I started a new practice yesterday for managing my OCD: every time an anxious thought intrudes into my mind, I inhale, exhale, look around, and focus in on one thing I am grateful for. Then I do it again, and again, until I feel calm.
You know what? It works.
In this current moment, I am sitting at our dining table while M eats scrambled eggs and strawberries beside me. Dave is cooking pancakes in the kitchen. L is playing games on my phone on the couch. Basil is lying on the hardwood floor at his feet. The cat is sleeping somewhere, probably in my closet. No one is asking for anything from me right now, and so I could check Twitter, scan a news article, or give in to one of the many thoughts swarming my brain.
Instead, I am grateful for:
- Our continued good health. The facts that none of us are high risk, that COVID-19 goes easy on kids, that no one is injured or in pain right now. It’s a privilege that Dave and I have a home, that we can focus on our family’s emotional process instead of on our physical health, that we’re all able to stay here and go through this together.
- The past version of myself who went to therapy and worked hard to manage my anxiety. Thank you, young me, for establishing practices that I still use today.
- My union-protected job. It’s easy to get frustrated by all the bureaucracy and by the assholes abusing power, but I’m glad I have these things to get frustrated about.
- My immediate boss. Her support, understanding, and flexibility throughout all of this has been huge.
- Journalists, academics, politicians, and everyone else who is writing and talking about how we can repair our classist, racist, colonialist country.
- That delicious baby. Squeezing his huge, chunky, squishy thighs is like squeezing those stress-relief balls but with the added bonus of silky baby skin.
- My precocious preschooler’s sense of humor. He is straight-up hilarious. Not just
goofy poop jokes but well thought-out, set-up-in-advance, actually funny pranks. Then he laughs with this full-body ripple where he throws his head back and stomps a foot and my heart explodes.
- The way my husband hugs me.
- Also the way my husband explains audio technology to L as they set up our at-home recording studio. And then the way L proudly over-annunciates his words when sharing this new knowledge with me.
- How my old dog cleans baby food off the floor, except for peas.
- Hot coffee.
- Cat purrs.
- The strange cacophony of sound when multiple friends laugh at the same time on Zoom.
- Sitting on my balcony in the rain, staying dry under its roof while I listen, smell, breathe, and let myself relax a little.