It’s 5 o’clock here, in Georgia. Five a.m. to be exact. So I’m not sipping a gin and tonic on the beach. I’m in my warm, cozy bed and I’m awake and staring, once again, at the light coming from the cracks in the curtains. I do this from time to time when I’m stressed and anxious and feeling the weight of all the problems of the world on my shoulders.
Stress manifests itself in bizarre ways with me. First there is the “I can’t sleeps”, then comes the bad dreams. Eventually I wake up with a clenched jaw, clenched gut, and more recently clenched fists. The first time this happened I thought I was developing arthritis. I’d wake up at 3:00 am and my hands would ache. It would hurt at the joints, just to move them. Then one day it was my elbow. Then one day it was my knee.
A couple months later it happened again. Then again. And I started to see the trend. That’s when I realized the ways stress manifests itself into physical pains in my body.
Listen, I’m not too bright. It took me a long time to realize that stress does this. Sure people told me. Doctors told me, therapists told me, that 84-year-old woman at the Kroger check-out told me, but I didn’t listen. The stomach issues, the joint pain, the migraines and cluster headaches, the weight gain, I chalked it all up to other things. But in reality I know what it is. I just don’t know how to stop it. And that stresses me out. It’s cyclic. Duh.
So here I am. In my bed, my husband snoring peacefully along next to me, and I’m thinking about all the things I need to do. All the people I’m probably disappointing, all the ups and downs that will be my next few days, and have been my last few. And I’m warming up my hands for a new day to tackle the tasks.
Don’t get me wrong. Not all days are like this. Not all days, or weeks, or months are spent waking up at odd hours and worrying, but when they are like this, I’m glad I have an outlet to let things float out into the ether. It makes me feel less alone. Because sometimes I need reminded that I am not alone. Maybe you do too.