I’m a grown-up, which means I’m supposed to have my life in order and generally be able to keep it that way. All in a rational, logical, calm and collected manner.
I have anxiety more days than not. For me, this means going through many moments in many places with the pervasive and disturbing fear that I am not enough. That I don’t have what it takes. That I just cannot handle…life…work…relationships…being a Human in the wide world, the world being in the state that it is.
Basic things trip me up. At least things that I think are basic(by which I mean to say ‘easy’ for everyone else.) Getting up on time. Getting myself together and out the door in a manner that even remotely resembles organized. My fried eggs are turning to burnt eggs while my toddler is yelling for help from the bathroom at the same time the tea kettle is whistling all while I am trying to pack my work backpack to try to save time. What should I wear today that is not itchy, makes me feel skinny, is stylish, yet subtle? Both my jobs are unhappy with me for not working them full time, even while neither of them pay me a full living wage. Addictive cravings. Can I catch my bus? What if terrorism actually DOES come to my town and decide to strike at my bus? What are my aging parents going to do without a retirement? What do I have to do again today? I have to write all the pages and grade all the papers and prepare all the classes and answer all the e-mails. Addictive cravings. Politics. Should I post that thing on Facebook that I think is really clever and really important? Who will get mad at me if I say what I’m thinking? Maybe I should just go back to writing nonsense posts. Does anyone even see it? Addictive cravings. Really strong addictive cravings. Well, no wonder – I’ve had two eggs and black tea for nutrients and that was six hours ago!
Do people like me?
Anxiety is fear. When that fear looks me right in the face, it is inerrant truth.
Anxiety may possibly be a more poignant beast for intellectually oriented people, just because they know more things. Knowledge does not equate to truth or wisdom or mastery of thought and the more thoughts that have been dumped into this brain, the more red noise there is to go around.
Anxiety is procrastination at work. Facebook. A stroll past the support staff. Another cup of tea. Check my mail. Shuffle paper files around. Type a paragraph of a progress note, then eat some snacks. Create a perfect playlist on Spotify. When I client finally comes in, shudder and sigh and try to look them in the eye. Concentrate, concentrate, smile, pay attention. Be present and empathize because it’s your job and never mind that you find the person tedious, aggravating, insipid, ridiculous, angry overwhelming or hopelessly boring!
I don’t know if I can handle this job. The one that I worked so hard and long to be allowed to do.
But if I quit, then I will surely end up homeless(me and my family) because being homeless, old, alone and done for is the purgatory awaiting anxious people. Or worse, I will end up back at Starbucks.
Anxiety is getting caught up in politics and world events, and caring deeply about social justice and vulnerable people, but feeling so small in a great big void. I can’t participate in these conversations because I just don’t know enough! And I don’t the time enough to learn enough! But the world and politic fuss is everywhere and so loud and I can’t escape it.
I understand why people unplug from real life with a fabricated one. I understand why they use chemicals and media and bodies and behaviors to feel something other than their real life experience, feel good, or feel nothing at all. I understand because I have the same urges. The thought of binge watching and binge drinking sounds so great because they I don’t have to think about all my worries…
…which makes me worry more because deep down I want so badly to be strong. To be effective. To be useful and helpful. The only thing worse than the anxiety voices are the shame voices berating me for not being able to tame the anxiety voices.
Thus and thus, creativity dies. My book stagnates. I am right at the final climatic scene and need to get it just right.
I just need all the stress to go away so my brain can quiet and I can sit my body still…
…just for a few hours…
Be anxious for nothing.
Trust in the Lord.
Be still and know God.
Build my house on the Rock.
Things impossible and vital and now I understand why I need to believe them. Otherwise I will be swallowed and obliterated by anxiety.