Retrospection 2021

sharBreathe in counting to four, hold it for seven and exhale for eight. Repeat… Repeat… Repeat. Yes, let’s do that one more time. That’s better now. Isn’t it?

The crushing tightness of anxiety has sat on my chest more times than I’d like to admit in 2021. My heart pounded in my chest, the waves of nausea flooding my senses as I run to be sick. My flesh vacillated from being overheated to being oh so cold. My focus waned – concentration gone. So tired, but yet unable to really sleep. My mind would not shut down. I’d drive from one place to another and realize I couldn’t remember how I’d gotten from here to there, but…I am home.

What is wrong with me?

What is wrong with me?

What is wrong with me?

This quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) doubter voice tries to trick me into believing something must be wrong with me.

But you, see there is nothing wrong with me. 2021 has been filled with many wins. I married the love of my life (wedding to come this summer) and moved back to my home town. We added a new puppy to our family. I crushed my reading goal and read/listened to 19 books. I participated in my company’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee and spoke up when it was uncomfortable. I paid off my credit card. My blood pressure is in the normal range after being high. I am in good place. I am safe. I am enough.

There is absolutely no reason for me to feel anxious. I should not be feeling anxious.

Or, should I? Moving, selling your house, getting married, helping one child adjust to starting a new high school and another move out on her own? I’d say those are pretty life changing events. Throw in a global pandemic (and refusal of a loved one to get vaccinated), being isolated working from home, the political polarization, assault on our democracy, racial injustices and unrest…and a triggering event…

Sitting in my living room, safe I unwittingly released long packaged up feeling of anxiety that I had shoved down and left unprocessed. Often times you’ll see an episode of a television show place a warning that it may be triggering. I never thought much about that and I never thought it applied to me. My family and I were watching the limited series The Maid on Netflix. It was a riveting show, but I should not have watched it. Several scenes triggered some memories that knocked those boxes off the shelf in my brain, releasing those feelings into my body. It felt like toxins in my body that I needed to purge. Even though I was safe and no longer in that place, the anxiety came back. The memories and fear came back along with the shame of not leaving sooner. (Someday I may write about that time and fully process those old feelings and fully heal. Maybe that will be 2022. )

Hmmm, why wouldn’t I feel anxious? So when those words try to haunt me again…What’s wrong with me? I cut myself a break and turn it around on myself. What’s right with me? My anxiety is a gift. It brings me great empathy and compassion for others. It makes me stronger. It makes me kinder. So while I may feel anxiety in 2022 my hope is that it will also be filled with mindful gratitude and positive self-talk. Time will tell.

My word for 2022 is “stretch.” I plan to focus on stretching myself a little more (not too thin though). More like when I am writing, I will stretch to write a minute longer or when I am walking I will stretch to walk one more lap. I will stretch to do that one thing outside my comfort zone – like attend a social justice conference where I won’t know anyone or speak up even when it’s not comfortable to do so.

What will you be focusing on in 2022?

2 thoughts on “Retrospection 2021

  1. Good on you for pushing through the anxiety. My daughter suffers from it as well, but like you, she is a fighter and continues to kick goals. My focus for 2022 is on finding peace within my new reality of unstable, inconsistent income. I’ll also continue to find a way to be a writer without much support or success.

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