The Morning Mist
Some mornings, almost before I open my eyes and fumble for my glasses on the nightstand, a misty layer of anxiety settles over my chest. Not enough to qualify as a fog of fear. Just a steady pressure around my heart - a heaviness like a scratchy wool blanket that sometimes lifts to allow a lightning quick prickle of panic. I take one measured breath, and then another, and then another… It hasn’t always been like this. Anxiety came to roost in my early morning bedroom a year and a half ago, around the time I was once again humbled by a reckoning with powerlessness. I am, in my own mind, so good at being in charge that I should always maintain just that - control. Yet there are cards dealt to each of us that defy domination, parachuting us into the unfamiliar territory of helplessness.
Born of that uncertainty and unknowing, anxiety made its way up the stairs and slithered in under the bedroom door to settle under my bed. As the first rays of dawn’s light make their way across my bedroom ceiling, a mist of restlessness, apprehension, and distress rises slowly. It waits patiently above the headboard until I begin to stir and then it swoops softly down.
Some lucky mornings, I wake at just the right moment, from just the right phase of sleep, before the mist settles over me like morning dew. My fingers find my glasses and as I fit them to my face, I can see clearly and the room is sunny and bright, my chest is light and airy, and the day is going to be a good one, if only for the fact that the days that don’t begin with a silent battle are infinitely easier.
The mist comes and goes according to an irregular calendar. I am not privy to the schedule of its appearances. I only know that the first 30 seconds of each morning are a still and quiet period of taking stock - how heavy is my ribcage, draped across my heart, today? Can I sit up and make my way downstairs, or will my heart begins to skitter and race? That can only mean that today will be a day that needs to start with slow, steady breathing. The deliberate kind of breathing that only those familiar with the fog of fear know, the kind that requires a concentrated counting of inhalation and exhalation. I will breathe until I have fanned away the mist of apprehension and can begin the day on my terms.
I take one measured breath, and then another, and then another…