“We are always in a struggle with other people, with situations, even with our own being. That’s what we call stress. That’s what we experience as continual, on-going stress. Even in the most healthy, unneurotic of us, there’s some kind of slight or very profound anxiety of some kind, some kind of uneasiness or dissatisfaction.” — Pema Chodron
I want to talk about my feelings.
In the beginning of our relationship- before we had kids, work woes, or trouble with finances- the biggest stress that my husband and I had was deciding where we were going to eat.
We had a joke between one another where we would ask, “Do you want to talk about your feelings?” when something stressful would arise. It was kind of funny, since I am a child and family counselor and spend the bulk of my days talking to other people about their feelings.
I have since gotten bogged down by almost constant stress– at home, at work, in the world. I worry almost non stop– about little things like budgeting so I can afford a tank of gas AND toilet paper, about bigger things like my son’s behavioral issues, about random things like what people at work think about me, and existential things like what will I do if my mom ever dies.
I don’t talk about my feelings because there really isn’t any time. By the time we get the kids to bed, it seems best just to sit in our spots in the living room and watch a show, “veg out,” and let go of any residual stress.
But today, I am feeling like I want to talk about my feelings.
Today, I feel sad and anxious and weird. Today I feel like I am walking around without any skin, and all of my raw nerves are exposed. Today I can’t shake the feeling of just wanting to curl up and cry.
An acquaintance mentioned seeing another person that we used to hang out with. “They didn’t seem like such an asshole,” my friend mentioned. I laughed uncomfortably for a second, then stated I hoped that someday if I ever run into someone I haven’t seen for a while, that “she wasn’t such an asshole” wouldn’t be the best thing that someone had to say about me.
It shook my confidence for some reason, made me start wondering if people had mean, uncharitable things to say about me when my back was turned. Are my confidences betrayed? Are my flaws pointed out and mocked?
Normally, I am not a paranoid person. I don’t consider myself to be any more insecure than any other. I am decent at my job, and I try to get along with everyone. I try my best to be a loving mom and respectful wife. Sure, I have my days when I get frazzled, but who doesn’t?
For some reason, I am feeling more vulnerable than usual and find myself dwelling in this place of weird anxiety.
On my way to work every car I pass is a potential death sentence.
When I lie in bed at night trying to chant myself to sleep, I visualize my children running out into traffic and me being too slow or paralyzed to stop them.
Everyone I pass in the hallway has something mean to say about me.
I’ve done a million and three things to screw up my kids beyond repair.
And so on and so forth.
I have confidence that I will be fine. There is nothing wrong with me. I am strong and healthy, and in general I believe the world is a safe place. I am well liked and have amazing friends. I am blessed with a beautiful family. I am remembering to do my “I Ams.”
But today, I am here in this puddle of sad anxiety, sitting and wondering what will happen next. It is really hard to focus on my breath. My mind jumps from one thought to the next never finding peace, or what Pema Chodron calls “the gap” in between breaths.
I spoke with someone today about intense emotions, how it is okay to feel them, how they will not kill us and how they have the potential to teach us.
So, anxiety and I are sitting. Maybe we will have something to teach one another. Until then, I just wanted to talk about my feelings.
Thanks for being there. Momaste.