Sunday, August 14, 2016

Without Love, Where Would We Be Now?

Party lights in the bar at Cold Spring Tavern in the mountains above Santa Barbara

I wish I were a regular person. Like all those drivers speeding north on the 101 last night, seemingly without a care in the world, while I'm telling myself, you've got this just follow the taillights you can see the road you're just doing that thing where you feel like you're driving off into space but you're not. Really. And it was fine. Nothing scary happened. No close calls. No drama. I don't even know where the driving anxiety comes from and I'm not going to let it run my life. But it's there.

And the flying anxiety.

And the fear of heights. And confined spaces like middle airplane seats.

Driving in the mountains is a trifecta of anxieties. But sometimes I go there anyway--like today. And then if I stay overnight at high elevations, I sometimes have murder nightmares.

I think I had my first hypnagogic hallucination years ago in the mountains by Lake Tahoe when I was acting and traveling with a show that played school assembly programs. Every decade or so I have another one. It's that place between waking and sleeping when you're lying there in that crevice between worlds and you're not sure if what/who you're seeing is real life or a dream. Except you think it's real and find out later that it wasn't.

I had my first anxiety attack the day my mom and I went to talk to the social worker at the adoption agency about giving up my son for adoption. I couldn't stop shaking and panting and I was rendered cat got your tongue speechless. The next might have been a couple years later when I woke up from my second back surgery sobbing and shaking and terrified for no real reason.

The adrenaline level in my body is like the tides. In and out. High or not so high. And then oops, we're flooded. It doesn't bother me so much any more. Really, it's a million times better. Yoga. T'ai Chi Chih. A better diet. Enough sleep. It's okay, but I still envy the seemingly carefree.

The dancing man at Cold Spring Tavern today looked carefree. He was the only one, at first, on the dance floor, waiting to pounce into his routine as soon as the music started. His t-shirt said Fireproof and there was some biblical quote too. Hair and beard reminicient of Charles Manson, he had a fervent gleam in his eyes and danced as if it meant salvation. Maybe it did. Maybe he was up there saving all of us, letting anyone who was watching channel their anxieties through him. Later in the afternoon, he danced outside on the gravel patio. In the sunlight, I could see he had no front teeth and that the skin on his arms looked as though it hadn't seen the indoors in years. Still a half-dozen pretty women danced with him un-ironically. And who knows, maybe they were all regulars--the dancing man and the women and the bikers and the families.

Without love, where would we be now? were the song lyrics that followed me to the car while behind me, the man kept dancing. That song stayed in my head all the way down the mountain.


Ms. Moon said...

I can't seem to find words today but I absolutely recognize myself here.
I admire you in your ability to simply go ahead and get through these experiences which could paralyze you. So much.
I have seen that dancing man and wondered at him.
No, not THAT one, specifically, but I swear- could have been. Who knows? Maybe he (they) ARE saving us with their dance.
If so, I thank them.

37paddington said...

Is it adrenaline to blame for my ebbs and flows? is that the root cause of anxiety? oops, I'm suddenly flooded, no warning, just as you describe. i hope you have company going up or coming down the mountain. love.

Elizabeth said...

I find myself driving around crying of late, and I don't have much of an anxiety problem.

S Kay Murphy said...

I've read this twice now, it so resonated with me--once right after you posted it, and again today. I didn't read the novel Dune until I was in my fifties. Then I wished I'd read it as a teen, like most of my generation. It is the "litany against fear" from Dune that I find myself repeating quietly under my breath every time I have to go into a new situation that involves people I've never met. (Sometimes even shopping is difficult.) I know you know this. I'm just reminding myself here--because I've had to use it a lot lately....
Fear is the mind killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me....

Robyn said...

I hope you are feeling better now.