Anxiety vs. Depression

“When I am anxious it is because I’m living in the future.

When I am depressed, it’s because I’m living in the past.”

Easy for me to say, right? I don’t suffer from anxiety, but I’m thinking I did when I was in my 20s and definitely when I was in high school. The thought of talking in front of people terrified me. I was wound pretty tight. Mom had a way of cutting you down for the least little thing, and I was a great target. She was only doing what she knew. In those days, kids weren’t complimented or encouraged verbally. You had to be modest, humble, and quiet. At least that’s how our life was. Dad worked nights, it was hard!

We get anxious multi-tasking. We get anxious trying to be the best Mom or Dad in the world. We get anxious when we have so much “to do.” Take a good, hard look at your list. How important are many of those tasks? This time of year especially, do you really have to hand ice and decorate 427 cookies for your kid to take to school? Buy them instead! Don’t stress. I’ve lived that life. It isn’t worth it. I used to have such a let down after Christmas. I would spend months preparing for it, buying things on lay-away, wrapping late into the night, baking thousands of cookies. After the big day, I was depressed. Nothing to look forward to. Dang! Every year, over and over.

Don’t get me wrong. The holidays are hard for me. I always thought I’d have a ton of grandkids, and everyone would come to Grandma’s house for Christmas. Life didn’t have that in store for me. I’d love nothing better than to have little ones squealing on Christmas morning in my home. All our kids who have the five grandkids have the right to celebrate Christmas morning in their own homes; and those homes happen to be in three states, miles away form Grandma/Step-Grandma and Grandpa/StepGrandpa. I respect their right to stay home. I used to have to take my kids away from their fun, new stuff, and go to my parent’s home for Christmas dinner.

I didn’t mind when dad was alive, but things changed dramatically after he died. My brothers partied a lot, didn’t show up, then Mom was full of anxiety about where they were. My kids eventually brought that to my attention, and we started staying home, just the four of us, and make our own traditions. It was wonderful. I was so used to the cycle of anxiety, worry, and resulting depression; it was earth-shattering that my teenage son pointed it out to me. He has a gift, still does. He is a deep thinker and observer. I do believe he saw the Light when he drowned as a child. And yes, he had to be revived three times, it was a drowning. God’s been very good to me. Lots of second chances. He’s a forgiving God. We need to pay attention to when He is offering guidance. Most of us don’t.

It’s easy to go beyond today and worry. When I was a single Mom, it was a lot of financial trouble. I had great credit, thanks to the law passed in the 1970s, giving a married woman her husband’s credit rating. What struggles! I only earned a little over $5 an hour, made the house payment, and all the utilities. Child support was very low, $133 per kid; no alimony. The payments became very sporadic when wife #2 either didn’t pay on time or bounced checks (he let her pay the bills, after moving in together when they only knew each other for two weeks). It led to high anxiety. She was not a nice person. Mean to my kids, especially my Becky.

At any rate, here we are, nearly 40 years later. I cannot believe I survived that. Was it scary? Sure. Did it break me? No. I was Beth Dutton before there was a Beth Dutton. (Not entirely. I mean I was a strong, willful woman. Not the bed-hopping you see on Yellowstone). You get what I’m saying. I had to be hard, harsh to survive. That carried on through the years, and made a wall around me. The more trouble, the better we did.

By the time the Babe and I met, I believed I’d be alone forever. Thank goodness my daughter made me go meet him. Had some high anxiety with that blind date. But here’s a guy who’s easy going, respectful, and has the clearest blue eyes I’ve ever seen. Did someone let Paul Newman into Coco’s? The clear blue eyes struck me the most, he wasn’t a drug user, and quit drinking over 5 years before we met. Bonus points for quitting smoking six months before that, after his dad died. He conveyed his love for his kids and his country. Proud Veteran.

Wow. Lots of stress just left me. He stuck around to show me he was worthy of being trusted. That was huge. We deeply trust each other. Being part of an equal couple is incredible if you’ve never experienced it. I’m so grateful I found out it does indeed exist. And I have it right here at home. God continues to be good to me.

The depression happens when you spend too much time rummaging in the closet of your memories. Although I mention my dad and how I miss him, I don’t dwell there. I cannot. It’s not healthy for any of us. I could really dig a pit if I sat and thought about things during this season, especially. Our Grandfather died on Christmas Eve, when I was twelve years old. It’s so hard to have a huge life event happen on a day the world celebrates. My dad died on December 7. Pearl Harbor Day. A day of true infamy for my family. Again, we cannot dwell on what’s in the closet of the past.

We have to be grateful for NOW. We need to celebrate NOW. Moving through grief causing events must be done. You cannot wallow in all the real or imagined hurts of the past. I know someone who does that. It’s sad. They’re brilliant, could travel the world if they wanted, yet they stay locked in the closet of the past. Sad. Healthy grieving and remembering is good for everyone. It acknowledges who sat in that empty chair at the dining room table. It also makes room for growth, and someone else can sit in that chair. Live in the NOW.

I’m actually looking forward to putting our newer Christmas tree up this year. I’ve already asked Gavin to help me decorate, and he’s all in. It will make a nice, new tradition for me. The lights on the tree in the evening are something I enjoy so much. I have to concentrate on that, and what Christmas is really about. It’s about the love of God, sending His Son to save our souls. It’s truly about love. And we need to remember that first and foremost. Let’s remind each other. It’s a deal! Thanks for reading today. See you tomorrow! Be kind out there.

Don’t Look Back

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is credited with the phrase:

Look not mournfully into the Past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the Present. It is thine.

I don’t know about you, but I have done this. I miss the times when my kids were little. It was one of the happiest times of my life. It was the hardest work I’ve ever done. Seriously. To help form a little human, teach them right from wrong, how to love each other, and how to be street-wise to protect themselves from those who prey on others.

I pictured life as; the Babe and me with a bunch of grandkids. The reality is; three live out of town. Two live here. We have our share of fun with them. I sometimes wish the Sunday dinners would have materialized. Life doesn’t work that way anymore. If I let it, it could make me sad.

Instead, I’m grateful. We have different good times that usually include ice cream. Addison and Gavin both request it when we’re out. Ice Cream is one of my favorite things on earth. You cannot be in a foul mood when you’re having ice cream. Right? What I’m grateful for is; my reality tells me those dinners would be hard for me to prepare. So it’s easy to dial it back. If it’s not realistic; let it go.

You can’t know what you know now if you live in the past. About how to live. About how to survive. You can’t have it both ways. We often hear, “If I knew then what I know now.” We can’t go back. We can’t take information backwards. Only forward. Our parents likely raised us as they were. We have difficulties with that behavior. Times change. “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” is a philosophy that can see you arrested for child abuse. The only thing achieved by beating a child is submission, low self-esteem, and timidity. Not physically beaten, my spirit was pretty beaten up. I needed to be who I needed to be, not a clone of others. It caused me a lot of confusion. Now I revel in it. I’m different. And there’s a reason I am.

I believe it’s how God wants me to be. It’s how I can best do what I’m good at. Telling stories and spreading hope, love, and encouragement. I’m a naturally curious person. I’m a detail-oriented person. I’m unafraid now. These are all gifts from my life. Now I can use them to tell stories which help kids and women. People raised by an old standard. No one owns anyone else. We are all meant to be free. Be who you are. The sky is the limit. Join me on this journey. Kiss yesterday goodbye. It is of no use to you now. Look ahead with joy and excitement. It is all out there for the taking.

Thank you for reading today. Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Be who you want to be. Live your life for yourself. Be who God intended you to be. Be YOU. Observe the world. Observe other’s stories. And go out and live a great one for yourself. See you tomorrow.