Many children, even those below the age of ten, struggle with a form of anxiety. And there are many forms, as I'm learning from this book.
The chapter I'm on has a section on therapy, and how some counsellors delve deeply into the patient's past and spotlight causes, past worries and situations - the aim being that if the emotions associated with these are dealt with, anxiety levels can diminish. Great stuff. Problem is, if I'm the patient, I came to you at the end of myself with my current anxiety. I was desperate enough to come, so it's probably the worst it's ever been. AND YOU'VE JUST MADE IT WORSE. And now I can't cope.
It's not hard to know the right long-term solutions and what we should do to get better, to be healthy, to live long. It's just sometimes very hard to apply those principles in real life. Because real life, well it pretty much sucks most of the time. There are these bursts of beauty, energy, love and laughter that see us through the drudge and the slog that feels unending. When you're in the mire, it's helpful to know that today, doing what you can to cope, is enough.
Let me tell you about "sleep training" my daughter. I read the book on sleep patterns and understood that you have to create an environment for your baby that won't change during the night. Because we all wake up periodically, and if everything is the same we just fall back asleep. (Why someone hasn't invented a dummy (pacifier) that cannot fall out, a blanket that can't come off and so on is beyond me, if it really were that easy? )
We were bravely letting her cry for about the fifth-but-felt-like-five-hundredth night in a row, when I stopped telling my husband all the reasons why we had to persevere, jumped out of bed, grabbed her, charged back to my side and snuggled up. We all slept so well. We needed to.
I didn't think it through, I just did it. But in the morning I understood, as I explained to my patient husband, who after bearing the brunt of my disdain, was astounded that I'd done the very thing he'd wanted to all along.
"We are sleep training. We do it every night. We will do it again soon. But last night, we were in 'coping phase'. There are no rules for coping phase, except that it can't last forever. You do whatever it takes to survive, you forgive yourself, and you get through."
What do you need to get through today? If you're in training, and you're up for it, lucky you. You'll get there, and you keep at it. If you're not doing so well, give yourself a little leeway. It's ok. You will still get there in the end. Yes it will take a little longer, but you may be in one piece, and that's important too.