Anxiety Isn’t a Sign that There’s Something Wrong With You

by | Jan 14, 2024 | The Community Garden | 12 comments

I’m excited to plant this poetic wisdom in our community garden from member Simone Rollins about a pathway from stuckness to freedom. As she writes in the introduction to her poem, which can serve as a mantra when we forget the simple yet most powerful tool of turning inward with curiosity and compassion, “Allowing is a word that I remind myself of often. Sometimes when I get caught in resistance I go back and read this poem I wrote years ago and remember the path to freedom and peace is through opening to it all.”

Here is her introduction to the poem, where she shares a bit about the dark night of the soul she endured in her twenties, and the poem itself:

“I have loved writing poetry for as long as I can remember. I even remember loving to write when I was a child. This form of expression feels rich and satisfying for me and it allows me to contact the voice of my soul.

“I went through a “dark night of the soul” in my early twenties when the anxiety I had experienced my whole life started to become unmanageable and I started turning to numbing to avoid what I was feeling. It was during that period that I eventually started to do my inner work and thus started a more authentic relationship with myself.

“This poem was born out of my experiences with fear, anxiety, and panic. As I write in the poem I used to think that fear/anxiety was a sign that there was something wrong with me, which lead to a lot of self-criticism and shame for a very long time.

“Anxiety started to resurface intensely in my life a few years later around the time of a major life transition.

It was then that I found Sheryl’s work and it was like a balm to my soul. Something I learned then and still carry with me now, is that as a highly sensitive person and an empath and someone who has struggled with anxiety their whole life, fear is a part of my experience, but instead of thinking it is a mistake, I know in my bones now that it is part of living this uncertain life with a heart that is open, feels deeply, and loves deeply, and there is never, and was never anything wrong with that or with me.

“Learning to allow my full emotional experience to be there, while turning toward myself with curiosity and compassion, has changed my life. Actually turning toward the hurting parts inside of me truly does feel like a “coming home” as I write in the poem, and it is there that internal repair happens and deep insights slowly rise up from my psyche because I took the time to listen without judgment.

“With those insights about myself and about life I can open more fully to all that is in me and around me.  Allowing is a word that I remind myself of often.  Sometimes when I get caught in resistance I go back and read this poem I wrote years ago and remember the path to freedom and peace is through opening to it all.

The Journey of Tender Hearts

The voice inside used to tell me fear doesn’t belong here
Fear doesn’t belong in this place of the heart.
I used to think my fears were a mistake, a sign I was doing life wrong.

But time has passed now
And with that
Has taught me
That there is such a sweetness in the allowing.
There is a coming home when one listens to the songs of the heart.
Like a dammed-up stream, becoming unstuck, and flowing freely.
It feels like an exhalation, the kind made of roses, thick honey, and patience, groundlessness, and churning ocean.

Make space for it all.

That is the only way forward,
And this is the stuff of life.
The holding, the releasing, the damming-up, and the unsticking.
The hardness and the sweetness.

Feel it all and then take your next step forward.
This is the stuff of life with a heart that is tender.

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12 Comments

  1. I LOVED this! It brought tears to my eyes, I am still in the fist stage of believing my fears are a sign that something is wrong. Reading this enveloped me in compassion and a sense of community- and caused a flicker of self-compassion to arise! It’s not often I let myself see that having a tender heart is an invitation to deeply feeling everything in this life and that it’s all a journey. Thank you for sharing your poem!

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  2. So beautifully put.
    This is a post I will return back to again and again!

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  3. So beautiful! The poem and your intro deeply resonated with me and offered comfort as I navigate a major life transition where fear and anxiety are heavily present. I’ll keep coming back to “allowing”. Thank you for sharing!

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  4. I love the poem and can relate. Allowing.🤍🙏🏼 Thank you for sharing and reminding us we are not broken, we can move through our feelings and thrive.

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  5. Thank you for this insightful post. I really identified with this part: “[anxiey] is part of living this uncertain life with a heart that is open, feels deeply, and loves deeply, and there is never, and was never anything wrong with that or with me”. This truly validates my experience with anxiety, which has been relatively mild in recent years. I have trouble because my partner of 5+ years sees my anxiety as being something very wrong with me, and anytime even the slightest hint of it surfaces, he becomes extremely frustrated, even angry. I am pleased to feel that there is understanding elsewhere in the world, even if not directly in my own life. Thank you.

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  6. Wow. When I saw the title of this post in my inbox, I was struck with how perfectly it speaks to what I’ve been facing lately. In the past few months, I’ve been struggling with a lot of anxiety around various friendships and connections. And just yesterday I was talking with my partner about the most recent iteration of anxiety, which is directed at a particular connection of mine, and I said, “the anxiety has nothing to do with [the connection’s name].” And I explained the undercurrents of anxiety that had previously been present in my college studies, and then in my work life, and that now that undercurrent of anxiety is being projected onto various connections (usually one connection at a time). It felt like a profound statement to separate the anxiety from the thing I was projecting it onto and just say, “I feel anxious.”

    It’s hard to acknowledge that, even though I’ve done a lot of therapy and personal growth, and I’ve changed my situation significantly (e.g. I finished college (years ago 😉 ), which relieved a lot of stress; and now I’m taking a break from work, which also relieved a lot of stress), the anxiety still comes. So I had been feeling like, “will my anxiety ever end?”

    And then my partner had a helpful insight. I told him I’d been getting distracted with thoughts about this other connection while on our date, and he said, “well, I was having thoughts about [his business that he’s starting] and [a game that he plays].” And he reminded me of a meditation class we had taken together where the teacher talked about how “monkey mind” / thoughts are normal, and we just let them be there and keep being present.

    So it was really helpful to hear my partner talk about his distracted thoughts. Even though he doesn’t have much anxiety himself, he has distracted thoughts, and he, too, practices acknowledging the thoughts and choosing to be present.

    Anyway, all this to say, I had been feeling shame about my anxiety and shame (and confusion) about projecting it onto other things. So it felt really profound to read that, just because I have anxiety, doesn’t mean something’s wrong with me. 🙂 And it feels profound to read the poem and read others’ experiences in the comments, too. Thanks, Simone, Sheryl, and everyone, for helping me feel I’m not alone and I have community around this. 🙂

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    • P.S. I’m printing out the poem to hang on my wall. 🙂

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  7. So beautiful – thanks for sharing! When I am anxiety free I totally get all of that, that it’s not a sign of brokenness but when anxiety comes back (as today) I have a hard time believing it… Such a beautiful poem!
    @Emily: I feel you. My partner has similar reactions, he gets frustrated, sometimes angry but in the meantime I think he is overwhelmed because it might trigger something in himself… So I try to stick to my feelings although I am not sure how much of them I can/should share with him…
    Love to all of you and have a good start to the new week!

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  8. “Feel it all and then take your next step forward.
    This is the stuff of life with a heart that is tender.”

    This meant a lot to me, thank you for your beautiful words, Simone <3

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  9. Absolutely gorgeous, made my day!

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  10. Wow, it makes my day to read these comments to my poem! Thank you so much to everyone that posted here. And thank you Sheryl! I’m honored to be a part of this online community and be able to connect with all of you in this way. To know that my words helped anyone to feel more compassionate toward themselves and their tender hearts gives me such a sense of joy ❤️ Thank you 💖

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    • Hi again everyone,
      I wanted the community to know that I actually just revisited this post and my poem here just now in a moment of anxiety. And I reread all of your comments and felt the kindness of this community, and felt less alone in feeling anxious.
      Thank you all.

      Reply

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