Anxiety is a sneaky devil. Its whispers start as a gentle breeze, but before you know it, you’re being flung around in a mental tornado of hell. One moment you are confident, convinced the words you are typing on the page are tiny lights stringing together to form the next shining work of literature. One moment you are chasing the dream of building a community that will foster the growth of other budding entrepreneurs, with no doubt in your mind you can disrupt the industry crowded with supposed experts who are mainly idiots. One moment you are sure last weekend’s date felt a connection with you and wants to pursue exploring that further.
That’s the calm before the storm. A focused mind, simply putting one foot in front of the other with your goal on the other side of the rainbow, complete with a smiling leprechaun and a fat pot of gold.
But then it starts, that gentle breeze whispering into your ear, “Every literary agent under the sun has rejected you, who says you’re ever going to make it?” “Who isn’t building these Mastermind communities of entrepreneurs? Your vision is nothing extraordinary. You’ll be back in corporate America before you can say ‘start-up failure.’” “Why would he want to pursue something with you? No one else has. He’ll see through your facade of so-called success. Delete his number.”
The whispers soon crank up the decibels, turning to screaming thoughts that you can’t even process fully with their rapid fire speed.
“You’re not going anywhere in life.”
“You’ll never be successful.”
“You’ll never get out of small town America.”
“Why would anyone ever love you, you moody psycho?” “You are a complete and utter fraud.”
“The cellulite on your thighs is disgusting.”
“Your friends are right. He’s stringing you along.” “You’ll stay in debt forever.” Etc. etc. Your mind has no boundaries when exploring the world of negativity. It gets even more colorful. The next thing you know, visions of you homeless sleeping outside a Subway, because McDonald’s has less class and more calories, are playing through your mind as a commercial for the future. “Or maybe,” your brain says, its videography becoming sharper and more fast paced. You live in your car, a leased white Jetta that has to be turned in within the next 90 days, but you live in denial as you utilize the local Planet Fitness for showering, wifi, and yes, working out. You may be homeless, but you will never have love handles.
“Oh god,” you think. “Just make it stop. Make it stop.” You grab your keys to the white Jetta and speed out of your apartment complex, with absolute zero destination planned. Anything to stop the nagging, racing, relentlessly negative thoughts that are flashing through your mind so fast that it’s like being at a horrible disco party.
It doesn’t matter how fast you drive. In fact, the faster you drive, the more focused your mind becomes at fortelling your future:
Now you’re not homeless. It’s worse.
You have an actual job where you are required to arrive at 8AM sharp or your Hitler-mustached, overweight boss saunters over to you and declares, “You’re worthless. 8:02 arrival is unacceptable.” However, you’re not really concentrating, because his yellow teeth are blinding you like the McDonald’s arch. Clearly there’s a theme for the disdain of McDonald’s here.
As a grand finale, Auntie Anxiety decides to take you on a trip into the deep future- because that’s what anxiety is- a creation of how the future will unfold with absolutely zero proof. Suddenly, as you speed down a nameless boulevard, you’re a well preserved 80-something living in a 55+ community in Lake Worth, Florida, because anything further south is too expensive as 95 creeps into bougie Boca Raton. Your indulgences now include “Early Bird” specials- aka, 5pm dinners with women who did not do enough research on their plastic surgeons before undergoing what was supposed to be a facelift and gossiping by the pool in your aging community, promptly named something like “Seashell Havens,” or “Flamingo Isles.” Although, neither place feels like a haven, nor have any flamingos been spotted. You contemplate this as the gaggle around Ashley, the Queen Bee, reminisces of their shark divorce lawyers stuffing as much money from their respective husband # 1’s financial pots as possible.
But you can’t join in the conversation. You never needed a divorce lawyer. No, you didn’t outlive your beloved.
You were never loveable or clever enough to trick a man into loving you for “the rest of my days.” The words ring in your ears just as loudly now sitting at the Flamingo Isles pool, without any flamingos running around, as they did for the past six decades: “Your friends are right. He’s stringing you along.”
Any eligible man left either wears dentures, can’t drive at night, a combination of the two, or worse: he doesn’t stay hard. Although, there is always Al, the grounds keeper. No one knows how old he is, he’s just been around for eternity. He’s probably slept with half of Seashell Havens / Flamingo Isles and carries a hefty case of chlamydia.
Well, you’ve just seen the next fifty years of your life in a flash, you realize as you pull into the Whole Foods parking lot. Since that was a blast, you do the only thing a woman would do who pretends to have her shit together but finds herself now crying in grocery store parking lot: You dig into your oversized tote bag littered with receipts and broken bronzer cases and find the pot of gold that is always there for you on the other side of the rainbow, your Xanax.
Xanax is so good natured, calming, maybe even-keel. It tells the devil invading your brain to go away, at least for the next four hours as it holds your hand and even rubs your back. The devil in the brain listens to Xanax, Empress of the Psych Meds, and goes off to rob someone else from experiencing any joy for the day. Hopefully that person at least has Ativan, Xanax’s boring step-sister.
Is there a “happy ending” to this story, where you don’t need to rely on a little pill to force out Auntie anxiety from your weak mind? You know, where you practice those “breathing” techniques your therapist preaches endlessly about?
Yeah, breathe in, breathe out. Whoop de do. Your therapist means well, of course. But every time you attempt to “slow your breathing,” the opposite happens, and within seconds you’re gasping for breath. Totally ineffective.
Is this a happy story? Not really. That fat pot of gold sitting on the other side of the rainbow has now disappeared at the end of a dark tunnel, filled with muddy puddles and bats.
Maybe not every story has a happy ending. Then again, what is an “ending?” Our story isn’t linear. It twists and curves, presents highs and lows, navigates life’s tornadoes and all that fun stuff. At this point, the goal seems to be this: enjoy those happy moments, because when Auntie Anxiety comes for a visit, she’s a real bitch.
Perhaps one day I will be able to ground myself, become a master of mindfulness and meditation, all that fun stuff. Then I won’t be a prisoner in Flamingo Isles. I won’t be a prisoner trapped in my own head.
My goal: Cancel Auntie Anxiety’s travel plans when she attempts to come for a visit. I really don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. And if I want to get that damn pot of gold, I guess I’ll have to order a flashlight and a pair of waterproof hiking boots from my boyfriend Jeff Bezos and trudge through the tunnel.
Do bats bite?