I wake every morning before 6am, not to the sound of an alarm, but to racing thoughts in my head. My anxiety has made it difficult to sleep, breathe, sit still, or relax in any capacity. A good portion of my day is spent repeating deep breaths, deep breaths over and over to myself until I finally manage to get air into the depths of my belly. (I hate the word belly, by the way, it annoys me. But it feels more accurate than saying stomach in this context, so here we are.)
So when my eyes flew open this morning and it was still pitch black outside I wasn’t surprised. I stumbled out of bed and glanced at the neon green lights of the microwave clock: 5:41am. Nice. So much for sleeping in; my brain was already busy with thoughts about that day’s meeting schedule (when would I have time for lunch?), those starred-for-later emails I’d have to respond to, the personal items I had to take care of (had I paid that last medical bill? did my Dad want me to call him this afternoon?).
And thus began another day. I peed, brushed my teeth, drank a few sips of water in an attempt to “hydrate” before giving my body what it really needed:
Aside from being tired and anxious all the time – but who isn’t right now – waking up unnecessarily early has its perks:
- Thomas is still asleep, so he can’t bully me about the disgusting amount of cold brew I chug
- It’s already the afternoon in London, so I have plenty of time to FaceTime with Leslie
- I’m finished 75% of my work for the day before my first meeting
- If I don’t have work I need to do, I have plenty of time for a walk or bike ride
Because I’d been up til 11pm the previous night finishing work that was due today, I didn’t have as much to crank out before my 9am meeting as usual. An hour of solid work (the “requires focus and will definitely not get done after 3pm” kinda stuff) later I laced up my sneakers and gently closed the house door behind me. I was pretty sure I’d heard Thomas’ alarm go off already, but he has the enviable ability to hit snooze and fall back asleep so I kept quiet just in case. (Ugh, I am such a good wife.)
The sky turned from grey to orange as the sun started to rise and I could tell it would be a clear day. The first breath of fresh air is always the best; I inhaled as deeply as I could and closed my eyes. My breath felt quick and shallow in my throat. Deep breaths, deep breaths.
My legs carried me, slowly but surely, down 17th St., across Market, and up the hills of Corbett. Deep breaths, deep breaths.
Up a set of concrete stairs, past a small community garden, then to a vista that terraced the hill.
The sky was by now a clear blue and I turned to look at the sprawling city below me. The morning light filtered through the wide, unshuttered window of the house in front of me, and sprinkled onto the shrubs and flowers on the sidewalk below.
I took a deep breath, and felt the morning air make its way alllll the way down to the bottom of my belly.