“I have extra bandages in my purse.”
These are the words that escape my mouth when I’m asked how I am. It’s a well-meaning question, but I don’t even know how to explain the mental space I occupy lately, even to well-meaning people. I’m restless, hypervigilant, and increasingly exhausted. The level of anxiety that occupies my daily existence is uncomfortable even to someone like me who was born into stress and lives and breathes it.
Let me backtrack and set the stage for you a little. This was Halloween. And, despite all of the obstacles this year, my daughter, Bear, was dressed up and ready to get some candy. She was a witchy version of Minnie Mouse based quite loosely on something I’d recently seen on tv, and she was bouncy, excited, and full of joy. Actually, I’ve never met anyone who is quite as joyful as my daughter even under the worst circumstances. It makes my heart a little lighter when she laughs.
The whole scene was quite festive. The children and adults in our family “bubble” had gathered for pictures before what will surely go down in family lore as the strangest and shortest trick or treat in memory.
And I had extra bandages in my purse.
Not the Band-Aid kind, the kind you get from your doctor to dress wounds. In fact, I was packing pretty near a full wound-dressing kit, right down to white tubes of triple antibiotic and gauze-cutting scissors. You see, three days prior my daughter, the one who was giggling in her Minnie Mouse costume and running around, had been under anesthesia yet again. It’s debatable whether this time actually counts as “surgery” — they were mostly taking out the staples from last time — but, regardless of what you call it, my little girl had healing wounds that would need to be redressed if the bandages came off. But we were ok, because…
I had extra bandages in my purse.
I’ve become somewhat of an expert at applying and reapplying gauze. It’s an artform, one I never aspired to master. And, while my days are currently filled with snuggles and giggling, my nights begin with practicing the art of rewrapping her gauze once again. I’ve started to dread my own anxiety and perfectionism surrounding her dressings. Are they too tight? Not tight enough? Did I use good form anchoring the bottom of it? Will she be able to wiggle out of them? Are they too bulky? Am I good enough at this?
Overwhelmingly, my fear, the awful, evil voice in the back of my head whispers, “You’re not really qualified for this. You’re not good enough.”
And, I just have to take a breathe, send out a silent prayer for a steady hand, and do it anyway.
If you were hoping for a post about crushing adversity with a song and a smile, this is not that post.
My fear and anxiety is like quicksand, the more I fight it, the quicker it pulls me in. Some days, it’s like I’m slogging through muck with weights on my feet. The cycle of doctors and bandages is not ending anytime soon. This is my life now. There will be seasons where the doctors and bandages are farther in-between, but not far, and not wholly absent.
So, I just lean in, and let myself feel the fear. I breathe it in, and breathe it out. The fear is not so bad. I don’t have to let it control me. I have practiced, and I have prepared, and, with God’s help, I can still do this.
And when my fear tells me I’m not good enough, I agree, and then I do it anyway.
Because, I’m Bear’s mother.
And I have bandages in my purse.