I kicked a trash can across the room and screamed, “You f*cking b*tch!” and then I woke up.
I believe there’s some correlation to the way we wake up and the vibration we spend our day in and today was not the day to wake up fighting an imaginary character in the playbook of my anxiety through my dreams.
As I journaled, I heard the soft sound of my daughter asking, “Mommy, can I sleep five more minutes?” answered, “Yes, you can,” and headed for the shower.
Today is the first day of the second season of an empowerment camp I designed for adolescent girls. I tossed and turned all night praying that I will be guided throughout the week in guiding them on their journey. The little sleep I did get was spent dreaming of every possible thing that could go wrong.
These girls are our future leaders, my teachers, teaching me how to teach them, so they can go forth into the world and make movements simply by being who they are. I cry when I describe my love for who they are and what they are to become. They trust me. Their parents trust me. And apparently, God trusts me.
Visualizing washing off the gunk of my sleep state, I showered, mentally listing the things I’m grateful for in order to make a clean slate for the morning I’m being guided to guide. I had to show up better than this.
I checked my email—a congratulations email saying I’m getting published.
This should help. Right?
The day proceeded on. The girls declared their biggest take aways from the re-earthing we did, a day of meditating, dancing and designing their subconscious landscape. The day was about being present, about creating the Self rather than just responding to what we’re given. As they decided to hide from their parents at pick-up time, and stretch the week experience into the weekend, I stared in awe of the parents who left their children in my care for the day. Engineers, writers, healers, naturopaths, intellects—and rather than it feel honorable, I immediately questioned whether I was worthy.
I practice self-worth as someone coming from a past that preached worthlessness. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to a place where worth and I become bosom buddies attached at the soul. Intellectually I understand worth. Soulfully, I can only see it come alive in the magic of others…like these girls I’m here to guide.
Upon walking through the door after my long day, I was offered a just-because card from my best friend by the mail slot, telling me it was a beautiful card, just like me.
Proof! I am worthy! At least of a card, and the time she put into sending it, and the stamp, and the thought, and the friend.
I checked Facebook—a slew of messages asking how my partner is doing in the hospital and giving me blessings for my week at camp. A message from a campers mom offering me natural advice for my partners condition, and to let me know how well her daughter responds to the experience we’re giving her.
I checked my business page—two unlikes.
Immediately deflated. Immediately!
I was off to visit my partner at the hospital in my eight-months-pregnant body. He’d say it’s hormones. I say that this has been my life.
“Babe, I got published today. The girls loved it. I managed to carry everything this morning without you, which I was nervous about. One of the volunteers didn’t show up. Monica sent me a card. I’m safe. I’m being guided by a grasshopper in my meditations to have patience. I got a phone call from an inspirational friend with a story of how I started something for her that ended up amazing, and I didn’t even know. These girls love me and each other. Still, I find myself anxious and questioning myself. I meditated all day, I grounded myself all day, I clearly see the purpose of my day, and still…I feel anxious and worthless.”
He doesn’t get it. “Stacy, what was your GPA?”
I stared brazenly and rebelliously. I kind of wanted to slap him. I knew he was going to try to make this about me somehow being worthy because a stupid piece of paper says I am.
“Answer the question!”
Clearing lump in throat as I cross my arms in annoyance. “4.0 in grad school. 3.8 in undergrad.”
“And did you feel worthless when you got the 3.8?”
“I’ll say this: I cared more about getting the 3.8 than the 4.0. The 4.0 was whatever. The 3.8 stuck to me.”
I’ve lived in a world where striving to be better, meant striving to “do” more. I un-teach the learning of this mentality and still I find myself stuck in the quicksand of it.
I watched a show recently that teaches you how to get out of quicksand. It’s not actually like the old movies that you’ll get completely sucked in. People only die in quicksand because they can’t get out from their knees down and then the elements get to them. Extreme heat or cold, or ultimate dehydration if left there. The only way to get out is to wiggle your way out. If you wiggle your legs long enough it breaks the tension in small enough spaces that you can raise a leg up to climb out.
That’s kind of what it feels like I do on a daily basis. I used to let the anxiety of doing more to “be” better, or proving myself because the world said I had to, to “be somebody” suck me in with no tools to release myself. No notion that if I wiggled a bit, I could release myself from a slow-death-doomed bind.
Now, I wiggle a lot. But at least once a day, my subconscious takes me back to that same quicksand that reminds me I may never be able to stop wiggling to free myself over and over again.
My partner says that part of me must need to feel anxious. Maybe he’s right. Like a volunteer said today, “I kind of hold on to my fear because if I let go, what else would I have?” I know that insight all too well. I’ve reached the other side of what I would have if I let it go, but I still find myself having gorgeous days, filled with celebrations, and being deflated by two unlikes in a virtual world that I know to my core means nothing of my self-worth.
I was wired this way. I’ve spent years cutting these wires and every bout gets shorter and sometimes even less severe, but always, much shorter.
Much like some depressed people feel guilty for being depressed but have nothing to be depressed about, I wish the world knew that when anxiety comes, eventually the anxiety stems only from the fear of the anxiety itself. The fear that it will always remain.
I want to reject it. I want to heal it or overcome it. I feel bad about having it when my life is beyond blessed today. And still, I find myself daily wiggling out of a hole I used to live in with no thought of a possible way out. I can’t reject it. It’s got a high way in my brain, at least for now. The only thing I can do is wiggle with it. Get funky with it. And dance it, instead of letting it dance me.
It will probably never go away and it’s one hell of a dance partner. Today, I realized when all of their little hands raised when asked to share their experience of anxiety, that this dance, once against myself, now with myself, to do more, to be more, to prove myself, and ultimately, un-prove myself, is exactly why the people who I look up to, that drop their daughters off to journey with me, are honoring me, as their teacher.
One girl asked this morning, “Are we going to have a dance instructor?” and I said, “Yes! Of course! You’re her.”
In a way, I meant what I said, for her to guide us and herself throughout our dances. In another way, I realize in this very moment, I am so much more than an empoweress, a life coach, a therapist, a mother, a guide—I am also secretly a bad-ass subconscious dance instructor.
Anxiety has been my teacher and now I have my own students of its philosophy. And in this school of thought, we’re gonna dance our asses off.
Author: Stacy Hoch
Editor: Evan Yerburgh