I stood alone on a dark bridge on a warm summer night. I listened to the creek below as it attempted to drown out the sound of my children and their cousin, playing several yards away.
We were at an unfamiliar park for a small family gathering. I left my two kids with my husband and some family to walk across the park and get some alone time, a rarity for any mother.
As I wandered, I came across the bridge surrounded by tall trees, which blocked out any street lights.
I walked halfway across and stopped when I felt a chill trickle down my arms and neck. It took me a second to realize that it was fear.
I was frightened.
Frightened that maybe someone might jump up and grab me. As if something paranormal was right in front of me cloaked in darkness.
Continuing to stand there frozen I actually enjoyed the moment.
That might sound insane but it had been a very long time since I had felt scared in that superficial, perhaps unrealistic, way.
Ever since becoming a mother, my fears and anxiety have become massively palpable.
No one properly warns you of the pure anxiety and worry that comes with motherhood.
It is constant. Unbelievably intense. It may not be that way for all mothers but I know it is for me and many others.
The moment my first child was born, something arose inside of me. A mixture of trepidation, unease and mistrust in myself became all consuming.
This beast had risen in me here and there in the past as a big sister and as an aunt. I knew the beast sat within, but suddenly with my son’s entrance into the world it was permanent.
That night on the bridge I enjoyed that moment of fear because it reminded me of that girl who used to chase it.
Before I had kids I loved watching horror films and reading horror and suspense novels and short stories. When people would ask why, I would say that I loved the intensity that came along with them.
I would sit in a theater watching a scary movie or in bed reading a book surrounded by darkness, on high alert.
My whole body would be stiff. Every sound would make me even more tense. My eyes would want to close or hands close the book.
It sounds strange, but I loved how it took hold of me. It engulfed me in a moment of fear that affected my mind and body.
As I stood frozen on that bridge the juxtaposition between past and present became plain.
The recognition of that made me recall parts of who I once was that now felt lost. It brought the realness to anxiety and visceral fear that comes with being a mother.
I have two human beings that I’m everything to. Two people I must help guide through this world. One of which is on a neurodiverse path that I must help him pave.
They take up so much of me and although it comes on strong in the beginning, day by day I try my best to fulfill my obligation made from love. I hold so much for them in the ways of empathy and protection. The days of just worrying about my fate, my failures, my triumphs and my feelings are long gone.
Maybe even too far gone, to the point that I really hadn’t been thinking of myself at all.
My time on the bridge lasted all of five minutes but in that time I promised to find some of the old me that I missed. Find the girl who dreamed, explored, created and wandered.
I also laughed a little at how I used to chase fear to just feel and now all I do is fiercely feel everything in ways of empanthly, worry and love.
Suddenly, I heard my children coming closer and turned away from the darkness and steady sound of the water below me. I chose to turn towards them.
The superficial fears would have haunted me for days in the past but the love I felt eclipsed it in seconds. I walked away appreciative of that taste of reflection and a visit from the ghost of my past self.