It happened again. Crushing anxiety and a near-panic attack at the gym. This time, though, I was prepared (?) for it. I could feel it coming. My initial thoughts, while warming up on the treadmill, and doing a few of my first exercises, were euphoric. Like most other times I’ve done anything physical, the endorphins kick in, a broad smile comes crashing over my face, and I continue on a buzz like none other until I’m exhausted. At least, that’s what happens when I go running. Today, like last Tuesday, something else happened.

As if running through a concrete barrier, suddenly, my thoughts turned dim. Dark worries started to creep in around the edges, and I found myself envisioning having to break up with Ray. I was worried about him having sex outside of us. Then, it was money. Then it was just rejection all over. I stood there, heaving with breath, trembling, feeling my muscles burning, and all I wanted to do was puke and cry. I reached the end of my sets, dejected, and hit the showers on the verge of tears – again.

Last week, I had a bit of a setback, a meltdown, and thought that I was just reliving old behaviors in order to find a way to cope/take control over the situation. After a chat with Dan, though, it was clear that I needed to let it all go, and I did, and the week turned out to be far better than I thought it would, especially having Ray over nearly every night to sleep with me. I’ve been really calm, and actually really happy to be the kind of boyfriend I think Ray deserves – a rock of strength when the rest of his world seemed a bit chaotic.

So, I know it wasn’t that.

I asked Ray about it this morning because of his experience doing Yoga. I know that, on occasion, some poses and movements can cause quite the emotional release. He said, though, that these are generally positive, and not something to be afraid of or wrestle with. You simply move through them and enjoy the feeling. He still said, though, that it might be me letting down some walls. I told him it was more than disquieting. That said, I know I need to do this. Like with my writing, when something feels uncomfortable, and when the squirm and frustration and tears start, that means I’m onto something. I hope I’m onto something here.

The fact is, I have been carrying around a lot of emotional baggage, and some of it truly is tied up in my body. Literally carried by my bones, muscles, fat rolls, inner fluids and organs. I feel weighed down by them in the most physical of senses. I have used my body as a vessel for harboring all of my fears and emotions and anxieties, rather than express them openly, because it’s always been easier on everyone else if I did so. It hasn’t been easy on me, though, and I need to admit this and own it. It’s not my best behavior to myself, and it certainly has stopped me from living a full and honest life. Hiding in my own shadows seems like an avoidance technique I simply cannot do anymore.

I really did not fathom this aspect of my Fit by Forty plans. I don’t fully know the ways that our emotional bodies interact with our physical bodies, and how that chemistry has an effect over the whole of our lives. All I do know is that I must be doing the right thing. I must be getting somewhere with this. In fact, I was pondering my advancement this morning at the gym, as I haven’t really set the weights up higher, and haven’t really bulked up in ways that I had expected. This round of exercises, though, was designed to slim me down and burn more fat, which I think it has. I wonder, though, if in the burning of those old cells, with all of their ancient size and shape dwindling with each repetition, if that’s not releasing old tensions, old thoughts, old anxieties. I know this isn’t biochemically possible, but maybe? I mean, I’ve been thinner – last year, in fact, I got down to my thinnest. Still, as I’ve said before, I was at my saddest, most despondent then. I think, maybe, I’d taken my anxiety, my worry, and all of this darkness and shoved it down deeper in me. I veneered over it all with a slimmer body, and a smile about it all, in order to show the world that I was okay, when maybe I wasn’t okay at all.

Is this me coming to terms in a physical sense with the things I thought I’d already dealt with on a mental/emotional sense? Are there memories of pain, of stress, of worry that still need to be reckoned? Possibly.

Ray suggested that I’d like yoga, and that I should give it a try. I’ve been afraid to do it, though, because I knew that emotional release was a part of it. Maybe I should put my big-boy pants on and give it a whirl. Maybe I do need some stretching, some relaxing, some way of breathing better.

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