There’s a hall in my office building. It leads from outside the office door to the bathroom and it’s your cookie-cutter hallway. No art. No piped in music. Drab walls. Ghost town.
9 times out of 10 I don’t even see another human while walking down the hall unless I glance into the waiting rooms as I walk down it. I usually don’t do this because eye contact with a stranger is awkward in normal situations, me on my way to the bathroom is just weird.
But this hall, it’s like a sensory deprivation chamber of sorts. There’s no visual or audio stimulus, it’s just a long boring hall. Because I’m going to the bathroom, I’m not carrying my phone so it’s 15 seconds of me on the surface of my own brain. And I find the journey always weirdly enlightening.
I have strange impulses when I walk down the hall that always clue me into my true mental state. Sometimes I consider punching a wall, sometimes jumping off the balcony, sometimes doing cartwheels. Of course, I never follow-through with any of them (I did a cartwheel on a weekend once, don’t tell anyone) – but they always give me a clear glimpse of my emotional state in that moment.
Most of the time? I just focus on keeping every step within the lines of the vinyl flooring. It’s like a meditative function that keeps my mind calm amidst the chaos of my life. Whey yes! I do have multiple things going on simultaneously this evening! But right now I’m just putting one foot in front of the other between the lines on this floor. Step. Step. Step. Don’t cross the line, Zoot. Step. Step. Step.
Lately I’ve noticed there have been fewer and fewer “Cartwheel Days.” I noticed it because I had one recently and I thought, That’s the first one of THOSE impulses I’ve had in awhile. I consider “Cartwheel Days” the best of the days. I’m light. I’m carefree. I’m joyful. If my impulse is to do a cartwheel? It’s a good day. But those days have been fewer lately and I know it’s because – no matter how “fun” of a face that I put on – my anxiety has been tainting a lot of my moments recently. It’s just that time of year. School. Soccer. Life. I keep telling myself “Once this house sells, things will be better!” But – as I discussed with my therapist last week – there’s always something I’m blaming my angst on.
I put on a good face many days, and many days I can keep myself busy and distracted and joyful enough to mask the stress underneath it all – but those walks down that hall? Those always connect me with the Zoot underneath it all. Worry. Worry. Worry.
I’ve found the last two sessions with my therapist I’ve been trying to be armed with ALL OF THE GOOD THINGS I’M DOING when I go in. I want to be the valedictorian of therapy! This is a trap I have caught myself falling into several times. My therapist notices it too but it’s a tricky thing because there’s power in trying to be joyful and optimistic in the face of sadness and anxiety. But there’s also a moment where dancing around on a broken leg doens’t help the leg heal, it just keeps you occupied while the fracture grows. And that hall? That hall is where I’m forced to recognize my broken leg.
I definitely feel good in general. The “Cartwheel Days” may be fewer, but so are the “Jump off the balcony!” and “Punch the wall!” days. Most days it’s just the “Stay in the line” days which is basically a heavy sense of melancholy. Not the worst feeling by any means, and I felt the worst feelings for a long time so I’ll take this for sure. But I miss the regularly occurring Cartwheel Days, you know?
Here’s to more Cartwheel Days for all of us. Except, you know, let’s stretch first. I went to a birthday party a few weeks ago and did cartwheels with Nikki and was sore for an entire week.