I’ve blogged before about my anxiety issues, which have been with me for some considerable period now. However, the last few weeks of my life have brought a new development into the mix. I’m experiencing periods – sometimes hours long – of euphoria and a tremendous sense of inner peace. This, I am tremendously grateful for. However, it is in the nature of me to think about everything, to want to understand what is happening. After all, if I can unravel where this oasis of calm has come from, I might better be able to maintain it.
I think there are a number of strands to this. Firstly is, as previously commented, the strange, amorphous anxiety I live with has everything to do with reasons for fear having become normal in my life. There’s been a huge shift on that score. Emotionally, physically and psychologically I am very much safer these days. Home life is not fraught with tension and arguments, but is instead warm, companionable and supportive. Most days, nothing scary happens. And so by slow degrees fear has become less normal and happiness more so. I think somewhere in the last few weeks the balance tipped. My sense of normal is all about the life I now have, finally. Not being told off, not facing anger, not having to continually justify myself, makes a lot of difference.
I’ve taken up being gentler with myself, too – a deliberate move prompted in part by advice from my counsellor last year. I don’t push continually beyond the boundaries of my exhaustion. It helps a lot that I now have the support to rest when ill, to take it easy when tired and to take time off. And again, feeling more secure makes it easier to give time to myself.
I sleep more – because I give myself the time, because I am relaxed when I go to bed, I have nothing specifically to be anxious about in bed, so sleeping comes easily. If I do wake up in a state of panic – it still happens- there is someone lovely to curl up against. Often I’m the first to wake in the mornings, and when the day’s anxiety rush has passed, I’m overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude, and on some days the decadent pleasure of lying in as late as 8am, in good company.
Being valued by the people around me, has done a lot to ease my anxieties about myself, and to help me build a new sense of who I am, and my place in the world. This in turn contributes to my sense of calm. I do not need to prove anything, so much, these days. I am not short of friendly attention, I’m with someone who enjoys what I do. Pretty much all of it. That makes it far easier for me to enjoy what I do, too. And here again, this process of acceptance makes me feel more able to accept myself. It is not easy to be free from inner conflict when the external world is conflict laden. External peace makes it a lot easier to cultivate inner peace. Of course, inner peace that depend on a calm external reality is a partial sort of thing, and for best effect I need to be able to hold my calm optimism even in face of adversity, but that could well come, in time.
There was a time when I could not imagine feeling whole in myself. A time when I could not imagine being free from fear. That seems a long way behind me now. I got this far in no small part because other people did not give up on me, and did not let me crumble entirely into despair. And also because all the way through, I have dared to hope that maybe there was a possibility things could get better. Sustaining hope can be very hard work indeed.
I am full of gratitude for the small things, the little acts of warmth, compassion and kindness that crop up every day. The smallest beauties, the little moments of good fortune. And I know how to laugh at the setbacks. I’m writing this blog on a train station, because we got stuck behind a funeral, a tractor and a bus, and missed the one we were aiming for. It’s a small set back. A chance to linger longer, and I bought a book. I’m getting better at seeking out the silver linings and life is getting better at presenting them.
I’m going to blog more at some point about the relationship between the experience of slowing down, and the quest for inner peace, because that’s too huge a topic to cover in this round. As I type, the sun has just peeked out from behind the clouds again. The air smells of rain. My child is ambling about doing nothing in particular, my bloke appears to be deep in contemplation. I draw a deep breath. This is my life. My real life. The one I have. It is the life I want, and I’ve been a long time finding it, but ye gods I am glad that I did not give up.