For as long as I can remember, I have fallen foul of the expectation that a situation would be perfect because that was I how I had imagined it in my head. I often had dreamt up beautiful perfect scenarios where special occasions would resemble that of a movie scene, perfectly behaved children, lots of love and laughter, absolutely no arguing, whining, moaning or fighting. No one running off, no one kicking off and everyone having fun. Idyllic scenes, instagram worthy scenes – utter perfection. We have all been there I am sure, dreaming of these wonderful scenarios. But how often does that actually happen???
In reality, I would imagine the answer is very rarely – not in the real world anyway. But time after time and disappointment after disappointment, I still find myself imagining that the next time will be different, the next time it will play out like it does in my head. I feel confident that we will have learnt from the mistakes that were made last time the dream was crushed, and this time it will be perfect. Invariably, as I’m sure you can imagine, the same thing happens – I imagine something to be perfect and it fails miserably. Not because anything terrible actually happened but because it was impossible to live up to my aspiration. The only thing I don’t seem to learn after each occasion is that the common denominator in all this disappointment is my ridiculous perception of what real life actually is like. Not just real life with children but real life in any situation. Perhaps I have watched too many films, looked at too many magazines and too much social media – my perception of real life is warped and maybe I am in denial.
Except, I am not in denial at all. My rational brain sees it all, realises everything and does eventually kick in when it all comes tumbling down in to a heap of crushed dreams and disappointment. That makes it sound all very dramatic and in reality, it is not me lying in a heap on the floor sobbing and screaming why! In fact, it is usually me just getting frustrated, angry and a bit shouty. It may then culminate in a bit of a blow out, a stomp to another room, a bit of crying and then lashings of mum guilt for how I reacted and behaved. It is at this point that my rational brain comes back and reminds me that it was just a dream and ultimately it was unattainable.
Over the last 6 months whilst I have been coping with my anxiety, I have been constantly battling with the loss of my rational side of my brain when an anxiety attack occurs. I have always prided myself on being rational and in control, and unfortunately the anxiety and panic attacks have been eating away at that side of my brain. In fact, this has probably been the single hardest thing to come to terms with throughout my illness and the thing I have fought hardest against.
Counselling helped me to realise that this is a normal response during times of anxiety and it also helped me to realise that my need to control everything is actually quite damaging to my mental health and something that I need to work on managing better. It is something I have been pondering for a while and although I think it will be slow progress I do feel like maybe I am starting to learn to let go a bit.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day and this would have been a prime opportunity for me to build up my expectations to insurmountable heights and then come plummeting down when reality kicked in. But instead I took a more reasonable approach to the day, after all I have young children who can’t be expected to behave perfectly at all times although some of the time would be good though!! I opted for a relaxed day at home, no expectations, no pressure to be anywhere at a particular time – no real plans. Do you know what? It felt good, really good. There were no major dramas, no tantrums – from me or the children and everyone had the flexibility to do a bit of what they wanted.
Was it instagrammable? No probably not. Was it the stuff they make films out of? Highly unlikely. Was it perfect? Well actually for me it was, for my current situation and frame of mind it was exactly what was needed.
And the key to achieving the perfect day? Well its quite simple, aim for the achievable and you wont be disappointed. Who wants to live like the movies anyway?!?!?