Ever since I was very young, I have struggled with anxiety, especially when it comes to strangers. I think this stemmed from my walks to and from elementary school when my older brother made me walk all by myself.
I remember there was a time, I think I was in first or second grade, when he left me to walk the rest of the way home while he and his friend went to play in the sewer tunnels. We lived at the top of this very steep hill and I was walking along the street like we normally did. When all of a sudden this huge van pulled up beside me and tried to get me to “get a ride” with them. I of course panicked and took off running to the closest house. Luckily there was a nice woman that saw me and calmed me down, then walked me home.
Apparently the man in the van was one of my dad’s friends and had recognized me as he was on the way to our house. I did not recognize him or his vehicle and just figured I was about to be kid napped.
One thing that also has made that even more challenging, that I don’t usually disclose to just anyone, is the sexual assault I endured when I was 12 years old. Which did happen at a park in my neighborhood at the time. I haven’t stopped being scared since. Rightfully so in my opinion.
Now that I am a parent, I have struggled a bit with finding the balance between telling my kids “don’t talk to strangers” and safe conversations with people. Usually I base it on my gut instincts.
Knowing that this paranoia has definitely impacted my willingness to go and do things as a solo parent, I decided I wanted to try harder this summer to say yes. I slowly started listing out places I already felt generally safe at with the kids while Chris is at work. One of those places was the zoo.
We decided to buy the membership this year so that I was able to take the kids whenever we wanted to go. A few weeks ago, Chris and I decided to take the kids together. I felt really good the whole time and it seemed like everything was fine. Until a few days later when Chris was telling me about this awkward situation that happened right under my nose. Apparently, when we were in one of the exhibits, there was a man who was trying to talk to our daughter. He had asked her name and she was too shy to respond. Luckily, Chris was there the whole time as this happened. Even Chris said that made him uncomfortable enough that he didn’t want us going there without him.
Ontop of that, there has been a lot of shit happening around here the last few weeks. Teenagers killing each other, kids going missing, kids being killed, and all the horrible things you can see on the news. There was even an instance where a suspect drove into the zoo parking lot, trying to run people over, and then took off on foot inside the zoo (later being arrested inside).
What I am getting at, is that now it seems like I am back to where I was before. Nothing feels safe. Which sucks because who wants to be stuck inside all day long?
What is this doing to the kids, not only mine, but all of the kids their age. Are we raising kids that are even more prone to anxiety problems? I feel like either way no matter what I do, some part of them will need therapy for it later in life.
I have even heard people say they are choosing not to have kids, simply because of how screwed up our society is now. We have to worry about every thing. No longer are the days where the street lights are reminders to get home. No longer are the days where we don’t feel the need for constant contact with our kids (like my 8 year old who now has a cell phone). Even schools don’t feel as safe as they use to. I know they try and put all the measures thinkable into place, but things still happen. Like the boy that is still missing after he somehow was able to leave the school unnoticed last month. Like the school shootings that seem to be more and more common. Things just keep validating my feelings about it all.
As a parent with paranoia, ptsd, and anxiety; it is just too hard to even have -what we call in DBT-, opposite to emotion action. Meaning, you do the opposite of what your emotions tell you to do. I wanted to try, even a month ago, I wanted to try (to get out more). But these things just keep happening and at a more alarming rate it seems.
I don’t really have a moral to all of this. It is just weighing heavily on me tonight. I’d be interested to hear other people’s perspectives on this.