One of the things that has always driven my mom crazy is that I’m very open about my life. She hates that. “Why do you have to tell everybody everything, Kelly?” I don’t really have an answer for that.
Also, MOM, there are things I don’t tell people. Not a lot, but some. Sheesh. Anyway.
Yet, for the most part, I’m an open book. From my childhood mishaps to my adult embarrassing moments, it seems to me that it’s better to share and laugh about them. I mean, everyone needs a good laugh, and if it’s at my expense, I’m 100% okay with that.
Like many comedians, I was bullied as a child. Well, I would argue, like most people I was bullied as a child because everyone is bullied at one time or another. Due to my low self-esteem, I became more comfortable making other people laugh first, so that they would be laughing with me, or be laughing at what I wanted them to laugh at. Instead of them choosing what was funny about me, and making fun of me. It’s easier to make fun of yourself first, you know?
So, with all of that disclaimer out of the way, I have decided to be full disclosure with how suddenly, mid-pandemic, I have anxiety. I’m not really going to make-fun of myself, but I’m kind of going to make fun of myself.
Sure, I’ve always been nervous and a worrier, biting my nails and counting my fingers at times when moments get stressful but this is different. Now, for no reason whatsoever, I have chest crushing anxiety. I can’t figure out why.
It only happens when I go to places where people are, more than five or six people. Suddenly, it’s like there is a hand squeezing my chest. Similar to a vice grip. Mostly I feel really stupid about it because #1 I’m not afraid of people, and #2 I don’t feel scared. I’ll just be standing there thinking, “Do I want Red Vines today,” and then BOOM my heart hurts.
Side Note: I’m really healthy and I’m not having a heart attack. Had to get that out of the way just in case you were suddenly worried.
So, back to my weird thing. When it happens, my heart gets tighter and tighter, and I start to get the look of a timid rabbit. Like the ones from that awful movie they made about the book Watership Down. My husband notices instantly, and will quietly tell me to just go sit in the car while he finishes whatever errand we are running, and it’s all I can do to not sprint out of the building, looking all around hoping no one notices me, keeping my hands locked down at my side.
Then I kind think, “Oh no, someone is going to think I’m stealing something.” So, I slow down and walk super stiff because if I don’t move my arms I feel better? Holy cow does it look weird.
Isn’t that bizarre? I feel like it’s really bizarre.
So, I told my mom about it and she in-turn told me that I need to eat better. Ugh. It’s always about food with her (because I’m a vegetarian). “You need to eat more, you don’t eat enough.”
Okay, first of all. I eat. And I kinda feel like I eat all the time, but whatever.
My little sister told me that what I was feeling was perfectly normal. More than likely, other people who had been inside for a while were feeling the same things too, and that I should just allow my body to feel that way, and breathe through it. She also told me to go on a run, and that’s when I pretended to be getting another call and hung up because I’m not ever going to go on a run purposefully. Yuck.
However, Lydia’s words made me feel a little bit better. I do admit to looking up a number for a therapist so that I can make a phone call, too, just to be responsible. While I was doing that, I remembered a quote by the famous writer Rainer Rilke, “Let everything happen to you/ Beauty and terror/ Just keep going/ No feeling is final.”
No feeling is final.
How true is that?
In my life, I have lived through some harrowing moments. Other events that can only be described as beautiful, and of course the comedic (mostly thanks to the children). Each one of those moments has moved on, and it seems to me that the most terrifying moment was the one that taught me the most – and were usually the ones that ended up producing fantastic lessons that I can share with others when they need encouragement.
So, using Rilke’s words, I propel myself forward, even though I have this vice around my chest, repeating “no feeling is final,” reminding myself that I will not always feel this way.
This is a moment, in a line of a lot of other moments I have lived. The lesson is there, and I will find it.
I hope that you are navigating your “beauty and terror” with grace, and remember to “just keep going.”
Hopefully I’ll see you soon, and if I run off, don’t be offended. I’m just learning to deal with my new normal.