I have a deeply cavernous internal closet of coping mechanisms.
We all have one. It’s our toolbox of what we do and what we know will help us to rise to the occasion each morning when we’re not feeling like enough—when we’re feeling that human life itself is simultaneously precious and punitive.
And we call on these mechanisms when we’re feeling in the throes of human chaos.
My personal closet ranges the spectrum from “healthy” coping mechanisms such as walking or hiking or sitting outside or eating a nourishing meal, to activities such as running on the treadmill listening to Macklemore or rock climbing or taking sacred space and time on my yoga mat, to “addiction” mechanisms to numb out that which is simply too much for my threshold of feeling.
I know—I feel it in my bones—based on past failures and learning from them what is a crutch to merely manage and what is a mechanism for me to process my emotions and rise once again stronger, in a balanced sense of being.
Going to yoga and honoring that sacred time and space is my acknowledgement of what is without a doubt where I can be unapologetically authentic, tears, messiness, falling apart and all. My yoga community is the embodiment of the brave-hearted, quietly strong warriors who express and live by an admirably deep understanding and reflection of my own personal values.
But the state of an anxious mind has the effect of distraction from our own ability to recognize the deep strength we all possess that we often forget about.
We all have hard periods in our lives where getting up in the morning and making coffee—the most mundane of tasks—are monumentally challenging. My anxiety feeds into these difficulties and completing these morning tasks and getting through the days parasitically feeds off of my anxiety. And tonight, when I literally couldn’t stomach feeling it anymore, I wanted nothing more than to reach for a coping mechanism to numb it out and tune out into blissful ignorance to save the feeling for another day.
The feeling is the hardest part. The feelings of being unapologetically ourselves (vulnerability and all) and maybe needing to make the unpopular decision and moving through our days with unease and uncertainty can feel unpleasant to put it gently.
But tonight I stopped, and I didn’t numb out the feeling. I let myself cry because I knew I needed to cry and release tears. I let myself fall apart.
Life is too precious and fleeting to merely cope rather than thrive.
Author: Caitlin Oriel