Parenting a child struggling with anxiety and panic is the personification of stuck between a rock and a hard place. Our days are marked not by hours, but by the spaces between anxiety fueled outbursts or shutdowns and panic attacks.
We have very little control over the “rock” or “hard place” moments. But I’m beginning to understand that it’s the choices we make and the words we say in the “space between” moments that bring some light into our lives.
Today was one long “rock” place. My son had a debilitating panic attack at school on Friday morning and I had to bring him home. This morning, the last thing he said to me when I dropped him off at school was “I hope I don’t have a panic attack today.” So all day I held my breath, and cringed whenever my phone rang.
3 o’clock came and I finally exhaled. He made it through the day. This was the “space between” and I felt my heart lift as he came out of school and smiled at me. We enjoyed a quiet walk home together. For a few minutes today I caught a glimpse of the boy we don’t see very often these days.
And then came the “hard place.” By the time we walked in the front door of our house, the built up anxiety and emotion of the day was boiling over. I asked him to empty his backpack and that was enough to break him. The quietness of the “space between” was replaced by angry emotion and we found ourselves solidly in a “hard place.”
But back to the choices we make and the words we say during those “space between” moments. I am choosing to make the most of those moments – savor, nurture and live for those moments. The things that happen in that space between are the things I want to remember about this season of life. I know the next rock or hard place is always lurking these days, but it’s not all hard or bad or ugly. I also know there will be a day when the space between moments will be longer than the rock and hard place moments. Making the most of the good and lovely and sweet that happens in the space between is what will help us all make it through.