I am a pro at internalizing stress. Until of course the chest tightness and the palpitations and the nightmares start. Then I realize it's time to maybe review and re-prioritize.
The other night I woke from a nightmare, the only detail of which was that a woman with a face in some kind of pain or distress appeared at my door, and it scared me so much I woke up (yes, the symbolism is not deep; I said I was stressed, not imaginative). Anyway, I woke up in a panic, then felt the weight of my cat George as he slept against my foot. I was instantly calmed; my semi-awake mind felt safe with him there. (How an emaciated ancient cat with three teeth and a close resemblance to Anne Frank is supposed to defend me is unimportant; what matters is I went back to sleep.)
I did not go to the gym today; an unusually protracted heart-murmur/palpitation event at spin class Tuesday has me being a little cautious. Instead, I bench-pressed the kids and carried them up and down the stairs, which is usually a good workout. I paced my breaths by teaching them new words. The girl's verbal skills are remarkable, and her diction is precise; the boy, on the other hand, tends to point, grunt, and mash the few words he can get out. It's like pairing William F. Buckley with Scooby Doo.
"WalK. BaG. ShoeS. KeyS. Hel-LO!" says the girl.
"Ah-oo?" says the boy.
"You know she makes you look simple, right?" I say to him.
"OOooh," comes the reply.
But he understands everything perfectly and follows even complex commands, so I'm not all that worried. Plus he acts as my henchman at the park - when his sister starts to head off, I say, "Get her," and he drags her back; I never have to lave the bench. It's like having a Labrador Retriever. So we have brains and we have muscle. They'll take care of each other in school. In the meantime, they give me a great upper-body workout. And the boy now combs my hair. I'm working on foot rubs.