When the Bears are Gone

Just a few months ago, I wrote a blog about holding your judgements. I think back to that moment. I realize how important that day was for me and my family. For years, my family walked on egg shells. We tried to make sure all transitions went smoothly, all changes were communicated, and everything was scheduled. Why? We have a child with anxiety. He feels the need to be in control because he feels so out of control. We know this now, but for the past 7 years we didn’t.

Our life was stressful. I recently read an article “The Bears in the Park: Anxiety and the Autism Parent.”  (No, I do not have a child with autism, but the article hit home.  As parents of a child with severe anxiety, we experience similar feelings.)  The article speaks of parents (and in our case, a whole family) who constantly live in the “fight or flight” part of life.  We are constantly on guard-ready to fight the next bear that will pop up.  When you are in this mind set, you cannot relax.  You cannot think.  You cannot be your whole self. 

Fortunately, we now know what it is like to live without the bears.  I feel for the parents who will not get this feeling back.  I only lived it for 7 years, and I know the toll it paid on me. 

A few days ago, I walked through the store.  I lady with three kiddos-one teenager, one tween and one on her hip- had her tween exploding with anger.  She was amazing.  She stayed calm and responded only to him-not the onlookers- and in an amazingly respectful manner.  As I heard the commotion, I sent the mom some positive thoughts and then reflected.  Wow, how much my life has changed.  5 months ago, I was this mom and this was my family. 

After 5 months of therapy for everyone in the family(which may be a necessary part of life for my little guy for a long time), we are in a new spot. We are working together.  We are communicating in amazing ways.  I am able to relax when we go to the store.  I can think.  I am awakened to all that is around me.  I see the flowers and the bees.  I can sit without any thoughts in my head while my children play at the park.  I am not on the lookout for the bears every moment of the day.