Waking from Anxiety
Letting Go of an Anxious Past
Sunday I woke. That familiar feeling was there. I didn’t want to face my day. In times past (before children), I would succumb, lying in bed, staying home-bound, overwhelmed with the feeling that it was all too much to handle. In times more current, I ignored the feeling, plowing through my day, my duties. This time, I observed the feeling without getting lost in the feeling.
I lay there reconstructing my dreams. All anxiety dreams.
Dream #1: A classic – I forgot to go on my upcoming business trip. After that horrible moment when I realized I had missed my plane and was supposed to be in Miami for an important meeting, I was rushing around trying to find another plane to get me there that same day. New job performance anxiety.
Dream #2: Our parakeet, Cooper (who I am ridiculously attached to probably because I feel guilty for not being a better pet care-giver as a child), was struggling up the stairs looking for me. When he found me, something was the matter with him. I looked at him and his body was missing. Just his head and his tail feathers. A big gaping hole where his body was. He was going to die. And it was my fault. Parenting anxiety. I am a terrible mother. Especially when I am absorbed in my work. See Dream #1.
Dream #3: I had a tattoo. I thought it was kind of cool that I had acquired this tattoo. My having a tattoo would be quite out of character. But the tattoo was of a stick dog with a skull. I did not like it. It was not my choice. And now it was a permanent fixture of my body. Anxiety over what? Not having a say? Elements of my past imbedded in my body that I don’t want – were not my choice. were inflicted upon me?
I lay there ruminating. I made a decision. I did not want to have a “generalized anxiety” fog of a day. I decided to not succumb. Time is too precious to waste a blissful day off feeling unsettled and blue. I made an important discovery for myself a few years ago on a ski vacation that anxiety was a habit that I could choose not to give in to. We had arrived at the top of the mountain. The wind was blowing, which always increases my skiing anxiety, and we were going to do a challenging run. I stood there looking down. My heart was pounding and my breath was short and shallow. “I can’t do it! I hate skiing! It’s your fault and you better notice how hard this is for me and take care of me!” My husband, truly the perfect match for me, calmly chooses not to notice my panic, calmly chooses not to cater to my false victim-y incompetence. And then the shift happens. I change the tape in my head. “I can do this run. I did it several times last year and loved it! I am a good skier. Anxiety is a habit. It got me attention as a child, as a young adult. But it does not serve me well any more. Let it go.” I took some deeper breaths and felt my confident persona rise up. There she is! Let’s go. And down we schussed, my confident persona and me, leaving the anxious child behind.
I left my anxiety dreams in bed and got up and enjoyed coffee with my husband and went to my Sunday yoga class with wise Alex. I have worked hard to create a community of friends at my yoga studio. But I regularly forget that they are there and that they notice when I am not there. I walked in and was greeted with hugs and a genuine welcome. Good God, I have friends. Friends I have cultivated with care. And then another shift happened. During Warrior 2, where my left hand was my back hand, it started vibrating. What was happening? The only child of (anxious) cerebral scientists, I searched for a scientific and physical explanation. Probably some mildly pinched nerve was being released. But maybe, just maybe, there is a different point of view worth considering, worth being open to considering. I wonder what the yogi’s have to say? Some crazy hokum, I am sure. Kundalini awakening or some such nonsense. Oh yeah, I am a yogini. I am supposed to believe this crazy hokum…right? Skeptical, I ask Alex. He suggests that my back hand represents my past. I am releasing energy from my past. The left side is my feminine side, my heart. I am releasing energy from my past, from my past with my mother, my anxiety enabler – as I make the passage through mid-life and become more grounded in my confident self. Good God, this resonates as true and believable! Could it be that it is not crazy hokum? Perhaps the logical explanation is not the only point of view? I felt the decision I made that morning, to leave anxiety behind, in the vibration of my left back hand.
Sally, You are doing such good work! I’m sure other people will benefit by hearing about your reflective process and health messages to your self.
Sounds like you have a new job – bring us up to date when you have time