Sometimes little things consume me. An irregularity ensnares me. I fixate and flail, struggling to smooth that lopsided bit of my life. Worry propels me to make my existence even and predictable.
Some of my struggle comes from having a sticky brain. It rolls along, collecting data, stopping to process the chinks and chunks it encounters.
When I come across an important detail, compulsiveness becomes resolve. I am on a mental mission to solve a problem. I ruminate. Thoughts circulate as I wash dishes, eat, or play with my son. I try to sleep as thoughts pry at my brain—they ask, “How do I fix this?”
In the end, insight arrives. Realizations never creep, they explode. A hurricane of thoughts blossoms. It is as if an ocean dropped on my head. My problem, all its possible solutions, consequences, and future implications occur to me at once.
This giant mental thunderclap shakes me physically. My gut tingles symphonically. Anxiety melts away, replaced with profound euphoria. I sing, dance, and snap my fingers to celebrate. My lungs and limbs are not enough to express my joy.
My sticky brain, however, is not discerning. Its gluey tendrils fasten themselves to countless details. Sometimes they bind to my son. Notions of how he should behave form. I compare his good days to his every days. I focus on variables, circumstances and behavioral interventions. My brain whizzes so fast that I don’t do what I need to do—sooth my anxious son.
He has the same sort of sticky brain as I do. He needs help to get unstuck. When he melts down, I find myself frozen, calculating and measuring variables. How can I continuously miss his need for comfort and redirection?
This pattern repeats interminably. The unexpected shifts my brain into computation mode. I must stop analyzing his behavior (and my own) and take simple actions. Redirect. Soothe. I know what to do intellectually, but in the moment, I am lost.
How do I remind myself? Should I tattoo “offer choices and give hugs” on my hands or paint a sticky-brain resolution on the kitchen wall? Maybe ink a message to my future frustrated self on my son’s forehead?
Perhaps, I am melting down alongside my son. In that moment, I need to sooth and redirect myself. What could I give my brain to chew on so I can act instead of think? I am open to suggestions.