Waiting for Anxiety

My ten year old son has anxiety.

Such a simple sentence. One that rolls off my tongue. Like my son has blonde hair or my boy loves trains.

The meaning of the sentence is unbelievably complicated though. One with layers of meaning.

Some people don’t believe in anxiety. They think it’s a made up thing.

Maybe one time I did too.

That was before my son. Before autism. Before I met the most amazing, complicated boy who uses movies to communicate.

I think of his anxiety as a train sometimes. A subway train speeding towards him. And he is standing on the tracks. I can see his face. His eyes. The red in his cheeks.

His fear.

It’s coming and I am powerless to stop it.

I can do everything possible to pull him off the tracks. Or even throw my body in front of his. But it won’t work.

Because anxiety is smart. And allusive. It creeps in around the edges and through the cracks. It swirls around him and eats him up.

For him, anxiety is wanting things. Random things. Things he lost 2 years ago. Things he doesn’t have words for. Maybe an ad on a YouTube video showing the latest train magazine.

Or things coming in the mail. He is always waiting for something.

It’s the blemish on a piece of paper making it worthless or a scratch in a DVD. Things that didn’t matter days before.

But when his anxiety is dormant…he can breathe and thrive and learn and laugh.

And we wait. His dad and me. We wait for anxiety. Because it always returns.

It’s coming for him now. It’s been three months since we’ve seen the effects of it. For him it’s self harm. Hurting his toes and fingers. Tween sized feet hidden in socks with bloody tips. And shame on his face when I find it. His tears of guilt pouring out of him.

It makes me ill. It makes me cry. Because no one should have to suffer like he does.

Today, I realized his anxiety is like a dial. As if the train is picking up speed as it comes for him. Yesterday he was at a 2.

Tick. Tick. The dial turned overnight.

Today we are at a four.

He is waiting for something. Asking me to write it on the calendar. Pleading with me to fix whatever hurts.

But I can’t. Because I don’t know how or what or where.

I used to think my job as his mom was to protect him from strangers and a fall down the stairs or off his bike.

Those duties seem simple compared to this.

His dad and I will love him through. We will protect his body. We will protect his mind. We will kiss his hands and bandage his toes.

And we will whisper in his ear that he is stronger than his anxiety. Because he is.

We just have to make sure he knows.

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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