I have answers to very few things. For now, this is more liberating than sad.
It is both empowering and mind-numbingly frustrating that most anxiety isn’t a fear of the thing, but a fear of fear. Anticipatory anxiety in particular is like seeing an orange blur on the horizon and having an internal monologue that goes “that’s 100% a fucking tiger!! There are no other things that could possibly be orange in the universe, and we are definitely going to die, what are you doing approaching that tiger??” and every time I approach it, it’s actually a Dreamsicle, because I’m a middle-class white woman in the year 2019.
Welcome to the paradox that is my existence.
But also, it’s millions (billions?) of other peoples’ existence, so my suffering didn’t even have the decency to be moderately unique or interesting? I guess that’s a small comfort.
If I’m being honest, on an average day, I’m not constantly anxious, it’s just that the intensity of anxiety compared to other emotions is amplified, so every sliver of fear feels like A Big Deal compared to happiness, boredom, amusement, and all of the other more pleasant emotions I experience in a given day.
(Whoever engineered feelings is a total prick, by the way.)
Sometimes, I write here because I have some kind of an a-ha moment in my life, but I didn’t move cities or get divorced again (yet!!1 There’s still time!. But today? I’m feeling a little directionless and weary, and I want to honor that and be okay with that.
Things have been better. I run, I do yoga, I meditate, I work out, I eat well. I don’t do those things obsessively. I’m accepting that weird feelings are a part of being alive, and sometimes, the pain that happens as a result of those feelings isn’t going to make any damn sense, and I’m going to just have to push through them to see what’s on the other side.
The hardest part of pushing through is, the older you get, the more likely you are to have experienced an amount of pain that you don’t know if you have the energy to revisit. So without realizing it, we avoid activities that recall that pain. Our bright, big, beautiful worlds get smaller as a result, aaaand that’s how anxiety and depression make such great bedfellows.
If we’re simultaneously afraid of the future and longing for a past version of ourselves that no longer exists, then we start to live in a paradoxical bubble where longing and rejection intersect, and we want any reality that is not our own.
Since it’s me and I don’t want to brood for too long, this is ending on a positive note. The good news is: Our worlds don’t have to shrink, and if they do shrink, we should be kind to ourselves and know that we can rebuild them in bigger, more beautiful directions when we’re ready to. And if we’re not ready just yet, we’re still meaningful, worthwhile creatures who deserve kindness and compassion – from ourselves and others – while we build ourselves back up.
As always, the things I write are just as much for self-soothing as they are for anyone who might be reading. But I do believe them at the core of my being, even if they sometimes feel out of reach.