Monday, February 7, 2011

Living and Knowing Anxiety

Anxiety does not know itself and cannot know itself. Anxiety often barely knows what it fears: it knows the object of its fear well enough, but it does not fully know why it fears. Sometimes, it doesn't even fear that which it claims to fear, but something else entirely.

Oh, many times before I have canvassed a room with fear, tangoed with tension, waltzed with it across corners and over the ceiling tiles, my eyes averting faces, my mind averting anything but the beckoning of fear itself...

I have several friends who can be quite insecure, bemoaning their loneliness and lack of friends. Yet, through their defensiveness, they push people away because of that very insecurity. Sometimes I wonder how often I have done something similar.

How sad and disappointing it is that we so often reach out for a human connection, any kind of connection, and find ourselves grasping empty space.

What's in that space? What lurks between human beings who float indifferently, through the routine, glued to iPods and iPads and cell phones? What exists beneath us, underneath that unheralded territory? Perhaps you will forgive me for navigating to the edge of the map, toward those places long populated but rarely mentioned.

I have this desire to share my most embarrassing foibles and my most dispiriting tales of mishap and woe, to more fully share my overdramatizations and misunderstandings. I don't indulge myself, yet those are the stories of my life - those are the stories of the times that I've most often grown, and triumphed, and overcome.

As human beings, we all have a certain amount of fear, anxiety, and tension which we try to handle on our own. We all have a certain number of stories and secrets we may wish to share, but do not know how to reveal. We all have our hidden histories, our inner torments, our daily distortions.

What would happen if we brought this abyss into the daylight? What would happen if we stretched our shadows into shade? Our shared temptations and struggles could be the refuge for our continued living. I, however, must retreat from this talk of darkness and dimness, at least for a moment.

For all that I have said, anxiety still does not know itself. Sometimes I feel that if other people knew what I had been through, no matter how trivial or mundane, that it would be easier to feel strong and authentic. But I also tell myself again and again that I can't depend on an unknowable sense of how other people may view me for my feeling of well-being.

I know we're all trying to get by. I know I'm not the only one.

I'm not perfect. I'm a human being. And I wish I could allow myself the liberty of being one more often.

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