I had always heard about it. It was this big word that came up in many conversations with daunting ideas that swirled around in my head and really had no meaning to me as “I would never have that.”
Cue April 2017
It started as a jitter while driving home one night from my weekly soccer games. The next time, it was while driving and it shifted from jitters to feeling as though my chest and shoulders were crammed into a box and I couldn’t get out. The third time, it moved from my shoulders to my racing heart, to my hands cramping up, and my eyes buzzing with numbness. My hands became so tight, that I could no longer grip the steering wheel. I pulled to the side of the 94 and turned off the car and just cried. What was going on with my body? What was going on with the one who has it all together, who is happy, with me? I hadn’t told anyone at this point, because I didn’t want people to worry about me. I didn’t want to look like I was “crazy”. I didn’t want the idea that I couldn’t handle it all or maybe as though my life wasn’t good enough.
The best way I can explain this feeling is that it is as though your mind and your body aren’t talking to each other. It’s as though your body is telling you that you may die in this moment. It’s telling you to run from something, to fight back, to be ready for whatever is coming your way. But when you feel it come on, your mind is so confused. What is the danger? Did I eat something bad? Am I stressed about something? Usually, all of these questions come up empty…
When you tell people who are close to you about it, their first question is always, “What’s going on in your life?” I think that the most frustrating part about experiencing this is…there is nothing going on. I am newly married to an incredible man who leaves me fresh flowers. I have a family close by that is always my biggest fan. I have a job that I am passionate about, full of opportunities for creativity while teaching. I love my church, my friends, our finances are great, and there is no big decision to make that could pull me this way (No, I am not pregnant!) 😉 I exercise regularly and we do our best to eat well (Who doesn’t sneak in a California burrito now and then?) I get to travel. I get to dream and I have this incredible puppy that gives me too many kisses to count.
When people ask me what it could be…I don’t have an answer, no matter how hard I try to find something. Believe me, I would rather have a reason, because a reason means a fix. I am good at lists, steps, and efficiency. If there was a reason, I could work my way through it bit by bit and conquer whatever it was, but this pushing through it option doesn’t work with this.
The social media world is a beautiful one. It keeps us connected, it fills us with knowledge, and it inspires us to action whether that’s in the world or to book a flight somewhere halfway around the world. It provides a place we can say, “Me too.” If you follow the blog, you know we love to adventure and travel. We love to explore and seek to find new places, and to many it appears as a romantic life. Seeing the world and traveling is so rewarding and it’s the one place where we all feel free again no matter what is coming our way. With that being said, I never want to add to the picture perfect lives we may see plastered perfectly through our feeds.
I want the me on that feed to completely resemble the reflection I see in the mirror each morning, because the more we show the real us, the more the world feels permission to put their messy hair and dirty house photos with captions that some nights all you could make is mac n’ cheese for dinner, and that’s perfectly okay with me.
I thought about calling this post “The Uninvited Dinner Guest”, as this feeling of anxiety seems to come at places that I never invited it to: driving, church sermons, concerts, ballet recitals for my niece, the gym, the grocery store, the waves while waiting in the lineup and I am sure that there will be more places to add to the list.
I changed my mind about this title though.
I am writing this post not to say poor me, feel sorry for me, or to think it’s the fix to pour this personal side of me our for all the internet to see. I am writing this post, because I am learning that the only way to face this new season is to invite it in, pull up a chair, and sit with it and hear what it has to say. I am learning to let my body feel what it needs to feel and breathe, cry, and sometimes, just laugh through it. I am learning not to fear it, avoid it, or even get angry at my body when these feelings occur, but to instead give it a chance to breathe. I am learning to be honest with others close to me about it and admit this even though it makes me feel like I am weak. When I do pull up this chair, I am seeing that I am hard on myself. I am seeing that I preach being okay with failure, but rarely allow myself to do it. I am seeing that I can be stubborn. I am noticing the parts I want to be sure to make a part of our legacy.
Who knows if this is a season or something I’ll just continue to work through. What I do know, is the more I let go of controlling it, the more my breath slows, my shoulders drop and my hands fall to my sides open and ready for whatever I am learning. The more I push myself to those places that I avoided because I don’t want to feel those feelings again, the more I find peace. The more I just let the tears fall when they come instead of pushing them away to that tightness in the back of our throat, the more alive this whole world seems.
Today, a smile takes over my face and I lay in the park with my puppy at my side watching the wind blow the leaves gently over us as the sunshine warms our skin. I watch the squirrels chatter, the airplanes circle by, and I know that whatever this season of anxious feelings may be, life is so good and who cares to be perfect, to have it all together, to be the one that can handle anything. That perfection is uninvited. Today, I just pull up a chair.