I started a new job this week. It was exciting when I first got the position, but the days leading up to my first day were full of anxiety, fear, insomnia and some of the most negative thoughts I've had in my life. (And, trust me... That is saying a lot!)
Since I've been dealing with the negative thoughts since my teens I have a few coping styles to deal with them, but none of them were working. I was quickly falling apart and was really in no way prepared for my first week of work after a break of 18 months. Yes, I'm a bit of a basket case.
The days of my first week were stressful, but I managed, (with a lot of help from a great friend) however after the sun went down and I was alone it was awful. I couldn't hold it together. But, I got up and went in every day despite the urge to crawl under my bed and hide. The people I work with are a good lot and everyone has been really nice and helpful. My new boss is a fitness nut (and a fellow Disney freak) and on a weight loss journey, as well. I thought I worked out hard and a lot... She puts me to shame. So, working out at lunch is not only encouraged, but kinda expected. Happy surprise and an amazing perk.
The campus of the university where I work is huge, near the beach and a lot of walking and hiking trails are very close by. I giggled like a little kid after realizing that in just 18 minutes I could leave my office, climb down a cliff and be on one of the most beautiful beaches. I love it there, it is like traveling to a completely different place. A mini vacation on my lunch hour. Plus, that beach holds some very special memories. So, I walked that route 2-3 times that first week.
On Friday, I was all out of sorts. I had had my feelings really hurt the night before and I was shocked how quickly that turned to anger. Anxiety consumed me and it was nearly impossible to focus. I was on the brink of tears all day. (OK, I went to the bathroom to cry 3 times that morning.)
I was antsy, jumpy, visibly shaking and I needed to move. I needed to push myself physically and push the anxiety and pain out through sweat. It seems to be the only thing that works these days unless I want to be in a prescription induced coma.
At lunchtime, I changed my clothes quickly and headed onto the campus to find the trail through the eucalyptus grove. I didn't want the beautiful beach that day and the memories that came with it. I knew what I was seeking and I wondered if that is what an addict feels when they are twitching for a fix. I walked up the hill at a fast pace and started to weave in and out of young students with backpacks and messenger bags moving slowly across the walkways. I dodged skateboards and razor scooters. I brushed past young couples kissing, others buried in their cell phones and I felt old and alone. The tears started behind my sunglasses and began running down my cheeks and dripping off my chin. I kept going, not paying attention to where I was going and promptly got lost, which made the anxiety and sadness worse. I turned around and started to head back to my office with only .75 miles under my belt. I wanted to give up.
As I walked back I took a different route hoping to avoid students and I found something that I knew would help get me to where I wanted to be... And it was beautiful. I quickly followed the path and ran down the stairs.. A lot of stairs... And felt the soft orange track under my feet, picked a lane and went. Walking fast some, running some, waiting for what I wanted. I kept pushing myself faster, running harder. The sun was warm on my back, I could feel each step with my whole body and the sweat increase all over. I focused on pulling in my core and moving fast. I could hear the blood rushing through my ears despite the fact I had music blaring in my ear buds at a near deafening level. (Another coping secret). I kept going, lap after lap.
Suddenly, there it was.. Everything slowed down and for a moment I heard nothing but my breath and my feet pounding on the track. I closed my eyes as it came, washed over me.. My shoulders relaxed, and I took a deep breath as the endorphins flooded my body. In that moment, I felt nothing. No emotional pain, no loss, no anger, no hurt, no anxiety. I wanted to slow down and sink into it, but I knew if I stopped that feeling would leave me, so I kept going. I was so grateful for it, the tears started again and I accepted them happily. I did 2 more laps just drinking in that feeling of nothingness. Then reality kicked in. I looked at my phone and realized I needed to start heading back to the office.
I ran back up the stairs and then slowed down my pace. Slowly, I felt the feeling leave me as my heart rate slowed down and the other feelings began to creep back in. Not as bad as before, that would come later. I crested the hill back to my office and I could see the ocean. I longed to smell it, feel the breeze on my face and the sand in my toes, but the beach is not what I needed that day.
I needed to feel nothing for a long moment.
I don't like feeling numb. I'm a girl who feels things deeply and thoroughly. Sometimes that's great and sometimes that's horrible. It is rare that I feel nothing. It was the greatest feeling in the world that day. To just feel nothing.