Hey kids, it’s been a minute. For someone that lives like a bear in the woods (shout out to Masha and the Bear), I sure am busy. Lately, work has been hectic, and Peanut hasn’t been in the mood to be inside the house. This leads to a lot of conflict, both external and internal. The guilt of feeling like I am failing her. The extraordinary expectations I am putting on myself to impress at work. It all builds up, naturally, and overwhelming emotions starting flying. Frustration, anger, stress, disappointment… All with myself.
They say we are our own worst critics. First of all, who the fuck is this “they” y’all are always quoting? Secondly, “they” must be white because in a Latino family it’s mom and grandma who are our worst critics. But after them, comes my own self criticism and self doubt. I have been feeling the pressure I put on myself very heavily lately which has made me hypersensitive to the criticism (or perceived criticism) I receive from others. Truthfully, I am well aware that much of it can be skewed perception based on my mood and current mindset, but for the sake of my behavioral response, they are real criticisms to me – even if they are just made up in my mind.
Nonetheless, yesterday I was overwhelmed to the point of slight panic which has carried over past a 24 hour period of anxiety. As someone who doesn’t like to let people down, I have been bottling it up and it has caused me to slightly slip up. I have been grumpy and negative at work, which then begins a vicious cycle. I get grumpy, it makes me feel guilty, then also guilt about letting Peanut down, guilt leads to gluttony (cookies, and cakes, and ice cream, oh my!), which then leads to guilt, when then back to the beginning of the G words.
Yesterday, I felt that I needed to engage some sort of coping mechanism because I was feeling especially guilty about feelings of guilt and failure. Then I remembered my practice of mindful mutism. It may not be popular, and those interacting with me may get frustrated, but when I was a child (and during certain stages in life) I would sometimes simply stop talking. Not in any mood, not with any intent or to send any sort of signal or message. Simply to not say anything. Simply silent to take the time to breathe, to process, to fight the babadook monster in my head.
How is this different from selective mutism or shutting down?
Good question, Me. Both are things that I do (used to do regularly now do rarely). Selective mutism is what led me to this coping mechanism. Selective mutism is when you cannot physically speak because of triggered anxiety. But the difference being, there’s a level of paralyzed anxiety with selective mutism that I am not engaging in with mindful mutism. I am making the conscious choice to engage in silence in order to process my thoughts.
Shutting down can also be confused due to the silence, but the difference is that it is an emotional disengagement and detachment. Definitely something I have been known to do in the past. But this employs the use of energy for disconnecting, whereas I am choosing to use silent energy to connect with the environment and scenario, and to regain perspective.
Thank you for joining my ted talk and engaging in this emotional journey of stress reflection with me. Keep in mind I’ve had three hours of sleep.
In other news, Peanut is still not talking but she’s kind of reading! She has been looking at her books and identifying the letters she sees. I am very proud of her and always amazed to see how smart she is.