I shared yesterday that I have given up alcohol and pills (Xanax) to suppress my emotions. I am, instead, using new tools being provided by my therapist to ride out my emotions without reacting to them.
This was put to the test last night. So far, I have been experiencing flashes of anxiety with no apparent cause. As long as I don’t react to them but, instead, just become compassionately aware of them, they pass.
That did not happen last night when I experienced a full-fledged flood of anxiety. I don’t know what the cause (trigger) was, which was really annoying. If I could have said to myself, “I am feeling X because of Y,” then I could have talked myself down and challenged the lie that was fueling the anxiety. However, because I had no idea why I was being flooded with anxiety, that didn’t work.
I tried using the same visualization that had been working successfully all week (and that I have used for years), but it did not work, either. I visualize that I have an “emotion magnet” that gathers the emotions as I breathe in deeply. Then, as I breathe out, the emotions flow out of my right side. I repeat this process until my mind and body relax. I don’t know why it has to be my right side, but this has worked very well for me, especially with mild triggers.
I tried doing some other things (watching a TV show, burning a lavender-vanilla-scented candle, etc.) to no avail. By now, it was bedtime, and I had to make a choice – Do I give in to the Xanax so I can sleep? Or do I ride this out?
I thought about another metaphor that my former yoga instructor taught me – I am the fire hose, and my emotions are the water coursing through it. No matter how powerful the water flow, I am the hose, not the water. This didn’t work, either … at first.
Then, I don’t know how it happened, but I latched onto my body – I don’t really know how else to describe this – and became very aware that I was grounded, solid, and safe in my body because my body is the hose. As soon as I made this connection, the intensity of the anxiety poured out of me, and I was left with the hose – my body – safe and no longer anxious.
I guess this is what multiple people have been trying to get me to do through deep breathing, etc. I have heard numerous times about grounding yourself through deep breathing, etc., but I never really made the connection about reaching out and grabbing onto my body as a grounding tool. I have mostly seen my body as the “enemy” since childhood because it was the vehicle used to hurt me. For the first time, I truly appreciated being attached to this body.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt