Art inspires art, which inspires more art.
Friend and co-blogger Rita Goldner piggy-backed off of my notion that blogs about writing can really become blogs about anything… even Girl Scout Cookies. She shared The Story of the Edmund Fitzgerald today on the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion blog. You can read the full story there, but what inspired me to write this post was one little piece of the tale…
[Captain] McSorley [of the Edmund Fitzgerald] … didn’t send out a distress signal, and his last words were, “We are holding our own.”
I occasionally have anxiety attacks. They used to be a lot more frequent and way more severe. This morning, I had an attack. By the time I got my kids to school (on time, thankfully) and myself to work, I felt like a total failure.
My hand hurts, because I slapped the wall… after my kids were in the car and out of view.
My heart hurts, because I never want my children to think that my anxiety is their fault.
My head hurts, because this stupid anxiety doesn’t make any sense.
I have an amazing life. I really do. Sure, there are issues and problems and grumbly moments, but really, there’s no “good” reason for anxiety to take hold, crop up, and ultimately take over the moment.
And yet… it still does.
When I read Rita’s post, and I came to that line about McSorley’s last words, it made me realize the difference between my “now” and my “then.” My anxiety used to cause tunnel-vision and a kind of detachment from reality. That doesn’t happen anymore. They used to last for hours. Now I can bring myself down in a matter of minutes. This morning, when my husband asked what was wrong, I said, clearly, “Anxiety, and I’m having an attack.”
Just a few years ago, I’d never have been able to say those words. I’d be like McSorley, unable to grasp the gravity of the moment, thinking all was well and that I had everything under control, even as I was losing it.
Now I know when to throw up the lifeline.
How did I get to this point? Well, that’s a long story. And I’m almost certain that sharing it won’t help the next person get to where I am, because everyone’s journey is different. But if I had to boil it down to one, single thing… the one idea that has led me from “anxious hot mess” to “mostly OK”… I’d say it’s living authentically.
I’ve made changes in my life to pursue my passions.
I’ve put myself in a place where I’m appreciated by those around me.
I’ve said goodbye to toxic people, and I’ve removed them from my sphere of influence.
I’ve attempted to right the wrongs of my own past, admit to failings and mistakes, and make amends with those who deserve them.
I’ve learned (though I’m still learning) how to say “no” in order to avoid personal over-commitment and the resulting burnout.
I’ve learned to trust the good friends… the ones who love me like family.
I’ve learned that it’s entirely fine to just be myself no matter where I am or who I’m with. Being anything else only causes future complications that are entirely avoidable.
I’ve placed importance and priority on taking time for my soul and taking care of my body.
And most importantly, I’ve learned to say the words, “No, I’m not OK. I am most certainly not holding my own.”
I’m not sure if the anxiety I feel from time to time is because of my upbringing, or if it’s the result of any number of shitty life choices, or if it’s just genetically me. All I know is that I don’t want to be the ship that breaks in half and plunges to the bottom of a frigid lake 17 miles from shore. To that end, I’ll continue working on throwing out those distress calls when needed.
I’m not a failure, regardless of how I felt this morning. I’m a work in progress, and I’ll continue working on loving who I am, anxiety and all.