swim inward/flow outward

so this is how you swim inward,
so this is how you flow outward,
so this is how you pray.
– Mary Oliver

The heavy weight of anxiety surprised me. I had not thought much about what it would mean to go. True, I had avoided making a decision until Mike and my friends called my bluff, but when the decision was made for me, I easily consented, happy to have a reason and opportunity to see people I hold in my heart. But how does one return to a place where she has not been her best, truest self without losing said self? How does she keep a calm center?

If I were a different kind of person, I could give you five steps to inner peace in the midst of turmoil. But instead, I recommend texting people who will say supportive things and cheer you on. Their kind words didn’t give me peace, but they did give me courage and presence of mind enough to breathe.

It was hard breathing inward, like swimming underwater. I felt, at times, that I was going to drown in fear and anxiety. But those breath prayers pulled me through until I could feel myself emerging from that fear. As when I swim, it was not particularly graceful and I was surprised to have survived.

Perhaps those are the truest prayers I pray, that deep breath I take to calm the desperation filling my chest. Those are answers I cherish, when the anxiety falls to the side and the act of breathing reminds me who I am.

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