I lived with anxiety long before I identified what the crushing, overwhelming panic was that surfaced from time to time. Often I would grit my teeth, dazed by the encompassing feeling that came over me. It was only a few years ago I realized what this lifelong experience was, and that it had a name: a panic attack.
A good handful of things all happening at the same time this month have brought up this *lovely* phenomena in me again recently, and driving home today I thought about its recurrence, and the conversations I had that led to the calm again.
I remembered my husband teaching me before we were married to go under the wave. This revolutionized my love for the ocean. Always an admirer of the sea and the sand, I somehow never could figure out on my own how to navigate the crashing waves. I would get tumbled, loose my breath, be pulled under, stuck in the crashing tumult. So his lesson was life changing: it taught me how to enjoy the experience of being in the water, not just admiring it from the shore. I feel exhilarated rather than afraid when I'm in the water now (more than I used to).
As I drove I realized it feels a bit like a metaphor for anxiety: the chaos of life comes regularly, like the waves, and we get to choose how to respond. We can hope it small and grit our teeth, or we can dive under the water.
Many (like me) need a guide to show them how to navigate the waters. Rather than being taken by the rush of water, my life-guides have taught me I can watch for the signs of the coming wave, take a deep breath, and dive under. I still feel the power of the water overhead--the complexity, or bigness of my circumstances--but holding my position while holding my breath, I can emerge unharmed and moving forward from this wave.