Strange. A ping in my chest, and there it is. I don’t typically feel anxiety when I sit to write, but low and behold, damn it. I’ll see what this is going to tell me and let it be.
I’ve felt a loss of words recently, and this being my greatest outlet outside of prayer and yoga, I have felt rather stuck because everything is still buzzing inside me. Writing takes it out. Man this is frustrating, every word that comes now the tension grows. Burning in chest and throat, tongue begins to feel as though it is swelling, breathing more shallow than it was… Something is here, something wants so much to come out. This is the part where I become merely the driver of a force much bigger than merely typing words – here now comes the act of total surrender, come what may. Deep sigh…
I just closed my eyes for a moment. Listening. Scanning. Full attention not on thought or what to write, but what is happening inside my body.
The thing about “anxiety” is that it is a messenger. Truly. At its core. These unpleasant bodily sensations are not a disorder of the mind, per say, but rather signals from my physiology that I am learning to listen to, and this practice and knowledge has changed the game entirely.
For a long time, I saw pathology – when these feelings presented themselves and manifested as “symptoms” from “bad thoughts”, I believed I was disordered, helpless, stuck in an endless cycle of anxiety and depression. “Just talk to this therapist and take this medication” but I couldn’t handle the pills, so I’ve just “lived with it”. I did indeed for years feel so helpless, and there were days, sometimes many in a row, when all I could do was curl up and weep, mind spinning, unable to breathe. I would yawn for hours on end, unable to feel a satisfying, deep inhale, and it exacerbated the panic. Sometimes I honestly wasn’t even sure if I was breathing at all, everything would just go dark.
As I sit here now, with a new and improved set of tools to call upon when this comes, I am deeply grateful for a different understanding of what is going on inside. I know now that I need only let it be, and sometimes I am even curious to befriend these sensations, embrace them entirely however difficult to allow myself to sit in the flames; being present for it this way has allowed me to honor the experience for what it can show me, rather than lament how hard it can be. It is NOT easy work, I swear right now some part of me wants to crawl out of my skin just to give my soul a break from the heavy, yet I no longer run, suppress, or deny what is happening. It is here for a purpose, not to hurt me, but to heal me. A contradiction that seems impossible, because to get to that place I have to feel like shit, intentionally, and who wants to face that as often as I do? The thing is, the alternative sucked worse, because I never saw a way through to the other side, I just met the darkness and laid there until it seemed to pass, believing it never would. Now, fuck if I’m not going to stand my ass up and run to the light, these stumbles along the path are lessons I need in order to fully appreciate it when I get there… Anxiety stops me because I have more work to do, and that is a privilege – to be able to face it, the hardest parts of this human experience, and do so willingly. Instead of helpless, now I am empowered, because I know what I need to do, and I know what these sensations represent. Growth. It shouldn’t be easy, right?
I’ve spent the last, oh, 16 hours alone. Took the two youngest swimming yesterday and then parted ways, them going back home, me to the apartment. I am so grateful for time alone. Truthfully I love it, to sit in silence or sing as loud as I want without anyone asking me to keep it down. Just. To sit here and have the mental space to write, even while feeling sensations of anxiety doing it anyway. I’m grateful for this time.
I understand as it just came now, why I’m feeling these feelings, why – the moment I sat to write – it hit me. It is intense. Like an endless rope pulled from my throat, gripped to the tension this pain, like a force of its own, like a tethered darkness to my heart, tendrils holding tightly it does not want to let go. . .