Emotions are a funny thing. If you’re very lucky, they can make you feel as if your chest is swooping, your tummy does flips at the sight of something or someone you love. If you aren’t so lucky, a dark shadow creeps into your life and follows you, cowering over you in ways you’ve never thought possible. It manifests in odd ways; a sudden, overwhelming want to scream, to roll into a ball, to not only hit snooze but turn off your alarm permanently. If you’re me, there’s an OCD-like desire to clean the house, putting everything in its place and not moving it, perching in your octopus’s garden, or you may find yourself being ridiculed in the middle of a conference for obsessive hand-washing and cuticle massaging (It’s a problem. I’m working on it).
I don’t know what this is, and I have yet the desire to go pay someone to diagnose me with some sort of emotional disorder and prescribe medicine I wouldn’t take (I greatly dislike anything other than holistic or homeopathic remedies, and have an issue swallowing pills). Anxiety? Depression?
I experienced a similar feel after each of my grandparents passed. There was a sensation of panic- as if I was drowning in the middle of the ocean. Nothing to grab, no salvation in sight, sharks circling. After Mamaw, I was in college, finishing a degree, living in a tiny apartment over a little old lady’s garage. It was February, and I had three months of sympathetic professors, lots of depression meds, and weekly therapy sessions. Aside from the hour I was in that shrink’s chair, I only had to motivate myself to write papers from the safety of my bed, emailing classmates and instructors, never washing my hair, changing our of my pjs, or eating. With Papaw, I had just altered my career from the Director of Operations for a commercial brokerage into residential Real Estate. I had few clients and few reasons to leave the house, until a sense of panic- the feel of my heartbeat, the sound of blood rushing in my ears- made me sprint out the front door, escaping my black hole, and setting up a weekly coffee date with a friend and colleague, just to give me a schedule, something to look forward to.
Now? There is no hiding in my sheets. There are daily dog walks, clients, board meetings, responsibilities and schedules I cannot control that have forced me out into the world every day, holding hand to fire, demanding that I act, that I stick to that early morning alarm, and face the world. There is no defeat. There is no stopping.
Today, I broke for the first time in years, surrounded by a mess that I’m sure was my fault, knees pulled to my chest, bawling like a little kid in my dining room floor. If you were to ask me why, I honestly couldn’t tell you. But I had to get up off the floor, shower and go to a board meeting, had to socialize, had to give a report, focus on a group moving forward, else I would have stayed on that carpet and wept.
Why? Who knows? But I know something isn’t right. For so long now, I’ve half joked about needing an unplugged vacation. I want a week to have massages on the beach, go scuba diving, escape in a world where there is no sound, no cell phones, no email dings, no responsibilities other than the return trip to the airport to come home. I’m starting to think that that week is now not a want, but a need. The possibility that I may have a few days to completely step away from every hand I have tugging at me will either leave me refreshed or even more broken. Time away- quiet time- may do nothing more than give me reason to think about why my mind is hurting the way it is. An answer may come into mind, and I may hate it. I may be broken hearted at whatever change it is I need to make to be aboe to heal myself. But maybe, and I hope, maybe, I’ll be able to wake up one day, dig my toes into the sand, watch the sunrise and realize that all I need is to take a breath and give myself a break.