May 30, 2017

little anxiety things

Lately I have been fighting off old demons. Thinking about gazes across high school cafeteria lines, hazel eyes staring into brown that shared a secret only the two of us knew. A single night that there were only two sides to—his and mine. My first foray into a real kind of deception that breaks people to their very core.

I learned what it means to be broken by someone. I learned how empty you feel when you give every single piece of yourself away. The good parts you freely gave—your happiness and your laughter and your smiles (the ones that weren't forced and felt like they were permanently plastered on your face, anyway), you saw the way they made the people around you light up. The other parts—your loneliness and your sad eyes and the heart wrenching sobs you only let escape from your chest when you were cradled in your mother's arms—you were conditioned into hiding them away where no one could see them. Not even you.

Those lonely broken parts have creeped out over the years, more often than not leaving an ugly disaster zone in their parting. Twenty-five years worth of emotional baggage that feels like it's being seen by everyone. Sometimes it's too much to deal with. Pull the blanket over your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and you're two steps closer to pretending it's not happening. All you need to do now is either scream at the top of your lungs to keep the feeling at bay, which is going to draw all the attention you do not want, or keep quiet and try not to sniffle as silent tears roll down your face, feeling ashamed as all of your years of tightly balled up emotional baggage roll out into the open for everyone to see.

All of losses over the years have been playing on repeat in my head.

Fear is tucking me into bed every night with a new montage of my own memories. Losing my dad and my grandma is at the absolute forefront. Sometimes it's just the days I lost them, on repeat and I can't stop it until my mind finally succumbs to sleep. Other times my mother is telling me to "stop hanging on [her]" whenever we would go to her friend's houses and I just wanted more than anything to go home... My father is complaining about having to help me spray paint some styrofoam balls for an eighth grade science project... My close group of friends in high school had a sleepover with our out of town friends and didn't invite me "because it's not like you would have come anyway" they told me.

The ones that get me the most are the moments when I am trapped in memories of former loves. One second I am in the production room at my high school radio station, having my heart handed back to me by my first love. I cried to my friend Shannon after calling my mom in tears. Then I am thrown into nineteen, driving to Kenosha to see a boy I met on the Internet. I can still feel his fingers tracing down my spine, singing promises of sweet release and my own submission with every touch. I can still see the shadows of the bruises he left behind in my head, a reminder of those nights we spent together confusing force for some form of love. The physical scars have long since faded, but sometimes it feels like I am still recovering from the emotional ones.

I am trying to keep my head above the water. I am trying to look fear in the face and laugh. I have learned that we are not our shortcomings. Our faults and our bad habits do not define us. What really matters is how we get through the suffering. If you can look back on something that you screwed up and realize what you did wrong, or recognize a certain pattern you find yourself in, you're doing exactly what you're meant to be doing. All that's left to be done is to take the action steps that you need to take to change your actions or behaviors.

I've started making my bed every night before I get in it. That way if I forget it in the morning, it doesn't bum me out all day that I can't check it off the proverbial to-do list in my head. I learned an easy 8 minute in-bed yoga routine that helps me to lull my anxious mind to sleep every night, and according to my sleep tracker app, the nights where I don't do yoga before bed, my sleep quality suffers poorly. I have started meditating when I am stressed (aka this helps me a lot when I am chain smoking in my car during a busy day at work). I have rediscovered my love for podcasts to help me wind down from work at night. (My current fav's are Coffee with Chrachel, and The One You Feed!) I have learned that through routine, I have an easier time keeping my anxiety at bay. Keeping my anxiety at bay is just step one of a million of living with mental illness every day, but it feel so reassuring to know that I am working my best to take care of myself.

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