That clean, peaceful tired that comes after a storm? It is blessedly here now.
Even though I know how incapable I am of "fixing it" when I'm in the middle of anxiety, I always look back and try to dissect what it was that got me through, trying to find a magic formula that can be used again. I really doubt such a thing exists.
But I know Joey helped, immensely. A year ago, even, he would have been baffled and impatient and suggested that I do nice, impossible things like "calm down" and "just let it go" but not now. Now he tells me to lie down quietly and he'll take care of the girls and then later come in and rub my hair gently and ask me to explain it all to him, if I want to.
He gave me time, too. Time to be alone in my house and alone in my head. I cleaned the house from top to bottom, making myself move and dispelling a lot of the pent-up energy productively. There was enough mess that by the time I finished cleaning, I felt like I had conquered plenty of chaos, even if it was only external.
I wouldn't necessarily have chosen to cook a British feast for our whole high school this particular weekend, but that helped too. I got angry chopping carrots and creative when the sponge cake didn't sponge and competent while making dozens of cucumber tea sandwiches. Washing mismatched tea cups and smelling freshly baked scones had me very nearly content, but I wasn't all the way better yet.
When Joey asked me why I was making such a fuss for the students right now, I told him that they've finished reading a 719 page Victorian novel and that deserves a reward. He laughed. "They didn't read 719 pages! You did. Aloud. FIVE TIMES!"
"And my reward is I get to cook for hours and hours for a horde of ungrateful teenagers, because that's how awesome my life is." I retorted.
See, not quite better yet. But able to make mutton stew -because WHAT does SHEEP taste like, Mrs. V?- and Mr. Micawber's punch from a recipe that an English professor somewhere pieced together. Able to set it all up with lace tablecloths and Union Jack bunting and a basket of fake mustaches because we are Fancy Sirs today. Able to at least carry out plans that I'd made when I wasn't so fragile.
And then... they were the opposite of a horde of ungrateful teenagers. They were excited and sweet and happy and inspired to great heights of Mustachioed Foolishness by their coach.
Serving plates and plates of food, handing out fancy cups of tea and disappointingly rum-less punch, the last tight constriction around my heart loosened. Even if you didn't really want to make it, there's something wonderful about seeing people you love tear into a meal you've made. Even if you'd much rather hide at home, there's something healing about serving.
Finally they were all mustached and fed - Baby sheep tastes pretty GOOD, Mrs. V! - and settled in to argue tiny details with the BBC David Copperfield movie. Listening to the roomful of them pick about the order of events and characters that were left out, debate Team Dora v Team Agnes, laugh and cheer and cringe and comment... I felt that final internal sigh of relief and knew the sun was coming out.