I have a lot of anxiety. I’m not sure if most people know that about me. Honestly, I’m not sure how you can be human in this world and not be anxious.
For whatever reason, it tends to hit me this time of year a bit more noticeably. I call it the “February Feels” because I try to make light of it. But it doesn’t feel light. It feels like existential panic. Like I can’t breathe and my heart is being squeezed so tightly I can’t think about anything else but that contraction. I call it that too, because there’s no “thing” that’s causing it.
It just is.
I do a lot of things to fight it. Or deal with it. Or survive it, I guess.
I write. And I do yoga. I go for a run.
I eat chocolate in bed. I snuggle with my dog in bed. I call my sisters. I listen to poetry spoken by someone who’s Irish.
I listen to Tibetan singing bowls. I clean the house. I dance in my kitchen. I write lists of what I’m grateful for.
I say reassuring things to myself. I say prayers. I have a meaningful conversation with someone I love. I binge watch sitcoms.
(Some years) I drink tequila. I take a walk outside. I dig in the dirt and hope something will grow.
I am well versed in these strategies and games and I am lucky enough to have the time and privilege to use them. I am trained and I fight and I push back and it works, for awhile.
But it always comes back- that interminable to-do list. That visceral panic of being alive on this planet in this body. Like I am trapped and I can’t get out.
So tonight I tried something new:
Inquiry. Curiosity. Hospitality.
I am tired of fighting so I decided to start asking, instead. I don’t have any answers and I don’t know that there is something to be fixed and so maybe even the questions are another way of fighting with a different weapon. Maybe it’s just the panic of the seed cracking open in the dark soil before tender green leaves shoot toward the light.
I’m not sure.
I am still in process but I thought I’d share because maybe there is something here for all of us.
Questions I have for my anxiety-an open ended inquiry
What is this anxiety trying to teach me? Can I open to it? Can I let it be music? Instead of something to solve or send off?
Is it a portal?
What soft thing is it whispering? What in me needs to be seen/heard/tended to?
How can I create a feeling of safety in a world that ends in my death? What treasure is hidden in that fear that wants to be revealed? What can I integrate and accept?
Is the feeling/embodiment of safety even one I should be trying to create or learn or become? Is there a different way of being in the world that inspires more freedom?
Is it really a warning signal or something else? What tools do I need to gather to make something out of it? Does it want more acknowledgment?
Is it a creative force if I work with it instead of against it? How can I dive deeper-beyond the surface-level fear to inquire about the heart of the matter?
What needs to be turned off/restructured so I can listen and really hear? What needs to be let in or down? How can I make more room for it and give it enough space to breathe?
Keep breathing folks. It is a panicky world to live in. I’m here too, panicking right along with ya.