I woke up feeling shaky and annoyed. I had been in my Boulder mountain cabin for 3 weeks. It had felt like a lifetime, and I’d wasted it.
I hadn’t even remotely maximized my time, rather pissed it away in the same short-term comfort blanket habits I fall into when I’m inundated with option. I distract myself with fear-mongering Twitter feeds and morbid tv shows and scold myself for not reading the stack of esoteric books on my desk or writing or meditating. I admonish myself with well-meaning mantras conveyed in mean spirit: Create more, consume less. I silence the nagging temporarily with fancy snacks and mundane errands that make me feel accomplished in the moment.
I got out of bed and paced around for a bit then headed out to a bougie juice bar to drown the unsettled feeling with butter coffee and ginger shots.
To no avail. It sat in my gut, dense like a clenched fist. Time to go, it seemed to say, so I sat outside in the chilly morning and scrolled through mountain town hotels on my phone. TIME TO GO, BITCH, my gut re-iterated, and I breathed into the knot to try to unravel it. Previously, hard hikes had helped to knock it loose. Taking selfies on top of ridge lines for Instagram’s digital validation could change the focus for a while. But when the likes stopped pouring in, the heavy feeling was still there.
So I rode the lizard brain thought spiral and considered the possibilities: maybe it’s appendicitis, dysbiosis, or an empathic reaction to the homeless guy poking through the dumpster. Maybe I’m bored or hungry or dying. I should Google it. I definitely should not Google it. I’m going to make some changes. I need to get kombucha and sponges while I’m out.
Describe, prescribe, asses, treat, make broad promises and repeat until I’m paralyzed and exhausted. After pacing around town I stopped to sit on a bench overlooking the Flatirons jutting flatly into the azure sky. I had run myself ragged avoiding fear and feelings again. I had spent too much money in a manic round of modern retail hunt-and-gather.
I’m bone-tired, but not surprised. This is my ritual and I’ve kept it for years. I squirm through a sense of impending doom with an anvil on my chest and a vice around my neck, thoughts racing to mitigate the perceived worst-case scenarios coming my way. In response, my body tightens and aches and my inner dialogue races. Something’s wrong. Probably an aneurism, definitely something that’s going to hit you so fast at the worst possible moment so you won’t be able to handle it. Everyone will know. It’s coming. You’re screwed.
There must be something comforting about the familiarity of sweaty helpless fear of nothing in particular. I’ve nurtured this relationship with anxiety for years, I must hold it dear. But I’m ready to get comfortable with a new kind of discomfort. Maybe I can trade anxiety for exhilaration, white knuckles for resilience, control for trust. I know from years of therapy and inspiring social media handles that it’s 1000% on me to make the change.
So I’m making it, and here’s how:
Step 1 – decide there is nothing wrong with me
Step 2 – live accordingly
I’ll let you know how it works out.