i've noticed a pattern in my life. when i'm feeling stuck and in a rut, i experience anxiety that manifests in the sudden formation of a knot in my stomach and an unbearable restlessness that permeates my skin from my legs up. i'll feel an intense and urgent need to go outside, to breathe in the fresh air and savor the openness of opportunity surrounding me. it hasn't happened often, only a handful of times, but when it does, the feeling is fierce and undeniable. i've come to recognize it as my body's not-so-subtle way of telling me that something in my life has to change.
when it happened last week, i immediately called my mom looking for empathy, nurture and guidance. suffice it to say, her response caught me off guard. "emily," she said, "be grateful." "grateful?" i responded indignantly. "yes, grateful" she said, this time assuredly. my sudden onset of anxiety was a sign that it was time to rev up, take action and make changes, she explained. right now. i knew what had to change. i had known what had to change for a long time. the way my mom saw it, after tolerating complacency for awhile, i now had the fortune of feeling motivated and energized to make those needed changes.
we formulated a short list of immediate to do's. i hung up the phone and returned to my desk at work, not quite convinced of my mom's advice, but not rejecting it outrightly either.
that night, as i lay in my bed mentally checking off each item on our list, i thought about a recent post , in which i rejected formalized life mantras and instead made a personal vow, to myself, to instead seek truth and honesty and presence in the now no matter how painful the emotion or difficult the moment.
that night, i made a decision. i chose to listen to my body and fulfill my commitment to myself. i chose honesty and acceptance. i chose to feel my frustration, boredom and disengagement and to feel it fully and openly. i chose to start making changes- to set plans with friends, to pursue opportunities that excited me and steer away from those that no longer did. i chose to re-engage with my life and re-claim it from CF. i knew the changes wouldn't be easy nor the effects immediate, but i pledged to keep putting one foot in front of the other and believe that i had the power to make things better.
with that commitment, my shawl of anxiety suddenly lightened. it didn’t disappear. it was still tangible, but it lessened and it no longer felt quite as repressive.
i know this wasn’t the last time i’ll find myself in a rut. i know i’ll feel that knot in my stomach and restlessness in my skin again sometime in the future. but this past week, i discovered the power of honesty, firsthand. next time, i’ll know to run outside, have my moment and have it out loud. it is precisely in that moment that i can choose to recognize what i’m feeling, accept where i am and make a plan to channel my discontentment into change. next time, i’ll know that the rumbling of my soul means change and relief are just around the corner and – yes, mom – maybe i’ll even feel just the tiniest bit grateful.