It’s 12.24 in the morning. I’ve been trying to sleep since 10.30 pm but it just isn’t working out right now. I feel a well of anxiety bubbling inside my ribs. It feels heavy. I’m trying to feel out the shape of it. But it isn’t regular – not spherical or triangular. It’s just a weird alien mass. I don’t know how it diffused into my body. I don’t remembering permitting it entry but now it’s here, getting comfortable.
Initially, anxiety was familiar only because I’ve interacted with people who have it. But since late last year I’ve become host to this very uncomfortable feeling, like an itch that you can’t scratch. When I experience it, it feels like pure adrenaline. I can feel my blood in my veins. My saliva tastes metallic. Breaths are only productive if I pay careful attention to them – a difficult thing to do since my attention span shortens considerably in these moments.
I am trying to do the things that usually help me feel better: colouring with crayons (I don’t care how odd it is for a thirty-something to have a box of Crayola sitting on her desk), reading Rumi (who is very calming and doesn’t make me feel like all of life is pointless) or writing (which is obviously what I’m doing now.)
I guess the point of doing these things is to locate the source of the anxiety. To fiddle around with colours or words (mine or someone else’s) and see if a mini-enlightenment will be unearthed.
Today’s magic wand was the Crayola: I don’t remember the last time I was truly alone with myself. The lockdown (deemed ‘Circuit Breaker’ in Singapore but I’m going to call a spade a spade) means that I’m living second-in and second-out with my fellow non-essential-services family. Though there haven’t been any arguments, I feel that I’m losing sight of my boundaries. Where there were once bold clear lines, there are only faded blurry ones. I am an ombré of everything around me. Light flowing into darker tones. I want to say blackness but thankfully, I don’t think I am there yet.
To me, being alone means Just Me. Zero external stimulation. No phone, no YouTube video. No episode of Friends (the one where Joey, Ross and Chandler play Bamboozled) playing in the background because I find their voices soothing. No dog. No music. No family. Nothing that morphs my identity or yanks out a label other than ‘Just Me’.
Perhaps it’s a collective anxiety. So strong and palpable that even the cosmos is struggling to neutralize it. It’s terrifying, thinking of how fragile this little blue egg we live on and abuse wantonly, is. I like to think that something beautiful will come out of all this…
I know what I need is to be by myself. To shut out everyone, everything and walk endlessly. Or sit in stillness. I haven’t done that in so long. Meditation doesn’t work unless it’s a practice. Getting your mind to stay clam and serene is a habit that needs to be cultivated. I can’t pull it out of my ass whenever I need a quick fix.
I still feel the thrumming in my body but it’s quieter now. I can sift through my thoughts a little better. I don’t feel compelled to pick up every single one.
I do feel pulled to pick this one up though: What am I supposed to learn in all this? I know that I’m supposed to emerge from this different. That I can’t walk out of this the same way I stumbled in. I just don’t know what that is yet. Until then, I will (try very very hard to) make this deep discomfort my home.