The other day I was rushing through Kroger trying to get some groceries for the week with a whiny four year old that I had the honor and privilege of caring for by myself for two whole days whilst the boys went off to play hockey in luxurious, exotic Decatur IL (ha-ha). Missy has taken whining to a level I do not remember, have forgotten and/or blocked entirely with M Bug. If Bug whined which I am sure he did maybe I dealt with better? Ack who knows…
As a rather large side bar, I have been really aware of myself and how I interact with people for a while now. I know I often wear a sour face and I am rushed/stressed out/tired or I get worked up when things are not going my way there for I get kind of spacey or clearly I cannot manage my emotions and I say some really stupidly lame things (not hard on myself at all...) The sour face is a mask. A way to keep people from interacting with me, a shield from the anxiety I feel socially. So I have been working on being more gracious and enjoying the little things in life, the people around me and the moments when I have a chance to shine. It is hard work for me to be sure.
Hockey has been a good lesson for me. I have infinitely enjoyed getting to know the parents on the team. This was our first kid’s activity besides Soccer where we finally met people whom we liked and actually wanted to visit with and get to know them and it was good. But I did find myself constantly protecting myself there and limiting who I could meet and how I interacted with them. I found myself kicking myself mentally for being that way. I would look at Kevin and see how much he was enjoying himself and I just assumed it was because he was in his element but in my heart when I really thought about it I knew it was that I was closing myself off from people out of fear and anxiety. I know I have said it recently that I want more. I want a less limited social world as I am tired of the way I have been living. I know it is better to be out there enjoying life and not holed up in my house feeling unhappy.
For me this is about simple things that most people just do. Smile at people, keep a happy look on my face, talk to strangers in a conversational way, and enjoy the moment. Just typing those things gives me anxiety. In the form of report when I am able to be aware and conscious of how I am in public it has been great! Honestly. I cannot pinpoint the time frame when the anxiety gave way to many things like losing good positive relationships for negative ones or developing poor ones (making poor choices with the people I chose to spend my time is more apt) but I can say it goes back years and years. I found that I would take the instant gratification of people who were not the right fit in my life (over and over and over again like Oh my God can I not learn this lesson still at 39?!) and cover up my nerves and anxiety with alcohol. I think the mixture of alcohol in the teens and 20s really lead to a lot more harmful relationships but that is another story.
SO I was with my whining four year old and she was being a bear. I had dragged her to Kroger with the promise that afterward we would most definitely make those chocolate chip cookies together and I got through the grocery line. It was a busy Saturday afternoon and as per the usual with Kroger no baggers so I bagged my own groceries which totally does not bother me but it does not give me the chance to focus on anything besides helping the cashier and seeing the looks from the people behind me like ‘Oh GAW she has cloth bags that damn hippy dippy’ (Oh I know they are not thinking that… just my anxiety ho ha ha aren't you glad you get to see inside the workings of my head?!) I started to walk out and Missy stopped to get an antibacterial wipe from the ones they provide at the door. I was slightly annoyed but I got her the wipe. In going back to help, the cutest little old man walked out pushing his cart. He reminded me of K’s grandpa and I even thought that. But I had sour mask face on in helping Missy.
In dawned on me later that I had so many chances to smile at people in that store and I did not take the chance. I could have smiled and said hello to that older gentleman and I did not. He even tried to make eye contact with me and I ignored him. I felt sad about it because I thought what if he lives alone and he enjoys these store interactions. What if I smiled and said hello and we both would have been felt better! I was sour and tired and grouchy and I could have turned my whole day around by being kinder, happier and spread smiles to others maybe brightening up the endless gray of winter. I guess my point of this to remind myself and other that smiling and kind words and gentle gestures go a long way. I am still working on this and I am proud that I gave myself the chance to think about this older man and to tell myself that it was okay that I did not succeed that Saturday but there are other chances in life, that I should work harder to take them and enjoy this life in the moment because it’s the only one I have.