It’s Passover today. One of my favorite holidays. The holiday where we tell the story of the Hebrews in slavery and bondage in Egypt and their escape to freedom, to Mount Sinai, and to the Holy Land. We are all slaves to something in our lives. Our cell phones. Unhealthy foods. A job. Unhealthy thoughts or feelings. We enslave ourselves. We are both the prisoner and the guard. We trap ourselves with “shoulds” and unrealistic expectations. I am enslaved by my anxiety.
It sits heavy on my chest like a large parasite, its claws digging deeply through my flesh and wrapped around muscle, tendon and bone. It’s not quite visible. I can see the reflection of its hard shell out of the corner of my eye. It is a physical sensation of weight and pressure. Sometimes it extends to my throat, choking me, gagging me. I can’t breath. I can’t eat. I’m overwhelmed with nausea, struggling for air. When I try to pull it off of me my hands meet with air. It paralyzes me from taking action. I can sit for hours, immobile, waiting for it to leave. But I don’t, not this time.
I force myself to get up and to move, to do. I try to ignore its heaviness. If I can focus elsewhere I can distract myself and I can almost not feel it. How do I escape you? How do I get rid of you? I have a trick.
When I’m at my worst and every muscle is rigid and electrified and my brain is unable to focus on anything but my complete and utter discomfort, instead of rejecting I accept. Who would want to accept this torture?? But I tell it, in my mind, “I accept you. I accept you. I accept you.” That’s the key somehow. My muscles relax and my brain has something positive to focus on. I keep repeating it, it’s my mantra, until my breathing has slowed. It’s still there, that mass, that creature, attached to my chest. But now it’s manageable. I can function again. One foot in front of the other. I will not let it win.