‘He sat there, now facing me, in awe I was able to see into his mind. That the voices in his head were in mine, too.’: Mom shares understanding, comforting son with anxiety

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“I’m not one to hide the fact I have anxiety, or the impact it has had on my life. In fact, the entire time I was pregnant with my toddler, I was convinced she didn’t have a head. It wasn’t until she was born healthy, I realized I was actually going to have a baby. The day after she was born, the nurse told me I was in a state of shock during my C-section.

E is my mini me, through and through. He and I share the same sense of humor, love of sports, singing at the top of our lungs, and driving his dad and twin sister crazy with our antics. That also means he has inherited my anxiety. I have read book after book, poured over advice on numerous sites, and worked with him daily to ensure he doesn’t follow the same path I did.

We practice breathing exercises, role play circumstances he has encountered or may encounter at school, and perform mindfulness. At night we talk about our feelings and being positive, focusing on the good, and changing our mindset. Dinner time is a time to share the good and bad of our day and what we could do differently next time.

Each evening, I hug him goodnight and pray I am helping him. That he doesn’t listen to the swirling voices in his head telling him he isn’t good enough and never will be. That his anxiety doesn’t prevent him from doing so many amazing things in life I missed out on. And that he knows I am forever and always here for him.

Last night while folding laundry, he shared his doubts about himself, and the thoughts others have about him. I quietly closed the door and drew him closer, our sides and knees touching as we both sat against the wall. His head hung low as he shared the lies the voice in his head had been telling him. His eyes began to redden and he tensed up. He is getting older and doesn’t like to sit in my lap as much anymore, so I wrapped my arms around him tightly. I knew it was time to share my story.

I gave him the name of this mean voice—anxiety—and shared that it joined me when I was his age. As I shared the words anxiety tells me (everyone hates you, you aren’t good enough, why do you even try?) his eyes became large in disbelief. I went on and described the swirling voices that are always criticizing me, the yearning for quiet that never comes, and the anger that rises when the voices are too much. How sometimes the only way to quiet them is to run, cry, or yell. He sat there, now facing me, in awe I was able to see into his mind. That the voices in his head were in mine, too.

His eyes were no longer red, but were wide open with his whole body listening and absorbing the words I was saying. I shared how I’ve had years to practice quieting the voices and telling them to stop, and how sometimes the voices can still be too much. When I’m overwhelmed, I turn to things that make me happy—he and his sisters—and that helps to drown the voices out. Even then, I sometimes need a hug and a kind word to remind me I am enough.

My words have more meaning to him now that he knows we share an unwelcome companion. Our bond is a little stronger. I hope and pray he will always come to me and we can work through this together. Our companion will never go away, but with me by his side, we can make these voices become but a mere whisper in the wind.

Suddenly the door opens and it’s time for dinner. He wraps his arms around me for a moment and looks up at me, asking if he can ask one more question. He then twists his face in a very unnatural and unflattering manner and inquires if he looks cute. I laugh, and know he will be just fine.”

young boy with anxiety poses for a photo outside sitting on a stool
Courtesy of Julie A

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Julie A. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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