It is roughly in the area of the solar plexus that I feel it, between my breasts and just a little lower. It quivers and won’t quiet down. It makes breathing difficult and makes me teary. It rolls in like waves to the shore. It is fear rising.
What I am distinctly aware of as I write this piece is that we are not supposed to feel fear, metaphysically we bring more negativity to us when we allow space for it, but for me I live with it like a soft animal that rises up and paws the air and won’t stop until I turn my attention to it. I have to acknowledge it, and take care of it. I have to embrace it and show it love and tenderness. That is not easy to do, not on a night like this, and when I say embrace it I don’t mean hang onto it. Embrace it, and let it go.
I could tell you what I am afraid about right now but it is simply part of a laundry list of things that changes and I am trying to see my way clear of living in this place. I am trying to come to this hollow place and face it directly. I am trying to understand why it seems to be part of my makeup, this slipping into this vast crevasse that feels as if it has no bottom and will never end. It is the blunt end of anxiety and it aims to swallow me whole. I will not let it.
Fear has come again. She is walking through the room and straight into me like a ghost but she doesn’t go straight through, she nestles inside me like an egg going back into the shell. She fits perfectly in this hollowed out place in my chest cavity but weighs nothing at all. She can breeze right through some days and at other times she just sits. I want to be rid of my fear.
I have been doing well. The holidays were lovely, but just before Christmas I got some hard news. And the hard news colored what should have been something very exciting a dark shade of grey. And I closed the door on it, led the fear by the hand out of my body and said, “Not during Christmas.” I pretended that it didn’t exist. It has to do with my security, this physical space where I live, and changes being made, and planned changes falling through, and new plans in the works that may or may not happen.
It has to do with uncertainty. I am not alone in my fear of uncertainty, but reminding myself of that isn’t a big help.
If I do not absolutely know what is going to happen every single minute the uncertainty might eat me alive. Isn’t that perfectly ridiculous? Life is uncertainty. To be afraid of uncertainty is to be afraid of life. This nonsense has to stop.
Is it part of being bipolar? I have a hard time understanding where bipolar stops and being human starts. It’s easy, when you have a basket of mental health diagnoses, the star of the group being bipolar disorder, which seems to be all the rage these days, to blame everything that happens — or doesn’t — on the diagnoses themselves, and to imagine that if we weren’t, say, bipolar, or didn’t have PTSD — which kept me awake off and on all night last night — or this anxiety dis-order which makes a muck and a muddle of things, life might be hunky dorey, as if other humans walking around who aren’t diagnosed with one of these things don’t feel the hard things that we feel sometimes. It would be easier if other people didn’t get, say, anxious, because then it would be clear cut. I am _________ so I will take this pill and go to therapy and get it all sorted out, like taking a car into the shop. It doesn’t work that way. And does it matter if the human side of me or the bipolar side is anxious? No. Right now I am trying to face down a Friday night without falling off the edge of a cliff into the hollow. That’s all I need to know.
If you have stayed with me this far then I thank you and understand that you, too, likely suffer from this hungry ghost as well and perhaps even on this night when I am struggling you are struggling too. I’m sorry. I wish I had an answer for you. I wish I had one for me. I’m afraid, and I want it to go away.
It has been a rainy day, a perfect backdrop for this blog post, with wind howling through the trees and around the corners of the house. It threatens to catch me up in it when I go outside with the dogs in the breaks in the rain, and pushes me hither and yon. I cling to the railing and coax the dogs to do their business and hurry back inside. Fear is in the wind.
I’m not certain why I wrote this blog post but I had to. It was one of those nights when I felt that if I wrote it I might understand it, or get a handle on it, or perhaps even help someone else who was struggling. If nothing else I can lace my fingers through the syllables on the page and hold on tight. If I go down I will pull letters right out of words and off the screen. I won’t go down without a fight.
I’m sorry about this grey post. I think the next one will have more life, more color, more breath, but if I need to I will write about these things again, because hiding them, or denying them makes it worse. I am stroking the soft animal inside me and coaxing her out. If I can close up the gap tonight I might be able to sleep. I need to sleep. I am searching for a quiet peace to fill the space. I want to send the hungry ghost away. If I can just sleep tonight I will have the strength to close the gap for another day.