I was watching HGTV last night while working on the scarf I started crocheting this weekend, and felt myself getting agitated. Every perfect detail of the new house and each stitch I had to think about were competing for my attention. I was focused on how beautifully the couple renovated the house – a gorgeous new kitchen and master suite, with all the right decor pieces in all the right places, and how I desperately want someone to do that to my house – and not on my scarf. I could feel the anxiety building, and it wasn’t doing my stitches any favors.
I just learned to crochet this weekend; my mother- and sister-in-law taught me. After initially making something that resembled the state of New York, I’d caught on to what I was doing and actually started making something that looked halfway decent. My MIL set me up with a set of crochet hooks, my SIL and I raided my MIL’s yarn stash for something that I liked, and I was off to the races. I would sit on the “suck-you-in” couch after the Monkey went to bed and work the beautiful purple yarn into something even and lovely. The repetition, the movements, were almost meditative. Chain – single crochet – slip stitch – single crochet. I had to rip some out when I realized I’d been dropping my last stitch for a few rows, but it felt ok. I was learning, and of course I was going to make mistakes. It’s par for the course. I began to understand why people enjoyed it, and looked forward to the times when I could pick up my project and start working again.*
Fast forward to last night. The Monkey was in bed after another rough bedtime, and Husband was in bed because he’s still sick after catching my cold. I did some things online, cleaned up the kitchen, and then decided to break out my pretty purple project while I watched someone turn a wreck of a house into a beautiful, perfect home. It didn’t go as well for me as it did for the folks on the show. I kept messing up my pattern, and twice (twice!!) I had to pull out at least five rows of botched work. I couldn’t focus. My hands felt clumsy and awkward. “You’re not advanced enough to do this in front of the TV,” a little voice piped up. I admitted to myself that it was true, and set the work down to keep watching the show. And that’s when the little voice got bold.
You’ll never finish that scarf you know. You never finish anything.
Look at that perfect house on TV. Yours will never be like that, you can barely get pictures printed and up on the walls.
This is how my brain works. I’m going along fine, minding my own business, and then all of a sudden the little voice gets mouthy, doubting me, questioning me, telling me I’m not good enough. It continues on until those thoughts are permeating everything. And I just.keep.spiraling. It started with the scarf last night, but quickly escalated to the state of the house after being away for a week, the Christmas decorating to-do list, the presents to buy, the Hanukkah books and decor I want to get so Monkey is connected to that part of her heritage, the blog posts I haven’t written, and all the things I had scheduled to do when the sitter came next. And for the love of God, what are people going to think when they see the piles of stuff on the dining room table?! I could feel myself winding tighter and tighter. I could tell that if I didn’t find a way to shut this down soon, I was not going to get to sleep that night. I’ve learned a lot about myself since having a kid, though. I learned to ask for help from my husband, my friends, and my therapist when I’m amping myself up like I was last night. I’m not great at it, and it still feels as clumsy and awkward as those first stitches did last week. But, I acknowledged what I was thinking and feeling, and started writing about them (hello, blog post!). Since Husband was still awake, I bugged him, too. Together, we talked me off the anxiety ledge I live on so often, and even though it was 2am before I went to sleep, I did actually get some rest last night.
I woke up this morning feeling a little edgy, but hopeful too. I know that I’ll get done what I can today, and the rest will get done when it gets done. The world will not end if I can’t get to the Trader Joe’s to buy shampoo, or because it’s December 2nd and Monkey doesn’t have an advent calendar yet (though it turns out my mom bought her one, so that’s one more thing off my list. Yay, Mom!!). I can let myself, if you’ll pardon the pun, off the hook.
*Big shout out to my in-laws, especially my mother-in-law, for handling the majority of the bedtimes while we were visiting them. If you saw my post last week, you know that the Monkey was having a really rough go of it at bedtime, and that having me involved actually seemed to make it worse. The Monkey’s grandparents and aunt were there with stories, songs, and toothbrushing assistance to help make bedtime a lot more relaxing for the Monkey, and by extension, for me.