I don’t know about y’all, but when I’m anxious, I’m not sleeping well. And when I’m not sleeping well, I get more anxious. This cycle SUCKS. I’ve been living in it off and on for the past few weeks and there is definitely a big part of it that’s my own fault.
Minute to minute, it doesn’t feel like there’s that much happening and I’m sitting here like Why am I anxious? But when I sit and think about it, I have every reason to be feeling that way: there are some really big changes happening at work that are increasing my workload by a lot next year and I’m having all kinds of feelings about it, the closer the wedding gets the more stressful it feels even though we’ve taken care of so much, there’s some stuff with my family, the dude and I are talking about future stuff and so family planning is on my mind… it’s a lot and I totally get that that’s why I’ve been having trouble sleeping. It’s also partially my fault because I’m not prioritizing yoga and I’m excusing myself when I don’t do it, I haven’t been meditating, and I’m also not using my acupressure mat. I definitely contributed to feeling the way I do by not following through on my management, and I own that. So here’s what’s happening:
Ok. So this day is going to be awesome. I’m very excited to stand up in front of people I love and promise the dude that I will support him, encourage him, help him grow, be his partner… And I’ll get to hear that from him, too. We’ll be surrounded by people who are rooting for us and that’s such a great feeling. I’m looking forward to it: to experiencing all of the emotions, to getting to see everyone in one place, to everything. I’m also looking forward to being done. The planning is intense and there’s so much to keep track of; this is not a sprint, it’s not a marathon, it’s not even a triathlon. It’s a freaking Iron Man followed by the entire Tour de France. I keep waking up in the middle of the night to add questions for our site coordinator to my list. I keep writing my vows in my head. I keep worrying that something will fall through the cracks and cause major problem (I’m not naive enough to think that the day will be perfect or there won’t be problems; I’m worried about forgetting to bring our wedding rings or something big like that). Because of that, I’ve got about 14 different lists that I add to at all hours. I keep thinking about how long the day will be and – while wonderful – how much energy it’ll take. And that’s not even getting into all of the emotions involved: there are the family dynamics that come with being the kid of divorced parents, there’s making sure we communicate with everyone and that we have the wedding we want while also acknowledging that this has a lot of meaning for people other than us, and there’s the dad. There’s so much about the planning process that makes my grief for him fresh all over again. I think about him every day, and it feels like a piece of my heart is missing. I know he wanted me to be part of their family, and I know how he felt about me. He always made me feel safe and taken care of, and knowing that he won’t be there is heartbreaking. Plus, he gave the best hugs ever and I don’t get to have one after we say “I do.” I will never be able to have the wedding I truly want without him, which makes the planning process hard because I already feel like I’ve been forced to sacrifice a big piece of how I wanted the day to be. It makes it hard to plan to have a happy day. It makes it hard to get perspective on the fact that all of our other parents are there and they love us and this day is important for them, too. I’ve also got some stuff going on with some family members that’s been difficult and has consumed many of my therapy sessions lately, and it’s definitely taking a toll. And, to be brutally honest, there’s a sizable chance I’m going to have a panic attack. Not only are they shitty, but the aftermath is so tough that I’m almost more scared of that; I don’t want to look drained in my pictures. I don’t want to be exhausted before we even get married. I don’t want to have trouble processing and forming new memories; I want to remember it, damnit. My plan for my time between when school gets out and the wedding is to up the length of my yoga practice to an hour, to practice 5-6 times per week, to meditate and use my acupressure mat every night, and to write. I’m also trying to make sure that I have strict limits on how I’m spending my time in the days leading up to the wedding. I want to prioritize yoga and make sure I have alone time. I want to avoid going to a million different things each day. I want to give myself extra time to sleep. I know that being intentional about those things is going to help a lot. I also know I need to start assuming that I’ll be anxious; I’ve found that it actually really helps, because I’m able to start accepting it and then it’s not that bad when the time comes.
This next year is definitely going to be something. Normally, I teach 2-3 classes of 9th grade English, 1 class of AP Psychology, and then something else like a small group focused on reading. Due to a whole bunch of things, we went from 4 English teachers to 2 for next year, and it’s a huge change. Next year I’m teaching 2 classes of 9th grade English, 2 classes of 10th grade English, and AP Psychology. If that was the only thing, it wouldn’t be so bad. I actually started out teaching 10th grade and could have updated that curriculum for next year. But nope. We’re undergoing a shift and adopting an English curriculum that the city has backed, which means I have to start over. From scratch. For both grades. The College Board has also shifted the AP Psychology structure this coming year, and even though that’s mostly tweaks, it’s still a pretty good amount of work. Anyone who’s a teacher, or who knows a teacher, knows that all of this is probably about 1000+ hours of work(that’s a fairly conservative estimate that doesn’t take into account things like making copies, meetings with my co-teacher, and grading). I want to be clear, here: I can do this, and do it well. I’m great at my job, I’m organized, and I’m focused. I got this. I’m not actually anxious about this. I’m talking about it here because we know that stress and anxiety go hand in hand, and like I said before, talking about something way in advance helps me to wrap my head around it and prepare for it.
I just want to say three things up front: I think I’m going to be a good parent, I think the dude is going to be a good parent, and I’m under no illusions: it will be awesome and exhausting and stressful and full of joy and a million other things. Again, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m actively anxious about it(though I’m sure I will be when we actually start trying/I’m pregnant). The dude and I have kind of had this timeline in mind that seems like a good fit with regards to careers and family planning, and, like most big things, it’s always felt kind of far away. But we’re actually pretty close to it now and it’s just crazy to think that this might be happening in the not-so-distant future. It just feels like this whole level of adulting that is so, so different from where I am now. Not that I feel like a kid – I don’t – but I also don’t feel like it’s time to be An Adult With Kids. Like, what the hell. I think part of that is that we’re still in the middle of wedding planning, which has been a big undertaking. I kind of just want to not be planning something big and life-changing for a while. I’d like to go back to not having to keep track of a million things, especially while I get my feet under me with regards to the changes at work. And I know a lot of keeping track of things becomes routine with parenting; I guess I just want a little more time with life as I know it before it changes irrevocably. I also know that’s really all it is – anxiety about change. And I also know from experience that change can be really amazing and freeing and joyful. But I’d liked things to settle down for a bit before we take the next big step – moving, getting married, and starting a family is a lot for one year.
How do you all deal with big life changes? What have you found helpful?