Sometimes anxiety comes. It comes to all of us at different times, for different reasons and in different ways. Anxiety brings on complicated emotions. We feel trapped. We sometimes with this anxiety can feel unable to get out of a sticky web that covers and suffocates our mouth and clouds our eyes. It can feel as though we are drowning in a large body of endless water, not knowing where to come up for air.
In my life time I have worried much about what others are thinking when they think of me. I have cared far too much for people's approval, from second grade on. Did I say something that came off as rude or was perceived incorrectly? Did I unknowingly do something that could explode into a war between people when I had no intention of even being noticed? How did my expression lines in my face appear just then, confused or angry? Often while growing up and through school, I had people tell me, "I thought you were a snob" or "I thought you hated me!" When none of these many things and reactions I heard from others were ever how I really intended on acting, or feeling. Their impressions were wrong! I always felt slightly sad, pretty isolated and alone while growing up. My childhood at first glance, seems to me to be dark, quiet, with few friends, feeling awkward, sticking out oddly and never getting to feel like that last puzzle piece, making a complete picture, fitting in perfectly. I felt like the old, broken toy, unrepairable and dirt ground in not able to be cleaned.
I am not sure if it just was the particular kids I was surrounded by in my neighborhood or school system, I do not think so. I just never felt like fully relaxing into life, or excelling at anything. I think the problem was just with me. I didn't do horribly at anything and in many activities like some sports and art I was actually quite good. I felt coordinated and confident. But each time a bully pushed me down, insulted me or report card came back average, I continued to travel deeper and deeper into my own awkward darkness. I felt like the color grey up until about the age of 18. Then my palette began to emerge and I refused to be lonely. From college on, I have felt like a spectrum of gold and began to come into my own.
But childhood is always underneath though, for everyone. And from time to time these days, I feel those wounds, that self esteem, uphill battle creep into the back most layers of my psyche and come through, here and there, in my 30 year old adult experiences. From a survey I conducted, it showed that 100% of people felt they had one or more bullies within their childhood. 0% of those who voted chose the answer "I never had a bully." We all have sorrow and have all had school-aged struggles, each one of us! So I know we are all dealing with a patchwork past and have all had many opportunities to deal with sadness and anxiety.
As an Army wife, having to be alone often and meet new people almost all the time, there are plenty of opportunities to feel sad, scared, lonely, worried and filled with anxiety. Today I passed a woman in the store who I felt I had offended on accident the first time we had met. I was still adjusting from a serious jet lag, months after arriving at a new international home and was out of sorts when I met her at a Halloween party. She was kind to me and I was agitated with my toddler who kept running off out of my vision. I was hoping that my tired eyes and irritation with toddler-hood did not appear to be annoyance with her or our conversation. When I passed her today, she seemed like she did not want to talk to me, when we met eyes and recognized one another and I said a kind hello and she quickly said "hi" back and rushed past me. I felt anxiety for her thoughts. I felt anxiety thinking of that party and my daughter misbehaving. I felt anxiety for our time change. And I later found myself in my car hardly able to breathe over such a silly experience. She might have been having a bad day, or was in a hurry. She might think I am a bad mother. She might have just lost a loved one. She might have been totally fine and I was exploding my worries upon her image. It brought me home to thinking about letting go of silly things and reflecting upon my worrisome childhood spilling into my todays.
But in my sad adolescence came some bright rays of sun. Two separate times, I had two profound ideas each time strike into my mind as sure as a blinding, bright lightning crash into your front yard in the middle of the night. These ideals and epiphanies are what still guide me and my ease in life, to this day. And when repeated as a mantra, can release me from just about any anxiety.
The first bright light flew into and out of me when I was at a church self esteem-youth group meeting. The leaders were talking to us about love and relationships, and I think they even brought up sex. I was about 11 years old. They asked of us, "how do you think you know for sure if you are in a loving relationship?" The leader looked to me for a response and I immediately said (out of no where), "you cannot love anyone else until you know you love yourself." The youth leader was pretty much silenced and stopped dead in his tracks. He laughed and continued on, saying yes, I was right, but then had to dumb down the rest of the conversation for the other 11 and 12 year olds so they would understand. It was a profound thought for an 11 year old and the teacher told my mother how mature he thought I was. I had no idea why that flew out of my mouth, but it came from my subconscious.
The next crash of electricity came to me at the end of high school. I was feeling overwhelmed about arguing with my parents, preparing for college, feeling misplaced and lost, lonely and trapped in a maze of emotions I had no way of knowing how to get out of. And so I went to a journal that I had kept. It had artwork, magazine clippings and inspirational quotes in it. It was my place to go to make me feel better. And in it, this day, I wrote 5 clear, concise words to myself:
"When life gets complicated, SIMPLIFY."
And these would be the most profound words I repeated time and again to myself for the next 12 years. It is such a simple thing to do. Get rid of junk. Stop yourself from worrying about what other's think REMOVE those people from your life anyway. Let go of what you cannot control. Throw away the torture of things you wish you could change. Dump wasted heart ache into the trash. Clean your insides. Let go of, well, everything. And what you CAN control: SIMPLIFY. And feel the weight lift.
We have to love ourselves. We cannot do anything for anyone if we do not. If you feel busy, too busy for yourself or to be good to your kids or your family, stop all the running around. Hey, quit that job that keeps you busy! Whatever it might be that is preventing you from taking time to clean, relax, let go, enjoy, and just........be, be simple. Do not think about the way it might be complicated to let go of stuff......just simplify. Usually the hardest decisions are the easiest answers. Straight and to the point, one solution. It is our emotions that complicate it all. Let go of your emotions. Simplify. Throw away clutter. Wipe the slate clean.
Clutter can even be things we cherish....we just have to get rid of some of our "stuff" in order to feel tidy, in order to release old feelings we might have attached with the things. This can be an example of cluttered emotions or an example of the material things in your home or space and often times these examples can go hand in hand.
And one thing that is hard to do is, if you have something in your life that bothers you, irritates you or brings you down, change it! And if for some reason you cannot change it, then change how you feel about it.
So to remind again, love yourself first. And when life gets complicated, simplify.
Relaxation is a way to love one's self. And from there comes the quiet to know how to simplify.
My favorite recommendation for relaxing is a simple meditation. When you have a chance to be alone, or are laying in bed trying to get to sleep at night:
1. close your eyes softly
2. relax the muscles of your face
3. relax your tongue
4. relax and loosen the place where your thumbs root into your hands
5. let your belly be at ease
6. and finally, relax your feet and toes
From there, give all your troubles to the atmosphere around you, outside of you, the sky or to a prayer, let them float away from you for just a moment in an exhalation and just..........be. Then the clear choices will eventually and lightly materialize into your mind and ease and relaxation will be gifted to you, if not right away, surely it will come in swift time. I promise.
As those troubles come back down, returning into you, now that your mind is more at ease and clear, the solutions balance, order and regulate themselves quite simply. Today feeling all out of sorts about my new life, I remembered my simplicity. I let go of worry about what others think, it is none of my business anyway. And if I see that fellow military wife again, I will stop her, tell her I had a hard time getting used to this time zone and hope I never offended her. If she feels strange about me, we are not in line to be friends anyway. If she thinks I am nuts, then we will most likely have a good laugh! And that is that. Now, onto reading my anxiety-free book and feeling simple.
Love, Peace and Rock n' Roll y'all