Snap.

Monday night for a really long time I sat on the couch breathing deeply. I didn’t want to respond to the fairly innocuous texts waiting on my phone, I didn’t care enough about Netflix to pay attention, I couldn’t get on the mat because of an injury and I could feel that I was about to burst, so I just sat on the couch breathing. Breathe in, try to wrap my mind around the anxiety that was forming as anger in my core; breathe out and let it all go. It took a while but I finally calmed down, enough to pick up my phone and respond, press play on Arrested Development and wind down from the spike of emotions before going to sleep. Yesterday morning I went to meditate, as I do most mornings these days, and found I couldn’t sit still for anything, still agitated from the happenings of the previous day. What exactly set me off so much that I’m working through these cycles of quick anger and slow calm, even now at my desk? Nothing, really. This week I just snapped.

Anxiety is a bitch of an emotion with a lot of unpleasant physical symptoms to boot, as many people know and some know much better than others. I suffered from at-times crippling anxiety for many years; not that I couldn’t leave my apartment or had to leave my job crippling, but yelling at my friends and family for imagined indiscretions and hiding in an office bathroom crying kind of crippling. It’s one the reasons I love yoga so much. Yoga has made it really possible to calm myself down, to separate my Self from my anxiety, looking at it almost like a separate part of myself that I can subdue by not giving into its cries for attention. 9 times out of 10, that approach works for me. But sometimes all of that anxious energy builds up in me and I can’t find a way to get rid of it, and something tiny will set me off and it bursts out of me like  a firework, generally in the form of anger. Recently it’s been this vicious cycle; I can stay calm in moments that used to feed into anxious energy and instead the energy stores, until I get an unwanted text or Snapchat and it explodes in rage out of my body. It’s like I’ve finally learned how to calm down my anxiety but now I’ve created a whole new beast I need to face.

Anger is a scary emotion. It’s unpredictable and empowering at the same time; it feels good to release the anger on someone or something else, whether they deserve it or not. Anger is intoxicating in its own way; where Anxiety makes you want to crawl in a hole reliving that one embarrassing moment from middle school over and over, Anger gives you the power to yell, to assert yourself and your opinion. It gives you ammunition to fight for yourself in one way other, your views or your free time or whatever else may be offended. Anger is power; Anxiety is fear. Neither one of those matter when one is in a yogic state of mind, and yet even with all my Zen AF yogi training, I still have too many moments where I’m chasing that anger high, even though I know the come down can be just as bad as the original offending emotion.

Yesterday I felt it snap again, after trying to focus on the good things like how today is my Friday and and I have family to look forward to this weekend, but a text set me off and I spent the next three hours breathing myself through a fit of anger. I left the office in a huff, walked 20 blocks up to the subway stop up from the one I normally take to blow off some steam and proceeded to wait over 20 minutes for a train. After about minute fifteen I could feel the anger I’d been suppressing percolating like mad: fucking MTA. I just want to go home. Who are all these people trying to push me to look down an empty tunnel. The train is going to be uncomfortably crowded. I could feel my frustration wanting to emerge in tears, in yelling, in cursing, in something, just something to get it out of me and release that energy onto someone else who could handle it better.

But instead I took another deep breath and paid attention to my heartbeat and my thoughts. I appreciated the moment where I was just then: I wasn’t about to leave to take a cab home so I just had to wait, knowing eventually there would be a train and eventually I would be home. I stood, leaning against the painted metal of the station, and counted every inhale, and every exhale. The anger subsided just as the train rolled in and I leaned against the doors I knew wouldn’t open till the end of my trip and I kept breathing. At that moment a large group of loud tourists packed into the train and started yelling at each other across the car, but I just turned up my headphones and focused on the song in my ears. And as I poured all my attention into the melody flowing through each ear and through me, the song crooned “Life is in love. Life is in love. Life is in love.” I smiled, and replayed the song. I may have snapped the past week, finally breaking from Zen-yogi LB who has been running the show for weeks now, but she’ll come back always if I can remember those words: life isn’t in the intoxicating pull of yelling at strangers or hiding in a corner. Life is in love. Love is life is love. I think I can breathe into that.

Advertisements

Ctrl + Alt + Reboot

I spent more time complaining last week than probably anything else (except working). I complained because I was sore from a tough yoga class last Sunday, and then I complained because I wasn’t doing yoga. I complained because I was stressed out at the office, and then complained even more because I couldn’t soothe the stress with a glass of wine. I complained because I’m trying to figure out my budget for the next six months and don’t know that I can reconcile another plane ticket for something I absolutely don’t want to miss. I tried to stay on the good side of positive, holding on to the Weather Channel’s promise of a beautiful weekend and a chance to catch up on sleep as the hallmark of my complaining streak to end, but by Friday night I was in no mood for anything that wasn’t sitting on my couch after a late night in the office, coconut water in a wine glass pretending it was the same (it wasn’t), hoping that my neighbors would turn down the music so I could sleep away the week and wake up on Saturday in a new attitude.

This weekend was exactly what I needed after a full week of seemingly non-stop complaining. I had long-standing plans with my partner-in-crime R to test out a Bikram yoga class (that’s the hot one), and my lovely friend M had been looking forward to Saturday, where she hosted two classes about the wonder of essential oils. Both things were massive successes in such minor ways. The Bikram studio R attends was so welcoming and enthusiastic, and despite sweating through everything I wore for the rest of the day, I felt amazing: stretched out more thoroughly than ever before, and proud, because I tried the class, made it through, and even saw some crazy improvements in backbends by the end. The oils class was even more interesting, because even though I’ve been using essential oils for years, I didn’t know a quarter of what M and her cohost share with us, like how oregano oil is as powerful as penicillin as an antibiotic, or how lemon oil on the side of your nose can help with congestion. After all the classes were over, M and I sat on her couch and just chilled for an hour, talking about the day and drinking seltzer until it was far past my bedtime, and I walked the two blocks home with the kind of smile that comes from a really satisfying day.

There’s something really nice about having plans to look forward to on Whole30, since it’s totally different from the “typical” weekend plans. I mean don’t get me wrong, when R and my fashionista C started putting up Insta-photos of their Saturday night I had the WORST pang of FOMO flood my brain, desperately missing the nights where we all go out for dinner and see what happens, never knowing if I’ll end up home by midnight, tired and a little buzzed, or if I’ll wake up on R and H the Scot’s floor, still in my party clothes with contacts in shot glasses next to my head. But in this case, after a full week of complaining and crankiness, it was really nice to know I had fun activities to look forward to that were more than “buy more vegetables and eggs and prep enough food to feed a hungry girl for the week.” Maybe it’s a sign of growing up that I can plan things for weekends that don’t involve terrible decisions. Although on that same token, I can always just plan on the healthy things and have a drink after to celebrate.

For whatever reason, there are a lot of milestones coming up in the next week, including a super major massive one tomorrow for me. I’ve actually been looking forward to this week for a while: it’s the home stretch for Whole30, the weather is finally turning around from cold and dreary to lukewarm, though still dreary today. We’re about to start a six-month period of big things, as tomorrow marks an anniversary of when everything started happening, and the new beginnings coming up soon are too numerous to try and mention. A little reboot of my life and my attitude was a good prescription for a crappy attitude, complaining about everything instead of celebrating everything that’s just around the corner. Of course, I’m still going to complain when I’m stuck in the office without snacks again, or when I see someone eating a Twix in front of me (“ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME.”), but I’ll do my best to keep it to myself for a little while. If almost passing out in a Bikram class or spending two hours covered in potent oils taught me anything on my long Saturday, it’s that staying in the present moment, with a deep breath and a smile, will come back to you threefold over complaining about the same thing, one more time and again.

“I just need a minute.”

Early this morning, after I’d rolled myself out of bed, just late enough to miss the yoga class I’d ambitiously told myself to attend, I was taking stock of everything in my kitchen and realized there are a few staple items I’m going to need before starting the Whole30 on Tuesday. Despite the fact that it was 6:25 and the sun wasn’t even up yet, I texted my lovely friend M for advice on the best time to go to Trader Joe’s (answer: pretty much never), and then we just went back and forth for a bit, catching up on our Thursday nights, until it was just past 7 and I needed to finish getting ready for work. M and I frequently text this early in the morning about anything and nothing – I think since I live alone and her N doesn’t wake up until after she’s left for work, it’s a chance for both of us to have a conversation before starting our days. M is the only person (aside from Mama B on occasion) who I text with that early in the morning, so when I heard my phone chirp early yesterday, I assumed it was her. Imagine my surprise when it was a message from my anchor G, who not only is NOT a morning person, but is an hour behind NYC in Texas. Immediately nervous something was wrong, I frantically opened the text to read “I just need a minute,” and as I read on I smiled: first, because everything was fine, and second, because there are some conversations you can really only have with your best friend at 7 in the morning from across the country.

In this day and age, there are some really weird ways that we show each other affection. People write “Happy Birthday!” on Facebook instead of calling or even texting, and sharing your Netflix password, or better yet, your HBOGo account, is the highest honor a friend can bestow. The really good friends always check with the photo subjects before posting a group selfie to Instagram, a quickly-becoming unwritten rule for a good friendship, and you can maintain entire relationships through a small tablet between long text conversations and maybe a late-night Facetime now and again. Sure, there’s a personal aspect that’s missing with these types of interactions, but when you have friends scattered all over the country, plus a busy job, it’s hard to find that half-hour or hour to sit and catch up on life. I mean, it’s not like I’ll text just anyone at 6 in the morning – let’s be real, 9 times out of 10 the only thing I want to hear before 7am is the buzz of the coffee maker and Weather on the 1s (NYC gets it). But for a quick conversation to confirm if I should stock up on coconut butter from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, or maybe a conversation to help a friend through a frustrating moment, I’ll respond any time of the day.

G and I are in a similarly interesting place in our lives, as we’ve had a lot of personal experiences that mirror each other in the past two years. She also dealt with a life-changing break-up, she also dealt with someone who wasn’t mature enough for the promises he made, and she’s also navigating single life with a cautious yet reckless abandon, something I picked up from her because I admire it so much. We’re really good at keeping up with each other on the phone, long Sunday afternoon phone dates where I pace my apartment as little miss follows, laughing at everything and sharing all the details, but every once in a while we need an early-morning bitch fest to get out the frustrations of being 20-somethings with someone who understands exactly how the other is feeling. It’s in these moments I’m so grateful we can text quickly instead of waiting for the long Sunday calls; it’s a chance to bitch and moan to someone across the country so you don’t take frustration out on anyone around you. It’s also a great chance to stay attuned to the little details of our lives, the way we did in college, when an early morning bitch-fest meant someone breaking into the other’s dorm room and climbing into her bed, demanding a hug and stealing as much of the comforter as possible. It’s comforting, almost, being able to share a few minutes in the morning, because it makes me feel like she’s two doors down again, waiting for me to walk to class.

I don’t think our morning text sessions will ever reach the level that M and I text. After all, M and I live two blocks away instead of 2,000 miles, and are basically in constant contact all day, between grocery lists, videos from work and coordinating weekend plans. It’s nice to know that the option is there, though, when I really need G for just a minute. Sometimes that just means one of us has a date later that night and we’re nervous, or sometimes it’s the morning after the date and you need to share details. Sometimes it’s just an excuse to send angry words in ALL CAPS because it’s frustrating to be the only single person in your group of friends, and sometimes it’s half-joking complaints that those friends will never understand what we’ve been through, though god knows they keep trying. I’m sure the next time I see her name on my phone it’ll be a long conversation over the actual phone, since we’re way, way overdue. But in the meantime, it’s nice to have “just a minute” here and there to stay in touch, regardless of whether I’ve had my coffee yet or not.