Today, when I stopped at a red light, I noticed that my hands hurt. I'd been clutching the steering wheel with such force that it left indentions in my palms and my fingers were stiff.
I held on like I was gripping the safety bar of a roller coaster, using muscles all the way up into my shoulders. In fact, my whole body was flexed with tension.
I have no idea why I do this, only that it's not the first time that I've caught myself in this state of constriction while at the wheel. I don't usually notice it until I arrive somewhere, like when the coaster glides safely back into the starting gate and you suddenly realize you've shit your pants.
This is the reason I suffer from panic attacks, because I don't realize my anxiety exists until it's got me pinned to the floor and is giving me a wet Willy.
I suppose it's power lies in my desperate need to pretend it doesn't exist. I am happy when I don't acknowledge it, I feel good. This is the worst battle strategy in the history of the world. That's like letting your enemy surround you completely while you close your eyes, stick your finger in your ears and loudly sing, "I'm happy, I'm happy, I'm happy" to yourself.
Maybe I just need to start drinking more. Maybe I need more sex. I think either of those are viable options that might work well in conjunction with just being more aware for crying out loud, of looking anxiety right in the face and declaring a staring contest, first one to blink loses. Honestly, I might not always win that contest but at least it's progress.
I once heard someone say, "monsters live in the dark." I generally put a lot of effort into fearing what I don't see and more importantly, what I refuse to look at. With a little courage though, I'm sure I can get out of bed, walk over to the closet, open the door and notice that what looked beastly in the shadows of my imagination, cowers when I flick the light switch and reveal it.
Or maybe it's a snarly, toothy, ceiling-tall beast whose breathe makes my spine clatter. Either way, I'll know what I'm up against.