Feels and needles

A strange discovery : when I feel anxious it’s not the feeling that’s the anxiety, it’s just an impression of the anxiety in my mind. To put it another way, feeling the pain of being pricked with a needle doesn’t mean actual needles penetrate the skin, flows through the blood and into the brain.

It’s such an odd discovery and it’s taking me longer than usual to make the differentiation because for all my life I was under the impression that my feelings were the needles. To think that my feelings are neutral and that it’s possible to detach from focusing on the pain is like I’m being told the sky is red and not blue.

You see, I’ve created an entire life around the belief that my sensitivity is why I seem to suffer more than those who aren’t as sensitive. Naturally, I thought if I could be impervious to my feelings and dissociate from them then the pain would stop yes? Through sour experiences I learnt that the pain was signaling to me that I’m not in the right place or space and turning that warning signal off made me vulnerable and susceptible to manipulation and injury by those lacking empathy and conscience. It put me at the mercy of those with no mercy.

Beam me up Scotty

I don’t know how to live with this kind of pain crowding my body. It feels like there’s no room for me to investigate, as if I’m just pushing up against the sore places, making things worse by my curiosity. As if understanding amplifies the pain and exacerbates the suffering. As if the darkness of repression is a safe house.

But that safe house is where hope dies, so now what? Did I just dig my own grave by believing that the best way to deal with pain is to keep it out of mind?

Seeking protection

This duaa really helps to ground me during an anxiety attack or trauma flashback. The duaa is found in Bukhari and Muslim. [ detailed explanation and sources in Arabic]

اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ أَسْلَمْتُ، وَبِكَ آمَنْتُ، وَعَلَيْكَ تَوَكَّلْتُ، وَإِلَيْكَ أَنَبْتُ، وَبِكَ خَاصَمْتُ. اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِعِزَّتِكَ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ أَنْ تُضِلَّنِي، أَنْتَ الْحَيُّ الَّذِي لَا يَمُوتُ، وَالْجِنُّ وَالْإِنْسُ يَمُوتُونَ

Allaahumma laka aslamtu, wa bika aamantu, wa ‘alayka tawakkaltu, wa ileyka anabtu, wa bika khaasamtu. Allaahumma inni a’ udu bi’izzatika laa ilaaha illaa anta an tudhillani, antal hayyul-ladi laa yamoot, wal jinnu wal insu yamutoon

O Allaah! I have submitted to You, and believed in You, and put my trust in You and constantly turn to You in repentance, and I struggle in Your way. O Allaah! I seek refuge with Your Might, there is no god but You, from straying from the right path. You are the Ever Living who never dies, while jinn and human beings will die.

where did i go wrong?

Reality can seem violent when you first let out your dreaded feelings that have fossilized in the darkness where you’ve buried them for so long. But the heart racing to infinity, the cold sweating, the dizziness, the restlessness – that’s the anticipation of nightmares that only are real in the dark. Don’t fear my friend. The light suffices as protection. Nothing evil can hide there. And your feelings just are, they aren’t wrong or right. Don’t stuff them in the back where they become the staple food of your demons. Don’t feed the darkness with what was supposed to feed your light. It was supposed to  make it burn brighter, repel the evil, integrate the shadows.

wipe the slate clean

I’m a companion of my soul. I let it lead me blindly, on pure trust. I’m not afraid of drowning, of getting lost, of disintegrating, of losing control. Because I’ve gone to the edge of each of those fears, and the only thing that got lost was my fear. The only thing that drowned was my burden that I thought I couldn’t survive without. The only loss of control happened to my intellect which really, was a realization that I never had control to begin with. I was like Maggie Simpson with the steering wheel attached to her car seat, pretending she’s the one driving the car.

And maybe destruction lies ahead. Maybe this has all been a fluke. But even so, I’d rather go out with a bang than endure a slow death. I’ll drink that potion. And just because I know that my anxiety is unfounded doesn’t make it any less potent. It’s not something I can ever stifle or ‘fix’; I’ll just accept it as a price to pay for living fully.


“In actuality, no one ever sank so deep that he could not sink deeper, and there may be one or many who sank deeper. But he who sank in possibility — his eye became dizzy, his eye became confused… Whoever is educated by possibility is exposed to danger, not that of getting into bad company and going astray in various ways as are those educated by the finite, but in danger of a fall, namely, suicide. If at the beginning of education he misunderstands the anxiety, so that it does not lead him to faith but away from faith, then he is lost.
On the other hand, whoever is educated [by possibility] remains with anxiety; he does not permit himself to be deceived by its countless falsification and accurately remembers the past.
Then the assaults of anxiety, even though they be terrifying, will not be such that he flees from them. For him, anxiety becomes a serving spirit that against its will leads him where he wishes to go.”

– Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety


“We can understand Kierkegaard’s ideas on the relation between guilt

and anxiety only by emphasizing that he is always speaking of anxiety in its relation to creativity.

Because it is possible to create — creating one’s self, willing to be one’s self, as well as creating in all the innumerable daily activities (and these are two phases of the same process) — one has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever.
Now creating, actualizing one’s possibilities, always involves negative as well as positive aspects. It always involves destroying the status quo, destroying old patterns within oneself, progressively destroying what one has clung to from childhood on, and creating new and original forms and ways of living.
If one does not do this, one is refusing to grow, refusing to avail himself of his possibilities; one is shirking his responsibility to himself. Hence refusal to actualize one’s possibilities brings guilt toward one’s self.
But creating also means destroying the status quo of one’s environment, breaking the old forms; it means producing something new and original in human relations as well as in cultural forms (e.g., the creativity of the artist).
Thus every experience of creativity has its potentiality of aggression or denial toward other persons in one’s environment or established patterns within one’s self.

To put the matter figuratively, in every experience of creativity something in the past is killed that something new in the present may be born.”

– Rollo May, The Meaning of Anxiety

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