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Running in the darkness

A wise, young woman said to me, "It's like I'm running in the dark! I don't know what will jump out at me. Is it a monster, a wolf or a ghost." I sat with that definition of anxiety that she stated so clearly and allowed it to simmer for a while. This thing, we call anxiety, and how it gets ahold of us, shuts us down into a box of fear, stifling our growth, our creativity, and our joy is finally made a little more sense to me.

You see, I've been flipping anxiety on it's underside for years. I relate it so much to fear - I am afraid I will lose my family, so I create "worst case scenarios" in my mind and plan for each one of them to try to be prepared for any and all situations, even that monster that doesn't exist. I could spend enormous amounts of time on this planning. Slowly stepping away from the beauty of the present. I have no idea what will happen in the future. The fact that I even think about all these negative outcomes explains how anxiety can become a habit that is truly a health care crisis. I grew up with a mama who lives in the future... constant and never ending projecting us forward, never just being in the moment.. So, I too, adopted that habit. I have to admit, there have only been two times in my life when I actually had an anxiety attack. Both revolved around me feeling like my body had completely betrayed me.

It was three days before Christmas and there was a lot of stress during that week for me. I tend to spend a lot of time trying to pick out the perfect gift - which is totally ridiculous, but at any rate, I found myself having tingling sensations in my face and jaw that morning. Then, I started feeling numbness in my right arm. I remember clearly saying to my co-workers, "Hey listen, I don't know what's going on with me this morning, but my face is going numb on my right side." At this moment, everything went south. My husband told me to get to the hospital pronto... I felt his fear which tripled my own fear and literally didn't even ask anyone to take me to the hospital, I just grabbed my keys and got in my truck to drive to the hospital. I completely lost my shit on the five minute drive to the hospital, never even thinking, wait a minute, I'm driving - I'm fine. Nope, my mind had already went into, "you are having a stroke, you are going to lose consciousness at any moment, pray you get to the emergency room doors before that happens. I was shaking all over when I stumbled into the emergency room. They took me right in and said, "How did you get here?" Through my sobbing, I exclaimed, "I drove here." Tests were run, monitors of all sorts hooked up to me, IV fluids were given along with a very warm blanket that I truly appreciated at that moment. And then my husband arrived. "Are you ok?" he said. I could see how concerned he was. "I don't know." I said in a whisper. I didn't know why my body and my mind had just had a battle and I was caught in the cross fire. A part of me couldn't believe I had reacted so quickly back at the office that I didn't wait for someone to drive me there like I should have. I was obviously not thinking clearly. That day, the darkness had monsters coming at me that were going to take my life away. I wasn't going to wait around for someone else to take charge. They sent me home that afternoon with a clear directive to take it easy - from now on.

The other time was quite similar accept I hadn't eaten anything that morning and when I passed out on the floor, I thought for sure it was because I had accidently touched mouse poison while I was cleaning behind our washer and dryer. That time still creates a laugh in my belly. I had forgotten to eat breakfast, fully driven by the days work to be done. Yes, I am sometimes my own worst enemy.

As a little girl, I always loved the dark. I loved sitting in it and being as silent as possible to see what I could hear. We grew up out in the country and spent many nights hunting raccoons with our father. It meant nothing for me to walk my little brother home a half a mile away from our farm and walk back out to where my father was with the coonhounds. I've never been afraid of the dark. There are times when the energy in the wind has something to say to me, but most of the time, it is all good. I revel in the fact that signals are all around us and we need not concern ourselves with every single one of them, but at the same time, it is a gift to notice them each day. During a visualization exercise, I was able to spend more time with my own darkness and what it means to me. A wolf emerged on a path and beckoned me to follow her into a space that was nothing but black. I mean the darkest black that you could imagine, and it was so comforting to me. She was also black, with amber eyes. I knew she was ahead of me with a sense of pure faith and trust and nothing about this darkness felt wrong. Ahead, there were trees and fog, and sunlight shining through the trees. It was one of the most beautiful visuals I have ever seen. She stopped and looked back at me as if to say, "Aren't you coming?" Then she was gone. My time with her was short, but that gift of knowing when I am surrounded by my own darkness, I can always rely on my faith that good things are meant for me, not bad things. Anxiety is a terrible affliction that has many repercussions in our lives. It is a health crisis as much as obesity, additions, and over working. And yet, all of these things can be prevented and healed with no drugs, no operations, no invasive treatments. The darkness and lightness that we have within us is all good. When I gave myself time and space to sit with both of them, I realized there is no need to run... When I walk, everything is good.

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