Why is life so hard sometimes? Why am I lying here with my eyes wide open at 2 a.m.? I am literally forcing the musculature of my eyelids to open my eyes as wide as I can, lying here. Like, this can’t be real. Staring at the ceiling. In the dark. At 2 a.m. in the morning. Maybe if I open them just wide enough, they will close for the next several hours. No? To know me is to know I never see 2 a.m. willingly (at least not since college, and maybe the newborn days, oh the newborn days). I am experiencing insomnia. And then it hits me very, very hard that this isn’t just insomnia. This is anxiety. I am experiencing an anxiety attack. Big time. Like heyyyyy…not cool.
The longer I lay here I realize that I am mad. More like purely enraged. And all I have to come to realize in this moment at 2 a.m. is that I am mad at myself. Which, unfortunately for everyone around me means I am bringing them down too. No one is safe in my wrath. Take no prisoners, is that how it goes? So now they are mad, and they are mad at me. To figure out how I arrived here at 2 a.m. wide awake, mad at myself and with everyone having gone to bed mad with me, let’s recap the day.
I raised my voice to the kids because they didn’t clean up the right way. I snapped at my husband because he called at the wrong time while I was working. I hung up on a friend because I couldn’t handle all the noise around me over the bluetooth in our cars; the parent talking to me at my window, the kids in my car, the kids in her car. The noise. I didn’t finish as much as I wanted at work. The house isn’t as picked up as I want it to be. I didn’t eat enough. I didn’t drink enough water. Exercise? Forget it. I didn’t organize a room that I had been wanting to organize day after day after day. I surfed the Internet too much. I looked at Facebook and Instagram instead of doing something more productive. I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. When will it STOP!
Now that my tiny tantrum is over, let’s be real. Get real? IDK. Let’s break it down to realness.
It doesn’t stop, that’s when. I just managed it all very well but something broke and now the dominoes around me that are my life are toppling in a perfectly orchestrated dance that I am too weak to stand in front of and stop. I am too weak to carry the burdens I have dreamt up that I am carrying.
I thought I was doing such a good job asking for help, delegating. Letting things go that didn’t serve me. I thought I had the chaos under control by reacting in calmness and identifying what was in my control and what was not. I was rolling with life. Except I rolled myself right into a heap of anxiety that threatened to eat me alive, even more so than the other MonSter I fight every damn day. So if I was managing it all very well, then what the hell happened and why am I lying here at 2 a.m. beating myself up for every right action that I didn’t take and every wrong action that I did? It was raw. Self-loathing found the loose string and started sprinting, unraveling me at a rate I could not even keep up with. There were no tears. It was seething anger. How did I get here? Each time I asked myself, I answered with more fury and detriment to myself. I couldn’t shake it and I am not even sure how I eventually fell asleep.
In the rational moments of that night two theories came to mind. And first I just want to put this right here in written word: the universe gives you what you need when you need it. And I feel it especially waves it’s hands right in your face when you are too blind to have seen the foreshadowing in the first place. Life is so ironic in that way.
Theory #1: I abandoned all things wellness. I stopped riding my bike. I stopped strength training. I allowed myself to stray far away from eating well. I put my writing on pause. I got lost. “I” did this over almost 4 months worth of time. In the moments that have long passed I pointed the finger to moving, work and kid’s activities. Too busy. Too many lingering to-do’s. All along though, it was my choice. Now I am left with some physical setbacks and the only place to go is forward. I can climb out. “I” can.
Theory #2: I succumbed to my ego. Again. I was aiming for perfection instead of accepting that I am perfect just as I am. And when I couldn’t achieve perfect in a nice little box, I blew up. Thankfully the universe finally handed me what I have been missing for years. Unfortunately, the universe handed it to me well after things got ugly. The universe handed me a simple article that magically popped up during social media surfing that was about mood swings in people with MS. The article was written much like this one. An identification of things gone wrong, the shame and embarrassment felt at a level so deep that it manifests as despair, and then acceptance. The key word. Acceptance.
It is not always easy to accept traits about yourself that aren’t glamorous. I feel acceptance is the key to better management. Something as simple as a hug can break down the heat bubbling inside. You know when you beat your head against a wall trying to change something or someone and when you finally accept what it is or who they are your trajectory turns a corner that often feels more clear? This is acceptance. I have suppressed anxiety so much of my life although it has taken form in different ways during times when I am overloaded. I am trying so hard to avoid the word stress. I rarely feel stressed but as a recovering perfectionist I tend to pile my plate quite high.
In college the stress turned anxiety took shape as OCD. I would recite my next day’s schedule in my mind over and over by time until I articulated each word properly and fluidly. No mistakes. A hiccup in my recital meant I had to start over, from the beginning. Alarm is set for 8:00 to wake up. By 8:15 I will hop in the shower. By 9:00 I have to start walking to class. Class ends at 10:10. Head over to the library, arrive by 10:20…and so on. Calculated down to the minute for the entire day and articulated in my mind without a flaw. Over and over again. Often times I did this until I fell asleep. It was a measure of control. You might be thinking I tipped the crazy scale. Crazy can be a high or a low. We have all experienced it. When I find myself with so much self-doubt and unworthiness, I pick up control mechanisms. They are a mask and I guess you could call it my crazy mask. Finding the article provided me perspective when I just thought I was doing a terrible job balancing my emotions. Thank you, universe.
I let all of this simmer for a few days before finishing my writing here. I was confused and the anxiety was bigger than I had ever experienced before. I wondered if there was more to uncover. Anxious was never a way I would have described myself. And I never labeled any feelings or experiences with anxiety. And truthfully I don’t quite understand the root trigger quite yet. At least at the depth at which it struck me.
It was the first time I felt that maybe I needed therapy outside of leaning on friends, keeping a journal, or reading to find common ground. To find meaningful answers. It was as if my foundation had up and vanished. The foundation where my feet are firmly planted in being grateful and living in peace. I struggled in those moments that night to center myself, to meditate out of it, to remember readings that have resonated with me the most throughout my journey so far. Before me stood fear and anger. It was a crossroad I had never had to take pause with, ever.
The real crazy part is I did not even feel tired the next day. I woke up on a mission to shed these horrible feelings. Take the temperature of my family who I brought down with me in blaze of non-gloriousness the day before. My son said I was being a bucket dipper which was his insanely wise four-year-old interpretation of the glass being half full instead of half empty. I was being a bucket dipper. I was carelessly slopping my happiness bucket around until it wasn’t half full any more. I sat for a day or so with my feelings. The universe presented itself when I was stable enough for the unglamorous ah-ha moment. The article showed up. Mood swings. How wonderful. How do you prepare your family for that? I’m sorry in advance if….no, no I wasn’t going to do that. Was this a character flaw or a self-imposed deficit? I made a list. How perfectionist of me, right? Alongside my list I jotted my affirmations. Treat others as you want to be treated. Be kind. I am peace.
I restored enough personal power in that exercise to ignore the to-do list and by focusing on those three things that really matter, I found everything else has fallen into place. Our home has been kind, and it has been peaceful these last several days. There are more smiles and more presence.
I realize that I am stuck within myself right now and this may even seem totally self-centered. I also realize I am not alone. You are not alone. We all battle our own demons regardless of your perception of what is significant or insignificant. It is your perception and another person’s problem. No judgment can be placed when you cannot walk in their shoes. There is no such thing. Tony Robbins in all of his self-help wisdom has said that the two feelings that throw us out of sync the most are fear and anger. The two very specific feelings that raged in me several days ago. He also goes on to say that you cannot be grateful and fearful at the same time. You cannot be grateful and angry at the same time. They cannot hold hands. There is no synergy between them. I had been stewing in these emotions for awhile until I burst. I literally burst. I was having trouble getting out of my own way. I am sharing this brief snapshot of my internal struggles with the hope that maybe you can relate too and that you don’t willingly see 2 a.m. Or at least not for very long if you find yourself awake and need the peace of mind to get back to sleep. I am not alone. You are not alone. One deep breath in, one deep breath out. The sun will shine the next day and we will be restored. It is a crossroad that we can approach with clarity. Proceed in light (and not in the darkness that is 2 a.m. like heyyyyy…)