Showing Up: How I wrestled with Anxiety and won…this time

Today I started with good intentions. I got up when my alarm went off. I decided to hit the streets before writing, loaded up my podcasts and off I went.  While I walked, I considered what to write about when I got home. In fact, I planned my morning perfectly to ensure maximum productivity.

I walked in the door and BLAM! There she sat, waiting for me. She leaped on to my chest, wrapped her grimy little fingers around both my lungs and squeezed.  As her weight slowly settled, my mind began to whirl with all kinds of ridiculous and terrible scenarios.

Hello, anxiety. It’s been awhile, I said.

My adventure with anxiety began around the same time I started therapy. She’s one of the reasons I went to therapy actually. Learned helplessness taught me I’ll never do anything right, but anxiety likes to remind me of all the things which haven’t gone wrong yet, but will go wrong eventually. She’s considerate like that.

A year of therapy provided me with many tools to combat anxiety. I use them all: reframing, meditation, physical evidence (sorry about all those texts this morning, honey. I needed to know you are still breathing; the building hadn’t collapsed; you still love me; you will always love me; yes, even though I am completely insane.), exercising, journaling. If it’s a holistic treatment, you name it, I’ve done it.  Usually, when mixed with time, they work.

Today’s joy ride with anxiety is sponsored by trauma. See, I don’t always get in trouble when I share my thoughts or feelings or theology publicly, but it happens often enough, and occasionally painfully enough, that a weekend of vulnerable posts has left me with an anxiety hangover.

The obvious answer is just to take the day off, right? Ah but see, those are my old patterns. When life gets scary, hide. Go dark. Disappear. If no one notices, then you won’t get hurt.

If avoiding attention were a professional sport, I’d be independently wealthy by now.

But I don’t want to be this way anymore. Plus, there’s the whole 100-day project to consider. Basically, taking a day off isn’t an option. So I ran through my bag of anxiety tricks. I looked anxiety in the eye and said, I can’t make you leave, but I won’t let you stop me either. 

Then I said it again.
Then I watched an episode of Gilmore Girls.

But finally, I looked anxiety dead in the eye and I SHOWED UP ANYWAY.  (Incidentally, if you were wondering, anxiety looks what would happen if a sloth mated with a dragon, at least, that’s what mine looks like, all claws and scales, and sinewy arm strength…but with speed and agility).

I don’t hold on to any illusion that my life will be magically different at the end of these one hundred days.  After all, it’s been two years since I stopped hiding and started working on recovery instead, and today I was nearly waylaid by an imaginary slagon (droth?) with long hairy arms and a desire to crush my lungs.

But I know some days, you worry less about a polished product and more about simply showing up. You may arrive with disheveled hair and mismatched shoes, but by golly, YOU ARRIVE!

Here’s to good intentions and excellent tools, to Gilmore Girls and afternoon coffee. Here’s to fear and faith and showing up anyway.

This is recovery. Some days, all you can do is show up and cheer. Might as well invite you to cheer along with me.

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