I have written quite a bit so far about how I ate my negative feelings. My shame and pain. But I also ate my good feelings. My joy and excitement. My happiness. This may not make sense to you. It doesn’t make sense to me either. I didn’t even know I did that until I stopped. But real joy is intense and confusing to me. And I have never been good at riding the waves. It is easier to be numb. And I am never numb anymore.
When my feelings get unmanageable, I have generally had three strategies. The first, which I no longer utilize, was to eat. Sugar. That would get me numb for a while and then make me feel bad about myself. Problem with joy? Problem solved. The second, which I am doing less and less lately, is to make a rash decision and take a drastic action. Specifically, to make a big ol’ mess of things. Then there is no need to deal with that feeling. There are too many things to do in order to get my life square again. And the third is what a friend of mine calls Pick A Panic, Any Panic. (I can still get stuck in this one. Baby steps, Kate.)
Pick a panic has the advantage of providing all of the drama of making rash decisions, but without all that mess. I can keep it contained enough to only hurt and torment myself. This eliminates a lot of the guilt associated with lashing out at others. But it’s also harder to distinguish. My panic occurs to me as real, not like I fabricated it. Pick a panic is very close to the highs and lows of compulsive sugar eating. I’m guessing that’s actually where my brain learned it. And did it so often and so regularly that it doesn’t even need the sugar anymore. Pick a panic is useful if your goal is to get worked up enough to declare certain doom unto yourself, quit, and return the damp cocoon of resignation.
So let’s get to men (ok, just one man) and my heart. And happiness. I asked the man I like if he liked me. (See! I did take a risk with my heart!) And wow, did he give me a response! He positively touched me. I felt so incredibly honored and appreciated. The whole thing left me speechless. It made me really really happy!
Which makes me really really uncomfortable.
So I want to pick a panic. Any panic. About all of my faults and flaws. About not being pretty enough. About fucking up. About time and money. About logistics. About how many beautiful women there are in the world and where they are located. About the uncertainty of the future. Really. Any one will do.
While I am letting my panic blossom and flourish, I am never thinking about where it will ultimately lead. But panic is a straight line to resignation for me. It is the first step down the short, desperate road to…well, anywhere but here where I’m uncomfortable. Where I have to deal with life, and other human beings. Or, God forbid, joy!
So what’s the remedy for panic? Now. Here. This moment exactly as it is. Being still. Being quiet. Not panicking.
I am responsible for my thoughts. And I know what it takes to change my mind. And not just on a particular subject or issue. I know what it takes to change my thinking. Meditation. Standing still. Taking in. Being.
And it turns out I like these practices. They take the pressure off. They remind me that I am not in charge of the world or anyone in it but myself. That I have only one responsibility; to live. To be in the place and moment that I am in. To do the next right thing.
Basically, I think the cure for panic is surrender. And I believe that surrender is a grace. In other words, you don’t work at it, you receive it. I want to keep myself open. Eyes, ears, arms, heart, and mind. I want to be available for grace and peace. I want to be available for this moment. Whatever moment it is. And if it’s joy, intense and confusing, may I know how blessed I am.