I had a rough night last night. I went to a yoga class at a studio that I rarely go to, not my “home” studio, in an effort to get out of my head and grounded into my body. I have been feeling a bit of body anxiety the past week or two, understandably, as there is so much going on right now. After bow pose, when you rest for a moment on your stomach, I always hate that I hear my heartbeat so loudly in my boobs. I feel it pounding into the ground. And it's only on one side because, you know, your heart is on one side, but hearing this little muscle go from really loud to “wait, where'd it go?!?!” always freaks me out. I get a little moment of panic in the second where the loud throbbing heartbeat all of the sudden runs away. I know it's just my body doing it's thing, but it scares me. It reminds me that I am a body, made up of working parts, and that I am just a girl swimming in mortality.
I came home, did some breathing exercises, tried to lean into the anxiety, to welcome it in. This is something I have been working on that's been helping. The fear of the fear is the problem, is what creates even more panic. The natural urge to distract myself, to make the feelings go away is what creates even more tension and sends the message to my insides that yes, there really is something to be afraid of, and that you can't handle it. In the past (almost) year, I've been forced to learn about my fears, my anxieties, where they come from, and how I can welcome them, how I can rewrite the scripts that play in my head. When you accept the challenge, when you open that door and are willing to feel it all, you learn and grow so much but you also invite it ALL in. Despite how overwhelming it's been, I can honestly say that my panic has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It has forced me to reconnect to my spirituality, to my intrinsic connection to this Earth. It has forced me to stop abandoning myself, to keep listening. It has taught me to embrace every feeling, to hold the shadow and the light in equal value. To welcome all feelings with equal compassion.
It has brought so much knowledge and awareness into my life. It has caused me to go back to school to study psychology. It has caused me to consciously make the choice to believe my courage rather than my fears – because I do get to make the choice of who I want to believe. It has taught me to listen to that voice in my acting. It has taught me to listen to that voice in my relationships.
It's not easy, it's actually the hardest thing I've ever done. As painful as it's been, I wouldn't trade the awareness I've gained for the world. Sure, it would be awesome if I was born one of those people that never has a care in the world, but that's not me. And I choose to view my anxiety as a gift, as my smoke signal to connection to existence and spirit. I choose to view my sensitivities as gifts, not problems that need fixing. Because that very mentality is so detrimental.
If you struggle with anxiety or panic, there is nothing wrong with you. What's wrong is the fact that culturally we aren't raised with the tools to learn from our feelings, to embrace ALL feeling and to observe them, to be mindful of them. Because we are not our thoughts or our feelings. Our thoughts and feelings are reflections of our inner world, and there is so much healing and peace to be gained by choosing to learn from them instead of living IN them. Inner peace and healing come from feeling every shade of every feeling, not from only feeling a certain spectrum of feeling, a narrow spectrum that is acceptable and celebrated. The more we observe and embrace each feeling, no matter how painful, the more we invite them in, the less tension we will feel inside, the quicker the brewing storm clouds can dissolve into rain and wash through us.
So yes, this week has been hard. I'm dealing with a lot of painful feelings from my mother. I'm having to constantly hold my own hand and remind myself that I am doing just fine, that I am loved wholly for who I am. I just ordered my wedding dress, like for real. Holy cow it was so surreal. (Did you catch that rhyme? I'm also considering becoming a rapper) The first time I tried it on, back in December, and was pretty sure I had found the one, I was so calm and no-big-deal. This time, when I tried it on again...as “the dress” and got measurements and all that, boyyyy did I feel some panic. And yes, I am saying online that I felt panic when I put on my wedding dress because this shit needs to be said. It needs to be normalized. You're making the biggest decision of your life so far, aside from bringing other little lives into the world, and it's completely normal (and sane!) to freak out a bit, or a lot. I was standing there in the gown that will usher me into the New Me. The gown that represents my new identity, and the letting go of the old one. The dress that when I put it on I will be a single girl, a daughter, and when I take it off I will be married, a wife, will have birthed a brand new family. So it's huge. And it needs to be treated as such.
Oh, and last night at 4 am Starbelly threw up a Christmas ornament. I knew she wasn't feeling well yesterday afternoon – she did that thing where she tries to put everything in her mouth and acts like she's going to throw up. She was fine by nighttime though. So when we woke up to her having thrown up, and noticing a Christmas ornament from our tree in the remains....well, I was worried. She seemed fine and went back to sleep, we cleaned up and went back to bed. I couldn't sleep for awhile as I was listening really intently to see if she got up or was making strange noises. I was worried and couldn't relax. I felt as if I might as well had swallowed the ornament. As I laid in bed trying to let it go, I thought of how J was easily back asleep. I thought of how if I were out of town, she would have simply cleaned it up, gone back to sleep, and not given it a second thought. She is not a worrier. I thought of how if I were not home, I wouldn't have had any control or responsibility over this, and there would be peace in our home- J and puppy sleeping soundly as if nothing had happened. I knew that I was the one keeping the fear awake, cause everyone else in my house was so over it. I tried my best to let go, and eventually fell asleep. It's simple things like that that make me grateful for the peace of my fiance. The peace she encourages me to strive for (by simply being herself, not by words), to simply let go. I might not be completely worry free and I might never be, but it's the little things like the ease in which the rest of my family falls back asleep that reminds me that things are okay, that I'm not alone, that I can let go. And those things bring a smile to my heart and a warmth to my soul.
(As a disclaimer and in defense of myself, while I may be a worrier, I've got lots of great qualities that balance J's and Starbelly's and I keep this family running smoothly. No one packs a breakfast like me, and no one hugs the lady at the cleaner's like me. Oh, and I am freaking awesome at getting up in the middle of the night when the dog needs to go out in under 2.5 minutes. So there.)