Yesterday I thought I was having a heart attack.
I had a sharp squeezing sensation under my tongue and in my jaw that migrated into my chest. It went in waves and lasted several minutes. I thought maybe it was the flu coming on so I Googled Heart Attack Symptoms in Women and read, “Even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or normal aging. They do this because they are scared and because they put their families first,” Okay, I’m going to the ER.
The upside is that the male nurses at Boulder Community Hospital are hot. Even Lonny agreed. But as I went through the questionnaire, I started to feel pretty stupid.
Smoker? No. Exercise? Every day. History of heart disease in family? No. Cholesterol? Low. Blood pressure? Low. General health? Excellent. Diet? I ate four cups of spinach for breakfast today.
An EKG and a blood test I assured me that I didn’t have a heart attack, but I was recommended a follow-up with a cardiologist to find out what exactly it was. I know what it was: stress.
I’ve experienced panic attacks twice before. When Micah was a baby he went missing. I didn’t know if he was inside or outside and I envisioned him toddling towards the traffic so I ran up and down the block screaming his name. I couldn’t breathe; I gasped for air but couldn’t get seem to get any. Classic panic attack. Micah ended up being inside.
The second time was when Lonny went on a long bike ride. He had been gone for hours and I worried that he had been in an accident. My imagination ran away with me and by the time he called I had completely whipped myself into a frenzy. I had chest pains but it was easy to connect the dots.
This time was different. The thing with the jaw was new and, unlike the other times, I wasn’t stressed out at that moment. Actually, I was pretty psyched. I had just dropped the boys off at school and was looking forward to walking the dog and doing stuff around the house. So why the panic attack? For one, last week was a bitch.
I stepped down from teaching at the studio which was hugely emotional for me. No dramatic event precipitated this, I was simply feeling overwhelmed and it was taking all the joy out of dancing. I love teaching and hope to teach again, but I was conflicted about how much it took me away from my family. I was never around at night. I took pole classes on Monday night, ceramics on Tuesday night, teaching on Thursday during the day, more pole on Thursday night and teaching again on Friday night. I needed to step away from teaching and my breakneck class schedule. I loved the new identity that being an instructor gave me but I felt indebted to my studio owner. I wanted to please her, to progress and impress. She didn’t put this on me, I did, and I needed to own it and fix it. I have huge issues around duty and obligation and putting myself first isn’t something I do easily or well. The whole thing brought up deep-seated issues from my past like you cannot believe.
Even though dancing and ceramics were for me, I felt tied to them. Who am I if I don’t teach? Being an instructor lent an air of legitimacy to pole dancing. It’s easier to tell someone that I pole dance if I can quickly counter their smirks with a studio association. Am I still a teacher if I don’t have a studio? And the ceramics? I decided to not take ceramics next session. I love doing it but is it something I have to do all the time? Will I lose my touch if I take a break?
A friend generously said “You are a teacher. You don’t need anyone to tell you because you are, in your heart.” Hopefully I will come to find joy in taking pole classes again because I won’t be so overwhelmed. And ceramics? I can make things with my hands, I always have been able to, and I can again.
Right now seems to be the time for me to attend to my home (I am truly excited about Project3650) and hold my children close. It’s becoming painfully clear to me how fleeting this time is. They are growing so fast, it won’t be long until I can no longer carry them and hold their little bodies in my lap. They won’t submit to the kissing and hugging and affection forever so I need to get it now, before it’s too late, and before they get all smelly. I stopped going to aerobics at 6am so I can be there when they wake up and I stopped my night classes (except Thursday, I’m not giving up pole dancing completely for goodness sake!) so I can read to them in bed and do our favorite nightly “pillow talk”. I don’t need to live my life at the margins of the day because now they are in school.
I am pushing some things out of the way so I can get to the heart of what really feeds my soul. I guess I’m purging more than just stuff. But speaking of stuff…
Abercrombie sweatshirt, boys small (I don’t want my boys looking like man-ho’s), some kid’s activity books, a lined journal with “One Can Never Have Too Many Cats” on cover (unused), some felt and a cat collar.
Lonny bought this fountain for the cat to drink out of. Sigh. It works. Free.
Heinous Bread and Butter pickles left here from a party. Unopened. The only time Jeff ever stood me down was when I accused him of buying Bread and Butter pickles rather than Kosher Dill. We both refused to entertain the possibility that we accidentally purchased them. Free.
Lonny hauled these weight loss supplements out of the trash. I guess someone is selling them on the internet and these are nearing expiration. He was like, “I could totally sell these!” and I was like, “Are you insane? Why would you want to get in the business of selling expired snake oil when you are sitting on a mountain of actual merchandise?” FREE
Water bottles that don’t stand up, cassette player, and a pepper shaker that has holes too small for pepper so I put salt in it and everyone gets confused. FREE.