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Guilt Cake and Anxiety Blankets

There is nothing to slam you back into the fleshy reality of your earth suit like a plain old ordinary cold. Have you seen a strung out two year old tearing around in a Thelma-and-Louise-like glorious attempt to avoid the nap police? Only to be gently but firmly corralled by whichever adult happens to be on duty and forced to lie down and be still? This is me when I get sick. Except possibly there is more pouting.

I don’t know if all guilt-ridden anxiety-suffers feel this way when they get a sore throat, but I wouldn’t be surprised. When your body is full of unwarranted adrenaline and your mind is totally sure you have forgotten something very important, stillness is hard to achieve.

First, there is the layer cake of guilt. A spongy base of unworthiness, topped with the thin suspicion that likely you are faking. Over that, the thick awareness that other people have it worse – it’s inflamed throat tissue and some post nasal drip, not a damned tumor, for Chrissakes. Spread on mild (or strong) disgust to taste.

Guilt cake

Next, we have the anxiety blanket. You huddle beneath it, eating your guilt cake and waiting for the Something to attack. The Something is sort of like the Nothing in the Neverending Story, except it’s not apathetic oblivion. The Something is the amorphous yet tangible reality of every bad thing that will definitely happen to you and everyone you love as a direct result of your personal inadequacies and character flaws. Like getting sick and needing a bit of a lie down. The anxiety blanket feels like it will protect you against the Something, but mostly, it just makes it hard to breathe.

In these circumstances, the only thing to do, I have found, is to take a gratitude inventory while I build up enough antibodies to fight off the germs and neuroses.

3 Things That Were Good

1. Enforced stillness. I have mentioned before that I am terrible at meditation, at least the conventional kind. When something as small and dumb as a cold lays me down for a time, I feel my body. I think about breath, mostly because it’s a pain in the ass now. I succumb to the drowsiness which is my system’s necessary shutdown while it installs updates. I rest.

2. Tea. Gallons of it, with honey and lemon, and occasionally a dollop of bourbon. For medicinal purposes.

3. Catching up on reading and unclogging the backlog of shows on the DVR. When your family lovingly banishes you to the bedroom (“We love you, but thank you for staying in here and not making the rest of us sick.”) you can still do stuff. And it takes your mind off the urge to run out of the room and lick all the doorknobs just to show all those healthy, smug bastards what’s what.

2 Things I Did Well

1. Responded to some long-overdue emails. This is, I realize, an unremarkable feat for most adults. But if you have weird social anxiety like I do, answering email, picking up the phone when it’s a number you don’t recognize or even if it’s one you do recognize, going to the bank, dropping a letter off at the post office – these tasks are akin to summiting, if not Mt. Everest, then at least one of the medium-hard peaks.

2. I did and am still doing my #continuouspractice.

Day 35 Either the writing is subpar today, or one of us needs more coffee. #continuouspractice #writeon

A photo posted by Sweatpants & Coffee (@sweatpantsandcoffee) on

1 Thing I Am Looking Forward To:

Hauling a batch of these babies to the post office so they can go to their new homes.

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About Nanea Hoffman (224 Articles)
Nanea Hoffman is the founder of Sweatpants & Coffee. She writes, she makes things, and she drinks an inordinate amount of coffee. She is also extremely fond of sweatpants. She believes in love, peace, joy, comfort, and caffeinated beverages.

2 Comments on Guilt Cake and Anxiety Blankets

  1. This hit very close to home today! Yikes.

  2. This was an amazing post – you’re really good at putting feelings into words. I loved how you wrote “The Something is the amorphous yet tangible reality of every bad thing that will definitely happen to you and everyone you love as a direct result of your personal inadequacies and character flaws.”

    It really helped me, thank you. 🙂

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