An Echo Off a Mountainside

mountains-2011776_1280
Image via pixabay

It feels like an avalanche. That’s what I told my best friend last night. It’s like an avalanche and when it happens, it buries me.

When it happens, it feels as if there beneath a pile of snow, a piece of myself dies. That there’s no getting out from under it all. I give up beneath the weight and whatever finally emerges is a colorless ghost of what remains below.

I’m trying not to think in those terms anymore. I told her I really want to try to instead imagine that as soon as the avalanche runs its course, I begin scraping away. And maybe my fingers leave streaks of blood across the white of the snow and ice. But I emerge, whole, ready to keep trudging along and fight my way to the top. Holding tight to all the things that make me who I am, no matter how far away the top always seems.

I’d never described shame in these terms before.

Mainly because it isn’t something I ever talk about. With her or anyone else. Even in therapy.

My therapist knows it is something I struggle with. But I’ve never shared details about the things that invite that avalanche. The desires and emotions that feel like screams against a snowy, fragile mountainside.

I don’t know how it got to this point. I only know that radical acceptance feels like the only answer.

I support you. I want you to have that. That sounds wonderful for you.

I told my husband once that those are the only words I want to hear. When I share some part of myself with someone, those are the only words I want to hear in return. Anything less, anything different, and I’m awash. I’m rolling backwards down that mountainside.

Buried once again.

I’m the girl in a corner somewhere being screamed at, spittle flying because the many ways I’m a disappointment, and a failure, and a slut, and a cunt, can’t even be described in any manner that’s calm. They have to be shouted with a vitriol that’s physical and dripping with disgust.

Those words, that screaming, never happen in any way in my life now. Nobody treats me that way now.

Except myself.

I climb halfway up a slippery, frozen mountainside just to admit something I desire. Something that isn’t what society may say is normal.

I finally voice it. Not in shouts, but in whispers.

I support you. I want you to have that. That sounds wonderful for you.

If that isn’t the echo that answers my whisper, if those words aren’t on the wind that rolls back in reply, it begins.

An avalanche of shame that buries me anew.

I’m trying to imagine that as soon as the avalanche runs its course, I begin scraping away. And maybe my fingers leave streaks of blood across the white of the snow and ice. But I emerge, whole, ready to keep trudging along and fight my way to the top.

Holding tight to all the things that make me who I am, no matter how far away the top always seems.

I’m trying to keep whispering. No matter what rolls back down the mountainside.

I’m trying.

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baby bird

Image via pixabay

 

You’re here, he says. You keep coming back. Let’s acknowledge the bravery in that.

I nod. Silent.

How does it feel for you to hear that?

I’m not brave enough to answer.

————

A friend mentioned fearlessness to me today and it hit me. That word doesn’t even exist in my vocabulary.

Fearless. Brave.

Those adjectives are fake storefronts propped up in an effort to convince anyone approaching that there isn’t a paper shack hidden behind, ready to blow over in a breeze. The truth is I keep going back to therapy out of desperation.

I keep going back for my kids.

I keep going back because I’m afraid of the alternative.

I keep going back because I don’t have insurance and they accept sliding scale fees.

Because so long as I feel as if I’m doing something, anything, to get better, I’ll hopefully keep putting one foot in front of another.

Because I don’t feel like I have a choice.

—————

That word fearlessness especially worries me. Maybe because my anxiety tends to translate into feelings of fear for me. So I would never ever use that word to describe myself.

I think I have sporadic moments of bravery and I think I can be tenacious. Calling for my first appointment took six months of working up the nerve after a two and a half year depression that rendered me barely able to answer a text, let alone ask for help.

Moments of bravery.

I’m determined to see this through until there’s a moment where I feel like I’ve done it. Like I’ve made sense of most of what I’m struggling with. I know there is never a finite end to working on all this stuff.

Well, except for death.

But I am hopeful there will come a time where I feel as if I’ve got enough tools in the toolbox, so to speak, that I can move forward without therapy.

Or at least without so much of it.

All of that, for me, comes from a place of fear. The fear that if I fall into a deep depression again I won’t make it out. Ever. Or alive.

—————

Another friend and I discussed self-acceptance.

Radical self-acceptance.

Refusing to compromise one’s identity.

That, to me, is where fearlessness and bravery take flight.

My wings are not yet feathered.

The Roar Only I Can Hear 

Image courtesy of 
Efes Kitap

Pay attention to your body and what it tells you.

But that isn’t always easy, especially at times when your body is rebelling. When it’s doing things that don’t feel good. That you feel you have no control over.

I’m in a dark room right now. Everything hurts. I want to sit at my computer to type this out, but I can’t physically bring myself to do so and emotionally . . . the small screen of my phone feels safer somehow. 

I want to pay attention though. I want to fight this. Anxiety is wearing me down. I can’t manage it anymore. Control of it slips further and further away, like a feral animal through a gate in the night.

So this is what my anxiety feels like. This is me paying attention and putting it to words. This is my experience. It may not be someone else’s. But keep it in mind the next time someone says they have anxiety and you think they look fine.

I start pretty okay. I had a meeting to attend this evening and I expected it to be pretty low key. I felt a low level of nervousness, just in regards to getting the kids where they all needed to be, making sure everyone would have dinner, and then getting myself out the door in time.

At the meeting, shit went sideways. Nothing awful. The outcome of the meeting was not affected at all. But dismissive language was used. 

My eyes welled up. My breathing felt tight.

All because I knew I was going to speak. There was no way I would sit there and not speak up.

I used a break in the meeting to step outside. I sat in my car in silence. And I wrote out a two minute speech. 

The meeting resumed and I gave my speech. 

By the time I got back to my seat, I felt lightheaded. As soon as the meeting was over, I left. Quietly, but immediately. Halfway to my car I felt tears on my cheeks.

I wasn’t upset.

The speech went really well and I was proud of what I’d said.

Tears are just how all of the pent up anxiety finally starts to release. Everything I didn’t allow anyone else to see. Like a pressure cooker finally releasing some of its steam.

There isn’t anywhere else for it to go. It finds its way into two tear drops that drag themselves from my soul, their hind legs paralyzed, in a bid for relief.

By the time I get home, just ten minutes later, my head is aching. My shoulders are in pain.

By the time I get in bed, two hours later, I have a full blown migraine. The back of my neck is sore from the pain radiating out of shoulders. My lower back feels like I’ve spent the day moving into a new home.

And I’m silent. 

I don’t make it known. I may mention I have a migraine as I pop ibuprofen. Other than that, I try not to make a big deal of it. As if ignoring it might make it go away.

Tomorrow I’ll be exhausted. Physically wrung out from the emotional turmoil.

Which always perplexes me. I spend the day in awe of my body and its reaction. 

How can I experience so much physical fallout from something nobody else can see?

A roar only I can hear.

At Sea

 

at sea
Photo Courtesy of Michal Jarmoluk
I’m trying to stay afloat.
Huge waves toss me because I’m nothing. They’re not enough to drown me, but enough to remind me I’m small in the face of it.
I flounder and kick, trying to right myself. To fling myself out straight onto my back, where I can bob atop the turmoil.
Get lost in the stars.
“I feel as if it’s behind me, but I can’t get away from it,” I whisper in therapy. “It’s this looming, grim reaper-type figure that’s always there. Always casting a shadow only I can see.”
So I seek the stars, knowing it isn’t there I’ll find relief. I just need something bright that’s all my own.
Something that will burn beneath my skin upon capture.
A guide to light my way.
The waves still and I remain silent. Prone.
The struggle ends, for the moment.
But the silence is where it’s hardest to breathe. Where my breath becomes shallow and caught in the small space between the top of my lungs and the base of my throat.
Caught there with my voice and all the words I cannot say and everything that longs to break open on shore.