With anxiety, you’re pretty damn sure something is wrong. Something has happened. Or is going to happen. Or you did something wrong. Or you will. Or there will be too many people looking at you. Or no one will ever notice you. Or.. or… or. It can be never ending and it really is so hard to function like this. To find your center and do what you have to do.
I was trying to describe panic disorder & anxiety to a high school friend of mine and it really is tough if they haven’t been through it. They can have sympathy and support you but unless you’ve been through it, it’s so hard to really understand how helpless you feel. In panic mode, your mind and body are screaming that something is wrong. It’s like fight or flight has been kicked into high gear without warning for no apparent reason and you can’t shut it off. No amount of “It’s okay” or “You’re fine” or “Try to relax” sentiments makes the panic go away.
Trust me. I’ve been there. I still go there. I’ve gained friends who get it. I’ve lost friends because of it. (“You’re too needy.” Or “I can’t go through this with you again every few months.“) But it’s not a choice to have anxiety. You do have a choice in how you can help yourself.
Show up. That’s all. Just show up for yourself every day. Say “I am going to get up, get dressed, and maybe I’ll go do something that scares me a little.” You might only reach the “Get up” part but you showed up for yourself. That is a step in the right direction! Show up. Tell yourself at least once a day something good. Just a nugget. It doesn’t cure things but it doesn’t hurt. I don’t know anyone who has said, “I’ve had an awful day. I’ve just had too many positive thoughts.“
And remember, especially in that heightened state of anxiety that this is temporary. It’s just some stupid thing your brain does to lie to you and freak you out. And it works. But it won’t always. And you won’t always feel this way. And in that moment, know you are not alone. There are a lot of us carrying a lot of anxiety. Anxiety that has kept us away from friends, family, events, parties…life. We get it. Baby steps and you’ll get out of this scary, dark place. I promise.
I’ve shared this post before. I will probably share it many more times. It’s my only real way of knowing what to say on 9/11. So, here is my heart laid bare for you to read about a city I fell in love with and a heartbreak that I could only express in tears that summer day.
When I knew that I was going to be in New York City for a conference in August, the first thing on my mind was to go to the 9/11 memorial. One of my dear friends invited me because she was planning to go with a group the first day there. It was the perfect plan. Except that it wasn’t. First, the group was filled and didn’t have enough room for one more. (I was heartbroken but realized it was what it was and there is nothing I could do about it.) Second, you know what they say about the best laid plans. First, I missed my flight so that delayed me. When I finally reached the city it took me nearly 3 hours to reach the hotel from the airport. So, even if I had been included in the group, I’d have missed it traveling anyway. Things happen for a reason. I knew it would weigh heavy on my heart to be there but I thought I it was exactly what I wanted to do.
Now, if you were with me during most of my trip to NYC, you know it was super emotional. You see, I’ve had a mini-crush on the city from afar. I have never been there but my heart was all “NYC ERMAHGERD!” But when I was actually there? It took mere seconds for me to fall in love with the city. Things that people who live there probably don’t even give a second thought had me so smitten and emotional. It became so commonplace, my friends didn’t even give it a second thought to look over and see tears in my eyes or rolling down my cheek over something that moved me about the city. Something I dreamed of seeing or doing and was actually seeing and doing!
All of that to say, with my emotions so up front and center, maybe the 9/11 Memorial wasn’t the place for me. This year. But there was something that I was supposed to see and experience in relation.
I went to an event with one of my dearest friends, Liz, one evening in South Village. And of course, I was enamored with just about everything in the area. (Shout out, City Winery!) As she and I were walking around the area, I noticed a firefighter standing outside a firehouse. I peeked in and noticed a memorial wall. (cue tears) I asked if I could take a picture if it wouldn’t be too disrespectful. He smiled and told me it would be fine and not at all disrespectful. As soon as I set up the shot I started to cry. No, cry doesn’t really cover it. I began to sob. I took in every face. I looked at every name. It was a “small scale” vision of such a massively huge tragedy. And maybe that was what I needed to see more than the huge memorial. I needed to see one company. To see the impact that day had on them. To see their friends and brothers they lost. Their names. Their faces. Eleven men. My heart broke. I did my best to capture the shot, but my hands were shaking. As we were leaving I tried to thank the firefighter but I could barely whisper “Thank you” through my sobs. With a teary look at me, he just nodded.
I have always felt the weight of 9/11 each year in my own way. I couldn’t truly imagine it. I still can’t. Unless you were there and felt it, heard it, smelled it, survived it or lost someone that day, I don’t think you can really grasp the enormity of the day. But walking the streets and falling in love with NYC and the people there, brought it a little bit closer to my heart. Standing in a firehouse that lost 11 of their finest brought it closer to my heart.
Though I truly thought I wanted and needed to see the 9/11 memorial, I realized my heart–my very soul– needed to see what that day meant in a more intimate way. One day I hope to go see the site where the twin towers stood and hope I can do it with someone who will understand my flow of tears. But this year, I am so very thankful I was with Liz who held my hand and never once questioned my emotional reaction or tried to stop it.
I’ll never forget the day that beautiful and completely amazing city came under attack. And now I will never forget that one time I stopped by a firehouse with someone I love to take a picture, thank a fireman, and sob over the loss of lives that horrible day brought.
These are the heroes pictured who were lost on that horrific day.
Writing is my passion. It always has been. It doesn’t matter what you ask me to write about, I’ll love it. College was an oasis of wonder for me. I loved writing essays. I loved to challenge the status quo or argue a point or share what I thought on a topic. And when they dropped creative writing in my lap, I practically melted on my keyboard. But wait. Then later on people started paying me *in real cash money to write. I was published in several publications and even in a couple of books. When an agent came to me (yes-she came to me) asking for a query and signed me with her agency? I died, went to heaven, made St. Peter slap me upside the head and came back to do more writing. I love it that much.
And then came the chronic daily headaches. And the migraines. And the bone crushing fatigue. Those are not good conditions for writing. In fact, it’s like I’m in prison with these health issues when it comes to my beloved passion and that isn’t fair. In fact it sucks. Someone recommended I try Dragon or another voice to text app but that isn’t the same. It’s not the fingers flying over the keyboard. Or the rush you get when you almost feel like you are no longer in the driver’s seat because the words are flowing so fast the story has taken over and your hands are merely the method to bring the story to life. Now, when I write for a long time, I pay the price in pain. My head. My eyes. My joints. I’m being literal here. I literally pay a physical price to write every word on this blog.
Oh, but what a beautiful price it is. I love writing so much. I love every thing about it. It is truly my passion. So when you see a blog post from me, know that is truly a labor of love. I wrote it from the prison my body locked me in and I refuse to let it hold me back. Words. My words. My stories. I won’t stop. This is my passion. My love. The one thing I know will always be soothe me even when it hurts me.
When you have so much going on or you are pulled in so many directions or (like me) you are knocked on your ass by health issues, if nothing else I have learned you must find your happy place and find some peace. Now, I know that most people have a physical happy place they want to go to find peace but that isn’t always possible. So, figure out where your mental happy place is. I’ve found peace in music. Sometimes it’s lyrics that speak to me. Sometimes it’s the rhythm. Sometimes I just get lost in the past with those golden oldies from the 80’s. But, ohhhh, when I need to work out angst or I am up and around and having a “hell yeah I’m doing things today” kind of day, I get my groove on. And at my age and with all the other crap I deal with on a daily basis, I truly don’t care what anyone else thinks.
One of my favorite things is car dancing. My daughter and I are huge car dancers. Don’t worry, I’m safe about it. The thing about not giving a damn about what anyone else thinks, you can usually pass your joy along to someone else. Maybe they smile and give you a thumbs up. Maybe they are laughing their ass off at you. Maybe their day sucked and when they glanced over and saw us totally getting our groove on to some random song that we liked and our funky groove movement were all in sync, and that made them laugh. Win/win.
Just find what makes you happy and do it. And don’t give a damn what people think. Just find your happy place inside yourself and let it loose. Dance in your underwear. Sing at the top of your lungs. Jog like Phoebe and look like a fool. Just do it and don’t bother with what other people think. Because you are too busy being happy in your happy place. And when you’re there? It is contagious. I promise you’ll make other people smile or laugh (even if it is at you) or even want to join you. The most important part of this is to find your happy place because we all need to retreat from the chaos and craziness that is life. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed. Dust off you happy place. Give it a spit shine and air it out. It’s time to visit it more often. You need to take care of you. Yes, YOU.
And kids, that’s why you shouldn’t be an asshole like I was
In case this isn’t permanently written on all of your calendars, this is my birthday month. More specifically, on Saturday, the 7th. You still have time to shop. But it’s okay to be late because you have all month.
Actually, this birthday is kind of a big deal to me. No, it isn’t a big number birthday or one that anyone else would evenn give a second thought. In truth, I’ve only told one person about why this birthday not only has me on edge but why I want to make it special. Because of all of that, she and I made plans to celebrate it together. We started these plans many months ago.
I can’t tell you how excited I was. Not just because I was going to spend my birthday with one of my closest friends but because she understood me and didn’t laugh when I told her why this birthday meant something to me. Just a couple of weeks out, I was finalizing flight plans etc. and texting back and forth to make sure it would all work out. (We were waiting on word from work.) Well, you know how they say “Make plans and God laughs”? Well, he was down right rolling in tears with this one. (I mean, hell, we’ve been trying this for years.) While I was about to book my ticket, she texted me and said it would just be better for me to not come at all.
My heart shattered right there on the spot. I spent two days crying. I felt at the moment like I became the expendible friend. So easily tossed aside rather than one you want around when you need someone. It just hurt on many levels. I felt like I lost my best friend. (Other factors contributed, too. But, this felt like the final demotion.) And you know what it actually made me? A totally and complete asshole.
Yes, I was the absolute and total asshole here. You see, she has been living in crisis mode for…well… months. Trying to take care of everyone. Pulled in so many directions, I don’t even know how she is still standing. I’ve never met someone stonger with so much compassion in my life. She’s the friend every one wishes they had. And what did I do? I spent two days crying thinking of only myself and how I might be effected. See? Total asshole. That’s not what you do to the people you love. You just don’t treat your people that way. I am sorry. So sorry. There are times I can hardly breathe it hurts so much that I hurt a relationship so much. But you just can’t take some things back. We have barely spoken since then. Life is busy. Plans change. Health and work and family and life take over and before you know it, it has been weeks since you’ve talked.
So, in short (Ha! Nothing is short with my writing.) I let down a friend by being an asshole when she needed me because I was thinking of myself. And now? Now I have to pick up the pieces and hope we’ll be okay. It’s going to take time. And that sucks.
The moral of the story, take a step back, take a deep breath, and look at both sides of what is going on before you act like an asshole or you may hurt one of the most precious relationships you have. Don’t be me, kiddos!
When my boys were young- and I mean really, really young– they found a very unique way of calling each other when they wanted to talk to or find the other. In fact, I don’t remember a time when they didn’t do this. It was startling at first. You see, one would let out the bellow of a peacock call and from somewhere in the depths of the back of the house you could hear the sound of the other one returning the call. Sometimes it would stop then. Other times if it was really important like an online game or a funny video, the calls would go back and forth until they were in the same room. At the young age that it started, I don’t know how they picked it up. I have heard that it is deafening at cons like Quakecon but the boys had never been to something like that when they started their traditional tribal like call. Even my daughter picked it up rather young.
It became normal in the house. It was, however, hilarious when we had guests. We were used to it. Company? Not so much. Once when my sister had been visiting, two days into her trip she look up from her magazine and sighed looking at me in defeat saying, “Your house is really loud.” I did what any frat house mom would do and burst out laughing. She’s right. And I love the noise.
One would think that would be something for the home only. But no. They find each other in public that way, too. In fact, to be honest, we all do. A few years ago when we were at Disney in line for Space Mountain, they wanted to test the whole herd mentality business and started calling each other- while standing beside each other. Of course Gabby started in. Then their cousins. It wasn’t long before other people in the line started. Before we knew it, most of the people shoved in like sardines in line in a very echoing echo hell, were all doing the peacock call. I was doubled over laughing uncontrollably, legs crossed, trying not to pee my pants. My sister looked slightly horrified. My kids looked cocky with pride. Gosh I adore my kids. They are pretty awesome. And always entertaining.
So if you are out and about and hear a peacock call, just return it. Chances are pretty good it’s one of my family. Or me. Find us and say howdy!