Anxiety, Addiction & the Fear of Being Still
The truth is; I’m fucking terrified. Of being still. I work really hard at filling my moments with things that feel good. I’ve long since replaced the bad-for-me “feel good” things with things that I believe are good for me. Instead of mind altering and body numbing additives that attack my liver, and blood and brain cells I now partake in activities that promote well being. In addition, I try and surround myself with people who are invested in seeking and finding truth and whose positive vibrations can whisk me away to a land where I still believe that rainbows and butterflies exist, without the substance. I want that. I want to believe it so badly. I worry that I will be shattered if I find out that this is a creation of my imagination. So I do things to convince myself that it can be real, my fairy tale. I’ve changed out the lenses in my rose colored glasses so many times. It’s challenging to adjust my vision and I try to heed the actual advice of my eye doctor to “stop trying so hard and just let it happen”. Stubbornly, to support my desire to believe, I fill any possibility of downtime with work and chores and new ideas to get excited about. I make workout plans and go to cross-fit and escape to my new (though familiar) retreat in New Paltz… the one that promises solitude and adventure. I practice yoga. And when I am anxious and need a moment to unwind, I fill the screaming silence with the house work I have shuffled aside and pick a neglected task like washing the sheets; cooking a family dinner; tackling a home repair; catching up on the books at work, grocery shopping; paying bills; baking cookies; making a long overdue phone call to a government agency or other; or helping a child with homework or to write a scholarship essay that may result in financial aid for college. The list forever unending. Then I wonder when I will get to the dentist and because the dentist is anxiety in itself for me I bury the feelings and fear with more of my obligations. If that doesn’t work I slip into less damaging (?) addictions like tv watching, Facebook or shopping. None of that leaves room to stop and heal even though the distractions used to distance me from my terror are much more productive and seemingly healthier than days gone by. There doesn’t appear to be room in my agenda for alcohol and binge eating today, though I never dare say that they will not return. They were the easier replacement for feelings that felt too overwhelming for me to contend with. Easy is not always better.
I wonder if I’ve actually changed? If it would serve me to change? If it’s even possible for a person to change? Yes, I make different choices. Healthier, more honest choices. I am more at peace… so I claim. There is no mistaken the anxiety that presents itself on a daily basis, however, and my medicine for dealing is still to take action. Is the anxiety just a part of who I am and always will be? Or am I meant to dissolve it? When the intensity elevates to an energy beyond what I am comfortable with; the jump out of my skin kind of feeling, I don’t always take the time to allow for what that message might be before reacting. It’s not easy to still myself against an active mind, a pounding heart, shaking limbs and accelerated breathing. I know that my mind and body are begging me to free them; to soothe them.I know that getting physical, adventurous, organizing my desk (or drinking a few bottles of wine) can take the edge off. I choose the former because at least it spares me of black outs and hangovers and behaving in a way that is hopefully out of character not to mention, out of control. Most importantly the latter only compounds it. Regardless, the struggle remains with stilling my energy. When my shoulders rise to my ears and my fists get a little tighter; my teeth a bit more clenched; my stomach knotted; I hear a cry for salvation. My codependent history believes it is my responsibility to give these elements, which are all a part of myself, an easier ride. It is difficult to just sit and watch the intensity build when I know I can do something to soften it. Therein arises my questioning. Am I still running? Am I still resisting a force that is begging me to notice and perhaps embrace it rather than replace it with distraction? And if the answer is “yes”, deflation sets in and I wonder if I’ve been disillusioned by the tale I’ve told myself that “I am now able to accept what I once refused to look at.” I am still displacing my uncomfortable feelings. It’s true that I am noticing them more. Perhaps, even allowing them to guide me toward healthy awareness and to initiate behavioral change. People will definitely say I’ve changed. But me, the real core of who I am and the energy I spin is still the same. The way I tackle uncomfortable stuff is to make it feel easier by using healthier alternatives. It’s better. It’s cleaner. I still find myself in a fog at times. It’s just that now it is not the result of waking up after a happy hour turned all-nighter. It’s harder this way. I am still numbing myself, be it in less damaging ways. Underneath it all there is a truth that wants to be heard and it is my responsibility to somehow forgo the urge to act and simply be still and pay attention. Sometimes it takes weeks of healthier-than-15 year-ago distractions for me to finally surrender and listen. I know that what is surfacing is intended to be seen and I might not like it. I have also come to realize that if I want emotional growth, that it’s in my best interest to go right into what I tend to avoid; head first, even if I have to crawl. The point is, after the diversions, I have to open the door to what has been knocking, fear and all. As much as I want to push weights or clean house or run away to adventure, the real action lies right here in staring the uncomfortable right between the eyes and receiving whatever message is trying to be conveyed. The longer I avoid it, the longer it takes for me to see what awaits on the next platform. And maybe, just maybe, it is rainbows and butterflies after all. Maybe these new rose colored lenses are going to provide more clarity for me. Sometimes its just a matter of time to be able to focus with the new prescription.