No, I am not anxious! I am not having an anxiety attack! That is ridiculous. Why would I have an anxiety attack? Of course, there was no mistaking the telltale signs of rapid heart rate, feeling short of breath, and the overall sense of anxiety. That would be an anxiety attack. Uh, oh now I am feeling dizzy as well.
I start reassuring myself with thoughts like: “no, that is not an anxiety attack, you are just dying, now, try to do it quietly and before anyone sees you.” Too late, one of those overly caring individuals with too much time on his or her hands then tells me: “you look tired.” Aagh, that is much worse. I thought I was keeping my insanity to myself, but now I realize the anxiety is written across my face. This anxiety is making me look ugly. Oh no!
I take a deep breath and think, what could I possibly be anxious about? Hmm…let me think. I have injured my back. That is certainly painful. It feels like it will take forever to heal. What else? Well, I did suffer a couple of miscarriages a few months ago. I am sorrowful about that. My marriage is, well, okay I have anxiety about that. Yep, I think that I have good reason to be anxious. In fact I have many good (not really good) reasons to be anxious.
All right, I am going with it. I am having this anxiety attack. I admit it! I am freaking out a little bit. Okay, more than just a little bit, I am freaking out a lot. I want to avoid thinking about these heartaches and obstacles. I want to believe that these sorrows just roll off this duck’s back.
Somehow I should be better at dealing with life’s uncertainties because I am a priest. Somehow I should continually feel a peace which passes all understanding at all times and in all places in the face of personal terrors. I should not be afraid, but I am afraid.
I feel anxious, frightened and alone. I feel like my life is a total disaster. I feel like a fool trying to pretend that my life is not a mess. But I thank God that I do feel because I would stink as a priest otherwise. I would stink as a person.
At times like this, I find myself surrounded by a great cloud of messy witnesses. I find out that those around me are struggling as well. Little by little, the walls we put around ourselves start dissolving. We see the individual hidden behind that wall, bruised but alive. He or she has been waiting, and waiting for a moment to emerge, to tell his or her sad story also, and to tell the truth. The tears tumble down, the breathing hitches, and the anxiety is gone.
Yes, I have reason to be anxious, but somehow by admitting it, I know it is going to be okay. The anxiety attack stops. I laugh a little realizing that maybe having an anxiety attack is okay. I can laugh. The anxiety is gone, for now, but it knows where to find me.