An Anarchist Quaker’s Prayer to Soothe Anxiety
Hello sweet one. I see how much you care about the world, about your communities, about all of us surviving plagues and capitalism and a world on fire.
That clench in your throat, the knot in your gut, the tightness in your breath — this is how our bodies try to hold the world’s anguish. We write the wrongness into our bodies, a beautiful and devastating lament.
Just because your body can hold all the tragedy, the panic, the tension, that it is holding right now, that doesn’t mean that you must go on holding it, all, forever. The loving grandmother in you knows this to be true.
Set it down. Somewhere nearby, so you can pick it up again when you need to, but just for a moment, relinquish your illusions of control. Allow yourself to See the many-headed Truth monster: it might not all be okay. It might end in flames and death and horror, no matter what you do. Take a moment to acknowledge how fucking awful and sad that Truth is. And how not even the worst possible scenario would take away from your inherent worthiness.
Simultaneously, it is True that human beings have always fought for one another, cared for one another fiercely, and carried the world’s anguish in our bodies. And there are small Truths, like that we cannot control the future, no matter how much we wish we could. (Don’t worry when the Truths contradict one another, real Truths often do.)
No matter what, whether it turns out okay in the end or not, you carry the Divine within you. You are Enough, not because of the things you do but because of who you are fundamentally. Intrinsically. Always and without exception. Take a breath or two to allow yourself to Know this.
And when we pick up the anxiety again, let us aim for flexibility. Movement space for breath to get in and out of your rib cage, gentleness for the things we can’t do, and Integrity giving us the strength and resolve to turn our sometimes-excruciating caring into solidarity, mutual aid, and direct action.
We are each one person, breathing this one breath, with common Divinity.
We can do this. Together.
Note: This poem was an email response from my therapist when she closed her office because of coronavirus. The author has given permission for YES! to publish it, but wishes to remain anonymous. —Ayu Sutriasa
Ayu Sutriasa is the digital editor at YES!, where she edits stories in the health and wellness beat, in addition to specializing in gender and body politics. She currently lives on unceded Duwamish territory, also known as Seattle, Washington. She speaks English and French. Find more of her writing on Substack.