Honoring Anxiety (21 before 40)

I had a whole post written last night on day 22 before 40 but my phone deleted it before it posted and I was too frustrated to write it again, so here’s a quick recap…

For those of you who’ve been following my 40 Before 40 series, you may have noticed that it’s been a few days. On Tuesday I woke up with the 80 pound gorilla of anxiety sitting on my chest and I decided to give myself a break. 

See…it’s been awhile since I’ve been goal oriented in my life, but I’m partnering in accountability with some pretty amazing ladies to try to turn the ship in a new direction. And I’ve been taken by this idea of being a writer in the past 18 months or so as well. So as we were setting goals together about 3 weeks ago, I aimed high. In the next 8 weeks I wanted to finish the third draft of my screenplay, write blog posts for 40 days straight and start the outline process for a book I want to write. 

Confession: That’s an awful lot for a girl that’s gotten in the habit of telling herself she’s not capable of accomplishing the things she wants to do. 

The first week went along swimmingly and by 10 days in to the new goals, I had gotten through half the screenplay and was enjoying the blogosphere again. 

And then I gave myself a day off. 

I told myself I needed one when in reality, I probably didn’t. So instead of accessing my creativity that day, I accessed my television remote. 

Now, this isn’t in and of itself bad. We all need a lazy day once in awhile. But I didn’t actually give myself a day off. Instead, I played old negative tapes about me in and off throughout the day, calling myself lazy and not capable. Some of the old “who do you think you are” started to creep back in. Finally, after an almost full day of nothing I said…Chris! Can you just admit you’re not going to accomplish anything today and get back to it tomorrow?!

But by tomorrow, my motivation was gone. I “couldn’t” write a word. Tomorrow, work was crazy and I spent a second day getting off track. Also, I started noticing a bad habit that I had gotten better at – I was holding my breath a lot, having to remind myself to take in deep breaths. Four days later, I had another screenplay deadline looming and I hadn’t written another word so I woke up with a weight on my chest. 

It had been long enough since I had been in that space, that it took me almost a week to realize that anxiety was what to call it. For awhile, anxiety was a pretty constant companion after  depression decided not to stop hanging around as much. But my creative work seemed to have been keeping him at bay…until I realized that he had taken up this weight space on my chest again. 

Oh! Anxiety. I didn’t realize I had invited you for a visit. Sorry it took so long to notice you were here. But now that I’ve looked you in the eye, I think it’s time for you to leave again. 

I prayed. And I breathed. And then I started to notice things. I had an encouraging email in my inbox from a dear friend, there was a  blog post in my feed that touched on the very things I was feeling. I went to text a friend who has been working with me as a life coach and remembered that she had suggested I listen to a podcast – that turned out to be about how we are meant to be human beings and not human doings. I re-read the words of Jesus to a busy Martha – you worry about many things but only one thing is needed. 

So I gave myself permission to stop writing the blog for a few days to release some stress. I gave myself permission to go to Starbucks to write instead of staying in my cluttered apartment. 

When I picked up my coffee from the counter, the barista had (of course) misheard my name. 

  
GRACE. 

I honored my anxiety by giving it grace. And room to breathe. Not to control but to be acknowledged and comforted. 

And I sat down with my cup of coffee and my dose of grace and my writer’s blocked brain and wrote 42 pages that day. 

(This post is part of a series called 40 Before 40.  40 – or 30ish – blog posts in the 40 days before I turn 40 years old.  If you have an idea for a post topic, I’m taking suggestions so feel free to mention it in comments on WordPress or Facebook.)

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