Dear Beloved Anxiety:
I refuse to hate you.
I’m trying not to fight with you, scream at you and scare you off.
I’m trying something new.
My first reaction is still to greet you the way I do a chirping alarm waking me from a deep sleep at 3 a.m.
With fear and annoyance and some rage.
Rage that you startled me awake.
Rage that you made the bitter taste of fear fill my mouth.
Terror slips in whenever I feel threatened and anxiety you do scare me. I mean, you never arrive with flowers or smiles or when everything is great.
You don’t even call to tell me you are on your way. You just show up at my door like you might never leave. It makes it hard for me to breath.
That’s how it feels.
Still, I’m starting to see you are just doing your job.
I notice you are reliable and valuable even.
It makes no sense to hate you.
You have a purpose. You have meaning.
You only come when I’m vulnerable.
And it’s not because you are inconsiderate.
You aim to save all that I am and I possess.
If it weren’t for you, I would be less safe.
You are a guardian seeking to protect me.
You are a messenger.
You are a signal.
You are an alarm.You are as necessary as any alarm.
I should thank you for alerting me that my batteries need to be plugged in, recharged or even replaced.
You get my attention and you keep it in a way nothing else can.
You are a warrior worker bee sting-buzzing me awake.
Thank you for not letting me bury my head in the sand.
No one ever talks you up anxiety. Few say kind things about you but I’m starting to recognize your worth.
You are trying to serve me.
And I don’t just mean I’m doing some mind-twist pretend perspective shift.Nope, that never works for me. I can’t buy greeting cards if I don’t agree with every syllable. I can’t do positive affirmations if I don’t believe the sentiments. This isn’t spin.
No, this isn’t me denying reality or trying to attract calm like the secret is a genie bottle I can wish on to make suffering go away.
I can’t pretend you haven’t messed up my plans or schedule, my sleep or mood.
You have. You do.
Agony often comes right in the door carrying even more bags. They aren’t called anxeity attacks because they are mild, gentle and soothing.
But I’m starting to see what you are at the core.
You aren’t what I thought you were.
I mean, it’s true you never show up when my resources are in tip top shape, when finances are great and I’m having great sleep and lovely dreams.
You show up when I’m in scaredy-cat brain and funds are low and I’m stressed out of my mind.
You come when I’ve put myself on the back burner of the back burner of the back burner in the other room.
Which is why it’s so hard to put out the extra soap and the good towels for you. You come when I’m brutally depleted.
It’s hard to look forward to your visits.
But I’m starting to recognize your pattern. You really do have a routine. You show up when I’ve managed to neglect myself like like an all-star athlete going for a world record.
You are the bill that comes due after all the drinks and food have been served and devoured.
You are the credit card in January when Christmas went on plastic.
You help me get real.
You make me pay attention to the here and now.
To my body.
To my tension and my feelings.
You show up when my breathing is shallow.
You arrive when my thinking is frantic and rushed and fearful.
And though I’ve always despised you the truth is I do respond to you.
You cause me to shift gears, to slow down and to stop running on fumes.
You cause me to remember I’m a human not a machine.
You cause me to reach out to others.
You force me to remember self-care is a requirement and not a luxury.
When you arrive I attend more to the present. Time slows and I stop “to doing” my existence and inhabit my senses.
You help me remember I have post-traumatic stress and must nurture me on the most primal levels.
You are the leash keeping the puppy from running into the road even though the puppy thinks you are frustrating.
You really are protective and beneficial and trying to preserve me.
I’ve been reading you all wrong.
No wonder fighting with you doesn’t work.
You aren’t my enemy.
Responding to it like it is an opponent in the boxing ring I’m trying to clock makes me feel worse.
Is this what Cheri Huber was talking about when she said:
“Nonacceptance is always suffering, no matter what you are not accepting. Acceptance is always freedom, no matter what you are accepting.”
Is that why I can feel anxious and o.k. at the same time?
Is this how I soften and lean into the experience? Is that what all that talk means?
I don’t know how to say this without the superstitious part kicking in to cross fingers real tight but… its kind of working.
I can feel the difference.
It’s not like the anxiety 100% dissolves and is immediately gone but it is less terrifying and scary. I don’t feel hijacked and jumped and betrayed.
That’s a big difference.
It’s almost miraculous.
Anxiety is just an alarm doing a job.
It has a message and it’s one I think I am actually receiving.
Receiving the message.
I’ve gone from F’You to Thank You and somehow mean it.
Our relationship has grown so much.
I might even love you.