Wisdom from Chocolate

A story of Valentine dreams & Anxiety woes

We were supposed to go away this weekend. Valentines day is my favorite holiday, I’m a romantic at heart, helplessly designed to love all that romance has to offer. It’s kind of ingrained in me. We rarely go away just the husband and I, and we haven’t been anywhere in such a long time. We found a good babysitting option and a cabin in the woods that we were both SO VERY EXCITED about.

To have time without the kids around, Sigh. To be by a fire and not have someone asking us to do something, Relief. To just be us, Dreamy. We were going to hike in the snow and get warm in the hot tub. Oh yes, we were pumped. 

Well a few things started happening that made our plans crumble. Our daughter’s first showchoir performance was scheduled for the same weekend. Ugh! It wasn’t on our calendar when we booked the trip. (Palm to forehead, Doh!) It was going to be kind of a big deal for her to miss it if we went.

I began to wrestle immediately. I didn’t want her to miss it. I know how shows are, with choreography, blocking and when there are unexpected holes on stage! Even the mere practice of performing before competitions; it is incredibly important.

Simultaneously, I didn’t want to give up a trip I had been slugging toward. The light at the end of the tunnel of so many months and days and weekends of only home and sports practices. To say I was looking forward to it was an understatement. My adventurous spirit and romantic heart NEEDED this weekend.

The back and forth of my turmoil was in full tizzy of what to do. What’s best for our daughter versus what was best for our marriage. Not to mention, ahem, we had fought every Saturday for the past month. If I’m not mistaken that’s a big indicator  that time together (without life stress) was a not just a want, but a need.

So we had decided to stick with it. To her credit, my oldest didn’t seem to mind missing her “practice” performance and we didn’t even get a reply from the teacher (which could be good, or really bad). Either way, maybe it’ll be alright that we put ourselves first for once, we thought. 

And then, cue dungeon music, my youngest woke up feeling dizzy the week of our trip. No fever and she seemed fine, still a 7 year old saying she is dizzy in the middle of a pandemic rendered me firm in making that phone call to the school.

We were eating breakfast together and I mentioned watching a movie in my bed might be restful for her, she cheered at the idea. Surprisingly, I realized I was also feeling dizzy and zapped of all energy, even after my daily dose of coffee.  So I joined her in rest. We snuggled in deep to my warm comforter and put on Disney plus for some serious fairy tales. All would be well. Cue, castle!

As the day proceeded on I felt worse. Dizziness forced me to lie down, while my daughter bounded up and down the stairs without a problem. Gosh, I gasped…I hoped I didn’t have anything! Especially with it being just a few days away from our romantic get away.

That night I couldn’t pry myself out of bed and so the toil began, again.

Maybe we should cancel our trip. If we cancelled it now, we might get our money back. I don’t want to go if I feel like crap. What if I feel better in a day or two? Then I’ll be bummed I had cancelled prematurely. If  we stayed home our daughter could go to her performance. Okay I could do that, as long as we can go another weekend when I felt better.

Oh but there’s nothing available the following weekend; and every other weekend we are booked. We’ve been dreaming of an escape from soccer practices to cooking steak and drinking red wine. We want to trade managing chaos for nature walks in the woods. We really needed this trip. 

Alas, we couldn’t afford to lose that much money on a trip we might not take. And what if I had Covid? I couldn’t go with a clear conscience. I could get a test just in case, but it wouldn’t be ready for a few days.

Clarity came quickly. We will cancel our reservations. If I feel better and the test is negative, we will snatch the cabin back up. No harm, no foul. There is still hope.

Well, immediately someone else booked the place. Friends take note: Ohioans really like cabins in February! Perhaps that’s why fall births are so frequent in my doula field.

Sadness kicks in on top of not feeling well, and I’m a mess. Wrestling with all the feelings. Happy that my daughter can do her performance, that felt right for all her hard work. My heart though, my heart is so sad.

I hated giving up a weekend with my spouse that I was so looking forward to. I think if we did this every so often it wouldn’t feel like such a big deal. But it is so rare. And so the loss is real. And my mind twirls.

As the days followed, my dizziness slowly let up. And so more thoughts entered in, relentlessly.

Camping out on the questions of, could I have rallied? Could I have taken some ibuprofen and just rolled with it? Is it just a cold and it’s not a big deal. Why then, am I in bed? Why can’t I let myself just be sick? Why can’t I let go of this trip? Why didn’t I just muscle through? Why can’t everything just work out? I don’t know. I  noticed my sweet husband was able to move on. He understood I can’t help not feeling great. I, however was taking great pains to torture myself.

grasping at straws I imagined myself packing up the kids stuff, driving the van to the country side, and hiking in the snow. I envisioned myself by the fire, holding hands, feeling romantic. I would create pictures in my head and then ask, how would I feel if this was me now? Would I have wished I was home resting? Would I have enjoyed myself anyway? Wouldn’t that be more restful?

Allowing these thoughts to run rampant encouraged my regret. My despair mounted and my heart hurt. It just ached all the more. 

My anxiety presents itself in a multitude of ways and I often don’t know how to break the cycle. The inability to make a decision, is inflamed with the inability to accept a decision. Even when there is nothing I can change about it. It feels like a thorn in my side when I’m already down. Coupled with the fact that I’m lacking exercise and yoga this week, my thoughts can really take an unhealthy pivot.

So, as I lie in bed while all four of my children are looking for the missing pieces of  winter gear to play in the snow, I eat some chocolate. And this is what the inscription in the wrapper says:

I guess my chocolate is telling me, looking back isn’t the greatest mindset.

I do get stuck in a backward motion quite often, when all I can conjure up is the what if’s. So even in my sad and anxious state, how can I keep life moving forward? The next piece of chocolate didn’t give me any answers.

As I pondered this little phrase wrapped in foil, I wondered if thinking of the smallest positive thing to look forward to…might help me. Could I anchor my thoughts on something other than remorse?

And when my thought train tries to go backward, maybe I should put on the breaks. Wondering just how exactly to do that (For those of you that have conquered the struggle bus of relentless anxious thinking…feel free to chime in), I recognize this is a weakness I could strengthen.

Thanks, Dove. I’ll be thinking about that nugget of wisdom as I indulge in your quick hits of dopamine; if only to satisfy my despairing heart and sweet tooth. I’m glad you get me.

Here’s to hoping next year looks a little different than a headache, an almost trip and anxious thinking. And to hopeless romantics everywhere, I feel you. What do we do when it doesn’t work out? Well, perhaps our chocolate wrapper will be there to prod us on. Moving the train forward, one good thought at a time.

Xo,

Jenna

Do you wrestle with anxious thoughts too?

Even when it’s beyond your control? You are not alone. I share this story only to bring a tiny light to a real thing, anxiety. Join me as I wrestle the thoughts forward in every day life.

I’m with you. ~ I believe, there is enough grace sufficient for all of our worries~

Maybe together, the road of anxiety won’t be so lonely.

“Keep life moving forward, looking backward is only for time travelers” – my chocolate heart

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