Anxiety is a demon living in the corner of our minds waiting for the right moment to jump out and devour us. It is always hungry, always on the prowl. Worst of all, it is patient. The house creaks in the wind, it peeks its head up to see if this is the time to pounce. The ring of the phone wakes you up. It sees it's opportunity. It strikes.
Its many tentacled arms wrap themselves around you in its familiar if not welcomed embrace. That is when you realize the horrible truth. The beast cradling you in its empty arms is trying to swaddle you, not suffocate you. It doesn't know its own strength. It holds you like a mother protecting her baby from the attacker at the gate. It squeezes the life out of you because it wants to save you. You aren't the victim, the prey. You are the beloved that will be destroyed rather than lost.
"I can't breathe," the words are weak, the air in your lungs so precious. "You're hurting me." Your words are barely a squeak.
The arms tighten. The beast is afraid to loose you. You are all it has. Without you, it is nothing. Its only purpose is to keep you safe.
A faint sound breaks the suffocating silence.
"The danger shall pass, sweet child. This too shall pass. Until it does, I have you. I will not let you fall. I will hold you here, close to my heart. I will never let you go. I will never let them have you."
Your bulging eyes search the darkness for the unseen threat. Nothing.
The creature, once a monster, now your only companion in this murky shadow realm. The breathless pain is safety. The shortness of breath, the cold stabbing pains racking your body, they are signs of the beasts protection. So long as the beast holds you, what can get through. This isn't misery, it is security.
Cold sweat gathers like morning dew on your forehead, Ice greets the tips of your fingers. Badges of the struggle. The beast isn't yours to fight. It is your only true friend. In those crushing arms, the world is so, so far away. Distance is safety. Safety is all that matters. Everything else which once seemed so important are but memories of a foolish childhood from a time when you didn't really understand the horror of the world.
Gasping, you sink deeper into the darkness. The beast's sweet voice sings lullabies in your ears. The pain is easy. The aches, a close friend you could never imagine ever leaving. They remind you that you are alive. If they wen't away, how would you know that? How did you ever know before the beast cradled you so close to her cold heart?
A single pin prick of light shines in the ever present night sky. A lone star so fragile and small. Once you, set your ship to sail by that star. It guided you through the turbulent waters. The memories are vague, like a past life remembered in this one quite out of place. Why risk the voyage? Everything is better in the loving straightjacket of the beast, but you can't take your eyes off the star.
Something out there calls to you. Is it a siren song luring sailors to their doom? Why does it call so persistently? Why can't it just leave you alone? Why can't everything just leave you alone?
Breath catches in the back of your throat. You struggle to breathe. The beast has an arm wrapped tight around your neck. It is choking you. Life struggles within you to get away from the beast. The more you struggle, the tighter the grip. It is impossible to breathe,
In a single moment, time stretches out into an endless eternity beyond all your expectations. The harder you fight; the tighter the grip.
Eyes lock on the distant star.
The pain creeps into every fiber of your being.
For some reason, you let go.
The beast roars in anger.
A single moment of clarity floods your mind. None of this matters. Everything the beast's stifling grasp holds you so far away from is nothing real. Illusory fears are empty, without substance. The danger itself is a lie.
Why hadn't you seen it before? Why do you see it now?
Your eyes lock on the tiny point of light.
Let go. Clenched fists release.
The beast's tentacles quiver. Its hold lightens.
"You need me!" The beast cries out.
"I know," your voice soft and trembling. "Don't leave me, but stand to my side. Alert me, but don't entrap me. I cannot get through the waves without you, but I have to breathe."
The beast lets go, and curls up at your side. Eyes on the star, you realize it is only one of millions.
Inhale. Exhale. Deep breaths. Life is hard. Anxiety is not the enemy. It is not a pet. It is a wild beast that walks by our side to alert of danger, but if we are not mindful, it can and will consume us whole.