Last night I didn’t get much sleep. Ian was on the road working hard for us and while hopefully his transition to an off the road career is imminent, the nights away are taxing on us all. Last night I couldn’t turn my mind off, I was feeling anxious about things good and bad and just life in general. I got caught up in thoughts about the future and then was flung back to the past. Do ever have those nights? Where you are hopeful and thoughtful and then you are suddenly dwelling somewhere else and your mind is running wild?
As Elder Paisios of Mount Athos says “Thoughts are like airplanes flying in the air. If you ignore them, there is no problem. If you pay attention to them, you create an airport in your head for them to land.” Needless to say last night I didn’t just have an airstrip but a full blown international airport. I started with ways I have been letting myself down in regards to John and then moved to my marriage. I thought about what’s been happening the last few days and have to admit some fears have been alit because of a few patterns from the past have been noticed in the week or so and thus far are unchanged. After I put John to bed, all the flames were fanned. I got caught in a negative spiral, even as I said prayers I couldn’t stop selling tickets at my mental airport. I relived things that had been said in past situations and felt to be both the victim and the criminal.
Some time after midnight, I willed myself to bed quite teary-eyed knowing John, my wonderful early-riser, would be up before I knew it. Before finally closing my eyes though, I looked at the icons in our room and raised my eyes and desperately said, “Lord I know half of what I have been thinking is untrue, help me to see more clearly in the morning.”
Shortly before 6 am I heard John stir and regretted my late night, however I also felt joy and thankfulness. As I made my way to our home alter for morning prayers, I felt like the security of my mental airport was on red alert, not only were shoes and coats removed, but every thought was thoroughly search and if not valid in the moment sent packing. When I venerated St. Anthony, our family’s patron, I was reminded “Everyday I say to myself, today I will begin.” Oh, what truth there is in that. You see, even though I have anxiety and Ian and I are both guilty of living in our heads at times, what matters is the present. Today I will live for God, for my marriage, for my children, for my church, for my family, for my community and for the world. Neither the hurts or joys of the past or any potential of the future matters as long as I live my best in this moment.
Ian and I have much work to do with so much in our lives, not just for ourselves but also for everything beyond us, We both have taken advantage of the other. We both have been hurt and devastated. We both also, love God and believe that what God has brought together, let no man separate (Matthew 19:6). We have allowed too many airplanes into our mental airports, especially from Should Airways and Me, Myself, and I Travel. Instead of reaching together towards God, we were reaching for what others said was right or what others said we should, which ultimately left us never reaching for the same thing and both feeling put out about it. While the lessons we have learned are invaluable and I wouldn’t change my past because I am too grateful for my present, I am currently wondering where would we be now if we hadn’t taken so long to get here? No need to dwell on it though as the Chinese proverb goes “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” So I am planting my seeds not in the earth or a specific job or location, but with God, my husband and family, may a strong tree or vine grow from it.
Is your past trying to haunt your future? What can you learn from it to stop the cycle?
*I would like to note that my revelations this morning are not the cure of my anxiety, while I do hope that they can help my overall mental health, I do understand that anxiety much like depression and other mental challenges have their seasons.