I woke in a cold sweat this morning, heart pounding, feeling that sensation of “being late” and feeling massive amounts of anxiety over that very subjective (and in this case wholly illusory) feeling. There wasn’t anything at all amiss. I was not “late” – and didn’t have anything scheduled on my calendar with other people on this particular work day, to even be late to. I got up and took a leisurely shower before greeting my Traveling Partner (already awake, though I didn’t realize it when I got up) figuring I’m might be walking around in a cloud of stress pheromones. His greeting was soft, pleasant, and merry. I made coffee. We enjoyed taking our morning coffees together. It was quite lovely.

…My anxiety was pretty serious that entire time, though I initially said nothing about it. I could feel myself fighting with the physical features of anxiety while we chatted over coffee together: tight chest, shortness of breath, feeling vaguely nauseous, increased awareness of arthritis pain, a subtle feeling of having trouble breathing – and a not-so-subtle feeling of wanting to bolt from the room. I kept “letting it go” – more accurately, I kept suppressing it each time it surged, hoping it would just go away. Finally, I mentioned it out loud. Just observing the experience, and sharing those observations with my partner. We talked a minute or two about the anxiety, then moved on to other topics. I noticed every few minutes after that, my partner kind of “checked in” on how I was feeling, what he could do to assist, what kinds of things were adding to my feeling of pressure or anxiety? I shared and we talked, and the morning seemed fine honestly. No tears or tantrums, no escalation of some small misunderstanding. No impatience. No frustration. Just two adults aware of each other’s baggage and limitations helping each other through dealing with that shit – together. It was… productive? That seems to under sell the value in just speaking up in an open and trusting way. But, sure, let’s go with “productive”. My day was off to a good start.

I decided to go to the co-work space to work, just based on how bad my anxiety felt, and my desire to work skillfully in spite of it – which I know can potentially reduce my ability to interact with others comfortably, and I for sure did not want to start my partner’s work week mired in my bullshit & baggage. We missed each other almost immediately… and also found ourselves each working on our own work at a high level of efficiency. Win.

It can be seriously uncomfortable to talk about how we feel. Emotions can be complex and very subjective. Individually, we’re not all equally comfortable with emotions (our own, or other people’s). Still worth it. I feel like I understood myself a bit better, and that my partner understood me better, too. Worth it, worth it, worth it.

…Then I began again, and it was easier, and the day so far has been a good one.