Yesterday I found myself in a mental tailspin. My family and I had just returned home from a weekend of camping with friends at one of our favorite spots. A weekend like that usually leaves me excited, thankful and full of joy. But, as I stood in the kitchen making dinner, my breath quickened, my temperature rose, and the anxiety swelled. I felt out of control and panicked. The smallest details of the past few days flew threw my mind – I could have done more. I could have looked better. I could have eaten less. I am a mess. I am not good enough.
Anxiety and I are old foes. This was nothing new, but it was disturbing and frightening nonetheless. Disturbing because I have already claimed victory over these anxious thoughts and behaviors. Disturbing because it was a reminder that anxiety will never cease to battle against me. Frightening because I was caught off guard and unprepared to fight back.
I felt physically swollen and huge. Convinced that the clothes I was wearing were to tight, I hurried upstairs to change.
I returned to the empty kitchen feeling exposed and painfully vulnerable. I stood there paralyzed with anxiety, fright and panic. I was defenseless against the lies swarming inside my head – they confused me and ruined my frame of reference of what is real and true. I didn’t know how to battle the lies and find my balance. I struggled to find my way and realized I wasn’t going to without help.
At that moment, Isaac walked into the kitchen.
Tell him. Ask for help. It’s okay. He can handle it. He will still love you. Ready, set, go. Do it. He is in this with you.
They were as much thoughts as they were truths that he has spent 10 years convincing me of. Practice makes perfect. I fell right into our old drill.
Hey Love, I need to say this out loud. I am struggling with some anxious thoughts right now. It’s weird. This hasn’t happened, at least not like this, for years. It’s all of my body image stuff coming back. This is so weird.
He looked at me and nodded. “Okay. You’re okay.”
He stood close. I fought against my shame and maintained eye contact as I let my thoughts spill out onto our kitchen floor.
He listened and hugged me. The panic was leaving, but still I felt confused and disoriented.
I stepped back and looked at him, taking a deep breath. It was my way of asking him to help me find the truth. He got it. He remembered. He told me who I really was – he spoke of my value as a wife, mom, friend, person. He said it with absolute confidence. I didn’t argue, but nodded in affirmation of every truth. I closed my eyes and let myself hear it. I breathed, slowly inhaling the truth and exhaling the lies. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.
My mind was calm. I could see the way out. I told myself to relax.
I am enough. I am enough. I am enough.
Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.
I pulled up a moment in my head – a moment that stood for truth. I focused my mind on a moment from earlier in the day. My family and I woke up in our tent that morning. It was chilly and early and we all smelled like bonfire. It was perfect. Simply the best.
That is the truth. The other stuff is meant to rob me from truth and joy. It’s the worst kind of bullshit.
It had been years since such an episode. It felt so familiar though. Back then, it was a daily thing for me… for us. We knew the battle inside and out. We fought hard and came out on top. Now, we’re old pro’s. We are one hell of a team, Isaac and I.
I woke up this morning feeling fresh and relieved. My mind was calm and full of truth. Victory.