I lay awake, tossing and turning.
My mind simply would not shut off.
My body…restless and sweaty.
What was I missing?
The bills were all paid.
My bank account was flush.
The house was clean (well, as clean as it ever got).
There were no upcoming, scary doctor appointments.
Spring was in the air.
I was even feeling great about turning 28—God knows 27 had pretty much sucked.
My family was healthy and as close as ever. I had great friends. My job was stable. I was dating someone regularly whom I genuinely enjoyed and cared about. For the first time, I was teaching yoga at a studio where I felt valued and appreciated for what I could contribute energetically and creatively, and where I could truly learn from amazing teachers, peers, and students.
I was writing and learning editing and social media in an apprenticeship that fulfilled me in ways that I hadn’t known were empty—I had always loved writing, but suddenly, I had to write. I had to be engaged in this community. I had to be in the middle of it all, finding where I could move people, where I could help, where I could make the most difference with my words, with anything really.
So why the hell was it so hard for me to relax?
Babies that are born to drug addicted mothers often have a difficult time with withdrawal from the drug, from the chaos that was the womb. They may be extremely irritable, cry a lot, and have difficulty sleeping, as they adjust to the drugs leaving their bodies. They may startle easily, and have short tempers.
For the past fifteen-plus years, my life has been chaos. My norm has been to be on a roller coaster—just when I thought things were calming down, wham! Death. Wham! Addiction. Wham! Upheaval. Wham! Extreme depression. Wham! Abandonment. Wham! And so on. I adapted. I had to—I had to learn to survive in a world that seemed generally hostile. I was always looking over my shoulder. Always waiting for the next shoe to drop. For the phone to ring, with earth-shattering, heart-breaking news.
It was difficult for me to settle. To realize that my world was not the chaotic place that it had been—I did not quite know how to live in it. It felt unsafe. Insecure, and unstable. How could I trust this world, with its regular paychecks, health care, Saturday night dates? This world of friends to confide in and go to yoga with, healthy family members that loved and accepted me, a house I could afford, a job where I was valued? Wouldn’t it all be taken away the very second that I relaxed?
When we have been living in any environment—drug addiction, a relationship situation, a rainy climate— for too long, it takes time to adapt to a new place, a new way of living. Living in chaos, in particular, can become an addictive way to live. Roller coasters are a rush, a thrill, for some.
But I had enough of the ride—I was ready to try a new one. One that didn’t shake me up, one that didn’t put me in danger.
One that was going to keep me on my own two feet, heart, mind, and soul intact.
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Editor: Jenna Penielle Lyons
Photo: elephant archives