It was a bizarre week that ended with an equally bizarre but important revelation. Here's what happened.
On Friday afternoon, I found myself sobbing to a triage nurse. Stabbing pains radiated in my chest. Pain shot through my left arm. My face felt like it was on fire, and my lips were tingling.
I thought I was having a heart attack. I thought I was dying.
Turns out, it was a panic attack. Which should have made me feel better. But it made me feel worse. The nurse asked me what I was doing for stress management, to which I replied, "I'm going to work harder so I can stay on top of it all."
Even as I said the words, I knew they weren't the right ones.
Anyway, as soon as I was sure I would survive the night, I made a pact with myself. No more shoving my feelings aside. No more giving too much of myself. Most importantly, no more ignoring my needs. I went to sleep, vowing to make this change.
The next day, I felt exhausted, but I made it to the grocery store. As I was walking down an aisle, a jar of pickled cucumbers caught my eye. And the strangest thing happened.
I salivated. The muscles on the side of my neck became tense. I licked my lips like some cartoon character version of myself. Normally, I'd just ignore these cravings, but remembering the vow I made after my anxiety attack, I started throwing several jars into my cart. I even popped open one jar and began eating pickles before I was in the checkout line.
One jar didn't make it to the car before I had eaten all the pickles, slammed the juice, and was cracking open another one for the ride home.
As soon as my savage pickle episode had passed, I found myself much more energized (albeit embarrassed and gluttonous). I wondered how long my body had been craving salt, sugar, and electrolytes in general while I just ignored the urge and kept fueling it with small scraps of food leftover from my kids' lunchboxes.
By the time the weekend was over, I felt I had learned a big lesson from pickles and anxiety attacks.
Reader, we are beings with needs. Our bodies have needs. Our souls have needs. Even our egos have needs. There is no sense ignoring what it is that we need to stay energized and healthy. If you too find yourself with needs this week, listen to them. That need to get outside? Listen to it. That need to take a trip? Listen to it. That need to sing or drink water or paint pictures or WHATEVER it is for you? Listen to it. For far too long, I didn't listen, and it landed me in a bad spot this week. Lord knows we can't be good for others if we are ignoring the cries from within.
(And I'll never again ignore the screams of my heart...or the screams of a pickle.)
Please take good care of yourself this week, and I'll see you back here next Monday. -Em