Channeling anxious energy into productive energy

I’ve been dealing with anxiety on and off this past week. When the undercurrent is there, it doesn’t take much to set me off and turn me into spastic basket case. I had a bad attack last night and this morning I could feel it coming on again.

In more recent times, I’ve decided against trying to “calm down” during anxiety. It just isn’t terribly effective for me, and the lack of activity just leaves me to mentally track down the origins of my anxiety… which only makes me more anxious. I’ve come to realize that, whatever the origins may be, my anxiety tends to be an excessive energy that’s become internalized. Perhaps the feeling of anxiety is just my resistance to a sudden flood of energy. So for me, the more I attempt to calm down, the more frustrated I feel. Because I’m not supposed to STOP, I’m supposed to MOVE.

So today, I was able to channel my anxious energy into a productive energy. I wasn’t sure I had what it took because I felt so tired. But in redirecting this energy outwards (instead of internally drowning in it), I was able to get a lot done.

I kicked into serious high gear. I did a bunch of household chores and then, because I’m incredibly impulsive, decided to paint a corner of my kitchen. I still had energy after that section was complete, so I moved on to the mess under the kitchen sink which has been a hideous disaster since we moved in. I just kept going and going and going…

I’m now quite exhausted, but very satisfied and emotionally stable. This is a much better exhaustion than the full body/soul exhaustion from pointless anxiety.

Today I kept telling myself, “Progress is progress.” I’ve been painting the ceilings of our cabin section by section when I have time and energy, and although it takes so much time to do just a small section, every brush stroke of white paint helps to brighten up this dark cabin. Eventually, it all really adds up and the brightening effect is a major mood-lifter.

My healing journey has been much the same. I improve in little ways here and there, and over time, the progress really adds up. 

I feel that today, I really made an important breakthrough in redirecting my anxious energy. I’ve experienced this before but never quite made the connection until now. Today I was able to prove my theory and now have better direction for the future. When anxiety strikes again, I’ll consider that it might simply be time to do something

While this isn’t exactly a “cure” to my anxiety, it is a way of using it to my advantage- letting it serve me instead of ruin me. 

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111

You are just a dream,
and like all dreams,
I’m gonna wake up
and I’m gonna see
that none of it is real,
It’s all in my head.
I’ve been talking to myself
just trying to feel
the rhythms and pulse
of a heart that is buried,
trying to release
this load I’ve carried.
But there is no horse
and there is no knight.
I’m the only one
who can win this fight.
So when I awake
with the morning’s light,
will the mirror reveal
you were me the whole time?

It should be a victory,
but it sounds like a tragedy.
I don’t want to be saved,
I just want to be set free,
not from the dragon,
but from this lonely tower
where I am surrounded
by only me.

Don’t wake me up.
I’d rather dream.

*****

I’ve developed an obnoxious habit in recent months of noticing repeating numbers. Today I saw 111 more times than I can remember. I composed this poem on my phone’s diary app which tracks symbol and word count. This poem was exactly 111 words.

Projections of the Past

This post continues the themes of Strike the Root and We’re more alike than different.

Last night I came across more commentary about the youth taking a stand to demand gun reform. And I felt so conflicted. I find myself really wanting to support their efforts because how can you deny them? How can you get in the way of young people trying to make a positive difference in the world? I don’t want to dampen that fire at all. However, I find I can’t support their actual cause, and it’s actually hurting me because I want to so badly. From a practical standpoint, I honestly don’t believe more gun laws will reduce violence (and prohibition has never worked well in this country) but I can openly admit I could be wrong about this. But from a deeper place, and what makes this so difficult for me, is that I’ve come to realize that I’m unfairly projecting my own fears and anger onto these very kids. It has nothing to do with my (admittedly uneducated) opinions on gun control, but with my own horrible experience with public school.

Not that long ago, I was the target of relentless teasing in school, simply because I was “different”. When I see these young people standing up to decry gun violence, all I can see are the kids who didn’t think twice about making fun of me and others for not being like them, and all the other kids who just witnessed it and didn’t do anything. I feel the rejection of the popular kids all over again. I wasn’t pretty enough, cool enough. I was kind of weird. It was easy for the insecure ones to make me the scapegoat and dump all their own feelings of inadequacy on me.

When the teasing began, it hurt me very deeply. I’m an incredibly sensitive person and this pain of rejection was almost too much to bear. I started to build walls and become numb and hide my true self. It wasn’t too long until that pain led to a sense of indignation and anger. I tried getting back at those who bullied me, and even started to distance myself from other kids who were “weird”. I quickly learned the social structure. You don’t associate with the weird different kids unless you too want to be seen as weird and made fun of. If someone was getting made fun of, most kids just tried staying out of it. Those who stick out their necks to defend the victim become immediate targets.

There was a boy I had a crush on, and at some point, he starting making fun of me. This was a pretty hard blow to my adoring sensitive heart. So the next year, I relentlessly teased him whenever I saw him, usually making fun of his high-cut socks that I thought were dorky. Years later in high school, we started to become friends until one day he just acted mad at me and didn’t want to talk. He finally blew up on me for making fun of him years before and I was shocked. First, I thought that was water under the bridge. Second, he completely denied ever making fun of me, which was the ONLY reason I ever started making fun of him. Despite my sincere apologies and attempts to make things right, he never forgave me and our friendship died right there.

The sad truth is that I LIKED him. I wanted to be friends with him when I first met him. But he rejected me. And that rejection and disconnection made me want to hurt him. I wanted him to feel the same pain I did. I wanted him to feel as disconnected as me.

Unfortunately, I succeeded.

Disconnection breeds more disconnection.

As I’ve grown older, those desires to “get even” at others have disappeared. I’m not a mean person at all and can’t stand the idea of having hurt anyone (my mean phase didn’t last long at all, it’s so opposite of who I am). However, I think my previous desires of revenge have morphed into something else. I think I’ve used spirituality and a search for wisdom as ways to keep my distance from others. I’m far more spiritual than most people and sometimes this gives me a feeling of superiority (which is the opposite of true spirituality). I don’t need to get back at others for hurting me. I simply have to rise above them and condemn them all for being blind fools. I’m convinced I’m smarter than others, that I know better.

And so, when a massive uprising of young people starts forming over an issue I believe is well-meaning but misguided, I’m triggered a million ways. While I still think my overall analysis of the situation has been correct, I see now where my pains of disconnection are getting prodded and how I’m projecting my own fears onto the innocent.

I have no clue as to the characters of these youth. Like all large movements, I assume this one is full of the good, the bad, and those just jumping on the bandwagon. But I can’t make any judgments about any of them because I know zero about any of them. I have no right to project the mean kids of my past (and the kids who simply stood by without defending me) onto this group of kids. In recognizing this, I feel somewhat ashamed. I beg these kids to not project their own fears onto others while I project my fear onto them. Pretty hypocritical, right?

It’s hard to openly admit my hypocrisy (and yet, so liberating), but I’m glad to actually be the asshole right now if for no other reason than to give my readers a clear example of what I’ve been trying to communicate (please read referenced posts at the beginning): WE HAVE TO STOP projecting our darkness onto others. I’ve been distancing myself from these young people because it triggers my own pain. But disconnecting from them only ensures I will not listen to them or work with them to reach our common goals.

When I realized all of this last night, I was finally able to open my heart. I was sobbing from my own fountain of pain, but also realizing that I truly do love these young people. I wasn’t able to feel that love until I stopped projecting my pain onto them. When I owned my pain and released them from responsibility, I could see them as being just like me. Eleven years ago I too was a young person on fire with a desire to change the world for good. And just as I was supported by adults back then, I would like now to be the adult supporting a new generation of world changers.

My projections and judgments have been wrong, but there is an important lesson to be learned from both my painful past experiences and also my current situation.

The moment you stand up for truth, your own hypocrisy is going to be thrown in your face. Whenever you make a judgment call on others, you raise the bar for your own behavior. Expect everything you say and do to be scrutinized, and be thankful to discover when you have been wrong, as it allows you the chance to grow and become a better person.

To young people everywhere (and everyone else!), please listen to me: you must protect one another, not just from guns, but from your own insecurities. Don’t distance yourself from those who are “weird” and different from you. Never make fun of your classmates or harrass them, even if you think they deserve it somehow. And when you witness bullying, DO SOMETHING about it. Speak up for the voiceless, stand up for the weak, reach out to the lonely. Stop it with the dumb exclusive cliques and connect with people outside your normal social circles. There is so much pain in your schools, and I know you have the power to heal one another if you would simply reach out and connect. I wish I could go back in time and do the same. Although I can’t change the past, I can decide to do better going forward.

If we want to take a stand against violence, then we need to make sure we aren’t feeding violence in our own hearts. If we’re going to preach love, then we must BE love in all circumstances to all people. Otherwise, all our marches and movements and legislation are useless. Carry on with the righteous fight, but remember to examine your heart and behavior in all situations so that your walk matches your talk.

Writing about these topics has been good for me. I hope that I will continue to recognize my own false projections for what they are, and to allow my past experiences to draw me closer to others as opposed to keeping me away.

We’re more alike than different

This post continues the themes I wrote about several days ago in my post Strike the Root (click link to read).

My dear friend Jeremy recently stated that, “We’re more alike than different.” This is an idea I’ve mulled over for awhile, and it’s becoming more true to me as I explore what motivates all the different flavors of humanity.

Most of us truly want the same things. I believe that deep down in our core, we all want exactly the same things because we all come from the same source. We’re not so different from one another when it really comes down to it.

What trips us up is how each of us has different ideas on how to reach our common goals. When we disagree as to the method and means, we start believing we’re on opposing sides.

Right now I’m thinking about the current gun control debate. I have family and friends on both sides and know that each of these individuals is a caring and sincere person who wants peace and protection for loved ones and others. But they have opposing ideas on how to reach that common goal.

Those in favor of gun control believe that restricting access to firearms will reduce violence and prevent mass shootings. 

Those who oppose gun control believe it’s better that regular good citizens (including school teachers) be allowed to defend and protect themselves, and that being armed and prepared sends a message to potential criminals to stay away.

Realize that both groups want the same thing: protection.

So it’s upsetting for me to witness both sides having such negative views of the other. Just because others don’t believe in your solutions or how things work doesn’t mean they are heartless monsters who want to eat you and your babies. Just because you disagree doesn’t make you enemies.

When will we stop focusing on our differences and instead focus on our common goals? We cannot arrive at true solutions when we spend so much energy shutting out the other side and painting them as the enemy. DISCONNECTION and VIOLENCE are the enemies, and the longer we vilify our differences, the more we encourage disconnection from, and violence towards, those of differing beliefs.

I really do admire all the young people in the nation taking a stand right now. Honestly, I do. There’s something exhilarating and inspiring about witnessing young people standing up for what they believe in and trying to make a positive difference in the world. But my concern is that the young people who are so righteously angry right now may turn that anger on their fellow classmates (and others) who may not share the same convictions on how to solve these problems. This is already happening among the adults and I loathe to see the youth continue these destructive attitudes and behaviors. When this happens, I think the real battle is lost because “the other side” isn’t the problem. It’s how we treat one another that matters. If we have malice and hatred in our hearts towards those we disagree with, then we are merely feeding the beast of violence and perpetuating it’s existance.

I am very concerned for our country right now. I am far less afraid of terrorists and mass murderers than I am of the collective anger that is quickly growing among the population. It’s not just about gun control, it’s about so many different issues that we are dividing over. We are now so polarized and afraid and suspicious of one another due to race, politics, religion, sexuality, etc. I am especially concerned for the youth, who “are the future” and will have an enormous impact on the direction of our country. What kind of examples are we being for them?

Anger is not wrong. The anger so many of us feel is a proper response to the injustice we’re witnessing and experiencing. Anger gives us the necessary strength and will-power to make changes when we need to. But if not channeled correctly, we may use this anger to destroy one another instead of using it to enact changes that will heal one another. Realize the same anger, pain, and sense of injustice you feel is being experienced by those you disagree with. We need to be humble enough to listen to the experiences and concerns of those we disagree with, whether we think their feelings are justified or not. It is not for us to determine whether or not someone else’s experiences are valid or worthy of acknowledgment. To them, it is their reality, it is their life and their story. “Whatever is denied cannot be healed,” and we cannot heal one another if we deny one another. We must listen to each other and find our common wounds and common needs. We need to work TOGETHER to find the medicine that will heal the soul of humanity.

I am angry too. I am angry over senseless violence and for the pain and grief we’ve endured. And I am angry that we have believed the lies which state that those who are different from us are a threat. I am angry that our fears have blinded us to our common ground. I am angry that we choose distance and separation over love and acceptance.

What will I do with my anger? Right now, I am using it to strengthen my voice and speak out against the root of violence in our country. I want to bring down the walls that separate us from one another and to expose fear as the imposter that it is. And ultimately, I let this anger break me open and expose my own vulnerability. Underneath all the anger is my own pain and desire for healing and acceptance. Underneath all the anger in our country is the pain of disconnection, of being separated from love, from one another. We all want love and acceptance. We all want the same things.

We stand at a crucial moment in our nation’s history. We can use this growing momentum to break down the walls that divide us, or we can use it to destroy one another. Every one of us has a choice. 

Will I choose love today? Will I choose to see my brothers and sisters as allies in the quest for protection and prosperity? Will I choose to remember that we all want the same things?

Today I choose to remember that we are more alike than we are different. I urge you to do the same.

Tomorrow I plan to continue this topic, but from an extremely vulnerable personal perspective. I want to share my own experiences and struggles that are so specific to these issues, and to shed light on my own shadow that I’ve projected onto this entire situation. In writing about this topic lately, I’m coming to face the areas in my own heart that need healing and recognize the walls I have built between me and others. 

Spring Tease

It reached almost 60 degrees here in central Maine today, and it felt like heaven. The warm air and melting snow was a huge spring tease. Spring isn’t quite here yet, despite what it felt like today. It will get cold again and we’ll probably have more snow. But today was a welcome break from the long Maine winter, a delicious preview of what’s to come.

I can’t wait for spring!

Running water!

Ah, look! Something green!

Dirt road means mud road. The rivers have begun. A preview of mud season.

I love birch trees.

I love to take walks to see this view.

the pains of the past

Do the pains of the past ever stop hurting? Does one ever “get over” anything? Is there a way to process something to where it never again rises up and seeks to destroy you?

I go through this process every cycle and now it’s just starting to feel like torture. Because it’s the same old stuff over and over again. I think I’ve processed something and come to peace about it, but then it springs up again a few cycles later as if nothing has changed. I feel the pain all over again and I’m scrambling to find that sense of resolution and peace I’d had before. I can’t quite make the distinction between disconnecting/dissociating from the pain and actually processing it to the point that it doesn’t feel so painful.

Is healing not at all what we think it is? When we think “healed”, we think, “It doesn’t hurt anymore.” If you’re still hurting, then how can you consider yourself healed? 

What am I supposed to expect? What is healing supposed to look like and how is it supposed to feel? Does healing simply mean I don’t let the wound control my life anymore? Does it mean I let it become a teacher as opposed to a dictator? Does the wound always stay a wound? Poisons can have healing properties. How do I turn my poison into a medicine? How do I heal my own wounds?

Because damn, it all hurts so fucking bad. 

to engage the madness or not…

It’s coming over me again. Oh boy. A whole lot of feelings coming up like a tsunami wave, seemingly out of nowhere. The anxiety knocks me over and I don’t know if I should try to stand or just lay here for awhile and hope it passes soon.

In the past year I developed a pattern in which every time I ovulated I ended up dealing with some heavy emotional shit. Old wounds would break open and all the feelings just oozed out. It was so predictable.

While incredibly intense and obnoxious, I think I was able to make some progress thru those emotional tsunamis. I was forced to deal with baggage that really needed attention.

Right now I have no idea what’s going on. I’ve been starting this tidal wave earlier and earlier, as I’ve been ovulating earlier and my cycles continue to shorten (BLEH!).

Although I often make some sort of overall progress thru my ovulation closet cleaning, I know that I’ve tended to go a litte crazy over it. I was pretty damn unstable last year. I’m over the existential crisis and I’m way better grounded now, so I’m trying to find a new way to handle this phase of my cycle.

My pattern has been to write pages and pages worth of my feelings and thoughts and explore every frickin detail of the issues that bug me. I follow every bunny trail trying to get to the bottom, and it becomes this exhausting and bizarre freak show of self-examination.

And I’m thinking… there’s gotta be a better way to do this.

After having way too many slap-my-forehead moments of absurdity in the past year, my most recent approach has been to avoid engaging any of it. Is it possible that things can clear up on their own? That instead of digging and digging until my hands bleed, the clarity I seek will simply arise on it’s own?

I’m feeling lots of things right now. I don’t want to think about any of it. If I think about it, then inevitably I obsess. 

The question is, is this something I engage or not? Obviously, I must acknowledge what I’m going through. But is this a healing process that needs my conscious attention? Do I need to do anything? Or can I just sit back and watch the storm pass? Can I learn through detached observation or must I throw myself into the midst of the driving winds and rains?

I’m too fucking tired to deal with it anymore. I think I’ll just spend the next few days watching my favorite tv show (Parks&Rec!) and wait for the storm to pass. Maybe my spirit can do its work without the rest of me getting in the way.

the great sea

There are nights when in my sleep
I stand in the doorway between the worlds
I stand on the edge of enlightenment
and peer into a realm which reveals the answers to all my questions
and the secret keys to all mysteries of life.
And suddenly,
I’m in.
I find myself swirling in rhythm
and encircled about with golden purples and blues,
dancing with the Dance itself,
one with everything that is true.
All things make sense
and I want to shout, “Yes, I see! I finally understand!”
What sweet relief!
What joyous celebration!
There is no more searching: this is it.

But then I feel myself pulled away,
as if being fished out of the waters,
a sucking sound of disconnection-
everything is slippery once again.
My awareness of that otherness blurs
as I awake in this here-ness
with no memory of my life-changing discoveries,
only faint echoes from the great sea.

my girl

Tonight, after I put my kids to bed, I found myself hanging streamers and blowing up balloons when I’d prefer to be asleep (or maybe watching Parks & Recreation). 

Ah, yes, I have finally succumbed to the stage of parenthood where I do stuff for my kid’s birthday. Truth is, it’s really fun. I’m super tired, but I can’t wait to see my four-year-old’s reaction at the colored streamers and balloons. She’s going to be sooo excited!

This morning I realized just how much I love spending time with my daughter and getting to know her as she grows. She’s so fun. She’s the daughter I was given, the daughter I have, and I’m so glad I have her. I probably won’t have another daughter. She’s it. And oh, is she IT. I got the girl with it all… all the flair, all the drama, all the passion, all the laughter. 

We were sharing moments together this morning like we do all day long every day, but this morning I could feel my heart so full of gratitude and love. I am just so thankful to have her in my life. It’s hard to put into words. I guess if you’re a parent then you’ll understand what I mean.

I look forward to celebrating her precious little life tomorrow. One day she’s going to grow up and do big things, but for now she’s my little comedic princess who sleeps across the hall in Minnie Mouse pajamas.