This guest post is written by Ericka Waller (@ErickaWaller1) who blogs over at Mum’s the Word. I met Ericka on a journalism course I took a couple of years ago in Brighton. Back then she was pregnant with her second daughter and looking ridiculously hot in skinny maternity jeans. She has since then had a third daughter and started a blog about how crazy her life has become.
I regularly laugh out loud at Ericka’s posts. They are unashamedly honest, endlessly imaginative, and often compromise my weakened pelvic floor. This blogger is real. And she knows what she’s doing with words.
I asked Ericka to come shake her thing over here at Circus Queen. She suggested we exchange blogs for a day and try our hand at the same subject: what we’re scared of passing on to our children.
So I’m over there telling all about why I’m scared of passing list-making on to my children. Go, check me out and spread the blog love. But first, I give you Ericka Waller…
Whilst watching TV with four last night, I noticed, for the first time, how she bites her nails.
When I asked her why she was doing it, her answer was simple. “Because you do mummy”
When I see myself in my children, it terrifies me.
I wanted to promise her I would never bite my nails again, if she didn’t either – but I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep.
I have suffered from anxiety for fifteen years. It crept up on me slowly, starting with an odd sensation I could not place (which I now know as depersonalization). At one point it got as far agoraphobia and anorexia.
Slowly, I pulled it back in line. Now I “just” have the odd anxiety attack.
My anxiety has censored my whole life. I’ve never been drunk, I’ve barely travelled. I am fussier than a three-year-old when it comes to food. I never went to University. At one point I did not even go out the house for a month. I never took any medication, not even painkillers. I lived on adrenaline.
Living with anxiety left me living a half-life. Forget rock, paper, scissors – fear beats them all hands down. If fear were a trump card, it would always win the game.
The thought of my daughters spending a single second feeling how I felt for all those years, how sometimes I still feel on bad days, fills me with dread.
It forces me to stand in long queues with them at zoos and parks and shops, even though the urge to run away (fight or flight response) is so strong my head spins.
It forces me to drive on the motorway, even though, for me, it’s a white knuckle ride.
It forces me to eat food I hate, so they might love it.
It forces me to stop, to think, to censor.
It pushes me out my comfort zone.
My love for my daughters stands shoulder to shoulder with my fear. It looks it in the eye and says “I’m not scared of you”
But I still bite my nails.
I will not let my girls see me struggle however. They will never know my fear. This will not happen to them. I simply shall not let it.
My mother happily handed down her insecurities, phobias and failings to me, and I, just a little four, happily biting her nails, happily accepted them.
It stops here.
My husband* has learnt to read my level of anxiety in seconds.
He was the one who saved me after all. He never lost heart or patience. Not even when he had to leave restaurants just as the starters arrived, or the London Dungeon just after he’d paid £50 to get us in, or the airport when we were supposed to be off on holiday, and more gigs than I care to list here (or remind him of).
Without him, I would never be sat here blogging. A qualified journalist, a mother, a wife, a Brighton dweller. These are gifts bestowed on me.
I have been lucky. What if my girls inherit my anxiety disorder but no one strong enough to help them through it?
I want my daughters to think they can do anything, and be anything. It’s unlikely they will never know fear, but I hope it never overwhelms them. I hope they never fall prey to it like I did.
I hope they turn out nothing like their mother.
** As well as an amazing support system, I read an amazing book called Essential Help For Your Nerves by Doctor Claire Weeks, which I wholeheartedly recommend for anyone suffering with anxiety.
What are you scared of passing on to your children?