We all have times in our lives when we are preoccupied. Maybe your parent is ill, maybe you are planning a renovation to your home, maybe you have a deadline to meet, maybe you are learning a new skill, maybe you are starting a new business, maybe you are obsessing about the holidays. We all feel distracted and distant at times but when does that preoccupation mean something more?
Today I saw a woman in the office who shared something about her childhood that was disturbing and tragic. She brought it up because she is having difficulties dealing with her daughter who isn’t having any difficulties but is the same age she was when her own issues occurred. The mother told me all she can think about is her own experience and her concern for her daughter. She is still going to work and apparently doing fine there and actually I never would have guessed that there was something amiss had she not shared this with me. But the mother is preoccupied. She doesn’t know if she should share any of her own past with her daughter and hasn’t seemed to have dealt with it all herself either. I feel for her. She wants to be a good mother, teach and protect her daughter and yet she isn’t sure how to do that and still remain whole herself and not relive it in a way. Of course she needs to see someone (other than me!) to talk this through but she seemed reluctant or scared. I hope she sees that her preoccupation with this is worse than talking about it would be with a therapist she can trust and feel safe with. I hope she sees that by trying to do this all alone she will just prolong her own agony and preoccupation and the fear and sadness will only grow and loom larger. I hope she will choose to lean on her friends and know they want to listen and support her even when she thinks she is all alone. I hope she can see that being preoccupied is robbing her of her daily life…both the joys and the struggles.
Talk about your worries, get help if you need it, and notice the little things every day and each day will be your best!
Molly O’Shea, MD Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center