We all handle stress differently and for a long time I did not handle it in a healthy way. I make no claim to having a perfect childhood nor do I feel I had it worse than everyone else. We all face challenges and I have had plenty of opportunities for growth. As a child we have fewer options in the emotional toolbox and usually default to lashing out at others or internalizing.
My parental figures showed me a great deal of ways to handle stress. Some by illustrating how a respectable grounded adult should handle things and some as an example of what not to do. In my youth I spent a great deal of time worrying about all nature of things. Hell I think I could have been a contender if there were a worry warts Olympics. I used to stress so much that I started to experience ulcers and regularly had large canker sores in my mouth. Both of these were common in my family a testament to our ability to overthink and induce stress in each other’s lives, not an ideal legacy.
The worst part about being a habitual stressor is that it often leads to a negative spiral where inaction or poorly thought out planning often lead to more anxiety which leads to more stress which continues the circle. The inability to do much about your plight, especially as a kid, mean that you were sadly at the mercy of others. The root of most of my families problems were with money. I know that’s nothing unique to us and most families (at least in America) experience financial insecurity at one point or another. Being lower middle class my parents would struggle to pay bills and my birth mother would sometimes just throw caution to the wind and spend money we didn’t have. This would not only exacerbate the problem of money but would anger my father and increase the tension of everyone in the house.
True to the American way and the tradition of passing down things from one generation to another (both good and bad) I would struggle with money and argue with my girlfriend turned fiancé turned wife turned ex-wife. Neither of us were very good with finances in our late teens to early twenties and consequently created out own microcosm breeding ground for stress. I’m happy to say that while we have both moved on in life we seems to each have finally found healthier ways to handle money and emotional tension. This isn’t to say I don’t have stress in my life anymore I just have more ways to cope.
Experience (read: “being old”) has the added benefit that you can compare your current circumstances to past life events and rationalize that while the present may suck you’ve overcome so very much to get where you are now. Surely you can over come this too. Additionally with age you build an external support structure and hopefully have healthy relationships both at home and in your circle of friends to lean on. I find less things stress me out as time goes on and the duration of the tension is far shorter. I acknowledge the things I cannot control and find joy in the mundane moments to get me through the tough times. I hope whoever reads this shares my optimism and/or realizes that with time they too will be able to cope like a champ. Be well my friends.