On Anxiety and Why I Need It

16 01 2013


Or maybe why I “need” it. I really cannot tell the difference. And I don’t want to. Just in case.

That might not make sense. It’s because it’s all a big circular train of fucked-up thoughts. Let me see if I can explain.

And for all I know I’ve actually blogged this before, but it’s an issue right now so I’m blogging that shit again. Hopefully (or not, HAH) I’m on a deeper spiral this time.

I have a concern.

I hold on to said concern, very close to my heart. Partly because I am an emotional creature and that’s how I process everything, but possibly more because I’m too afraid to let go. Because if I let go of my worries the Universe might notice and be all, “Haha! She’s not worrying enough! Let’s punish her!”

OK. I don’t really think the Universe is that mean. But I do believe in that My-Name-is-Earl-type of Karma, and I believe in knocking wood to protect me from it. And I suppose I could replace the word “worry” with the idea of… maybe of some sort of meditation or prayer. Basically, I hold the belief that I must keep my concerns in my conscious to make them not come true. It is partly a belief, and partly also a method of protection: If I believe the worst will happen I won’t be hurt by it happening, but if it doesn’t happen it won’t be a problem to handle good news at all.

I am on all the time. It can be exhausting.

But then it gets worse.

Because sometimes, when something good might be on the horizon, I can’t tell how to feel about that. I don’t know what to hold in my heart. Do I focus on the negative to protect my heart and keep Karma at bay? Or do I visualize the positive in the hopes that I can make it happen with my mind powers? Sometimes I vacillate wildly between the two, sometimes I hold both in my heart at once. It can be exhausting.

So I can’t let go of my anxiety because I am too superstitious. And sometimes I think that’s the Crazy talking, but I try not to think too hard on that in case it’s just a Fact of the Universe. And so: Circle.

Right now I have a lot on my mind and today I’ve been trying to stay focused on the Things I need to do, but have been struck by anxiety attacks instead. Bloggers like Jen and Jenny have written extensively about anxiety and depression and how crippling it can be. And I relate to what they are saying, and I think they are beautiful and amazing when they acknowledge that sometimes they can do nothing all day except breathe and that it is OK. But I don’t think my anxiety is quite as severe as theirs is. And therefore I have a hard time being kind to myself when I have a down day like this. At what point is it “enough” to be forgiving of myself? I guess the self-abuser that lives in my head can’t (or won’t) tell the difference between lazy and legit anxiety.

So today has been a weird circle of anxiety, held together by superstition, and I hate myself for it.

I’ve spent years and years working on that asshole who lives in my head and says horrible things to me. And I still have so far to go.

The sky is insanely blue today.

But what else is there except to just keep working. Tonight I’m going to do two things that are good for me, and I’m going to tell myself the difference between anxiety and laziness, and how recovering from anxiety is absolutely legit and doesn’t make me lazy at all. Tonight I am going to try to shut the asshole in my head up.


In which Indiana Jones saves me from ritzy people.

4 08 2012

The day that I took Orangey the Orange Camera to the beach, I happened to be just around the corner from the Cave Store, so called because it has a cave. (La Jolla is not known for their creativity. They name all their streets La Jolla – I suspect to keep the ghetto people too confused to be there.)

I haven’t been to the Cave Store since I was in 5th or 6th grade and my mom took some of my friends and me there. And I have never been IN the cave because, dudes? Caves are scary. As a child I was convinced it was going to collapse on my head. As an adult I’m still pretty much convinced of that, but I’m better at distracting myself. Despite the fact that I’d been in the cave store, I’d all but forgotten about that cave until Bethany blogged about it.

True story – the first time I rode Indiana Jones and the Temple of DON’T LOOK MARA IN THE EYES OH MY GOD SOMEONE LOOKED MARA IN THE EYES WE’RE ALL FUCKED NOW, I was pretty much terrified of the queue. And it’s not even a real cave. It’s made with, like, engineering. And DISNEY engineering at that, so you KNOW it’s not going to collapse on you or that the booby traps are totally not actually going to hurt you. But I didn’t really believe that. Repeated exposure and the fact that sometimes the booby traps don’t even work anymore have gotten me to a point where I’m not scared at all in the queue for that ride anymore. Go me!

me, in a cave, not dying

So I figured I was brave enough to go in the Cave Store’s cave. And I was. With minimal anxiety. But I kept having this nagging feeling that I really wished Indiana Jones was there to save me. Just in case. Frankly, that could be a general rule in my life, actually. In the grocery store? “I wish Indiana Jones was here to save me. Just in case.” At park day? “I wish Indiana Jones was here to save me. Just in case.” In scary caves tucked away in impossibly ritzy beach neighborhoods? ESPECIALLY. It’s like Xanax, but way sexier.

sunny jim

All this to say that I took this picture from inside the cave, to compliment the picture I took a few years ago from outside the cave.

sunny jim from the outside

So, if you see Indiana Jones, can you tell him I need him? Kthx.

In Which I Don’t Get Eaten By a Mountain Lion

8 04 2012

this is a lie

I had a day to myself today and after puttering around the house getting various things done, I decided to head out for a hike. I’d been wanting to go for a hike but didn’t have a date, and while hiking alone doesn’t bother me, I am less inclined to go if I don’t have anyone there I have to meet. So I surprised myself with a late afternoon visit to Mission Trails. I packed some water, snacks, and the book I’m currently (re)reading and headed out.

But I am me. And Me is anxious. Or cute. There’s a pin I’ve seen that threatens to seduce you with my awkwardness. I wonder now if I can also seduce people with my anxieties? Because if so? WATCH OUT WORLD.

But I digress.

Point being that there are signs as you enter the park about mountain lions and how to not get eaten by them. I’ve never worried about these signs before because I’ve never hiked alone. Also because I have never noticed these signs before.

Mission Trails isn’t desolate and lonely. I won’t hike in places that are. Not alone, anyway. That’s how you get killed by, well, mountain lions. Or bad people. Or possibly sasquatches (our local ones are called “zoobies“. True story). So there were mostly lots of people around (including ones high up on the hills climbing rocks and shouting, “THERE’S A BIG RATTLESNAKE BY YOUR DOG!” True story) except for when there weren’t. People around. If you lost me after that last parenthetical phrase. (What? I like parenthetical phrases. It’s like my catchphrase. Except it’s not a catchphrase at all. It’s a… catchpunctuation?)

Oy with the digression already!

So there was a time where I was totally alone. And it was beautiful. And I was quite proud of myself for loving the solitude, for I am a citygirl who is quite afraid of solitude. But here I was enjoying the moment. The birds were singing. There was a frog croaking. There was something giant moving in the bushes. WHAT? The thing about Nature is that “giant” things in bushes tend to be, like, tiny birds or lizards. But my brain had already moved on to tomorrow’s headlines, “Woman, 34, mauled by mountain lion IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAMN ROAD.” And then I knocked wood and forced myself to, like, think of hobbits and stuff. Thank god there aren’t horses at Mission Trails or I’d have been certain the ringwraiths were coming.

And now I’m never going to Mission Trails again.

But MOSTLY the hike was lovely. I stopped at the dam to read, but the flies were all, “Wow, this chick is seducing us with her anxieties!” so I didn’t get very far before I decided to head back.

The moral of the story is, I think, always bring xanax to Nature. Just in case.

pretty spot to rest

These are the anxieties I’m focusing on this week.

15 09 2011

Happy Thing: A Happy Tattoo from Bethany

I woke up feeling bitchy and depressed and I knew it wasn’t PMS, because I’d already had my Sad Day this week, and then I figured it out – many anxieties piled together make me overwhelmed which is just damn depressing. So I’m listing them here in the hopes that it will work to free my heart of them and bring back some of The Happy.

~Elliott’s gut. He’s having some, er, slowing of his system and while I’ve been working with it for awhile now, things just aren’t getting better. I’m nervous about that and afraid that it’s going to cause bigger issues if we can’t get it resolved yet. Actually, I’m nervous it may have already caused bigger issues. I don’t know if those fears are grounded or just pure fear, but there it is. Solution: I already have a call in to his doctor. We’ll see what she says when we hear back from her today.

~The Smell. My mom’s house smelled of smoke and, um… I don’t know, old people? She was a smoker, but she wasn’t your average smoker. She lived with the curtains and windows always closed and she did not clean her home often (and by “often” I mean “more than every few years”) or well. That means the smells permeated deeply into things. Some of the things I’ve cleaned have a thick layer of yellow tar all over them. Some of the things don’t seem to release the smell at all, plastics in particular. So we are bringing some of her things here and while the items themselves I find to be quite useful (I need a new dresser and have wanted a trunk for years now) I’m afraid to actually bring them in my home. I can’t tell if I’m bringing the smell into my home and just not smelling it because I’m becoming used to it. And then sometimes I catch a whiff of something and I can’t tell if it’s just my imagination, wind blowing smells in from the things still outside, or some of the things I’ve brought in. Solution: I don’t know. Asking people to come sniff my house? I’m extremely uptight about this, and absolutely terrified that I might bring the smell into my life. I suppose there is a deeper psychological connection there, but I’m also just afraid of smelling bad. I don’t know what, if anything, will really solve this problem and anxieties without solutions are the most difficult to handle.

~Finances. Just the average financial worries of a single, WAH, homeschooling mom. I’m feeling guilty for spending too much at Starbucks this summer (not to mention the sugar). Plus some decisions may or may not have to be made about the future in the coming months. Solution: Focusing on peace and how The Universe and my Oak Tree are always looking out for me. “All things are perfect exactly as they are.” Repeating that helps to let go the worries.

~Overwhelm. I’m so busy with my mom’s stuff, both the legal end and the physical end, and with trying to get back on top of work, and with trying to re-re-build my life, I haven’t even begun to look at what sorts of school stuff the kids need to be doing. Luckily they are taking classes on Mondays now which I think will cover their samples needed to turn in to the charter school we use (as well as allow me time to run errands and get work done). Solution: Focusing on the fact that this year has quite royally sucked for me, and how it’s OKAY to take a break from formal education and focus on unschooling and family togetherness for awhile while I get shit back under control.

I’ve been really bad about keeping up with The Happy lately. I’m just so tired (either physically or emotionally or both) that I’m too exhausted to even think about it. First step is to get my house reorganized again so I can have space to plan and think. Second step is to set myself some routines to follow, making time for healing activities (I had another dream about an un-cared-for cat last night). Then I have to follow those routines. Then, I think I’ll be able to keep up with at least my usual amount of duties and all I’ll need is a personal assistant to do the rest. Also winning the lottery wouldn’t hurt anything.

Here’s some recent Happy.

Happy Thing: Thunderheads

Happy Thing: Lavender Lemonade Popsicle

Happy Thing: A Rainy Afternoon

Happy Thing: The Way He Wrapped His Arm Around Me and Fell Asleep

Oh, I’m living dangerously now!

10 10 2010

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I survived sea kayaking, or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve now spent the night in a tent with lightning flashing all around us, of if it’s simply that I know my kids are old enough to not jump out of the sky car, but it appears I’m no longer afraid to ride the Skyfari at the zoo.

my view

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t LOVE it. Well, part of me does. It’s always made me nervous, but I stopped being able to tolerate it at all when I had babies. However illogical, I think it had to do with an instinct to protect my babies – not that other mothers need to respond by avoiding the Skyfari or else they won’t love their babies, just that I think motherhood exacerbates anxieties sometimes and this happens to be (one of) mine.

A few months ago we went to the zoo with some friends who suggested we maybe not take the 45-minute hike up the steep grades back to the front of the zoo, and instead fly gently back in a matter of 3 minutes or so. I could not. Every cell in my body screamed, “NO. HELL NO.” And so, when a different friend suggested it this week, naturally, I responded the same way. Verbally. It took me a few minutes to hear the cells in my body, but this time they were saying, “Eh. Why not?”

“WHAT?” I asked my cells (but not out loud, because that would be crazy).

“Well, yeah. What’s the worst that could happen?”

“Um. We could fall to our deaths? End up splattered in the lion’s enclosure?”

“That’s impossible. The Skyfari doesn’t go over the lions.”


“Look at all the babies. They can handle it OK.”

“You tried convincing me of that when I rode the Matterhorn, Cells. And then you screamed the whole way through.”

“No, that wasn’t us. Your LOGIC tried to convince you to ride that one. And when has logic ever served you well? Trust us. We’re your instincts. Remember what Gavin de Becker says about instincts?”

“FINE. We’ll ride. But if I cry again and all the kids at the zoo laugh at me it’s all your fault, Cells.”

And as it turns out, my cells were right. It wasn’t horrible and I didn’t cry. In fact, standing in line was much harder than actually gliding though the sky. By the time we landed, I wasn’t even shaking any more. And what’s more is that I kind of wanted to ride it again.

But just because I’m living on the edge these days doesn’t mean I’m going to befriend escalators any time soon.

Camping, Take Two

3 10 2010

In which Mother Nature does a little more friendly hazing.

We had been planning to go camping the first weekend in October, we wanted to get in one more trip before winter set in (and don’t you go mocking me about our winters, sometimes it even SNOWS in the mountains). We weren’t sure where we wanted to go this time and we threw out various ideas before finding out that a bunch of moms I knew (and some I didn’t yet) were all going to camp at one particular place near Julian – a place which had been on our list. So we booked one of three remaining spots in the camp ground which happened to be smack in the center of three sites occupied by our friends. Perfect!

And then Thursday happened. As Thursdays, do. But in this particular Thursday, Nature was all violent and unusual. San Diego is made up of four microclimates – coastal areas, the inland areas which are 10-20 degress hotter than the coast simply by driving ten minutes east, and the mountains and the deserts. The further east you go, the more weather you’ll find. In my town we get even less weather than the rest of the coastal areas for some reason (probably because God loves us more) so it was a pretty big surprise when we had thunderstorms all.day.long, including one big scary strike about two blocks from my house, as the crow flies. That strike blew out the windows in three nearby homes!! Before this news story I had no real idea of the power of lightning. That, even without directly touching it, it could create this kind of force surrounding it. I guess it’s pretty dumb to not have realized, but we generally get maybe 3-9 claps of thunder a year, and certainly rarely in the city.

So we weren’t sure what this would do to our camping trip. On the one hand, such a strong and unusual storm was unlikely to repeat itself the following day, but the system was just sort of hanging around like an unwanted relative staying in your guest room. In the end, we decided to just drive up and see what we’d see. This is what we saw on the drive up:

storm clouds

storm clouds

That’s not ominous at all. And, naturally, it started raining LIKE MAD shortly after these photos were taken. It was still raining as we arrived, but not thundering, so we set up the tent. Our first friends were setting up just across the street from us and told us that it was downright pouring when they arrived. We were still uncertain, but the kids were champs and paraded around in hoodies and umbrellas.

And then the sun came out.

pine tree

The grounds dried up pretty well, and it even became quite hot for the rest of the afternoon. My kids had met the kids across the way before, but it had been so long they had to get to know each other all over again. But that didn’t take long and the kids all got along FAMOUSLY. They played all afternoon and before we knew it, it was time for dinner and then our camp fire.

trunk & leaves

As we were roasting our marshmallows and the sun was setting, our other neighbors began to arrive so The Husband helped them with their tents. My kids were tired and slept shortly after, but everyone else stayed up until the very last hour of the fires. As we headed into our tents, my friend Tara and I stood to watch the sky flash beyond the trees, wondering what this would mean for our evening.

sunset clouds

As it turned out, it meant incredible anxiety and downright terror on my part. I did not sleep well, listening for thunder and, on the rare occasion that I actually heard it, counting to see how far away it was. It came no closer than sixish miles, and if I’d been able to read the future I could have enjoyed it, but I was diligent in keeping my family not dead and, in the end, got less than three hours of sleep.

pine starburst

That was enough to enjoy the next day, though. We had breakfast, coffee, took a short morning walk in which we were greeted by one dot of rainbow in the sky (yes, a dot), sat on a damp log and enjoyed the cool air and the golden morning sunshine, and once the neighbor kids were released from their sites, a mad game of hide and seek ensued among all the tents. We went for a hike with a friend where we observed moss and lizards, collected acorns, and laughed a lot.


nature trail

By the time lunch was over my kids were melting down. We had to pack up the tent because our spot was taken for Saturday night so we could not nap and recharge. Instead of staying the afternoon with our friends, we headed for home.

oak leaves

While I was happy to be safe from lightning in my home, I missed the mountain greatly. This camp ground is beautiful and forresty. I hope we go back often. But not until Spring.

The Bucket, The Epiphany, The Metaphorical World

9 01 2010

the bucket card

I am the one who must catch all the mess in the bucket.

Literal mess: vomit.
Metaphorical mess: childhood abuse.

I created this SoulCollage card last March. It must have settled into my mind, slowly sinking into my subconsious, sliding this way and that along the pipes until it hit the lock to… well, everything, I think.

One night – I think it may have been in November – I got into bed and picked up my beloved copy of Women Who Run With the Wolves. That in itself was odd, since I typically do not read that late at night – my reading time is while the kids fall asleep. But almost the moment I opened the book, I felt a click in my heart as the information flowed into my conscious mind.

Vomit causes anxiety because I must catch it.
I must be ever vigilant in my vomit-watch, lest some not get caught.

Oh. Ohhhhhh. OH. It is not vomit I must control at all – it is all the horrible things that happened to me when I was small. My childhood me is quite literally surrounded by puke – plastic garbage bags filled with it, tied in knots, stinking of alcohol, filling the bathtub and more.

It is not grown-up me who is trying to control sick – it is eight-year-old me, trying desperately to control anything.

I spent an evening throwing all the most significant memories I have of barf and my mother into a Word document. I woke up the next morning, eyes still puffy, head aching with the hangover of too many tears. Yet, somehow released. A little bit.

Now when the anxiety comes, I take deep breaths and visualize my childhood self being rescued into the loving arms of the woman who saves me.  She cradles me in my mother’s stinky old plaid chair – the one her boyfriend pushed her into during a fight.  This woman holds me and tells me it’s not my fault, that this is not OK.  She convinces me to come with her.  I do, but uncertainly.  In fact, the first few times I visited this metaphorical place, we did not leave at all.  She takes me to a place that is all white, and bathes me in an old claw-footed tub, in a room covered in tiny white tiles. She rubs my back and washes me, bubbles up to my chin. I feel, as a child, sort of numb. I wonder what my mother thinks – but I know that my mother is asleep in her bedroom and doesn’t know I’m gone. I wonder what she will do when she discovers, but that, too, I know – in this symbolic world, she will go back to her drink, and then to her bed, and she will sleep until the end of her life, partly relieved that I am gone so she doesn’t have to see me and feel guilty each day. My Savior Woman dries me off in thick, fluffy, warm, white towels. She tucks me into a bed and covers me in a fat, heavy, white down quilt. The sun shines in the window, cooly, as though on a winter’s day. I sleep.

I don’t know if this Savior of mine is Now-Me, or Mother Mary. I think I want her to be both.