(So that’s what it feels like )

I found it! I knew I had found the perfect opportunity. It came with just the right amount of rah-rah to keep me engaged, despite my clear lack of progress or success up to that point.  I intently watched and listened to everything that was being said, as the images flashed across my computer screen.  This was the thing I needed to finally rid myself of that awful pit in my stomach that reminded me that I wasn’t living up to my potential, or so I told myself.  I knew that if I just followed the instructions given to me by the “leaders”, I too would have success in just six short weeks. I just had to follow directions. I could do that! I was good at following directions.  As the meeting came to a close, I and the other ladies who were participating in the program, were given homework. It wasn’t anything difficult, like calculus problems or writing 500-word essays, like those I had had done in college. No, these were just easy questions about how we were going to implement the concepts we had learned from the meetings into our new “businesses”.  So, I turned off and closed my laptop and began focusing on the paper in front of me.  Gradually I started answering the questions one by one. As I made my way down the page, slowly thinking and then answering the questions, it happened. I felt a sensation in my body that was all too familiar. It was a heaviness on my chest that made me feel like I couldn’t breathe. In the past I always just ignored it, but something abut this time, made me notice it. I tried to just blow it off, and continue my assignment, but soon the heaviness was joined by a tightness in my throat. This too, I couldn’t help but notice. Then the familiar voice in my head chimed in, “You can’t do this”, “This is weird”, “If you do any of the things they’re suggesting, people will think you’re weird, and you won’t have any friends”, “You’re a loser, and no one likes you.”. The lump in my throat gradually grew as I tried to push the thoughts out of my mind, but it was to no avail. It was as if big black storm clouds had rolled in and did what naturally came next. It began to rain. Despite my greatest efforts, I couldn’t hold back the tears. I started to cry. It wasn’t cute feminine crying, but sobbing. I felt like I had finally found hope, only to have it ripped out of my hands by some cosmic guardian that knew what was in my best interest better than I did. I was dejected and defeated. And I couldn’t figure out why I this assignment was making me act so weird! For the first time, I had been granted the self awareness to separate what was happening to my body and my mind at the same time. Instead of pushing my emotions aside, I became curious. What was causing this response to something that seemed so inoccuous, so innocent? I had to know.

In the following days, I decided to quit “the program” and devote my free time on figuring out my shit. As I poured over my research, I discovered that what I had experienced, was something called, an anxiety attack. “Huh. ” I thought to myself. “So that’s what anxiety feels like.” I had been having these “anxiety attacks” my whole life, but they had been called, “getting hysterical”, or “being irrational” and you just sucked it up and learned to live with them and whatever was causing them. Whatever you did, you didn’t ask questions. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. I continued to learn things about myself that utterly blew my mind.

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