Demons at the Door

Do you ever just have days where all of your demons knock on your door and force their way into the light of your usually peaceful existence? The illumination reveals their every gruesome feature and casts shadows onto your very soul. Every now and again, we all have bad days, but some just drain you and leave you feeling breathless. As demons don't tend to schedule their visits beforehand, you're taken by surprise and utterly unprepared to play host to their demands. When all of the demons come home to roost, I am outnumbered and overwhelmed by them. 

If I'm honest, though, some of them never really leave. They're perpetual residents in my mental space, taking up precious real estate and leaving limited room for more desirable tenants like peace and contentment. When fed enough stress or negativity (or an unholy combination of both) they grow until they use up all of my emotional bandwidth and dominate my thought patterns. Tonight I am trying to evict some of them and purge the refuse left in their wake.

Today took me by surprise. It started out well enough with a jog, but went downhill at a pace much faster than my morning mile splits. It just became a perfect storm of stressors and I couldn't find shelter. Most of the stress of the day, as my husband would reassure me, was transient. But when you're in the storm and the demons have you cornered, you can't see your way out. Hindsight always grants you clarity that cuts with the razor sharp edge of would have, could have, should have. I could have handled my day differently, I should have, but I didn't and am left with the guilt of unfulfilled potential. 

We're lucky enough to have contractors finishing our basement. It's something we've been wanting to do for a long time. The excitement of it being finished is enough to drown out the stressful logistics of trying to virtually school children in an active construction site...most days. Today, however, the power was cut and the water shut off simultaneously, and for longer than anticipated. School attendance became impossible, a play date the kids were living for needed to be rescheduled, it was pouring and pandemicky outside, and blood curdlingly-loud inside. Add in some new-diet hanger to the pressure cooker and I was crying on the phone to my husband by lunch time, which inevitably makes me feel like a failure. 

Frustration, fear, guilt, and overwhelm showed up on my doorstep and I was powerless to keep them out. I felt trapped in the shell of a house with two kids who were bored and for all intents and purposes, should have been in school and blissfully unscathed by the construction in the basement. But because we're mired in a never-ending pandemic and a veritable virtual nightmare, school takes place in the living room and any access to friends is achieved through carefully-scheduled play dates that they hang their hats and hearts on. With the cancellation of the one thing they've been using as a light at the end of the tunnel, their devastation was felt in my bones. I wanted to perk them up, but I was struggling to find my own positivity as I was sweat-drenched from my need-to-lose-weight-now-panic-induced-3-mile run and unable to shower. I couldn't take them anywhere, not just because I was gross, but because COVID cases are steadily climbing in our area and the fear of the virus is gaining traction in my cognitive processes. 

And so we muddled through a day of unexpected hurdles and complications. I felt every one of my kids' disappointments, compounded by my own. Once the power came back on, I declared it was still a day off from school and the boys and I watched a movie. But school is never really off nowadays and even as my dust settles, I now feel the stress and frustration of my husband and boys who have work to make up from earlier in the day. 

Today, I feel like I dropped every ball I've been trying to juggle and entertained every negative thought I've been keeping under lock and key. But that's the thing about demons, they find a way in eventually, caring not for boundaries or locks. Exorcising them is never easy, but it makes us stronger over time. I'm feeling the opposite of strong at the moment, but I have to believe it's always darkest before the dawn.


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