This Ain’t No Nicholas Spark’s Chick Flick

Anxiety isn’t something one decides;

“Hey, yeah, I think I’ll be a fucking mess today. Epic idea.”

It seeps into your extremities, the tingling ache, and itch; the desperate need to escape the skin you live in.

The physical yearning for that little calming blue pill to squash it, stamp it out, you know, take the edge off. It works sometimes for a little while…until you need to up the dose.

How about the prettier in pink one?
You’re in the shits because that little blue pill lost its mojo, and the yellow or pink one will only last for so long.

Am I weak to give in, to swallow the pill and hope for some self-control? A modicum of normalcy?

Well, what’s your vice, do you reach for the bottle at night, just one glass of wine?
Well, am I weak?
Are you?

Some days I am not strong enough, together enough, you know the girl who has all her shit tight, making lists, and taking names. Personally, I hate lists, always have. I’ve never been that girl. The one with the to-do list, the nine to five job, the immaculate house with blue shutters and green ivy creeping up the side, the fancy, sophisticated kind.

The SUV parked in the driveway and the 2.5 kids (what the fuck does that even mean, do you have half a kid stashed somewhere?). Of course, there’s the doting husband, until he pisses you off, cheats and lies. Sounds like a lot of heavy if you ask me.

So, do I give in to the bouncing brain waves I can’t quite control, get to simmer down, leave me in peace and quiet?

Like a drug addict, the gnawing creeps in. I try blowing it off like a wet, cold fire engine red autumn leaf stuck to the sleeve of my raincoat. I can’t shake it. I inhale the recommended, restorative, meditative six-second deep breaths with purpose, pausing for six, and exhaling for six. You know, control the breath, rubbing Lavender into my throbbing temples, and massaging my stiff, aching neck.

Sometimes the tidal pools go quiet, and I can chill, but most of the time I’m watching the clock – the teeth chattering fool.

I wasn’t always like this. I was fearless, jumping from the tallest evergreens, hopping buses, trains, planes, and automobiles for the hell of it, the silly vagabond I was. Traveling whenever and wherever on a whim. Paris? London? Madrid? Barcelona? New York? Los Angeles? Chicago? Seattle? Africa?

Why the hell not?

Sounded like a grand adventure awaited and there was, for the most part.

There wasn’t ISIS, or the threat of being shot down with an assault rifle, beaten, or even killed by a cop while jaywalking across the street. People used to get along, neighborly love, or at least they tolerated one another. I respected my neighbor, no matter the color or creed. I respected the law; my father wore the uniform proudly, and with integrity and compassion.

Still, I never quite lived in the moment, “the now” the gurus call it.

Ya’ know what I’m talking about?

I took for granted life would always be easy breezy.
I took for granted the smiling sun would shine exclusively for me.
I took for granted flying miles above the earth, feet up and comfortable in an aluminum box with wings.
I misjudged the foreign destinations on a whim and without a prayer, unfamiliar yet curiously inviting.

Always jonesing for the next high, I loved the comings and goings barely settling in, and always requesting an aisle seat. My Doc. Maarten’s barely hit the tarmac before I was yearning for the next blast off.

I never stopped. I never sat in the stillness, breathed in the smell of baguettes or noticed the heart design in my cappuccino. Who cares? There’d be another unknown destination, a new and different better one around the corner. A more exciting journey on another day, right? There would be another thrilling life experience taken for granted, right? There’d be another, then another, and another temporary, extraordinary, fleeting moments of spoiled, bliss spent romanticizing the days away.


I always had my head in the clouds or gazing at the stars, never really seeing what was right in front of me. Was I so naïve I’ greedily used up all my minutes?
Are we allotted a fixed amount?

I was smug for sure, stubborn and certain. Perhaps I was the fool running, running, and running down the clock.
Time was free, wasn’t it?

Today, the sound of the fan churning above my head in this one-hundred-year-old, solid oak home will not let me fly away. I must sit with myself, which is hard and trying at times. The breathing sounds of another inhabitant, a mother, my mother needs me here she says, and the stability brings mostly more solace than any joy ride. The itch to run ever present, yet perhaps less prominent.

They’ll be time for new adventures, new dreams, or maybe I’ve worn out the soles on too many pairs of New Balance 574’s.

Time is a sneaky motherfucker, a bastard, tricky profane four-letter word.

Life isn’t a Nicholas Sparks movie with grand sweeping romantic lovers and immense gestures where the heroine gets swept off her feet under majestic Spanish moss. The stunning, cinematic scenes with muscle cars driven by too handsome movie stars, or beat up trucks on an open-ended highway leave me longing, both enticing and frivolous.

Somehow, star-crossed serendipitous lovers find their soul mate, making out while soaking wet. There’s usually a tragic twist of fate where one lover leaves for another or winds up dead, yet magically not before the story unfolds, and all is well. The soulmates reunite, even coming back to life.

It’s a ridiculous, sappy winning formula, the love story I wish I could write. I do adore the draping, whispering trees, intoxicating scenery, obligatory white cottages, glorious sunrises and envious slow moving setting sunsets on some deserted orange and lavender backlit beach. The midnight indigo blue sky, chuck full of stars and the full moon shines iridescent.

I pictured that life as a girl, precisely like that lounging on a hammock listening to the waves lapping and lulling me to sleep. My silly heart refuses to be practical and still needs to believe in the fantasy, escape to the beach where the sun rises exclusively for me, and remembers my name.

Real life is not a Nicholas Spark’s story, no matter how hard I will it, write it or try and spin it.

No, real life is heartache, an arsenal of pills and if you’re lucky a jolly good belly laugh from time to time.
Real life is for better or worse family, and a few, loyal friends decorated with rainbow sprinkles of sorrow and joy.
Real life changes with the tide sometimes low and slow moving, and others dangerously high.

Does it matter where the anxiety begins and ends?
Does it, really?

Which wires got crossed?
When your teeth chatter and your skin tingles, do you wait it out?
Well, do you?

And so it begins, the vicious cycle you can’t explain to someone who’s never been through it. Fucking bullshit anxiety lives deep inside the membranes of the skin and cross wiring neurons of the mind. Do you try to hide the buzzkill, or do you scream, ripping your hair out? Well, then you’d be bald with your eyes bulging out of your head. That would be plain stupid. Maybe you can sneak your way right through it. Push a little harder; don’t push yourself so hard they say. Well, make up your fucking minds already, which one is it?

I’ve stood on my head trying to calm the storms for days; sometimes you have to find your own quiet way on this cruel, fucked up planet spiraling out of control.

The water. I am at sweet peace lapping under the waves where the world is silent and the rhythmic swooshing and swaying sounds like peace. The beach, yes, someday I’d love to get back there. I don’t really like gritty sand between my toes and I can’t sit still for five minutes, so who knows how long I’d last anyway. And the exotic birds, screeching at dawn would probably annoy the hell out of me, the insomniac.

Who’s to say what’s the right way anyway?

Weighted down with the heavy heart reality that this is, in fact, your one and only life, go ahead and live it.

Life can be excruciating for everyone sometimes, and this place, this planet we call home is a fucking mess filled with nut jobs and con artists.

The world is too loud, too greedy, and too ugly at times to call home.

We are all living a heightened state of anxiety.

I am not alone after all. Hope exists under the itch and uncomfortable muck that is God’s good green earth. Hope dreams in vibrant color inside the mind and the vast landscapes creating your very own funky playlist, melodic soundtrack and authentic fantastical backdrop.,

You and I are only human, overrun with too much emotion.

We will be forever duking it out with the sassy sun and silly moon to stop running with scissors, and to stand still.

For just one breath.

There is beautiful stillness under a gray, cloud-covered downpour where the rain washes away old footprints leaving room for a blank slate and the possibility of tomorrow’s sunshine.

Photo Credit: The Urban Scot Flickr via Compfight cc

  1. Elaine and Mary,

    Thank you both for sharing your feelings and very real anxieties.
    I think we live in a time of turmoil, and sensitive souls feel all the feels.
    I love that you give yourself permission, Mary to say no. I’ working on that and accepting the bad days along with the good.
    I’m not sure isolating is the best strategy Elaine, (funny coming from an isolator). Sometimes to know others are feeling the same angst can be comforting, others not so much.
    I guess we must learn to trust the gut, and go with the ebb and flow. lol If only it were that simple.

    Wishing you both peace and happiness.

  2. Jackie, this is epic. Thank you so much for writing it. So much here that I feel very deeply. As Dori said–and as I’m sure you know–it ebbs and flows, but on the bad days, it can be really hard to believe better ones are coming. But they are. Anxiety is a bitch, but if it’s any comfort, you’ve captured it perfectly in this piece. I especially relate to the lines “Push a little harder; don’t push yourself so hard they say. Well, make up your fucking minds already, which one is it?” Yes, that’s it in a nutshell. It’s hard to know, isn’t it? I’m trying to just follow my own soul on this stuff. Some days I feel like I can push very hard, but on others, I just need to say no to everyone. If people think I’m lazy, oh well. Self care is critical, and I hope you’re taking good care of yourself, Jackie. You’re a special person.

  3. Jackie, thanks for being brave enough to write this piece. I was grabbed by the line, “I wasn’t always like this.” I’ve decided the world wasn’t always like this either, at least not my world. I have more anxiety than ever, deep in my gut, waking me up in the middle of the night. Maybe if I pulled into a more complete isolation there would be less anxiety within, but I’m not sure. This collective angst of our time seeps in and colors everything.

  4. Dear Dori,

    Green pills? Maybe that’s what I’m missing. lol
    Seriously, thank you for your insightful words.
    “I wasn’t always like this.” I’m sorry to hear you relate, and hope you find some joy during your day.
    I’m here if you need ever need an ear.

    You always make me smile with your razor sharp wit and wicked sense of humor…
    the ebb and flow

    Nicholas who? 🙂

  5. Sherri,

    You give me strength and courage help to keep writing, and searching my soul.
    Adventures come and go, but true friendship is a rare gift.

    Thank you for ALWAYS being cool, encouraging and kind. You are an inspiration.

    X Jackie

  6. **The world is too loud, too greedy, and too ugly at times to call home**

    My heart beat quickly as I read this; the words overflowing with a kind of urgency.

    I F*Cking Loved this!

    And I get this! x

    From Duluth.

  7. “I wasn’t always like this.”

    You’ve really nailed it here, sweet Jackie, with almost picturesque descriptions of the grip of anxiety. I say this so often. “I wasn’t always like this.” I knew I was happy once, I just can’t remember when anymore. But…it does ebb and flow as you say. Sometimes the talk therapy works and sometimes I’m reaching for the green pills because I know it’s gone too far.

    How apt. I never liked Nicholas Sparks, anyway. xoxoD.

  8. “I always had my head in the clouds or gazing at the stars, never really seeing what was right in front of me. Was I so naïve I’ greedily used up all my minutes?
    Are we allotted a fixed amount?”

    Jackie the universe has given you the gift of words, in return it is letting you feel things most couldn’t understand or handle. You are an amazing soul. I know you have more amazing adventures in front of you and I can’t wait to read about all of them my friend.

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