I’m in the calm before the storm.
But, the storm is coming. She is bound to come, as she blows in every week around this time–right before I’m scheduled to drive over and teach a weekly master class (How to Sing) to four high school girls, like I have many times before.
Her high winds whisper “You don’t know what you are doing. What’s the point, those girls won’t listen to you anyway? How are you going to fill two whole hours when you know nothing? You have nothing to wear that will cover how fat you are. You don’t deserve their respect, when you can’t even control a simple thing like eating.”
This storm sweeps away my confidence and strips me of all joy, as she tries to convince me that I don’t even like teaching anymore. “You should just quit already. Give up. Who do you think you are? You are not smart enough to educate these people. Your are an imperfect mess and they are going to see right through you if you go. It would be better to cancel. Just make up an excuse and cancel at the last minute. They are not going to care one way or the other. They might even be relieved to not have to attend!”
She also wants me to believe that carrying an extra 40-50 pounds is like wearing a sign that says “I have no control. I’m not worthy to gaze upon with compassion and admiration.”
She is unflinching in her dedication to slaying me with her daily insults and convincing “realities.”
Some days, no matter how heavy I am, the storm outweighs me. She wins. I get swept up in her “realities” and I cancel. I’ve used many excuses, including illness, sick relatives, car accidents, and more. I avoid all that she warns me against and at first I feel relieved. Safe in my home. Alone. No one will see me here.
But, I am not safe from shame. The shame seeps into my spiritual cracks, becoming so heavy that I must lay down. And soon I stay that way. Down.
Some days I carry her with me kicking and screaming. I get in my car and I drive to my class. The whole way there, I have to tell her that I MUST teach. I HAVE to teach, because we need the money. I DON’T want to get a reputation as a flake. And, I DO like teaching. I CAN make a difference as I have for so many years with hundreds of students. HUNDREDS. I will NOT let you flood me with negativity and drown me in fear.
She does back off once class has begun, once the joy of teaching, of helping others brightens the dark clouds she suspends around my heart. It doesn’t take long before I am drenched in the light of my own goodness, my own joy. With each note we sing, the storm becomes a memory.
I’m in charge here, not her.
3 thoughts on “On Anxiety: The Storm Inside”
aww. i really enjoyed this piece.
i can totally relate. i teach piano and some days it is so frustrating. i too wonder what good will become of it, especially when my students don’t progress; i often blame myself as a teacher, for my lack of wisdom, lack of patience, lack of creativity to teach it in a way that’s easier to grasp, etc…
but sometimes we aren’t meant to do the growing, but to do the planting. although you may not see the fruit right now, you’re planting seeds. keep on fighting the storm, keep on planting, keep on teaching. =)
Keep ignoring those negative thoughts. Show up and do the work. “The outcome is none of your business” is what I’ve been told.
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