the firm grip of anxiety

I feel smothered by anxiety lately.

An invisible python has coiled itself tightly around me, squeezing the life out of me, and I just stand there, paralyzed in fear.

Will it kill me?

Will I ever get out?

It’s snuffed out my confidence, my passion, my motivation.

Will I ever write with conviction again?

How does one write emphatically about a truth they haven’t embraced themselves?

I’ve noticed that lately, how I’m not sure of anything these days, a disconnect between the head and heart.

One can’t encourage unless they’ve been encouraged, inspire unless they’ve been inspired.

And I’m not.

I haven’t heard from God lately, and that bothers me. I find myself at a loss for words, my heart void of passion, and I don’t even know where to look for it.

I long to be connected, to move forward, to seek wisdom, to find confidence and speak boldly, but I’m stuck…

Self-doubt so heavy it’s exhausting. Standards so high they’re debilitating.

I know I just need to start somewhere, but where exactly would that be?

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Dear Diary, Circa 1996

source
May 5, 1996

Dear Diary, 

It seemed like the perfect life…until now. It’s about to fall apart; hopefully not, however. Bad news.

Mom and dad will be separated as of tomorrow, Monday night. Dad is going to live in an apartment about 15 minutes away, for about two months. Maybe more, maybe less. This is to avoid divorce. Yes, you saw right, divorce.

They said that sometimes, grown-ups hurt each others feelings, but they don’t know it.

How? Don’t ask me.

They said it was complicated and no one really understood how it happens, or why, but it just does. It’s because of the differences in their personalities and how they view things, mom says. She also says she doesn’t expect me to understand, but I do. It’s like when dad doesn’t call her all day when he’s at work and doesn’t think it’s a big deal, but mom gets all mad.

Us kids don’t get enough credit for our ability to understand these days. If anything, I thing we understand the world more than anyone. We see it through the right eyes, the true, real ones. Personal opinion. If only our opinions stayed this way, as we grow, then the world wouldn’t be half as bad as it is now. When you’re kids, you think littering is bad, drugs are bad, smoking’s bad, polluting is bad; and when we grow up, those opinions disintegrate, and new ones are formed. All of a sudden, littering and smoking are okay. Freedom has something to do with this, too. 

I’m babbling, back to the subject.

The family doctor id the one who told mom and dad to separate. I hope he knows what he’s talking about. Well, I guess advice from anyone else but our stupid dentist is okay with me. Mom says we’ll still do family things, and dad will come to all our events and stuff, fix things around the house, take us places, etc., but just won’t be sleeping here. Like he’s out-of-town, but we can talk to him and call him. Divorce is the last thing they want to do; me, too.

It’s a pretty nice day out, about 60 degrees. The smell of freshly cut grass in the air, along with the cheeps and chirps of birds, is a great sign of spring. I hope the problem gets worked out okay, or the rest of the year will be wet, foggy, and stormy.

 

*************

I was fifteen.

Twenty years have passed since then, but I can remember the events of that day as if it were yesterday.

I remember the solemn look on mom’s face as she gathered us in the family room.

I remember her nervously wringing her hands as we sat in a circle for a “family meeting,” the very sound of which was highly suspicious.

I remember, although they spoke to us as a united front, that there was a disconnect. A helplessness. A despair in the air.

I remember thinking that this couldn’t be happening to us. Everyone thought we were the perfect family.

But a lot can happen in twenty years.

Looking back, I can clearly see now that I processed life through writing. I’d tell myself not to stop, that you do some of your best thinking that way. Don’t get discouraged by life, by suffering, by circumstance, but instead set out your tools. Line them up and prep the ground. Excavate there. And as you dig through the dirt and the mess, let it propel you forward into your dreams and calling.

And I’d tell myself that it’s going to be okay.

…to be continued…