Not too long ago, I woke up on a Saturday morning, walked downstairs to find piles of things on the counter, dishes piled in the sink and trash strewn around the floor. At that moment I was overwhelmed with stress and guilt. I went from a messy kitchen to fears that my kids might go to prison. You see, my mind is not like yours. A messy dish in the sink is not what it appears to be. It transforms, like in a horror/sci-fi movie into a symbol for all things I have failed.
Here is how it went:
“Oh my god, I can’t believe how messy this kitchen is, why didn’t someone take care of it. Well, Jennifer, you could have done something about it if you hadn’t gone to bed at 8:30. Normal people stay awake till 10 or 11. Why didn’t someone else get these dishes taken care of? Your husband tried to do his best but you never seem to appreciate what he does, only criticize him when he doesn’t do things your way. I wish someone would see the value of having a clean kitchen in the morning. Well, if you had taught you kids to be responsible, you would have a clean kitchen. You have never been able to stick to a plan. You give them consequences and don’t follow through. These poor kids, you haven’t even successfully given them chores. They just tend to get what they want. How are they going to navigate life? What will they do once they go off to college. Hah, they might not even be able to handle that since you have been so remiss in teaching them responsibility. They will probably end up in prison some day because you were never able to teach them the importance of doing dishes.”
On a good day, this is the point at which the insanity stops. I can start walking back these issues, evaluating them on what is subjective and what is fact. Fact is, the dishes are dirty. That doesn’t mean they don’t respect me, that doesn’t mean anyone is going to prison, it just means that the dishes are dirty. Frankly, that doesn’t even mean that the dishes MUST be done. I could leave them there. I could throw them away and buy new dishes. There are a lot of options. My mind just tends to go to the most dramatic. I catastrophize everything. If my husband is late from work, it isn’t because traffic is bad or because he left a little late. He has certainly been killed on the way home.
All of this is part of my addicted mind. These are the reasons I drank. These are the reasons I binged. Today I can settle my brain from spinning out of control and not turn to a coping mechanism that forces me to forget. My most reliable, in the moment release is to cry. Today I cry more like I did when I was 13, but that’s okay. Crying probably won’t kill me. Though, I could probably weave a scenario that makes that a possibility.