Day 22 the only offering I could bring to the 500 word challenge was a piece on my not so good close neighbor Anxiety. Earlier in the week, I had allowed myself to be included in something to a level I wasn’t ready for. In so doing I had climbed on the Ferris wheel of Not-Good-Enough and began spinning away. Anxiety saw her chance to get even with me for having kicked her out of her permanent room in the house of me. Knowing that the vertigo of high places would enhance my memory of her, she flipped the ride off while my basket was close to the top. The dizziness and physical symptoms were too much, and I had to choose to stop so that I could slow my mind enough to find a way down.
Day 23 the wheel had stopped and the dizziness I was experiencing wouldn’t even let me drive my car to get anywhere. Putting thoughts together to get small things done was a challenge. I couldn’t even get the words into my journal. There was no way I was going to be able to compose them into an accountability blog entry. I would have a day home but didn’t have it together enough to do what would have felt productive here. The day felt like it was going to end before it began.
If I didn’t get off this wheel soon, Anxiety would be moved into her old room by the time I finally got home. It was a race against time as my survival instincts kicked in. My feelings of not being enough would defeat me if I didn’t face the trigger of feelings which had led to this irrational level of being in a full blown anxiety attack.
I had to find a way to get down to the solid ground of As-Much-As-I-Can so I could do the things which were priorities to me. I had to do this not only for myself but for those I cared about – my students, my family, and the one who had come to have meaning to my inner artist through our exchanges of writing and sharing of art.
I read it in some of the posts of other 500 word challengers and knew this was not an isolated experience. For others, the reasons usually seemed to be outside of themselves, but the results was the same. We were not able to measure up to the level we felt meant we were meeting the challenge. For some who had not had the privilege of so close a relationship to anxiety that they had gotten outside helpers involved in helping to move Anxiety out, this meant stopping for a day, a few days, a week. I totally got it. I began this challenge after almost a year of having shut down while I was dealing with some things in my outside world.
So where to start.
Risking a look over the side of the basket, I began studying the supporting structures around me. There were people nearby who had shown their understanding in the past. I would let them know what was going on so I would feel a sense of a net below to help my courage. I climb over the edge of the basket and step out onto the frame of the wheel.
I streamlined my activities in acknowledgement of the lower energy that accompanies the physical symptoms of anxiety. In classes, we work on skills that will build into the activities that are our goals for the term. In writing, I allow myself to write what I can. For Day 23, a poem becomes my only offering to share. I let that be enough. Grasping the structure I inch my feet toward the tower in the middle and the latticed metal that looks a bit like a ladder.
I let my words strengthen my grip. Laughter and quirky humor flexes my fingers, tightening their grip against my quivering insides. I keep my mouth shut when an opportunity arises to take on one more thing to do. I take the risking of speaking openly to a student who is harming himself by the choices he is making in relationship to others. I choose to stay engaged with life even when a part of me wants to hide.
I am not quite down to the ground yet but I am getting there. Anxiety, I don’t plan on rescinding your eviction notice. I may not be able to get you totally out of the neighborhood, but I will do whatever I need to keep you from taking up permanent residency in me again.