The doctor finally got back to me. It’s anxiety, pure and simple. She says that the Holter monitor didn’t detect anything irregular, but she believes believes believes me when I say I’m feeling things.
I went this long weekend without any racing, fluttering, stuttering or skipping. This morning one of the first emails I read stressed me out considerably. It seemed accusing. It was CC’ed to many. Its tone sounded accusing and it appeared in a rather public venue. My heart raced and I experienced a strange sensation something akin to sweating but it was inside and not out. My reaction/response/reply wasn’t terrible but it probably wasn’t the best. I wish I could do it again, but with the way I felt at the time I’m astonished that my response was as close to good as it was.
There it was again. Racing heart and feeling like I could die for a second. It went away. Thank God. The racing was replaced with an achey feeling in my chest. Then the stuttery flutters returned intermittently throughout the day. I can’t live like this.
After work, my boyfriend had bad news about a friend who is more like a family member than a friend. It hurt to see him hurt. It hurt to feel helpless and not be able to do more than hug him and tell him I’ll do ANYTHING to help and really mean it. My wanting to help has a peculiar urgency to it. I wish he’d ask me to defrost his freezer or mow his lawn or do some little stupid ANYTHING so I can feel like I’m doing something …. when there’s nothing I can do.
I went to my AA meeting and discussed my stress. I discussed how my defects of character pop up when I’m scared and how hard they are to let go of when I feel so foolishly protected by them.
The discussion centered on step 6 – “Were entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.” I discussed how in having time in the program, my world view changed and I became more trusting. The better I got, the better the world looked. Trust was built. Little by little, I didn’t “need” many of my defects of character to protect me. I didn’t “need” to lie to save my ass or to make people like me better. I didn’t “need” to lash out at people out of fear of their attacks, attacks that might never come. I didn’t need to do a lot of things.
That “willingness” was created, growing just a little bit at a time. It grew as slowly as hair. You can look in the mirror day after day and look the same as “yesterday.” But in a year? Your hair is an inch longer? Three inches longer? It’s noticeable, whatever the numeric is.
And here I am. Here I am, trusting the world a lot less. One lady likened her character defects to porcupine quills and how they stand at attention, ready to prick when she’s scared. I’m feeling very “sharp” right now myself.
But if I get too “sharp” then the people who seem to be setting me up for failure will have succeeded. I will become the person they say I am.
I have to keep being me. I have to keep being true to myself and keep plugging on. I need to respect myself in the end. And in the beginning and in the middle.
They say that the worst punishment for the liar is not that people don’t believe him, but that he doesn’t believe other people. Because I was such an angry person who did angry things, I saw the world as being like that. I would retaliate against things that hadn’t even been done to me … yet. Today I wouldn’t end that sentence with the word “yet.” Back then I would.
As I became better in AA, I started to see the world as more positive, more helpful, more compassionate … more of the things I was becoming.
I can say that it’s been probably a decade since I felt like I had an enemy – with the exception of myself at times. Now I feel like I do, like there is someone that really intends to harm me. This has me being hypervigilant and scared and sticking up my quills. I have to remember that one or two people are not the whole world. I also have to remember that the world hasn’t changed. I was just naive in thinking that being a good person would mean the world would always treat me fairly. There’s an expression that goes: “thinking the world will always treat you fairly because you’re a good person is like thinking a bull won’t come after you because you’re a vegetarian.”
And so it is. I have to retract the quills. I have to go out in the world and be a lady of grace and dignity and accept what ever comes my way. Even if it makes my heart flutter uncomfortably. Even if it makes my body tense up. Even if it creates tension headaches. AND I need to ask for help. AND I need to pray more.
My heart experienced many sensations today from the stressful flutters to the heaviness that comes from loving someone and feeling their pain to another sensation this evening:
My brother died on St. Patrick’s Day 2009. He was 24 and seemingly in good health. It was unexpected. I miss him terribly and sometimes I could cry like a 2-year old having a tantrum out of wanting to talk to him RIGHT now. Sometimes I see his picture or think of something he said or I’ll see his posture and smile in a guy of similar build and of similar age – and then this unspeakably achey feeling creeps into my heart and guts and soul. That achey feeling is steady and solid and heavy.
Tonight I picked my son up from my mom after the AA meeting. She had a plastic grocery bag full of papers and pictures. I thumbed through them with dim enthusiasm – some old half-assed pictures from my college level b&w photography classs – some badly written poems coming from the standpoint of teenaged angst ….. a diary from 8th grade.
Then …. there it was. A piece of paper blanketed in opaque wax paper, a “moth” of brittle flower petals glued in between. I smiled and the tears came. The paper trembled in my shaking hands. The “moth” was crafted by my then 5-year old brother. In its heyday it was a vibrant pink butterfly with green grassy antennae.
The grief felt like a physical entity sitting on my chest. My heart pounded slowly and steadily but assertively. I could almost hear it in my head. I stared at the moth, my tears blurring it. I smiled stupidly at it.
Then there were the group photos of the “kids” when they were little. My sisters and brother were quite younger than me and they have the same parents while they and I only share the same father (I detest the term “half-sibling.” It’s not half the love. And it’s not half a person. I envision a set of legs or a torso when I hear the words “half-sister” or “half-brother”).
My heart felt like it was on a fast-moving dumb waiter, sinking fast and rising quickly. Seeing pictures of my brother when he was little seem to sting me more piercingly than the more “recent” photos. Fragmented memories raced through my head, repeatedly replaced by new ones. None would stick. I stared at the moth. I think he gave it to me at his grandparents’ house. In the greenhouse. Where it was warm and full of life. Green life. Warm and full of life. Like his eyes.
At this very moment, my heart feels “normal.” Meaning it doesn’t feel like anything. It beats consistently, dependably, constantly. I don’t feel a thing. Or maybe I do, but I’m so used to the rhythmn that I take it for granted and therefore “don’t” feel it. But this nothingness, this nada, this niente feels good. It feels right.
What a day.