Tuesday, February 7, 2012

fight yourself.

Sometimes I get really sick of having to fight against the anxiety. Like, I have my coping mechanisms, I have my reality testing, I'm cognizant of the two-steps-forward, one-step-back nature of healing and acceptance, blah blah blah. But every once in a while? I just wish I didn't have to deal with it. I wish I didn't wake up aching after tensing my muscles all night long. I wish I didn't have to do deep breathing before going to a meeting or taking a phone call or reading an article. I wish I didn't shake uncontrollably when LITERALLY DISCUSSING THE WEATHER. I wish I didn't have to fight it, or handle it at all. I wish I knew where it came from, because maybe then I could attack it at the source, like a weed.

The worst is when it leads to nights (or weeks or months) of questioning everything about myself...and coming up empty. I can assess the last year and see the general upward trend, but the anxiety leaks out (sometimes literally. Because it makes me sweat. Gross). I get caught in self-defeating, self-perpetuating loops of pessimism and negativity that overshadow any progress I've fought for. The funny thing is, I don't have these expectations of the general public. YOU don't have to be perfect. Your flaws really DO give you character. Your neuroses make you RELATABLE. I've only recently started realizing that the standards to which I hold myself are far different from those I hold for other people - although I do see myself slipping sometimes and projecting them onto the people closest to me. And if I do it occasionally to, say, my partner, what's to say I wouldn't do it constantly, incessantly, to my child? Fuck that. I don't want to put that pressure on my offspring. 

...I don't want to put that pressure on myself, either, for the record. I really don't understand: What am I fighting? Why does this keep consuming me?

It's just exhausting sometimes, and it must be for those around me - my partner, my work team, my close friends. I'm exhausted. What that means is that it's time to go to bed. Even if it's another night of anxiety dreams (teeth falling out; having to take the final for a class I swore I dropped; trying desperately to dial 911, but my fingers keep slipping on the phone) and muscle clenching (especially my neck and jaw)...I should really go to bed. There's that Irish proverb: "A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything."

Of course, there's also the Yeats quote: "Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy." And maybe THAT'S my greatest fear - that all the work I've done on myself and all the optimism I've cultivated are just wrong. That I've been fooling myself, and that the omnipresent suspicion of fraudulence is, in fact, correct. That joy is temporary and tragedy is my M.O. I'm not saying I expect to be happy all. the. time., or that I consider daily annoyances to be tragedies; I'm just sick of my default setting being Crappy & Fearful. There were multiple times in the last year that I thought I had a handle on things. The proof was in my most prominent daily emotions - feeling productive, effective, connected, validated, satisfied. Then the anxiety would again sneak its way through the cracks, in the form of nightmares, illnesses, irritability, and a whole host of other fun things. Like, you know, rashes that might be cancer.

So who's right? The optimism or the anxiety? Both? Is it really a choice, as I've been taught?

Because, I have to say, it does NOT feel like a choice when the anxiety's winning.

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