I suffer from anxiety. I’ve struggled nearly my entire life. It’s not something I’m embarrassed or ashamed to admit. It’s a part of me and as much as I hate it, I have to live with it. I’ve worked on it my entire life and will continue to do so for the rest of my days.
Yesterday I saw the weather reports that called for yet another snow storm this today. They kept upping the snow totals for the day and while I was dreading yet another snow day, I figured it was better for the kids to be home safe with me than at school with all of the snow coming down.
I went to bed knowing I’d probably get the text from the school district early in the morning that school was cancelled for the day. Rather than a text from the district, I got a text from a friend who lives just north of us and said schools were closed for her kids today. But to my surprise, school was still on for us. It wasn’t snowing when we woke up, but I knew it was coming.
Having grown up in Florida where it never snowed and then in NYC where we didn’t have a car and relied on public transportation to get around, it wasn’t until we moved to Connecticut that I had to drive in snow for the first time. Let’s just say I wasn’t a fan. Feeling the car swerve around and me having little to no control, watching other cars veer off of the road because the roads were so slippery, it was an immediate anxiety trigger.
I thought about keeping the kids home from school. Knowing that I’d be able to keep them close to me and we would avoid getting on the snowy roads at all cost. But if the school district and our local officials thought the roads were safe enough to drive on, then they were safe enough to drive on. That’s what I told myself anyway.
It wasn’t until after I dropped both girls off at school and was on my way home that the snow really started to pick up. It was accumulating in the street and no plows were in sight. Everything inside of me just wanted to stay in that parking lot of Avery’s school until it was time for her to go home. Butterflies filled my stomach, my heart raced, and I couldn’t focus on anything but knowing I had to get home in this weather. Macks was with me in the car and he wouldn’t be happy with us staying there for a couple of hours. I had to do it for him.
I drove slowly on the drive home. Both hands on the wheel, my eyes focused on the road ahead. We made it home safely only to get the call an hour later that both girls’ schools were being dismissed early because of the snow. It was intensifying and coming down the hardest it had all morning. So much so that I had to shovel the driveway before I left to get them.
As I prepared to go get the girls, I just kept telling myself it was going to be fine. My car was made the drive in this kind of weather. I knew to turn on my all wheel drive, drive slow, focus on the road. If I did all of those things, we would all be fine. But anyone who’s ever suffered from anxiety knows, while you try so hard to focus on the good, the negative still sticks his head out as much as he can so he can get the final say.
If I continued to focus on what I was scared of most, the girls wouldn’t be picked up from school and the snow would only get worse. I had no choice, but to suck it up and do it. And so I did. I might have been going only 10 mph the entire way, but I made it. I faced my fears.
This might not seem like a big deal to many of you, but to me this was a huge leap. As someone who lets her fears consume many of the decisions in my life, I finally shot it all down. I took control. I beat it.
There will be many more “snowy drives” in my life. And sometimes even several times a day. But knowing that I am capable of taking control of my emotions and my actions, I will get through it. I take it day by day. But I’ll get through it. No matter what.