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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day and the Joys of Anxiety

I was getting my hairs cut yesterday, and the lovely Korean woman was just trying to be nice.

"Where's your Mom?"

For the record, I don't make a habit of bringing my mother to my hair cuts, so this was an odd question without the following day being Mother's Day.

"You take her to dinner? Have nice time tomorrow?"

I had to mutter something to her, I couldn't just sit there, and I for sure didn't feel like getting into the fact that my Mom passed away back in 2000.  This lady didn't know that.  She was just doing her job.

Mother's Day hasn't always been hard for me, but for some reason I think this one is.  In my most recent therapy session on Thursday, we talked about the usual anxiety-is-manifested-fear stuff, but we started digging down into what I mention the most: my Father and how much I don't want to be like him when I have kids. My therapist asked me something that sort of shook me up a bit, and that was, "How are you like your Mom?"  The thinking here is that I'm trying so hard to run from my Dad that I haven't been planning a destination.  So my task is to think about the good qualities of my Mom and start bringing those into my life.

The issue here, is that my Mom and I had a very odd relationship.  I feel like I didn't take the time to get to know her as well as I should have.  A month before she died I had this epiphany that I need to learn more about her and, essentially, treat her better.  This huge loss right after a revelation like that is what made much of my anxiety manifest.  At least, in my very unprofessional opinion.  It kicked up all these fears of not being understood, of fighting to be appreciated, and the biggest of all ... what will I leave behind?

Days like this help with understanding how anxiety works in my brain.  It doesn't just mean that I feel something bad is going to happen.  In the case of Mother's Day this year, it means shame in my past and a sense of hopelessness that I can't do anything about it.  I can't change my past.  But what I can do is change my future.  I may not have actively sought out and digested my Mom's personality, but it's in there somewhere.  As my therapist says, "Two people made you, two people raised you."  I can't let my anxiety over what lies ahead impact what is actively happening in my life, just like I can't sit here and think of all the times I had to chat with my Mom that I never took.  At 19, who does?

If you are like me, and you lost your Mom, spend today searching inside for those good traits she gave you and work at making those part of your life.  We may not have flowers to give anyone, but I'd wager this is a better gift.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.