I had a really wonderful weekend. I’d even say it was perfect.

My girls were home with me for the first weekend in what seemed like forever. Saturday we lounged around all day as the snow fell. I hate to brag, but both days I made breakfast that didn’t pop up out of the toaster.  Seriously.

Saturday night we had friends over for dinner – the kind of friends who are easy and relaxed company.

We puttered around again on Sunday morning, and went to a matinée in the afternoon. We simply enjoyed each other’s company. It was just fun and cozy, simple and relaxed.

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Which is why my anxiety today was a real kick in the pants. There it was, nonetheless, tapping me on the shoulder this morning just as soon as I left the bus stop.

I knew I had a hard conversation ahead of me today, and I knew the other person was going to feel hurt. There’s nothing I hate more…except maybe pretending the conversation isn’t necessary when it is. I worried about it all day. I felt distracted and anxious, my chest ached and my hands shook.

I noticed something really interesting, though. In the past, when anxiety has gripped me, I’ve felt as though I was trapped in my body, experiencing a horrible, inescapable sensation. I have wanted to unzip my own skin and step out of it.

Today, after a while, I was able to recognize the feeling, and in a way….I was able to pull away from it. It was as though I had a bird’s-eye view of myself. I could see myself struggling with it, but it didn’t feel quite as awful, because I knew I just needed to ride it out. Watching from my perch above myself, I could see my anxiety was not me, but rather something passing through me.

As soon as we got home and settled in, I knew enough to say to the girls that I’d had a stressful day and needed to wind down a bit. I started a hot bath and poured myself some herbal tea (if herbal tea were red and made from grapes). I dumped about a half a bottle of lavender oil into the tub. I lit some candles and turned out the lights.

As a lay there in the candlelight, steeping in a warm lavender bath and listening to some clinky, clanky meditation music, wine in hand….I started to let go of the day. Ahhhh…and then the door opened, and in sauntered one of the girls. I opened one eye and looked at her. Perhaps I glowered. “I just need a few minutes of quiet, and then I’m all yours,” I reminded her.

“Right, no problem! I just need to use the bathroom!”

Um…we have three bathrooms, but okay. I wasn’t in the mood to argue. I closed my eyes again and tried to let my mind float, when a huge farting noise ripped through the room.

I turned my head and said in my sternest voice, “I SAID I WANTED QUIET.” She paused for a beat to make sure I was teasing her, and then we both erupted in laughter.

A few minutes later she finished her business and went on her way.

I’m not kidding when I tell you, in came the next one.

Same situation.

Nothing says relaxation like someone pooping, four feet from your head. At least the gallon of lavender I used was coming in handy.

Finally, the door closed behind her.

I was alone at last…

Alone with the warm lavender bath, the wine, the candlelight and the clinky, clanky music….and my incomplete Christmas list, and the appointment I forgot to make, and the list of things I have to accomplish at work this week, and the worry I’d offended a friend, and the really kind text message I’d forgotten to respond to, and a critical replay of the hard conversation I’d had earlier…

In the words of Frank Costanza, “SERENITY NOW!”

I stuck with it, though. I kept bringing my focus back to the desire to relax and let it all go. Finally as the tub began to feel tepid, I felt my blood pressure drop. I felt my muscles relax. I could breathe easier.

I pulled myself from the tub just as it began to grow cold. Feeling restored, I was ready to help with homework, play Parcheesi, and begin making dinner…

Right after unclogging the toilet.

(Seriously.)

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