If there was ever a Parallel Parking Olympics
it’d be in South Philly
cars jam into microscopic spots
enough to cause anxiety
but you, with your back-up camera
squeeze in like it’s no big deal
this shit is real!
parking spots are like gold
circle the block like a vulture
starving, on the prowl
maybe you’ll get lucky
find a spot front-and-center
(Photo by Cali Riffee on Unsplash)
There are ghosts in my family –
I realize this as my mother tells tales
of a biological grandfather I never knew
who blew smoke in my face
when I was two
of years my father spent in jail
of anxiety that permeates
the family tree, which is
diseased & hollowed
about to crumple & topple
into grayish dirt
(Photo by Dikaseva on Unsplash)
I attended an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for my mental health in early 2019. It was a few months after my dad had died, and I was in bad shape. IOP helped a great deal, and there was something one person said during group therapy I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
Cindy parked her work truck in the shade by a McDonald’s and took a big bite out of her Quarter Pounder. Her lunch breaks were always interrupted by phone calls — the endless calls from dispatchers. Today was no different.
When her phone rang, she turned down the Brad Paisely song on her radio.
“Hey, sunshine,” said Marcus, the dispatcher. “Feel like catching any more dogs today?”
It wasn’t the call Cindy wanted to get. But at least it wasn’t the call, the one she constantly feared getting.
We’re living in dangerous times. Some people (like my girlfriend) seem to be able to cope with it better than me. For me, though, a lot of the things going on in the world have me feeling very on edge.
Anxiety is like watching a movie where
you’re the lead actor and each scene gets worse –
countless calamities occur, eventually ending in
one big tragedy – meanwhile, you sit alone
in the dark theater and worry and cry,
your muscles tense, your stomach sick,
‘till you can’t breathe no more.
(Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash)
I step inside Mrs. Dalloway’s mind:
it twists, turns – I’m lost in the maze,
as she spills thoughts on the page –
a link to her consciousness;
it’s a stream that overflows,
breaks embankments, floods my psyche
‘till I put the book down,
lest my mind goes manic and
doesn’t come back.
(Photo credit: A portrait photo of Virginia Woolf from Britannica.com).
Note: This poem was inspired by Mrs. Dalloway, the classic novel by Virginia Woolf. I’m reading it now, and I love it, but I’ve had to put it down a couple of times because I felt like it was triggering a manic episode.
My anxiety has been getting the best of me lately, but it’s improving. The other day, my grandfather and I spent a quiet hour at a little creek and wooded area in our neighborhood just to get out of the house. It helped.
I must get off this path of sin, and find my
inner-being in God, but I do not know how.
I pray, but I no longer feel the consolation
I once felt – that wholeness and joy, like I was
being held tightly in His arms.
Rachel has told me many times before of her struggles with anxiety. When I listened to her, I used to not be able to understand it. I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly calm person, and I can remember many moments from over the past several years where I’ve felt very peaceful.