(Song Dedication: Ticket to Ride by The Beatles)
Okay guys, my anxiety has been really all-up-in-my-business lately. Like tight chest, elevated heart rate, looming sense of doom, neck breathing (I swear I didn’t even know that was a thing til I wrote it…but not even chest breaths, let alone a deep belly breath), spinning thoughts, discrediting self-talk, exhausted, irritable, how bout I try eating that chocolate to 1)give myself a fucking break from myself for 30 seconds (liar, you know you can take down a salted chocolate caramel in 12) and B)you poor thing, you deserve this chocolaty moment of reprieve for all the hard work you’re doing…
But hold that thought for a moment…What hard work is this you speak of? It’s summer break. No teaching. Some photography sessions (which you enjoy). Road trips. Warm Weather. Parenting…like a lot of fucking parenting…oh…okay…here we go…the honesty train has just pulled into the MFing station and it’s time to pay if you wanna ticket to ride.
If knowledge is power*, and with great power comes great responsibility ** (*Sir Francis Bacon & **Voltaire…or was it Spiderman’s Uncle Ben)…whoa…did I just make a super quote?! I think so. But ya…great responsibility…that currently feels a bit crushing on me like the impact my body will make with the fast approaching sidewalk below if Spiderman doesn’t swing in on his gross wrist spiderwebs and save me from that impending doom I have been feeling.
WTAF are you talking about? I know! This is my mind on Anxiety (aka steady drip of adrenaline and cortisol). What do I need? I need to settle. I need release. I need a break from the imaginary threat my neuroception keeps sending- so many false signals, like flares, one after another, for days, but my ship is floating…just bobbing along in calm waters with nothing to obstruct my course for weeks….ah, wait a second…there it is.
It is the presence of nothing that is throwing me off kilter. My Nervous System likes obstacles! It likes check points and schedules. It likes structure. When she doesn’t have much to schedule around and there is a seemingly vast ocean of quiet laid out in her path for another 3 weeks, she kicks into hypervigilance mode. And that’s okay. She has been designed this way from her inception, formed in chronic unpredictability, adversity and trauma, she dutifully slips back into high alert when feeling idle. As in, I know that sneaky-ass icebreg is lurking somewhere, there is ALWAYS an iceberg…and you bloody well know if you don’t get up in that crowsnest that Bitch is gonna take you down. I also have a terrible case of “I must do to feel worthy as a human” syndrome. So then I have placed this again, imaginary expectation, that I must read more and know more, in order to prepare me for what the future might bring, I get a little flare-trigger happy.
And here is the part that really makes me chuckle, what the future might bring is so hypothetical that it gives me tummy cramps I am laughing so hard. Like Dude, you don’t even have a JOB lined up for the fall! Other than I continue my Applied Educational Neuroscience Certification at the end of August, I have no teaching position to apply it to. That is kinda funny. Or is it a hope and a prayer and a belief in the Universe that it will all unfold as it is meant to (still laughing a bit though). Sure hope the Universe gives me some people to work with, oh wait…maybe it’s asking me to work with me for the time being. Probably <sigh>.
So the powerful knowledge I possess does feel a bit like superpowers. Like it can save a lot of people. I mean, a lot. That is a dangerous perception to have though, so I will work right now to reframe this grave sense-of-saving into something of hope and belief that those who need this knowing most (like myself), will find it however and whenever their ship pulls into the safety of a port.
Right now I am working through Deb Dana’s work on Polyvagal Theory which is deeply enmeshed with Applied Educational Neuroscience. Literally as of today I jumped down this rabbit hole as Stephen Porges’ work and my recent work as a Social Emotional Teacher has lead me to all of this education I am starved for. And I think many, educators, students and their families are craving this compassionate knowing too.
While also reading “Childhood Disrupted” by Donna Jackson Nakazawa, I stopped yesterday and wrote this on a sticky note as we (my anxiety and I) were doing the dishes, What if we stopped trying to think our way out of problems & instead allowed ourselves to feel our way through them. Then What?
Several hours later, Instagram lured me in with an answer to my question. SoundsTrue was offering a discounted rate on Deb Dana’s digital download of Befriending Your Nervous System and since I had been contemplating UNfriending my Nervous System for being such a pain in my ass, I signed us (me and my anxiety) up.
Today after a few sections of intent listening and notes, I found my literal answer to my Then What? It was this, If we allowed ourselves the sensations and feelings during difficult moments this would honour our Nervous System’s need to help us regulate more naturally in the Ventral Vagal (Green Zone or Evolved part of our brain -aka Wise Leader). We would use the knowledge of Polyvagal Theory and AEN to live our best life of connection, compassion and well-being.
Cue the belly breaths because this nervous system needs some effing oxygen, ya’ll.
In closing I wanted to share ‘Worry’. I drew this little guy recently during an art session with my son. I took great care and attention as I brought him to life. Something about him held my heart and I wanted to make him real. As I shaded him into something of reality, I thought about how I was like him. This scared little puffer fish, with no one around for miles, looking up to the surface for reassurance or threat; afraid to take a breath because if he did he might blow up and hurt someone.
Erratic words of knowing barfed once again all over yet another post. But once again, breathing and feeling calm. Pain in my chest gone. Brain Fog cleared. Just a little puffer fish, trying to find a current to swim with rather than brace against. Knowing it is in our nature to let go and blow shit up every now and again. And in that allowing, I am able to get back into my evolved brain and start over. Knowing that this prolonged holding didn’t take me completely back to square one, only a few steps backward and I am recovered, once again.
It’s hard work that I am capable of.