My anxiety came for coffee...Making friends with uncomfortable feelings
Anxiety arrived when I turned 30. Never before had she a presence. When I turned 30, bang, there she was, a caged bird flapping her downy wings in my chest. She stayed for long periods of time and there seemed to be no rhyme or reason or pattern to her visits. I never really understood what people meant by "I suffer from anxiety" until I turned 30. She stayed for a long time. I am 34 now and finally, through the process of acceptance, invitation and welcoming, she is no longer with me. I used to think that the only way to get rid of anxiety was to push it away, distract myself, pretend i didn't have it. I slowly learned that in fact the very opposite was true. Here are two little vignettes that I wrote about my anxiety which I'm sharing with you in hopes that you too can "welcome" uncomfortable emotions so that you can find ease of wellbeing in your life. When we learn to accept such feelings as part of our life's journey they loose their grip and power over us. We make peace with them and them with us. Only then will we be able to "get rid of" our anxiety...
1. She came for coffee yesterday. She knocked at my door and I invited her in. The coffee was almost gone but she grabbed hold of me as soon as I opened the door. I welcomed her. We sat at my 1970s vino topped table, blue with specs of formica. She sat close-inside-and reminisced about the past. She didn't savour her coffee but instead gulped it down in one long swallow, the butter taste I could feel on my pallet. She sat with me the rest of the morning. All I could do was sit with her. So sit we did until finally it was she, not me, who decided the time of her departure. All of a sudden she stood up, rooted her feet to my floor and walked out the door. I finished what was left of my coffee-ice cold by now-and rose to being my day, lighter, freer but knowing that her return could be immanent.
2. Where was she? The whole day I went through my routine, completed my activities, finished my work but she wasn't home yet but as I climbed into bed I could feel her presence close by but not yet home. As I settled under the covers aligning my body in a habitual supine posture, I could hear the handle on the door turn and then there she was in my bed. I opened my arms, wrapped the blanket around her and pulled her in close. She pried her way deep and once in, began the process of unfolding. Uncurling her tiny claws, reaching to depths she's never grasped before, scratching surfaces along the ribs that she never grazed. Wrapping her talons around my heart tighter than she she ever has before, making her body hard, solid, earth element. I thought. I watched her every move without trying to anticipate the next. All I could do was welcome her presence, find fascination in her form and forms. Then for her next trick, she began to flap her wings, birdlike flutters not soft like those of a butterfly, no, more like an angry pigeon, clumsy but forceful-strong. She wanted to lift off but was unsure of this process of leaving. Still I watched her-with interest. I watched until her wings became lighter, softer, like eyelashes on my cheek. Then she prepared for take off, so I unhooked the loop from her talons and she took flight. I didn't even see her go. Instead, I watched the space in my chest-empty and full at the same time. Soft, warm. Steady breath, gentle breath, rhythmic breath and from that emptiness exhausted by her frantic actions, I rolled over and drifted off to sleep.