become big and overwhelming. Because my anxiety directly relates to my feelings of depression, no matter how rare that is at this point, and because anxiety causes me to lose it way more than I like, I’m making every effort possible to reduce as much stress as I can in my day to day.
I realized that being exposed to the types of news and articles I outlined above, even though initially I may feel like I have learned something, or even if I feel there is some entertainment value, exacerbates my feelings of negativity and anxiety. Whereas someone who doesn’t have my personality traits may be able to brush bad news off (like my husband, for example), I become influenced by whatever I’m reading or seeing to the extent where it affects my mood, or worse, my general outlook. I’ve always been this way. When I was younger my sister would marvel at how much whatever I watched on TV influenced me, and I would stay transfixed on it for days.
I want to be inspired, and I feel like that’s so rare these days. The ultimate voyerist’s playground, the media allows us to see and read about things that were once private, or maybe just not reported. Everything has a yin and a yang, and though media, the internet and social networking obviously has many benefits, sometimes it just feels like too much information is out there. And stupidly, I’m reading ALL of it.
Every story about child abduction, abuse, etc., makes me think of my own kids and what I would do if something like that happened to one of them. Every freak accident I read about makes me fearful of trying that food/going on that excursion/playing that extreme sport. I can guarantee I am killing my whole family bit by bit, as I am sure that despite my best efforts, I haven’t gotten rid of all chemicals in my household (we microwave in plastic! Egads!). Every check in on Facebook ensures at least two or three articles on a page I have “liked” telling me what parenting mistakes I’m currently making. And then there are those judgmental articles written by moms, which have made me completely paranoid whenever I do absolutely anything in public with my kids, as I am sure someone somewhere is judging me (whether they are or they’re not, I just don’t want to know about it. Ignorance is bliss, at least in this case). When this happens several times a day, every day, it’s overwhelming. Meanwhile, my life is passing me by.
The thing is, I just want to be happy. I feel like I am finally ready to let go of my anger, which is a huge step in the right direction, and something I’ve never been able to say before. If it makes me more vulnerable, well, so be it. I have to trust that my friends and family love me and won’t hurt me. I’m tired of being in control all the time. I’m ready to let go. I don’t want to yell at my kids anymore. I don’t want to be mad at my husband anymore. I don’t want to have enemies anymore. I don’t want to think about the past anymore. It’s such a relief. It feels like I can finally breathe.
So. Here’s where this all ties in for me. I need to unplug. And then reboot.
I will spend less time online. I will unplug from negativity. I’ve already unsubscribed from various sites that post nothing but dribble and don’t contribute to my well-being and happiness. One popular site I used to visit often is gone from my bookmarks (they were the worst offenders in terms of reporting absolutely horrible news I otherwise would never come across). I’m not sticking my head in the sand, just not letting sand get thrown in my eyes.
I will cherish my friendships and my loving, amazing family. I’m so lucky to be able to say that I have friends for life, and my family is the center of my universe. I will nurture and cultivate those relationships because I value and appreciate them. I will avoid negativity in those relationships as well.
I will drink in every moment I can with my children—even thechallenging ones. I’m going to stop washing the dishes and look at my son in the eye when he tells me a story. I’m going to hug my daughter gently when she has a potty accident. I’m going to hold my infant close and kiss her when sh ecries. I’m going to hug them and kiss them every day until they are sick of me.
When in doubt, we will dance. Lately, when things are getting a little too serious, I put on music and we have a dance party. It makes everyone happy and no one remembers what the fuss was about.
I will take lots of deep breaths. Recently, in situationswhere I’m about to lose it, I stop, close my eyes, and take a deep breath in and out. Just those three seconds allow me to calm down enough so that I don’t yell/grab/freak/have other insane reaction to a ridiculously silly issue. In that breath, I remind myself that it’s ok to let go—it’s ok to not get mad. I still lose it at times. But it’s getting so much better.
I will count my blessings. I’m probably the last person on the blogosphere to do so, but I’ve recently discovered the lovely and extraordinary Stephanie Nielson, and watching her count her blessings has inspired me to do the same, probably for life.
I will have gratitude. This is totally not my idea, but I love it. Each day I will take the time to write down what I am grateful for. I imagine the list will get long very quickly.
I will pray. I am more spiritual than religious, per se, but my faith is strong and I need to lean on it more. Every time I pray I feel better afterwards.
I will look into my husband’s eyes every day. After all, he is the reason for all of this. He has helped make me who I am. He and I have created this family.
I will try to find something lovely and precious in every single day. Even the worst days are filled with miracles.
This isn’t a new me. It’s a better, upgraded version. I’m sure there will be bugs to fix, but I know that it will be a much smoother running program. A reboot.