Last Saturday, I was sitting in writing class at Bedlam Farm. Jon Katz has been teaching this class for about 5 years or longer. It was originally supposed to be a 4 week course. I’ve been a member for about a year.
It was a small class today, just me and Carolyn and Sandy. And Jon of course. Maria come in later from her studio.
Today Jon was speaking about narcissism and how writers need to look outside themselves which is kind of ironic because I was so wrapped up in myself that he might have been speaking in Swahili for all that I understood or listened.
I was too busy monitoring my internal anxiety level and it was rising, rising,rising.
It was my weekend to work again and I have been slowly, slowly becoming acclimated to it, but I have not mustered the control necessary to keep my anxiety at a manageable level. Not yet anyway.
The second part of the class consists of sharing and reading of pieces we wrote the previous week. When it came to be my turn, I was so far away by then, I couldn’t even hear what was being said.
The critique was thoughtful and worthwhile I’m sure but I would’ve needed a tape recorder to get the full value of it.
I just kept repeating “OK, OK”, like an automaton, just to get it over with.
Class ended, Carolyn and Sandy left. Maria picked up that I was kind of jiggy and nervous and distracted.
I told them it was my weekend to work alone again and I was feeling somewhat edgy and fragile.
At that point in time, the structures I’ve put up to deal with my anxiety weren’t enough. The series of phrases I tell myself weren’t cutting it. The images of crossing a piece of land to get to the anxiety free side weren’t there.
Maria ran upstairs and gave me a small stuffed dog.
“That’s your anxiety dog,” Jon and Maria both said with absolute certainty; who am I to argue?
It’s been years since I’ve been given a stuffed animal. And what’s weird is that I held the softness against my cheek and felt a little better.
I put all my worry on the head of that little stuffed dog. He took me out of myself, which is what I needed.
Such a simple solution.
Needless to say, Saul (his new name) came with me to the hospital and helped by keeping me grounded and calm. He’s been coming with me every day since.
He is very focused and is all about the work as you can see.