I have periods of time when I feel my strength and amazingness – I feel stillness, with a solid foundation of knowing who I am, I feel my ‘yumminess’, my essence. I also have periods when I just can’t connect to this, even though I know it is there, always, inside me.
There are many things that take me away from this stillness, this steadiness, for example; worrying about my family, thinking about work and clients, or needing things to be a certain way. But what tops them all is anxiousness.
In this life, I have been anxious for as long as I can remember. I accepted this as par for the course because I was born during a civil war where there were curfews and convoys. We then moved to another country with high levels of crime and violence – so of course I was anxious!
As a young child I would lie in bed praying, begging God to just let me sleep through the night so that I wouldn’t be aware of noises outside or a creepy feeling like beings in my room. I honed my skill of thinking – thinking about something else to distract me from the anxiousness I was feeling; planning a party in my head, or how I might redecorate my room, or how my wedding would be one day.
If I could just distract myself and think ‘happy thoughts’ until I fell asleep, I would be okay. But night after night I would wake up terrified and run through to my parents’ or my brother’s room – sleeping in their bed or on the floor, anywhere to not be alone and scared.
Six and a half years ago in my mid 30’s I moved to Australia and slept through the night for the first time without anxiousness. But it crept back in and I resorted to logic to deal with it. I would tell myself that I was being ridiculous, that there was no reason to be scared.
I would get up and look outside to prove that nothing was there, and would harden up if I felt that creepy feeling around me. It seemed to work… I had no reason to be scared.
Then one day I became anxious when driving, especially on freeways and through tunnels. This escalated into what I would describe as a panic attack and I would feel like I might pass out. I would try to connect to my gentle breath which wasn’t possible while gasping for air.
So again I hardened up and brought out the logic; “People drive through this tunnel every day,” “you are not afraid to die, so what are you scared of?” “there are exit doors, so if you get stuck you have an escape route,” “you are ridiculous” etc.
I decided that feeling anxious is ‘bad’ and unnecessary, so would try everything to not feel it.
A couple of weeks ago I was driving on a busy freeway and could feel the anxiousness rise. As I started to berate myself, I was inspired to ‘just feel it and don’t fight it.’ What happened felt like a miracle – the anxiousness didn’t disappear, but definitely released its hold.
There was no escalation into feeling like my head would explode or that I would pass out. At the same time as feeling the anxiousness, I could feel my inner strength and power. I could feel my essence and that the anxiousness wasn’t me. When I felt it, it couldn’t consume me. In this, I realised that I have labelled certain emotions and feelings as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
By not allowing myself to feel everything that is there to feel, I have also prevented myself from feeling amazing. Whether we like it or not, we do feel everything all of the time and can’t ‘pick and choose’ what we are prepared or not prepared to feel.
It is like saying there are some colours that I don’t like so I refuse to see them; I will only allow myself to sense the colours that I do like, that I deem acceptable. The only way to do that is to shut my eyes and see none, and harden my body to not feel what I feel.
The lesson for me is acceptance. Acceptance of who I am, acceptance of occurrences in my life, letting go of trying to control what can’t be controlled.
I may have lived during wars, but the real fight was within me. By preventing myself from feeling all there is to feel (the good, the bad and the ugly) I prevented myself from connecting to my divine essence and being all that I am.
By Carmin Hall, Brisbane