Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Value of a Well-Timed Freakout.

I'm learning rather quickly that people who know me in person see a vastly different person than those who know me solely by the words I choose to use in any kind of public, permanent space. In general, I find that I tend to come off in text as authoritative, competent, certain, and blunt.  Blunt seems to be the only thing that carries over regardless of the format you know me from.

You see, I have this weird habit. I don't know that it's actually worth calling a habit, as I don't do it intentionally, but all the same, it's something I do.  About every six months, I have an epic freakout. The first one - regarding Mad Natter, anyhow - led me to The Younger Mrs Warde, and we've been side-by-side ever since. So, I'm not going to say freaking out is a bad thing - it inevitably leads me somewhere I need to go.

Thing is, while I'm in it, there is panic. It is utterly uncontrollable, and completely unnerving. It can be anything that sets me off.  Most recently, it was a "summer bridge" book. I was in the pharmacy, looking at the books, thinking that I'd find something for Mad Natter there - we'd gotten the Minecraft books there previously. I made the mistake of thinking I should look at the bridge books. And then I looked at the next level. And the next. And the next, and finally came to an area with a challenge for Mad Natter. This was a bridge from grade 3 to grade 4, but honestly, it doesn't matter. Anything more than a K-1 would have set me off. I know he's ahead, and this isn't something that's surprising to me. But seeing it, in the numbers, and right in my face? I started to panic.

It started off as a point of 'yeah, we're keeping up' almost-pride. It's always nice to see that we're not behind. But then, the reality sank in. Am I doing enough to help him grow? Am I not actually teaching him anything? Is he going to continue growing? What if it's just a fluke, and we're really behind - or worse, I find out that my then ten-year-old should be starting college? Ack!

I took to my tribe. I ran off and started dumping thoughts to my friends, the people who understand what I'm dealing with on a daily basis, who understand me, who care enough to not just write off the panic-stricken wall-of-text dropped into their timelines. And suddenly... All was well again.  I was able to take the freakout, and dump it. I was able to communicate my concerns to others, to explain my fears and shocks, and what made it so frightening. And once I got that block of communication out of my head, I was able to go back through everything said and piece it all back together.

With the help of a few willing pairs of eyes, and a bit of patience while I sorted my thoughts, I was able to come up with a plan. I was able to take the disintegration from my thoughts and current "place," and reconstruct, positively, my new framework. From the outside (and the inside while I'm living it!), it is nothing short of a full-on panic, complete with far-fetched concerns about university at ten and utter failure. But once it's over, I have a plan. I'm on a mission, I've got everything I need to move on with our year, to keep on keeping on with a challenging little boy who needs me, and most importantly, I have a renewed outlook and significantly more patience. A well-timed freakout is an exercise in positive disintegration on a personal scale for me, and while I don't enjoy them, I do enjoy the calm following the storm.

If this happens to you, know it's not a bad thing.  Know it's not inherently awful, or as if you're somehow lacking. It's just how you deal. Piling things up, then falling apart and sorting them may be exactly how you need to deal with the world, and that's okay. It beats the heck out of keeping it all in and letting it explode, fireball-style, all over your life.  Ask me how I know.