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The Root of It All...

After nearly a month of travel (escape/running away/call it as you will), I am finally home again. I am finally back to stability. I know where my pillow is, where the water is and what temperature it will be, and that everything that is mine is here should I need it. Alhamdulila, it is a privilege having a home. But being back home also means I am back to whatever it is I have been running away from. And, to be honest, I was running from a lot. Essentially, I was running away from myself—from my anxiety and depression and overwhelming responsibility; from the gray skies and cold winter; from work and studies… from Life. So, I am not surprised that it all caught up with me soon after my return.

My lifelong partner, Anxiety, knocked on my door last night. I tried to ignore it by eating, binge-watching Attack on Titan (great show, by the way) and sleeping. Eventually, of course, it barged into my bedroom and life, and has been with me since.

I know why its here. I am anxious because I am faced everything again: working, studying, chores; being responsible. I struggle to breathe well. My gut is clenched. I want to cry. I have lost my appetite in the blink of an eye: while away, I was looking forward to fixing a cup of coffee in my black Friends mug and sipping it as I stare out my window and set an intention for the day—something I learned to do through my journey with this episode. However, this morning, I have no appetite whatsoever, so #ThatFirstSipFeeling will have to wait another day.

I am not back to square one with my anxiety. I know I have made significant progress this month and entire year. But I acknowledge that being back to Life has pushed me a few steps back. And, honestly, I am not too disappointed. I understand. I know that this is what progress looks like. One does not only move forward; there are missteps and falters, and we get on with it.

I have been yearning to write about my anxiety ever since I started this blog, but it always seemed like an overpowering force that I cannot capture with words. Where do I start? Which aspect do I focus on? Its too huge a monster. I want to write about how it sometimes feels like a toxic, controlling partner; about how it sometimes feels like the only (uncomfortable) comfort zone I know; about how I have a love-hate relationship with it, and how I try to appreciate it; about how I have developed coping mechanisms over fifteen+ years without knowing what it is I am facing. There is just too much to chew on here. So, I finally decide to do what I do best: take a deep breath and start with the here and now.

Today, my lifelong partner, Anxiety, is fighting to control me once again. And, once again, I am putting up a fight, because it is all I know to do—be a warrior and see it through because there must be a better life on the other end. I try to calm my anxiety by writing and practicing my Arabic calligraphy. It is nearly futile, but it does something new. It softens my heart and I find myself shedding a few tears[1]. Anxiety doesn’t usually lead to crying; it just leads to a miserably painful few hours.

My Anxiety grows stronger, so, I refocus on the here and now, and I ask myself: do I really want to be here? Is here part of the problem? Would I rather just quit life and live back home forever?

Or is this visit from Anxiety a normal part of the end of a vacation?

Logic says it is the latter. But my heart and tears say otherwise. They tell me life is easier where people speak your language. I ask myself, are my anxiety attacks more bearable when I’m back home? No. Will I not have responsibilities if I move back? No, I will still have responsibilities. So, is it responsibility that is really overwhelming me? I doubt it. I think it is my worldview; my perfectionist self; my unrealistically high expectations of myself and Life. This is why my anxiety is here, and though I work to dismantle my old view little by little, I do not know what will replace it. And that invites more anxiety.

Maybe the solution is to go back to the drawing board and rethink my life. I have tried to do that over this past month, but wasn’t able to get far. The crippling fear of Anxiety prevented me from opening this can of worms. Now that I am overwhelmed with anxiety, will I be able to? I do not know. I am too afraid to think things through. I would rather just throw in the towel and take a few more months off Life until my anxiety fades. But I know it won’t. My anxiety is glued to me. It won’t leave my side. It will still visit me when I’m away. And it will have grown into a roaring monster when I return. So, as tempting as running away seems, and as badly as I want it, I know it is not the answer. I am faced with the sobering fact that I need to do this the hard way. I need to confront Life. I need to go through the painful process of true change: changing my expectations of self; changing my goals and habits; changing my dynamics with everything and everyone around me.

I take a deep breath and ask God to help me…

And I finally find it in my heart to appreciate my anxiety. It is here for a reason. It is here because I am skilled at denial and running away, so it forces me to face things when its necessary to.

Back to the drawing board, I suppose…

[1] This (my tears) is new territory I’m treading with my anxiety, which feels like an accomplishment. We are taking our relationship to a new level. I am eager to explore this phase (as eager one could be when talking about a painful experience), which will take a while.


Photo: I am grateful to have art as a coping mechanism for all my internal troubles. They often provide an outlet and a short-term remedy...

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