Tag: anxiety

unbelievable kindness

Gratitude21A few days ago, a friend – a former student – left me an absolutely gobsmacked, burbling idiot by committing one of the most unexpected, serendipitous acts of kindness i have ever experienced.

She could not know how deeply i needed help that day, how overwhelmed i felt, how helpless my situation seemed, or the tears and sorrow that had woken me and followed me through that morning.  Her generosity came without prompting.  She simply did something kind for the sake of being kind.  While hugging her several times more than necessary, i wept with gratitude.  i babbled incoherently because i did not know what to say. As she drove away, i vowed to myself to be a better person because of this kindness – for eventually this wave of suffering will subside and i will being a better position to make a difference in the world.

In the time since, as i have contemplated the right level of ‘thank you’ this tremendous gift deserves, i have occasionally cried over her kindness, but with a fierce intensity have been working very consciously to keep myself from falling into the spasm of anxiety that effected me the night of the gift.

Even that morning, i had been very low.  While she was here, being so unbelievable, i was held aloft, but afterward i felt utterly unworthy of her kindness.  My failures loomed larger than ever; i felt like my urgent need for help had made me less valuable as a human being.  My gratitude never wavered, but i beat myself up with anxiety and self-criticism.  After another friend called me on it, i realized something very important: if this were anyone else, and i were forced to listen to their meltdown over such a tremendously wonderful thing, i would be deeply frustrated with them. There is no sin in accepting kindness. Everyone needs help at some point. Why was i making myself so grief-stricken over something so generous?

So, i have been making gratitude an even greater practice than normal this week. Even though there is a limit to how much i can stifle anxiety, i am not augmenting it by fighting the emotion.  And, i have added something new. Each time i insult myself (which turns out to be a lot more than i thought,) i have been forcing myself to stop, calm down, take a few breaths and then counteract the criticism with three things that i actually like about myself (this is almost like an exercise in masochism, but i will eventually start finding it less painful.)  i can sense a change already. i am insulting myself much less, mostly because i don’t want to have to self-praise.  But, either way, i am adding another gratitude to the pile.

Thank you.

right on the edge

For weeks, i have been having profound issues physically. Even my ability to produce art, beyond sporadically writing poetry and fiction, has completely stalled. i lost most of the week before last, taking four sick days. For a while, i rallied, although after three days of shuffling through my obligations, things took a troubling turn. i went to the emergency room on Tuesday evening and got home fairly late Wednesday, without any joy.  Everything between now and then has been a blur of misery.

i have been struggling in the most profound way. The smallest things cause tears to stream down my face.  The world keeps spinning on me.  Food has become the enemy, all of it digestible only with intense suffering and pain. Usually, i cope very well with pain – working around it – but this is different.  i am graceless, frustrated, constantly on the edge of cognitive overload.

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poor Martin

i could not even let my cat, Martin, cuddle (he is always starved for love) – the physical contact made the pain one whisker more than i could bear.  Eventually, he figured it out and started sitting beside me, cautiously creeping closer and closer, until i was in a good enough place for him to curl up close and get pets and scritches.  Thankfully, Roxi and Darwin are more self-sufficient, content to sit nearby and rest.

The worst part of this has been how it debilitates me emotionally.  My issues with anxiety get augmented wildly by this level of exhaustion and pain.  Chronic illness can lead to feelings of hopelessness, powerlessness, but this has been a much stronger reaction than usual. i keep getting jumped, every phone call, each time someone knocks at the door, each time the dog barks like he announces the apocalypse, i nearly come out of my skin. i freeze and shudder and cry. There are a few really unflattering anecdotes i could share about hiding until the unexpected passed – and i acknowledge the irrationality of it. The fear is useless and misplaced.  However, this knowledge doesn’t make any difference. Indeed, the feeling of anxiety was so overwhelming and acute that i unplugged the house line for three days, knowing that people could text or leave a message on my cell (the ringer was set to vibrate) if it was urgent. The boweddown_11x14mail piled up, because i could not get to the box, either physically or emotionally.

Today, i was treading water slightly better, and predictably life felt a little more possible, a little less terrifying.  However, no illusion dwells inside my heart.  As i write, i have expended what energy i have, dinner is at war with my gastrointestinal system, and i can feel the anxiety ratcheting up.  Useless worries crowd my mind.  i try so hard to redirect myself into gratitude – this is a whole meditation/prayer i use to get through, focusing on whatever i can find to be grateful for inside even the worst present – but for now, i am a mouse and my fears are a cat.

Still, i am surviving. i am working to make bloodyminded stubbornness a blessing. All i can do is focus on tiny bits of work before i completely lose myself to sleep and pain.  In tiny, baby steps, i am making progress.  As you can see my website and online store are back up and running, i have edited the books i’ve completed this past month, and i continue to write the one that has its hands wrapped around my heart.  And if i remind myself of these tiny steps forward, maybe the rest of the hulking mountain of problems and fears will seem less intimidating.

finding things on lost days

For three days i have been completely non-functional as a human being.  i had not realized until i finally logged in to blog and maybe upload some more poems to the online store, i was already struggling last week when i was writing about Jesus and $10,000,000.

Still, these past seventy-two hours have been pretty special, even by my standards: all i could manage was sear air into my lungs, let it rattle around for awhile before pushing and shoving it out with an inordinate amount of effort and pain.  The constant whistling movement of air still threatens to drive me mad.  On Thursday night, i tried to fight my growing uselessness by throwing, only to get my left ring and pinky finger caught in seven pounds of clay as it was spinning at high speed.  Thank God – and i don’t know how else to explain it – other than a fixable dislocation and some soft tissue damage, i seem to be ok.  By today (Sunday) i can move those fingers gently without too much wincing.  Holding heavy objects is still a bit difficult, but otherwise i am surviving.  insomniac face

Make no mistake, in any decent spells i enjoyed during the last three days, tucked between hacking up lung one or lung two, i was asleep.

But there were a few moments, usually in between when the cough syrup started to kick in and before it became effective enough to let me rest, during which my mind began racing like a hamster on a wheel.  i started thinking of all the things i have not had the time to do, of the items that get shunted to a low enough priority that they never really get done.   The mountainous to-list has no visible peak, it extends into the clouds, possibly sailing past the moon with all the rest of the trash cluttering Earth’s space.

My mind kept remembering everything i have ever needed to do and haven’t done while i was only capable of sweating and breathing with a rattle. Few experiences are more conducive to a sense of uselessness. Sadly, even when i am doing well, the problem remains.  i am one person.  i make art.  To a certain extent, i will always be juggling priorities, stealing time for what makes life worth living.  And, of all the things that i had found during these lost days – and there were many to-dos that had slipped off the mountain, tiny pebbles fallen into the sea of neglect – this one realization was the most precious.  i am one person.  i make art.  It is unreasonable for me to let those things that i cannot get to quickly plague me, because i am not wasting my time.

i am just one person.  Today, i am one person who sounds like Mighty Mouse (according to a mirthful friend) and has finally regained the ability to stand for more than four or five minutes without having to grasp the wall for support.  i may have lost the day as far as work goes, but i have regained some sanity. i have remembered something important: i can only do what my flesh permits in this moment.

 

shyness

It occurred to me the other day – I am actually quite shy.  I can ignore the fact, because I do a lot of performance and teaching.  With my friends and kind strangers, I flood over where boundaries should be.  Plus, I can be rowdy, prone to telling off-color stories and jokes – flaws which are fueled by the delight I take in making other people nearly choke on their food or spit up their drinks during an eruption of laughter.  Ask me about my art and writing and I will bubble forth with enthusiasm and passion.

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I do not look shy in this picture, but I am…

These qualities seem to make a diagnosis of shyness counter-intuitive.  But, I am quite shy and have a lot of social anxiety.  Dating is nearly impossible. I remain cautious even with friends, particularly when I know I am suffering.

Professionally, I have dedication and need to push me forward.  Still, some aspects are easier than others.  Performing my poetry can be done without too much pain, the poems themselves seem to give me courage.  Going to a gallery opening can often be enjoyable.  Alas, even though  I get through the event okay, afterward I often find myself drowning in a keen sense of awkwardness.  I remember how graceless I can be; I grow haunted by every word mispoken and each word I didn’t listen to closely enough. If I am stuck in a room full of strangers, I will pick one that looks the friendliest – or the loneliest – and strike up a conversation.  At that point, my work is done.  If someone else wants to talk to me, they have to introduce themselves.

In a profound way, this strange shyness has cobbled my business.  Approaching gallery owners, picking up the phone to do cold calls, submitting my poetry or books to people I do not know, even reaching out on social media to artists I would love to have contact with, have seemed so intimidating that they might as well have been impossible.

And yet, I have done it.  In the past month, I have been submitting.  Today, I mail out a demo pot to someone in Santa Monica.  Actively, I research new galleries – I have query letters ready to go.  I have been creeping forward – and there is a certain level of pride about it. You see, (and I both knock on wood and give thanks as I type these words) making art is fairly easy for me.  Sit me in front of a wheel, and if I am physically capable, I will throw.  Put pen and paper in my hands and you will get either a drawing or a poem or both.  Maybe some scribblings for a book will fill the pages.  This part comes fluidly most of the time and brings me indescribable joy.  However, selling my art comes right against this fear, this anxiety, this shyness – and as a result, I am a little more proud of myself for doing that than I am finishing the novel or the set of dishes surviving firing without flaw or the pen and ink that makes someone stop and stare mouth open.

Now, I just have to keep at it fearlessly!

joy in art

10483983_295400057311713_1087486501397953590_nLast night, I had a list of things I needed to do.  One client needs her newest media added to her website, another needs me to finish researching, a third really needs me to do a couple of flyers and to update her website.  For myself, I need to finish the most depressing cash flow analysis in the history of time, every number of which generates another wave of hopelessness, make a list of what emergency things I need for my art to stay in business, and I have the book I just finished that needs editing.  Not to mention, this blogging and the other writing I’m working on have been impatiently waiting for their due time.

And, I should mention, I am exhausted beyond all measure.  The pain and disability that overtook me this summer has not loosened its grip one iota.  Each time I stand it feels like someone poured lava down my legs.  Some days I feel like I still have my mind, others I languidly wonder if my brains have been replaced by goo.  Too often, I have to use my left hand to pull the pen out of my right, because my muscles clamp down too severely.  Every step, no matter what direction I am going, comes at a great cost.  If I were a car, I would be running on vapors with a loose axle. I would never pass inspection.

This is the lowest I have been since my divorce and the second time in my adult life that everything  that I thought was worthwhile and useful about me has been stripped away.  The thing that got me through the first personal deconstruction was my art. I lost all my stability, I had all the love I had ever known repossessed like a car, I was told unequivocally that nothing I had ever done meant anything.  So much flowed from that loss: story, poetry, painting.  Each of the mediums in which I create took a leap forward, I became a better artist because art was the only thing tethering me to this world.

Perhaps that is why this summer has been so torturous, realizing that as much as it soothes me, as much as it gives me my sanity, what a fundamental part of my being creativity comprises – I lack the basic skills to make my art – or my writing – help feed me.  Or, and this would be so much worse, I am doing everything I should be doing but I lack whatever magic is need to make it work. It’s not like I am asking for the world, either – just enough to pay my bills, feed me and keep making art.  For four years, things were going fairly well, despite major setbacks, I still sold enough art to keep hunger at bay.  This year, though, I cannot give my work away.  Even my time doesn’t seem valuable to my own students, for they no longer want to pay for it.  If I am just ignorant and stupid, then those problems could be fixed.  However, if this is the economy or my art being out of fashion, then there is nothing I can do.  This is like a graduate course in acceptance and surrender.

Since I threw myself into this venture five years ago, I have been visualizing, demanding, pleading, begging the universe and still, here I am drowning in work I find difficult and disharmonious with my basic formatting and the work that gives my life meaning is not saving me.

I have no idea what I should do.  As usual, I want to turn to art, but lack the energy, focus and stamina to do much:  poems, the book on meditation, the pen and inks.  The thought of the wheel makes my heart ache.  Part of me wonders if I should try to give this up – but it is integral to me.  One thing I have learned is that whether or not I am selling my art, the need to create is interwoven into my DNA.  flyingfallingIf I have to, I will be able to give up pottery.  My hands will itch for the clay, but I will survive.  If my brain continues to rot inside my skull, maybe someday I will be forced to give up writing.  But, until then, I know words and images will creep out whenever there is a moment.  On nights like last night, I will forsake all the things I have to do so I can steal time to start drawing and writing.  The picture at the top of this blog came through me last night.  This one a few hours earlier.

Which ends the long preamble for my point.  Yesterday,  I was eating while the picture immediately above was drying, someone came to my studio.  I had thought we knew each other well enought that when she asked how business was, I could answer honestly.  Alas, she refused to hear any of my desperation or concern, she kept shaking her head and talking about how these drawings are so joyous.  At that moment, I had needed someone to hear my worries, so I felt thwarted and invisible, but after she left I looked at the drawings – particularly the one I had just finished.  The joy made me frustrated, it felt at odds with the emotions that no amount of meditation can completely stop from churning.  Later that night, hoping to give voice to how I was feeling, I drew the image that begins the blog.

So, as you can see, it came out joyous.  All of yesterday’s works (that were not garlic related) were drenched in the holy spirit and bliss.  Neither woman is plummeting to her doom, just flying or gently floating.  Gravity still has a hold, but something is keeping them up.  Just going through my instagram feed I saw an insane amount of joy in post after post after post.  During the divorce I painted things like this:

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And now, when I’m just as low emotionally and much lower physically, I am drawing things like this:

IMG_3277and sculpting things like this:

IMG_3210and painting like this:

annunciation

Last night, after I drew her flying over that farmland and mountains, I sat there, starting at the art that had just launched out of me, prying the pen out of my claw, wondering what these images – and even the poems – are trying to tell me.

As I staggered off to bed, I realized that in a strange way these works made all the instability, rejection and internal suffering seem irrelevant.  Meditation has been helping me realize that I am separate from the drowning, even as I am gulping down salt-water.  But I had not realized what my art might be telling me.  Could they mean, with or without this studio and this level of creativity, things will be okay?

 

 

 

 

respite

For days, I have been working through overwhelm, worry and heartache the only way I know how – turning to friends for advice and comfort, meditating as much as I can, and surrendering to my body’s demands.

I have slept, rested, prayed and made what art I could.  Some of the art was lovely, some oozed with suffering and unconquerable hopelessness.  I wallowed, for certain, but my misery was interspersed with flashes of resolution and calm.  For the first time, I could celebrate my strength, even as i wept over its cost.  However, in a classic example of cognitive dissonance, I have also been stubbornly refusing to accept defeat, even though logic suggests it has already arrived.1896999_10203583401337128_274120720393616886_n

Will can be an awesome force, challenging the universe to remake itself into the form of a dream.

Last night, I fired a kiln.  This meant I could start my day slightly later – I stayed in bed and bed and retreated into poem and story for the bulk of the morning.  Once the studio reopened, I could retreat from the heat by coming upstairs for more of the same.  I wrote, then I meditated for 36 minutes (keeping track with a meditation timer on my phone that also prevents me from falling into spontaneous napping.)  During those moments the howling of my need quieted to stillness.  I dwelt in a creation nearly devoid of thought – filled only with  sound and sensation.  For the fist time in over a week, my mind and heart found place.

Of course, as soon as I get up from this blessed sanctuary of silent stillness, the world will come rushing back.  My heart will remember its lonely grief.  The monstrous collection of worry and obligation that towers over me will flex its claws and leap, aiming to sink them into my tender flesh again.

It has already tried.

Only, I am still in the embrace of meditation, so for right now, the monster slides frictionless off my awareness, falling into a puddle of unimportance on the floor.

Ask me again in an hour, or in a day, if I have maintained such equanimity.

As delightful as my practice has been, as much as it unlocks joy and love, I remain a frail, failing human.  Even my the creativity that floods out of me cannot protect me from loss and failure and pain.  Despite my growth as a human being, I find myself desiring, grieving and despairing.  Indeed, I have fought ultimate darkness this past week, by doing nothing more than accepting its presence, watching as it made plans and ranted about hopelessness, allowing it to thrash around inside my chest while I waited until faith, love, art, friendship and my innate stubbornness could take over again.

There remain times when I can manage is to not drown in those troubling nightmares for too long.  For this I am grateful.  For this, I meditate and write and pray and hope.

10 August 2014

the shining sun

Yesterday I called in sick to work, canceling appointments and posting that the studio would be photo 1closed.  I spent the whole day either in bed or sitting in the recliner trying to muster up the energy to get back in bed. This was the culmination of two weeks of increasing physical misery which, of course, brings on emotional distress.

This morning, I still felt unable to function, my thinking foggy and my body woefully lethargic. I canceled  another appointment and eventually got up hours late – slowly, turgidly, my muscles screaming in resistance. About noon, I managed to put the open flags out and I am here – writing, being quiet and still for my headache will abide no music, but I am here.

While this must seem so simple from the outside, the act of getting up, showering, dressing and walking twenty feet to the studio to sit in another chair, from inside my skin it feels like a triumph – something that should be celebrated in song and story!photo 3-1

As I moved between house and studio, the shining sun beat down on me, and I was reminded that I am alive.

I have been uplifted by two other events: with help, I unloaded the kiln.  Some gorgeous agate pieces came out – part of a commission – a thank you for one group of  people who helped paint my studio.  They left me joyous.

But, before that, I had already been somewhat soothed. After I struggled out of bed this morning, still feeling terrible, I began to scratch out a letter.  As word followed word, the gentle sensation of my burdens being lifted washed over me.  It felt miraculous.photo 2-1

I do not always understand why I have spells of despair – sometimes they have a cause, an illness, a stress or a trauma, but other times, it feels like I am simply worn down by life in a way (I would like to think) most people manage to avoid.  However, this morning, having moved from the bed to my recliner, I wrote a long letter to someone I love.  While I was answering a direct question, I think I was also hoping for clarity.  I described painfully real and concrete fears that have been wandering around in my head for the past few weeks.  Both the act of confessing the fears – they are always much more terrifying when they remain bottled up, growing like mold inside dark, confined spaces – and reaching out with the fullness of love comforted me.  Truly, having someone to whom I could send that letter is a blessing, no matter what else happens.  For all I know, what I revealed could end everything between us, or it could have no impact at all.  In a way, repercussions seemed irrelevant when compared to the release inside my heart as I wrote.

Possessing the capacity to love is a glorious blessing, the importance of which cannot be understated.  It reminds me that I am human.

None of my problems are better, really.  My dreams and dread still tumble around chaotically within my skull.  However, the shining sun and these lovely pots and the warmth of love still burning in my heart have all shown me that this life is a wondrous gift – for which I am grateful.

Restless stress

written Sunday, 29 June 2014

Yesterday, inside the four walls of a cooperative, far away from my wheel and my studio and enough quiet to compose a story, I started to go a little crazy.  I had been asked some very good questions about my business that morning, and they kept ringing through my mind.  Unfortunately, answers did not rise up to greet them.  Instead, restless stress kept echoing within my skull – guilt over the bills I can’t pay quite yet, the amount of work the house requires, the long list of commissions I have to finish, my general incompetence as a businesswoman.  It all just took over, defying every attempt to be present in the moment.  As the day wore on and my physical condition deteriorated, those annoying stress levels kept shooting up.  The last drawing I managed before my hands quite me completely is below: the poem gives a hint of my state of mind. Unable to manifest contentment or hope, I rooted myself in stubbornness.  By the time I made it home, I felt like a dishrag that had been wrung out too violently.

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The poem: There can be no quitting when you soar near the sun – No matter what setback, keep flying – sometimes surviving means that you’ve won.

Today, I have stayed home, feeling for all the world like I have a stress hangover.  Even though I wanted to very much, I did not go to church.  Even though I kept imagining myself swimming in a lake, I stayed in.  Desperate for quiet stillness, I curled up in bed and rested, reading and thinking about writing (as opposed to actually picking up a pen.)

Yesterday the effort of worry wore me down – and I need time to recuperate.  The most irritating part was that I knew how useless the anxiety was, which added a sense of futility to the stress that made it even more stressful.  I could sense contentment just past my fingertips.  For every tremor of concern that made its way through my body, the memory of peace and contentment floated over my awareness.  I knew better.  I know better. Worrying about sales won’t get me more.  Fretting about the commissions won’t get them done faster.  Listing out every to-do that looms over me won’t make the mountain they create when combined feel less intimidating.  Ringing my hands over money won’t get the accounting done.  Wondering if I have enough energy and focus within me to finish everything I need to get done does nothing to increase my confidence.  Indeed, all that happened was that I became miserable and weary and despondent, the effects of which linger into today.

But, on the bright side, today I have been able to be quiet, still and thoughtful.  If I let myself go for a moment, I could easily fall into the same well.  After all, the work I wanted to do isn’t getting done.  However, I will not go there.  The relief of being out of the pit is too strong; happiness feels vulnerable enough that it should be protected.  I still feel weak, even though my body has finally stopped screaming in pain.  My heart no longer hammers in that odd syncopated way.  And, when I lose my grip on tranquility, I force myself to dig my roots deeper into peace by focusing on two other lists: the list of things I love and the list of things for which I am wildly grateful.

That helps a lot, but it didn’t work just 24 hours ago. The biggest lesson for me this morning was that none of these things helped yesterday.  I was drowning in my discomfort and no sparks of wisdom or reminders of my blessings or even the comfort I took in drawing could save my state of mind.  In the end, I just had to endure it – to accept that I was suffering and wrap myself in one comfort I had: that eventually I would be able to rest, restore myself, and the situation that seemed so dire would become survivable again.

 

thoughts on social anxiety

The past three days, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to Sunday’s blog.  I suppose I should admit that the social anxiety has not gone away, in fact it has magnified a bit. An endless stream of apologies seems to be flowing from my mouth. At any rate, while I wrote Sunday, I had a tiny epiphany. My conviction that it might lead to the truth has grown stronger over the past 48 hours.

Although, I wonder if I haven’t had this epiphany before and just keep forgetting it.  Perhaps I should go back and check through older blogs.  My memory sputters like a car that refuses to start.

The back pain has left me right on the edge of cognitive load; I feel impaired as I try to process what’s going on around me.  Moving through space while hiding the amount of pain I’m in requires nearly all of my focus. If I drop my guard, I am probably going to become a trembling ball of whimpers. Certainly I was a wreck after dismantling my bedroom so I could flea treat my cat. This hyper-focus on keeping my shit together makes me acutely insecure that I’m missing things like social cues and snippets of conversation. Things get lost. Indeed, I forgot all about a student this afternoon.  Thank heavens she had her own key to the studio, knows what to do and has a forgiving nature.

Social situations have always left me anxious; large groups of people intimidate me.  As blissful as I can be with my life, I have very little confidence in how others see me.  Usually this doesn’t matter, because I’ve learned that trying to please anyone other than myself is fairly moot.  For everyone that likes some aspect of my personality, there will be someone who detests it. One will complain when I am passionate and effervescent, another adores it.  When friends try to comfort me I find myself blinking back tears, for I know if we went down the inventory of my character traits, I could give them someone who is a fan and someone else who rolls their eyes in despair for each and every item on the list. (This fact parallels in art, too: for every one who loves it there is another who will tell me I’m wasting my life.) Worse, when I am in this much pain, all perspective disappears.  Overwhelmingly, I feel forsaken, lost, like the world has suddenly become huge and terrifying. Solitude weighs on me like heavy stones, dragging me under water. All the strength and resilience I have demonstrated is forgotten. The joy I take in I am when I am alone does not soothe me, because in that moment the pain overwhelms all logic, memory and sensation.

Which does nothing to improve my cognitive load issues.  The pain itself can feel like a strange punishment for whatever my sins might be.

All the coping techniques that I can use when I find myself in a triggering situation to minimize the anxiety, and that I can use to derail the post-event insecurity, are not accessible when my body  screams so loudly.  Even if I quiet myself through meditation – something less likely when I cannot sit still without crying – all I can really manage is not fighting the onslaught of emotions and thoughts.  For the past three days, I have been nothing but apologies – desperate not to hurt people while I walk around in this haze – and I have continued to struggle with pain.

Eventually my back will feel better.  Or, I’ll just get used to this level of discomfort.  In the mean time, I’ve got to try to remember that this current spasm of loneliness and worry is happening for physiological reasons more than actual, rational ones.  When I lose perspective, I have to realize that it is only a shift in perception, not a condemnation.  If I say it often enough, I’ll start to believe it.

Right?

And, next time I have a big injury or an incapacitating illness, I’ll try to remember to re-read this blog.

 

after the meeting

Yesterday, I met with a great group of artists – setting up the calendar for the new season at Harbor Artisans in Belfast.  Within that cooperative’s walls, we laughed and debated and hammered out the details for 2014.  In fact, we will have a new website soon – I’ll update this with a link when it’s live. So much could pour forth from my fingertips about these artist cooperatives (I am also a member of  ones in Southwest Harbor and Lincolnville) but last night while my eyes were stuck open and I lacked the strength to write, I promised myself I would blog about something different this morning.

The intended topic – realized here – centers around a recurrent anxiety, attacking after events like this.

Last night, I fell to pieces a bit, mostly because of my back. It had reached the level of pain that makes me desperate for distraction. Knowing that the discomfort will pass does nothing to mitigate my desire to soothe myself in the moment. As often happens, words kept bubbling forth from me – I started craving laughter from those around me. Stories dripped from my lips.  By the time we parted ways, I already felt the overwhelming urge to apologize for such selfish consumption of time and word.  Even though I had wanted to go to a party that evening, I couldn’t manage it.  The pain and the sense of social ineptitude made going impossible.

Once home, I washed off the makeup, changed, tucked myself into bed with a heating pad and three cuddling heaps of fur (how the cats loved the warmth!).  Still, I could not find my zen. Waves of anxiety too loud to ignore kept washing over me.  Since I needed to nurse my back, most of the things I would use to distract myself inside my solitude were inaccessible.  So, in the dark, I had no viable alternative other than to sit with the thoughts. Without trying to make it worse, I held each one in my hands. First, the pronounced fear that during the last bit of convivial conversation I was too rowdy and too loud.  Second, the acknowledgment that without a doubt, I complained too much.  Finally, the sad realization that while talking about the last few years, it surely must have sounded like a lot of drama, even though right now I find myself content more than anything else.  Thankfully, I have learned what triggers and influences to avoid – and how to stop fighting the negative emotions that do arise.

This morning, feeling somewhat stronger and more able, I look back at the meeting and the time afterward with more calm.

However, my determination to find out how to vanquish this post-event anxiety has doubled in intensity.