Anxiety! Bleh! 😏
For me, it’s just a fancy word for fear – and I feel it today.
What am I afraid of? I’m not exactly sure, but I feel it hovering just above my head, gently brushing past my shoulders from time to time.
Maybe I fear that I am running out of time – that I will never have time to accomplish my goals. I sometimes feel as though there are a thousand different clocks ticking all around my head at once – family, career, stability, home, retirement, travel, writing, death…
I used to feel this fear every single day. I would wake up startled, confused, regretful, and I would think to myself, “Shit…I’m still alive…I need a drink…”
Thank God those days are gone.
That fear stayed with me in early recovery too. I felt it every single day for the first year of sobriety. I feared I couldn’t live without alcohol, without some sort of escape. I feared I would leave a trail of broken hearts and resentments scattered behind me – that I would never find peace. I feared I would continue disappointing the ones I loved – that I would never be forgiven, happy or successful. I feared I was doomed to a life of boredom – one that was unbearably mundane.
Most of what I fear never materializes. I make up stories in my head and manipulate myself into believing they are fact. I’m still learning to treat myself better – to be as honest with myself as I am with others.
Progress, not perfection.
Time has continued to move me forward, too quickly at times. I’ve enjoyed watching the clouds race each other across the sky. Slowly, I’ve felt this fear leave me for longer periods of time. I am grateful for this, but I’m always left to wonder when it will return?
Because, you see, even when it’s not there, I know it still exists…
But there are days, days like today, where I wear a cloak of impending doom on my shoulders- I carry it with me throughout the day, and feel the weight of it dragging on the floor behind me. My heart beats a little faster than normal, and I can feel the burn of my skin as my blood begins to boil.
I know this is temporary. I know how to move past this – but knowing and doing are an ocean apart.
So I keep things simple.
I pick up the phone and talk to a friend who understands me – who knows the pain I still feel sometimes. I ask for guidance.
I write about it, and hope that the fear diminishes as I place each thought down on a piece paper.
I take a walk, listen to the sound of the wind blowing, feel the chill of the cold breeze on the back of my neck. I watch the birds, and I take note of each time they decide to take a break and simply glide for a moment – and I am suddenly reminded that even birds become tired too.
I take a warm bath, and breathe in the intoxicating scents of lavender and vanilla. I get lost in a good book, the one with the ragged edges from years of strangers substituting bent corners for bookmarks, and I take note of the excitement I feel with the turn of each page. When I read, I can accept that each page contains a new tragedy or adventure, and yet I still commit to taking each book page by page. I never feel the urge to jump ahead.
Why is this so difficult in real life? One day at a time. Just for today. Keep it simple. Live in the present.
I know what I need on days like today.
I just need to breathe – slowly and deeply. I need to go to bed early and get some much needed rest – to have faith that when I open my eyes in the morning (the first gift of each day) this fear will have subsided.
I once feared I would never make it 30 days without a drink. Today marks 1,608 days clean and serene. Since that first day, I’ve learned I am capable of overcoming just about anything, BUT I am still a work in progress. I always will be. And that is OK too.