I see that you’re back again. I can tell because my chest feels tight. I seem to be holding my breath, and when I do breathe, it’s shallow, like when you’ve been treading water for a while and don’t have the stamina to continue. My mind fixates on a few things --- usually it’s on what I haven’t done or what I can’t do or on all of the ways I’m falling short. My shoulders tense up, my jaw clenches, and even the muscles in my legs feel taut.
Yes, you’re definitely here.
I can’t remember how many times you’ve showed up this week. Or even how many times you’ve showed up today. I remember that right when I woke up, it felt like panic. And then panic transitioned into deciding not to move, because if I didn’t move, if I didn’t decide to start, then I wouldn’t have to deal with the reality of what my day would be.
Which, to be real with myself, wasn’t a day full of horrible things, like cheetahs chasing me or bombs falling or even following a routine that I hadn’t specifically chosen for myself.
In fact, as an online entrepreneur currently living in Rome, the reality of my day oftens looks like one filled with clients I love and appreciate, plenty of absurdly delicious food to eat, and not even one safari-like animal in site.
In short, I am physically safe and taken care of. What’s more, I am living in a city surrounded by a language that I am obsessed with.
So, what’s the deal, Anxiety?
What do you want from me? What are you trying to say? What am I missing?
Because, honestly, I am tired of being jerked around by you. Oftentimes I can convince myself that you’re a friend, here to teach me how to pay attention, to feel again, and to be absolutely saturated by the moment, but other times? Other times I feel like you’re the bully in the office who wants to feel stronger, smarter, and more powerful than me. Like you want to remind me that you’re in control.
I know the truth is that it’s neither of those things. I recognize that you’re actually quite a neutral entity, showing up when you need to and leaving when you must, but god, on days like today, it feels really fucking personal.
And plus, I’m busy right now. I have a stockpile of emails to get through, tasks to check off from my numerous task management systems, and relationships to manage. I don’t have time for you.
But maybe that’s the point.
Maybe what you’re trying to tell me is that it’s okay to slow down. That as proactive as I like to pride myself on being, that I am actually rather reactive -- not to the tasks or projects in front of me -- but in the way I let other people’s perceptions dictate what’s most important.
Because I so badly don’t want to let people down. I so badly want to overdeliver so I can try to control how people see me, how much they like me, and more importantly, how much they need me.
This is what it always comes down to.
Whenever you arrive or whenever I’m judgmental, it’s usually because I am unwilling to sit with the fact that I just want to be needed.
I forget, too, that this is a practice -- just like meditation or running or pole vaulting.
That each time you show up, with no RSVP and a ravenous appetite, that you are actually inviting me to heal just a bit more.
Because you know something that I forget at least ninety-six times every day -- that my healing lies in looking directly at what’s underneath the pain with all of the kindness that I can muster up.
You are not my enemy, and there is no battle between us.
As always, the battle is with myself, and when I let my guard down, it just so happens that you let yours down, too.
Hey, Anxiety. Thanks for being here. Turns out I’m not as busy as I thought I was.