stream of consciousness

I’m scared if I don’t write, don’t get some of what’s on my mind out, I’ll have another panic attack in the middle of the night and not be able to sleep.

I think I’m tired from the day, think I’ve taken in too much information and my brain doesn’t have the capacity to sort and strain it before more is piled on tomorrow.

I envy the way my husband has hope for the future, has this confidence about his place in the world and the goodness that’s in store.

I’m not like that. I’m afraid all the time. I have some serious fears, things I’m kind of obsessive about so maybe they’re phobias. I’m always bracing myself for a heart-wrenching tragedy, like what I love or where I feel secure is about to be swiped out from underneath me. And if I don’t keep my guard up, I won’t be able to survive the shock, my body won’t be able to handle the trauma, my heart will collapse from the utter disappointment. I won’t be able to move again. It’s like that Dr. Dog song,

I put on my clothes like a body guard
I put the dogs on patrol in my own back yard
I don’t wanna fight but I’m constantly ready
And I don’t rock the boat, but it’s always unsteady

That’s how I feel all the time. I want to be at ease. To somehow marry the truth that bad things can happen at any time with the hope of a good, long life. It doesn’t seem possible, but I guess people do it all the time. Or they just ignore the bad things part, which I seem incapable of doing. But I think I just need to keep trying. I think I can maybe find a balance. Maybe I’ll have to work really hard at it, build a lot of muscles to be able to keep up the balancing act. But then I’ll sleep easier at night and breathe deeper and smile more.

Part of it is a mindset, I know. Earlier this week I came across the idea to pause at least once a day (though preferably more) to reflect about what I’ve seen or received or done that was good, right, and true, and what was rich in meaning. I’ve been trying to do that and I think it’s helping. I get a true sense of joy when I do that. I can’t believe all the goodness that’s around me.

Of course, I did still have that panic attack the other night which was basically the worst. But after I word vomited to my husband every stress that’s weighing on me, I felt better. It had all built up and wasn’t going to leave without being acknowledged.

Like I said, too much information, too little time. Not enough emotional and mental energy.

There’s got to be a better way for me to take the world in. I intentionally say for me because everybody is different. There are so many different types of people in the world. What works for one person or supposedly works for the majority of people doesn’t always work for me. It’s not that simple, though it would be nice if it were. I’m getting to the point of not beating myself up when something isn’t getting me the results others seems to get. I’m learning to start over, get creative.

Fear is a monster though. It’s always hungry and it always wants more. I bend a little this way to accommodate and it’s appeased for a while, but soon what I gave isn’t enough. I have to bend a little that way, give a little more. Lose a little more of myself, of my spark, of my freedom. Suddenly, I’m trapped in ritualistic and compulsive means of getting it to subside. I don’t want to live like that. Someday I’ll probably have kids and I want them to learn to be brave from me, not how to be afraid.

I’m trying to remind myself that I have to take baby steps, sometimes pathetic and barely noticeable scooches. I have to celebrate those and let myself be proud instead of comparing myself to some perfect future person I want to be.

Because, you know, I can be a total mess, but the me that existed four years ago would be amazed at how far I’ve come. I regularly eat and exercise and I write about mental health like I don’t care what people think and sometimes I even confront people who hurt my feelings. I’ve started building a life and routine that makes it so that I’m doing more than just surviving. I’m doing work I find meaningful.

This gives me hope. If I’ve come this far from a place of not even knowing how to conceptualize a life of somewhat consistent mental stability, a life where an existential crisis didn’t leave me in pieces, then there’s hope I’ll be somewhere I can’t even conceptualize right now, something even better. I think it’s possible that’s possible, despite all the things that could go wrong (good gravy, even when I’m being optimistic, I’m a pessimist).

So that’s a glimpse of where I’m at today. I couldn’t get out a well-organized post on comparison or a thoughtful list of things I’ve learned through my job. All I could muster up was this stream of consciousness.

Maybe you’ve felt something similar before too?



1 Comment

  1. eefrater says:

    I understand fear and anxiety. Lived with them most of my life. Not to boast, but now I am free. I’ve learned to spend time with Jesus in a way to release the fear and anxiety. Understand the anxiety attacks, some random some from stress. Praying for you 🙏 to have the peace I’ve found.

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