There have been many times this week in which I have been moved to write, but the timing was always off. And now I’m sitting here with so much on my mind and so little to say about it, mostly because this mama’s heart is just plain tired.
I sense an urgent call for rejuvenation, a quiet drumming in my soul that says Shhhh. Now is not the time for making sense of it all. So lick those wounds. Read those scriptures. Kiss your husband. Laugh with your kids. Take long bubble baths. Take longer walks. And breathe. I know you don’t believe me now, but trust me, all the other stuff can wait.
It has been a painful last couple of months. Deeply layered and confusing. On the outside it wouldn’t look like much, and it isn’t, not really. But it is enough for me. My sensitive nature evokes in me a fierce compassion that strengthens my spirit and lengthens my arms so that I may wrap them around everyone I come to know. At my worst, however, I allow myself to be so overwhelmed with the intensity of my emotions that I will disregard them altogether and instead embrace fear. Like any dangerous romance it makes me feel as though I won’t survive without it.
So December began with a fall from graceful heights that left me shaking uncontrollably on my bathroom floor at 4:00 in the morning, with part of me wondering whether I was having a seizure or a heart attack or both (?!?!) and a deeper, more aware part of me asking what could have possibly happened to me to make me so afraid of myself and this world and everyone in it.
These panicky feelings buzzed through me for nearly three weeks before I was able to (with a little help from my loved ones) recognize them for what they are. The anxiety came to a crashing crescendo in the waiting room at my doctor’s office. Sitting there with a book in my lap, nervous and fidgety, looking around at the other people in the room playing on their phones, picking their fingernails, watching the news, I was overwhelmed with a strange sensation of not belonging to that time or place. The room looked sort of dizzy and dream-like, I felt my heartbeat increase at an alarming rate, and I couldn’t take a full breath. Panic attacks were precisely the reason I was there, but this one was different. It told me to run. To leave my things behind and just bolt out of there and keep running and not stop until I felt safe again.
And I almost did.
I shit you not, I jumped up. Then I told myself that I’d better make sure I was following a true instinct and not a fearful whim or else I’d look like a lunatic and people would stare and I’d lose my appointment. So I pretended to reposition my blouse and I sat back down. I opened my book, and these were the words that I read:
“[A Course in Miracles] teaches, ‘When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.’” –Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein
Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
I thought back to a woman I passed on the first floor of the building. She was sitting sideways in a chair, with one knee hugged up against her chest and the other leg dangling over the side. She was all alone, probably waiting for someone, and she just looked so terribly sad it made me ache. These thoughts barely registered at the time as I was rushing past her, but I did remember thinking she looks a little like me. Then the elevator doors opened and I exchanged awkward stranger smiles with the people inside and just like that I forgot all about her.
My heart slowed back down as I remembered her. My breath came easier and the room started to look normal again.
I can do this. Deep breath in. Deep breath o—
The receptionist called my name. Some issue with my insurance. They were very sorry. Once I worked out the kinks I could call back to reschedule. “Okay, cool. I’ll do that. Thank you.”
I took the elevator back down, alone this time. And I didn’t wonder if it would crash to the bottom, or if I’d be greeted by a knife wielding psychopath when the doors opened. I just took the elevator back down. Like a normal person.
The woman was no longer there. Nobody was. So I sat in one of the chairs across from where she had been, and as I waited for my husband to pull the car around I imagined her with a genuine smile on her face. I imagined her at peace. And I could breathe again. For the first time in weeks.