I've spent the past twenty-four hours tortured by my old friend ANXIETY. I'm guessing that some of you will know him well. Sorry about the him...it is for convenience and I really attach no gender specificity to this friend of mine...so for today and for the purpose of sharing this with you, it will be a he! He rocks up at the most unexpected moments. That's what I find. Everything is going along swimmingly and I'm on top of the world and then someone will say something or I'll have a thought and 'BOOM!' he appears out of nowhere. And then he stays. He nags and irritates and makes life a misery until I finally welcome him and say...ok...speak to me...and I listen a while. I did that today after putting up with his rubbish for a whole night and day...and here is what happened.
When I embrace Anxiety and ask him to speak to me, I find out that he's full of lies. He'll tell me that I'm not enough, that others judge me unfairly, that I'm not pretty enough, haha. He'll remind me of all the things I haven't done yet and all the things I've tried and failed at. He'll tempt me with suggestions that I might just as well give up...that he's never going to leave this time. He sits firmly on my upper chest and makes every breath a labour...every thought a mocking taunt. So I gave him the chance to speak. He gave me a list and I wrote it down. All the things that are 'wrong' with me and 'wrong' with life. Yes there are some things that have been bugging me. It's just when a few of them back up without me dealing with them that Anxiety takes hold of them and begins ramming them down my throat...stifling me and my creativity...causing me to feel helpless and unable to plan, to organise, to do what needs to be done. I wallow in this helplessness and realise that it is not where I want to be and that if I don't do something soon I'll be very unhappy with the huge waste of time and energy that this little indulgence has amounted to. I ask myself...what is the opposite of all this perceived woe in my life...all the things that are worrying me in small ways and large.
To give you an example of how I find myself in this kind of predicament, last night I sat and watched Schindler's List. It was gobsmackingly awful and shocking and brutal. It made me feel ashamed to be a human being. That has happened to me before; I read the book Mommy Dearest by Frances Farmer when I was much younger. That made me feel that way too. It took me three years to get past that and get on with life. That may seem ridiculous to some of you, but it touched me so deeply in my soul...I wonder how some people survive the horrors visited on them by other human beings. They must be the hardest of all to survive.
So I watched this incredible film by megastar movie maker Steven Spielberg, ten years after it was made. I've heard the name of it and knew it was about someone who saved some Jewish people during the Holocaust, and I always meant to watch it and simply hadn't had the opportunity. So last night I watched. The movie, for those who haven't seen it yet and surely I must be one of the few, was filmed in stunning period black and white. Only twice did I see a hint of colour, once in a child's coat and once in the candles lit by the Jewish people to celebrate the Sabbath in Schindler's factory.
I listened afterwards to the stories of people who had been survivors and heard the story of the Shaoh Foundation which has seen the recording of 52 000 stories of the Holocaust. I marvelled at the work being done to try and stop this from ever happening again...because it has happened many times in different places around the world...where hatred, fear and distrust have become rulers for a time...at such great cost. I hope the stories reach the ears of young people. It is in the fact that the stories are about humans...on both 'sides' that makes it all so frightening. It was not all horror but it was harrowing. Those who tried to help put themselves and loved ones at such great risk...but they couldn't stand by and do nothing.
Anyway, I was deeply touched by the movie and the human suffering and on top of a few other things that were bothering me (of a trifling nature by comparison...moronic even!) it allowed my old friend Anxiety to drop in to do his work on me. This time however, and I didn't have these 'tools' when I was younger and became stuck for such a long time in an awful state, I thought about what is the opposite of all this grief and suffering I put myself through. It is right to feel the pain these people went through and anguish at the cruelty and inhumanity in so many situations, but I cannot change history. It will not help if I remain miserable. I can tell about it here and maybe it will touch another heart and change a mind...perhaps. But for my life now, for me in the here and now, I needed to be grateful. To be thankful. I have written about gratitude before and it is such a wonderful antidote to so much suffering we can put ourselves through.
I had my journal out as I'd been writing down my woes (the things that were bothering me) and so now I wrote a new heading...I am so grateful for...and I started writing. I began to feel the tightness shift. Anxiety was losing his foothold. I kept going. I wrote about the love of family and friends, I wrote about creativity and blessings and humour. I wrote about fresh food and privilege and wonder. As I wrote, Anxiety disappeared and was replaced by Relaxation and Pleasure. I am so much happier with these two friends hanging on.
Anxiety has his place in my life and I welcome him and thank him for showing me what is bothering me. He gets me to remind myself that I'm enough. That I do enough and am pretty enough, haha. I thank him for getting me to pay attention once more to all the beautiful, bright and good things in my life which are so numerous and so immense that I cannot express them in sheer words. I have opened my heart and my arms once more to embrace the passion for my job, for my writing and for my life. You're such a stinker, Anxiety, when you take so long to get me to this place of welcoming Relaxation and Pleasure back. Even a day is too long to be lost in sadness, especially about things I cannot change. Life is difficult sometimes, but if I spend my time focused on what is good and right and beautiful, most of the time the other things fade or take care of themselves somehow. Thanks for the reminders Anxiety. I'm all good now. Thanks for dropping by. I don't mind if you leave it a while before you're back this way again. Ciao.