• leeshamony

The Unpunctual Liberation from Anxiety

The light pours in ever so softly. Slowly it begins to fill up my room; my room which has laid dark and dormant for a few days now. The light doesn’t rush in. Instead it gently inches its way through the window, extending out to the corners and crevices of the walls which hold up my house. I begin to allow myself to notice the light. My eyes squint, causing constriction to my cheeks, as my forehead wrinkles with curiosity and some doubt. My squinted face begins to try and make sense out of what my eyes are witnessing, trying to understand what is happening to me. I follow the light and eventually am able to see things that I have not been able to notice for some time. The light awakens me as I feel a pull to move towards it instead of hiding away. I allow myself to stay with the pull, to follow it. As it ushers me along, I begin to notice the flow of life reentering a body that has been mostly inhabiting my anxiety for the past few days.

I am usually able to tell that my mental state is shifting when I begin to notice what is happening outside of me instead of in. For anxiety is an internal experience that takes away my ability to look outside of it. There are some days where everything frustrates me and I can’t seem to shake the unruly apprehension that makes its home in my chest. The wish for it to get out becomes more clear, as I begin to imagine opening a window and blowing out the feelings of impending doom. This would be great, except imagining opening the window also terrifies me of what could make its way in. My chest heavy, weak, solidified; no room to breathe, no room to think of anything else but this feeling my body is holding. Gripping for dear life.

What a dichotomy, holding onto anxiety for fear of losing what already feels lost.

In this feeling, I find myself grasping onto anything to try and make sense out of my experience. A wish begins to form, a hope that words will be able to somehow take away this sharp hollowness that has embedded itself in my chest today. I know better, for words do not often bring comfort in these moments.

The struggle continues as I try to fight off this feeling of helplessness as more extreme sensations take over. It is hard to not get lost in the muck of it all. For there are so many parts of me that wish to just be washed away. Maybe if I lay down, maybe I need rest, maybe I need to express myself, maybe I need less tea, more water; maybe I am overdoing it, maybe I am not doing enough. The antidote to this feeling does not live in these answers even though I long for it to be there. It does not live in the known, the conscious, the speakable. For this feeling in my chest has many names. It’s hard because at any given second the name could change in an instant, and all of the hard work of trying to figure it out might seep through the crack of the open window into the far off distance.

From past, to future, to present, these time traveling sensations dance around my body as if it knows every move, every step. Never skipping a beat, except of course when it feels as though my heart is stopping. That is the thing with anxiety, it can feel as though a carefully stacked house may crumble inside you at any second. As my body begins to brace against the possible collapse, I realize I am not able to notice anything else, for my body has become a prisoner to my mind. In the moments of trying to hold it together as tightly as I can to prevent the destruction, I inevitably create more constriction, more tightness and less opportunities for air to seep in. My attempt to hold it all together doesn’t work. It doesn’t create the peace I yearn and search for in every crevice of my being. For as long as I am clenching onto the fear, the fear will not have anywhere to go. Releasing and welcoming a dreamlike ease to a restless body becomes the longing. Carving out more space to expand, to allow the anxiety to make its way out- that is the disillusioned remedy.

In times of utter take over, it is impossible to think of a way out. Instead I am forced to feel through it, break with it, bend into it. This dance with anxiety does not last forever even though it speaks otherwise. Moving it out takes practice, takes time, and takes bringing my awareness to a place I am attempting to avoid. For why would someone walk into the fire if you could just go around? The pull away from it makes sense, for walking into the blazing flame feels reckless and hot. Over the years, I have begun to understand what my anxiety needs. Anxiety, like the fire, needs a sense of containment. It needs carefully placed rocks around it, holding it in, making sure it does not leap out of its bounds. In order to offer such a vessel, I must get to know what I am working with, what my carefully placed rocks might be, look like and where to find them. For you can not rid yourself of anxiety without understanding it, without facing it, without knowing its nature. My anxiety has been a part of me, but it is not all of me. Even in those unsettling moments, it is trying to convince otherwise.

The steady rush of tender light continues to move throughout my room. Exposing what has been unseen, unfelt and uncared for over these past unforgiving days. I watch as it shows itself to me, its alluring dance calling me in. I begin to notice curiosity again, as I become undoubtedly aware that there is a sliver of an opening inside me that the light has carved its way through. My lungs, which have been holding their breath for dear life, find a subtle uninvited exhalation. An exhalation that ushers me so gratefully outside myself; the urge to stretch my tightened constricted body that has been holding so much comes over me. I extend my arms out wide, over head, around and around, until eventually I find my footing. My footing takes me out, to a new day. As I get up to make my way, I catch a glimpse of the open window in all of its glory breathing the newness into the room, the newness into me.

This essay was written thanks to a monthly theme "Notice" from Illuminate, a writing community from The Kindred Voice.

Read more pieces about Notice from my fellow Illuminate members:

Do You Notice Me? (a haiku) by Mia Sutton

Notice Me by Adeola Sheehy

Noticing by Megan Vos

Nurturing Noticing by Hannah Kewley

For the Joy of It by Katherine Mansfield

Notice Me by Amy

A Rose Grows in Brewster by Christine Carpenter

Notice by Crystal James

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