*Look at the last post for an invitation to an online poetry reading, “Ritual Abuse Survivors Read Their Poems of Suffering and Healing,” on Saturday, July 10.
It wasn’t until about twenty years ago, when I first got a diagnosis of Chronic Anxiety Disorder, that it occurred to me that I might be chronically anxious. Who, me? What? I still seldom think of myself that way.
Yes, I am afraid of many things and I do get anxious quite frequently. But it’s not continual. And I seldom get full-fledged panic attacks. When I do, I really, really, hate them. On top of being anxious about whatever set off the panic attack, I experience an intense fear of dying because I believe my heart will suddenly give out under the stress. I’m really glad they don’t occur more often.
Can a few of you relate?
Depression is very different. I go for long periods being more or less depressed, and then, thanks to medications, I have nice long periods when I am not depressed. I can remember what it was like, but I cannot conjure up the actual feeling. Anxiety is different. If I start thinking about how something makes me anxious, I become anxious.
Tranquilizers mute my anxiety, but they don’t erase it completely, and besides, they are addictive. I therefore seldom take them – I save them for scheduled emergencies, like the dentist.
When I get very anxious, I talk to myself. “It’s okay, I’ve done this before and I managed to get through it. The fear went away as soon as I did it. But when I put it off, it stayed until I got up my courage and actually did it.”
I understand that I get afraid as an adult of things I was afraid of as a kid. Telephones, large public buildings, birthday “presents.” Sometimes I can get an image of the event that frightened me so deeply. A lot of the time I have to accept that, for now, I don’t know the awful thing that happened, but I do know that it’s natural for a kid to react with extreme fear and to want to avoid that thing forever. Unfortunately, here that thing is again and now I am a grown-up and I expect myself to deal with it, despite my fear. But it’s normal for me to be all freaked out; there is nothing wrong with me.
And I am not the only one, by far. My life coach, Katherine North (https://declaredominion.com/), who I quote a lot, is pretty damned anxious. This Saturday she wrote about coming to her terms with her chronically high level of anxiety and how she copes with it.
She copes with it like I do, by talking kindly and gently to herself. No shaming, no, “Afraid of a telephone? How silly. It doesn’t bite, you know. What a sissy you are.”
I say, instead, “It’s totally normal to be afraid after what you lived through. This is a perfectly normal, healthy reaction. But I’m here now, and I am thinking of all the times that nothing bad happened. I am sure nothing bad is going to happen this time – it might even be good! And when it is done, it’s done, and we can go have some fun.”
Katherine has a wonderful way with words. This is how she described it:
“It turns out that scared people have a LOT of practice being brave. I’m not afraid of feelings and being vulnerable. I’m scared of spreadsheets and insurance and hospitals and paperwork and passports and basements and permits and offices and elevators and airplanes and bugs and the dark and receptionists. (For starters.)”
“…by talking gently to the scared parts of ourselves in our biggest kindest grownup voices. Because after a certain point, I learned that if I was really really gentle with myself, even if I couldn’t get up jauntily, I could almost always slide myself across the floor one inch at a time.”
“You can do it, sweetheart! Just one more inch! Yes! Just one thirty-second tiny brave thing, and then you can rest! Good, you did it! Yes, now you can cry all you need to! You did it!”
“I’m brave because I’m scared and I keep trying anyway.”
“And I have walked many miles myself through thorny thickets of fear, which means that I have some good maps.”
At this point, I sat back and said, “What else do I want to write about?
I want to explain why this post is late. My computer froze when I was downloading a software update. It took me three calls to Apple, and the first person told me to leave it overnight to see if it finished up installing the software. It didn’t. I was a wreck! I was a little less of a wreck because I have a backup, but what if the backup is also frozen? My whole life is in that computer!!!
Well, on the third call they got it going again. I had a computer-less day, and it was very interesting to compare how that felt in contrast to my normal computer-filled days. I felt much freer and more spontaneous. But I also had so much anxiety that I was afraid that if I touched the computer I would break it for sure, and so I avoided it for a couple of days. Oh, well, stuff happens. I’m pretty much over it now.
Now my mind is turning to “Litany Against Fear,” from Frank Herbert’s book Dune.
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
There is a shorter version, which I think I like better. Both are from https://dune.fandom.com/wiki/Litany_Against_Fear.
“I will not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
I will face my fear.
I will let it pass through me.
When the fear has gone,
There shall be nothing.
Only I will remain.”
6/20 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/24 (?) St John’s Day
6/24 Full Moon
7/4 Independence Day
7/23 Full Moon
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Grand Climax
8/13 Friday the 13th
8/15 (?) Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
8/22 Full Moon
8/24 (?) St. Bartholomew’s Day
Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
7/18 Tisha B’Av (Jewish Day of Mourning)
7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices, and the equinoxes.)
* You can find more information on the following holidays at:
Summer Solstice (corrected text) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-feast-of-the-beast/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-ii/
Halloween (background) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
Yule/Winter Solstice https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/
Valentine’s Day https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
Easter: personal. (for background, see Spring Equinox) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/easter-blues/
Walpurgisnacht/May Eve: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/