Not unlike most people, when I love a song, I blast it. My ideal song has a deep, throbbing bass, so when I turn a song up as high as my ears can take, the bass is felt almost more than it’s heard and I feel like I’m physically wrapped in a song. And when I’m wrapped up like this, there is nothing more frustrating, to the point of it almost being painful, than having to stop and turn my attention away.
Sometimes, this is how my brain works. I’m a loud talker, but I think louder, especially when I’ve snatched a moment alone and I’m doing something monotonous. I think deeply and quickly, covering a broad range of topics, from whatever daily anxiety I might have (“Oh, that car payment is coming up!”) to something entirely out of left field (“Hmmm…mushroom death suits…“). I once had a therapist tell me, that this was a form of mediation for me, that I’m giving myself an escape. Maybe, but I think not.
There are lots of problems with having my thoughts turned up so loud and furiously. For one, it makes it hard to relax. Most who know me would argue I’m wound pretty tight. And sometimes it’s hard for me to fall asleep at night, or worse, I will fall asleep, but then dream so constantly that I’ll wake up the next morning more tired than the night before, feeling as though I’d lived a whole other life in my sleep. But worst of all, it makes me angry.
Think of the frustration I mentioned earlier, the painful frustration of having to tear myself away from that cocoon of music. My thoughts often cocoon me, too. I will be doing something, usually cleaning, and fall deep into some reverie. I hear, but not really, my children calling for me, asking for something. It’s difficult for me to pull myself from my thoughts, and so they say my name over and over, at an increasing pitch, and I’m not quite ready, not quite able, to respond. When I’m finally able to be present, I’m angry, frustrated that I’ve been forced to pull myself away my thoughts and annoyed by the (objectively understandable) whininess of my kids.
I’m angry, but my kids don’t know why. They wanted a cup of water or a snack (which, honestly, does get annoying, but that’s another story) or to see if they can go outside to play. Of course they don’t see the difficult extrication I’ve just had to pull off, removing my suctioned-self from my brain. They just see Angry Mama.
(To be frank, I’ve never actually, fully, considered this before. I’ve never put this down in full words, and the sight of it shames me and breaks my heart.)
This happens more than I care to share. To say daily would be close to accurate, perhaps if we averaged it all out. And it’s a problem I’ve been aware of, at least peripherally, for quite some time.
I know that it happens when I’m stuck in my own head. I know it happens more when I’m tired or it’s been a particularly long stretch of time alone in the house with the them or my period is coming. I know it happens less when I’m on anxiety medication. I know it’s not them. I know it’s linked to my anxiety, and that a particularly difficult day, when I’ve snapped at them quite a lot, will push me into a deep funk, the precursor to a crushing depression.
What I don’t know is how to change it.
When I was thinking about this post in the car (another place where I tend to fall deep into thought), I thought about how I needed to clear some space in my head. It’s a mess up there, and I don’t necessarily say that disparagingly. I kind of like my head, the way my mind works, I just don’t like getting stuck in there. And I suppose it could use some tidying up.
I think this all boils down to learning how to be in the moment, which is such an abhorrently over used term it’s hard to know what it really means when someone says it. The best way I can describe what I mean is to compare it to a very messy room. When a room in our house gets really out of sorts, I just pick an area to clean. Usually I start with clearing things off the tops of things, a table, a couch, a dresser, etc. Then I move to the floor. Then I wipe everything down, if it needs it. What was originally an overwhelming job suddenly becomes easy, because it was done piecemeal. Being in the moment, mindfulness, or whatever you choose to call it, makes me think of that process; it’s a methodical tidying of one’s mind.
I’m truly unsure of how to do this though. I’m certain I’d benefit from seeing a therapist again (a different one than from before, though), and I ought to take a stab at meditation (which is conveniently listed as one of my Little Enoughs), but beyond those, I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe those would be enough.