When King Kong Sits on Your House, Invite Him In

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

So, I have this comic strip image in my head where a woman is inside her house on a beautiful day. The sun is shining through the open windows. As she gazes out, she sees anxiety (personified as a little chimpanzee) lurking outside by the back fence, playing and swinging in the trees. At the sight of him, she’s gripped by fear and begins locking the windows, beads of sweat forming on her brow. Compulsively, she peers out from behind the closed curtains. For a moment, he disappears and all is good again until the chimp (anxiety) opens the front door and playfully taps her on the shoulder. “I’m back!” he seems to say with a smile.

The woman, already hyper vigilant and on guard for any sight of the beast, tackles the chimp to the ground, puts it in a head lock and kicks it back outside. She throws all the locks, as she trembles and shakes, and puts a chair beneath the doorknob to keep it from coming back in.

The more she tries to protect herself, the more frightened she gets. The more she scares herself, the bigger the chimp becomes until it’s as big as King Kong sitting on her house – its eye filling up an entire window as it peers inside.

Finally, after trying everything she can think of to force him to leave (distraction – “Hey, is that a banana tree over there”?, pleading, calling a safe person to rescue her, turning the music up loud, googling expert advice, getting down on her knees to pray), she gives up and opens up the door.

“Come on in”, she gestures with exhaustion.

As soon as the door opens, King Kong shrinks back down to the size of a baby chimp, and jumps onto her lap. The woman strokes his soft fur and smiles. “I’m not afraid of you. In fact, you can stay as long as you like.”

Disappointed and bored now that the game is over, the chimp slips out the back door, swings over the fence and moves to play in the trees next door.

*How are you greeting the chimps playing just outside your window? What are you fighting and resisting that’s growing bigger and stronger as a result? Where can you give up the fight?

*Anyone who is an illustrator and wants to draw this, I’d love to see it!

*Edited and reposted from 6/22/08

Home again

I’m just getting settled back in after being away for two weeks. My Mom and Step-Dad live by the water and we had the chance to house sit for them while they adventured off to Alaska. It was so nice to be away and long enough that I was excited as we drove back into our cozy, little neighborhood this past weekend. One of these days, we’ll have enough money to fly our family of five somewhere exotic, but for now, house sitting in a beautiful location was just what we all needed.

As I was getting our kitchen back in order the other night, I found myself needing to take frequent breaks and pop into some favorite blogs. (Speaking of distraction – this is fabulous ice cream and you can sub 1 tsp vanilla extract for the vanilla bean.) I also found this wonderful video by Brene Brown. I was so touched by her talk and am still processing what she had to say. Enjoy and I’d love to hear what you think.

Watch live streaming video from tedxkc at livestream.com

Musings on a cure

I’ve been thinking about Meredith’s comment from a few weeks ago. She and I have talked back and forth about that stubborn, last little bit of anxiety that doesn’t want to go away and looking for a cure that doesn’t seem to exist.

I’m realizing and working on growing more comfortable with the fact that I may experience more anxiety than I would like to in my lifetime. This will probably be my challenge until I’m an old lady; that there may be no cure, but there is freedom in living a big life not run by fear and avoidance. There is also freedom in accepting all of our emotional states. Later in life, Dr. Claire Weekes was asked if she still experienced anxiety and panic and she responded, ‘yes, but so what!’

My deep learning continues to be the lessons of showing up, experience and compassion. Every time I dread and anticipate an event – certain that I’ll go crazy and make a fool of myself – and show up anyways, I get stronger. Every time I allow myself to feel anxious and not demand that it goes away, it feels a little more manageable. And, every time I am compassionate with myself when I do go down that anxiety rabbit hole and not make it such a big deal in my head, I worry less about having this thing forever.

So, a cure for anxiety and panic? Perhaps not. But freedom is certainly available in every choice we make.

*For further reading, check out Aimee’s post on recovering from social anxiety.

Existential angst:

I’ve always had a fear of death. I can remember trying to fall asleep at night as a little girl and thinking about how I was going to die some day. The fear would rise to such intensity that I would race down the stairs at full speed and jump into my mother’s arms. “Oh sweetie. Most people don’t die until they’re very, very old and that’s a long time from now. It’s ok.” We would talk about God and heaven for a while. She would hold me and I’d watch a little TV or read a book with her until I was settled down. Then, I’d get tucked into my bed again for a good night’s sleep.

I think anxiety, for some, has to do with these questions of “Why are we here? What’s the meaning of life? Where’s God? Why do people have to die? What happens next?”

Sometimes I’ll be gazing up at the sky or simply going about my day and thoughts will come in like a Fox TV newstream, “You might want to sit down for this one folks. . .This just in. . .We live on a planet. . .you know, one that’s spinning & traveling through space. . . and did you know that outer space is just beyond our atmosphere. . .and, here’s the kicker people, we’re all gonna die someday!” When we’re fully aware of this amazing existence of ours, it can take you back a bit.

Sometimes, I have to remember that these repetitive thoughts are simply symptoms of anxiety (where content has little meaning). When that happens, I start going down the “AWARE” list.

But, other times it’s a reminder to dig deeper. A reminder to have gratitude for life and the love around me. A reminder that the spiritual task of anxiety calls for us to have faith in something we cannot see and to surrender in the face of it’s awesome mystery.

When King Kong Sits on your House, Invite Him In

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

So, I have this comic strip image in my head where a woman is inside her house on a beautiful day. The sun is shining through the open windows. As she gazes out, she sees anxiety (personified as a little chimpanzee) lurking outside by the back fence, playing and swinging in the trees. At the sight of him, she’s gripped by fear and begins locking the windows, beads of sweat forming on her brow. Compulsively, she peers out from behind the closed curtains. For a moment, he disappears and all is good again until the chimp (anxiety) opens the front door and playfully taps her on the shoulder. “I’m back!” he seems to say with a smile.

The woman, already hyper vigilant and on guard for any sight of the beast, tackles the chimp to the ground, puts it in a head lock and kicks it back outside. She throws all the locks, as she trembles and shakes, and puts a chair beneath the doorknob to keep it from coming back in.

The more she tries to protect herself, the more frightened she gets. The more she scares herself, the bigger the chimp becomes until it’s as big as King Kong sitting on her house – its eye filling up an entire window as it peers inside.

Finally, after trying everything she can think of to force him to leave (distraction – “Hey, is that a banana tree over there”?, pleading, calling a safe person to rescue her, turning the music up loud, googling expert advice, getting down on her knees to pray), she gives up and opens up the door.

“Come on in”, she gestures with exhaustion.

As soon as the door opens, King Kong shrinks back down to the size of a baby chimp, and jumps onto her lap. The woman strokes his soft fur and smiles. “I’m not afraid of you. In fact, you can stay as long as you like.”

Disappointed and bored now that the game is over, the chimp slips out the back door, swings over the fence and moves to play in the trees next door.

*How are you greeting the chimps playing just outside your window? What are you fighting and resisting that’s growing bigger and stronger as a result? Where can you give up the fight?

*Anyone who is an illustrator and wants to draw this, I’d love to see it!

*Edited and reposted from 6/22/08