I wonder if you are a person who lives with anxiety?
Before the pandemic, many people who spent a significant time online had life-limiting disabilities, or were carers who couldn't go out much, or had conditions like ME that kept them at home, or were neuro-divergent people looking for others with whom they could more easily relate and feel understood — and many were HSPs or lived with anxiety, becoming easily overwhelmed by stimuli and interactions. Coronavirus has brought a much wider spectrum of people online. I wonder how the invisible territory of electronic human connection will reconfigure as restrictions ease.
By living very simply and keeping everything I have to deal with very small, I limit the effect on me of the anxiety that has been my lifelong companion and affects all the women in my family (daughters, sister, mother, aunts, grandmother . . .)
When something comes my way that I really feel I cannot dodge, I can manage my external conduct in the situation, but not my inner world. Yesterday I paused to consider what anxiety looks like, to me. If you do a Google search on "twisted branch" or "twisted tree", that represents it well.
Something like this.
It feels like the centre of me being fixed into a distortion too strong to resist, and at the same time like a force from above and to the left, crushing down inexorably.
I have chosen to relinquish more and more involvement, connection and possession, because these contribute to anxiety. The selective mutism and autistic burnout that have come with struggling against it are very long-term and not very worthwhile.
Persevering against the prevailing wind direction of anxiety is very draining. I give up easily when discouraged by apparently small things, because I have a powerful inner magnifier! And I leave situations suddenly. Sometimes I come back and try again, but because my choices are perplexing to others, causing bewilderment that embarrasses me which triggers further anxiety, nowadays I tend to just live quietly, and go my own way.
I find the structural quietness of a home with not much in it very calming. I love the encounters with wild animals and birds in our garden, where they feel safe. I like simple, neutral television programmes like quiz shows and documentaries about people doing their everyday jobs (air ambulance, border control, animal rescue) with a strong theme of problems being resolved and everything made okay again. And I like TV programmes about gardens and houses — anything that has no human drama.
And I am drawn to the simple peace of minimalism — here is your soft beige hoodie, here are your soft, stretchy, dark grey cords, here is your black t-shirt (with long sleeves) and your floppy lightweight sweater, here is your quiet, dark underwear. Put them on. Wash yesterday's. Hang them on the line. All done.
By any external measure, my life is very boring, but it's certainly not like that inside. For one thing, it is sustained by an unending flow of stories, and always has been. My inner world is full of people talking and laughing and interacting all day long — some are trolls, some are monks, some are soft toys — and they have lives of their own, rich with profound thinking and compelling emotion, and moments of vulnerability. Sometimes I write it down. And every single belonging of mine has an opinion.
Some of them don't get on so well with me, and I'm sure they are glad to leave.
Today what is going from my life is a second bundle of bedding.
Where am I getting all this bedding? This particular lot I bought long ago, for a different bed in a different house, and it's travelled faithfully with me but spent most of its time like a hermit in a mountain cave, living on top of a wardrobe. And now it is ready to leave home.
Both this bundle of bedding and the one I posted about two days ago are going to a homeless man who has finally managed to get himself somewhere to live, and is putting together what he needs to make a home. God bless him; may he thrive and prosper, may he be comfortable, may he be peaceful, may he be safe.