Anxiety

When I feel depressed, I catch myself thinking I have always been depressed, as if I cannot remember a time when I have breathed without this weight pressing down on, in, and through me.

When I feel anxious, as I do today, as I have for the past three days, I watch myself pacing around the house because when I sit still I think I have to move; I have to do; there is something else I can do to make things better; I will feel better when I do something, and I just have to figure out what that thing is.

I find myself thinking that this anxiety–again, this pressure–that pushes both in and out at the same time, is both my weakness and my strength. I feel anxious because I am weak-minded. I feel anxious because I care about so much that is not as I think it should or could be.

These are limited perspectives, I know. And I remind myself: this is temporary. I say to myself, breathe into this. Lean into it. That’s what Pema Chodron would say. Say “yes” to this. And this. And this. Yes.

And I feel like, No.

So I breathe into that.

No one appointed me the peace keeper of my home. But I listen, I feel, I am tuned in at all times the emotional broadcast of this house, feeling it so strongly it submerges me. I focus on it, resisting. When there is tension, or potential for it, I want to change it, resolve it, contain it. I’m watching a boulder perched on top of a hill over us, and no one else sees that the few pebbles holding it in place are loosening and ready to shift.

Sam just led Kevin downstairs and outside. A minute later, they returned and climbed the stairs to Sam’s room. Kevin, ever the generous spirit, has agreed to play “school,” and evidently Sam wanted to administer a fire drill. Outside Sam’s room, I heard her tell Kevin he could not go to the bathroom without asking because then Sam wouldn’t know where he was. Although I know they’re playing, I do not like Sam taking that tone of voice.

I admire Kevin’s willingness to indulge Sam in this kind of play. And it makes me nervous, because when Kevin gets bored with it (and who wouldn’t? I can’t stand it for more than two seconds) he begins to do ridiculous things like he’s in an absurdist play. But Sam wants him to play it straight, and this is where so many times in the past they would launch into verbal sparring ending with Sam having a tantrum.

Sam having a tantrum equals a twelve year old yelling and carrying on angrily in what is ultimately an impotent explosion of her frustration at not getting her way. This being so, I expend a disproportionate amount of energy fretting about when the next one will erupt. That’s an old habit I’m ready to give up.

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