I have a confession to make.
The past week,two weeks, more like month if I’m honest, I have been struggling big time.
My anxiety levels have been through the roof and frankly it’s been sucky. I’ve been worrying about my cat, my health, the health of loved ones, money, my future, if i’ve done something to offend that friend who never seems to have time for a coffee, christmas, New Years, getting old, having a car accident, breaking my wrist, accidnetlly burning my house down, getting burgled, losing my sanity, getting a job, not getting a job, being good enough, working hard enough, doing the right thing, being brave enough… basically EVERYTHING.
It is exhausting.
However. I have just spent the most grounding weekend mainly hanging out with my family and am finally feeling a bit like myself again.
I’ve had this blog post planned for a while where I want to share how I manage my anxiety when the stories of doom my brain makes up get on top of me. And that blog post will come at some point. But I’m not quite there yet.
What I have learned is that when I am in the middle of particularly stressful periods, I find it difficult to talk about it. Partly because I feel like it breathe’s life into it when I want to quietly acknowledge what’s worrying me without dwelling on it, but also because there is a fear that if i talk about it too much I will make it worse.
I don’t know if that makes any sense to anyone else but this is my experience. When I have pushed through to the other side I can see things rationally and talk about it in a more detached way without emotional involvement I guess.
So what I do want to talk about instead is the power of Family.
Now I’ll say right from the start that Families come in all shapes and sizes, they do not have to be blood relatives as I believe you can have a family you choose, or one who chooses you, as well as the one you are born into.
For my part, my family is a huge blended cacophony. I’m one of four with 5 step siblings (3 on one side and 2 on the other). We spent Sunday celebrating my step-Dad’s 75th birthday and there were 21 of us… that’s just siblings and their partners and kids. It’s a lot.
But the thing is about family, is how they ground you. There is piss taking on all sides but also total acceptance. My elder brother is a massive geek, my little one analyses everything to to infinity and can still irritate me more than any human on earth and my sister works away on her business and hearding her 3 sons constantly.
Our Family WhatsApp group has been renamed the Family thread of profoundness due to the utter random content and tangents which it holds.
Family so often consists of people you wouldn’t choose but this is what makes it so bloody special. Because you learn from these people and I feel deeply grateful that my crazy bunch exist in such numbers.
The way I see it, family are there for each other in a way that friends (with the exception of those special few) are not. There is some sort of intangible bond that you will stand up for each other in steadfast ways. You will also learn to argue with each other and possibly fall out in dramatic ways too. The bonds of family somehow give you freedom to push boundaries. I know that I learned how to negotiate, throw tantrums and be diplomatic through having siblings – because you can be as horrible to each other as you like but you can never leave each other, no matter how much you want to some days!
I’m going to caveat this because I know that some families get torn apart by events and contain toxic relationships. Most famillies go through trauma at one time or another and some come through it stronger, some break down because of it. My own has had it’s fair share of tests but we are still standing.
It was when my dad got cancer that I really began to understand how deep my gratitude for my siblings went. When you have gorwn up with people, you don’t have to explain stuff and that just makes everything easier. When he died, the four of us flew to Canada (where he had lived since 2000) for his funeral and spent one afternoon in the June sunshine reminiscing and discussing his eulogy. It was strangely one of the most life affirming afternoons I can remember. Our shared history made me feel part of something bigger than myself.
I now know that, when it comes to it, even though we may not show it often and even though we aren’t one of those families who see each other all the time, we will be there for each other when the shit hits the fan.
And that is the most reassuring, grounding thing in the world.
So I guess my message is to have another look at your family, whether you are related by blood, marriage, circumstance or simple choice, nurture it and appreciate it with all it’s faults. As deeply irritating as family can be and as crazy as they probably drive you, forgive them, accept them and show them the love.
P.S. This is us