Worrying comes naturally to me. The worst case scenario always plays first, no matter how hard I try. I’m not a negative person, for the most part, but when it comes to the potential for something bad to happen I always jump strait to that conclusion. This is especially true when it comes to my family.
This summer one fear has haunted me more than others … drowning. It seems every day a new story pops in my feed about a child my son’s age drowning or experiencing dry drowning. We don’t have a pool or even easy access to one, but we’ve been swimming twice this summer and the anxiety I feel leading up to those events is paralyzing. I want to cancel plans. Find excuses. Anything to keep my children far, far away from water.
The worst part of the anxiety is simultaneously worrying that my anxiety will rub off on my child and make him or her afraid of water or anything remotely daring. So, for the most part, I do my best to bury that fear and try not to project it onto them. But, I know it happens. He can hear it in my voice when I tell him to not run by the pool, to stay back, to wait for Mommy and Daddy. He is timid and fearful in the water. It’s my job to make him comfortable and sometimes, my fear causes me to fail.
Aside from projecting my fears onto my child, I am also hyper aware of how much my anxiety annoys my husband. The eye rolls and audible sighs when I reiterate precautions we need to take and things we should be aware of (rub in the spray sunscreen, watch for dry drowning symptoms after he randomly jumps face first into the water, etc.) don’t help my anxiety, quite the opposite actually. Knowing that he dismisses my fears makes me feel as though I am 100% responsible for ensuring safety, even when I rationally know I am not. By acting as if my anxiety is trivial, he signals his lack of caring or attention. Whether that is the intention or not, that is how I perceive the reaction.
Partners of people with anxiety, don’t do this. As trivial as it may seem to you, it’s not at all trivial to your partner. By ignoring it or dismissing them all you accomplish is exacerbating their anxiety. Be supportive. Listen.
I wish my brain wasn’t wired this way. I wish I could be carefree and cavalier. But, I’m not. Becoming a mom has only compounded this anxiety. Having people I care about gives me more to worry and fret over.
After the fact I can usually see and understand my fears and anxiety were not realized and usually I can start to move forward. Like with flying, the more I have to travel, the quieter my anxiety gets. But, it doesn’t take much to trigger it.
To help the pool anxiety for both my son and me, we’ve signed him up for swim classes. I’m sure I’ll still have anxiety and fear, but I hope I can Chanel that into more productive areas rather than worrying about drowning every single time we head out for a fun day at the pool.