But there isn't much that is usual about things these days.
The anxiety I wrote about in my last post has a stranglehold on me. It's so hard to write about it, to find words that describe the breathless, panicky feeling that permeates my existence these days. It leaves me feeling spent, exhausted, flat, and I move through my days like an automaton; the simple act of moving from one end of the day to the other feels overwhelming, most of the time.
It's ironic, in a way, because in the wake of the Redbook article I'm getting several emails a day from women who saw their own story in the words, and most of them are asking one simple question: HOW? How do I get through just one simple day without my nightly crutch of wine?
The advice that pores from my fingertips is straightforward, and yet hard to do: get honest, start talking, ask for help, break your old patterns, find healthy distractions, and don't try to do this alone.
In the grip of anxiety I feel exactly like I did when I first got sober, like my skin has been peeled back and I'm a walking exposed nerve. Lights and sounds bother me, I struggle not to be short with the kids, and the simple act of going to the grocery store feels overwhelming. To keep the panic at bay, I slip into neutral, my face and voice go flat, and the spark in my eyes is dim. I read and sleep a lot -- two places where my brain leaves me alone for a period of time - and drop eagerly into the escape they bring.
It's a balancing act of facing fear head-on and keeping things as simple as I can. I'm breaking old behavior patterns, changing my old reactions to fear. Health worries have always been where my anxiety manifests itself the most - even when I was a child - and now that there is a legitimate concern my mind obsesses on it, constantly. Instead of sticking my head in the sand and avoiding the doctor due to fear, I'm talking to her, trying to get some answers and some help.
I'm also cutting out stress where I can. We made the difficult decision not to sell our house, for a variety of reasons, but the stress it introduced into my already fragile state was a factor.
I'm talking to people. A lot. When trusted friends ask me if I'm okay, I answer honestly that I'm struggling. The mere act of unburdening my load - sharing it with others - is a profound relief. It's hard to tell people I'm not okay, that I need help. My ego winces - shouldn't I be able to handle this? But I know in my heart that I can't make it through this alone.
Logically, I understand where this is coming from, that my Dad's sudden death triggered this ancient fear, and the added stress of selling the house and health worries were simply too much. But I can't think my way out of this; knowing where it's coming from is of little help when I'm in the grips of a panic attack.
It's bigger than me.
And I know, too, that I will be okay. I know I'll be okay because when obstacles are thrown in my path it means I am in the process of stretching, growing, learning. Whatever the outcome, of any of this, I know that because I'm going through it, not around it, I will emerge with deeper self-awareness, strength and faith.
In the meantime, I'm talking, getting help and I'm not going through this alone. The power of sharing my truth, and the support, comfort and community it brings to me, will never cease to amaze me.
This post is part of Just Write, a free writing link-up hosted by Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary. To learn more about it, click here. To join us, click here.