“The real truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together for a time, then they fall back apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that.” – Pema Chodron
This is the longest I have gone without publishing a blog. I’m confident if you went back and charted my blog’s history, you would be able to predict when my anxiety was on an up-swing based on how often I write. More writing = less anxiety. Less writing … you get the idea. I’m forcing myself to write something, ANYTHING to break this non-writing trend.
I have heard writers and artists say that their depression helps them create beautiful pieces. I wish anxiety was the same way, but for me it isn’t. My brain can’t sit still. It can’t take the luxury of sitting down and putting my thoughts on paper. Mid-sentence my brain interrupts my train of thought and reminds me I REALLY HAVE OTHER SUPER IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOW. In fact, anxiety convinces me the world may fall apart if I don’t stop and immediately tend to my ever lengthening to-do list. Writing this right now feels like an act of rebellion against my anxiety. It feels next to impossible to write something beautiful or something funny or something anything other than hurried, because that’s how my brain feels right now.
Anxiety promises me that there is not enough. Not enough time, not enough resources, not enough anything. It promises me that something bad is right around the corner. It tells me to hurry up, to stay ever on alert, to not let myself relax for one single second OR ELSE.
Since I wrote Riding the Wave, my anxiety has been low. I made it through the last half of Spring, Summer, and Fall relatively anxiety free. Started to think I had it all figured out. But, as the brilliant Pema Chodron reminds us, I didn’t really solve anything. I’m not really convinced anxiety can be “solved”. Things come together, then they fall apart. I am in a ‘falling apart’ stage. That sounds pretty dramatic. And as I have written before, I’m confident that nobody except for those the very closest to me can notice that anything is wrong at all. But the beautiful thing her quote reminds me is that things will come together again. And fall back apart. And come back together.
It sort of makes my heart stand still for a minute when I’m reminded of this. I see it with absolutely everything in my life. Relationships drift apart and then come back stronger than before. Money is so tight, we don’t really know how we are going to “make it”, and then money flows in from places we never expected. My daughter is the picture of sweet perfection this week, and next week she tantrums every day. People love my writing, I have requests for interviews and requests for re-publications and then there are crickets. Things ebb and flow. Things fall apart and come together. And fall back apart. And come back together.
The message in this is all at once comforting and disconcerting for a recovering Type A control freak like me. It reminds me that the one thing I can count on is that things will keep changing. They will continue to fall apart and come back together. When thing are mid-falling-apart, the promise they will come back together in time is the sweetest relief. When things are together, the promise that someday things will not be this way can feel terrifying, can tempt me into lessening my joy by worrying about the future. Or it can remind me to sink in the present moments of joy and then open my hands and let it all go, the trying to control, trying to save, trying to desperately hang on at all costs to the way things are RIGHT NOW.
I have waxed poetic about my relationship with my husband in many a blog. But its that relationship that reminds me everything is going to be ok. Our relationship has undergone massive restructuring over the thirteen years since we first started dating. I think back on how desperately I dug my heels into the ground, insisting that our relationship COULD NOT CHANGE or it would die. How many times in those years were filled with fear when things began to change? Too many. It took us years apart and a lot of growing up and experiencing life before I learned that what was ahead may be different than what we left behind, but it is nothing to fear. We re-find each other over and over and over.
I’m riding the wave again, but this time with the reminder that the next phase of this ride is the coming back together. The best part of all.